“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.”
~ Joseph Campbell
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
~ Joseph Campbell
“God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.
It’s as simple as that.”
~ Joseph Campbell
“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves
come when life seems most challenging.”
~ Joseph Campbell
Dr. Joseph Campbell with Ron Rattner, 10/8/83
Courtesy of California Institute of Integral Studies archives
The following memoirs story tells how (almost 40 years ago) an ‘inner voice’ dictated verbatim a brief speech to be given by me two days later, upon my public presentation of an honorary PhD degree to Joseph Campbell, renowned mythologist, author and professor.
The story also recounts how spontaneously I whispered spiritual advice to Dr. Campbell while he listened on stage to laudatory public orations about his exceptional accomplishments.
In 2021 epilogue comments below, I explain why I consider this story as spiritually significant because the same Source of timeless wisdom which inspired Professor Campbell’s renowned teachings is within each of us. Therefore, I hope you’ll enjoy and find inspiration from the story.
And so may it be!
“Channeling for Joseph Campbell”
During the 1980’s I was Chairman of Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), an accredited graduate school giving degrees in areas of psychology, philosophy, comparative religion, and related disciplines. In that capacity, I was occasionally obliged to give commencement talks and to bestow honorary degrees.
In October, 1983, I was told on short notice that (at a public ceremony) I would be awarding to Dr. Joseph Campbell an honorary PhD degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Religion, and that I should prepare an appropriate presentation talk.
I was informed that two other speakers would be discussing Dr. Campbell’s impressive academic accomplishments, but was not told the order of speakers. I had never met Dr. Campbell. And since by that time he was very famous (especially after Bill Moyers’ PBS interviews), I was in a quandary about how much or what I should say.
A couple of days before the event, I was walking along a San Francisco Bay beach toward the Golden Gate bridge, when synchronistically an “inner voice” told me to write down some words for Campbell, and I obliged.
On three little paper scraps, I wrote five sentences that were ‘dictated’ by the inner voice.
(Copies of those notes and the brochure from the Joseph Campbell event are attached here.)
The presentation event took place in San Francisco on October 8, 1983 at the Palace of Fine Arts theater adjoining the Exploratorium. Dr. Campbell and I and the other speakers filed on stage, each wearing traditional black cap and gown attire, and we sat down. I was seated next to Dr. Campbell, on his right.
The program schedule provided for my presentation to follow introductory talks by two other school officials – Academic Dean Ralph Metzner, and Board Chairman Emeritus Michael Toms – who were lavishing profuse praise on Campbell. During the second talk, which sounded to me like a long, living eulogy, I suddenly and spontaneously put my left hand on Campbell’s right knee and without thinking whispered to him, “Don’t let this go to your head.”
Finally, with paper scraps in hand, I made the honorary degree presentation, uttering the following five sentences which had been given to me on the beach:
“Dr. Joseph Campbell, the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Integral Studies is privileged and pleased to bestow on you the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Religion.
We acknowledge thereby your mastery of these disciplines through your studies of myths and symbols. Like masters of other disciplines you have realized the Source common to all disciplines – to all wisdom.
A Source which integrates and unifies this creation, which is diverse in appearance but the same in essence.
So in presenting this degree to you, we honor symbolically that Source – within you and within each of us.”
Thereupon, Dr. Campbell humbly accepted the new honor.
After the program, a very intuitive PhD student with whom I was friendly, approached me and asked:
“Ron, was your talk ‘channeled’?”
After a moment’s hesitation, I replied “yes”.
From then on I began receiving more and more inner ‘dictation’ of spiritual thoughts, aphorisms and poetry. Even now my “inner voice” is assisting with these memoirs.
Ron’s 2021 epilogue comments
Almost forty years after “channeling” for Joseph Campbell, I’m still receiving spiritual wisdom from within, and I’m mostly letting life spontaneously guide me from moment to moment in the eternal NOW. Thereby, I am gratefully enjoying much greater happiness than I ever before imagined.
So I’ve republished the Campbell story, hoping that it can help us all enjoy similar happiness. The story can teach us (as I have confirmed from insight and experience) that we all share the same inner spiritual Source; and that for inner spiritual and practical earth-life guidance. we should always first look and listen within.
Especially in quiet times of stillness, with meditation or of being in Nature, every one of us can find wise guidance from the Sacred Heart of Humankind, which abides within as the Eternal Light of LOVE.
And so may it be be!