96+ Best Joseph Campbell Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Joseph John Campbell was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. Profoundly inspirational Joseph Campbell quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

Famous Joseph Campbell Quotes

Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called the love of your fate. Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, this is what I need. It may look like a wreck but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment-not discouragement-you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. – Joseph Campbell

A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. – Joseph Campbell

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell

You may have success in life, but then just think of it – what kind of life was it? What good was it – you’ve never done the thing you wanted to do in all your life. I always tell my students, go where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don’t let anyone throw you off. – Joseph Campbell

People forget facts, but they remember stories. – Joseph Campbell

Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is. – Joseph Campbell

Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that’s what is threatening the world at this minute. – Joseph Campbell

There is no security in following the call to adventure. – Joseph Campbell

The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy-not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call following your bliss. – Joseph Campbell

Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning. – Joseph Campbell

Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. – Joseph Campbell

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. – Joseph Campbell

The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it’s really a manifestation of his character. It’s amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets. – Joseph Campbell

The Fates guide those who will and drag those who won’t! – Joseph Campbell

And that Aha! that you get when you see an artwork that really hits you is, ‘I am that.’ I am the very radiance of energy that is talking to me through this painting. – Joseph Campbell

The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: ‘yes’ to it all. – Joseph Campbell

Art is the clothing of a revelation. – Joseph Campbell

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. – Joseph Campbell

So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfillment of the potentialites of the energies in your own system. – Joseph Campbell

The insecure way is the secure way. – Joseph Campbell

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell

To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is — not the quick little excitement , but the real deep, life-filling bliss. – Joseph Campbell

The god you worship is the one you’re capable of becoming. – Joseph Campbell

I think what we lack isn’t science, but poetry that reveals what the heart is ready to recognize – Joseph Campbell

Vegetarians are people who cannot hear tomatos screaming. – Joseph Campbell

Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end. The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth—that is the world as we know it that must pass away. What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us. – Joseph Campbell

If you are to advance, all fixed ideas must go. – Joseph Campbell

You are more than you think you are. There are dimensions of your being and a potential for realization and consciousness that are not included in your concept of yourself. Your life is much deeper and broader than you conceive it to be here. What you are living is but a fractional inkling of what is really within you, what gives you life, breadth, and depth. – Joseph Campbell

Whatever the hell happens, say, ‘This is what I need.’ – Joseph Campbell

When you realize that eternity is right here now, that it is within your possibility to experience the eternity of your own truth and being, then you grasp the following: That which you are was never born and will never die. – Joseph Campbell

Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another. – Joseph Campbell

Well, one of the problems about being psychoanalyzed is, as Nietzsche said, Be careful lest in casting out your devils that you cast out the best thing that’s in you. So many people who are really in deep analysis look as though and act as though they have been filleted. There’s no bone there, there’s no stuff! How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick. – Joseph Campbell

It is the function of art to carry us beyond speech to experience. – Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure. There is no security in following the call to adventure. Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be. – Joseph Campbell

When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We’re not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives. – Joseph Campbell

Eternity is not a long time; rather, it is another dimension. It is that dimension to which time-thinking shuts us. And so there never was a creation. Rather, there is a continuous creating going on. This energy is pouring into every cell of our being right now, every board and brick of the buildings we sit in, every grain of sand and wisp of wind. – Joseph Campbell

Follow your inner heart and the world moves in and helps. – Joseph Campbell

Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement. – Joseph Campbell

Breaking out is following your bliss pattern, quitting the old place, starting your hero journey, following your bliss. You throw off yesterday as the snake sheds its skin. – Joseph Campbell

No tribal rite has yet been recorded which attempts to keep winter from descending; on the contrary: the rites all prepare the community to endure, together with the rest of nature, the season of the terrible cold. – Joseph Campbell

Writer’s block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows. – Joseph Campbell

If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all. – Joseph Campbell

Myths are the world’s dreams. They are archetypal dreams and deal with great human problems. Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from realizations of some kind that then have to find expression in symbolic form. – Joseph Campbell

The hero journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of your self. – Joseph Campbell

Every moment is utterly unique and will not be continued in eternity. This fact gives life its poignancy and should concentrate your attention on what you are experiencing now…that source of eternal energy is here, in you, now. – Joseph Campbell

You have to strive every minute to get rid of the life that you have planned in order to have the life that’s waiting to be yours. Move, move, move. – Joseph Campbell

Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one. – Joseph Campbell

Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation. – Joseph Campbell

This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s. – Joseph Campbell

Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Follow the path that is no path, follow your bliss. – Joseph Campbell

How do you find the divine power in yourself? The word enthusiasm means ‘filled with a god,’ so what makes you enthusiastic? Follow it. So I have a little word: follow your bliss. The bliss is the message of God to yourself. That’s where your life is. – Joseph Campbell

The conquest of fear yields the courage of life. That is the cardinal initiation of every heroic adventure– fearlessness and achievement. – Joseph Campbell

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about. – Joseph Campbell

Midlife is when you reach the top of the ladder and find that it was against the wrong wall. – Joseph Campbell

When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed. – Joseph Campbell

Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people’s myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts — but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. – Joseph Campbell

You’ve got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on condition that it follow your rules. – Joseph Campbell

Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. – Joseph Campbell

When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous. – Joseph Campbell

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen. – Joseph Campbell

If there were already a path, it would have to be someone else’s; the whole point is to find your own way. – Joseph Campbell

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living… Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. – Joseph Campbell

You become mature when you become the authority of your own life. – Joseph Campbell

I think of compassion as the fundamental religious experience and, unless that is there, you have nothing. – Joseph Campbell

The ego is as you think of yourself. You in relation to all the commitments of your life, as you understand them. The self is the whole range of possibilities that you’ve never even thought of. And you’re stuck with you’re past when you’re stuck with the ego. Because if all you know about yourself is what you found out about yourself, well, that already happened. The self is a whole field of potentialities to come through. – Joseph Campbell

Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer. – Joseph Campbell

It is not society which is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. – Joseph Campbell

If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential. – Joseph Campbell

When you follow your bliss a kind of track opens up, that’s always been there, waiting for you. And the life that you should be living, is the one that you will be living. – Joseph Campbell

Respect your curses, for they are the instruments of your destiny. – Joseph Campbell

I don’t have to have faith, I have experience. – Joseph Campbell

The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. – Joseph Campbell

If marriage isn’t a first priority in your life, you’re not married. – Joseph Campbell

At such moments, you realize that you and the other are, in fact, one. It’s a big realization. Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one. – Joseph Campbell

Love is perfect kindness. – Joseph Campbell

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that. – Joseph Campbell

I think a person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave. Work begins when you don’t like what you’re doing. There’s a wise saying: make your hobby your source of income. Then there’s no such thing as work, and there’s no such thing as getting tired. That’s been my own experience. I did just what I wanted to do. It takes a little courage at first, because who the hell wants you to do just what you want to do; they’ve all got lots of plans for you. But you can make it happen. – Joseph Campbell

When you look at that nature world it becomes an icon, it becomes a holy picture that speaks of the origins of the world. Almost every mythology sees the origins of life coming out of water. And, curiously, that’s true. It’s amusing that the origin of life out of water is in myths and then again, finally, in science, we find the same thing. It’s exactly so. – Joseph Campbell

The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves or have listened only to their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what the values are they should be living for. – Joseph Campbell

If you have the guts to follow the risk…if one follows what I call one’s bliss – the thing that really gets you deep in the gut and that you feel is your life – doors will open up…if you follow your bliss, you’ll have your bliss, whether you have money or not. – Joseph Campbell

Eternity is not future or past. Eternity is a dimension of now. It is a dimension of the human spirit — which is eternal. Find that eternal dimension in yourself, and you will ride through time, and throughout the whole length of your days. – Joseph Campbell

When you are required to exhibit strength, it comes. – Joseph Campbell

If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. – Joseph Campbell

The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. – Joseph Campbell

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. – Joseph Campbell

I always tell my students, go where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don’t let anyone throw you off. – Joseph Campbell

The object becomes aesthetically significant when it becomes metaphysically significant. – Joseph Campbell

All we really want to do is dance. – Joseph Campbell

The best things cannot be told, the second best are misunderstood. After that comes civilized conversation; after that, mass indoctrination; after that, intercultural exchange. – Joseph Campbell

The key to the Grail is compassion, ‘suffering with,’ feeling another’s sorrow as if it were your own. The one who finds the dynamo of compassion is the one who’s found the Grail. – Joseph Campbell

There are something like 18 billion cells in the brain alone. There are no two brains alike; there are no two hands alike; there are no two human beings alike. You can take your instructions and your guidance from others, but you must find your own path. – Joseph Campbell

If you are on the right path you will find that invisible hands are helping. – Joseph Campbell

If you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, you see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth. These are the eyes of the Earth. And this is the voice of the earth. – Joseph Campbell

It is within you that the divine lives. – Joseph Campbell

You don’t ask what a dance means. You enjoy it. You don’t ask what the world means. You enjoy it. You don’t ask what you mean. You enjoy it. – Joseph Campbell

Poets and artists who speak of the mystery are rare. – Joseph Campbell

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