books, christianity, God, Life, literature, poetry, religion, spirituality
“Symbols hold the mind to truth but are not themselves truth, hence it is delusory to borrow them. Each civilization, every age, must bring forth its own.”—Heinrich Zimmer, from Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology
“No abstract dialectics here, but a fact of living experience full of flesh and blood.”—D.T. Suzuki, Living By Zen
Quiet, contemplative days. Odd jobs and short walks on a healing Achilles heel.
Finishing a lengthy reread of Joseph Campbell’s four volume Masks Of God series, most definitely one of a handful of books from the last century that will survive the rigorous test of time.
For, how else are we to convey the profoundest experiences of Life except through masks? Mirrors held up to the deepest centers of our inner selves. Often enough mistaken for windows of varying opacity on a great mystery ‘beyond’ or ‘out there’. Yes, mistaken, often enough.
Mirrors, for those with eyes to see, that is. For those without eyes to see the masks are hard and impenetrable and easily manipulated with a clever rational mind, the ego’s instrument.
And how much of what we see, hear, read and otherwise imbibe is a product of the ego?
Listen to the voice of a man following the ego’s death:
“The world would only begin to get something of value from me the moment I stopped being a serious member of society and became—myself.“—Henry Miller, Sexus, volume one of The Rosi-Crucifixion trilogy
Rosi-Crucifixion implying a death and resurrection.
Itself a prominent, ubiquitous Mask Of God.
very interesting posts
David in Maine USA
Sort of clumsily shootin’ arrows at what Haikus prefer to leave unsaid, and probably wisely so. Keep ’em coming (the Haikus), I almost smell the damp, spongy forest floor and hear the haunting creak of a tree off somewhere gently swaying.
Beverly Penn said:
I have a problem with the first quote. It mirrors essentialism and Platonic Forms too much for my liking. Interesting though…
Firstly, thanks for the comment and be sure I at the very least peruse every new post of yours. As I’ve said before, my fav’s are when you get personal, giving something of yourself. It puts a living breathing woman behind many ideas which otherwise leave me cold. As you’ve said, at heart we’re very likely on the same page, you tending toward ideas and thinkers and me… well, that’s a little harder to pin down.
Which brings me to the quote in question. Essentialism? No idea what or who that refers to. I’m more familiar with the Platonic Forms idea, though I doubt I’ll be returning any time soon to my small collection of Plato.
To me, hence here at the Omphalos, symbols are NOT ideas. Deadened over time and thus drained of their emotional energy, perhaps; but all the more reason to rediscover them anew (and ourselves in the process.) That rediscovery lies at the very core of Zimmer’s quote, and indeed the juxtaposing of his quote with the one that follows, Zen ever focused on the HERE and NOW.
Ideas are tools, but the tools can and do tyrannize over our lives, as anyone casting an eye about today would probably agree. Symbols, when vitally alive, cut through the grim Waste Land of Ideas that hem us in. All around I see a fumbling for reconnection… and a misunderstanding of the power and efficacy of symbol.
Zimmer says we cannot go backwards, we (or perhaps just the artists among us) cannot go home again but must forge ahead to what is ever new and alive today.
Old skins are not fitting for new wine.
Wow, thanks again for the comment, and may your life and love be rich and fruitful.