Meditation 1: Prometheus and Rollo May

For a first meditation, I figured what better than the myth of Prometheus, as interpreted by Rollo May, one of my favorite humanistic psychologists. Let’s just dive into May’s words, from his 1975 book The Courage to Create:

In ancient Greek civilization, there is the myth of Prometheus, a Titan living on Mount Olympus, who saw that human beings were without fire. His stealing fire from the gods and giving it to humankind is taken henceforth by the Greeks as the beginning of civilization…

But the important point is that Zeus was outraged. He decreed that Prometheus be punished by being bound to Mount Caucasus, where a vulture was to come each morning and eat away at his liver which would grow again at night. This element in the myth, incidentally, is a vivid symbol of the creative process.

[Italics mine]

All artists have at some time had the experience at the end of the day of feeling tired, spent, and so certain they can never express their vision that they vow to forget it and start all over again on something else the next morning. But during the night their “liver grows back again.” They arise full of energy and go back with renewed hope to their task, again to strive in the smithy of their soul. (p. 28-29, Norton edition 1994)

Well, with that, this night owl is going to get some rest himself. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead helping facilitate this seminar, and I’m also looking forward to responding to PZ Myers’ response to our recent radio debate.

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About Greg Epstein

Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and is author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. A frequently quoted expert on Humanism and community for the nonreligious, Greg’s work has been widely discussed in the national and international media, including the New York Times, CNN, the Boston Globe, and on dozens of radio programs.

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