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Abstract

In analyzing a mythological work, a proper understanding of the nature of the self and its relation to the Cosmos is essential. Alan Watts, the late British philosopher, proposed that there were two great myths of the self—myth here not used in the sense of something false, but rather as a way of interpreting oneself and one’s reality. In the West, there is a dualistic conception of the self where there is a clear distinction between creator and created, and Man and the self is viewed as an artifact of creation. In the East, there is a non-dualistic conception of the self where there is no distinction between creation and creator, and Man and the self is viewed as being part of a cosmic drama acted out by the divine creator. This paper analyzes the myths of the Vedas and the Upanishads in the East, and Mesopotamian and Semitic myths in the West to come to the conclusion that the notions of the self in the Eastern and Western traditions purported by Alan Watts are in fact correct. This knowledge then allows for a more accurate and proper analysis of mythology from both the Eastern and Western traditions.