27 Best Joseph Campbell Quotes to Inspire You

By Derek Wydra

Joseph Campbell was an inspirational teacher who helped many people better understand stories, myths and religions. Here are the 27 absolute BEST and most memorable quotes from Joseph Campbell on life, love, myths, and more!

joseph campbell 2

👉 Get Started Free

🔓Unlock unlimited 📚 book summaries today!
You'll gain instant access to read all the book summaries mentioned in this post like:

🐉 On the Hero’s Journey and Fear

Joseph Campbell’s concept of the “Hero’s Journey” is a universal pattern that he found in narratives across cultures and times. It can be seen as a metaphor for the important of facing our fears as a necessary step towards our self-realization.

  1. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
  2. “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
  3. “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”
  4. “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”
  5. “The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts.”

🗺️ On Life, Death, and Meaning

Joseph Campbell urged his students to find their own meaning in life, by noticing what made them feel alive. He also viewed death not as an end but a transformation—part of the continuous cycle of life.

  1. “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
  2. “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 with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
  3. “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
  4. “You know the rule: If you are falling, dive. Do the thing that has to be done.”
  5. “Life is but a mask worn on the face of death. And is death, then, but another mask? ‘How many can say,’ asks the Aztec poet, ‘that there is, or is not, a truth beyond?'”

Are you loving these quotes? 😍 Then also go read our summary of Joseph Campbell’s great book “The Power of Myth”!

🌈 On Following Your Bliss

One of Campbell’s most famous pieces of advice is to “follow your bliss,” a call to pursue what brings us the greatest joy and satisfaction. He believed bliss was a doorway to life’s hidden mysteries and treasures.

  1. Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.
  2. Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
  3. “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
  4. “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.”
  5. “What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call ‘following your bliss.’ […] in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”

💕 On Love and Marriage

Joseph Campbell saw relationships not as a casual thing, but a profound spiritual union where two become one. Love should be a transformative journey for both partners.

  1. The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
  2. When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.
  3. “Marriage is not a love affair. A love affair is a totally different thing. A marriage is a commitment to that which you are. That person is literally your other half. And you and the other are one.”
  4. “In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament – love and forgiveness.”
  5. “Marx teaches us to blame society for our frailties, Freud teaches us to blame our parents, and astrology teaches us to blame the universe. […] Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.”

🏛️ On God, Mythology and Stories

Campbell devoted his life to studying the mythologies of the world, coming to see them as a mirror of our deepest common humanity. He believed in a Great Mystery that transcends our known universe and understanding, often verbalized in the metaphor of God.

  1. Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.
  2. “All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.”
  3. “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.”
  4. “Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.”
  5. “Now, what is a myth? The dictionary definition of a myth would be stories about gods. So then you have to ask the next question: What is a god? A god is a personification of a motivating power or a value system that functions in human life and in the universe – the powers of your own body and of nature.”
  6. “Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”
  7. “Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”

👉 Get Started Free

🔓Unlock unlimited 📚 book summaries today!
You'll gain instant access to read all the book summaries mentioned in this post like:

Community Notes

Add Your Note

0 Notes
Premium Feature

🔓Unlock these features with a Growth Summary Pro Account

📚 UNLIMITED ACCESS to our summaries of the world's most useful books. Detailed, visually appealing, and designed to save you time.
🎧 ON-THE-GO AUDIOS so you can learn while driving or working out, read by our captivating writers (not a robot!)
TLDR CHEATSHEETS help you quickly grasp key takeaways, transforming each book into an easy one-page read.
🎯 PERSONALIZED FOR YOU: Get personal recommendations, save a custom reading list, and add comments.
Get Started Free
7-day free trial
Cancel anytime
15,000+ monthly readers