“The Holy Grail is the object of the spiritual quest, the luminous point at the depth of a universe seeming like the subconsciousness of a being. The fullness of man approaches the divine, the prodigious drop into a bottomless chasm; such is the domain of the Holy Grail, the quest which brings us to immortality and self-understanding in universal love.”
Patrick Rivière, Sur le sentiers du Graal*
(former student of Eugene Canseliet, disciple of the alchemist, Fulcanelli).
The Holy Grail. We’ve all heard of it. But, what is it, exactly?
There are numerous theories as to what the Holy Grail really is. It has been described as the golden chalice that Christ drank from at the Last Supper, and the one used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood at the crucifixion. It was also that which the Knights of the Round Table quested for, and therefore, the central object upon which the Arthurian legends were focused. Some believe that the real Holy Grail was a precious stone – the ‘philosopher’s stone’ – while others maintain that the Holy Grail is the actual, living blood of Jesus Christ, who, it has been suggested, was not crucified on the cross at all; that he, in fact, lived to marry and produce children, and that it is his bloodline that is the Holy Grail – or ‘sang raal’ (kingly/royal blood).
However, while it may be that Christ sired children, or that there may exist somewhere a physical representation of the Holy Grail such as some object, I think that believing that the Holy Grail is strictly and purely something physical is falling short of the mark. It is essentially ignoring what may be the greatest significance of this mysterious thing we call the Holy Grail – its spiritual significance.
And the Holy Grail is indeed mysterious. It is mysterious because it is hidden, but where is it hidden?
This divine Holy Grail of which I speak is hidden within. Simply waiting for individuals – the ‘knights’ – to come to that point in their life where they have experienced a burning desire to escape the ‘wilderness’ and to return ‘life to the land’ by becoming a true ‘sovereign’. At this time, there is no other option for them but to go on the ‘quest’ and find the Grail.
The Holy Grail is true essence, the true self, true being discovered as a result of obtaining true sovereignty. And, as such, it is indeed the most precious of treasures that a human being can attain.
The Holy Grail is the final result of the ‘growing’ of the soul – the nurturing of the ‘seed’ of the ‘tree’ of our soul – that ‘divine spark’ within us. After having patiently waited to be discovered, it is tended, given water and light, and ultimately enabled to sprout, branch out and thrive. It evolves. It becomes. This is what is being represented by the tree of life, for discovering true being is discovering true life – the Holy Grail.
Rather than the actual physical bloodline of Christ then, the Holy Grail is the end result of nurturing the divine ‘spark of the Christos’ within us. Discovering and nurturing this ‘divine spark’ is achieved via an esoteric process of transformation – which the Gnostics called becoming ‘Christed’ (meaning ‘anointed’, or blessed) – via the alchemical transmutation of the ‘lead’ of our programmed personalities into the ‘gold’ of the soul.
This process of nurturing is the path of objective knowledge. It is a process that has been described and practised by many. Ancient shamans, alchemists, gnostics, Cathars and Templars are said to have been privy to it. People such as Boris Mouravieff, Georges Gurdjieff, Carlos Castaneda, Fulcanelli and Sufi mystics have written of it. More recently, author Laura Knight-Jadcyzk has written of this process after years of intense study of all of the above sources as well as others. In her book, “The Secret History of the World”, she proposes that many ancient myths which focus on the themes of suffering, death and rebirth, the Arthurian legends describing the quest for the Holy Grail, and even the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ were actually metaphors. These metaphors represent ways in which individuals throughout history may have been able to transform and break the cycle of rebirth – to achieve the great work of the alchemists: that they were ‘instructions’ of a ‘spiritual science’, a possible process leading to the transformation and evolution of one’s old self into the new which, it is theorised, may actually involve activation of DNA. (See Laura Knight-Jadcyzk’s, “The Secret History of the World” for details of this theory.)
This process combines what to modern minds would seem to be two very opposing disciplines – mysticism and science. This process is the ‘quest’. This sacred process that leads us to the Holy Grail is a science that depends upon something quite basic, simple and essential, although not simple to accept or obtain. This science essentially involves facing the truth – itself divine – about ourselves, our lives and our reality.
The one requirement to beginning the process is that one must first of all already have a taste for things that are True, and be a seeker of that Truth.
Many who undertake the esoteric path to the Holy Grail have, in most cases it would seem, been seekers for most, if not all of their lives. By this I mean that, from quite early on, they have been asking themselves questions. Questions such as: Why are we here? What is our purpose? What is the source of existence? Why is the world the way it is? They may have felt that there was something ‘more’ to reality than what was visible, and have had a strong desire to discover what the reasons for this might be.
At a certain point, these seekers eventually experience what can be called a ‘spiritual bankruptcy’. They are dissatisfied and unfulfilled, regardless of how much they have advanced in their careers, how much money they have made, or whatever they have achieved in their exterior lives. Something shifts internally, in the very depths of their being. They realise with increasing clarity that there must be something ‘else’ to life. They have lived in the ‘wasteland’ long enough and are looking for their way ‘home’. They are ready to take their first steps. They understand that things are the way they are for a reason, and there’s precious little they can do to change anything in the world apart from change themselves and their own lives.
And so, the desire for ‘escape’ into truth begins to grow ever brighter and stronger within them. The ‘seed’ of their essence begins its struggle to break away from its shell and ‘sprout’. The journey of the warrior/seeker begins, as does the process. It is then that these burning passions of the soul – this longing, combined with determination and an iron will – begin to fuel the seeker’s soul quest, his or her journey towards the Holy Grail.
But the path is not an easy one, as has been stated. It is all about rebirth (which is why the story of Jesus’ labours, crucifixion and resurrection can be interpreted as an allegory for this transformation and involves labour pains as do all life-giving processes); becoming Perseus, battling with and ‘beheading the Medusa’; becoming a dragon slayer to ‘restore fertility to the land’. The act of transforming ‘lead’ into ‘gold’; resurrecting yourself from your former ‘dead’ existence into one that bursts with life and vigour; changing the way in which you have been programmed to think, feel and act comes with a price.
The price is the struggle which leads to the death of our old selves, and the birth to a new self and a new reality, and only then, joy: suffering, death and resurrection.
But how do you go facing this truth about yourself and your life? How do you go facing objective reality? How do you awaken?
It is difficult, as stated. It is, in fact, shocking to the system. And it is so because we continually lie to ourselves, sometimes in ways so subtle that we don’t even realise that we are lying to ourselves. We lie to others, about ourselves, about our relationships, about our world, about just about everything. How can people possibly truly ‘be’ and express their full potentials if they are living lives of lies?
So, this is the first step of the process once we have embarked upon the quest: to awaken by ceasing the lies we tell ourselves. This normally means that we must spend a good deal of time in introspection and entirely re-evaluate our lives and the way we have been thinking up to that point. This thinking has been based upon the things that family, society and religion have impressed into us from the time we were children. We have already, by this time, understood that we are living in a way that is not suited to us. Now it is time to look back on our lives up to that point and make an evaluation on what has brought us to where we are, and what needs to be changed.
Boris Mouravieff described this as such: “Having reached this point, man has entered a path. He is placed face to face with life: his own life, with its own soluble and insoluble problems. This is his first esoteric test. This test consists of a general reassessment of values. The results obtained depend upon the objectivity and courage brought to the task. One must exert a conscious effort upon oneself so as not to ‘dodge the issue’ or lie to oneself during this re-evaluation. One must consider and analyse those about one, face facts and attribute their intrinsic value to them without compromise or pity for oneself or others”.
As stated, what needs to be changed is a cessation of the lies.
What kinds of lies do we tell ourselves?
They are many, and they vary from individual to individual. The main lies we tell ourselves generally revolve around the kind of people we believe ourselves to be, around what we believe reality to be, the reasons we give ourselves for the actions we take, and the reasons we tell ourselves that we have the relationships we have with others in our lives. Essentially, we lie to ourselves in order to make choices that are comfortable, at least, on the surface. How many times have we made choices that were based, for example, on fear? Fear of hurting someone else, or fear of being alone, or fear of the unknown, or fear of what we might have to do if we faced the truth, or fear of any number of other things? How many times have we made those choices, but deep down there was a small voice still telling us that it was wrong? A lie.
We do it all the time, and each time we do it, a small part of us withers unless we put an end to those lies. Until we are willing to face them and the shocks they provide, in order to, finally, make the right choices.
Gurdjieff wrote that the ‘work on the way’ consists mainly in this struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’; in the struggle to make the right choices, based upon the truth – what we ‘feel in our bones’, and/or what is presented to us as objective fact – rather than what we are conditioned to think is right or wrong. This struggle provides inner conflict and turmoil – what he called ‘conscious suffering’ – because there are two parts of us doing ‘battle’ – our true selves and our personalities, or conditioned selves. It is what is being represented by battling ‘demons and dragons’ in the legends and myths, and it is interactions in everyday life that provide the shocks that – if we choose and remain observant of ourselves, our thoughts and our feelings – can awaken us to these lies. These shocks can present themselves when we face the truth about our interactions with others at work or at home, or in observing our reactions to things that are going on in the rest of the world when we are faced with certain facts.
Our most common reaction to this process – facing the truth – is resistance. When faced with an objective fact or facts – either about ourselves or our reality – we tend to either fight it or run away. This is natural in light of how painful this ‘conscious suffering’ is. However, if the desire for truth burns strong enough within us, we eventually – after the initial inner turmoil has calmed somewhat – see the truth. If we can see the truth once, we will be able to see it again, and then again, until finally, with enough practice, objective self-observation, and trust in those who might provide us with these shocks of the truth, we become adept at seeing the truth. As a result of this growth in awareness, we also gain strength and will. We learn to control the reactions and transform them into creative, useful actions by mastering the emotions and the intellect. We learn to feel, think, and then act, rather than simply reacting – i.e., feeling then jumping to action without thinking things through properly. Or conversely, being over-rational and disregarding feelings entirely – be they our own or those of others – and simply acting on the basis of the intellect without thought to how the heart might be directing us as to the rightness or wrongness of the action.
That’s what it all boils down to really. What it all begins and ends with is truth. And a love of the truth that goes to the very core of your being, and ultimately puts you on the path to facing that truth about yourself, your life and your reality, a love so bright that if its flame is fanned and nurtured, it will not only light up your own being and life, but may also help light up the lives of those around you who are themselves seekers of truth as well.
1. The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive (formerly, “Ancient Science: A Radical Reassessment of History, Myth, The Legends of the Holy Grail, and the Science of Ascension), Laura Knight-Jadcyzk, Red Pill Press, 2005. Available at qfgpublishing.com
2. Sur le sentiers du Graal, Patrick Rivière, published by Robert Laffont, 1984 (available at www.alchymie.net/alchimistes/p_riviere.htm) English translation will be published in late 2005 by Red Pill Press as On the Paths of the Grail.
3. Fulcanelli Master Alchemist: Le Mystere des Cathedrales, Esoteric Intrepretation of the Hermetic Symbols of The Great Work, Brotherhood of Life, 1984. Also, The Dwellings of the Philosophers, Fulcanelli, Archive Press & Communications, 1999.
4. Gnosis: Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy – Book I: Exoteric Cycle, Boris Mouravieff, Praxis Institute Press, 1993
5. Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man, G. Gurdjieff, Penguin Books; New Ed edition, 1999. Also, Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am”, Penguin Books; New Ed edition, 1999, and “Meetings With Remarkable Men”, Penguin Books; New Ed edition, 1969.
6. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Carlos Castenada, Washington Square Press; Reissue edition 1985. Also, Fire From Within, Washington Square Press; Reprint edition, 1991, and The Active Side of Infinity, Perennial , 2000.
7. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade, Princeton University Press, Bollingen Foundation, 1964.
8. The Celts: Uncovering the Mythic and Historic Origins of Western Culture, Jean Markale, Inner Traditions, 1976.
9. Women of the Celts, Jean Markale, Inner Traditions, 1972.
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