What Is The Essence Of Western Spirituality?

Western Spirituality

September 18, 2017

Allan Stevo

I came across an interview between Michael Toms and Joseph Campbell recently in the book (“An Open Life”) that had such powerful distillations of Campbell’s life philosophy and observations from a life spent studying world culture. In this excerpt, Campbell dismisses the idea of a westerner following a guru and points to a story from the series of legends known as the Quest for the Holy Grail. In one particular story, Campbell sees “the essence of what I’d call the European or Western spirituality.” I’d love to hear what you think of this in the comments section? Or perhaps you have a finding of your own that is more essential to Western spirituality.

Toms: “What about the desire to follow a guru? We see religions and cults based on the teacher-disciple relationship flourishing everywhere.”

Campbell: “I think that is bad news. I really do think you can take clues from teachers – I know you can. But, you see, the traditional Oriental idea is that the student should submit absolutely to the teacher. The guru actually assumes responsibility for the student’s moral life, and this is total giving. I don’t think that’s quite proper for a Western person. One of the big spiritual truths for the West is that each of us is a unique creature, and consequently has a unique path.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: elephantjournal.com

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