The Ankh also symbolized eternal life and immortality with the balancing and transcending of opposites--represented by the male and female principles--being the way to get there , as well as the union of Upper and Lower Egypt the upper half representing the Delta region of Lower Egypt and the bottom half representing the rest of the Nile River that flowed through Upper Egypt, in the South, to the Delta in the North. Please Note: if the reader is aware of additional symbols, from different religious traditions, illustrating this idea of the unity of opposites, the writers would appreciate hearing from you about this.
Thank you. Celtic Cross: The Celtic Cross is an interesting Christian cross in that it combines the traditional symbol of the cross representing Christ on the cross, who died to the physical life and was resurrected into eternal life with the Father--more a representation of the male principle with the circle around it representing the female principle.
Vesica Pisces Pre-Christian, Celtic Symbol : This pre-Christian, Celtic symbol also represents the unity outer circle of opposites--the two inner circles, which are also seen to be overlapping or interdependent. The area in the middle, where these two circles overlap, is also the shape of a fish, which later became one of the dominant symbols for Christianity. This symbol can be found on the ancient well at Glastonbury, England, which some call the mythical "Isle of Avalon" of King Arthur legends.
This well has provided healing waters at a constant temperature for 5, years, according to tradition. This overlapping and interdependence of opposites also represents, in the Celtic tradition, the interdependence of spiritual and material life; it is not a choice of one or the other, but of both together. Yin Yang: This is the famous Yin-Yang symbol from Taoism, which also represents the idea of the unity, balance, and interdependence of opposites--as the basis for a balanced and healthy life, including a spiritual life. What is most interesting here is that there is always a small amount of the opposite characteristic in each half of the symbol Yin or Female in Yang or Male, and Yang or Male in Yin or Female.
The meaning of this is clear. If you try to totally eliminate your opposite, and create a pure Yin, or pure Yang half of the whole , it will have the opposite effect of what you intended, i. Thus the lesson is clear: if you want to maintain a current situation, always keep a little of its opposite present, so that the situation will be partially balanced and thus maintainable. Hinduism: Male-Female Embrace: Another version of the balance of male and female principles or opposites as a symbol of the path to attain spiritual union with God can be seen in the Hindu symbol of a male and female in an often voluptuous embrace.
Westerners sometimes misinterpret the meaning of this symbol. What it really means is that the spiritual, mystical path requires the balancing and transcending of opposites, not the elimination of opposites.
Spirals Coming Into Form, Going Out of Form : These ancient spirals--moving in two opposite circular directions--can be found on the ancient temples to the goddess in Malta, on ancient stone circles in England and Europe, and even in the Andes, as well as other places. These symbols have been interpreted to mean the spiral of coming into life and the spiral of going out of life as a continuous and interconnected process, thus indicating a belief in reincarnation by the people drawing these symbols.
Jewish Menorah: Apparently the Jewish Menorah is an outgrowth of one of these spirals which was cut in half. Further research follows re: its symbolic meaning. In conclusion, if a symbol can represent a whole philosophy, as well as an approach, to the mystical path of enlightenment, then perhaps these symbols--from a number of different religious traditions--are a simple, visual way to do so. These symbols are also archetypal and thus communicate in deeper archetypal ways to our psyche or consciousness.
One might also note that many, if not most religions, are based not only on the idea of the unity or interconnectedness of opposites; they are also based on the trinity principle in which two opposites come together and create something new. This section will look at the role of mythology--especially as interpreted in the works of Joseph Campbell, and later Jean Houston--in showing a way to bridge one's outer life in the world with the inner life of the spirit.
It will also look at universal aspects of the "hero's journey" the journey to our inner selves in the myths of all cultures; the stages of the hero's journey; and East-West cultural and historical differences in the hero's journey. While some people living in our demythified Western world tend to think of only facts as true, and therefore myths as untrue or illusory, those who study myths note that they have a deeper type of truth to them, which attracts people in almost all cultures to them.
Indeed, mythology can be seen as a link between our outer lives in the world and the search for deeper, archetypal levels of meaning and purpose in life, which then leads to the inner life of the spirit. Therefore myths do not speak to us in factual terms, but in archetypal, metaphorical language.
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Joseph Campbell himself said that "myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation. Myths can also help people realize how their everyday life can take on extraordinary or heroic dimensions via the way they choose to deal with these events, as often inspired by other heroic figures from mythology. In this he posits the idea of a "monomyth"--the one great story which underlies much mythology" from different cultures around the world. While the outer forms can vary from one culture to another, the deeper aspects of the journey are universal and transcend different cultures.
His ideas gained a great following and popularity in the United States through the six part television series, "The Power of Myth," in which Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell for public television. In this series, as in other writing, Campbell encouraged people to "follow your bliss," meaning to listen to your own inner voices and follow your own dream, which will take you on your own hero's journey of self discovery and transformation.
Jean Houston, who works with mythology in the tradition of Joseph Campbell, talks about "sacred psychology" where our "deepest fulfillment comes from experiencing union with the divine and bringing a sense of the sacred into our everyday lives"--especially in Western society which has become increasingly disconnected from the deeper "waters of life. These three realms include:. This realm also serves as a cultural template, providing the primal patterns that take form as works of art, architecture, literature and drama.
This is the realm that was revealed to Moses in the wilderness, for example. They need the intermediate WE ARE realm of mythology and archetypal stories as a bridging place to prepare for the life of the spirit and to learn how to navigate through the various stages of the hero's journey. Houston, The hero's journey is basically a road map that shows any human being a pathway from the outer world of our everyday lives inward towards deeper spiritual dimensions.
There are various versions of these stages. Campbell himself said: "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Another more detailed version of the hero's journey has five stages, borrowing on ideas of both Joseph Campbell first, and then Jean Houston, in each stage as follows:. Another version of this stage is that you hear an inner call to adventure, which you can either accept or reject. Another version of this stage is that once the call is accepted, you will find allies to help you on the journey.
Another version of this stage is that you must get past the guardians at the threshold, who represent the limitations of conventional thinking, which one must outwit if one is to be allowed to enter the realms of the creative and mysterious depths, where one will be tested. If you survive it, you will grow and be changed in the process, and you will be able to return to your society a changed or transformed person--whether your hero's journey was an adventure as Odysseus , a spiritual initiation as Christ, Buddha, Moses, and others , or the development of authentic mastery in some artistic tradition.
You will have received great boons, i. While there are, according to Campbell and Houston, universal aspects of the hero's journey in the myths of all cultures as noted above , Campbell and others also noted that there are important distinctions in the nature of the hero's journey--at different stages of history, as well as in Eastern and Western cultures.
While we cannot go into these differences in any depth here, it should be noted that Campbell believed that there were four major mythological periods:. Campbell and others have also noted important differences in the hero's journey as it is lived in Eastern and Western cultures.
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In the East, where a group identity and culture are more dominant, one must follow the path set before by one's guru, spiritual teacher or master, in an unbroken lineage passed down from master to apprentice, while in the West, where individual identity and culture are more dominant, the hero must embark on the hero's journey at a place and time of his own choosing. In short, the hero cannot follow a path set by others, but must find his own path.
Campbell believed that the best illustration of the hero's journey in Western culture was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, where each of the knights, in their search for the Holy Grail which search is basically that of the hero's journey had to enter the forest the unknown at a point of their own choosing. Campbell also believed that the hero's journey--if it is to impact people's lives-- must be adapted to the times and the culture in which this mythological story appears.
Ancient myths or stories must thus be reset in new contexts and environments if they are to relate to people's lives today. In this context, it is interesting that the Star Wars Trilogy was George Lucas' attempt to take the idea of the hero's journey and adapt it to a space age environment, which may be one of the reasons for the film's great popularity.
If one looks at the five stages of the hero's journey outlined under Section 4 above , one can see how closely the Star Wars story followed Campbell's five stages:. Only after he has passed this test, does the adventure come to an end. While Star Wars was a great success, it still glorified fighting and violence against evil , and as such is still not the best archetypal model we can find for creating a peaceful, nonviolent world in the future.
Indeed, society seems more violent than ever. In looking at the role of the warrior image in mythology, such as Star Wars, a few observations need to be made:. First, it is important to point out that the hero's journey--even for the warrior archetype-- need not be violent. With the destructive power of modern technology, clearly our future survival requires that we find alternative ways to resolve our conflicts short of violence.
As Elise Boulding has noted, we can take the adventuresome energy of the warrior hero archetype and channel it consciously into nonviolent action in the world. Second, it is clear that we also need to find new types of hero figures, besides the warrior archetype today. Various books have been written exploring alternative types of archetypes, and this type of research needs to continue. Women, who identify less as a whole with the warrior archetype than men, are looking for such alternative archetypal images, which could provide models with which they could identify as women.
In addition, alternative, non-warrior archetypes also need to be found for men. Third and lastly, we need to remember that when we go to do battle in the world--the warrior archetype--that the real battle is really within oneself. Indeed, the external battle in the world is really a reflection or mirror of the inner battle within--to master one's own fears, limitations, insecurities and demons. Once we can consciously recognize this, then 'perhaps' we will realize that we can focus our primary energies there, on developing internal mastery and balance, which can then be expressed in nonviolent ways in the world, and then we will not have to act out the warrior need to do battle in the external world in what has too often been a violent way.
Or if we must do battle in the world, we can do it against poverty, injustice, ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, etc. Certainly there are plenty of admirable battles that need to be addressed and they do not require violence as a means to engage in such efforts. In conclusion, this section has explored the possible role of mythology as a bridge between our outer lives in the world--what is comparable to the exoteric aspect of religion, with the development of an inner life of the spirit--what is comparable to the esoteric aspects of religion.
If mythology and archetypal figures can help us to embark on the hero's journey to discover and encounter the deeper aspects of our being, then perhaps nonviolent, archetypal models can also be found for our actions in the world that are appropriate to our technologically sophisticated and interdependent world for our actions in the world. If, for the sake of brevity, we oversimplify peace thinking, then it is possible to identify at least six broad categories of peace thinking which, in large measure, also correspond to the evolution of peace thinking in Western peace research.
This is not to say that all scholars once thought one way and now think another, nor is it to say that the majority of peace researchers now adopt holistic paradigms. Rather it is to argue that overall there has been a trend in peace research away from the traditional idea that peace is simply the absence of war towards a more holistic view, as seen in Figure Figure 4 summarizes six perspectives on peace in terms of the levels of analysis and theoretical focus that each includes.
The first perspective, peace as the absence of war, is applied to violent conflict between and within states--war and civil war.