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National Educational radio presents the Cooper Union forum. A program taken from a meeting at the great hall of the Cooper Union in New York City by station WNYC. This presentation was recorded March 12th 1969. Now to introduce tonight's discussion. Here is Dr. Johnson ether child of the Cooper Union. Good evening ladies and gentlemen welcome to the group or your uniform. Line here this discussion which has to do with. The search for love in the White House. Dr. Joseph Campbell. Is probably one of the more area's magnificent scholars on the general field starting with the mysticism of it and I have introduced
him so many times here in this forum. That I feel that if anybody has missed it you better go look up the record. And any of that. He has produced of. Books and activities he has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and in general is just a nice thing and they're very smart. Come on Joe. I think approaching this very difficult thing we might begin by arguing very briefly the Oriental concept of nirvana so the will are concepts of Nirvana so that we'll know about it talking
about. A number of you will recall the definition I gave in the first talk from the Yoga Sutras of yoga. Yoga is the intentional stopping of the spontaneous activity of the mind substance. And you perhaps recall that I compared this using an image that's quite frequently used in the Indian texts. To the situation of a water surface a pond REPL 10 blown by a wind. That is the way our mind is in its activity and such a water surface breaks all the images you don't see anything in it. Firm form. The function of Yoga the goal of yoga is to make that wind stand still. The word Nirvana means blowing out wind. Go on. Then the mind then the
other like the water surface will stand perfectly still and be cleared of sediment. And what were broken images which is what we behold as we look around. Will be seen in their essential form which will be one form of which all these are but the broken images we are our broken images so to say of the form of forms according to this idea. And the one who has made the mind stand still and has beheld the image of images. Will be riveted to it and. Perhaps the body then will drop off simply because he has not been paying attention to it. He will die. But he may open his eyes again and let the wind blow and he will know that that one image dances in all the forms that he sees and behold and loves. And then you have that double perspective which is a very important one for the theme that I
want to talk about today of. Being centered in the image and yet playing with the rippling of the world of time. It's that paradoxical position that is so difficult. To hold. There's a very amusing little Indian story which many of you I'm sure know of a young. Disciple who was told by his guru. You ahd that divine image. All things are reflexes of that divine image. And inflated with this notion of himself as divine in this way. He goes forth strolling. Coming down the road is a great elephant. With that the elephant driver on his head the Hao doll rocking back and forth in The Bells that they put on the elephant's rocking and
longing. And this. Chap. Walks along he thinks I am the divine image the elephant is the divine image I am God. The elephant is God should God get out of the way of God. And they hope the elephant driver on the elephant's head is shouting at him Get out of the way you idiot. I am God. The elephant is God and so forth. And of course the moment of truth arrived and this wonderful elephant just wrapped its trunk around this lunatic and threw him off the road. He landed and was terribly bruised physically but more so spiritually and in this mangled state he comes back. To his guru and looks at him and says well what happen to you. He gets the
story. And he says you told me I am God. He was. God. The elephant is God. The elephant is God. Should God get out of the way of God. Well says the guru Why didn't you listen to the voice of God shouting at you from the elephant's head. Get out of the way. This is a little story to illustrate. The problem of the two worlds in which we're living it which we must have our being and it's this dumb. Position that the secret here. I was once teaching a Hindu monk to drive a car. And this was in the old days with a stick drive in the clutch and all. And in the back seat was another monk. Well we came up an upgrade to a crossing and we had to stop for a red light
on the upgrade. And so with the gear in first first gear I half released the clutch. You know the stunt so the cop was running and yet standing still. The mark on the back seat says Nirvana. And that. People like to have little images to remember and this tense statement May 1st something like 30 years. Now. When we actually turned to the Indian texts and definitions of nirvana in the different sects. That three different attitudes that I would just like to speak about very briefly the most simple and one might almost say crude is that of the Jain sect and it is from these that the idea of nonviolence comes and so forth. The notion there is that the soul are the living reincarnate again and he is in its perfection
like a perfectly pure lucid crystal ball absolutely perfect absolutely light. And if that were in that state it would be up at the Summit of the universe like a bubble up there. But actually it is terribly infected with matter and this matter is called karma. Karmic matter. And every act that you perform infects more with matter and this pulls it down into the lower areas where we live or could even pull it way down into the health. Now the aim of the yoga there is not to act. One takes throughout life a series of Viola's decreasing one's activity progressively until one is absolutely sitting still. And then in yoga concentration one builds up what's called Heat the top boss and one burns out their stuff. The idea being to die at the moment when the stuff is all burned out.
If you die before that you'll be back in another incarnation. So it's a very nice job of estimating when to go. This is an absolutely dualistic position. That is to say we have spirit and matter. Spirit is infected with matter. Let us clear matter out and dissociate the two. Very flame of the Spirit then well below well below like a flame where there is no wind. This is the idea in in the Jain system. In the Buddhist. Heaney on an early Buddhist monk ish Buddhism the idea is not to kill the body but to kill. The burning thirst for life. The body remains alive but that thirst for life is what is killed and so you get not a physical discipline of this kind but a psychological discipline the Jain system is really quite physical and the Yoga is our most austere and
horrendous. But in the in the Buddhist tradition it is largely basically a psychological crisis that is sought for. And it is understood as achieved by leaving the world and going into the monk life. In the early Buddhism the hiney out of Buddhism. Laymen could expect only to be reincarnated with that readiness to become a monk. Some find lifetime you would become a monk and quit the world. Now I see what this implies is that the world. And Nirvana can experience different. But they're not the same. One goes from the world of reincarnation which is call song or the vortex to Nirvana and the body drops off life drops off no more reincarnations. One has saved oneself one has withdrawn oneself from this incorrigible world.
Because a basic thought in the Orient is that the world cannot be improved. You have either to affirm it or negate it. And the mood in early Buddhism is definitely of negation. But it is a psychological negation. Then as I tried to show the last time I spoke here. Comes a second stage in Buddhism which is known as the big vehicle Buddhism the Mahayana Buddhism. When the world is actually affirmed that is to say having found. The one still state one opens the eyes again and place in the world. And the aim here is actually to be in the world as a saving presence and the image here is not of a monk who has left the world but of a kingly presence. In the world. Teaching helping doing his
work participating in the world's life and that is the double image system. Now. As we know Buddhism went to China and Japan in those two worlds of China and Japan there is an essentially world affirmative attitude in India one feels all the time a basic attitude of negation. But in China and Japan that's not so these are people addressed to the world. And so it was the Mahayana Buddhism that we find in those two great. Cultural realms. Now let's turn to the west. It's a very easy thing to move from India to the Greek world and to recognise one after another counterpart. For example. The Stoic ideal of the late Greek period of the Roxio. Is exactly that of not being disturbed by the impacts of
life and yet participating in life. It is that double attitude. And very interestingly when you analyze the meaning of the word octo Roxio. It comes from the Greek not turbulent not whirling. Not disturbed. And that's exactly the meaning of Nirvana. Not blown by the wind not wrapped up in the vortex. Another word that is extremely. Suggestive here is kept ourselves. When we read Aristotle poetics. The function of the tragedy is to effect a catharsis of the sentiment. This is affected through.
The experience of pity and terror. Now as James Joyce says in the portrait of the Artist as a young man our start of did not define pity and terror. But I have and his hero Stephen Dedalus defines pity and terror and the main point is that they are static. Joyce distinguishers I'm going to make a big point of this to the top. Joyce distinguishes between what he calls proper and improper art. Proper art he defines as static. Improper art. AS. Kinetic. And by kinetic he means inspiring in the beholder. Desire for the object depicted or loathing for it. Now you will remember when the book has sat under the tree of illumination the
immovable spot in the center of the psychological world. He was tempted by calm Amarah the great lot of life. First to desire and then to loathe or fear. And he was not moved. My point is that Joyce's concept of aesthetic arrest is equivalent in a certain way to the Buddhist idea of the immovable spot where one is moved neither by fear. Nor by desire. Now what is the difference between fear and desire and pity and terror. Pity is that emotion which arrests the mind. Before whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings
and unites it with the human suffering. Terror is the emotion which arrests the mind. Before whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unite it with the secret cause. What is the secret cause and this is the. Point. If Mr A kills Mr to be what is the secret cause of Mr B's death. The instrumental cause is the bullet. Obviously that's not what we're talking about. If you are writing a play that is devoted to talking about the bullet perhaps to have control or something like that. This is not going to be a tragic way this is going to be a didactic work. All right. Well perhaps Mr. A is a fascist and miss to be somebody we like better than that. Well then is the play about that. Is it a political
play. Is it a social criticism play. Now is social criticism play excites desire. And both things. Are pretty critical works that move you into political action or economic action or something of the kind of the kinetic sort. That's a secret because of the death is the inevitability of death. And however it comes is secondary. And if the work. Addresses you to that. Theme that the Buddha announced all life is sorrowful. And at the same time makes you feel pity for the human suffering. Not. The communist suffer the fascists suffer the negro suffer the whatever you like. But the human suffer then you have a work that doesn't move you to actually go out but reveal to you with a revelation
about life. And this revelation is one that leads to an affirmation of. The terror attack. That terror which is the essence of life is now affirmed. The agony of life is now affirmed and life is recognized with its bitterness and its sweetness as. Of one substance. We cannot erase the sorrow. That's a main point of the book that all life is so awful. The release from sow is the nirvanic experience. And with that one can participate in this hour again and this is the tragic mood and in the Greek tradition the great tragedy is to be scurrilous. There is a powerful affirmation and one gets it also in the odes of Pindar. There is one that he addresses to a youth who has just won an Olympic wrestling crown. And he says.
These moments of triumph and victory so short. What is man. He was like grass mown down but in the moment of excellence there is a light that shines. And that theme REIT excellence the perfection of the character the perfection of the day of the life form is the great great thing and I'd like to compare this contrast this with the mood in the Orient whether it's in India China or Japan. Which is to depersonalize the nirvanic experience stresses. Depersonalization in my talk about the still pond I mentioned in an image that image which is reflected in all things. The great would rest with the image of the Oriental goes past the image to the void. The Oriental mood sits on the void and actually identifies with it whereas the Greek doesn't do that.
The Indians those who invented zero. The Greeks had no zero in the Indian hells and heavens. You do not recognize the people who are there. They have to come in drugs. Brock mas are demons of one sort or another. You wouldn't recognize their personality. But when Odysseus went to the underworld. And when Ennius went to the underworld they recognized their friends there even though they were twittering shadows. The personality in the classical world survives. Likewise in the Gothic when Dante went through hell purgatory and heaven he recognised everybody who was there. The concept of the personality as an eternal value or rather a value of eternal worth. Equivalent in value to the void is the fundamental western concept which distinguishes a line from
the Oriental. In Sanskrit there isn't even a word for individual. The Greeks were the first as far as I know who recognized human beings as individuals. In the Orient from the Near East all the way across. People are judged in terms of their social affiliations. One is born into a caste. One is a prominent shopper and not an individual or one is born into a tribe. One is a member of this tribe tribe another tribe. But it is the Greek and it is the European concept of the individual and the self determining self-responsible judging evaluating ego. That is built here. And it is because we have had this built into us always judging not doing justice we're told. Not just following the
guru. But estimating judging is because this is been built into it that it is so difficult for a Western person and I've seen this. I've watched it for years and years. Who undertakes Oriental disciplines to achieve the aim that his guru is trying to render to him. The Oriental person grows up. Doing as told. The principal virtue of a student is shroud Hobb perfect faith in the Guru. There's an anecdote which I think I may have told here once before a couple of years ago that I moved to tell again about gurus. This is of a student who arrived late one day to his guru and the Guru said well you're late. What's this mean. Well said the Student I'm sorry I live on the other side of the river the river is in flood. There was no boat. I couldn't come across the ford and so I'm late. Was
it a coup. Did the river go down. Did a boat come. No. Well how did you get here. Well I thought my guru is my divine revelation. He is absolutely without fault. No personality intruding between the pure light of truth and the world. I will meditate on my guru. I will become pure as he is pure and I will walk across the water. So I said to myself. Goo goo goo goo goo. And I walked across the water and I'm here. Well the Goober was I can tell you surprised. And when the student had gone. This kept with him and he couldn't get it out of his mind finally he said I've got to try this. So he goes to the edge of the water. Looks about the back sure nobody's
watching draws himself together is ready for the venture. I I I I. And he drowned. Now the reason he was a guru was that he was not bad. And the reason his guru was a guru was that he wasn't there either. And so you can imagine the antiquity of the doctrine that these people are communicating. It is come down without any inflection through the centuries through the millenniums. This is an absolutely uncreative world. The center of creation the creative function is a function which is that function which estimates the environment. Puts you in touch with the actualities and circumstances of your life and of your own character in relation to it and then finds new thoughts in relation to this absolutely new situation. But the person is always doing what he's told. There isn't an embalmed world. Now as I said it's the Greek who is the first in the history of
mankind as far as any of our records go that I know of on. Who've. Thought of the individual. And it's in the Greek world that you have the idea of the voting citizen and the one who makes up his mind and whose mind constitutes him a member of a group of minds and these minds sit down and decide what would be decent things to live for. How do we find and invent institutions to bring these about. All together different from the Oriental concept of the law. You already have a concept just like that of the Bible. The law is deliberate. You can ask yourself whether the author Doctor law makes sense. It may be absolutely absurd in certain circumstances. But you gotta do it. Now this idea of the human reason the rational faculty comes with the Greeks. And so the idea of perfection is perfection as a human individual. And a human individual has a brain and the flower of creation the flower of nature is the human reason.
And so you do not find in the typical Greek idea of anti-Iraq seok the idea of. Show me the face you had before you were born. As you get in the Buddhist system you don't have that returning to the uncarved block that you get in loud. So. You have the idea of the flower. Flower of creation the human being. This is the difference. This is the first difference and the great symbol the great sign of the Greek ideal is the standing nude the beautiful Human Flower creature in his character as a human being. To balance out Iraq's catharsis being cleansed of the passions in the tragedy.
These are classical counterparts. Of. The nirvanic themes in the Orient but with this addition which makes a more difficult balance to achieve. Now when we come toward the contemporary time we have a very difficult intrusion to take care of namely the Christian tradition which comes in from the Near East. Now the Near East is that part of the world where civilization first marriage. The dates that are now being given to the first rise of agriculturally based cultures agriculturally based communities goes back to nine thousand B.C. in southern Turkey and in Palestine and Syria in that. Part of the world. And he had great communities grew up and went great communities grow up there is the problem of human beings participating in a great community. And so the emphasis on
community community community becomes terribly strong. And in all of the religions in all of the sociology we might say that have come out of the Near East this stress on membership in a community is dominant. Furthermore it's in that zone which is surrounded by desert and the desert is not like wonderful lovely Mother Earth. It doesn't support. Life. Life is supported only by the community and its doings. Nature doesn't yield its bounty in that world. And now this is unique. I believe in the whole panorama of religions in the world of the Near East. God is separated from the world in all the other traditions the divine dimension is a dimension of nature. You can find it in yourself whether you are a Greek a Hindu
Chinese or a Japanese sage. Not in the Near East. God created the world and they are not the same. The whole aim of the Oriental Roxy is and the Nirvanas is to realize the divine dimension in yourself. I am God the elephant is God. That not so in this other world. This other world stresses the position of consciousness not the depth. And so where's the oriental religions move toward the realisation of one's identity with the divine. That wonderful saying from the china dog you punish I touch I see you are it your own very self. Not the you that you identify and try to protect in the world but the you that was never born and never dies and is the secret soul of your whole being. Instead of that
idea of identity the ox the Near Eastern religions have the idea of achieving a relationship to God. You are not identical with the divine. In fact there is nothing divine about you. And when you turn inward in contemplation you do not get in touch with the divine you get in touch with the created soul that may or may not be in proper relationship to its creator. So these are religions of relationship. Look at the image. Of the Orient the sage turned inward. Look at the typical address in the west of the path full out would turn and how do we get in relationship to the divine. Through membership in a group. In the Hebrew tradition God has a covenant with a certain people. How does one get in relationship to God by being born of a Jewish mother. And by maintaining the laws of the carbonite
and everybody else is out. When you come to the Christian tradition. Christ is true God and true man that is regarded in Christianity as a mystery in the orient it would be said that that's why each one of us has to realize about himself in the Christian tradition once humanity unites him with Jesus. And Jesus divinity unites us with God and it is only through that focus that we are put in relationship to God. And how do we get into that focus by membership in his church a community and so we have this terrific emphasis on the institution the institution the society and that society tells us what its rules are. Within this there is also the idea. Of the fall and if nature is corrupt and of the world as now
in a kind of movement of progression to restore the good society the good situation which existed before the fall. And this will come at the end of time the day of yob day or the second coming of Christ. So that we are in a wrong world. Now let's fix it let's get it. Tied up. You could not just send it down into it. And yet there is even in the Near Eastern tradition a heretical line. It comes up in some of the Gnostic texts around 1948 that was dug out of the Egyptian desert a job with a lot of Gnostic manuscripts in it one of these has been translated as The Gospel According to Thomas. And there's a wonderful statement there. The disciples asked Jesus when will the kingdom come. And the answer is it will not come by expectation. The Kingdom Of The Father is
spread over the earth. And men do not see it. It's here now. That is a saying that can be linked up with the Nirvana idea whereas the idea of waiting till the end of time for heaven or you know the day of the resurrection of the body and all that. That's another concept entirely. Now this was brought into Europe. And we have this collision the collision between the spirit of job who submits to the monstrous activities of God. And the spirit of Prometheus who when he is treated that way by an angry jealous god Zeus who pins into Iraq. And when to send little delegation to say apologize and we'll let you go. From atheist says in the wonderful words of each of us. You tell him I despise him. Let him do as he likes. You know when the Greek gods misbehaved they lost stature they were rejected. When Yah they behave that way. People submit to him.
Now this is the difference between the religious submission of the ego and the European affirmation of it. Now look at ourselves. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday we are Promethea. Humanists. Sunday for half an hour with Job religious people and the next Monday where on they psychiatry Scouts try to find out what's the matter. These two traditions are linked in us. The European spirit whether it's in the Greek the Roman the German or the Celt. Is not going to be told what to believe the history of Christianity in Europe is a history of heresies. Fighting heresy all the time. Right in the beginning in the fourth and fifth centuries. Pele Jesus the Irishman I'm pleased to say fighting Augusten the North African.
Augusten original sin we all inherit sin. She has no one inherit any one sin. Everyone is pure in the beginning and his sins are his own and he can throw them off. And he needs no sacrament for that. The value of Christ is not. That. He saved us magically through his sacrifice and. Communicates his saving grace to us through the sacrament. The value of Christ is as a model of life. A model of courage a model of living with integrity. This is pledges. And we come on down then to the wonderful 12th century and 13th century when the European spirit really broke through. This is the period of the Tristan. And the Grail romances and the period of the Troubadour love. Amar. Let me say a word about troubadour love. Here's the beginning again about Iraq's Shia
in the new style. We hear of two kinds of love before the mediæval period. Eros. Pay. Your arse. The biological love you might say of the organs for the organs and the body is all right in the dark. They Christian love thy neighbor as thyself no matter who it is. Anybody dark or light days. Doesn't matter. Whatever it is. These are indiscriminate. They're fine. Surely the world goes on that but that's not what Amari is. The Troubadour definition of a Mars as follows. It comes in Cairo to bar named one of the great troubadours of the 12th century. Love is born of the eyes. The eyes and the noble heart the eyes seek for a proper object to love not
any body. And when that object is beheld it is recommended to the heart. And if it is a gentle heart a noble heart love is born. What is a gentle heart the heart capable. Of love. Not simply lust and not simply copy but the aesthetic arrest. The response to that person and this is what you get in Dantes first pages of the B ton rover when he beholds teach a a new life opens to him because of that particular. Individual. This is individual. You don't love people because they are. Greek or because they are. Members of your political party or because they are. Members of a certain class of wealth or something like that. You love that person. This is exclusive in a way.
Furthermore this is not comparable to the kind of thing you get in Soofi and Indian erotic mysticism there. Well let's pick a bit from a man's position that's what men talk about it Marcel we know more about how they feel. The woman becomes in the Orient a vehicle of a divine power the power of the Shakti the power of the female principle. And she may be of any social class whatsoever and particularly of favored people of a lower caste because this is something that should leave society behind and be a transcendent experience transcending caste and everything like that. Not so the Troubadour the Troubadour celebrates his lady as herself. She is usually of his own or highest station. And he addresses her not as a vehicle of divine manifest revelation of anything in a time but as herself person to
person and the miracle of love is the agony of it not the ecstasy of a transcendent experience but. The experience of the sweet betterness and the bitter sweetness which is the taste of the very essence of life. Which is pain and pleasure simultaneously. And when the great got feet of Strasbourg wrote his Tristan he prefaced it with these words. I write I'm giving myself a heavy task for those whom I love. Not those who seek a life. Of happiness pleasure with no pain. God give them such a life. But those who recognize the sweetness of their pain and the pain of the sweetness of their lives and will have more and more and more of it. When Hell always fell in love with
Avalon. And had a child by him she knew and believed this was sin and that she would burn in hell for it. She accepted that pain for her love. This throwing out of all the rules. The comedown from churches. Or traditions. And accepting the integrity of your experience of your experience and it to yours is the whole. Secret of the life of integrity that the Middle Ages began to build up. And this comes to a kind of climax in the Grail romance of profound connection. There's a theme there which echoes now in our modern literature the wasteland the land was laid waste and the Grail hero was to save it. He didn't know that he was there to be the Grail hero. He didn't know that he was to save it. What had laid the land waste.
The fact that people were living. In authentic lives. The Grail King was one who had inherited his role. He hadn't earned it. He was a young man who inherited the role of the Grail King the guardian of the highest spiritual symbol. He rides forth on a love adventure which perfectly alright for him but not for a Grail King. And he is wounded in battle. And the whole land laid waste. What is needed is someone who will act out of his own nature and this was the character of one from Spaza far don't get far from spawns far mixed up with Wagners fogginess is a kind of monkish fellow. And his Grail Castle is altogether different from well from where you
see the great opera boss of alll. The Knights of the Grail came in. There are males involved from his castle the Grail is carried by an absolutely pure girl. And the maid maidens who attend there are all pure virgins young girls. And the goal is not to remain a virgin but to become a mother. But the Grail carrier is absolutely pure. This was in contrast to the State of the clergy at that time. They were the scandal of the century and there was a doctrine which had also been affirmed by St. Augusten namely. That the sacrament was in corrupt about and even though the priest might be a scoundrel riddled with sin the sacrament was valid through his hands. The quote The moral character of the clergy did not matter. Even Pope Innocent the third called his clergy a sty of Pigs. That's a word
that's come up recently again. People who are simply behaving as they should not behave. Now the interesting thing about Parsifal is that every time he did what he was told to do instead of what he wanted to do things got worse. Well for makes this very very. Clear. The Wasteland then is a land of people living lives that are not their lives and that's the theme that TS Eliot took over from the mediæval romance and in his poem we get this theme of how do we break the dry dead life. That comes from people. I did not know that London had so many dead people in it. Has this line. It comes from the love of the mark type. Where one's heart wakes up.
Through the address of another. Almost the same date a diet of TS Eliot's wasteland is Joyce's Ulysses. Exactly the same thing. Stephen Dedalus the hero. He was the one I brought to us first with the aesthetic arrest is walking on the Shaw and he sees the waves rippling. And a man has drowned out there. This is the barrier between you and me. These waves away from time and space. And how do we get to know each other meet each other open to each other. The first part of the Ulysses. All the characters are defending themselves against each other. And Stephen walking by the shore. Here is a nose that a man has drowned out there and he asked himself this question and here is the key question.
Would I have dared to sacrifice my life to risk my life to save a drowning man. This question came to Joyce from Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer asks. How can it be that a human being can respond to the suffering of another as though it were his own and forget his own safety and spontaneously in action out of sympathy and compassion move to save that person not moved by a an instruction not moved by a program not saving people because they ought to be saved but suddenly spontaneously as though it were his pain moving risking his life to save another. I think of this whenever I see on the TV those wonderful chaps in those helicopters risking everything to save some poor fellow who's been shot down and at the risk of their lives forgetting themselves you might say. Helping this
other out it's the same thing and Schopenhauer says the reason this is possible is because that is Elf. There is what Joyce calls a con substantiality that this emotion of calm passion is Schopenhauer at the Met physical emotion. It is that which puts us beyond the separateness of time and space and puts us in touch with our true being that still image which is reflected in all of the images and we are for once forgetting ourselves as a mere temporal manifestation and experiencing ourselves as human beings. This is the theme that comes in Joyce. Toward the middle of the book Steve and Stephen is frightened by a lightning flash or something else Leopold Bloom a totally different kind of man opens in sympathy for Stephen and then later Stephen in sympathy for BLOOM That's the whole theme of the book. They have found
briefly only like a flash of aesthetic. Delight which then is gone and we are back simply in the crude world again. They've experienced for a moment that experience of identity. And now just to conclude this. I've spoken about the stress on the individual in the classical terror Oxiana that balance that we've been talking about the great canoe celebrating the perfection of the body and the perfection of the individual. When we turn to the later Western world the Gothic and so forth. There's a new theme comes up. We are not simply man we are this man this woman this individual the Greeks had the idea of a sort of human norm. Wisdom to put you in touch with the mysteries of the norm. That's not our view. There was a word that struck me in one of the great romances some years ago and I've been talking about it ever
since it sort of hit me. It comes in the great quest to think of which is a letter early 13th century work. What I read was this. The Grail appeared in our office. Dining Hall King office dining hall all the night beheld it. But it was veiled with a great cloth. And when it had vanished Sir Guy Wayne his nephew stood up. And he said I propose a toast. I propose a vow. I propose that we all set forth tomorrow morning to find the grail to behold it. Without the veil. And so. That was indeed the programme. Next morning after Mass they all mounted their horses and started off. But here's the line that struck me. And this now is the northern west not the Greek
world not the Near East not the Orient. The line was this they thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the forest at a point that he himself. Had chosen. Where it was darkest and there was no way or path. There was no way or a path. Where another foot has gone. Is someone else's path. Your path is absolutely unique and unknown to you or anybody else. This dismisses the whole principle of the Guru where you do as told and say goo goo goo goo and walk across the water. No one can guide you. People can give you clues but you must then confer
with your own interior mystery. And it is this that gives the peculiar what for the rest of the world looks like. Romantic foolishness to the Western spirit at its greatest. It is driving it is yearning for a realisation of something that never was on land or sea. Namely the fulfillment of its own uniqueness. And when you realize that in the human brain there are 18000 million cells. If no two human hands are alike no two human brains are alike. No two human beings are alike there is no one path and the whole challenge of our life is to find that one path which is our peculiar path. And in the course of that quest nevertheless to be centered to be centered you knock on Gnome base. There is a kind of tie to Roxio in a kind of world of movement and progressing and fulfillment that belongs only to us.
So I've moved from the Orient through the air east to the Greek world where the human norm and I've suggested Now the Gothic and world with its unique path. And in conclusion I like to cite a very brief poem by Robinson Jeffers a California poet that sums up this whole thing. Poem is called natural music it was one of his very early ones in the middle 20s and while I'm reciting that you must remember that in California the grass is yellow in the summer time and green in the winter. The poem is as follows. The old foist of the ocean. The bird chatter of Little Rivers. Winter has given them gold for silver to stain their banks and bladed green for Brown
to line their waters. From different throats in tone. One language. And so I believe if we were strong enough to listen without divisions of desire. And terror to the song of the sick nations the rage of the hunger smitten cities. Those voices also with sound being as a child's all like some girls breathing dancing alone. On the ocean saw dreaming of lovers. Thank you. Ah thank you. You have been listening to Dr. Joseph Campbell speaking on the search for Nirvana. The chairman was Dr. Johnson E. Fairchild of the Cooper Union. The programme was recorded on March 12 1969 at the great hall of the Cooper Union in New York City
by station WNYC. This is the national educational radio network.
Cooper Union forum
Episode Number
Spring 1970
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-SUPPL (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:55:25
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Chicago: “Cooper Union forum; 7; Spring 1970,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
MLA: “Cooper Union forum; 7; Spring 1970.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Cooper Union forum; 7; Spring 1970. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from