What Myth are you Living?

The great mythologist Joseph Campell defined myths as “other peoples religion”. My understanding of this statement is, that we each inhabit a personal reality where we are having a “true” experience of the universe and other people who disagree with our perspective are in some kind of fantasy world. Proof of this is clear because they (other people) do not know the truths that are so obvious to us.

An example of this would be that someone says, “It’s a fact that humanity is violent” and point to the historical record of wars, aggression and torture that are so well known and need not be listed here. Now if you live this belief (myth) you will find evidence to support this belief, and construct a personal reality that reinforces this conviction. Now someone else may make an opposite decision. They would say “All humanity has a seed of goodness, just waiting to be expressed” and cultivate a life that seeks to emphasize this belief.

In both cases the individual is convinced they have the facts straight and their worldview is based on reality, not belief. What Campbell was saying is that each person has constructed his or her personal myth, which is essentially a belief that is identical to what we call faith in religion. So in the same way we have personal myths, we also have collective or cultural myths. When effective, these cultural myths are so pervasive in a given society that the members of that society have no idea that they are living inside of them.

The above statements essentially parallel to what I just took away from my experience with Charles Eisenstein and his “Sacred Economics” model. Our current collective worldview (myth) revolves around a series of stories that have become shared assumptions about how the world works. As a result we all live on a planet where many of us are having the overwhelming experience that something is deeply wrong, but struggle to pinpoint the root cause of this dis-ease.

For a time we may point at the government as the “problem” then the economic structure, or the mechanistic model of science, others blame the diverse religions that instigate separation and so on. Eventually we come to realize that it is all of these and in some way none of them. We swim within an ocean of stories or myths, and we have become these myths to the point that we have no idea where we end and the story begins. So to define ourselves we have to find something we are not, so we can address the problem we know is there.

For a time this may work, and we rally against the dragon of evil, but even if we succeed we will discover it is actually a hydra. As we cut off one head, two rise in its place. This is why all activists experience some kind of burnout; for the battle is never-ending, because ultimately it is with the self. Therefore the only way to face the demon is to investigate your own story and release it.

I have not read “Sacred Economics” and I actually have no idea of what theories Charles is putting forward but I totally agree that the collective myth has to change before we can start to put forward new economic models. Many of the people self identified as “change agents” are lacking the tools to understand the myths that they are living. And when a demon lies within, the individual will experience that aspect of self in some external way until it is exorcised (to use one way of expressing this idea).

The key element to remember, in this process, is that the individual is not the story. The stories we tell ourselves hold sway only as long as we believe in them. And the story of separation has now been proven to be obsolete by almost every measure we possess; yet we cling to it as a collective in spite of the evidence to the contrary. What Charles suggested to us is that a new story is possible (what he calls) The Story of the Interconnected Self. Where we all inhabit a reality where division is an illusion, what some have called a holographic universe.

When this story becomes the collective myth, then we will know real change. However the first thought that may come to mind is- how can we change the myth we are currently living? For the answer I offer the following Zen story:

The day had arrived for learned professor Zau to speak with the Zen Master Nan-In. As Zau approached the abode of the Master he was contemplating all the sutras and trying to decide what questions to ask first. As Zau entered Nan-In’s simple hut, the master offered him some tea. Immediately Zau sat down and started to list all the sutras and all the questions he had regarding the great teachings of Zen. Since Zau knew his time was limited he was speaking quickly and words were blurting out of him like dam that had just burst. Nan-In was quietly listening and sat down to focus on his guest and pour the tea. Suddenly Zau noticed that Nan-In was continually pouring the tea into his cup, it was now flowing over the top and onto the table. Zau exclaimed, “Master the cup is full please stop, you are spilling the tea everywhere”.  Nan-In paused and said “You are as the cup and I have nothing to offer you about the nature of Zen since you are so filled with your own ideas”.

We have spent our lives immersed and totally invested in the story we have. Only when we totally release the old story and empty the cup can new stories begin to be lived though us.

In conclusion I would like to thank Charles Eisenstein and the team of people that made the event possible. I have been asked to offer a program on how to “empty the cup” and if you are interesting in signing up for an experiential intensive to do this, please click the link below-

By Elias Arjan 2012. Founder and Chief Visionary Officer.
Inovizion Consulting.
Follow Elias on Twitter at @eliasarjan  and on LinkedIn

  • Jessica Gates

    This is right in line with Anne Bishop’s book, “Becoming an Ally, Breaking the Cycle of Oppression ~in People~”. She examines our collective myths and the structures and actions that keep them in place. Also how to breakdown these myths. I think her work makes a very important contribution to this discussion and I highly recommend everyone taking the time to read it.

  • JC

    As long as there is a mind there will be separation. 

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  • Wheelkeeper

    I like this blog Eli, it is good to think about how we live in our own little bubbles of illusion and can’t see past it.

  • Ewag

    A technical comment: I am not prepared to like, share, tweet, etc before I read your text; and I can’t read your text because of the annoying column on the left that is blocking my view. Please, put it somewhere else, where it is not doing you a disfavour.

© Inovizion 2011