Academic journal article Mythlore

Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal

Academic journal article Mythlore

Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal

Article excerpt

MYTHS OF LIGHT: EASTERN METAPHORS OF THE ETERNAL. Joseph Campbell. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2012. 166 p. 9781608681099. $14.95.

MYTHS OF LIGHT: EASTERN METAPHORS OF THE ETERNAL is another welcome addition in the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell from New World Library. The book is probably not the ideal starting point for someone new to Campbell's writings--for that, readers might want to try The Power of Myth or The Hero With a Thousand Faces--but it is an excellent companion to those other works. Though first published in 2003, this edition is the first paperback printing of the book.

As in his other works, Campbell is focused on comparative mythology, and here he is working with Asian myths and comparing them with myths of the West. There is a lot that is interesting and worthwhile in this slim volume. For those new to Asian myths, this book can serve as a good primer. As always, Campbell looks for the universal themes in these religions and compares them to other myths around the world. In the first section of the book, he writes broadly about the Eastern tradition. He uses an excellent anecdote here, from an occasion when he attended a lecture by Martin Buber, who was talking about humans and their problem with being 'exiled' from God. Campbell asked Buber what he meant by 'God,' and mentioned that in India the conception of God was quite different from the West, to which Buber replied: "Do you mean to compare?" (2).

As Campbell showed in his lifetime of work, that was exactly what he set out to do. Here he writes, "the whole point of Oriental wisdom and mythic themes is that we are not in exile--that the god is within you. You can't be exiled from it. All that can happen is that you can fail to know it, that you don't realize it, that you haven't found a way to open your consciousness to this presence that is right within you" (2). Through the book Campbell does an admirable job of introducing readers to these myths and hopefully opening them to new ways of thinking about them. …

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