“In the beginning” is how many myths start their story. And, simply put, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in their present form. That myths are sacred means that all forms of religion incorporate myths of some kind. There is nothing disparaging about the term myth. The term mythos means word or story. It is only the modern usage of the word myth as “error” that has led to the notion of myth as something negative.
In common parlance, the term myth is often used as a mere synonym for error or fallacy. “That’s just a myth!” one may exclaim to label a statement or assertion as untrue. But untrue statements are not myths in the formal sense – nor are myths necessarily untrue statements. For myth may constitute the highest form of truth, albeit in metaphorical guise. If one keeps in mind that a myth must refer minimally to a narrative, then one can easily eliminate most of the books and articles employing myth in their titles.
Study of Myth
The study of myth is an international and an interdisciplinary venture. Scholars from around the world have contributed to the analysis of myth, and this includes scholars of anthropology, classics, comparative religion, folklore, psychology, and theology, among others areas of specialization.
Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth
Edited by Alan Dundes
We contain all the beautiful qualities and actions of our ancestors, and also the painful qualities. Knowing this, we can try our best to continue what is good and beautiful in our ancestors, and we will practice to transform the violence and pain passed down to us from so many generations. We know that we practice peace not for ourselves, but for the benefit of all our ancestors and all our descendants.
…..Thich Nhat Hanh
Your True Home: Everyday Wisdom
Thich Nhat Hanh
Thoughts, Ideas & Feelings
The world we live in is not something that exists independently of our thoughts and ideas. Our world and our thoughts and ideas appear to us as a unified whole. Depending on what our thoughts and ideas are, our world may appear in completely different ways. These thoughts and feelings constitute our psychological condition.
When something breaks down inside us physically, our minds no longer remain clear. And, if our minds are not clear, then the eyes with which we see the world and our views of life become dark. Our lives and the whole world take on a gloomy appearance. When we feel healthy our minds brighten, and consequently our outlook on everything becomes brighter.
Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice
Origin of Zen
Zen Buddhism originated in Japan in the 12th century as an indigenous version of the Chan school, which originated in 7th century China. The founding myth of Zen is that the Buddha silently held up a flower, twirled it and winked. Zen is the only major religious or philosophical tradition that didn’t begin with an utterance of some kind.
Use of Language
In Zen, language adds to reality in that it creates an extra layer on top of it, and this in turn subtracts from reality by obscuring its fullness. One of the purposes of some paradoxical koans – such as “What color is the wind?” or “When you can do nothing, what can you do?” – is to draw our attention to the inadequacy of words and how apparently perfectly well-formed sentences can be meaningless.
Despite their disavowal of language, Zen teachers have left a lot of written words. Many see this paradox as an imperfect compromise, explaining that if nothing was ever written down, then the ways of guiding people would be lost. Thus the Zen school has resigned itself to publishing the records of the ancients, though this is not what they would have wanted.
How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy
Reality In Our Daily Lives
We look upon reality in our daily lives through the historical dimension, but we can also look upon the same reality in the ultimate dimension. We have our daily and historical concerns, but each of us also has our ultimate concerns.
Our Ultimate Concern
When we look for God or nirvana or the deepest kind of peace, we are concerned about the ultimate. We are not only concerned with the facts of daily life – our position in society, our projects, etc. – but we are also concerned about our true nature. To meditate deeply is to begin to fulfill our ultimate concern.
No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life
Thich Nhat Hanh