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Reply To: Defining Myth


Hello everyone,

I’m new to the forum. My name is Andy – nice to meet you .

In regards to the question, I feel like we are limited in defining myth if we aren’t believers in a higher power (or something transcendent) and we are also limited if we do.

For example, myth has a strong connotation with gods/goddesses, and in my experience, strongly religious people are often so wrapped up in their beliefs that they can’t evaluate their faith with rigorous rationality – and I don’t think they should. To me, a believer feels and experiences their faith, and heavy thinking is antithetical to that feeling and experience.

But at the same time, how are we supposed to truly know something if we don’t experience it? I think this is the main handicap of academics, who might posit theories on this-that and the-other… but who might not “get their hands dirty”… the so-called, “ivory tower” analogy.

And then of course, there’s the ultimate limitation – that of words and even thought itself. Campbell said many times, as soon as you put a word on it, you’ve lost it. It’s the great irony. The great cosmic irrationality. The mystery can not be named or known. That’s why visual art, music, dance, ritual, storytelling, etc… they are all so powerful… they are a less wordy and less rational way of approaching the divine, and some might say a better way of approaching the divine.

During a psychedelic mushroom trip (long ago), I once heard a voice (a god, a hallucination? no matter) and asked it why I couldn’t grasp the “truth”? The voice told me that the human mind is based on duality (i.e. black/white, yes/no, hot/cold, etc.), and that the “truth” is ONE (black is white, yes is no, hot is cold, etc.). So the mind can never know the “truth”. In fact, I think duality is the first step into a sense of “I”… IDK if that applies to this topic, but I always think of it when I exercise my faculties of reason and am seeking to understand or define something.

But even if the mind could grasp it, I don’t think it would be a fun exercise. I think that life might look like a monk in a cave or a yogi sitting and staring at the sky or something. It’s not a life most of us want to live. I like the internet and chocolate and mountain-biking, etc. 🙂

Cheers! 🙂