The Holy Grail
In Christian myth and legend there is a chalice that was used to catch the blood of Christ at the crucifixion. This cup, called the Holy Grail, has seemed to many Christian faithful to be a relic of inestimable value and has therefore been sought ever since. And today I will propose to you that the Holy Grail is a metaphor… and is yet at the same time something real. And not only is it real, but it can be found. And indeed we can all find it. And when you find the Holy Grail you find something of such worth and power that, once you have found it, nothing in your world will ever be the same again. Your whole life will be forever transformed in the most miraculously, delightfully, beautiful way.
So clearly The Holy Grail is something worth finding!
Now, if we wish to search for the Holy Grail, we will need to find some clues as to where to begin our search. It is fortunate then that an artefact of such transformative power cannot but leave clues as to its existence and whereabouts everywhere. Such is it’s power that it cannot but affect the entire reality in which it exists. So, we simply need to seek for the deepest Truth of our reality and we will begin to find the clues that we seek. Because, as you shall see, the deepest Truth of our reality… is the Holy Grail itself!
So, come with me as we seek The Holy Grail together now…
Let us begin then with an inquiry into “what is True”.
This world of illusion invites us to believe that many things within it are both real and true. It deceives us into believing that things, the objects of this world, are real. It fools us into believing that the events we see playing out before us are really happening and are therefore true. It tricks us into believing that the personae that we, and those around us, inhabit are real and that, in fact, we are these temporary, mortal personalities.
But none of this is Truth. If we really look we find that we can see through these illusions.
Take, as an example, the laptop under my fingers or indeed my fingers themselves. If we were to ask a quantum physicist if these things were real she would inform us that, as with all the matter in the universe, there is no “thing” there. There are really only patterns in energy. And when you understand that this same energy is everywhere in the universe, that it is, in fact, the universal energy of everything; and that this energy is created from imbalance and when the imbalance is rebalanced it too collapses into nothing… then you begin to see that truly, all of the matter of this entire universe is just an illusion being held in the consciousness of those that are observing it.
So science begins now to show us what the mystics have been saying since forever, namely that the world outside of ourselves is an illusion. That matter is not real.
And, indeed, science is just one means at our disposal for seeking the Truth of things. It is limited as a tool in that, by its very nature, science can only explore what is outside of us. And what is outside of us, as science is now very clearly finding, is nowhere nearly as fixed, solid or real as our senses might lead us to believe.
If we wish to deepen our quest for The Holy Grail, we must go where science cannot take us. We must begin to seek after the Truth inside of our own consciousness. And since this has been, for thousands of years, the area of endeavour of philosophy, perhaps it would be a good idea to pick up the trail of seeking after the Truth with the great philosophers.
For so long as philosophers have sat in contemplation and deep meaningful discussion, the same few basic questions have always been at the root of their contemplation:
Who am I really?
Where do I come from?
What can I really know to be true?
Is it not interesting that such simple questions have been addressed and re-addressed at vast length over and over again through the ages by some of the greatest minds humanity has produced and yet, for all that, they have never been conclusively answered? If you ask such questions today, they are still just as open to discussion as they were for Plato and Aristotle. Philosophy still doesn’t have conclusive answers. We still don’t actually have any answers to these most basic philosophic question that cannot be argued, debated or doubted.
And the reason we do not know is that the tool of philosophy is the mind. And the mind is limited in its capacity. It can only understand that which fits within it. And so, in order for the mind to work, it must reductively analyse that which it is contemplating. Anything we wish to think about is broken down into smaller and smaller parts until each of the parts are small enough to be understood. Then these small parts are reassembled in the mind and we feel as if we understand the whole of the thing.
And there is no problem with this. The mind is an awesome tool that has served us well. Ancient philosophy eventually became science and science has provided such wonders for us. It is only thanks to science that I can share these very words with you across the gulf of both the space and the time that separates the “me” who is writing this, from the “you” who is reading this.
So, I have no complaint with the mind, with science or with philosophy. But if we wish to continue our search for The Holy Grail, then we need to make a clear-eyed assessment and see that science cannot show us the way. And for so long as we rely on the reductive reasoning capacity of the mind, philosophy will only take us one smaller step forward, as we eventually come to the same conclusion as the great philosophers have. That, in the end, there is no proof at all that the external world really exists. We cannot know that it does. For indeed, anything in the world can be questioned and doubted. Matter can appear real from one perspective and unreal from another. And, in the same way, events are all entirely subjective and there does not seem to be an objective truth to any occurrence. And it all comes down, eventually, to the fact that the experiencer is simply having experiences. All that ever happens is that consciousness is simply acting upon itself.
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, famously said, “I think therefore I am”. He didn’t mean that he only exists because he thinks. He meant that, because he thinks, he knows that he exists. There is a subtle but important difference. The point is, Descartes came to the conclusion that the only thing that he cannot doubt is his own existence. Just as I now cannot doubt mine. I can doubt that my body exists. I can doubt that the laptop upon which I type exists. I can doubt that the world exists. But I know that I exist!
Everyone who arrives at this point, whether they get there via philosophic contemplation or spiritual meditation, becomes Self Realised.
Think about it. If you find that you can doubt anything and everything in the universe but, at the same time, find that you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are real, then you are creating, in your mind, that the self that you are is real. It is completely self-referential and circular. But for all that it is both unarguable and inescapable. At this point you are claiming that you can doubt anything and everything but can never again doubt the fact of your own existence. You exist, quite simply, because you say you do!
And so finally… eventually… we have found the first great clue in our search for The Holy Grail. The search began with us looking for the Truth of everything and finally we have found the first one thing that we cannot argue or doubt: The self that is engaged upon the search cannot doubt its own existence!
I can doubt that you exist. I can imagine that I am 100% entirely creating my own reality and that there is no world outside of myself at all. I can imagine/ create/ believe that there are no others at all. That there is only me. That when you appear to me, perhaps emailing me or visiting me or in some other way making your presence felt… that you are just a figment of my imagination. This is both possible and unarguable. No one can prove to anyone else that this is not so. No one can prove to anyone else that each exists independent of the other’s mind.
And for so long as we continue to use the mind, and the reductive reasoning capacity it excels at, then this is as deep and as far as our search for The Truth can take us. It ends here. And the Holy Grail will remain eternally beyond our grasp without us even glimpsing it or knowing what it is.
And one can remain here, at this Self-Realised level of consciousness for a veritable eternity. You are real. You exist. And you are creating your reality. Good! But so what?
Perhaps you will ponder how it is that you are able to create events, experiences and personalities that surprise you. Perhaps you will wonder at your own creative power that you can imagine the unimaginable. That you can be delighted. That you can feel yourself moved by emotions and sensations that you did not think you had the capacity to create. But, for all that, it will never be possible to argue that any of this occurred anywhere other than in your mind. And that, ultimately, it is true: You are creating everything you experience inside your mind!
And so, in the end, the Self-Realised soul will find Itself retreating inwards to what It knows to be true. Only, “That I Exist”. At first this will feel safe. It will feel peaceful. It will feel like the sanctity of stillness. And this will be pleasing. It might be pleasing for aeons. But eventually, given sufficient time, this going evermore and only within the mind of the self will begin to feel less and less pleasing. For, as much as it is still, safe and peaceful, just so much is it also sterile. No matter how much you fill it with your own creations, it remains yet empty. No matter how many others you populate it with, it remains yet ultimately lonely. If there is “only me” and if the only things I can perceive are that which I create in my mind… then this is truly a sterile place to be. And that is the limit of Self Realisation.
If we wish to reach beyond this emptiness and seek for something beyond it - if we wish to keep searching for The Holy Grail - then we need to take a quantum leap in consciousness. We need to leave behind not just science, not just philosophy, but indeed the mind itself as our tool of inquiry. We need to go where only mysticism can take us!
Mysticism is the oldest, simplest and most powerful of all spiritual paths. This is because mysticism is concerned with finding direct union with the divine. By direct union I mean no external trappings. No religion. No dogmas. No scriptures. No holy men. Nothing at all that is held to be more true, more important or more sacred than direct, personal union with the divine itself. Which can, of course, only be found within. But since the divine is truly limitless and infinite, it cannot even begin to be understood with the mind. So now, when we go “within”, we cannot go within the mind… we must find a centre to go to that is deeper than mind. Because, of course, the divine cannot be dissected. It cannot be broken into little bits and digested by this limited tool of perception. The infinite cannot, in short, be contained within the finite.
So how then are we to approach the divine within?
There are mystical writings we can look to. But these can never be called scriptures since they are not considered to be “the truth”. They are only that which points to the truth within each seeker. So there are no mystical “holy men” for us to worship. A true mystic would laugh at such a concept. At best, a teacher of mysticism is only ever reminding the seeker of what they already know. If the seeker names the teacher of mysticism, “guru”, the teacher knows he is not that. He knows he is but the reminder to Self of the truth of Self: that the divine is to be found within and, as such, no one is more or less than another. And all are worthy of reverence.
So, all of the usual trappings of religion can seem to be present in mysticism. But if we really look, we see that there is a qualitative difference. In mysticism, there is nothing placed above the connection that each seeker has, within themselves, to the divine. Nothing. If anything is held to be more sacred than that, then it is not mysticism. Then it is religion. And mysticism is not, despite what anyone might claim, a religion.
All the trappings: the books, the teachings, the tools, the mantras, the koans… whatever is used in mystical practice… is all geared to one goal and one goal only. To point the seeker to the truth that lies deep within the Self, far beyond the mind. To the true, pure knowing, beyond all reason and comprehension, that All is One. Truly, truly, limitlessly and eternally ONE. And that the whole of the Oneness is within you, as it is within everything. That there is the same Oneness inside the Self that seeks, as there is within the teacher that pointed the way. Which is the same Oneness that there is within the Others that do not seek, as there is within animals and plants and insects and molecules and atoms and suns and… everything that exists. Indeed that everything exists because this same Oneness, that you truly are… that is at this moment making you real, is at this same time making everything else that ever can be, ever will be, and ever was, real. It is all being realised by the eternal, divine being that you really are. And so, yes, it is all you. But not the small, limited being that you thought you were when you came to this conclusion from within the mind. The YOU, you now begin to discover yourself to be, is not your mind. It is not even resident inside your mind. It is not your ego, the little being attached to this or that idea of self. No! YOU are not yourself. You are yourSelf! You are the God that dwells within everything and makes everything real and true by choosing to be within everything and by choosing to create that it is true!
And so the seeker will seek until It has found this Truth that is beyond Truth. This Truth that is so transcendent that it is no longer Truth but has become Love. For, at this level of awareness, there is the realisation that I am you, that you are me. That all is One. That I am One with everything. And this is the greatest Love of all. This is the love that knows that Self is God and that It must therefore love Self limitlessly, magnificently and completely for all eternity. And It knows that all others are just another Self and so must, obviously, be loved as Self: limitlessly, eternally and completely.
And so the seeker will seek until It has found this Love. And then, in the finding, there is a transformation, a raising of the consciousness. A sublime moment of awareness. A light going on. This moment is the moment when all thoughts and ideas are left behind and the seeker expands beyond the confines of the self and actually finds the Divine within. Not just conceptually, but truly experientially. When you feel and know that within you is a greater Self that is, right now, creating your whole reality, then you have moved beyond Self-Realisation and become God-Realised.
Self-Realisation can, as mentioned, be characterised as a feeling of pure stillness and peace beyond all peace. And as such it is a way to heal the suffering of the soul that the non-realized being previously felt. God-realisation, by contrast, is not an attempt to overcome suffering (as that has already been obtained). God-Realisation is a reaching beyond. A true transcendence of the self. And it is characterised by a feeling of true bliss. And movement from Self-Realisation to God-Realisation is usually experienced to be a truly euphoric transformation. Have you ever heard someone speak of "ecstatic union with the divine"? If you have, then this is what they speak of. And this process is usually a journey of a number of steps. Each step an ecstasy... until one is "there," until one resides permanently at that higher density of consciousness and this journey is complete and a new, different one, begun.
But long before that exulted moment, often as the seeker first obtains God-Realisation, there comes a characteristic moment of great laughter as, suddenly it all falls into place. Suddenly the mind catches up with the heart and the seeker realises: “Oh,this is what the teachers, the sages and the mystics of old meant when they said all those things that I previously only half-understood!” All the teachings, all the words of wisdom all the sage expression suddenly make sense at a whole new level. And then there is great mirth. For in that moment is the realisation that you too will only ever be able to say the same, almost-true, words to others that will, at best, only point the way to this transcendent Truth that you now know.
And then you will find yourself look at others with Love in your heart. You will see otherSelves that will ask you questions that you can, no matter how deeply you desire to answer Truthfully, only partially answer for you will know that you can only point to the Truth with words. And so you will point and guide and coach. And over and over again they will ask questions from every possible angle, thinking that they should be able to understand what you are saying. And with Love and patience you will answer, knowing that they will never get it with their minds. Knowing that they will only ever get it by going beyond their minds. Knowing that they need, none-the-less, to keep asking the questions and trying with their minds because what else will they do until that transcendent moment eventually arrives for them too?
And, with such deep compassion and comprehension you will lead and guide, that they will look to you with reverence and call you “guru”. And how you will laugh then! For you will know that you are not that. They will attempt to raise you upon a pedestal and you will know how very laughable it is that they seek to do so. That these otherSelves want to find their way to the Home within their own Hearts by looking outside of themselves… by looking to you. How very, very funny. And so, lovingly, gently, you will remind them that you are not their path. Again and again you will point them to their own Selves, their own Hearts… as countless teachers of the true mysticism have done before you.
Now… let’s see… where were we? Where did this whole quest of ours begin again?
Ah, yes! An aeon ago we began to seek The Holy Grail, did we not?
Well now. Having found God… Oneness… Eternity and Infinity… are we still even interested and curious about that? If we are, then I shall offer you this thought: the Holy Grail is a metaphor. A chalice is a container, you see. And the blood of Christ is a metaphor for the essence of the divine. And so, of course, you are the Holy Grail. You are the container of the divine essence. You find God, Oneness, the Kingdom of Heaven and All That Is within yourself. So how can you, yourself, be anything other than The Holy Grail? It all seems a little obvious now, does it not?
And if I add more capital letters to words I’LL JUST BE SHOUTING ALL THE TIME!
So, I shall stop here and simply say: the point of the metaphor of The Holy Grail is that it is all just a little story. It allows me to tell you this story that you have now read. And this story is, of course, not The Truth but it does, from my perspective, point to The Truth. Perhaps it did as I intended and it reminded you of what you already know deep within your own Heart? Perhaps it pointed you to the divine within? I do hope so, for this is one of the purposes for which I have created mySelf: to remind otherSelf, wherever I go, to look within for the greatest Truth. Which is Love.