The Grail Knights

   Professor Goetz has suggested (rightly, I think) that the vow of absolute anonymity required of Wolfram’s knights of the Castle of the Grail – which was something very different from anything required of a Round Table night – can have had as a model only the vow of the Fidai of the Mohammedan Assassins: a mystic-revolutionary, fanatical Shi’ite sect of Islam, devoted to the service of the Hidden Imam, who, as the “true” leader of Islam, in secret opposition to the orthodox caliphate, might be thought comparable in import to the hidden Castle of the Grail, in contrast to the visible Church of Rome.  The hidden fairy hills of the old Celtic gods; the Hidden Imam of Islam; the Kingdom of the Father, spread upon the earth, unseen; and the Land under Waves, of Eternal Life!   In the Indian Katha Upanishad we read:

Though It is hidden in all things

That Universal Self (atman) does not shine forth

Yet is seen by subtle seers

Of subtle mind and subtle sight.

    In his beautiful essay “On the Basis of Morality,” Schopenhauer asks the following question: How is it that a human being can so experience the pain and peril of another, that, forgetting his own well-being, he comes spontaneously to that other person’s rescue?  How is it that what we generally take to be the first law of nature, self-preservation, can be thus suddenly suspended, so that even at the risk of death one moves on impulse to another’s rescue?  And the answer he gives is this: such a move is inspired by a metaphysical truth and realization, namely, that we and that other are one, our sense and experience of separateness being of a secondary order, a mere effect of the way in which the light-world consciousness experiences objects within a conditioning frame of space and time.  More deeply, more truly, we are of one consciousness and one life.  Compassion (German: Mitleid, “cosuffering”), unself-conscious love transcends the divisive experience of opposites: I and thou, good and evil, Christian and heathen, birth and death.  And the experience of the Grail, in Wolfram’s reading, is of this unity, or identity beyond contrariety.  Indeed, the very sense of his hero’s name, Parzival, he reads as perce le val, right throught the middle (rehte enmitten durch).  And not righteousness or self-righteousness but compassion alone is the key to the opening of this all-uniting Middle Way.   RG 89