So grateful to my cousin Nathan, who recommended that I pick up a book by Joseph Campbell. I looked at my library for Myths to Live By, but couldn't find it. I settled, instead, on Pathways to Bliss. The title barely gets at the book's content.
Anyway, I'm loving this book. I'm always into books about human development and the evolution of social (and religious) constructs. I have been on a path of discovering the myths I have bought and sold and lived by. And this book has been very helpful.
He tells of the importance of myth in each and every culture, the importance of heroes, the importance of symbol. And he suggests that we allow the supposed line between fact and fiction to blur frequently with regards to myths. In our modern age, we have become fixed on "hard facts" and historic proofs.
I'll probably get around to posting some quotes later, but I just read this section and had to share it...
"In [Christianity], we do not emphasize the inner experience of identity with the divine. Rather, we emphasize the means of achieving a relationship to the divine. Ours are religions of relationship: A relates to X. Of course, in the Orient, A equals X and doesn't equal it, both at the same time. Relationship and identity are two different formulae."
And this put into words some thoughts I have been having, namely: Perhaps Jesus isn't someone to emulate in a sort of moral, political, literal way, but rather a model of what a true human could be. And perhaps we aren't to live a second-hand life, lent to us by a Jewish Rabbi 2000 years ago. Perhaps we are to find our own experience, as he did.
He was killed for blasphemy, for suggesting identity with the Ultimate as opposed to merely relationship with It. This is such a significant difference, one I continue to try to get at here on this blog. What we need is in here...not out there.
Anyway, if you want some great reading, check out one of Campbell's books.
PS - Dig my generic Zen-y picture? :)