Joseph Campbell and the “rapture of being alive”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive” (Joseph Campbell).

“In the end, it is the people at home in their own human skins–people who love the wounded world and its broken family–who can move mountains when called out of themselves and into a work in the world. The founders of the great religions were such people. Their ability to heal and awaken the masses sprang first and foremost from their personal experieinces of being broken open. Every great hero–past and present– took a difficult journey of self-awareness before finding his or her rapture. Buddha spent several years alone in the forest, where he grappled with suffering. His enlightenment has illuminated the path for millions of others. Jesus broke from tradition, left his family and community, and went into the desert for forty days and nights as the Hebrew prophets did before him. In the forest, in the desert, they confronted their inner demons, and there they found themselves. What they sought to right in the world, they righted first within their own hearts, and in doing so gained humility and authenticity. They went deep into the darkness–into an acceptance and transformation–and emerged with a rapture that was theirs forever. How odd that if we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us–if we peer fearlessly into the shadows–we stumble upon the light” (Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open).

Farmer's Market SF (18 of 18)

a vase of flowers from San Francisco farmer’s market

4 comments

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