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Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,459 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Joseph Campbell famously defined myth as “other people's religion.” But he also said that one of the basic functions of myth is to help each individual through the journey of life, providing a sort of travel guide or map to reach fulfillment — or, as he called it, bliss. For Campbell, many of the world's most powerful myths support the individual's heroic path toward bliss ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 26th 2004 by New World Library (first published 2004)
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Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first came across the concept of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” many years back and found it fascinating. I subsequently read ‘A Hero with a thousand faces’ and found it a difficult read with it’s references to cultures worldwide since ages. And yet, even then, Joseph Campbell’s intellect and wisdom was apparent. I subsequently read more of his work and each work had important learnings about life. I could better relate to my earlier readings of his work over time. This book is assembl ...more
Nandakishore Mridula
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Follow your bliss."

This must be the most quoted (and misinterpreted) statement of Joseph Campbell. What did the famous mythologist mean by this? Many people take it to mean "do whatever you want to - the world can go hang!" - the ultimate libertarian wet dream. But it's not that - not by a long chalk.

You don't choose bliss - bliss chooses you. Leaving his palace and family and becoming a mendicant was Gautama Buddha's bliss. Dying on the cross was Jesus Christ's bliss. Bliss does not mean unal
Heidi The Reader
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no way or path." You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there's a way or path, it is someone else's path; each human being is a unique phenomenon. The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss." pg xxvi

Pathways to Bliss is a collection of Joseph Campbell's writings and lectures, expanding upon the theory he put together in The Hero With a Thousand F
Allan Groves
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Classic Joseph Campbell at his best. Pathways to Bliss is a collection of lectures, interviews, and seminars that Campbell gave between 1962 and 1983. If you've read Joseph Campbell before, then this book may seem redundant at parts, but for those of us who could use a little reminding and repetition it's good to hear some of the same stories and points that Joseph Campbell is so well known for.

Some of my favorite ideas I'll list below:

A myth isn't a lie... a myth points past itself to somethi
Brian Johnson
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
“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.”

“The basic story of the hero journey involves giving up where you are, going into the realm of adventure, coming to some kind of symbolically rendered realization, and then returning to the field of normal life.”

“The scientist knows that at an
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In a parallel universe, Joseph Campbell is my wise grandfather and favorite adviser (I think we can assume that Campbell is "alive" for the sake of fantasy here), Bill Moyers is my favorite old uncle, and all of us frolic around Skywalker Ranch on long holiday weekends with their BFF, George Lucas, whilst we wax poetic on mythography and the true meaning of Yoda.

In this universe, I have this lovely book, a compilation of Campbell's lectures and papers published posthumously by by the Joseph Camp
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I generally enjoy topics that span across multiple academic areas, like linguistics and anthropology or literature and history, so this collection of Joseph Campbell's lectures tickled lots of neurons at once: the ones interested in mythology, as well as those interested in psychology, philosophy, theology, and even a smattering of literature too. Although the title may scare some people away as being a little too new agey/preachy/self helpy, I hope those people take a second look, because it's ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Pathways to bliss" is a must-read for every open-minded person, who is interested in mythology and religions.

After reading this book you will not only unterstand yourself better, but also see other persons from a different perspective. One of the greatest things - and still relevant today - is Campbells approach toward heroines. People tend to forget, that Campbells lectures and books are as valid for women as they are for men.

No matter if its washing dishes, writing book-reviews, reading, br
David Melbie
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Seekers!
Recommended to David by: I'm a big fan.
The ninth book in the ongoing series, The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this is the one that focuses on my favorite Campbellism: Follow your bliss.

More importantly, this book gathers together all of his lectures that talked abut the pathway to bliss.

As always, after reading Campbell, I feel a renewed vigor and drive to get back onto the pathway. . .--From A Reader's Journal, by d r melbie.
Teri Temme
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply FANTASTIC. A few of my favorite lines from the book:

You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else's path; each human being is a unique phenomenon. The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.

You must have the courage of your own belief and leave it to somebody else to verify your authority for him or herself.

That is what is given to you - one life to live. Marx teaches us to blame the society for our frailties; Freud
Lauren Davis
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A series of lectures by Campbell on the power of myth for personal transformation. Easy to read, lots to inspire. For many already acquainted with the world of Jung and Campbell and mythological studies, this may not seem deep enough, compared to other books by Campbell, but it's a terrific introduction and refresher. ...more
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great

A fantastic introduction to Campbell. It is a collection of speeches he gave later in his life, between his 50s and 70s. The book focuses loosely how to interpret and understand one's own personal mythology...basically making sense of life. Campbell's topics range from Freud to Maslow to Jung (he is a Jung scholar) and their interpretation of the self and what drives the self (Freud, sex; Adler, power; Jung, both) as well as his opinion of how mythology has evolved (devolved?) over time, as re
Andrea Paterson
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book. Campbell presents a compelling and subtle argument about the importance of personal myth in a world where the major world religions have lost their relevance. With one foot firmly rooted in Jungian psychology and the other in the world of comparative mythology Campbell takes readers on a tour of dreams, images, symbols, and the heroic quest. His message struck a very deep chord, but there is too much packed into this book to explicate here. I suggest you read this one--and ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
The introduction and first chapter about bliss were....blissful - really, sublime. The two chapters on Jung and developing one's own personal myth own story, my own thoughts put into words. Campbell's thoughts really are an extention of Jung's - his conclusions brought to their ultimate destination. A very good read for those interested in "getting into Campbell-ian and Jungian thought. Highly reccomended." ...more
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love Joseph Campbell books. My mom was nice enough to let me steal this book from her even though she was less than half way through it. I love moms.
I think his stuff is a great tool from something we have been losing touch with for a long time, at an exponentially increasing rate. When the modern world has you lost, pick up a campbell book.
Anna Banana
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Through the exchange of stories/myths, Campbell suggests, we can discover an understanding of the universal symbols at work in the universe. We can then use these symbols to better understand our purpose as participants in and products of that universe.

I stumbled onto this book in the library in my hometown during a major transition in my life. No other book has shaped my thinking more.
Barbara Roma
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you're a lost and don't know nothing about your life, you don't believe in religion and urge to find out more about you...
You definitely must read this book!
This is not a esoteric book, it's about how myth were used to help us understand our lives ages ago and how it can be used again.
Kevin Orth
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've become fascinated with the genre of mythology and it's sister topics - world religion and depth psychology. this is a wonderful read to that end. I highly encourage anyone interested in this topic to explore any and all writing by Joseph Campbell. This being a relatively easy one to get through. Starting Hero With a Thousand Faces now and finding it much more dense. ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Joseph Campbell is an academic of rare renown, someone whose work has had significant impact on popular culture; interestingly, very few know his name or appreciate the influence his work has had. Yet, anyone who has seen Star Wars (and myriad other stories), knows Campbell's work without knowing his name. Years ago I read The Hero with a Thousand Faces (probably long before I was ready for it) and have wanted to get back to some of his writing ever since. Pathways to Bliss caught my eye since i ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Joseph Campbell is a favorite of mine.

Something about Campbell speaks to me on a deep, deep level. Reading him is like a revelation every time. The layers are peeled back, and myths and folklore come to life in the modern day. We're all on our own grail quest, Campbell writes, and each one of us must slay our own dragon. Pathways to Bliss is telling the same story The Hero With a Thousand Faces tells. Naturally. The monomyth is laid bare in this series of lectures, along with how it is benefi
Kent Winward
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
A refresher course on the missive I received early in my life from Campbell: "Follow your bliss." The pursuit of bliss becomes vital as you realize that "eternity is not a long time."

A closing quote:

"You've got to find the wisdom, not the clothing of it. Through those trappings, the myths of other cultures, you can come to a wisdom that you've then got to translate into your own. The whole problem is to turn these mythologies into your own. . . . Some have a harder time mythologizing than other
As Joseph Campbell loves to remind his regular readers, choosing a place where there is no path is the purest and best way to begin your adventure as well as your pathway to Bliss, which are really the same -- depending on where you're at.

 However, as he also likes to regularly remind his readers, there is no safety in choosing a path and beginning an adventure, though there will be help.

 This book allows  readers further ways to understand and choose their own path. For my  part, this is never
Sarah Rae
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent synthesis of many of Joseph Campbell's recurring themes, a good collection of lectures, very approachable. I would also recommend "Power of Myth" for this reason. The last entry is in a discussion format from one of his lecu lectures ures and they discuss the lack of a female "Hero's Journey" that would paralel the male journey- the conversation doesn't really leave you with any encouraging bits on the matter and presents childbirth and rearing as a primary paralel to the male journey ...more
Susan Gabriel
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Joseph Campbell has left behind a rich legacy in his books, and a body of work that continues to enrich the lives of readers. As a novelist, I can only hope that I leave behind a fraction of what he did. This book is good for someone who has never even heard of Joseph Campbell, as well as those who want to revisit his contribution to the Greater Story of who we are as humans.
Author of The Secret Sense of Wildflower (southern/historical/coming-of-age)
(Kirkus Reviews- starred review- and a Best B
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Love Joe Campbell, but this book is basically a compilation of moments from speeches. The title is also a bit misleading as his other work I've read better investigates happiness. Howver, there is some really solid stuff, especially if you're into psychology and Freud v. Jung. The most rewarding part of this book was a Q&A at the end where J.C. breaks down our obsession with duality (good vs. evil, light vs. dark, etc.) eloquently.
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In my mind, Joseph Campbell was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. This book is a selection of his lectures and dialogues. Reading it was entirely transformative--as in, I could almost physically feel my brain expanding. I'll have to give it another few dozen reads before I really begin to understand what he's saying but that's how compelled I am to understanding his work. ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This might be my single, favorite book.

Wide-ranging, Joseph Campbell seeks to tackle the basic questions of direction, purpose and satisfaction in life, all in this one, relatively short volume. I come back to this again, and again. The imagery and truth I've found in it is incredible and beautiful.
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing

A life-changing read. This isn't Campbell's magnum opus, but this book puts the purpose of life, religion and the mythic path under glaring illumination. Still, Campbell's wit and gentle prose is enough to "hold the reader's hand" as he leads him down the path to enlightenment.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology, own
The majority of this work is very academic in nature, as it is a collection of lectures. The most valuable portion to me is the final chapter which is a dialogue between Campbell and his audience; I wish there had been more of that. That is how I remember him, in a conversation with Bill Moyers.
Peter Caputo
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
Joseph Campbell. Need I say more?
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Joseph Campbell was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum's collection of tote ...more

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