Friday, February 19, 2010

Enter Where There Is No Path

The other day I quoted from the Introduction to one volume of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation. Here is how the Introduction ends:

Here is a story that seems to me to embody the essential image of living one's life, finding it and having the courage to pursue it. It comes from an Arthurian romance, La Queste del Saint Graal, by an anonymous thirteenth-century monk.
There's a moment there in Arthur's banquet hall when all the knights are assembled around the Round Table. Arthur would not let anyone start to eat until an adventure had occurred. Well, in those days adventures were rather normal, so people didn't go hungry for long.
They were waiting for this day's adventure, and it did indeed occur. The Holy Grail showed itself to the assembled knights - not in its full glory but covered with a great radiant cloth. Then it withdrew. All were left ravished, sitting there in awe.
Finally, Gawain, Arthur's nephew, stood up and said, "I propose a vow to this company, that we should all go in quest of that Grail to behold it unveiled."
Now we come to the text that interested me. The text reads, "They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no way or path."
You enter the forest at the darkest point where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else's path; each human being is a unique phenomenon.

The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.

I believe that God calls us to seek the Holy Grail so that we may unveil it. He calls us from the dark forest where there is no path except the one we create for our unique journey. I also believe that if we have the courage to make that journey, God will guide us to the Grail.

The Grail is within.

A well-known Jesuit historian and educator, in an article written in America magazine some time ago, called Joseph Campbell, who was brought up Roman Catholic, an apostate. I respect the intelligent broad-mindedness of that writer, so I have to think that his tongue was in his cheek (or on his cheeks covering his ass). I can only say, thank God for this wise and blessed apostate.

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