Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Joseph Campbell - the Return

When ther hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin his labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds.

Refusal of the return.
Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being.

Muchukunda, awoken by Vishnu incarnate in the person of Krishna, who defeated the demons and ruled India in Utopian peace, decimated barbarians who stumbled upon him asleep.

"My Lord God! When I lived and wrought as a man, I lived and wrought - straying restlessly; through many lives, birth after birth, I sought and suffered, nowhere knowing cease or rest. Distress I mistook for joy. Mirages appearing over the desert I mistook for refreshing waters. Delights I grasped, and what I obtained was misery. Kingly power and earthly possession, riches and might, friends and sons, wife and followers, everything that lures the senses: I wanted them all, because I believed that these would bring me beatitude. But the moment anything was mine it changed its nature, and became as a burning fire.

Then I found my way into the company of the gods, and they welcomed me as a companion. But where, still, surcease? Where rest? The creatures of this world, gods included, all are tricked, my Lord God, by your playful ruses; that is why they continue in their futile round of birth, life agony, old age, and death. Between lives, they confront the lord of the dead and are forced to endure hells of every degree of pitiless pain. And it all comes from you!

My Lord God, deluded by your playful ruses, I too was a prey of the world, wandering in a labyrinth of error, netter in the meshes of ego-consciousness. Now, therefore, I take refuge in your Presence - the boundless, the adorable - desiring only freedom from it all."

The Magic Flight.
If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commisioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero's wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit.

A popular variety of the magic flight is that in which objects are left behind to speak for the fugitive and thus delay pursuit.

Another well-known variety of the magic flight is one in which a number of delaying obstacles are tossed behind by the wildly fleeing hero.

"The incomparibly useful function of the dogmatic symbol {is that} it protects a person from a direct experience of God as long as he does not mischievously expose himself. But if...he leaves home and family, lives too long alone, and gazes too deeply into the dark mirror, then the awful event of the meeting may befall him. Yet even then the traditional symbol, come to full flower through the centuries, may operate like a healing draught and divert the fatal incursion of the living godhead into the hallowed spaces of the church."
Dr. C. Jung

Escape from the Underworld
Orpheus & Eurydice
In spite of the failure recorded, a possibility exists of a return of the lover with his lost love from beyond the terrible threshold. It is always some little fault, some slight yet critical symptom of human frailty, that makes impossible the open interrelationship between the worlds; so that one is tempted to believe, almost, that is the small, marring accident could be avoided, all would be well. The myths of failure touch us with the tragedy of life, but those of success only with their own incredibility. And yet, if the monomyth is to fulfill its promise, not human failure or superhuman success but human success is what we shall have to be shown.

Rescue From Without
Amaterasu, Japanese sun goddess
Ilat, South Arabian
Die Sonne, German
Feminine sun goddess

Shinto "Way of the Gods"
Way of devotion to the guardians of life and custom (local spirits, ancestral powers, heroes, the divine king, one's living parents, and one's living children). Preserving and cultivating purity of heart.

Butsudo "Way of the Buddha"
The powers that yield release from the round.

Eight Hundred Myraid of Gods are but differing manifestations of one unique Deity, Kuni-tokotachi-no-Kami, the Eternally Standing Divine Being of the Earth, the Great Unity of All Things in the Universe, the Primordial Being of Heaven and Earth, eternally existing from the
beginning to the end of the world.

The mirror, the sword, the tree.

The mirror, reflecting the goddess and drawing her forth from the august repose of her divine nonmanifestation, is symbolic of the world, the field of reflected glory. Therein divinity is pleased to regard its own glory, and this pleasure is itself inducement to the act of
manifestation or "creation".

The sword is the counterpart of the thunderbolt.

The tree is the World Axis in its wish-fulfilling, fruitful aspect - the same as that displayed in Christian homes at the season of the winter solstice, which is the moment of the rebirth or return from the sun, a joyous custom inherited from the Germanic paganism that has given to the modern German language its feminine Sonne.

The dance of Uzume and the uproar of the gods belong to the carnival: the world left topsy-turvy by the withdrawal of the supreme divinity, but joyous for the coming renewal.

Inanna's descent into Underworld.
Ninshubur, her messenger, ran to the gods.
Enlil, Sumerian air-god, Nanna the moon god, Enki the water god and god of wisdom.

3000 BC

Inanna three days and nights upon a stake.

Two sexless creaturesm one with "food of life" and one with "water of life", sent to sprinkle it on Inanna sixty times.

The conclusion of the poem, this valuable document of the sources of the myths and symbols of our civilization, is forever lost.

Instead of holding to and saving his ego, as in the pattern of magic flight, he loses it, and yet, through grace, is returned.

Whether rescued from without, driven from within, or gently carried along by the guiding divinities, he has yet to re-enter with his boon the long-forgotten atmosphere where men who are fractions imagine themselves to be complete. He has yet to confront society with his ego-shattering, life-redeeming elixir, and take the return blow of reasonable queries, hard resentment, and good people at a loss to comprehend.

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