“We Must Be Willing to get Rid of the Life We’ve Planned So As to Have the Life That Is Waiting For Us”
~ Joseph Campbell
Even though we have never met, I have long considered Joseph Campbell to be the Godfather of The Bliss Mistress, which is the name I have come to be called for the past few years. I became fascinated with the work of this writer, philosopher and professor, whose words “follow your bliss” will echo throughout all time and invited me to take on that persona. He was on my wish list to interview, but passed in 1987 before I had the opportunity to do so. His influence reaches out from the beyond, and I discover references regularly.
As a child, I was drawn into myth and spent countless hours in the world of Gods and Goddesses, Muses and Mt. Olympus. When The Power of Myth aired on PBS in 1988, I found myself unable to break away, so compelling were the ideas. The primary concept of the Hero’s Journey grabbed hold of my late 20s’ brain and truth be told, it is only now at 54 that I understand it because I have lived it. I recognized it in some of my favorite movies: the Star Wars sagas, Avatar and The Wizard of Oz primary among them.
In 2011, a film was introduced to the world with these elements center stage and the work of Joseph Campbell as envisioned by director Patrick Takaya Solomon. Solomon’s launch into the world of production was about fast and furious action in the world of motocross, snowboarding and skateboarding.
The focus of the movie is more about the message of its namesake than the messenger. Solomon felt compelled to create it, since as he proclaims: “For me, this film is the reason I became a director.” I feel the same way about Campbell’s influence on the path I have chosen as well. In the bonus segment when the film-maker was interviewed, he adds something that all creative souls know to be truth: “I had the idea and then the idea had me.”
There are many delights in the 80 minute film; the first among them for me, was that the voice ushering us into the story of The Golden Buddha was that of my long time friend Alan Cohen.
The parable goes like this:
A group of monks were the caretakers for a statue of the Buddha that was made of sparkling gold. When they got word that an invading army was heading their way, they quickly moved to disguise it with mud, so that it would seem of no value to the marauders. They were correct. Centuries passed and the story was forgotten. One day, a monk was meditating at its feet and piece of the hardened clay fell off, revealing the treasure within. Excitedly, he called the other monks and they took their tools and freed the statue from its cover. In the same way the Buddha was incognito, so too are we who develop spirtual amnesia and forget that we are golden within. Our essence is often hidden beneath layers of ‘thou shalts and shalt nots’, ‘shoulds and oughts.’
From that point, the viewer is led through teachings as offered by thought leaders, musicians, actors, writers, directors and athletes such as Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Rashida Jones, Tony Hawk, Catherine Hardwicke, Laird Hamilton, Robert Walter, Akiva Goldsman, Sir Ken Robinson, Robin Sharma, Lynne Kaufman, Alan Cohen, Brian Johnson, Joseph Marshall III, Rebecca Armstrong, Chungliang Al Huang, David L. Miller, Gay Hendricks, David Loy and Norman Ollestad.
Their commentary is interspersed with the playful and poignant acting of the director’s young son, Declan, and his neighborhood friends. With wordless communication, they pantomime stories such as a tiger cub who lived with sheep and thought he was one, until an adult tiger pulled him out of his passive existence and into the wilds where he could claim his intended identity, and the Grail legend in which the Arthurian knights of the round table went out into the world to seek spiritual fulfillment. Answering the call to adventure, leaving the illusory security of home and hearth, descending into darkness, slaying dragons, emerging victorious and returning to tell the tale were played out with dramatic flair by these talented youth.
The cinematography was magnificent. The towering waves that were the backdrop for surfer Laird Hamilton and the loop the loop structures that skater Tony Hawk braved added to the excitement.
Film clips from The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Rocky, Spartacus, The Wizard of Oz, Twilight, Alice In Wonderland, Harry Potter and Kill Bill were interspersed throughout. Each director I imagine, was influenced by Campbell’s landmark concepts.
I knew that I was meant to watch this movie since it mirrored two major components of my own personal and professional Hero’s Journey. There was a line about “the ordinary moving into the extraordinary” which is part of the title of my book The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary.
When asked about the definition of bliss, one of the speakers said something that gave me goosebumps:
“Bliss is something that you can’t not do.”
I have long said that about my writing, as grammatically incorrect as it sounds “I can’t not write.”
Campbell offered this trans-spiritual concept:
“Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word ”Sat’ means being. ‘Chit’ means consciousness. ‘Ananda’ means bliss or rapture. I thought, ‘I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.’ I think it worked.”
“If you 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. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
These days, I am, with great enthusiasm and passion, dancing through doors that were seemingly invisible to me before. I guess I really am being my bliss.
For more information visit Finding Joe the Movie.
Note: This columnist received this movie for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta