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Masks of Eternity Essay

In the episode “Masks of Eternity,” Joseph Campbell explains the godliness of self. He explains ideas about the past versus the present and the common ways of thinking that have changed the way messages are viewed and interpreted. He goes over the ideas of the inner Christ, the significance of the circle, and peak experiences.

Campbell speaks of an inner Christ in all people. It is not a connection to God, but a oneness with him; meaning that you become a part of God. He explains it as the difference of an individual life, meaning the life of the person, and the all encompassing life, meaning the life that turns the world and all other things. He tells of finding it through meditation, finding that center of yourself that can feel a connection to the life around you and the realization that all things are connected and caused by one another. Campbell interprets the things he was taught as a child, about the angel and the demon on either side of him, as the urges that push our decisions in one direction or the other. These energies, he says, come from the different organs of the body. Each needs something different, and the urges that arise are about what is needed most.

Campbell also speaks of the significance of the circle. Each culture has some form of importance in the shape of the circle. He talks about the way Native Americans built their villages in the shape of a circle, the way Aztecs made a circular calendar, and the way that each culture put itself in the center of that circle. He talks about ancient cultures believing that everything generates around a specific point, orbiting around it. Campbell also speaks of time going in a circle. In ancient times, it was seen as a reoccurring aspect of life, summer, fall, winter, spring. All things ended and began anew in a pattern. Now, though, time is seen as a straight line. Clocks make us realize that time is flowing past and will never come again. Before, death was looked at as a rebirth; now it is simply looked at as the end.

Peak experiences, as Campbell explains, are moments where you can feel the harmony of being alive. For him, it was a race in Colombia. He said he could feel that he was going to win the race, not even because he was winning, but because he could feel it within himself. He explains peak experiences as being in a state of mind that allows you to see your outer most limits and obtain your maximum potential. He goes on to say that not all peak experiences are physical. Some can simply be a thought or realization that changes your outlook on life or solving a problem. Some peak experiences are not the highest points of your life. A life can have many peak experiences as long as you feel that you are at one with yourself and what you are accomplishing.

Personally, I understand the inner Christ, not as a connection to the life around us, but a working understanding of the path God has set out for us. I can understand the ideas behind this belief in the inner Christ and the idea that Jesus may have found his inner connection with life, but I do not agree with it. I believe that The feeling they are referring to is the feeling that comes with following Gods path, whether you know him as your savior or not. The idea of the circle on the other hand, I can understand completely. Time feels like it is flowing by without slowing, but there is always the chance of next time. Next time I’ll get that raise; next time I’ll win; next time I will do better. Time isn’t a perfect circle to me, but neither is it a straight line. It is a looping flow, cork screwing back onto itself. My peak realization in life so far was the creation of an art piece in high school. I was working on a drawing of a tree, creating every painstaking detail, and all the time, I knew that I was going to be proud of it; that I was going to get it right. I felt accomplished without having yet accomplishing anything. To this day, I can look at no other piece I have finished and count it as my best.


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