Alana Joli Abbott (alanajoli) wrote,
Alana Joli Abbott

Jon Kabat-Zinn and Fairy Tales as Myth

So I've been listening to the audio book of Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which has been really interesting in general, discussing what meditation and mindfulness are all about. The section I listened to today, however, was more than interesting: it was particularly keyed into the way I like to think about things. It was the mytho-literary version of meditation! If I have a path, or a way--well, it's probably the mytho-literary path.

Not only was there a quote from Dante's Inferno and discussion of the Brothers Grimm and Joseph Campell, but there was a whole discussion of fairy tale as myth. I suspect that Kabat-Zinn has Jungian leanings, because while he didn't discuss archetypes directly, he talked about the characters in fairy tales being embodiments of different mind states. Apparently, in Tibetan Buddhism, there are many deities, which are not treated as gods per say, but as the representations of different mind states. (One might say that they are, in fact, the represented, rather than the representations, but that gets a little Barfieldian, and possibly too in depth for this entry.) At any rate, he discussed the idea of the prince or princess dropping the golden ball, and having to seek out the frog or the wild man--most often from under water (read: the unconscious)--to help them get it back. The idea is that we have the prince or princess--the child state--within us, just as we have the monster (or shadow self). We also have the golden ball, which is either innocence or a child-like awareness, that is lost, and a quest to gain it back in some form.

What struck me as particularly poignant was that he used almost entirely Grimm's Fairy Tales in his discussion. He didn't use Greek myths, legends from India, Tibet, or China, or other established bodies of what were once/are still treated as religions. He used straight-on fairy tales, and applied Campbellian and Jungian mythic interpretation to them.

One of the ideas behind mindfulness is to notice how you are. I am thrilled and intellectually engaged by all of this, and now think I probably ought to check out the print version when I return the audio book to make sure I didn't miss anything!
Tags: mythology, owen barfield

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