Seems kind of appropriate to quote from the "Sacrifice and Bliss" chapter of The Power of Myth as Easter approaches…
Bill Moyers: When I listen to you talk about how myths connect us to our sacred places, and how landscapes connected primal human beings to the universe, I begin to think that the supernatural, at least as you understand it, is really only the natural.
Joseph Campbell: The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea. In the Middle Ages this was the idea that finally turned that world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs, but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer…
Our story of the Fall in the Garden sees nature as corrupt, and that myth corrupts the whole world for us. Because nature is thought of as corrupt, every spontaneous act is sinful and must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature.
…The act of nature itself has to be realized in the acts of life. In the hunting cultures, when a sacrifice is made, it is, as it were, a gift or a bribe to the deity that is being invited to do something for us or to give us something. But when a figure is sacrificed in the planting cultures, that figure itself is the god. The person who dies is buried and becomes the food. Christ is crucified, and from his body the food of the spirit comes.
The Christ story involves a sublimination of what originally was a very solid vegetal image. Jesus is on the Holy Rood, the tree, and he is himself the fruit of the tree. Jesus is the fruit of eternal life, which was on the second forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. When man ate of the fruit of the first tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was expelled from the Garden. The Garden is the place of unity, of nonduality of male and female, good and evil, God and human beings. You partake of that duality, and you are on the way out. The tree of coming back to the Garden is the tree of immortal life, where you know that I and the Father are one.
Getting back into that Garden is the aim of many a religion. When Yahweh threw man out of the Garden, he put two cherubim at the gate, with a flaming sword between. Now, when you approach a Buddhist shrine, with the Buddha seated under the tree of immortal life, you will find at the gate two guardians–those are the cherubim–and you're going between them to the tree of immortal life. In the Christian tradition, Jesus on the cross is on a tree, the tree of immortal life, and he is the fruit of the tree. Jesus on the cross, the Buddha under the tree–these are the same figures. And the cherubim at the gate? Who are they? At the Buddhist shrines you'll see one has his mouth open, the other has his mouth closed–fear and desire, a pair of opposites. If you're approaching a garden like that, and those two figures there are real to you and threaten you, if you have fear for your life, you are still outside the Garden. But if you are no longer attached to your ego existence, but the the ego existence as a function of a larger, eternal totality, and you favor the larger against the smaller, then you won't be afraid of those two figures, and you will go through.
We're kept out of the Garden by our own fear and desire in relation to what we think to be the goods of life.
Moyers: Have all men at all times felt some sense of exclusion from an ultimate reality, from bliss, from delight, from perfection, from God?
Campbell: Yes, but then you also have moments of ecstasy. The difference between everyday living and living in those moments of ecstasy is the difference between being outside and inside the Garden.
The Power of Myth, Moyers interviewing Campbell, edited by Betty Sue Flowers, Doubleday, 1988, p. 98-107