I’m an avid book reader, and every time I finish a book my mind is blown. The book, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers was no different. In fact, my mind was blown colossally. Besides being dramatic about the wealth of information in this book, the way Joseph Campbell breaks down how legends and myths help shape and create the grounding structures of a community was nothing short of amazing.
Before we dive into this book review, let’s first explore what the main topic of the book means…
Legends and Myths
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a myth is a traditional story told to explain natural events and the early history of people. Sometimes, these stories feature aspects from the supernatural world.
Myths have been around since humans first started to tell stories. It’s the perfect way to teach both children and adults how to act and behave in a society. The myths we have encountered in our lives have shaped us to be who we are today. We’ve learned from stories that life can be a series of trials to overcome. But, ultimately once you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. That’s the main lesson from Hercules’s story.
Legends, on the other hand, are created after an obstacle has been overcome. If you think about it, we’re all legends in our respective stories. We face trials and obstacles every day, and we come out on top or with more knowledge to do it better the next time we’re faced with a similar situation.
Stories about legends and myths help us understand and navigate this confusing world of wonders.
The Power Of Myth
A conversation with a man who made it his life’s duty to research myths across different societies around the world is one to be pulled apart and analyzed. This book allows you to do that. Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer had a great interview/conversation session, and it amounted to a book worth reading for everyone. It’s like eavesdropping on one of the best conversations ever had.
It covers a lot of different topics such as, spiritualism, coming of age, facing challenges, accepting guidance, and finding your path. It’s a book that you’ll want to take your time reading. And, that’s exactly what I did. It took me a whole month to finish but it was worth the wait.
There were moments when I had to put down the book and mentally review what I had just read because of how powerful and profound the information was. I felt like this book clarified a lot of questions I had about life itself.
The clever way Campbell answers Moyer’s questions made me think more deeply about where the questions stemmed from rather than what was being asked. Campbell responds with stories, so it’s up to the reader to find the lesson and see the answer clearly for themselves. He doesn’t just hand you what you want to hear on a silver platter. He challenges you to use your own resources and knowledge to see beyond what is being asked.
Love Your Enemies
My favorite and the most enlightening section of the book is when Campbell shares the story of the Tibetan monks.
In 1959, there was a terrible attack on Tibet by the Chinese government. The attack resulted in over a million Tibetans being killed and the complete overthrow of the Tibetan government.
The monks living in Tibet had their lives drastically changed. Some continued life as a monk while others tried to do something else. The Dalai Lama was amongst those who chose to take a different route with their lives.
What happened to the Tibetans was horrifying, but it also proved something significant. When asked about their feelings toward the Chinese, the monks responded that they harbored absolutely no hate but made known they were actually grateful.
“Love thy enemy because he’s the instrument of your destiny.”
In other words, love the people who have done horrible things to you because they’re pointing you in the direction to fulfill your destiny.
I had to take a break after reading those words. Suddenly, everything made sense.
The heartbreaks, the manipulations, the dead ends, and the annoying obstacles all made sense! They were there to guide me to my true path. At that moment, I found it easy to forgive everyone who had ever hurt me. Because if they didn’t play their part impeccably well, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.
The same goes for you. All the people whom you secretly resent because they don’t seem to get along with you are there to help you understand what it is you like and greatly dislike.
That person who reminds you of your ex is there to show you that it’s time for you to take another route and start doing things differently from what you’ve been doing. Resenting them would be a waste of energy, and the lesson that you need to learn might be overlooked.
Myths bring clarity
This book brought me so much clarity that I’m encouraging everyone to read it. It is definitely a book that should be read more than once at different stages in your life. I focused on the biggest impact I had while reading this book. But in all honesty, this review doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the depth and value found in its pages.
The Power of Myth serves as a guide in the explanation of the myths we all grew up with. How the meaning of the stories change as we go through different stages in our lives, and how to understand the information.
It’s also a firm reminder that it’s always best to follow your bliss on whatever path it may lead. Because if you force yourself to live a life without happiness, you’ll become a shell of a human and doomed to repeat the same lessons without any reward.
Do yourself a huge favor and get the book. You won’t regret reading it, and I certainly can’t wait to read it again.
Legends and myths have the power to change your life.