Saturday, May 13, 2006

Creative Mythology

I borrowed the name of one of Joseph Campbell's best books for this post, which is really just an effort to point readers towards Jay's blog, Pagan Bodhisattva, and his examination of Creative Spirituality. Jay is riffing on something Tuff Ghost said in a recent post in response to something I said:
However, if we’re talking about SDi in a more general sense, that is as some kind of aggregate indicator of levels per se, and not one specific line, then I empathize with William’s point. I think it’s one thing that Sam Harris and others miss when they talk about establishing a religious practise that eschews tradition and metaphysics; because there is no developmental framework in place they fail to realize that myth and tradition and assorted prerational whatnots are necessary, if for no other reason than you can’t do away with them. It’s not a case of rational vs non-rational, it’s the whole gamut of prerational, rational, transrational and all the messiness contained within such a schema.

And yet religious myth and superstitious nonsense have been responsible for so much suffering in the world that it’s tempting to let other institutions do the myth generating for us. I think that Harris is perhaps trying to get at this point; that culture and the social framework can serve as the generators of myth, myths that will take the same shape or form as traditional myths, but will be tempered by the higher ‘center of gravity’ of the socieities that create them. Better a fervent, nonrational attachment to the US bill of rights than a fervent, nonrational attachment to the Bible or the Koran.

Jay took this idea of a secular mythology that TG proposed and tried to look at how we might create a healthy variation that is transpersonal, myths "that are regarded as being "real" on the subtle level as opposed to the gross?"

I think Jay is onto something here. But I'm not sure of the psychological aspects of it. Myth-making is generally considered a prerational endeavor. However, we have always created myths that cover the full spectrum of human experience. During the SDi training I attended last October, Jean Houston (with a little guidance from Don) offered some myths for each of the memes:

Beige: The hunt.
Purple: Origin myths, ancestor stories.
Red: War myths, conquest.
Blue: Grail, Jesus/Osiris, King Arthur.
Orange: Icarus, Faust.
Green: Robin Hood, Inana (Sumerian), Persephone.
Yellow: These myths are emerging now -- Matrix?

I'm sure many of you could add to this list, or argue with it (if you would like to, please leave a comment). One of Houston's points, and one of the few places I tend to agree with her, is that people in the past mythologized the wounds and conflicts that were playing out in the people and the culture. Now we pathologize them. Which one feels more healthy?

Please read Jay's post, then consider that we all have a stack of memes within us -- for some that stack reaches up into Yellow or Turquoise. You second tier folks must be the leaders on this topic, like so many others. And here is where we need the most help:

If we accept that we are composed of all the memes we have evolved through (transcend and include), then we must also realize that those memes have needs that they express, and their needs must be met for them to be healthy. Our lower memes have a need to make myth that explains the world to them. These memes are prerational and prepersonal, but they have to live in a world that is increasingly becoming post-postmodern.

That is an enormous amount of complexity. For these lower order memes to feel safe and to feel like they understand the world in which they must function, we need to create new myths for them that explains a post-rational and post-personal level of reality. The lack of these myths may explain, in part, why so much of Purple, Red, and Blue is now unhealthy and acting out in militant ways.

We need to create myths that can appease the Purple need for kinship connections in a chaotic world, that can make Red feel that its ego drives can be satisfied without resorting to killing, and that assure Blue that the world does have structure and meaning and that everything is not simply relative.

We need second tier myths to make sense of first tier chaos. We need a creative mythology for a new world, a world that accepts change as the natural order of things, that sees the ways in which all systems are interconnected, and that honors the needs of all the lower memes in the individual and cultural stack.

This is a huge topic, and I am likely to have to say about it as I have more time to write. Thanks to Jay for bringing it up.


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