Follow your bliss

Regular readers will know that I have a fascination for mythology. It goes without saying that a foremost exponent of myth was Joseph Campbell. His The Hero with a Thousand Faces was one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

For those who have relied mainly on summaries of his work, it may come as something of a surprise to see the extent of his reliance on the life of the Buddha in that book. In fact, the Buddha’s story, as told in the Lalitavistara, was one of the key sources for Campbell’s hero cycle. However, this should be no surprise, for Campbell’s teacher was Heinrich Zimmer, an indologist and mythologist, who wrote extensively on Indian myth. Zimmer’s work was great. Sadly, due to the decline of Indology, it is rare to find anyone working in any mainstream field today with such a command of native Indic texts. One of Campbell’s early tasks was to edit Zimmer’s work for publication following his untimely death.

Anyway, this is all apropos of nothing. In MN 139 I just came across the phrase:

ajjhattaṃ sukhamanuyuñjeyya

It struck me that this is practically identical with Campbell’s most famous saying, “follow your bliss”. Of course, the context was different: Campbell meant “understand what matters to you, what makes your life worth living, and do that.” The Buddha meant, “practice jhanas and get enlightened.”

Still, I thought it was interesting. Carry on!


In a way, maybe they were close to saying the same thing. Develop samadhi, see clearly what is important, and then follow that pure path. Cool essay today, Bhante. Thanks


1st Noble Truth: Call to adventure
2nd Noble Truth: the Battle
3rd Noble Truth: Initiation
4th Noble Truth: Return

I think seeing the four noble truths are a heroic act. I wonder if ‘Ariya’ has resonances of ‘heroic’ in it.

with metta :slight_smile:


Wondering, if that also aligns with Papa Campbell’s later footnote:
“‘I should have said ‘Follow your blisters’”


Dear Bhante,

Could you please give me names of some suttas that include this phrase?

With respect,


It’s in MN 139 Aranavibhanga. I don’t think the exact phrase occurs elsewhere.

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Thank you so much, ka. :anjal: