The Power of Myth

by Joseph Campbell | Anchor © 1991 · 293 pages

Ah, The Power of Myth. This book is based on the amazing PBS interview series Bill Moyers did with Campbell shortly before he passed away and captures some of the 24 hours of filmed wisdom that hit the cutting floor. We'll learn how Campbell came up with the admonition to "follow your bliss!" (hint: it's from the Upanishads), the importance of loving our fate, how we're helped by hidden hands when we really commit to our paths and so much more.

This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s.
Joseph Campbell

“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 within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

~ Joseph Campbell from The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell. He’s amazing. In my spiritual family tree, I call him “Grandpa Joe.” (Right below Great-Grandpa Abe (Maslow). :)

Have you ever watched the DVDs of him chatting with Bill Moyers? He just *radiates* enthusiasm and bliss and wisdom and passion for life and for his work. Really inspiring. That interview series was called The Power of Myth and was filmed a short time before Campbell passed away in 1987.

In total, they filmed 24 (!!!) hours of discussion between Campbell and Moyers (who does a phenomenal job leading the interview). Only 6 magical hours wound up on the DVDs and this book, The Power of Myth, features some of the wisdom that wasn’t captured in the original DVDs. Really cool.

For those not yet familiar with Grandpa Joe, he was a mythology guru (mentored George Lucas—who based his Star Wars empire in large part on Campbell’s mythology studies) who coined the phrases “Follow your bliss” and “The hero’s journey.”

Seeing that it’s such a *huge* part of Campbell’s work (check out my Note on A Joseph Campbell Companion for even more Big Ideas, btw), let’s kick this Note off with a look at where Campbell came up the idea of “Following our bliss!” Then, we’ll look at some Big Ideas on how to actually do it! (Starting NOW! :)

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About the author


Joseph Campbell

Mythologist, writer and lecturer.