September 1, 2008

Spirituality is Selfish? Joseph Campbell.

What if all this questing for enlightenment and do-goodery is just window dressing, a new holier-than-thou lifestyle that adds up to little more than vain self-perfection…and self-deception?

“Now, I know that in our world today there’s a great, great zeal for self-exploration, turning inward, and meditation, and I have seen some rather bad results because it has made the person too much interested in him or her-self and the person forgets others.


“Old Paul Tillich once said that one’s god is one’s highest concern.  That’s your true god, that which you would die for, that which you would sacrifice for, and if you sacrifice others for yourself, for your own development,  then what would you say was your god?
In a marriage, for example, you have to ask yourself—what in this marriage is the precious thing?  Is it I or is it the marriage?  If it’s not the marriage, then you’re not married, yet.  One result of meditation very often is that it introverts the person to such an extent that the person separates from the one to whom he had committed himself before.  I’ve seen many marriages go on the rocks this way.
“Now, the problem that all of the great masters give us is that of finding the inward way and holding to the outer way.
This is a formula that the old Sufis worked out in the following way: they spoke of wearing the outer garment of the law, that is to say the order of the society in which one is living, and wearing the inner garment of the mystic way.
Now, in order to find the inner garment, you have to take off the outer garment and let it go.  This is a long season very often, of inward turning this way and throwing the world away.  But unless you can put the other garment back on again, you haven’t really come to the sophistication that let’s you know that this is that, and that is this—that this outer garment is the outer reflection of the same laws and principles that you’re finding within so that you should be at ease somehow in the two worlds.  This is an old mythological story.”
~ Joseph Campbell, “The Vitality of Myth”
…from email tip via David.
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