Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Pollen Path

Navajo sand painting of the Pollen Path

Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.

We have chosen this Navajo sand painting of the pollen path and quote from comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell as a fitting visual-verbal segue from the A Year With Rilke (AYWR) blog that just ended with the pollen endlessly released by Rilke's flower of farewell and this new venture, sparks and mirrors.

We, Ruth and Lorenzo, view this new blog as part of a continuum with its ‘spiritual’ predecessor blogs, A Year With Rilke and Rumi Days. To tell the truth, we are not sure exactly where this new blog will take us, but are eager to find out, in the company of all of you who care to come along and, hopefully, participate, much as you did over the course of last year on AYWR. We do view it, to intone today’s opening quote, as a space to share our personal and collective mythologies, our public and personal dreams, maybe even to create some new ones. Who knows?

As many of you are aware, Joseph Campbell wrote extensively, knowledgeably and passionately on myth, religion, poetry and metaphor and, most compellingly of all, on the interplay between them. A fine introduction and portal to his thinking can be found at the Joseph Campbell Foundation websiteWe’ll close this opening foray into sparks and mirrors with a longer quote from Joseph Campbell for your consideration, contemplation and comment. It is taken from his book length interview with Bill Moyers, later published as The Power of Myth:

Schopenhauer, in his splendid essay called "On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual," points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others. The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

It’s a magnificent idea – an idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can’t blame anybody for anything. It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended.

In our individual and team blogging experience, we both feel that we have ‘apparently by mere chance’ met people who then became ‘leading agents in the structuring’ of our blog personas and lives, friends and fellow bloggers with whom we truly feel meshed together in ‘one big symphony’.

And it is in that spirit that we, Ruth and Lorenzo, want to wish all of you, on this first day of this new year, a warm welcome to sparks and mirrors.


  1. This is going to be another exciting journey, and I thank you both for lighting the fire. And what a great way to begin!

    As yet another example of the synchronicity that bloggers often experience with one another, I am in the process of writing a piece that features a discussion by Joseph Campbell on "amor fati"—the love of one's fate. Joseph Campbell's writings have been instrumental in my life, and his book-length interview with Bill Moyers is one of my most treasured volumes.

    Yes, yes, yes, to both Schopenhauer and Campbell. After living for almost seven decades, much of which was spent in search of a reliable path through chaos, it now seems that my life has unfolded according to a mysterious but consistent "order and plan." Yes, the whole thing does seem like one big symphony, "one great dream of a single dreamer," a place where "everything links to everything else." And I agree that there often seems to be some kind of "single intention" behind it, though we will probably never get beyond mere speculation about the nature of that intention. It's all mystery, of course, but the mystery is easier to embrace when one feels part of the plan, a member of the symphony, a dreamer within the bigger dream.

    Thanks again for this new blog. I eagerly look forward to it!

  2. My Thought for the Day today is a Campbell quote.

    Looking forward to the posts here. Thank you for continuing to open new paths to explore and ponder.

  3. this magnificent--can't wait to read more...the best to you and yours in the new year..c

  4. Marvellous. The little pollen nibs have me scratching all over with joy--how perfectly Mr. Campbell (obvious) and Mr. Schopenhauer (less so) fit into my current reading of James Hillman. Of course, that is all due to Ruth. "Apparently by mere chance," by synchronicity, you are opening the universe out. Bravo!!

  5. Just found ye and missed the whole year with Rilke! Now I will follow ye here, what a treasure trove for 2012, thank you:~)

  6. Your whole life is composed by the will within you.

    In my life are many moments when I'm quite unaware of what is within, when I fail to see the sparkling net of gems. Even if I'm unaware, that will within me does its thing, pushing and pulling me forward? Wow!

    I'm glad that your "Sparks and Mirrors" opens a world of possibility that "smoke and mirrors" could not. Thank you, Ruth & Lorenzo.

  7. Joseph!

    Dear Joseph Campbell!

    To him, I owe my ability to use my closing quote. And to no longer be afraid to do so. And to have found peace, thus.

    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
    ~ Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

  8. My dearest old friend, Joseph Campbell. This is a magical net which is clearly woven by my inner voice, which you hear, too. Is it saying, " home"?

  9. So happy to follow along here. Your writings and reflections are gifts to us all!

  10. Ruth and Lorenzo...what an incredible way to start the new year, with the words of my hero Joseph Campbell! Looking forward to early mornings with you both!

  11. Beautiful start. Makes me to want more :).

  12. Beautiful, this. Glad to be here.

    PS: Happy 2012.

  13. Welcome, Friends!

    You have only increased our excitement for this new train of exploration. Why do we bloggers wish to post these ideas before others? We crave interaction and discovery that might not happen otherwise. The energy sparked by these inspirations, and the light we see in ourselves reflected by one another's thoughts, compel us to keep this movement going.

    Thank you for riding with us!

  14. Great new venture, Ruth and Lorenzo, and what a perfect point of departure. James Hillman echoed Campbell's comments above in his book "The Soul's Code," where he asserted that we are born with an acorn of soul in us, and that our entire life is a process of growing down (note the contrary direction) into that seed-shape. All of it is, as Rilke would have said, is meant. And you're right, Rumi Days and A Year With Rilke were two great door-openers (composed each of 365 little doors) that leads to here. As you spread out the canvas now with "sparks and mirrors" taken from the gestalt of the whole, a face forms in the mirror that is collectively our own. Here's to seeing that face in great and greater detail. -- And like the Navaho rug that leads off, here's to the flaw in the rug's weave that allows the soul to say Not Here, Not Yet, allowing us to keep reading, keep writing, through the next and next and next rooms of the dream. Thank you for your dedication and talent and generosity, you two. We are so much more because of you. - Brendan

  15. Well, the synchronicity of 1) coming here from one of your comments, Ruth 2) rereading much of "The Power of Myth" because I thought it might help me with 3)beginning the real draft of my memoir as I begin the second half of my sixtieth year and 4) wanting to explore some larger topic in my life--the synchronicity of just those four things is enough to make me stay. Let alone your writing. Let alone the truth of that quote as it plays out the individual symphonies of our lives!

    I am excited by this blog. And I'll be sending this url to five of my friends right now.

  16. Well, I've been away for a week, far from the blogosphere, and I come back to this tantalising, exquisite delight! What treasures and discussions and revelations we can all look forward too. Thanks, Ruth and Lorenzo. And re. the retrospective web of connection, that grand symphony of meaning — all I can say is that I perceive this all the more strongly the older I get.

  17. "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."
    --Joseph Campbell

    Thank you, Ruth and Lorenzo, for your guidance to open doors.

  18. Even stumbling upon s & m (abbreviaton !)only many months later,could not dampen my joy over this seredipitous (word !)discovery. Thank you !


Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.”