The allure and the need for myths

Bill Moyers: Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death.

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth

It may really not be possible to do away with myths. The myth is as much a part of the human need as the allure of it. Even when one does not want to, there will come a time when a person feels the need for a story. This inner need expresses itself as a search, or as a desire. It may come early in life or it may come late. Nevertheless, a person who thinks is bound to realize a sense of emptiness. Nothing but a story could fill it. All a person would want or hope for is to find a good story, and then, live it.

Finding one’s myth

This is where one person differs from another. It is easy to understand. What isn’t easy to understand always is, why one person chooses one story to understand his reality while another chooses another. Once again, it is to be appreciated: Till the time a person finds the story – the myth – that satisfyingly explains his existence and gives purpose to his soul, the power within is still not released. It is looking for its expression. The myth provides the expression. Only that, when one goes deep into his personal myth, it is no longer a story but life itself.

CAMPBELL: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell, too, makes the same point in his conversation with Bill Moyers. Every culture ought to provide a satisfying myth to the persons it holds – one might say – captive. Yes, cultures hold at least some persons captive while the vast majority are simply organized by it. This is what we understand to be a society. Is it not true? The exceptional individuals of society – the artists, the searchers, the thinkers, and the visionaries – if they succeed in finding their creativity-unlocking-myth, will then become the heroes and the leaders. They may even one day become legends others recall with some fondness and some fear.