Joseph John Campbell was born on March 26, 1904, in White Plains, New York to Charles and Josephine Campbell, a middle-class Roman Catholic.
He was their first child.
The person who would eventually become world-famous as “The Master of Myth” got obsessed with the culture and folklore of Native Americans at a very early age, supposedly when his father took him and his younger brother to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
Central to his scholarly career is the opposition between the rituals, symbols, and rich traditions of his Irish Catholic heritage that he was immersed in as a child, and the primitive, primal rituals of the Native American tribes.
Campbell’s work is also greatly influenced by some of the greatest minds of Modernism, such as writer James Joyce, artist Pablo Picasso, as well as the father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and the founder of the analytical psychology, Carl Jung, whom he met in 1928-1929, while he was studying at the University of Munich.
Joseph Campbell’s first major work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Bollingen Series XVII: 1949) received unexpected critical acclaim and even brought him the award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Contributions to Creative Literature.
His study The Hero with a Thousand Faces affirms the existence of a Monomyth – a universal pattern that is common to the heroic tales in every culture. In it, he also highlights common variations in the hero’. Campbell calls these variations an operative metaphor for a whole particular culture.
In the years to come, Campbell’s Hero would greatly influence many artists, including some of the greatest filmmakers of our time, including George Lucas and his Star Wars.
Below we have selected twenty of his most inspirational quotes of the master of myth – Joseph Campbell:
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. – 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
Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. – Joseph Campbell
The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature. – Joseph Campbell
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. – Joseph Campbell
The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light. – Joseph Campbell
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again. – Joseph Campbell
Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends. – Joseph Campbell
Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination. – Joseph Campbell
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. – Joseph Campbell
Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. – Joseph Campbell
All religions are true but none are literal. – Joseph Campbell
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. – Joseph Campbell
The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. – Joseph Campbell
We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes. – Joseph Campbell
Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. – Joseph Campbell
Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is. – Joseph Campbell
All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you. – Joseph Campbell
The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply. – Joseph Campbell