The Evolution of Consciousness
I would like to set this talk against the Grail legend and the story of Parzival and his journey through the Wasteland – a land laid waste by war and greed, where crops withered, animals sickened and died and the people lived in misery and fear. If you remember, Parzival was guided to the Castle of the Grail and taken into the presence of Anfortas, the Fisher King, who lay bleeding from a wound in the groin.
His conventional training as a knight forbade him to ask the instinctive question, ‘What ails thee, Lord?’ But he was invited to sit at the table of the knights and to witness the procession of maidens bearing the Table of the Grail and the Grail itself into the hall. The next morning, sensing that he was in disgrace, yet not knowing what he had failed to do, Parzival left the Castle. It immediately vanished from his sight and he embarked on many years of pilgrimage, seeking to find again the place that meant more to him than anything else, even his beloved wife, Condwiramurs.
After years of wandering and search he was again guided to the Grail Castle, this time entering it with his newly discovered half-brother, Feirefiz, with whom he had been reconciled after a fierce fight. Deeply moved at the sight of the king’s suffering, he asked the question, „What ails thee, Uncle?’ With these compassionate words, the old man’s agonising wound was healed, the Wasteland was regenerated and Parzival reunited with Condwiramurs.
I have told this story because I feel that in the context of the blight that has recently fallen over this land, we too might perhaps be moved to ask the question ‘What ails us?’ What ails our culture that we can behave in this appalling way towards animals, with so little evidence of emotional and spiritual intelligence? If we could respond to this question we might awaken to our soul, as Parzifal did in the course of his quest to find the Castle of the Grail.
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