The most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or social... In reality, then, there are no religions which are false. All are true in their own fashion; all answer, though in different ways, to the given conditions of human existence.
While personal myths give us a sense of identity, continuity, and security, they become constricting and boring if they are not revised from time to time. To remain vibrant through a lifetime, we must always be reinventing ourselves, weaving new themes into our life-narratives, remembering our past, re-visioning our future, reauthorizing the myth by which we live.
Family myths powerfully affect our relationships.
Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
Disease can be the spark or gift that allows many of us to live out our personal myths and become heroes.
The Problem - Myth might be defined simply as "other people's religion," to which an equivalent definition of religion would be "misunderstood mythology"... Like dreams, myths are productions of the human imagination. Their images, consequently, though derived from the material world and its supposed history, are, like dreams, revelations of the deepest hopes, desires and fears, potentialities and conflicts of the human will... Its narratives and images are to be read, therefore, not literally, but as metaphors.
Whenever men have looked for something solid on which to found their lives, they have chosen not the facts in which the world abounds, but the myths of an immemorial imagination.
The greatest myths are never divorced from our deepest sense of reality – the primitive knowledge with which we are born. That kind of knowledge we are able to sense despite all the barriers of our modern development.
Public opinion rarely considers the needs of the next generation or the history of the last. It is frequently hampered by myths and misinformation, by stereotypes and shibboleths, and by an innate resistance to innovation.
Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating the outside world.
We are able to expand our awareness beyond the perceived limitations of our own person and access the dimensions of a transpersonal consciousness. As we open ourselves to the realization of the in-formed universe, this shift in our collective awareness heralds a resolution in the schisms that have divided us for so long – both among and within us. It is this cosmic odyssey that the ancients often portrayed in their myths and legends and their adepts described as the sundering of the One to its ultimate reunion with itself.
If the equality of individuals and the dignity of man be myths, they are myths to which the republic is committed
In the midst of increasing mechanization and technological organization, propaganda is simply the means used to prevent these things from being felt as too oppressive and to persuade man to submit with good grace. When man will be fully adapted to this technological society, when he will end by obeying with enthusiasm, convinced of the excellence of what he is forced to do, the constraint of the organization will no longer be felt by him; the truth is, it will no longer be a constraint, and the police will have nothing to do. The civic and technological good will and the enthusiasm for the right social myths — both created by propaganda — will finally have solved the problem of man.
The main objection to religious myths is that, once made, they are so difficult to destroy. Chemistry is not haunted by the phlogiston theory as Christianity is haunted by the theory of a God with a craving for bloody sacrifices. But it is also a fact that while serious attempts are constantly being made to verify scientific myths, religious myths, at least under Christianity and Islam, have become matters of faith which it is more or less impious to doubt, and which we must not attempt to verify by empirical means. Chemists believe that when a chemical reaction occurs, the weights of the reactants are unchanged. If this is not very nearly true, most of chemical theory is nonsense. But experiments are constantly being made to disprove it.... Chemists welcome such experiments and do not regard them as impious or even futile.
All cultures … have grown out of myths. They are founded on myths. What these myths have given has been inspiration for aspiration. The economic interpretation of history is for the birds. Economics is itself a function of aspiration. It’s what people aspire to that creates the field in which economics works.
The scientific doctrine of progress is destined to replace not only the myth of progress, but all other myths of human earthly destiny. It will inevitably become one of the cornerstones of man's theology, or whatever may be the future substitute for theology, and the most important external support for human ethics.
My thesis is that what we call 'science' is differentiated from the older myths not by being something distinct from a myth, but by being accompanied by a second-order tradition—that of critically discussing the myth. … In a certain sense, science is myth-making just as religion is.
Every human society endeavors to preserve itself by inventing the adolescence it requires. . . . Adults are prone to create myths about the meaning of adolescence. Whatever their political or personal inclinations, whether they glorify nature or revere society, whether they are identified with youth or they are detractors of youth, most adults find it imperative to defuse the awesome vitalities of these monsters, saints, and heroes.
The dogma of woman's complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind.
When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe.