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Myths are the way in which humankind has attempted to symbolically conceptualize the human condition

human history embellished

"Myth renders the Eternal Soul visible so that it may be visualized, represented, heard, and made audible."
Jean Gebser


Chinese charater for myth

myths

Chinese charater for myth

gods and goddess'


Myths express the profound permanent tendencies in the nature of man.

Myths, like fables, contain moral visions that can be understood consciously.

Unlike fables, which are basically limited to a one event thread, myths include a narrative of multiple events that build threads on multiple levels of understanding, typically both subconsciously and consciously.

As a social culture evolves the myths that men hold evolve as well. The essence of the timeless mythical narrative is its evolutive capacity, its dynamism, its vitality.

Defining myths literally is a huge mistake as some of the mythical narrative elements designed to stimulate the subconscious become corrupt as they are not meant to be taken literally. Doing so robs the myth of the very thing that makes it a myth: the interpretation of a very direct relation between man and the temporal structure of his life.

"We must have no illusions; when facts are presented in all their brutality and nakedness, and when, in contrast, a mythical, expository system is presented, man spontaneously chooses the myth and refuses to acknowledge reality." - Jacques Ellull


The telling of stories is a double-edged sword

Those who craft and perpetuate the stories of our culture are in a position of both great responsibility and great power – the power to influence, even determine, the behavior of whole populations.


Mythology of other cultures may appear fragmented to outsiders when in actuality outsiders have not been in versed in the subconscious symbol system that all individuals of the culture subconsciously recognize.

Myths become fragmented internally for basically two reasons:

1) purposefully fragmented - replacing one social cultural tradition with another or one power structure with another - the effect of State sponsored religions.

2) accidentally fragmented overtime as understanding of original meanings becomes misunderstood, is purposefully corrupted or as cultures merged (very real here and now.)

Using a natural philosophical approach, thought patterns congruent with a natural way of thinking in conjunction with an accurate understanding of basic metaphorical reality, it becomes simple to reconstruct more realistic thought pattern of individuals of other time periods and places.

The whole mythologies of all Great Religions are well wrought poems that point through the Veil of Cognitive Blindness to Supreme Reality.

Gnostic Mystery Traditions carry a carefully crafted poetry within which the Acolyte finds Inspiriting Visions that bring Reality Alive.

The first condition of any modern mythology must be to cleanse the Doors of Perception.

The second condition is that of Awakened Heart.

Once these two conditions have been met the Promise of God's Dream is fulfilled and we, individually and jointly, fully become the sensory organs and consciousness channels of the Creator and Sustainer.


Unfortunatetly as global consumer culture does not recognize spirituality as a valid form of expression it can not take on the guise of active gods to be addressed collectively or individually and around whom the traditional patterns of relationship with divinity are organized.

Today religious mythological sentiment of the elites tends to center on the irrational belief that a well-armed totalitarian police state can bring everlasting happiness to the family of man.

To the elites, who must protect their assets, god comes in the guise of a beneficent tyrant.

And the religious mythological sentiment of the masses tends to center on the irrational belief that they actually have a chance of joining the elites in their man-made heaven on earth.

"Myth appears as the condition governing the adherence of the masses of men to a certain civilization and to its processes of development or of crisis. The definition of myth as the "motivating global image" is certainly the most exact." - Jaque Ellul

Most often the motivating global image of a myth is a subconscious image. If one becomes aware of the mystery which informs this motivating global image then this image is given an aspect of obviousness and certitude so fundamental as to be dangerous to the ego as the unveiling of the mystery can deflate the ego.

Myth building is social engineering:

step 1: decide on the outcome you desire;

step 2: get all the "facts" lined up;

step 3: round up people that agree with you;

step 4: interview them - 1% - appear to represent the whole social culture;

step 5: collect your monetary reward for myth building!

Delusions of grandeur of the social engineer




myth

Children are afraid of the unexplained so many years ago the ancients began telling mythical narratives to both entertain and enlighten the listeners. As these mythmakers spun their yarns they attempted to share with the younger generation all that they had learned. This body of knowledge was incorporated into the myths of the tribe warning of possible pitfalls and suggesting fundamental principle courses of action.

"Myths are stories about the wisdom of life. What we are taught academically is not the wisdom of life. Although we receive technological information there is reluctance to admit the life changing aspects of the technologies we persue.

In science today - anthropology, linguistics, the study of religions, and so forth - there is a tendency to specialization.

A specialist scholar has to know his subject extensively in order to be a competent specialist.

To study Buddhism, for instance, you have to be able to handle not only all - the European languages in which the discussions of the Oriental come, particularly French, German, English, and Italian, but also Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and several other languages.

This is a tremendous task.

Such a specialist can't also be wondering about the difference between the Iroquois and Algonquin.

Specialization tends to limit the field of problems that the specialist is concerned with.

The individual who isn't a specialist, but a generalist like myself, sees something over here that he has learned from the specialist, some thing over there that he has learned from another specialist - and neither of them has considered the problem of why this occurs here and also there.

The generalist gets into a range of other problems that are more genuinely human than specifically cultural. " - adapted from Joesph Campbell



The main themes of myths are the same,
and they have always been the same.

There are historical as well as psychological
aspects of the similarity of myths.



Keeper of teh Golden Key

If you want to find your own mythology,
the GOLDEN KEY is with what society do you associate?

Every existent mythology has grown up in a society in a bounded field.


When a mythology collides with another mythology an alchemic reaction occurs and they amalgamate. Once they do you get a much more complex mythology.

These myths, bits of information, from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage, and if you don't know what the guide posts are along the way you have to discover it for yourself.

Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of human life.

Myths ask you to turn inward for the metaphorical symbological message.




perspectives

to see this you must read other culture's myths,
not those of your own culture,
because you intrepret your own religion in terms
of the concepts and symbols that you have been taught.


If you read the myths of other religions, you begin to see the underlying message.

Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with the experience of being alive.

Once this subject catches you, there is such a feeling, from one or another of these traditions, of information pointing to a very deep and potentially rich life that you too can enjoy.

Whether I am reading Polynesian or Iroquois or Egyptian myths, the images, the symbols and the conceptual archetypes are the same.

Every mythology has to do with the wisdom of life as related to a specific culture at a specific time.

Every mythologies original intent was to integrate the individual into his culture and the culture into the field of nature.

Every mythology attempts to unite the field of nature and the culture with an individual's inner nature.

Unification is a harmonizing force.

Western mythology, for example, is based on the idea of duality; good and evil, heaven and hell. Because of this our religion tends to be ethical in it's accent. Sin and atonement, right and wrong.

Civilizations are grounded on myth. The civilization of the Middle Ages was grounded on the myth of the fall, the redemption on the cross, and the carrying of the grace of redemption to man through the sacraments.

The cathedral was the center of the sacrament, and the castle was the center protecting the cathedral. There you have the two forms of government - the government of the spirit and the government of the physical life, both in accord with the one source, namely the grace of the crucifixion.

There are three centers of what might be called mythological and folkloristic creativity in the Middle Ages. One is the cathedral and all that is associated with monasteries and hermitages. A second is the castle. The third is the cottage, where the common people are. The cathedral, the castle, and the cottage - you go to any of the areas of high civilization, and you will see the same - the temple, the palace, and the village. They are different generating centers, but in so far as this is one civilization, they are all operating in the same symbolic field.

The folk tale is designed as entertainment, and sometimes for instruction if their is a moral to the story.

The legend is designed to elicit social cohesion bringing the warrior hero, the brave knight, the slayer of dragons to save the social culture from imminent catastrophe.

The myth is designed for spiritual instruction, redemption for the spiritually corrupt.

There's a fine saying in India in regard to these two orders of myths, the folk idea and the elementary idea.

The folk aspect is called desi, which means "provincial," having to do with your culture. That is for young people. Through desi a young person is brought into the culture and is taught to go out and slay monsters. "Okay, here's a soldier suit, we've got the job for you." But there's also the elementary idea. The Sanskrit name for that is marga, which means 'the Path.'

The Path is the trail back to the reality of self.

The myth comes from the imagination, and it leads back to it.

The society teaches you what the myths are, and then it disengages you so that in your meditations you can follow 'the Path'.

The dictionary definition of a myth would be stories about gods but this is incorrect.


There are two related types of mythology

There is the mythology that relates you to your nature and to the natural world, of which you are a part.

These myths deal with a god or gods that are personifications of the motivating power in human life and in the universe - the power of your own body and of nature.

Myths are metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being.

The same power that animates our lives animates all the life on Earth.

A nature oriented mythology would be of an Earth cherished compassionately by mankind.


Then there are culturally specific myths.



There is the mythology that is strictly sociological, linking you to a particular society.

You are not simply a natural man, you are a member of a particular group.

Brotherhood is confined to a bounded community.

In bounded communities, aggression is projected outward.

For example, the ten commandments say, "Thou shalt not kill."

Then the next chapter says, "Go into Canaan and kill everybody in it."

That is a bounded field.

The myths of participation and compassion pertain only to the 'in' group, and the 'out' group is totally 'Other'.

This is the sense of the word 'gentile' - the individual is not of the same order.

In the history of European mythology, you can see the interaction of these two systems.

Usually the socially oriented system is of a nomadic people moving around,
you learn that your center is in that group.

The Talmudic mythical religious traditions are a socially oriented mythology in which nature is condemned.

In the 19th century, scholars incorrectly thought of mythology and ritual as an attempt to control nature.

That is magic, not mythology or religion.

Natural religions are not attempts to control nature but to help you put yourself in accord with nature.

When nature is thought of as evil, created by the Demiurge or Saklas, or endlessly modified by Lucifer or Satan , you do not put yourself in accord with it, you attempt to control it, and hence the tension, the anxiety, the cutting down of forests, the strip mining of mountains, the damming of rivers, the overfishing of the seas, unsustainable agricultural practices, toxic pollutants, the destruction of entire ecosystems and the annihilation of native peoples.


Joseph Campbell Monomyth



The imperialistic accent here separates us from nature.

I will never forget the experience I had when I was in Japan, a place the people have never heard of the Fall. One of the Shinto texts says that the processes of nature cannot be evil. Every natural impulse is not to be corrected but to be sublimated, to be beautified. There is a glorious interest in the beauty of nature and cooperation with nature, so that in some of those Japanese gardens you do not know where nature begins and art ends.

For myth to function in a society the individual has to be able to find an aspect of myth that relates to his or her own life.


Myth basically serves four functions.

The first is the mystical function which allows one to realize what a wonder the universe is, what a wonder life is and thus allows one to experience awe before this mystery. Myth opens the universe to the dimension of mystery, to the realization of the mystery that underlies all forms. If you lose that, you don't have a mythology. If mystery is manifest through all things, the universe becomes, as it were, a sacred image. You are always addressing the transcendent mystery through the conditions of your actual reality.

The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned - showing you what the shape of the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through.

Today we tend to think that scientists have all the answers. But the great scientists tell us, "No, we haven't got all the answers. We're telling you how nature works - but what is nature?" You strike a match, what is fire? You can tell me about oxidation, but that does not fully explain the reality of fire.

The third function is the sociological one - supporting and validating a certain social order .

Here is where myths vary enormously from place to place.
explain the reality of fire.

The third function is the sociological one - supporting and validating a certain social order .

Here is where myths vary enormously from place to place.

You can have a mythology for polygamy, a mythology for monogamy.

This sociological function of myth has taken over on Earth - and it is out circumstance.

Myth is that field of reference to what is absolutely transcendent. The symbolic conceptual imagery is based on the experiences of humans in a particular community, at that particular time and place. Myths are so intimately bound to the culture, time, and place that unless the symbols, the metaphors, are kept alive by constant recreation through the arts, the life just slips away from them.

The only mythology that is valid today is a mythology that includes the entire Earth and of humanity as one social cultural group.

The closest thing to a planetary mythology is Buddhism, which is really not so much a religion as a philosophy of living life.

The task at hand for humanity is only to understand and know what reality is, and then use that knowledge to act correctly within the relationship of the brotherhood of all of these beings, both human and animal, that inhabit Earth.

We have to seek accordance with the wisdom of nature and realize once again our brotherhood with the animals.

To say that the divinity informs reality and all things is falsely condemned as pantheism when in reality this mode of perception is panentheism.

The word pantheism suggests that many gods inhabit the universe, but that is not the idea of divinity informing reality at all.

The idea of divinity informing reality is of an indefinable, inconceivable mystery, thought of as a power, that is the source and supporting basis of all life and being.

If we think of ourselves as coming out of the Earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, you see that humans are of the Earth.

Humans become the sapient consciousness of the Earth.

Human eyes are the eyes of the Earth.

Human voices are the voices of the Earth.

(It is false to believe that human intellect is needed to control the Earth - that involves stepping into the transcendental temptation.)

Myths and dreams come from the same place.

The myth puts you into a dream all the time, the dream connects you with the mystery which you are a part of.

Myths come from realizations that have to find expression in symbolic form.

Myths come from sages with spiritual power and depth who experienced their lives as being inadequate to the spiritual aspect or dimension of their being.

The only myth worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that includes the whole Earth, not this city, not these people, but the whole Earth and everybody on the Earth.

What mankind needs to deal with will be exactly what all of mankind's myths have dealt with - the maturation of the individual, from dependency through adulthood, through maturity, and then to the end of life. These new myths must relate to the social culture of humanity as a whole and to the reality of nature and the cosmos.

This is the ground of what the myth has to be to be viable for a global culture.

A myth to fullfil these functions already exists in America:

the eye of reason, not of my nationality;
the eye of reason, not of my religious community;
the eye of reason, not of my linguistic community;
the eye of reason staring out from the top of a pyramid on a one dollar bill surrounded by the words 'In God We Trust'.

Not some mythological god but the God that opens the eye of reason within each individual human being.

Do you see? Will the logos prevail?

When you see the Earth from the moon, you do not see any divisions there of nations or states.

We need an inclusive philosophy for all the peoples of Earth, not for this group, that group, the 'in' group or the 'other' group.

Such an inclusive philosophy could use the Earth as a symbol.

That is the homeland that we are going to be celebrating.

Those are our brothers and sisters that we are one with.

Humanity need this all inclusive myth.

A myth that identifies the individual, not with his local social, cultural or political group, but with the whole Earth.

A good model of this could be the America of the founders dreams:

small sovereign states acting in cooperation through a federation which would equally protect individual human rights and the rights of the communities of the inhabitant peoples of each state without disregarding the individual interests of anyone of them.

If America could just return to the principles of America's founding fathers dreams, whose model is the model Americans should emulate, then America could lead the way to an Earth of unprecedented spirtual enlightenment through material justice.

- adapted from Joseph Campbell
Myths are the way in which humankind has attempted to symbolically conceptualize the human condition
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