“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Take a deep dive into Joseph Campbell’s teachings and discover the transformative power of his message. These lessons offer a roadmap for navigating life’s many challenges and will help you find meaning and purpose in your own journey.
41 Life-Changing Lessons to Learn from Joseph Campbell
1. “All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.”~ Joseph Campbell
“What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?” ~ Joseph Campbell
3. The ultimate aim of the quest must be the wisdom and the power to serve others.
“The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.” ~ Joseph Campbell
4. Be in your own service and your ego will be gone.
“How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout? To be in your service, is the trick.”~ Joseph Campbell
5. “Wisdom and foolishness are practically the same. Both are indifferent to the opinions of the world”~ Joseph Campbell
6. Let go of what you’ve planned and accept what it waiting for you.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”~ Joseph Campbell
7. “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”~ Joseph Campbell
8. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” – Joseph Campbell
9. You really live for the experience of life, and all that comes with it.
“What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.” ~ Joseph Campbell
10. Always be in the service of man, not society.
“Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that’s what is threatening the world at this minute.” ~ Joseph Campbell
11 “Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.”~ Joseph Campbell
12. Follow the path that is no path.
“Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Follow the path that is no path, follow your bliss.”
13. “The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.” ~ Joseph Campbell
14. Follow your bliss and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living… Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~ Joseph Campbell
15. Say YES to this miracle of life as it is.
“You’ve got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on condition that it follow your rules.” ~ Joseph Campbell
16. The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
17. “You become mature when you become the authority of your own life.” – Joseph Campbell
18. Being alive is what is is all about.
“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” ~ Joseph Campbell
19. When you stop doing the things you’re not suppose to, you gain a sense of an authentic life.
“What if we choose not to do the things we are supposed to do? The principal gain is a sense of an authentic act – and an authentic life. It may be a short one, but it is an authentic one, and that’s a lot better than those short lives full of boredom. The principal loss is security. Another is respect from the community. But you gain the respect of another community, the one that is worth having the respect of.”
20. “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”~ Joseph Campbell
21. The only meaning life has it the one you bring to it.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
22. Everything that happens to you is positive.
“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.” ~ Joseph Campbell
23. Stay on your path and doors will open where there were no doors for someone else.
“When you are on your path, and it is truly your path, doors will open for you where there were no doors for someone else.” ~ Joseph Campbell
24. “If you are on the right path you will find that invisible hands are helping.”~ Joseph Campbell
25.. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else’s path.
“If you see your path laid out in front of you – Step one, Step two, Step three – you only know one thing . . . it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else’s path. That is why you see it so clearly.”
“You are more than you think you are. There are dimensions of your being and a potential for realization and consciousness that are not included in your concept of yourself. Your life is much deeper and broader than you conceive it to be here. What you are living is but a fractional inkling of what is really within you, what gives you life, breadth, and depth.”
27. “People forget facts, but they remember stories.”
29. The best things cannot be told because they transcend thought.
“The best things cannot be told because they transcend thought. The second best are misunderstood because they are the thoughts that are supposed to refer to that which cannot be thought about. The third best are what we talk about.”
30. Eternity is nor future nor past.
“Eternity is not future or past. Eternity is a dimension of now. It is a dimension of the human spirit — which is eternal. Find that eternal dimension in yourself, and you will ride through time, and throughout the whole length of your days.”~ Joseph Campbell
31. “It is within you that the divine lives.” ~ Joseph Campbell
32. We’re all seeking the experience of being alive.
“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 what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
33. “When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”~ Joseph Campbell
34. The adventure the hero gets ready for is the one he gets.
“The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it’s really a manifestation of his character. It’s amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets.” – Joseph Campbell
35. Make your hobby your source of income.
“I think a person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave. Work begins when you don’t like what you’re doing. There’s a wise saying: make your hobby your source of income. Then there’s no such thing as work, and there’s no such thing as getting tired.
That’s been my own experience. I did just what I wanted to do. It takes a little courage at first, because who the hell wants you to do just what you want to do; they’ve all got lots of plans for you. But you can make it happen.”
36. “He who thinks he knows, doesn’t know. He who knows that he doesn’t know, knows.”~ Joseph Campbell
37. Have a place in which you can go in your heart, mind, or house, to allow the blossom of something new and promising.
“You must have a place to which you can go in your heart, your mind, or your house, almost every day, where you do not owe anyone and where no one owes you – a place that simply allows for the blossoming of something new and promising.”
38. “It is going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
39. The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Fear of the unknown is our greatest fear. Many of us would enter a tiger’s lair before we would enter a dark cave. While caution is a useful instinct, we lose many opportunities and much of the adventure of life if we fail to support the curious explorer within us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
40. “Love is perfect kindness.”~ Joseph Campbell
41. Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” ~ Joseph Campbell
“Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy. What you have to do, you do with play. I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is as a playground. If what you’re doing seems like play, you are in it. But you can’t play with my toys, you have to have your own.
Your life should have yielded some. Older people play with life experiences and realizations or with thoughts they like to entertain. In my case, I have books I like to read that don’t lead anywhere.”
“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.
This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
“Anyone who has had an experience of mystery knows that there is a dimension of the universe that is not that which is available to his senses. There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: When before the beauty of a sunset or of a mountain you pause and exclaim, ‘Ah,’ you are participating in divinity.
Such a moment of participation involves a realization of the wonder and sheer beauty of existence. People living in the world of nature experience such moments every day. They live in the recognition of something there that is much greater than the human dimension.”
“Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror but my God you’re alive and it’s spectacular.”
“If you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion… The hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed.”
“You know the rule: If you are falling, dive. Do the thing that has to be done.”
“Each of us has capacities. The real trick is knowing the machinery of the boat in which you are crossing the channel.”
“The eternal principle, which never was born, never will die: it is in all things: it is in you now. You are the wave on the face of the ocean. When the wave is gone, is the water gone? Has anything happened? Nothing has happened. It is a play, a game, a dance.”
“You don’t ask what a dance means. You enjoy it. You don’t ask what the world means. You enjoy it. You don’t ask what you mean. You enjoy it.”
“When you no longer are compelled by desire and fear when you have seen the radiance in eternity from all forms of time when you follow your bliss doors will open where you would not have thought there were doors and the world will step in and help.”
“Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat. Life lives on lives. Our own life lives on the acts of other people. If you are lifeworthy, you can take it.”
“Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.”
“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts.”