Mythology & Parables in the Modern World 3
Continuing our discussion to this point, how do we apply Mythology and Parables to our modern life? Is there a formula or pattern to follow?
Jesus Christ, among others, implored us to listen to ourselves inside our “Hearts.” Plato and a number of his fellow Greek philosophers advised: “Know Thyself.” Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “To Thine Own Self be True.” And over the years of our recorded history, many other prophets and teachers repeated the same advice. This very guidance comes to us again through modern day psychologists, psychiatrists, artists and spiritual advisors.
But even before the above mentioned proponents had their say, Mythology was there promoting the very same advisement. In fact, many modern day proponents of “getting to know your self” refer back to certain Myths to underline their point. Freud did it. So did Carl Jung, along with numerous others over the last century. Myths are still guideposts to the Modern Era. They’re just not so visible anymore and they’ve suffered from the bad press of being a synonym for fiction.
Joseph Campbell, an anthropological researcher from the latter part of the 20th century showed us how Myths and Parables crossed cultural boundaries and were recycled through succeeding generations. He pointed out, for example, how the Hero Myth appeared in most ancient cultures and has survived through untold generations into the present, to be recycled again. Where do we find them today? In our movies for starters, television, comics, books, and music.
Carl Jung spoke of the “Collective Unconscious,” which in mythical lore was related to “Psyche,” a Goddess, whose function it was to inform humans on their condition and plight. She too was instrumental in teaching us how to “know ourselves” better. Hence, modern Psychology is derived from this source and owes its very name to a Mythical Goddess from Antiquity!
Psychology, which is my field, is about getting to “know yourself,” using the tools of the trade – testing – psychotherapy – counseling – clinical investigations – and so on. Pop Psychology is about getting to “know yourself” for $15.95 over a weekend – Nuff said! Getting to “know ourselves” isn’t going to happen that easily or economically. My own experience, both personal and professional, is that this process is a lifetime commitment with every step having its own challenges and rewards.
Back to the bigger picture now, what we are witnessing here, as this new Millennium gets rolling, is “transformation” or “getting to know ourselves” on a grand scale. Already we are being told about it. Economic structures, Social structures, Religious structures and therefore, Personal structures are going to change dramatically. Like it or not, it’s already underway. The New Age sections of bookstores are full of such references; and these also cross over into Pop Psychology, Para-Psychology, Philosophy and Religion. Just check out your favorite bookstore.
Looking at all of these sections in today’s bookstores begs the question: “Why is such a plethora of mythically based reference material being thrown at us right now? To announce the advance of the New Era is the answer! It is here and we’ve got to deal with it. Like it or not, our current structures won’t accommodate it. We need different reference points to guide us through this transitional period. Guideposts that can override the limits of modern terminology; that can trace their roots back through the mists time and can consistently be relied upon like the needle in a magnetic compass; always pointing in the same direction – towards the Self, the True North and Center of our Personality.
It is “To Thine Own Self be True” over and over again. Right here, right now, that is the Sine Qua Non of our Era. We cannot move forward as individuals and a species without this most important central resource. Our Self is our guide to our personal creativity, our life purpose and the Divine. And this True Self will take us to the very core of our Being – Our Soul! That is where we are headed and what defines the current challenge.