While romanticized literature describes the Grail as a chalice, this is a much later derivation, extrapolating from Celtic tradition in which the Grail is described as a platter. Many vessels would have passed through the hands of Jesus in his short lifetime…probably humble clay and wooden bowls such as the famous Nanteos Bowl. This medieval relic, long kept sequested in Wales, is thought to be made of olive wood, and was originally revered in Glastonbury Abbey. According to tradition it was secretly carried away to avoid plundering by agents of Henry VIII. The Nanteos relic is a fragment of wooden bowl credited with miraculous healing powers, with well-attested healing effected as recently as the 1950’s. This also is not the Grail, such a humble vessel with proven powers would perhaps be a stronger candidate for having been used by Jesus. Many manifest vessels can hold Grail power, according to human intention, attunement, and practice, but no single one is the Grail itself.


The Hidden Adept & The Inner Vision


A  Parable of the Spirit


St Joseph of Arimathea




If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)




Soaring upwards
Can be like reaching down

Pushing forward

Can be like pushing back

Going right

Can be like Going left

Within is within

All things begin

And end at the cross roads

–GraalBaum 2013



This world-mountain was Nizir to the Chaldeans, Olympus to the Greeks, Hara Berezaiti to the Persians of the Avesta, the later Alborz and Elburz; a transfer, as says Mme. Ragozin, of ‘mythical heavenly geography to the earth.’ This mountain—the solar hill of the Egyptians—we shall again refer to in the next two or three chapters. At its apex springs, the heaven tree on which the solar bird is perched. From its roots spring the waters of life—the celestial sea, which, rushing adown the firmament, supplies the ocean which circumscribes the earth or falls directly in rain. At their fountain these springs are guarded by a goddess. In Egypt Nut, the goddess of the oversea, leans from the branches of the heavenly persea and pours forth the celestial water. In the Vedas, Yama, lord of the waters, sits in the highest heaven in the midst of the heavenly ocean under the tree of life, which drops the nectar Soma, and here, on the ‘navel of the waters,’ matter first took form. In the Norse, the central tree Yggdrasil has at its roots the spring of knowledge guarded by the Norns, the northern Fates; two swans the parents of all those of earth, float there. In Chaldea the mighty tree of Eridu, centre of the world, springs by the waters. The Avesta gives a very complete picture—Iran is at the centre of the seven countries of the world; it was the first created, and so beautiful, that were it not that God has implanted in all men a love for their own land, all nations would crowd into this the loveliest land. To the east somewhere, but still at the centre of the world, rises the ‘Lofty Mountain,’ from which all the mountains of the earth have grown, ‘High Haraiti;’ at its

summit is the gathering place of waters, out of which spring the two trees, the heavenly Haoma (Soma), and another tree which bears all the seeds that germinate on earth. This heavenly mountain is called ‘Navel of Waters,’ for the fountain of all waters springs there, guarded by a majestic and beneficent goddess. In Buddhist accounts, the waters issue in four streams like the

Eden from this reservoir, and flow to the cardinal points, each making one complete circuit in its descent. In the Persian Bundahish there are two of these heavenly rivers flowing east and west. To the Hindus the Ganges is such a heavenly stream. ‘The stream of heaven was called by the Greeks Achelous.’ The Nile in Egypt, the Hoang-Ho in China, and the Jordan to the Jews, seem to have been celestial rivers. This mountain of heaven is often figured in Christian art with the four rivers issuing from under the Throne of God.

Sir John Maundeville gives an account of the earthly Paradise quite perfect in its detailed scheme. It is the highest place on earth, nearly reaching to the circle of the moon (as in Dante), and the flood did not reach it. ‘And in the highest place, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams’—Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates. ‘And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world above and beneath take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of that well all water come and go.






It is precisely the challenge involved

in using inadequate words

that drives the mind

beyond all words…

At the borders of speech

we open ourselves

to the positive value of silence….

Literary reading,

through its complexity, its music,

its suggestiveness, points to a fuller realm of being.

–Edward k Kaplan (citing Abraham Joshua Heschel)

The symbolism of a thing is its power to recall its higher reality, in the same way a reflection or shadow gives us a fleeting glimpse of the object that casts it; and the best symbols…are those things that are most perfect of their kind for they are the clearest reflections, the sharpest shadows, of the higher reality which is their archetype

–Martin Lings ( Sacred Art of Shakespeare: To Take Upon Us the Mystery of Things  )






When traveling is made too easy and comfortable, its spiritual meaning is lost.

This may be called sentimentalism, but a certain sense of loneliness engendered

by traveling leads one to reflect upon the meaning of life, for life is after all a

travelling from one unknown to another unknown.

–D.T. Suzuki ( Zen and Japanese Culture (New in Paper) (Bollingen Series)



       The word ‘archetype’ from the Latin ‘archetypum’  means original form or imprint.  The archetype can be defined as an original,  primordial image common to all mankind regardless of race, creed or color.  Everything in the universe is imprinted with the indelible stamp of an archetype. Does that amaze you? Here are two examples:       The TREE is one of the most recognizable and common archetypal imprints known to man. It contains very specific archetypal features and characteristics: roots, a trunk, branches and leaves. The archetype maintains it’s  intrinsic meaning regardless of cultural variation. It’s meaning in man’s life as a primal source of food, shelter and tools has given the tree an aura of sacredness and divinity. It has been collectively interpreted down through the ages as the axis mundi or World Axis. It is also called the World Tree— around which the universe itself revolves.  FOUND HERE

Zhungzi and Huizi roamed on the bridge over River Hao. Zhuangzi said, “The tiao fish come out roaming, free and at ease (chuyou congrong). This is the joy of fish!.”


Huizi said, “You are not a fish, how can you know the joy of fish?”


Zhuangzi said, “You are not me, how can you know that I do not know the joy of fish?”

Huizi said, “I am not you, indeed I do not know you. You, indeed, are not a fish, that you do not know the joy of fish is completely clear.”

Zhuangzi said, “I beg to seek the beginning. For you have to have said ‘How can you know the joy of fish,’ it is as if you already knew that I know it and thus asked me. I know it by standing on the river Hao.”

Two modes of knowledge and reasoning are juxtaposed here. Huizi’s certainty is based on the logic of difference: analogous distinctions or disjunctions between man and fish, and between himself and Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi, by contrast, plays on the logic of fluid boundaries and claims to overcome the division of self and other. Instead of meeting Huizi’s logical argument on its own terms, he radically redefines it and affirms intuitive communion: he knows the joy of fish by standing on River Hao. Huizi concedes to not knowing Zhuangzi; Zhuangzi for his part must presume to know Huizi’s mind, even as he knows the fish. He attributes motives and emotions to Huizi’s question: implicit recognition of Zhuangzi’s own knowledge, possibly envy and irritation. The key word is you (roam, wander, play), which describes the movement of both Zhuangzi and Huizi, as well as that of the fish: the repetition here marks empathic continuity. Roaming is associated with the state of being free, at ease, and disinterested, whereby the mind can be most creative and best apprehend the world. To roam, wander, or play is also to overcome boundaries, to move from one state of being to another, to achieve the self –transformation in Daoist transcendence of the opposites of self and other, dreaming and waking, life and death.

Wai-Yee Li (On Becoming a fish, Paradoxes of immortality and enlightenment in Chinese literature)

Three swordsmen sat down at a table in a crowded Japanese inn
and began to make loud comments about their neighbor, hoping to
goad him into a duel. The master seemed to take no notice of them, but when their remarks became ruder and more pointed, he raised his chopsticks and, in quick snips, effortlessly caught four flies wings. As he slowly laid down the chopsticks, the three
swordsmen hurriedly left the room.

The story illustrates a great difference between oriental and
western thinking. The average westerner would be intrigued by
someone’s ability to catch flies with chopsticks, and would
probably say that has nothing to do with how good he is in
combat. But the oriental would realize that a man who has
attained such complete mastery of an art reveals his presence of
mind in every action. The state of wholeness and imperturbability
demonstrated by the master indicated his mastery of self.
And so it is with martial arts. To the westerner the finger jabs,
the side kicks, and the back fist, etc, are tools of destruction
and violence which is, indeed, one of their functions. But the
oriental believes that the primary function of such tools is
revealed when they are self-distracted and destroy greed, fear,
anger and folly.

Manipulative skill is not Oriental’s goal. He is aiming his kicks and
blows at himself and when successful, may even succeed in
knocking himself out. After years of training, he hopes to achieve
that vital loosening and equability of all powers which is what
the three swordsmen saw in the master.

In every day life the mind is capable of moving from one thought
or object to another – “being” mind instead of “having” mind.
However, when face to face with an opponent in a deadly
contest, the mind tends to stick and loses it mobility. Stick ability
or stoppage is a problem that haunts every martial artist.
Kwan – in (avalokitesvara), the goddess of mercy, is sometimes
represented with one thousand arms, each holding a different
instrument. If her mind stops (999) will be of no use whatever, it is
only because of her mind not stopping with the use of one arm,
but moving from one instrument to another, that all her arms
prove useful with the utmost degree of efficiency. Thus the
figure is meant to demonstrate that, when the ultimate truth is
realized even as many as one thousand arms on one body may each
be service able in one way or another.

“Purposelessness”, “empty – mindedness” or “no art” are
frequent terms used in the orient to denote the ultimate
achievement of a martial artist. According to Zen, the spirit is by
nature formless and no ” objects” are to be harbored in it. When
anything is harbored there, psychic energy is drawn toward it,
and when psychic energy loses its balance, its native activity
becomes cramped and it no longer flows with the stream, where
the energy is tipped, there is too much of it in one direction and a
shortage of it in another direction. Where there is too much
energy, it overflows and cannot be controlled. In either case, it
is unable to cope with ever – changing situations. But when there
prevails a state of “purposelessness” (which is also a stage of
fluidity or mindlessness) , the spirit harbors nothing in it, nor is it
tipped in one direction; it transcends both subject and object; it
responds empty – mindedly to whatever is happening.
True mastery transcends any particular art. It stems from
mastery of oneself – the ability, developed through self –
discipline, to be calm, fully aware, and completely in tune with
oneself and the surroundings. Then, and only then, can a person
know himself.

—- Bruce Lee



“The Christian life of virtue is not only a life in which we strive to
unite ourselves to God by the practice of virtue. Rather it is also a
life in which, drawn to union with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit, we
strive to express our love and our new being by acts of virtue. Being
united to Christ, we seek with all possible fervor to let him manifest
his virtue and his sanctity in our lives. Our efforts should be
directed to removing the obstacles of selfishness, disobedience, and all
attachments to what is contrary to his love.”


–Thomas Merton ( Life and Holiness )




“Before I began my study of Zen,

mountains were just mountains,

 and trees were just trees.


During my study of Zen,

mountains were no longer mountains,

and trees no longer trees.


When I became Enlightened,

mountains were once again mountains,

 and trees once again trees.”





The Yellow Emperor went wandering

To the north of the Red Water

To the Kwan Lun mountain.

He looked around

Over the edge of the world.

On the way home

He lost his night-colored pearl*.

He sent out Science to seek his pearl, and got nothing.

He sent Analysis to look for his pearl, and got nothing.

He sent out Logic to seek his pearl, and got nothing.

Then he asked Nothingness, and Nothingness had it!

The Yellow Emperor said:

“Strange, indeed: Nothingness

Who was not sent

Who did no work to find it

Had the night-colored pearl!”



from “The Way of Chuang Tzu,” trans Merton


(*Night-colored pearl: original nature; spiritual enlightenment)

“No matter what the situation, you cannot neglect Buddha, because you yourself are Buddha. Only this Buddha will help you completely.” “Our teaching is to live, always in reality, in its exact sense….To make our effort, moment after moment, is our way. In an exact sense, the only thing we actually can study in our life is that on which we are working in each moment. We cannot even study Buddha’s words. To study Buddha’s words in their exact sense means to study them through some activity which you face moment after moment.”


–Suzuki Roshi ( Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Shambhala Library)


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