Transformation of Consciousness

Joseph Campbell’s Claim about Transformation of Consciousness

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

Hero's Journey Stories

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves
and our own self-preservation,
we undergo
a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

Joseph Campbell
How do hero's journey stories describe how ordinary people experience transformation of consciousness about their true self-identity....
Joseph Campbell Change Consciousness


What is consciousness? The answer to this question is both simple and profoundly complex. The simplest dictionary definition is from Merriam-Webster:

Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.

Wikipedia provides a more complicated effort to define consciousness:

It has been defined variously in terms of sentience, awareness, qualia, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul, the fact that there is something "that it is like" to "have" or "be" it, and the executive control system of the mind. In contemporary philosophy its definition is often hinted at via the logical possibility of its absence, the philosophical zombie, which is defined as a being whose behavior

In this post, we can focus on this simple definition:

To be consciousness about yourself is to be aware of something within your self.

Joseph Campbell

Meanwhile, Joseph Campbell's extraordinary book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is a complex study of the hero's journey. The back cover of my own copy of The Hero with a Thousand Faces includes these words:

Often cited as Joseph Campbell's best book, this classic study traces the story of the hero's journey and transformation through virtually all the mythologies of the world, revealing the same archetypal hero in them all. Originally published in 1949, it has inspired generations of students and nearly one million copies in various editions" (Bollingen Series XVII, Second Edition, 1968).

In Part I of his book, Campbell describes "The Adventure of the Hero" (pages 47-241). 

Big Idea

Put these two complicated topics of consciousness and the hero's journey together, and you have a complex, fascinating, and extraordinary big idea. 

The big idea is that human beings throughout history have had one universal story, the story of the hero's journey. In this universal story, someone — always a man in the stories cited by Campbell — undergoes self-transformation by becoming the archetypal hero. The book is both dense and academic as Campbell cites stories from around the world.

Despite its density, this book has been the foundation for explicit use of the hero's journey structure in movies. The first and most explicit use Campbell's hero's journey structure was George Lucas's Star Wars about the transformative hero's journey of Luke Skywalker. 

Since then, Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces has been the template for a wide array of movies.

Why does any of this matter for you? It  means that any of us can be called to our own hero's journey adventures. Hero's journey stories describe how ordinary people undergo their own hero's stories as they change their own perceptions of their self-identity.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.
As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars...
[Original Post October 18, 2014]
What are your thoughts about becoming your true self? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Does the Bible Really Say That? Series focuses on the impact of Bible translations on what people believe “the Bible says” on any topic.

Your True Self Identity: How Familiar Translations of Bible Verses in the Gospel of Matthew Hide Your True Identity from You considers the idea of your true self-identity. Do you know your true self-identity? Are you happy being who you are? If you are not happy, what if the real cause of your unhappiness is what you don’t really know your true identity? One powerful reason is the effect of misleading translations of the Christian Bible.

One glaring example of the effect of Bible translations on identity is Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew. Careful analysis of familiar translation choices in English language bibles demonstrates how sin doctrine creates false identities by turning the innocent into sinners.

Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right away!

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