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I enjoyed reading Craig Deininger’s mythblast on the “Principle of Honor.”
I did not put the name in my title for my own principle of honor…ok that’s just a joke. Heh heh.
But Deininger’s essay touched a mythic nerve and made a strong, resonant impression.
I have always been fascinated by the grail quests and Joseph Campbell’s take on them. Parzival often comes to mind.
But first, I was thinking of the chocolate cake… holding to an outside-in honor in not taking the piece of cake seems like a society influenced response.
And I think that is exactly what Deininger is suggesting. For others, there may be times and experience of guilt or having been embarrassed may also refrain them from taking the last piece of cake even if kindly offered.
It’s that old subconscious saw Campbell has mentioned in relation to following one’s own path, “what will they think of me?”
And that circles back around to Parzival. He goes to the castle of the wounded knight and all that is needed is the question “What ails you?”
“That’s it. No exotic potions. No elaborate rituals.” (Quoting Craig Deininger and Joe Campbell and editor)
Deininger moves past the “simple question” into the deeper psyche, the “spiritual adventure,” in which “asking the question is the realization of compassion.”
For me, I love the simplicity of the question because that hints at being both simple and profound, mysterious perhaps and transcendent. The energy is within the Realization itself.
In a world which thrives on complexity, it’s a breath of fresh air.
Another passage which also stands out concerning Parzival: “His nature prompted him many times to ask the question. But he thought of his knightly honor.” (A Knight doesn’t ask questions)
Then the line that bit into my psyche when Parzival does not ask the question:
“The social ideal interfered with his nature and the result is desolation.”
Craig Deininger goes on to say: “Principles applied dogmatically do not acknowledge one’s story as in ‘my story.
They have their value but not when one applies their generic quality to specific contexts.”
“Parzival’s commitment to the principle of honor extinguishes any engagement or enactment of an honor that is genuine.”
This seems like a universal challenge.
Parzival is called to listen to his nature his inner intuition which is ready to take the honorable action (from a deeper place in his mind and heart) but he plays a head trip on himself based on outside-in generic principles.
It seems to me, that sometimes the individual path and the “inner call,” can too easily be dismissed or confused with a path of “Ego.”
Team or group honor has its place and importance, but as Deininger says that generic form is out of place and does not fit the situation. But perhaps by Parzival’s training or his understanding Parzival has the mind idea, (which no doubt has been etched-in by repetition) that The “Group Principle,” Knightly code overrides what his inner voice and heart tell him. Perhaps he fears rebuke…peer pressure, failing the team.
But he finally returns to the inner voice, is given a miraculous second chance to return to the grail castle. Then Parzival asks the question and “The Kingdom is healed.”
The irony is he betrayed his team and the kingdom by not listening to the inner voice. But when he banished his own chatter and doubts as well as the outside-in expectations, then he succeeded and succeeded on behalf of what was greater than himself.
And the Kingdom was healed…
not by a complex ceremony or potion but by a simple question with profound energy-compassion/awareness.
That sums up my impressions of Joseph Campbell and his insights and take on the cultural stories and myths of the world. Love it!
Yet I am still haunted by that other line:
“The social ideal interfered with his [Parzival’s] nature and the result is desolation.”
Everyone in his/her/their own way has a chance to dive into the inner psyche or muse upon their paths and adventures. And relating to Joseph Campbell and his works is a fun way to do that to find the passion or dig deeper into and past the psyche.
Yet sometimes I have a flicker in my perception, that the world seems to be in complete opposition to Joseph Campbell—-the aura and energy and insights, not the man himself.
It feels mind bending at least after reading myths, which open doors to new horizons as well as bringing one back in balance with themselves as happened to Parzival.
Campbell himself lamented a waste land waiting for a new myth. It’s as though someone passed out sheets or form emails saying “myth is not applicable or relevant this time around…and don’t ask questions…now is not the time…just read the instructions.”
My strange feeling is the same as realizing I’m not looking at myself in the mirror, but I’m in the mirror looking at myself and need to get out so I can retune like Parzival did.
It could be a bit frightening. Definitely a challenge for the psyche!
But after having read this essay by Craig Deininger, I’m thankful because it is synchronous with the thoughts rumbling in my psyche. And I’m glad he wrote it. Right to the heart of the matter! And hopeful! There is always a place for myth and story and those deeper lessons and realizations. Even when shadows rise…(especially then)
Thank you Craig Deininger!
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