“The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave and light, without shame or blame.” – Thomas Hobbes.
Our secret thoughts are the authors of our own story, our personal mythology from which we navigate our lives.
Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox have addressed this subject* with excellence and I have paraphrased their writing to discuss myth.
Our secret thoughts are where we have authorized our answers to the following questions:
Where did I come from?
Why is there evil in the world?
What happens to me when I die?
With whom do I belong?
How close should I be to others?
What are my obligations?
What is taboo and to be avoided?
Whom should I imitate?
Who are the heroes, villains, enemies and allies?
What are the stages along life’s way?
What is disease?
How can I be healed?
What should we do with bounty and surplus?
What is our relationship with nature and the animals?
Why Do We Do The Things We Do?
Why Do We Feel The Way We Feel?
Are We Vitalized Or Bleeding Away Our Emotional Energy?
Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story, all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.
“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another. Many will not accept a myth because it is something built from nothing. Others say myth is illusion or a mistaken belief. When myth equates to the opposite of “fact”, how can we trust or use myth?
Myth is assumption.
Every definition of life is an assumption.
Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.
Defenders of religious creeds use the word “myth” to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying
“Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”
What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions?
Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to
“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.
The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”
A society lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are. Do we belong to the majority who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding “truths” – myths – of their own group?
As Keen implies,
” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”
I also like this quote from Carl Jung:
“I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’, and found that I did not know. So … I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks … I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.” -C.G. Jung, The Portable Jung
How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?
Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught the world “is” rather than how we’ve discovered the world to “be”?
*I recommend YOUR MYTHIC JOURNEY, Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Story Telling, by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox., copyright 1973, 1989 Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc