Influential Past Teachers

joseph campbell

Place of Birth
White Plains, New York, USA

Foundation of Teaching Mythology, Native American Folklore and teaching through storytelling and commentary.

Example of Teaching
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe to match your nature with Nature.”

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Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 20, 1987) was born in White Plains, NY, studied Native American folklore as a child and went on to become a Sarah Lawrence professor.  Mythologist Joseph Campbell was a masterful storyteller and a renowned presenter of unifying concepts in comparative mythology with books like The Hero With a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth and The Masks of God.

After a young Joe Campbell saw the Indians in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1912, the future scholar became convinced that he had Indian blood. He read his way through the children’s section of the public library and was admitted to the adult stacks at the age of eleven. He devoted himself to every available fact about Native American life, including the reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology. By high school, he was already writing articles on Native American mythology, presenting many of the themes he would still be working in his eighties.

Campbell’s other early writing included the commentary on a Navajo ceremonial story Where the Two Came to Their Father (1943). He also co-authored A Skeleton’s Key to Finnegan’s Wake (1944). This was the first comprehensive analysis of Joyce’s complex novel. It was from Joyce that Campbell drew the concept of the monomyth. It was the publication of The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949 that established Joseph Campbell as the preeminent comparative mythologist of the twentieth century.

In his eighties, Campbell launched a multi-volume Historical Atlas of World Mythology that set out to investigate the major mythological periods. He proposed a stage model of cultural development. The earliest era is indicated by shamanistic hunter-gatherers. Campbell’s lasting eminence owes much to his gifts as a public speaker. He was able to convey the essence of ancient teachings through vivid storytelling and commentary.

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Quotes

  1. “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
  2. “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
  3. “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.”
  4. “We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”
  5. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
  6. “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
  7. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
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