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Excerpted from The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. Copyright © 1988 by Joseph Campbell. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive"

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, Part 3

MOYERS: I cherish that image: my hometown love, the feeling you get for that place, no matter how long you've been away or even if you never return. That was where you first discovered people. But why do you say you love people for their imperfections?

CAMPBELL: Aren't children lovable because they're falling down all the time and have little bodies with the heads too big! Didn't Walt Disney know all about this when he did the seven dwarfs! And these funny little dogs that people have--they're lovable because they're so imperfect.

MOYERS: Perfection would be a bore, wouldn't it?

CAMPBELL: It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal--that's what's lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there's no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It's Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.

MOYERS: What do you mean?

CAMPBELL: Suffering. Suffering is imperfection, is it not?

MOYERS: The story of human suffering, striving, living--

CAMPBELL: --and youth coming to knowledge of itself, what it has to go through.

MOYERS: I came to understand from reading your books--The Masks of God or The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for example--that what human beings have in common is revealed in myths. Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and, then to death. We need for life to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the mysterious, to find out who we are.

CAMPBELL: People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances without own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

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