Crafting Gentleness

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

musings from Joseph Campbell

He quotes Schopenhaur.....

Campbell: One day, two policemen were driving up the Pali road [in Hawaii] when they saw, just beyond the railing that keeps the cars from rolling over, a young man preparing to jump. The police car stopped, and the policeman on the right jumped out to grab the man but caught him just as he jumped, and he was himself being pulled over when the second cop arrived in time and pulled the two of them back.

Do you realize what had suddenly happened to that policeman who had given himself to death with that unknown youth? Everthing else in his life had dropped off - his duty to his family, his duty to his job, his duty to his own life - all of his wishes and hopes for his lifetime had just dissappeared. He was about to die.

Later, a newspaper reporter asked him, "why didn't you just let go? You would have been killed" and his reported answer wasw, "I couldn't let go. If I had let that young man go, I couldn't have lived another day of my life". How come?

Schopenhaur's answer is that such a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical realisation, which is that you and that other are one, that you are two aspects of the one life, and that your apparent separateness is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time. Our true reality is in our identity and unity with all life. this is a metaphysical truth which may become spontaneously realised under circumstances of crisis. For it is, according to Schopenhaur, the truth of your life.

The hero is the one who has given his physical life to some order of that truth. The concept of love your neighbrou is to put you in tune with this fact. But whether you love your neighbor or not, when the realisation grabs you, you may risk your life. That Hawaaian policemant didn't know who the young man was to whom he had given himself. Schopenhaur declares that in small ways you can see this happening every day, all the time, moving life in the world, people doing selfless things to and for each other.

Moyers: So when Jesus says, "Love they nieghbour as theyself" , he is saying in effect "love they neighbour because he is yourself".

pp110 - 111 The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers


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