Stephan A Hoeller

The entire lecture transcript of the 1986 lecture

Gnosis / Gnostic teacher Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller

On "The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Myth as Metaphor and as Religion" book, shortly before death of Joseph Campbell.

Topics: Carl Jung, Eranos conferences, Joseph Campbell's education background, Great Seal of the United States of America, Sarah Lawrence College


The only American of the four, he was born in New York City in 1904. And he was educated at Columbia University, the University of Paris, and the University of Munich in Bavaria. In 1934, after having lived for a while in California, he joined the literary faculty of Sarah Lawrence College where he taught until his retirement.

Quite early in his life, he became acquainted with C. G. Jung and he became a devoted follower, although not a psychologist himself. Since the late 1930's or early 1940's, he was a participant in the famous Eranos conferences. And in 1954, began the publication of the first of six volumes of papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, in English, under the title Of Spirit and Nature. This, of course, needs a little bit of elucidation. Eranos is a Greek word meaning a particular kind of banquet. I suppose in undignified and prosaic Amercan-eese one might call it "a pot luck", banquet where everyone brings their share, whatever their share might be.

6:05 But, as Campbell pointed out, the interest soon shifted from the meeting of East and West, to the West of meeting itself – and its own destiny.  And so the Eranos Conferences went on year after year. During the war years...

16:00  My statements about Joseph Campbell's works will be, although laced with quotations now, very largely of a subjective nature. For, as some of my close friends know, of all people, and I don't know if I've seen that many or not, of all people I've had contact of in this field and who I have heard lecture and whose writings I've read, there is only one who I felt I could never disagree on anything. There was only one whose statements I could always utterly endorse. And that is something that frightens me. If I didn't know that I had taken leave of my critical faculties, or they had taken leave of me, this would indeed distress me. And so, Joseph Campbell to me really appears as the Jungian spirit closest to my heart, bear none. If I was asked why, I would say the reasons are too numerous to mention. But I shall attempt to enumerate a few and to elaborate on them.

23:02 Secondly, I think we need to call to mind that the narrow specialists mentality almost inevitably eventually also gets to the point – where it misses the most important elements in its own field. The reason for this being, the core principle of many a matter, can only be properly understood and evaluated when one has an insight into other disciplines that may illuminate the matter under consideration. So, specialization has it great and grave dangers.

24:50 Consistently and constantly miss the point of everything all the time

37:37 creative interplay of discovery and recognition which alerts the artist to the possibility of a revelatory composition

37:52 James Joyce in his early novel Portrait Artists of a Young Man quotes

43:07 is a grand symptom of what is happening in our culture. What has happened to religious ritual and ceremonial, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church.

46:45 aesthetic power outweighs in terms of efficiency everything else. These things don't have to make sense at the level of the head. They don't have to be combined with dogma. And most importantly, and more importantly, they absolutely and completely and forever have nothing whatsoever to do with economics, politics, and sociology. Let these blasted communist 

50:33 maybe a few artists here and there who actually also have to eat. Somehow they have found that to be a necessity over the ages. It may not build new bombs and cruisers and airplanes, not that those are necessarily not necessary too, it may not do any of those things.

51:06 prestige and fundraising abilities of the football team. It's not going to do that.

51:14 But, on the other hand, It will produce results of a far more profound and lasting nature.

I think one again: we need our

51:26 We need something or somebody, who will either conscious or unconsciously, either by feeling or by thought, recognize this tremendous need for the support for the bolstering of art.

needless to say, as we know, left and right alike, on our political spectrum are singularly unaware of this. The left forever stressing social schemes and welfare and things of that sort as the perennial sinkhole into which money must be poured over and over again. The right having it's own pet projects be they military or otherwise.

52:15 Between the two chairs, the artist ends up sitting on the floor. So, I don't think we can, therefore, we can any longer afford, spiritually or psychologically, says Campbell, not to encourage and support this all-import avenue of the manifestation of mythic reality.

53:53 Third, I would acknowledge my extreme closeness to Campbell because his solely Gnostic dislike of "God". ... Well of course, what I mean is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic "God". There is a wonderful story about that

54:43 Joseph Campbell is not in the fashion of the, I don't know, the atheist league in the Soviet Union, or the old-fashioned humanists, a "God Killer". He feels, and I certainty agree with him... that the Jehovic god image - must to say the least... reduced to size if our culture is to get anywhere. Campbell, out of is really one of very few people I know, who has had and continues to have the unmitigated gull to mention that. The greatest weight, the greatest curse, the greatest millstone sitting on our backs in this culture is "God", our god Jehovah. And we've got to do something about this. We ought to not carry this blasted weight any longer.. It is about to smother us (1986). And this can not be dressed up with all kinds of niceties and platitudes. This has to be addressed directly!

56:34 regarded as terrible. It needs to be done at some point!

1:00:32 tremendous mobility that modern technology gives us access to. We think everybody does, but everybody doesn't. So, In this modern notion we have the idea that the world has become one. The religions have become one. Because of the ability to communicate and the ability to travel. Which is simply a fallacy

1:01:45 even as we must face up to the task of fighting Jehovah.  You know. And putting Him back into his place, and so forth. This is one of our specific Judeo Christian Islamic problems. Even so, we must also face our unique virtues. And we cannot push all these tasks, responsibilities, negative and positive aside... sit under the Banyan tree and 

1:03:02 He has a chapter on "The Mythology of Love". On the basis of whole historical research, he demonstrates a special development in the approach to love came about in the West... that is not matched anywhere else. A love mysticism, a love magic.

1:09:15 And only those who do as society wants them to do and don't do what society wants them to do

1:11:04 thirdly, there is the individual who rises above these and becomes the conscious choice maker. Less you think this kind of person has a wonderful time all the time.

1:11:27 and to be conscious hurts. it hurts like heck. it hurts like hell.

Because, to make those decisions, that's worse than anything.

Yet, that is the hallmark of consciousness.

It's that kind of thing that Joseph Campbell advocates

1:11:50 He is a moral libertarian.

1:12:06 Either we are free or we are not free. An issue one must face, a difficult one

1:12:20 I value Campbell because of his great understand of what I call Hermetic America

1:12:30 Namely the philosophical hermetic foundations of The American Republic

His utterances are numerous. I do not have the time to read to you.

Fabulously accurate interpretation of the symbolism of Both sides of the Great Seal of the United States.

1:13:09 Better than anything I have seen anywhere.

This man has reached the objective.

1:13:50 Esoteric spirit that moved not only the people who drew that [Great] Seal, but the entire philosophy the early republic was based upon. And how utterly deplorable and regrettable and  terrible it is that all of this has been virtually totally forgotten by our days. And that we have held, The American People, have held in their very hands, handed to them by people like Franklin and Jefferson and all kinds of others... One of the most splendid treasures of spiritual philosophy - applicable to all manner of human purposes. And we have discarded it. And we are running around like beggars, the world over, picking up crumbs from every kind of anarchists, Marxists, this thing, fascists, this thing that thing, all over the world. 

1:14:50 All of which, put together, could never come close to the psychological spiritual wisdom that was given to us to begin with... and that we have simply forgotten about and thrown away. And how incredibly unfortunate and terrible this is. And, I know for a fact, that Joseph Campbell feels this very very keenly.

1:15:14 And that of course pretty much brings me to the conclusion. Namely, that we are all fortune and unfortunate in whatever period of history we are living, of course.

Among the blessings that we ought to be conscious of. At age 83, this year being his 83rd year

This kind of willingness to give their talent to others. Not to lock up their talent in some kind of academic cage.

Brought to them such marvelous information, such sublime insight.

Splendid example of his own lovely humorous relaxes forthright 

1:17:03 And by their example, we ought to be inspired. Within the limits available to us, both internal and external, to do likewise. For the world needs people of this sort, greatly.

1:17:25 There ought to be others left behind who in some way or the other will continue with what he has done. And take up at least for a while or to some extent and degree, the torch which he has carried. And then, perhaps, perhaps, this world will not be left in the darkness of darkness, but light will continue. Light will persevere. And ultimately life, and light, and love will prevail. Thank you very much.