[a reflection on part 5 of the 1988 documentary, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth] We stand in awe contemplating the immensity of the cosmos – billions upon billions of roaring thermonuclear furnaces scattering from each other, stars blowing themselves to pieces, gases coalescing into new stars and worlds being born even now. From the murmurs of ancient radiation echoing the cataclysmic Big Bang billions of years ago, we emerge as infinitesimal yet miraculously significant sparks in this vast matrix of creation. How can we not be transformed by such a perspective? We who have sprung from the womb of this universe must surely contain encoded within our very beings profound secrets for living spiritually amid the physical and sacred mysteries of existence.

For so long, our civilization remained trapped in a mindset that pitted spirit against flesh, sacred against profane, as opposites locked in eternal conflict. The patriarchal traditions inculcated the notion that to ascend into the spiritual realm, one must transcend and reject the earthly, body and all. Yet the ancient myths whispered of a more holistic truth – that true wholeness comes through integration rather than denial, union rather than schism between the masculine and feminine principles.

Our spiritual guideposts can be found embedded within those enduring symbolic narratives composed by former seekers. They reveal an ancient time when the divine feminine as embodied by the Goddess was revered as the birthing matrix, the sacred created made flesh. Women’s power to nurture new life mirrored the generative fecundity of Mother Earth herself, the womb from which all issued and was sustained. The potent imagery of Isis, the Egyptian queen of heaven, cradling the divine child Horus echoed in later icons of the Madonna and Christ child, reminding of our own capacity for spiritual rebirth.

Such myths taught that the way to live spiritually while still bound to the physical involved no mere negation of our bodily reality. Rather, it meant opening to the feminine wisdom of feeling our profound interconnection with this home universe as a living extension of its creative forces. The troubadours unlocked a gateway by voicing a revolutionary ethos – that the most transcendent experiences sprang not from denying material existence, but by embracing a higher love that cherished the personal, particular romantic union between two souls in the here and now.

This rapturous personal love became symbolic of the very love that had birthed the world and infused it with being in the first place. No longer was the body or individual identity to be scorned, but seen as a locus for discovering the sacred at the heart of the manifest world. Tales like Tristan and Isolde depicted the extremes seekers would go in pursuit of this path of love, risking social exile and even eternal damnation for the sake of affirming incarnate experiences of profound significance against the dictates of spiritual authority.

We the modern receivers of this mythopoetic legacy have the challenge and opportunity of integrating these ancient truths into our own understandings. Spiritual life cannot simply be a fleeing from the flesh, but an embodied journey of awakening the spiritual in and through the physical vessel we have been blessed with. The myths reveal that rather than escaping the body, the path is to wed spirit and matter by seeing this earthly plane as the very classroom for cultivating compassion, generativity, and reverence for all life.

We need not look spaceward for existences more meaningful than our own bodily lives – we contain within us the seeds of the cosmos’s staggering immensities. The miracle is this: that we finite, bounded beings originating from the wheel of birth and death can taste of the infinite by awakening spiritual consciousness while still in these temporary forms. The beloved tales depict this birthing of the god-self out of its animal matrix symbolically as the “virgin birth” – the transcendent blossoming of spirit from the very womb of flesh.

The timeless call is to embrace whatever our station in order to be continuously reborn – to one-pointedly follow our bliss and volution whatever the cost, that we may live fully integrated lives as beacons of spirit animating and blessing the material plane with consciousness. Like Tristan and Isolde, the invitation is to heroic wholeheartedness, to live so intently that virtue flames forth unquenchable even when the world casts us to the winds. We must affirm that the very purpose of assuming these bodily incarnations is to be so utterly seized by love of the personal and transcendent that the universe is remade in the image of our daimon’s passion project.

This is the vision the great myths and symbols impart – that through communing with the natural mythologized world, attunement to the musings of mystics and laureates, and consecrating every act, we may resurrect the lost unity between spirit and nature. Living spiritually is never a war on our bodies, but bringing them into fruitful cooperation with the deepest intuitions of the soul so that we humans may be fitting collaborators in the cosmos’s great unfolding. It is an birthright coded into our cells to experience the world and our bodily lives as continuous sacrament – dazzling, suffering, exalted and igniting that erotic charge between consciousness-in-form and the infinite.

The ancient myths sing that through cultivating wisdom and wholeness, we enter into a marriage between the heavens and the earth, the magic of uncreated divinity and its ceaseless self-manifestation as the radiant diversity of the world. To live spiritually is to embody that union, as exemplars of the soul’s inward realization flowering outward in the groundedness of real-life ethical, creative action. Like the goddess receiving and reflecting the erotic splendor of the infinite – to live is to resound with the beauty ever at play in the ephemeral and everlasting, transcendent and immanent, earthly and celestial. That is the true, paradoxical meaning of the incarnation – divinity embodied in world, universe unfolding in human form.

Through spiritual practice and living mythically, we can awaken to the profound truth that separation is an illusion – there is only the one reality endlessly manifesting itself as the dance of masculine and feminine, spirit and matter, consciousness and form. The spiritual path is to experientially realize and embody this unity within ourselves.

As we open to this profound non-duality, we see that the old dogmas of spirituality opposed to nature break down. There is nothing to transcend, because all is already perfect emptiness and form co-arising. The earth and cosmos are not a delusional realm to be escaped, but the very playground of the infinite expressing itself in infinite diversity. To live spiritually is to perceive this marvelous truth and participate in it wholeheartedly.

The symbols and stories of the ancient myths provide maps for this journey of realizing the sacred within and without. The image of the goddess gives form to the generative power of nature itself – the bindu, the primordial point that gives birth to all of creation’s wonders through her womb-like, nurturing presence. She reveals that to experience the fullness of spirit, we need not flee the body but surrender into its rhythms, its wisdom, recognizing it as the very vessel through which spirit dances.

Similarly, the tale of Christ’s life, death and resurrection encoded at the deepest level the truth of the cosmos’s continual death and rebirth, destruction and renewal. His crucifixion is symbolic of spirit’s intersection with the agonies and limitations of material existence. Yet out of that anguish came new life, the promise of consciousness transcending its confinement through a deeper realization and embracing of the infinite at the heart of all finite forms.

The path of romantic love pioneered by the troubadours revealed this same truth through human relationship. No longer was love conceived as merely physical desire or selfless compassion, but as a rapturous mingling of two embodied souls in recognition of their underlying unity. In honoring the personal, particular and sensual connection, a window was opened onto the vast reality that had taken human form. Romantic love became a meditation on spirit’s own self-ravishment through endlessly manifesting itself in unique beings, forms and perspectives.

When we as human beings live into this expansive awareness, embracing the physical world in all its pleasure and pain, we become conduits for the sacred to experience itself in wondrous variety. Our actions become rituals expressing the infinite’s ceaseless creativity. Our relationships become gasps of amazement as consciousness beholds itself through the other’s eyes. Every sight, sound, fragrance, texture and flavor become consecrated as shards of the infinite’s mystery.

To live spiritually is to live poetically, as celebrants of the great existential comedy/tragedy continuously unfolding through trillions of actors across the cosmos. It is to perspective ourselves as characters in an epic narrative spun by creation itself, awestruck witnesses to the interplay of forces and energies vaster than any of our cultural and personal stories could ever fully capture. Yet simultaneously, we are also its very composers, dreaming the dream and being dreamed in one infinite reverie.

This is the loving lucidity and liberating insight our ancestors gestured towards through their myths and symbols. To taste enlightenment is to perceive the non-duality underlying all dualities, the “divine birthright coded into our cells” as originating from and never truly separate from the source that dreamwove us. It is awakening as consciousness itself playing amidst its own dream avatars and ephemeral masks of energy and matter.

From this spacious awareness, we can fully embrace our embodied lives while transcending all limitation and existential dread. For we have seized the great key that unlocks all doors: the cosmos is our very own supreme identity ceaselessly exploring and manifesting itself through our sense experiences, relationships, creative acts and hero’s journeys. Living spiritually is thus not a negation but a radiant affirmation, an awakening to the profound truth that all of existence arises as a magical play of our own divinity.

Living spiritually is thus not a negation but a radiant affirmation of all that arises, a unleashing of ourselves into the utmost freedom and intimacy with the totality of existence. It is a wholehearted “yes” to the Fullness that has no opposite, an ecstatic merging with the universal flow.

When we perceive through the eye of non-duality, all experience – pleasure and pain, light and dark, birth and death – arises as scintillating displays of the one reality. Fear, grasping and aversion melt in the freedom of recognizing our own essence as birthless and deathless, the unchanging aperture through which the infinite patterns of energy gracefully unfurl.

In this spaciousness, we can embrace the full spectrum of the earthly experience – the wildness of passion, the texture of grief, the taste of failure and success. For we see that fundamentally, there is nothing to accept or reject, nothing to cling to or push away. All arises as shimmering reflections in the vast mirror of our true nature.

This is the grandest spiritual vision – that underneath the myriad veils of form, there is only one unified field eternally beholding and expressing itself through a vast plurality. We finite minds cannot truly comprehend this radical non-duality, and that is precisely the point. To live spiritually is to entertain the mystery, to swim joyfully in the inconceivable paradoxes that shatter the conceits of the separate self.

The myths became vehicles for this wisdom by depicting the interplay of forces and deities that appear dualistic on the surface, yet hint at deeper unities. The dualities of masculine and feminine, order and chaos, death and rebirth portrayed in epic cosmic cycles intimate that all apparent conflicts and dichotomies arise from a womb of oneness.

In surrendering to the mythic dimensions of existence, we become open vessels for the grandest of spiritual revelations – that all is a lila, a play of the indivisible whole. All apparent boundaries are mere invitations to deeper intimacy, for there are no true insiders or outsiders to the one great reality.

To live spiritually is thus to embrace a profound universality, a trans-personal recognition that transcends all identities while simultaneously vibrantly manifesting through them. It is to encompass the entire cosmos by seeing it all as modifications of oneself, one’s own being exploding across billions of lightyears and trillions of fractal forms.

Yet this is not a standpoint of alienation, but of unexplainable at-home-ness, as reality’s beloved children finally awakening to our deepest shared essence. It is the birth of unshakeable kinship with all beings across space and time, born from abandoning all self/other dichotomies.

In this spirit of radical intimacy, every relationship, creative act and moment of presence becomes a sacrament, a prayer in motion. Each experience is no longer merely personal, but a beholding of the infinite by the infinite, an amplification of recursive resonances pulsing through the cosmic hologram.

Living as such, we become celebrants in a grand cosmo-erotic drama, consciousness ravishing itself through innumerable masks, endlessly imagining itself anew as galaxies, quarks, creatures and humans. With humility and awestruck gratitude, we can honor the privilege of individual existence by embracing it as a portal to the whole – savoring each sight, sound and connection as a rapturous plunge into waters of infinite depth and dimension.

Through such sacred embodiment, we become wellsprings of healing and catalysts for collective awakening. Our lives unfurl as masterworks of sacred art, where every gesture, thought and deed expresses the unfathomable creativity of the cosmos pouring itself into new forms through our consciousness. We become like shamans weaving between the realms of spirit and matter, ushering new realities into bloom through our transformative presence.

Our lives unfurl as masterworks of sacred art, where every gesture, relationship and creation becomes an expression of the infinite taking form. We become like shamans weaving between the realms, midwives ushering new realities into bloom through our consciousness-altering presence.

In this way, living spiritually is ultimately a profound homecoming. It is the journey of remembering our deepest truth as microcosmic reflections of the universal whole. The symbols and myths have always been calling us back to this primordial wonder – the amazement of realizing our unfathomable reality as conscious beings intimately woven into the web of all existence.

The spiritual virtues of compassion, presence and creative passion then arise not as lofty ideals enforced by dogma, but as the spontaneous blossoming of our own nature when we awaken to the interconnected miracle of our being. Loving all others as ourselves is simply the freedom of seeing truly – that every apparent “other” is a holographic figment of our own groundless ground.

This is the cosmic joke and eternal affirmation that the myths and symbols have been pointing towards all along. That despite all appearances, there is only one great subjectivity endlessly dreaming up new worlds and adventure for itself. One infinite life joyfully imagining itself as galaxies and butterflies, supernovas and humans being born, loving and dying over and over in a ceaseless exploration of its own fathomless potentials.

To live spiritually is to awaken as this one reality in your deepest core – while paradoxically being every perceived “other” at the same time. It is to shatter all constructs of separation while retaining the beloved fingerprint of your own unique perspective for the sheer relishing of it. In this radiant, all-embracing freedom, one is simultaneously nobody and everybody, the void and the plenum overflowing with manifestations.

The great axion then becomes “All is Self, and Self is all” – with capital “S” to signify the universal, deathless essence we have always already been. Every form is but a philomatic lover’s whisper from that which has no form, as awareness beholding itself through infinite crystalline refractions.

Living into this expansive potential is the real spiritual heroism. Not asceticism or world-renunciation, but a full-blooded, full-bodied merging with the great song of creative unfolding here and now. To dive fully into the gritty realities of relationship, art, culture and evolution as archangels ushering new realities into bloom. Dancing between the realms with love as both our source and destination.

This is the great work of sacred embodiment made possible through the catalyzing power of symbol and myth. To live in recognition of ourselves as infinite subjectivity endlessly manifesting through the grand cosmic imagination. Artists of such unbounded perception creating new universe essences through every thought, word and deed.

In this light, our lives become immortalized as energetic resonances inspiring ever more complex patterns of emergent awareness throughout the kosmic hologram. Our spiritual legacy rippling across dimensionalities, blessing all lifestreams we’ve been intermediated through with a further infusion of radical aliveness, wonder and energetic charge.

Such is the true gift of awakened, embodied living – to so thoroughly integrate matter and spirit that our very being catalyzes new degrees of freedom and intensity of experience for all existence. To become living prayers of perpetually self-newbornistent reality, ecstatic seers both perceiving and giving birth to the ever-more-sublime expressions of the formless infinite we have always already been.


Campbell traces the origins of romantic love in Western culture to the 12th century troubadours, who celebrated an individualistic, person-to-person conception of love between two people, a radical departure from earlier notions of love as mere physical desire (eros) or spiritual love for one’s neighbor (agape). This new ethos challenged traditional arranged marriages sanctioned by the church, affirming instead the primacy of individual experience and volition, even at the risk of damnation as exemplified in legends like Tristan and Isolde. It explores the shift from ancient societies’ reverence for the feminine principle embodied by the goddess to its gradual suppression by patriarchal religions like Christianity, though symbolically revived in figures like the Virgin Mary. Myths like Isis and Osiris provided symbolic templates for the Madonna image and the idea of spiritual rebirth through the feminine, with the “virgin birth” representing a transition from animal to spiritual human nature. The passage calls for finding union between the sacred and profane, masculine and feminine, physical and spiritual as a path to wholeness and living spiritually by elevating the spiritual alongside the physical, following the clues from myths and rituals. It invokes the immensity of the cosmos to put one’s bodily existence into perspective as miraculously significant within this vast creative matrix. Other key points include the meaning of Christ’s death, the intertwined nature of life, love, joy and pain according to myths, and a comparison of contrasting masculine and feminine perspectives across religions.

Key Points

1. Origins of romantic love in the West traced to the 12th century troubadours, celebrating person-to-person love between individuals rather than just physical desire or spiritual love for neighbor.

2. This new romantic love ideal challenged traditional arranged marriages and church dogma, affirming individual experience and volition.

3. Stories like Tristan and Isolde exemplified daring affirmation of romantic passion even risking damnation, leading to ethos of following one’s bliss.

4. Explores the shift from ancient reverence for the feminine principle of the goddess to its suppression by patriarchal religions like Christianity.

5. The Virgin Mary symbolically revived the feminine wisdom and goddess figure in Catholicism.

6. Myths like Isis and Osiris provided templates for the Madonna image and spiritual rebirth through the feminine.

7. Idea of the “virgin birth” symbolizes transition from animal to spiritual human nature.

8. Call to find union between sacred/profane, masculine/feminine, physical/spiritual as path to wholeness.

9. Living spiritually means following the clues from myths and rituals to elevate the spiritual alongside the physical.

10. The immense cosmos puts one’s bodily existence in perspective as miraculously significant within the vast creative matrix.

11. Discussion of the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross as an act of atonement with suffering humanity.

12. Exploration of themes of life, love, joy and pain being intertwined according to myths.

13. Comparison of contrasting masculine and feminine perspectives across religions and myths.