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Reply To: Incarcerated, But Not Imprisoned,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”


    JA; since your post seemed directed to Dennis I wanted to wait before I said anything until he had a chance to respond:

    “I am very grateful for your response. And I am grateful to your for turning your treasure into a pathway for others in service to those who need someone like you to witness. Wonderful work, my friend.”

    If I may be permitted I too was very moved by what you shared; and hope you will feel comfortable joining in on our further exploration of this topic.

    One of the things that I seem to see more and more that keeps popping up on my radar is “social isolation”. And Facebook as well as other forms of social media seem to reflect that deeper inner need for people to connect with each other. I think in many ways within modern society we find ourselves alone but often times this aloneness is within a crowd as well as solitary. And one of the reasons for this recent toxicity we experience on social media and is reflected in our sense of insecurity about our self-image. (The state of this toxicity seems to encourage this tendency and further exacerbate this infection to the point where one’s social comfort feels at stake whenever a comment or communication is put forth so that the tendency is to cautiously withdraw into one’s inner shell which encourages this further isolation from each other.)

    We fall back into protected groups where we feel secure and our notions of who we are and the things we like are not criticized or challenged for social validity. And nowhere does this seem more prevalent than in one’s “persona” or social mask that is worn that tells our outer world we are somebody that has status of one kind or another or in one form or another. The clothes we wear, the house we live in, the car we drive, the things we buy all reflect this to some degree; but I think the value of “friendship” needs to be raised to a much higher level than is at present fully appreciated. We know people; we like people; (or least to some degree on a social level); but how many deep friendships do we really have? We have family; (most people have at least some form of these relationships); and we have work relationships because making a living is a requirement if one is to survive. And I think for many at this particular moment our devices interconnect us to some if not most of these relationships but within certain perimeters. If we have a religion we practice then it may or may not provide a certain amount of security or companionship; but do we really know who we are and what we want?

    As Dennis and JA were mentioning earlier certain literary works help connect us to our inner world in some ways; (like a message in bottle from someone who has visited these shores long before us); and we can reflect on these insights that have come down to us through time. But the modern world we now find ourselves in poses new challenges that are not always included in these narratives and we are challenged to look through a different lens than the one that is offered and draw our own conclusions. And art in it’s many forms provides doorways that offer a way out of our self enclosures and we can think of things in a different way than society usually offers. Self-expression I think is a huge boon for the modern individual as it always has been throughout human history; only now modern man is challenged to find meaning in a different way than before because the role of myth as opposed to religion offers this choice. And to me the idea of a “personal myth”; (which is what Joseph refers to in much of his work); provides this pathway forward for an individual out of his own personal pain. One thing Joseph relies heavily on concerning religion is the idea of the metaphor as opposed to a concretized symbol; so that if someone says Jesus or the Tao or Buddhism we are referring to something that is within the individual consciousness; not somewhere outside themselves like a deity with a “thou shalt” system with a set of rules to be obeyed; and that the gods are symbolic of something within.

    So I’m wondering how others might see how our relationships are defined within these parameters of the way we find meaning and answers to these deep inner questions that follow us throughout our lives. (I think they have huge implications for the way we see ourselves; but I’d like to hear some of Dennis’s and everyone else’s thoughts on this before I go any further.)


    I’m adding this little clip of Joseph’s as a short addendum to help clarify the difference between the hero quest of the left-hand path and the right hand path of the village compound which he lays out as the two distinct choices the individual has within the bounds of normal modern life.