Why is it that everyone loves a good quote? Is it that we sometimes feel something that we can’t quite put the words to? Or is it that we don’t feel like our own words are enough? Someone with more eloquence, prose, ability has probably said it. They’ve concocted an entire situation, era, internal pulse out of a few concise words. It is why we fall in love with certain phrases. You see them splayed across images these days. Letters arranged in a way that stir you, thrown on top of an image of a far away land.
In all seriousness, amongst Rumi, Thoreau and many others, Joseph Campbell is the calling card for go-to quotes of this century. Our generation is in a veritable love affair with life, pushing our boundaries, breaking out of the box and defying social norms by doing ONE thing: Following our bliss.
I felt it rather proper to share a little information about this bliss pioneer on the anniversary of his birth, March 26. Joseph Campbell was a life-long student. At one point in his life he spent nine hours a day reading, self-educating, for five years straight. He was interested in mythology, comparative religion and the humanities, continually discovering what life meant to him as well as writing and transcribing his ideas about the monomyth. He was a student of Hinduism, Asian mythology and Sigmund Freud. As a university professor and eventually a public speaker, he can easily be credited as giving us the idea of “following your bliss”.
He attributed his idea of following bliss from the Hindu Upanishads;
Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat-Chit-Ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.
Although these comments are from the mid 80’s and the political, economic, social climates are vastly different; he has left a gaping hole. One large enough for those of us daring enough to walk through, to follow our happiness, to find what makes us tick.
If you 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. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
In memory of Joseph Campbell, may you follow your bliss, [whatever it is] today, tomorrow, and the next.