Robert Anton Wilson on James Joyce, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell

Perhaps this is starting backwards since the focus is is Finnegan’s Wake, but I was completely fascinated with the beginning part of this talk with Robert Anton on about James Joyce, Carl Jung & Joseph Campbell.

According to Wilson, Joyce was the greatest anthropologist that ever lived and he inspired Joseph Campbell’s unique approach to anthropology. The Hero of a Thousand Faces would have been impossible without Campbell’s Skeleton Key. The Skeleton Key was the archetype behind all the other archetypes for Campbell’s subsequent books. Joyce was Campbell’s guide as he was for many important thinkers.

Wilson is currently fascinated by the Synchronicity aspect in Finnegan’s Wake because Synchronicity is associated with Jung. What specifically interests him is that Jung didn’t publish on Synchronicity until long after Finnegan’s Wake was published. Jung and Joyce knew each other, although they didn’t like each other. Joyce didn’t want to believe his daughter was Schizophrenic. Joyce told Jung that he was doing the same experiments with language that she was, but Jung told him that the difference was that he was diving and she was sinking.

Wilson thinks Jung was influenced by Joyce’s thoughts on Synchronicity. Jung had high regard for Joyce’s Ulysses and recommended it as a new Bible for the white race on the grounds that the Bible has warped the development of Western humanity in certain egotistic directions. Understanding the “True Self”required a dose of Eastern thinking and feeling which he thought Joyce had brought into Western thought with Ulysses. When Finnegan’s Wake started to appear, Jung said that it was either mental illness or something of mental health inconceivable to most people. Wilson thinks Jung decided it was of inconceivable mental health.

After that, he moves into thoughts of Finnegan’s Wake which sound absolutely fascinating but with which I can’t keep up. I’m excited to see if it makes sense after I get more Joyce under my belt.

To Concretize or Not to Concretize

concretize – to make concrete, specific, or definite

This is from the Joseph Campbell Mythos series (the one with the irritating cuts to Susan Sarandon!)

In the 1900s, there was an important world traveler and German Anthropologist named Adolf Bastian who recognized that in the mythologies and religions of the world, there were certain themes and motifs that recurred everywhere.  He called these elementary ideas: Elementargedanken.  In various provinces and in various centuries, these elementary ideas appeared in different costumes and different forms with different applications and associated with totally different social situations  He called these local variations Volkergadanken (ethnic/folk ideas).

The distinction between what is universal in mythology and religion (elementargedanken) and what is provincial and separate (volkergadanken) is VERY important. Why universal myths occur everywhere, in every culture and in every century is a psychological problem. Carl Jung calls the universal myths “archetypes of the unconscious”.

Campbell drew a picture of a circle which represents the soul/psyche.  At the center is a dot which represents the self.  There is a line drawn just above the dot which represents the self.  This is the threshold of consciousness   Above the line is a mental, waking consciousness.  Below the line is the consciousness of the body, itself.  Jung uses the term for the totality, “the Self”.  This is not the same thing as the Hindu Atman (undifferentiated consciousness).  Jung is talking about consciousness enclosed in a specific human body which is conditioned by the body in which it resides (male, female, old, young, healthy, decrepit.)  This is the reality in which we have to reside. There is no use wishing we resided elsewhere. The center of consciousness is the “ego”.  The “I”.  It’s mode of judgment is not in accord with that of the body/nature.

Culture is a cooperation between the self (below the threshold of consciousness) and the ego (above the threshold of consciousness).  Mythology is the language of the Self speaking to the ego system. The ego system has to learn how to read it. This is something we have forgotten.

The shadow (below the threshold of consciousness) is the blind spot of the ego – the part of which our ego has no consciousness whatsoever.  This could be equated to the Freudian unconscious. The shadow is the order of the personal unconscious.

The Self is a function of the biology of the body.  So we have a basic human biology and a system of individual experience. Both exist in the unconscious realm as far as our ego knowledge is concerned.  It is out of these centers which dreams come.   Dreams are primarily, personally oriented from the shadow system.  The imagery of myths, on the other hand, is out of the general system.  There are dreams that can be interpreted through personal association, but others have to be interpreted strictly mythologically.

At the level above the ego is the Persona/Personae. This is the mask that we wear.  Each society has its wardrobe of Personae for its individuals to wear. These are the volkergadanken and they differ from one society to another.

Take India for example. The individual is meant to identify with the Persona.  He is to live in terms of the dharma – the duty system put upon him. He IS a Brahman. He IS a Warrior. He IS a Merchant.  He isn’t just playing the role. He IS the role.

Compare this to our modern Western society which has much more respect for individuality.  If a person identifies with his role, we call him a “stuffed shirt”.  Imagine an executive coming home in the evening who is met by the executive’s wife.  From the Hindu perspective, he would be an executive sleeping with the executive’s wife.  This doesn’t fly at all in the west!  If you can’t take-off and put-on your roles, there is something wrong with you.  We don’t identify with the Persona in that way. Not only are we expected to put-on and take-off our roles, we’re expected to develop our critical faculties.

So all this set up to get to this point…

Developing critical faculties is something that those in the East know nothing about. The whole character of Eastern thinking is the elimination of ego. By annihilating the critical factory, you identify with the role that society has put upon you. This creates a problem for a Western person who goes to an Eastern guru to become illuminated. The Eastern person has a relatively fragile ego.  But the Western person has a very strong developed, evaluating ego.  It’s rock solid. The guru has a hammer to break egos and the Western person comes to the guru with a rock of an ego and the guru hammers away, but nothing happens. The Westerner thinks there is something wrong with him.  But it’s not him. What works in the East doesn’t necessarily work in the West!

In the East, deities are understood as personifications of the transcendent energies that informs life. The transcendent energies are human (elementargedanken) while the personification of the transcendent energies is based on the cultural and historical circumstances (volkergadanken).  In the East, it is understood that deities proceed from the transcendent energies and are messengers and vehicles of the these energies. In the West, however, we think of deity as fact and it is from this fact that the energies proceed. This understanding creates a huge difference between how we view both God and consciousness.

The Western notion is that the brain is the source of consciousness.  The traditional idea is that the brain is a function of consciousness.  The brain is first and consciousness arises out of the brain.  But in traditional Eastern views, consciousness is first and the brain is an organ that encapsulates consciousness and focuses it in the direction of time and space knowledge. Time and space knowledge is secondary knowledge, not primary. The notion that we are all manifestations of the transcendent consciousness that goes beyond all our powers to think and to name is the basic idea behind the traditional Eastern view.

In our Western thinking, there have been moments when this has made its way in.  It shows up first through Dionysius the Aeropagite – a mystical philosopher before 532 ACE.  His philosophies were picked up by Scotus Eriugena from Ireland in the 800s (gnostic philosppher with magnificent concepts).  Meister Eckhart, a German theologian in the early 1300s, uses the language of Christianity but blows it apart to show the relationship of the deity to the “knower of the deity”.  Bruno was burned in the 1600s for suggesting such thing. But then in Renaissance, Italy.  Medici invited Marsilio Ficino to translate a text that came from Byzantium by way of a Byzantine monk.  This was the Greek text of the Corpus Hermeticum which was contemporary with early Christianity but explained in pagan terminology.  Much of the art of the Renaissance comes out of the ideas presented in this translation.

In later times, there is the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant.  What Kant recognized was that all of our knowledge, all of our experience, is conditioned by the organs of knowledge and experience.  A priori, primary and antecedent to our experience of anything is time and space.  Everything comes to us in a field of time and space.  In “The Foundation of Metaphysics”, Kant asks, “How is it we can make determinations for relationships for space here, and know that these will work in space there?”  He says its because the laws of space are in our mind.  But what is the thing we are coming to know through time and space?  Is it a thing?  No.  Things are in time and space.

The laws of your thinking are what determine what it is you can think. These are the laws of logic. You can’t even think of anything that doesn’t fit within the laws of logic. This is what is known in the East as “Maya”.  It was Schopenhauer who first recognized that the Indian concept of Maya and Kant’s concept of the forms of sensibility and categories of logic are equivalent. Schopenhauer brought the concepts of Western thought and Eastern thought together.  Nietzsche picked them up and a whole new thrust in the school of Western philosophy began.

We have a tendency in the West to concretize our signs and symbols, which, of course, is idol worship.

My thoughts…

This is why Nietzsche wanted us to take a hammer to all of our previous notions and smash them.  Do they hold?   Some do, most don’t.  It seems obvious now that a concretized God is going to break.  But many Christians still claim that Eastern religions involve idol worship.  But the East does not have the same tendency to concretize signs and symbols as does the West because they have a completely different notion of deity and consciousness.

A concretized God, one that comes out of fact, is a dead God. How could it be otherwise? The Celts were hesitant to write down their myths because they thought that once the myths were written, they were dead. In a sense, isn’t this absolutely true? As soon as we put our stories into writing, we’ve concretized them. They are no longer living, as they were when they were handed down through oral tradition. So to base your beliefs on a written text is basically to base your beliefs on something that is already long gone. It’s dead.

Do You Believe in God?

I LOVE this story…

One day, when Joseph Campbell was on his way to lunch in mid-town Manhattan, he was stopped on the street by a man handing out religious pamphlets.  The man asked suddenly, “Do you believe in God?”   Stepping back to consider his questioner, Campbell responded, “I don’t think you have time for my answer.”

To reduce the idea of God to a question of belief is to miss the point.  The monotheistic God of the Abrahamic faiths and the many gods within polytheism are personifications of transcendent energy consciousness.

Amen to that!

ACIM Lesson 145: Review of Lessons 129 & 130

My mind holds only what I think with God.

  • Beyond this world there is a world I want.
  • It is impossible to see two worlds.

I truly am understanding this so differently now. It’ s so exciting! This isn’t magical mumbo jumbo about a world that exists separate from this one. Just the opposite. (It’s a fun play on words!)

Huston Smith said that modern world gets the medal for cosmological achievement, the postmodern world gets the medal for achievement in social justice, and the traditional world view gets the medal for metaphysics. (Smith defines the traditional world view as before the middle ages – before Constantine made Christianity the political religion of Rome.)

The Enlightenment was so influential at creating the belief that the world of nature as science conceives it is all there is that we are no longer able to conceive metaphysics in the same sense as those with the traditional world view understood it. This is true within modern religion, too. Modern religion equated cosmology (which is clearly the realm of science) with metaphysics and turned God into an actual physical, entity that requires our defense against claims that God is “not true”. But the question of whether God exists or not is a purely scientific question and any religious person who insists that God does, in fact, exist is engaged in a scientific query, not a metaphysical query as it was understood from within the traditional world view.

God was understood as metaphor. But as Joseph Campbell has pointed out, we moderns are almost completely incapable of understanding metaphor. We mistake it with simile. We are taught that difference between simile and metaphor is that a simile uses “like or as” and a metaphor does not. But it’s not just a difference of words, it is a difference of meaning. He uses the example of a man (John) who runs very fast and people exclaim – “John runs like a deer.” That’s a simile. But imagine that we are so in awe of how fast John runs that we exclain, “John is a deer.” We know on the one hand he isn’t a deer. But on the other hand, he is a deer. That’s metaphor and it’s also metaphysics in the traditional worldview sense. God (and the gods) were understood in this metaphorical sense. Just like it makes no sense to try and prove that John is or is not a deer in the physical sense (we know he’s not), it makes no sense to try and prove that God does or does not exist. When we say John is a deer, we aren’t talking about a physical reality, we are talking about a metaphorical/metaphysical understanding.

Metaphysics is the study of everything and includes science. From this perspective, it makes no sense to reject science in favor of religion. Cosmology is the domain of science and there is no reason to challenge this. But the view that physical nature is all there is has created a lot of really big problems in terms of meaning. It’s created nihilism in both the secular world and the religious world.

The religious don’t really need to care about this world because there is another world waiting for them. And the more secular deny this world by placing their primary focus on the possibility of a future, better world through technological progress, future medical breakthroughs, more perfect forms of government, etc. It is more subtle, but it’s not that different than what the religious have done. It’s not this world that matters – it’s a future world that matters. (And so we destroy the earth in the name of progress.)

It is impossible to see two worlds. So which world is it that we see? The world as it is, or some future, better world? When ACIM says “Beyond this world there is a world I want” it isn’t trying to say there is a future better world waiting for us. This is about a shift in perception that allows us to see the world as it is rather than through the eyes of egoic desire that rejects what is. What is the use of wanting anything other than what is? It’s like Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence. If we had to live our same life over and over and over again – would we say “no thanks – don’t want to do that” or do we have the sort of gratitude toward life (this life!!) to enthusiastically exclaim “Yes!” The ego, on the other hand, must forever say “no” to what is in order to uphold desire. We think the ego shows us what it is we want. But what happens once we get it? We don’t want it anymore and so the ego finds something else for us to want. But is that what we really want? Do we, in fact, want (as in lack)?

Do we seek meaning? Or do we seek the experience of being alive?

The following is primarily a personal musing and attempt to pull together a bunch of what I’ve been thinking about the past year. It’s both messy and sketchy…

Tribal man didn’t seek meaning. He thought the transcendent existed in nature so the focus was on unity with nature. There was no outer focus so no need for meaning. The focus was on the experience of being alive. So how is it modern man has come to ask questions about the value of life? Why are there so many suicides and so many depressed individuals? What are the stories we have told ourselves that have taken us from the desire to be alive to wondering if life has any worth at all?

When tribal lifestyles gave way to civilized cities, ethics became necessary. It’s not that tribal people weren’t moral, they just didn’t need ethical systems to handle their issues because the issues were handled according to tribal traditions. But when the cities were developed, there were all kinds of different tribes of people living and working closely together who had drastically different ways of dealing with moral issues. It was a logical transition that supreme beings/high gods became important for the same reason kingships developed. There had to be a way to coordinate all of the disparate tribes and their tribal laws. So you end up with Brahma, Zeus, Re. In early Judaism, even God (El/Yahweh) had tribal gods under Him. (According to many scholars, it wasn’t until 500 BCE that the Jewish God said that there were to be no other gods besides God.)

If you read Genesis, you will notice two creation stories. The first is in Genesis 1 where the creator God is called Elohim/El so we know this is a very early creation story. It basically says God created everything, all of nature and man and woman and it was good. The second story is in Genesis 2 and the creator God is called Yahweh Elohim and says man was formed from the dust of the earth and that Eve was formed from Adams rib. This story likewise contains the story of the Garden of Eden.

El/Elohim was the ancient high god of the Canannites (Abraham’s God and that of the Northern Tribes). Yahweh (also known as Jehovah) was the warrior God of the Southern Tribes. These two Gods were combined to make the creator God of the second Genesis Story in the 4th Century BCE when the Jewish priests had returned home from Babylonian exile. They discovered that their fellow Jews had given up their religion in the absence of the priests and were practicing Babylonian polytheism. The Jewish priests knew a reform was necessary if they were to save Judaism so came up with the Omnipotent, Omniscient God that says “You shall have no other Gods before me.” They merge the God of the northern tribes with that of the southern tribes and call it Yahweh-Elohim. This is the only theistic god in all of the major world mythologies that claims to have dominance over everything in the universe and gave the Semitics the right to say their God was superior to that of all others. It is likely that if the Jews had not done this, Judaism would have been wiped out. So it was successful although there have been some horrible repercussions that have gone along with this idea! And it is this God that creates Eden and sends Adam and Eve away from Eden for eating the apple.

The idea of the One Forbidden Act is a common mythological theme that shows up all over the world and it typically involves a snake as initiator of the eating a forbidden fruit. The god knows man will take a bite of the fruit and when the fruit is eaten, man becomes the initiator of his own life. The snake, which has the ability to shed his skin, is used as initiator because this represents being able to throw off the past and move on. The snake is typically viewed as positive, not negative.

The Babylonians had a similar myth of the One Forbidden Act in the Enuma Elish. The Babylonian myth was fairly optimistic. The world was created perfect although it became less perfect over time. Ningishzida is a serpant-god and friend of mankind who helps a human called Adapa search for his immortality.

Instead of this myth being retold in the Jewish texts as the Babylonians told it, the story got turned on it’s head as a rejection of the Babylonian myth to show the might of Yahweh-Elohim. In the Jewish text, the serpent is not a friend of man helping him find immortality but a trickster who talks Eve into eating the forbidden apple. For this trick, Yahweh-Elohim punishes the serpent to crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life and puts enmity between the woman and her offspring and the serpent. He punishes Eve with pain in childbirth and subjects her to the rule of her husband. He punishes Adam to a life of toil until death. (You have to admit, it was a pretty ingenious political move.)

Although the Jewish myth has turned the optimistic Babylonian myth into a far more pessimistic one (which is no wonder, the Jews had been conquered by the Babylonians), nature (which includes man) is not yet viewed as evil, bad, or fallen. Meaning is not yet experienced as some sort of ultimate truth that exists “out there”. But that thinking is on it’s way and takes a firm hold about 800 years later when the myth is reinterpreted in terms of Greek rationalism by Augustine.

Christianity was hugely diverse in it’s beginnings and was spreading like wildfire. By the mid 300s CE, Constantine had managed to gain control of the entire Roman Empire and he did not tolerate diversity. In order to rule effectively, he insisted that there be only one Empire, one Emperor, One Religion, One Church, and One Teaching within that Church. He made use of a group that had been successfully organizing according to the Roman governmental hierarchy structure since the 100s. This was the beginnings of Catholicism, before it split into Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. It was another quite ingenious political move.

A few decades later, Augustine, who lived in present day Algiers, had converted to Christianity and was re-interpreting the Bible in terms of Platonism. He formulates the concepts of the Original Sin which takes the story of Adam and Eve and turns the serpent (who had been a friend of man in Babylonian mythology and a trickster in Jewish mythology) into an evil seducer. This is where we see the first major attempt to negate the affirmation of life for life’s sake. Man is born into sin and condemned to the natural world which is corrupt and has to be corrected. He is punished to a life of toil and in order to rise above this futility, must enter into the spiritual City of God which is the Catholic Church. (The City of God is distinguished from the Material City of Man.) This is the first time there was any suggestion that the material and the spiritual are not interconnected. What is material is viewed as evil and can only be given value through obedience to what is spiritual (the Church). The experience of being alive is no longer valued. What is valued is doing the right things in order to achieve a spiritual life which is understood as separate from material life. Augustine thought that even babies who had never done anything to be sinful were born sinful. Prior to this idea, Christians weren’t baptised until they were on their death bed.

Augustine’s idea of Original Sin became extremely popular after Rome’s fall when Christian faith was badly shaken. And it marked the beginning of the the Medieval World View which managed to turn multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious peoples of Europe into a single people by teaching that every natural impulse is sinful unless you have been baptized into the Church. And parents, you have to get those babies baptised into the church, too. Everyone, no matter how small or seemingly innocent, must be baptised into the Church lest they burn in Hell. Creating a common religion for everyone and a common language (Latin) was the glue that allowed European people to think of themselves as a single culture that could be defined against other cultures. You have to admit, it’s another ingenious political move.

By the 17th Century, Protestantism got a hold of the idea of Original Sin and added to it the idea of total depravity. We are totally alienated from God by our nature and can only be saved by divine Grace.

Around the same time, Descartes created a metaphysics that is largely based on a secularization of Augustinian ideas and this introduced the Enlightenment. He came up with the view that the body is nothing more than a machine that is operated by the mind. As with Original Sin, the body and it’s sensual desires are viewed as trivial and that which is non-physical (the mind) all important. He contemplates why a baby would be born into Original Sin and decides it is because when a baby is born, he doesn’t have rational abilities and is completely driven by passions. Rationalism is everything and the passions and desires of the body are nothing but distractions. To seek the experience of being alive would be a distraction to our ability to seek knowledge and justification through reason.

The Existentialists were anti-Descartes taking his “I think therefore I am” and showing how it isn’t tenable – instead existence precedes essence. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky all thought the Enlightenment (which began with Descartes) was coming to and end and when it did, it would be cataclysmic. According to Nietzsche, we had become meaning junkies and our addiction would eventually lead us to nihilism. He said the time was on it’s way that man would no longer tolerate being a master or slave, even to reason. Those not yet strong enough to realize that it is man that creates meaning would create nihilistic meaning. Camus asks the question in 1940: in a meaningless world, should we commit suicide and he says this is the most urgent of philosophical questions. While he goes back to an early tribal mindset to show how we can make our lives meaningful in a meaningless world, Nietzsche suggests we quit focusing upon finding meaning and place our focus instead on constant overcoming which requires the realization that we are always redefining ourselves so will always have definitions to overcome.

In 2008, Camus’ question remains urgent and nihilism seems to be the name of the game which is ironic since the Existentialists, Buddhists, and others who had similar ideas were labeled nihilistic because their ideas were misunderstood. (Meaning junkies do not want to give up their precious meaning!!)

Joseph Campbell asks: What’s the meaning of a flower? Nothing. It’s just there. That’s it. Your own meaning is that you are there.We are so engaged in doing things to achieve outer value that we forget the inner value – the rapture. What we seek isn’t meaning. What we really seek is the experience of being alive.

Awe is what moves us forward

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous
Only our eyes are not open to it.

Awe is what moves us forward.
Live from your own center.

The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.

Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper “in group.”
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.

We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.

The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.

The spirit is the bouquet of nature.
Sanctify the place you are in.

Follow your bliss.

~ Joseph Campbell ~

The Masks of Eternity – Joseph Campbell

These are the final notes for the final episode in The Power of Myth (Bill Moyers with Joseph Campbell). I watched this many years ago and purchased the series thinking I’d watch it again right away. But it has taken me years to do so. I’m so glad I finally made the time to work my way through it again because it’s such a powerful series. This last episode was especially so for me…

God is a thought; God is an idea. But its reference is to something that transcends all being. He’s beyond the category of being and non-being. Every religion is true in this sense: it is true as metaphorical of the human and cosmic mystery. He who thinks he knows doesn’t know. He who thinks he doesn’t know, knows.

All the symbols in mythology refer to you. You are God in your deepest identity. You are one with the transcendent. The truth is One. The sages speak of it by many names.

Divinity is the realization of wonder and the experience of tremendous power. In Western thought, we think of God as a manifestation of the energy rather than its source. Divinity is just what we think. Moyers asks – what does this do to faith? Campbell says he doesn’t have to have faith, he has experience.

Where does our life come from? That’s the ultimate question. And why do we have to think that something has to generate this source from where our life comes? Why can’t it be impersonal – like Brachman? In the east, the gods are much more elemental – less human and more like the powers of nature. A deity represents an energy system and part of the energy system is the human energy system of love, hate, benevolence, malice, compassion. In oriental thinking the god is the vehicle of the energy, not its source.

We probably know what Jesus said. But when you read the Thomas Gospel, it has all the flavor of one of the synoptics except that it doesn’t say quite the same thing. The last passage in the gospel: When will the Kingdom come? In Mark, we here the end of the world is going to come. But in the Thomas gospel, Jesus says the Kingdom of the father will not come by expectation. The Kingdom of the father is upon the earth and men do not see it. Christ is the being of all of us and anyone who lives in relation to this is the Christ and anyone who brings into his life the message of the word is equivalent to Jesus.

You are the vehicle of the spirit. Why not recognize this?

The word religion comes from religio which means a linking back to a source. If we say it is the one life in both of us, my separate life is linked back through religion.

The circle represents a totality. Within the circle is one thing. It is encircled. That is the spatial aspect. The temporal aspect is that you leave, go somewhere, and come back. The circle immediately suggests a completed totality. Round and round and round. The years come again and again. The days come again and again. The months come again and again. You experience leaving home, going on your adventure, and coming back to home. There is a deeper meaning – the womb and the tomb. Burial – you put back into the earth for rebirth.

An archetype is a constant form. It is a basic fundamental form which appears in the works of various people without connection. They are expressions of the human psyche. There is something inside of us that we need to understand. The images of myth are reflections of spiritual and depth potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating the images, we provoke the powers in our own lives. The image is not a fact. It is a reflex of some kind.

That it is a reflex is best displayed through trickster stories. Some of the best are associated with our Native American tales. No matter what system of thought you have, it can’t include boundless life. As soon as you think it does, something will come along and bust your bubble.

Jung says that religion is a defense against a religious experience. When we have reduced the whole thing to concepts and ideas, the concepts and ideas short-circuit the experience of deep mystery. The image of God becomes the final obstruction. Your God is the ultimate barrier. This is basic Hinduism and basic Buddhism.

James Joyce’s epiphanies have to do with the aesthetic experience. It does not move you to want to possess the object – that, he calls pornography. Nor does it move you to criticize and reject the object – that is called didactic social criticism. It is the holding the object. You put a frame around it and see it as one thing. And seeing it as one thing you see the relationship of part to part and whole to part and part to whole. When a fortunate rhythm has been struck by the artist, that is the radiance. That is the Christ coming through. It doesn’t matter who it is. It could be something you see as a monster. That is the ethical judgment. Monsters can be seen as sublime. An experience of the sublime is tremendous space or tremendous power. By a monster, Campbell means someone who breaks all of your standards for harmony and for ethical conduct. These are experiences that go beyond the ethical judgment. Ethics are wiped out.

Eternity is here, right now. If you don’t experience it now, you aren’t going to get it. Eternal is beyond time. The concept of time shuts out eternity. Time is our experience. But the ultimate unqualified mystery is beyond human experience. Whatever we experience has to be expressed in language that is not up to the occasion. That is what poetry is for. It is a language that has to be penetrated. It has implications that go past the word. The epiphany is the showing through of the essence. The whatness. The whatness is the Brachman.

Heaven is the beholding of the beatific image of God which is a timeless moment. Eternity is not something everlasting (as is heaven). Schopenhauer said that when you reach a certain age and look back over your life, it seems to have had an order. Who composed this plot? And just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself that your consciousness is unaware, so your whole life has been composed by the will within you. Just as those people who you met by chance have been agents in the structuring of your life, so have you been agents in the structuring of their lives. Everything affects everything else.

None of us have lived the life we have intended. Campbell says he doesn’t believe life has a real purpose. Life is a bunch of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being. But, all life and every individual has a potentiality they can live up to. The way to do this is to follow your bliss. There is something inside you that knows you are on the center or off-center. It’s not the destination that counts, it is the journey. When you are on a journey and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize the real end is the journey. This moment now is the heavenly moment.

Goethe said that all things are metaphors. Everything that is transitory is but a metaphorical reference. That’s what we all are. People are dying for metaphors all over the place. When you realize the sound “Om” (Aum), then you don’t have to go out and die for anything because you realize it is all around. “Aum” represents to our ears that sound of the energy of the universe of which all things are manifestations. When you say “aum”, you start in the back of the mouth with the a. u fills the mouth and m closes the mouth. When you pronounce it properly all vowel sounds are voiced in the sound. Consanants are merely interruptions of the sound. All words are reflections of aum.

The four element syllable. A U M and the silence out of which it comes and back into which it goes. Our lives are the A U M but there is the silence that underlies it and that is the immortal. This is the mortal and that is the immortal. The meaning is wordless. Words are always qualifications and limitations. And all we humans are left with is our limited language. Our peak experiences allow us to see past it every now and then.