Joseph Campbell on Schopenhauer’s “The Basis of Morality”


How is it that a human being can so experience the pain and danger and peril of another that forgetting his own self-protection, he moves spontaneously to the other’s rescue even at the risk of his own life? He doesn’t do it out of duty. He doesn’t do it out of intention. It is suddenly his impulse to save that person. A child’s about to be hit by a car. You go out, and you get hit.

This goes on all the time. Schopenhauer asks, “How is it that the first law of nature, the maintenance and protection of this separate entity, can suddenly be dissolved and another principle take over?”

And he says, “It’s because you and that other are one.” He said, “This is a metaphysical realization.” Primarily separateness is secondary. And unity, identity is the prime condition.

What is called Buddha consciousness is the one consciousness of which we are all manifestations. We are all Buddha things. We are all separate manifestations of this great consciousness that informs the whole universe. The plants are conscious. The stones are consciousness. All things are conscious.

–from Joseph Campbell: Mythos III

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