…predictability and Parsifal’s dilemma…

“At first, I am giving energy to the creation, but later the creation seems to be giving energy to me.” – Robert Fritz

Yesterday’s blog was about being “well-cared-for,” and about the lethargic sleep that being “well-cared-for” creates.  When asleep, we attend to our needs without giving much if any consideration to others or to the context.  The “well-cared-for” sleep creates a predictability and orderliness that puts us into a false state of trust.  We give over to it without truly knowing what we’re doing.  That trust is the projection of ourselves cast on the surface of still water.   We can easily put our hands through image our trust creates.   The “well-cared-for” sleep gives us our needs in exactly the manner that we want them.  We are lulled into complacency and sleep.

Today, I want to look at what “waking up” might mean.  One way is to look the Parsifal myth and how it points to our need to “wake up” from predictability and the “well-cared-for” sleep.

One one side, we have the sense of predictability and orderliness that seems to be the very triumph of ingenuity and intellect.  Where ever there is orderliness, there is trust, and companionship, and fulfilment (all three).  These are the natural products of destiny.   No one can argue with this type of pre-ordained fulfillment.  We feel it, and sense it, and know it as our natural birthright.  This is what we are supposed to lay claim to while we are part of this world.

On other side,  we have Parsifal’s dilemma.  An awareness that something is wrong, amiss, or altogether missing  AND a complete inability to name it or even to approach it.  On this side, there is a great procession of orderliness and precision.  It is all that we would have ever expected, and yet by its being so completely fulfilled, there is something oddly lacking, something so lacking that we cannot name it or even approach with any real understanding. 

The name ‘Parsifal’ means ‘young fool.’  Here is a lad watching this procession and he knows he must ask a question — but the rules of courtly life, decorum, and tradition forbid him from speaking.  The fullness of the moment passes and the youthful fool is cast out for having failed to ‘wake up’ enough to genuinely put himself into the moment.  The scene which just unfolded required some question.  What was it that Parsifal failed to notice?

There are many versions of the Parsifal myth (and just as many versions of what it might mean), but through all of them — there is a strong emphasis on awakening and on shaking off the blinders that keep us in the same, but un-fulfilling lives.  Every Parsifal myth is about waking up. 

To solve the Parsifal dilemma, we must offer ourselves in the moment because there is something more than just our fulfillment at stake.  And while that sounds idealistic, or utopian, or simplistic, the critical shift in our being asleep or awake lies in the fullness of who we bring into the room. We cannot know that something other than our fulfillment is at stake without our first being present.  Any lulling complacency actually robs us of ourselves.

When Parsifal first met the procession, he did not bring himself into the room (the young and irrepressibly foolish one — that person — was completely silent).  The requirement of every moment is to show up and genuinely BE who you are, and not assume the image of compliance. 

Predictability and orderliness may be the very triumph of ingenuity and intellect, but without the human image somewhere in the forefront, the image which that ingenuity and intellect seeks is a soulless mirage, a mirage of deadly tyranny.   

As much as we want to believe that trust, and companionship, and fulfilment are the natural  accompaniments of predictability and orderliness, if we leave ourselves out – then we cannot feel it, and sense it, and know it as our natural birthright — as participants in something larger than ourselves. 

So what was it that Parsifal failed to notice?  That he was part of the image which he created AND that he could include himself in that image.  Not only the decorous, respectful, and compliant “Parsifal,” but the foolish and inquisitive “Parsifal”  as well. 

And how did that awareness lead to his realization that something other than his fulfillment is at stake?  He understood the context and he allowed the context to give him the energy he needed to be more fully himself.

The question Parsifal asks is: ‘To whom does the grail serve?’

The same could be asked of orderliness and precision.  The “cared for” sleep is a sleep that leaves us out.  When asleep, we attend to our needs without giving much if any consideration to others or to the context.  And then — we lose the point — that there is  something other than our fulfillment at stake.  But how do we get the energy to wake up?

Robert Fritz is on to something:  “At first, I am giving energy to the creation, but later the creation seems to be giving energy to me.”   If we genuinely place ourselves into the images that we create, we are much more likely to take energy from them.  We learn to hold our fullest selves so we can sense something other than our fulfillment.

Thanks for listening!


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