Joseph Campbell Quotes


Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) is perhaps the greatest mythologist of the 20th Century. Campbell focused on a specific area of mythology that he termed Comparative Mythology. His work served to demonstrate how mythological stories - ancient and modern - followed a common thread he called the monomyth. This is a series of steps that hero stories always seem to follow in mythology.

George Lucas acknowledged that he was a fan and later a friend of Joseph Campbell’s. He consciously sought to match the Star Wars storyline with the monomyth. Campbell’s classic work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), became popular among the counter-culture in the 1960s, as people in the West sought connections between their western spiritual traditions and those of the East.

Campbell was a strong proponent of Jungian psychology and its links to mythology. He taught Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence College in New York from 1934-1972. He was very versed in the mythologies of India and Asia.

He attained the greatest fame of his life when the PBS series The Power of Myth aired about a year after his death. The famed series of a lengthy discussion between Campbell and Bill Moyers where he elucidated the conclusions of his lifelong work.

Here are some of my favorite Campbell quotes.

  • A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.

  • Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

  • We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

  • The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

  • The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

  • Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

  • Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

  • The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

  • It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.