death is only the result … of our indifference to immortality …

May 31, 2010

in Art & Literature,Spirituality

… the legend of Parsifal and the Fisher King …

We refer to an episode in the legend of Parsifal and the Fisher King, concerning the mysterious malady that paralyzed the old King who held the secret of the Graal. It was not he alone who suffered; everything around him was falling into ruins, crumbling away – the palace, the towers and the gardens. Animals no longer bred, trees bore no more fruit, the springs were drying up. Many doctors had tried to cure the Fisher King, all without the least success. The knights were arriving there day and night, each of them asking first of all for news of the King’s health. But one knight – poor, unknown and even slightly ridiculous – took the liberty of disregarding ceremony and politeness: his name was Parsifal. Paying no attention to courtly custom, he made straight for the King and, addressing him without any preamble, asked: “Where is the Graal?” In that very instant, everything is transformed: the King rises from his bed of suffering, the rivers and fountains flow once more, vegetation grows again, and the castle is miraculously restored. Those few words of Parsifal had been enough to regenerate the whole of nature. But  those few words propound the central question, the one question that can arouse not only the Fisher King but the whole Cosmos: Where is the supreme reality, the sacred, the Centre of Life and the source of immortality, where is the Holy Graal? …

That brief episode of a great European myth reveals to us at least one neglected aspect of the symbolism of the Centre: that there is not only an intimate interconnection between the universal life and the salvation of man; but that it is enough only to raise the question of salvation, to pose the central problem; that is, the problem – for the life of the cosmos to be for ever renewed. For – as this mythological fragment seems to show – death is only the result of our indifference to immortality.

(Images and Symbols Mircea Eliade … quoted in At the Origin of the Christian Claim Luigi Giussani p. 17-18)

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