Transcendence and Truth: Life’s Holy Grail

Detail of War Memorial by Gilbert Bayes, Aldeburgh Church, Suffolk

To become what you are meant to be, you must express yourself honestly.

How do we know what is true? Well, being honest with ourselves is usually difficult. It usually means taking a risk and facing the possibility of loss. Of defeat. Often the truth can be found in actions which make us feel vulnerable. Stating our truth in a situation is often a moment of vulnerability.

Likewise, taking a financial risk; such as investing, quitting our job or starting a business. These are moments where we separate ourselves out from the comforts and confines of the crowd.

Revealing what our hearts desire, what we are obsessed, those things about which we are truly passionate is a risk. There’s a risk no one will care. A risk we’ll be alone in our fascination. A risk we’ll be ignored, rejected, impoverished and alone.

When discovering who we are, it is useful questions to ask: how do we distinguish between fear and intuition? Of those two voices which speak to us, which voice is which? Perhaps they are not separate voices. Perhaps they are different people entirely. Entirely different drives within us.

This would make sense. Anatomically fight or flight is deeper in the neurology. But subjectively also, they are qualitatively different. I rarely hear the voice of my intuition rationalise anything. It never says, ‘You should do this, because then this, and then this…’ My intuition is not so smooth. It usually simply shouts ’THIS!’ and then scurries off into the corner and stuffs a sock into its mouth. Sometimes it might whisper. The point is, it rarely gives me much to go on but that. A hunch. It usually requires a leap of faith. This action alone can feel like facing death itself.

Ironically, most often this is also when the voice of fear chooses to speak to us. It has different methods. In an instant we feel a change in the circulation of our blood. The feet tingle. Our heart rate increases. You can smell adrenaline. It’s those moments in which you must focus attention on your breathing, or you begin hyperventilating, overcome with anxiety.

It can happen when you approach a beautiful woman or man you are curious about. Or, say, when you are invited to introduce yourself at a new workplace. In situations such as this the possibility of blundering looms large, so often we play it safe and shrink away from ourselves.

All these challenges are moments in time. However, there are clear winning and losing approaches. Keep always in your mind that the attempt is everything. Do the thing you are afraid to do. Simply go at it with all you have, and you have passed the test.

Do the thing, and you will, in time, be given the power. Even if you fail. The attempt towards yourself is where the edge of honesty lies. Where your true self is. That transcendental ideal which you will never reach, but is the only thing that leaves you filling satisfied when you go to sleep at night.

Many of life challenges are present fear in a way which is far more insidious. Far harder to judge right. At least for myself. Deciding on our long-term intimate partner, despite all the sacrifice entailed in something such as marriage, for example. This is hard to do. How do we decide?

In the story of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table are sent on a quest to retrieve the Holy Grail. These knights, being all roughly equal, represent a band of men striving for ideals. Ideals such as chivalry, which strength and tenderness in equal measure. The Holy Grail is a cup said to be filled with the blood of Christ. It represents ultimately represents transcendence.

It is, after all, meant to embody Christ’s sacrifice for humankind. His life given to relieve us of sin. (Sin simply means to ‘miss the mark’ by the way, to miss the ideal). Anyway. To seek the Holy Grail, the knights must enter a dark a mysterious forest. Now pay close attention; they are instructed to enter this forest from the point which appears darkest to them.  To them as individuals. Despite being roughly equal, and as a band of brothers, they must enter the forest at exactly the point which is most terrifying to them as individuals.

I believe the lesson from this is simple: It is through facing our fear that we realise who we truly are. We honest enough with ourselves to be faced with the truth about ourselves and the world. This is why it is so difficult and frightening.

This is why we must equip ourselves with a shield of commitment to a purpose, and a  brotherhood to encourage us in the ideals we strive for. It’s also the only way we can strive to be our true self. It’s the only way to live satisfied as a human being. Strong, integrated and brave.

And believe me, the world needs and deserves no less

Strength and courage,

Love and Chi!

I’m out.

Me on a Pilgrimage From Canterbury to Schumacher College

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