There are very few books that you read and you know you will keep going back to them. Reflections on the Art of Living is one such book. Joseph Campbell is well known for his work in Myths and in comparative religion. In his research on Myths, he has studied most of the religions of the world and can present an interesting comparison. He is greatly influenced by eastern religions specifically Hinduism and Buddhism. He quotes a lot of times from eastern literature such as Upanishads and Vedas. And he uses a lot of Buddhist stories to make a lot of points.
This book has been compiled from discussions that Campbell had with 10 of his students during a 30 day period in 1984, where they had gathered for intensive exploration of mythological dimension. Reflections on the Art of Living is broadly divided into 3 segments – Living in the World, Coming into awareness, Living in the Sacred. In the first section, he talks about everyday living. In the second about becoming aware of oneself and one’s connectedness or oneness with the rest of the world. And in the third, he talks about creating your own sacred space and living with it. He covers a wide range of things, almost anything that touches your life spiritually. It is impossible to review such things so I would just quote some of the words from the book:
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
Life is without meaning.
You bring meaning to it.
The meaning of life is
Whatever you ascribe it to be.
Being alive is the meaning.
The heroic life is living the individual adventure.
Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be.
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.
If you want the whole thing,
The gods will give it to you.
But you must be ready for it.
As you go the way of life,
You would see a great chasm,
It is not as wide as you think.
When you follow your passion,
Society’s help is gone.
You must be very careful.
You’re completely on your own.
It takes courage to do what you want.
Other people have a lot of plans for you.
Nobody wants you to do what you want to do.
They want you to go on their trip, but you can do what you want.
Find a place where there is joy,
And the joy will burn out the pain.
If you connect with these words, you would probably enjoy reading this book Reflections on the Art of Living and Joseph Campbell in general.
Buy this book – Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion by Diane K Osbon at Amazon India.