The Power of Myth & The Hero’s Adventure | Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  •  What is the moral objective of a hero?
    • “The moral objective is that of saving people or saving a person or saving an idea. He is sacrificing himself for something” – Joseph Campbell
  • To become a hero, the character must often die (either physically or mentally) and then is resurrected as a new person:
    • In a rite of passage to adulthood, the child must let their infant personality and psyche die in order to become an adult
  • If you don’t listen to what your spirit and heart want, you’re going to have a difficult life:
    • “If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenia crackup. The person has put himself off-center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it’s not the one the body is interested in at all.” – Joseph Campbell
  • If you want to find out more about yourself, go on adventures and put yourself in new situations:
    • “Life evokes our character and you find out more about yourself if you go on and it’s very nice to be able to put yourself in situations that will evolve your higher nature rather than your lower” – Joseph Campbell
  • Mythological stories are important because they acknowledge the many mysteries of life and the world: 
    • “It’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery and of your own mystery. And it gives life a new zest, a new balance, a new harmony to do this.” – Joseph Campbell
  • By saving yourself, you end up saving the world:
    • “Any world is a living world if it’s alive and the thing is to bring it to life. And the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life isn’t a be alive yourself.”  – Joseph Campbell
  • Dragons in mythology often represent greed. They are usually found guarding some sort of treasure like heaps of gold or virgins. Although the dragon can’t use either, it wants them both.
  • The dragon can also represent your fears. Often what you seek is where you least want to look.
    • “The real dragon is in you. That’s your ego holding you in.” Joseph Campbell

Intro

  • This episode is from a discussion with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. It features the first program or chapter—titled “The Hero’s Adventure”—of the six-part series The Power of Myth. The series is simply incredible, and I found it oddly and profoundly calming.  
  • Host: Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Books Mentioned

The Hero’s Journey

  • Why are there so many heroes in mythology?
    • “Because that’s what’s worth writing about” – Joseph Campbell
      • A hero is anyone who has achieved something beyond the normal range of experience
  • Acts of a hero:
    • Taking action to save someone’s life
    • Sacrificing themselves to save others
    • Gaining new wisdom and communicating it with others
  • To become a hero, the character must often die (either physically or mentally) and then is resurrected as a new person:
    • In a rite of passage to adulthood, the child must let their infant personality and psyche die in order to become an adult
  • The hero’s journey can start in many ways:
    • The hero accidentally wanders into a new world (following an animal into the forest)
    • The hero purposely sets out into a new world (going on a search to find your missing father)
    • The hero is thrown into a new world (being drafted into the army)
  • What is the moral objective of a hero?
    • “The moral objective is that of saving people or saving a person or saving an idea. He is sacrificing himself for something” – Joseph Campbell
  • The hero’s journey in 3 acts: departure, fulfillment, return

The Hero’s Journey In Star Wars

  • The Star Wars film series uses many of the traits in the hero’s journey:
    • You have a wise old mentor (Obi-Wan) who gives the young hero (Luke Skywalker)  an instrument (lightsaber)  to help him on his journey 
  • You can also have multiple heroes in a story: At the beginning of Star Wars, Han Solo is a mercenary but later becomes a hero. 
  • Every hero’s adventure has a jumping-off point where the journey officially begins. In Star Wars, it’s the famous bar scene.
  • The scene where the heroes are in Death Star’s trash compactor is like biblical Jonah in the belly of the whale
    • The belly of the whale scene takes place when the heroes are trapped in a garbage compactor. The whale represents the personification of all that is unconscious. Essentially, the hero leaves the world he knows and moves into a new unknown world.
  • A common theme in the hero’s adventure is the battle between good and evil. In Star Wars, Luke has to deal with the temptation to join Darth Vader and the dark side.

Advice From Joseph Campbell

  • If you don’t listen to what your spirit and heart want, you’re going to have a difficult life:
    • “If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenia crackup. The person has put himself off-center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it’s not the one the body is interested in at all.” – Joseph Campbell
  • If you want to find out more about yourself, go on adventures and put yourself in new situations:
    • “Life evokes our character and you find out more about yourself if you go on and it’s very nice to be able to put yourself in situations that will evolve your higher nature rather than your lower” – Joseph Campbell
  • Mythological stories are important because they acknowledge the many mysteries of life and the world: 
    • “It’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery and of your own mystery. And it gives life a new zest, a new balance, a new harmony to do this.” – Joseph Campbell
  • By saving yourself, you end up saving the world:
    • “Any world is a living world if it’s alive and the thing is to bring it to life. And the way to bring it to life is to find in your own case where your life isn’t a be alive yourself.”  – Joseph Campbell
  • If you want to raise your level of consciousness, mediate:
    • “That’s what meditations are for. And all of life is a meditation, most of it unintentional.” – Joseph Campbell

Dragons In Mythology

  • Dragons in mythology often represent greed. They are usually found guarding some sort of treasure like heaps of gold or virgins. Although the dragon can’t use either, it wants them both.
  • The dragon can also represent your fears. Often what you seek is where you least want to look.
    • “The real dragon is in you. That’s your ego holding you in.” Joseph Campbell
      • If you think you can’t do something, that’s your dragon stopping you:
        • “If you think of I couldn’t do that, that’s your dragon locking you in” 

Additional Notes

  • You may find help and friends along your hero’s journey, but at the end of the no one can complete the journey for you 
    • A teacher may give you a clue and point you in the direction, but also can’t do everything for you
  • You can tell what a society values by looking at the tallest building in the town:
    • When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest building
    • When you approach a 17th-century town, it’s the political palace that’s the tallest thing
    • When you approach a modern city, it’s an office building  
Tim Ferriss Show : , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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