The story begins with the Fisher King has been wounded and all the animals and plants in the kingdom and those surrounding it mourning and weeping. Then, a boy who is of so little consequence that he has no name, but called Parsifal comes. Parsifal, as a fool, will redeem the health of the Fisher King. In Biblical terms, only the innocent can enter the gates of Heaven. Parsifal wants to become a knight so he starts his quest. With several rounds of success, he enters the Fisher King Castle. A godfather has once told Pascifel to ask the question ‘Whom does the Grail serve?’ What would knighthood be worth if it were not for this noble end? However, Parsifal suffers from his mother complex and can not be the independent young man and cannot open his mouth to ask such question.
Parsifal leaves the Castle without the Grail because he forgets to ask such an important question. The young man cannot understand the power of the femininity until he meets Blanche Fleur, and develops a correct relationship with his inner woman.
Parsifal carries on with his heroic quest until one day he is greeted by an old man. This old man is the Hermit, a sage, gives him advice and critiques on his ego. But he also turns gentle and shows him the shortcut to the Grail castle.
This time, Parsifal remembers to ask the right question as his mother complex is resolved. And the Grail serves the Grail King. Rejoicing, the Grail King is now healed and in peace, joy and serenity.
The Mother Complex
There are six basic relaitonships a man bears to the feminine world. All six are useful to him and each has its own nobility. It is only the contamination of one with another that makes difficulty. These difficulties are central to a man’s passage through life. The six feminine elements are as below:
- His human mother
The actual woman who was his mother, she with all her idiosyncrasies, individual characteristics, and uniqueness
- His mother complex (the interior mother within one’s mind)
This resides entirely inside the man himself. This is his regressive capacity which would like to return to a dependency on his mother and be a child again. This is a man’s wish to fail, his defeatist capacity, his subterranean fascination with death or accident, his demand to be taken care of. This is pure poison in a man’s psychology.
- His mother archetype. (the collective idea)
If the mother complex is pure poison, the mother archetype is pure gold. It is the feminine half of God, the cornucopia of the universe, mother nature, the bounty which is freely poured out to us without fail. We could not live for a minute without the bounty of the mother archetype. It is always reliable, nourishing, sustaining.
- His fair maiden (your own personalised anima)
This is the feminine component in every man’s psychic structure and is the interior companion or inspirer of his life. It is Blanche Fleur. It is she who gives meaning and colour to one’s life. Dr. Jung calls it the anima.
- His wife or partner
The flesh and blood human being who shares his life journey with.
This is the Goddess of Wisdom, the feminine half of God, the Shekinah in Jewish mysticism. It comes as a shock to a man to discover that Wisdom is feminine, but all mythologies have portrayed it so.
Achievement and the Ugly Damsel
There is some strange correlation between the achievement of a man and the power of the Hideous Damsel in his life. The greater the height, the greater his capacity for suffering and humiliation seems: the amount of fame and adulation one gets in the outer world seems to determine the sense of failure and meaninglessness he will find at the hands of the Hideous Damsel. One would guess that accomplishment would be the surest protection against meaninglessness, but this is not so. It is the accomplished man who is most capable of asking unanswerable questions about his worth and the meaning of his life.
The Hermit Within
These few people, born hermits (highly introverted souls), must remain in the forest (symbolically speaking) in solitude, storing up energy so that they may serve mankind when their quality is crucial and of the highest value. There are few Red knight victories for these persons and they know little of the laurel leaves of victory. Such people receive very little encouragement or reinforcement these days and they often have a lonely and solitary life to lead. But a day comes when their genius is absolutely necessary to make a transition to another stage of life. But a day comes when their genius is absolutely necessary to make a transition to another stage of life– for themselves or for someone in their environment. Just to know of this validity is a safeguard for such a person. Please be good to your own hermit quality or the born hermit in your circle of friends. If you have a born hermit as a son, don’t push him into Red Knight experiences but let him find his own forest way.
Who does the Grail serve?
I am searching for happiness, which is to say that I want the Grail to serve me. We ask this great cornucopia of nature, this great feminine outpouring of all the material of the world- the air, the sea, the animals, the oil, the forests, and the productivity of the world– we ask that it should serve us. But no sooner is the question asked than the answer comes reverberating through the Grail castle halls–the Grail serves the Grail King.
Translated, this means that life serves what a Christian would call God, Jung calls the Self, or and we call by the many terms we have devised to indicate that which is greater than ourselves.
Another language, less poetic but perhaps easier, is available. Dr. Jung speaks of the life process as being the relocation of the center of gravity of the personality from the ego to the Self. He sees this as the life work of a man and the center of meaning for all human endeavour. When Parsifal learns that he is no longer the center of the universe– not even his own little kingdom–he is free of his alienation and the Grail is no longer barred from him. Though he may come and go from the Grail castle during the rest of his life, now he will never be alien to it again.
One detail in the story is worth special observation: Parsifal need only ask the question; he does not have to answer it. Although it is the duty of the ego to ask a well-formulated question, he is not required to answer it. To ask well is virtually to answer.
Rejoicing bursts forth in the Grail castle; the Grail is brought forth, it gives its food to everyone, including the now-healed Fisher King, and there are perfect peace, joy and well-being. Such a dilemma! If you ask the Grail to give you happiness, that demand precludes happiness. But if you serve the Grail and the Grail King properly, you will find what happens and happiness are the same thing. A play on words becomes the definition of enlightenment.
Your goals and ambitions, the desires you have. Something eternal and beautiful.
The higher self, or the Self (the Grail King is sad and wounded, and then when Parsifal asked the right question, he rejoiced, and now heal-ed.) When your goals and ambitions align with your higher self, you will find happiness.
the soul, going through the quest under the flow of the unconscious.
The energy moves from the consciousness to the unconsciousness when one is vulnerable and hurt. He goes through a lot of fights to get to the place where he is called hero, but he loses his Grail because he forgets to ask the question ‘who does the Grail serve?’ His ego blinds him from seeing the answer that is beyond himself. He is saying the Grail serves I. The Grial King remains unhealed. In other words, you remain unhappy. Until one day, Parsifal listens to the heed of the Hermit within and finds the shortcut to the castle. When you listen to your inner voice, the castle is never far away. This time he examines his own shortcomings and stays humble, and asks the question ‘Who does the grail serve?’ Your consciousness only needs to formulate the question, but is not required to answer it. The answer will reveal itself as you trust your own unconsciousness. The answer comes, the grail is here to serve the Grail King. You are here to serve the grail and the Grail King. The higher self that is beyond you and will see your life is to serve something bigger than yourself. The achievements and failures are not personal but just creative spontaneity of the Self.
The ‘Ten Oxherding Pictures” from Zen Buddhism
An identical theme is found in the Ten Oxherding Pictures. This is protraying the steps towards enlightenment. In the first the young hero seraches for the ox–his inner nature; in the second he sees the foot-prints of the ox; in the third he sees the ox. The series proceeds to the ninth picture in which the hero tames the ox, forges a peaceful relationship with it, and sits quietly surveying the scene. The question rises at this point–Behold the streams flowing, whither no-body knows, whither nobody knows; and the flowers vividly red- for whom are they? Author Mokusen Miyuki reflects that these words could be translated literally into “The stream flows on its own accord, and the flower is red on its own accord.” In Taoism it can mean ‘naturalness,’ an occurring of the creative spontaneity of nature, within and without. In other words, 自然 (Tsu-jan), an occurring of the creative spontaneity of nature, as the living reality of self-realization or the creative urge of the Self manifesting itself in nature.
The series of pictures culminates in the tenth when the hero, now perfectly at peace, walks unnoticed through the village streets. There is nothing extraordinary about him now except that all the trees burst into blossom as he passes by.