Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Reply To: Tiger King MythBlast


On Stephen’s quote of Campbell

“All life is sorrowful” is the first Buddhist saying, and so it is. It wouldn’t be life if there weren’t temporality involved, which is sorrow – loss, loss, loss. You’ve got to say yes to life and see it as magnificent this way; for this is surely the way God intended it …

It is joyful just as it is. I don’t believe there was anybody who intended it, but this is the way it is. James Joyce has a memorable line: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” And the way to wake from it is not to be afraid, and to recognize that all of this, as it is, is a manifestation of the horrendous power that is of all creation. The ends of things are always painful. But pain is part of there being a world at all …

I will participate in the game. It is a wonderful, wonderful opera – except that it hurts.

(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 80-81)”

Thoughts on this quote:

In this respect, even a birth hurts. It is “welcome to this wonderful opera” as Campbell has called it an opera, yet we know it’s all temporary, and that “the ends of things are always painful.” The end and the pain is built-in, and already! it is already there!–“all ready,” in other words. Participating in the sorrows of life joyfully for me means to find joy in the little moments of beauty and peace and what is most near and dear to our hearts, whether a moment of laughter or a hug with our grandchildren or a warm cup of coffee with a good friend, or enjoyment of a good book despite the sorrows. The joy is contained within the sorrows of the opera or soap opera–you find them, the moments of joy, or the joy life is, between the most sorrowful most painful lines or measures of song. You can only go so long feeling deep sorrow before a smile cracks open across a face–pain leads to the gentle acknowledgement of joy nonetheless in some mysterious weird way.

It seems to me an enantiodromia: “the tendency of things to change into their opposites, especially as a supposed governing principle of natural cycles and of psychological development,” as defined by Google dictionary, and also on Wiktionary goes one step more definitive and says, “The principle whereby the superabundance of one force inevitably produces its opposite, as with physical equilibrium” [emboldened emphasis mine]. Also,

Enantiodromia is a principle introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung that the superabundance of any force inevitably produces its opposite. It is similar to the principle of equilibrium in the natural world, in that any extreme is opposed by the system in order to restore balance. However, in Jungian terms, a thing psychically transmogrifies into its Shadow opposite, in the repression of psychic forces that are thereby cathected into something powerful and threatening. This can be anticipated as well in the principles of traditional Chinese religion – as in Taoism and yin-yang. Though “enantiodromia” was coined by Jung, it is implied in the writings of Heraclitus. In fr. 126, for example, Heraclitus says “cold things warm, warm things cool, wet things dry and parched things get wet.” It also seems implicit in other of his sayings, like “war is father of all, king of all”, “they do not know that the differing/opposed thing agrees with itself; harmony is reflexive, like the bow and the lyre”. In these passages and others the idea of the coincidence of opposites is clearly articulated in Heraclitus’ characteristic riddling style, as well as the dynamic motion back and forth between the two, generated especially by opposition and conflict.

(Retrieved from

Why when I am very angry do I sometimes smile? Enantiodromia.Why when I cry (when intensely in anguish) does my face scrunch up the same way as a very intense smile does–making it like a very pained smile? Enantiodromia. Why when we are at our deepest depth of depression or sorrow do we suddenly get up and out when we have “no where else to go but up?” Enantiodromia. Enantiodromia, it seems, or yin and yang, it seems, the waves of the Tao at the shore going back and forth into one another like the waxing and waning moons, it seems.