The Gate Keeper of Inspiration – 28 Joseph Campbell

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I am in the north wing of the library also known as the Mythology Wing. One could spend a life time in the stacks here and not even begin to turn the page of what is historically available. I need to do a bit of research on Hera, the wife of Zeus whose name came up recently in some other research I was doing.

I always find libraries to be warm and entertaining places. There is no other like this one in all the physical world. In terms of content it surpasses the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt which was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. That library was the cornerstone of a research facility dedicated to the nine Muses of the arts. Caesar burned some of it during his siege, but its real decline started much earlier with the outcasting of the scholars and intellectuals by Ptolemy VIII around 145 BC. We have recreated many of the scrolls from that library to provide access for our guests to the original texts and writings of the ancient scholars.

Eventually the library of Alexandria dwindled during the Roman Period for the same reason most of today’s libraries succumb, lack of funding and support. Fortunately our library will never have to face such a situation. The Providers made our library to house the worlds’ wisdom and knowledge which had been previously lost to wars, disfavor and carelessness.

Let me see, our librarian told me I could find the information I seek about half way down isle thirteen which is at least half a city block further for me to walk. I have not spent a great deal of time in this wing, but I always love spending time in the library. From the moment I open the massive front doors I feel transported not from any time or place but more into a place of silence and wisdom. I am Plato coming out from my cave into the light.

“Good morning Socrates. What brings you to my corner of the library this morning?”

I am immediately startled as I had been lost in my own world. I turn to see Joseph Campbell seated at a long table almost hidden by the stacks of books surrounding him. “Good morning Joseph. I was not expecting to run into anyone this morning.”

“You know me Socrates. I spend much of each day here researching the ancient histories and myths of humanity. What brings you here so early?”

“I wanted to do some research on Hera.”

“O. The wife of Zeus. Now there’s a story for you. I think you will find her about half way down isle thirteen.”

Joe knows this wing of the library the same way a homing pigeon knows her way back to the roost.

He continues. “I was just about to take a break myself. Would you care to join me for a glass of sherry or cup of coffee before continuing your journey?”

“Yes. That would be wonderful Joseph. Sherry for me, thank you. Let’s move over to those overstuffed leather chairs by the window.”

“My thinking exactly Socrates. It has been a long while since we last had the opportunity to sit and converse.”

Joseph lays down his notebook and the two of us settle into the comfortable leather chairs in front of a huge stained glass window. I am not sure I ever noticed the window before but it is a cloud image of Hera.

“Look Joe.” I say pointing to the window. “Did you know….”


“Yes Socrates.” He says without even turning around to look. “This is the perfect spot to begin the journey for your research.”

“Joseph, you are one of the few individuals with whom I find myself constantly in amazement.”

“And you Socrates are a hero in my eyes.”

“Me. A hero?”

“Yes you Socrates. A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. You give your being to this paradise, this life, so you can share it with those you love, respect and appreciate. You give all of us here a new lease on being.”

“After my early years, my life has been about enrichment of the experience of life. It has never been about the money.”

“I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave.”

“I agree with you 100% Joe.”

Joseph continues. “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that. We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.

“I think poetry Joe has connected me with that truth more than anything else in my life.”

“Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss.”

“True, how true.”

“If you do 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. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” Joseph adds.

 “Finding the bliss path is not alway easy for most of us. I mean, you knew the moment you walked into the indigenous peoples’ wing of the Metropolitan Museum what you wanted to do with the rest of your life. Here we are older in years and I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up, but I would not trade one moment of this life I live for any other life. This I am sure of. I left the world I wanted no part of and embarked on this journey of self discovery and never left.”

“Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

“I agree Joe. I first had to remove myself from the noisy brain world of what I believed to be reality to a quieter inner world.”

“That doing is what makes you a hero Socrates. The first work of the hero is to retreat from the world scene of secondary effects to those causal zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside, and there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in his own case (i.e., give battle to the nursery demons of his local culture) and break through to the undistorted, direct experience and assimilation of what Carl Jung calls “the archetypal images.””

“I found almost complete solitude was and remains necessary for me on this journey. The world of people is too busy and noisy for me.”

“I completely understand Socrates. Sacred space is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

“I am a witness to that truth Joe. Wherever I live becomes my sacred space. Here it is what the guests refer to as Socrates Cave. Just look at where we are and what we experience here each and every moment, this beauty, understanding, acceptance and life.”

“I know Socrates. The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

“Amen Joe. Amen. I think I am ready for that sherry now.”

“Me too Socrates. Let’s walk over to join Hera.”

D90B48F0-E54F-482E-B9AD-26C55748C38A The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Chapter 29 — Fyodor Dostoyevsky