Spirituality is Selfish? Joseph Campbell.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 1, 2008
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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.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


2 Responses to “Spirituality is Selfish? Joseph Campbell.”

  1. ARCreated says:

    Joseph is my hero :)… what good is the inward journey if it doesn't create a better connection to those around us? What purpose is knowing thyself if you don't then share and help others? sure it's "selfish"…but we sort of need to be to be better at being connected. What good is being dedicated to a marriage if you don't bring a full you to the relationship? What good is a dedicated yoga practice if you don't share a more present you with the world around you? The reason for the inner journey is to created a better outer journey, the reason for the outer journey is to share the inner …. I think we have had this "buddhist" discussion before, that if you are so focused on "self" that it never reconnects with others then perhaps we are losing sight of something. But then I have always felt this was a matter of seeing dualistic vs. non-dualistic.

  2. Heather says:

    Beautiful post! Love Tillich. His "God beyond God" helped bring back my faith. Here's to the beauty of "we before I" in marriage and "I thou" in all relations. Here's to Joseph Campbell, the myth and the man.