True Calling: The Search For The Holy Grail

4. FIND THE HOLY GRAIL, YOUR TRUE CALLING

Discover your highest purpose in life – your work. But not just any work. The task is to do the work you are most passionate about. For a man, work is crucial, but even more crucial is discovering your true calling. In life, your true calling is #1, everything else is #2. (You may have more than one true calling in life, but these generally unfold one at a time. Avoid attempting to explore too many ‘true callings’ at once, else you remain a jack of all trades and master of none).

14-point Code of The Conscious Warrior

True Calling” (TC) is often conflated with a kind of occupational romanticism. In our society, where work is worth, most interpret it to be the one career that suits them perfectly; believing, once found, it will yield perpetual happiness and success, while bestowing an enduring sense of purpose through the harvest of some God-given gift.

But this is the same flawed thinking which underpins the core fallacy of romantic love: soul mates. It’s a deeply swaddling notion, isn’t it: that you might find a single person who will be your ultimate salvation; who will forever cure the plague of loneliness and make you feel complete, while being an infinite wellspring of love, fiery sex and intimacy?

Unfortunately, this line of thinking is doomed to fail us. Rooted in a childish aversion to psychological and emotional friction, it is no different than the hope of stumbling on a genie in a magic lamp. It results not in deliverance, but reliable disappointment, depression and anxiety.

In reality, the pursuit of your True Calling – the Holy Grail – is an ever-winding odyssey of passion, wrought with doubt and hairpin turns. You must be fuelled by steadfast grit, which arises from a deep-seated purpose. And you will persist in it because you’ve learned the only path worth taking is the one led by the heart.

In reality, the pursuit of your True Calling – the Holy Grail – is an ever-winding odyssey of passion, wrought with doubt and hairpin turns. You must be fuelled by steadfast grit, which arises from a deep-seated purpose. And you will persist in it because you’ve learned the only path worth taking is the one led by the heart.

Ultimately, this point will take us to the true meaning of the word happiness. It will get a little weird, but bear with me.

So, Why Bother?

A man functions optimally when connected to an orienting purpose. Without a specific passion taking center stage, his creative abilities won’t be fully engaged. If a relationship takes his mantle, everything usually suffers. For some men, that purpose may indeed be family, but it’s not the norm. 

More often, he must go deeper to cultivate a source of fulfillment beyond his partner and fluctuating moods, to tap into what the Japanese call “Ikigai” or “reason for being”. It’s the intersection between what you’re good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

This movement inward, as we’ll see later, is the mythical search for the Holy Grail. 

It demands ample effort, boldness and impeccability, but it’s the only way to truly feel on fire. You can avoid travelling down this road as long as you like. But until you have, you will always feel a pervasive hollowness, forever trying to fill the void with toys, television, travel, pornography, sex, drugs, etc. 

Rather than ask why, you might ask: why not? Your time is shorter than you care to admit. Do you really want to reach the end of your life and confront the daily horror of knowing you never truly lived it? To have deferred dreams flicker behind glossed eyes, as the icy poison of regret courses through slowing veins?

Breaking Down The Parts

Let’s give this lofty concept a skeleton by looking to the parts of the sum. 

True” does not mean “correct” in the binary sense. It actually means accurate, or aligned. It is a statement of compatibility with your personality and values. The jobs and activities through which you express those values are superficial. 

What are you passionate about? What really matters to you? What do you stand for in the world? What do people tell you you’re good at? What would you want to inspire and develop in others? Is what you’re setting after aligned with that? Does it lead to the development of useful skills, and bring you to the bleeding edge of your personal growth? 

To answer such questions, one must first acquire requisite self-knowledge. Finding your true calling(s) is important, but it is no accident we find it at point four of fourteen, rather than number one. We can only gain fruitful traction once we have already made headway to mastery in the first three:

1. Make Your Word Good

2. Know Thyself

3. Train Your Body

If you feel a bit lost around your TC, don’t stress. Wrestling too hard with this issue usually breeds anguish, which is counterproductive to your empowerment. Instead, double your focus on these first three points of the code. 

Consistently engage with the fourth the same way you would practice sparring at half-speed in Kung Fu. Patience and relaxed persistence will pay off in spades.

As you gain momentum on those initial points, you’ll start to notice breadcrumbs leading to the fourth all around you. One by one, they’ll reveal themselves in the form of opportunities, glimmers of interest, chance encounters, and affirmations from others, which encourage you toward the direction of your unique gifts and aptitudes.

Calling,” suggests an invitation from the outside. It is, in a sense, an odyssean siren hovering on the horizon of your mind. But rather than wanting to wreck your ship, this subtle gravity is pulling you toward your greatest self. 

You may experience it as a private, recurring vision of your future, living out the things you would do if money were no object. It might even feel like it’s something you’re meant to do. The vision returns when night falls and the noise of the world dims; like the gentle, rhythmic flicker of a lighthouse beacon.

Answering that call, or pursuing that vision, implies a departure – a voyage. Embarking on which will test you on three fronts:

First, the extent to which you can liberate yourself from concern for the judgments and opinions of others.

Secondly, your self-esteem and confidence, and the limiting beliefs surrounding both your capacity and worthiness for success.

Lastly, your faith in being supported by something greater than yourself. 

Pursuing your TC, or the Holy Grail, is to set out on the hero’s journey – the archetypal cycle of personal evolution popularized by Joseph Campbell. 

On this quest, those three fronts are what give shape to the dragons which guard the gold. The mythical beasts waiting to be slain are seldom in the external world. More often, they are those that roost in the caves of your own psyche.

This journey may also not involve you going anywhere, geographically, although new surroundings can certainly help solidify changes in habits and self-image. It is simply the process of bringing those private visions from the imaginal realm into this one. The triumph and folly you experience along the way will be the results of battles waged on the inner trenches.

Mining The Grail Myth & The True Nature of Happiness

As written in the code, “True Calling” is synonymous with the “Holy Grail” – a phrase borrowed from a potent 12th century myth. The story is vast and contains many elements, but we’ll strip it here to its bare essence, for the sake of brevity. For anyone curious to dive deeper into it, I recommend you pick up the short book “He: Understanding Masculine Psychology”, by Robert Johnson.

The gist of the myth is as follows:

A young boy, who we later learn is named Perceval (or Parsifal), lives secluded in the forest with his mother. One morning, his eyes catch the distant shimmer of armour worn by five knights riding through the woods on horseback. He is so ignited by the sight, he resolves to ride off with them and leave his mother. Charmed by the boy’s spirit, the knights oblige Perceval’s request, but not before warning he’ll likely never return to these woods, or see his mother again. Though heartbroken, she releases Perceval with a few gifts and pieces of advice (the details of which aren’t worth mentioning here, but they are vitally important in the greater myth).

As the story unfolds, Perceval encounters a slew of tests, trials and tribulations. He finds a male mentor, engages in duels, rescues damsels, encounters the wounded Fisher King, discovers the Grail Castle, conquers knights, slays dragons, endures dry years, and more. Finally, he returns once more to the grail castle, this time wearily wise and fit to pass the test he failed so many years ago, which is to ask the question, “Whom does the grail serve?” Asking this question reveals the mysterious Grail King, while healing the Fisher King and the entire kingdom over which he presides, as its health was tied to his. 

In this narrative, the trove of rich metaphor and wisdom on male development is of encyclopedic proportions. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re primarily concerned with the symbolism of the Holy Grail and the Grail King.

The Holy Grail, or your True Calling, is not an explicit destination, achievement, or singular expression of who you are. It is a vocational access point to something much greater; a vessel we may use to dip into the fountain of life and drink its elixir.

The Holy Grail, or your True Calling, is not an explicit destination, achievement, or singular expression of who you are. It is a vocational access point to something much greater; a vessel we may use to dip into the fountain of life and drink its elixir.

The Grail myth represents the arc of a subconscious psychological drama, which unfolds over decades. It’s important to note the Grail isn’t something Perceval initially set out to find. He stumbles on it organically over time by following his joy. 

When Perceval finally asks the question, “Whom does the Grail serve?” the answer is bellowed through the halls from deep within the belly of the castle, “The Grail King.” The voice is from the Grail King himself, whose existence was previously unknown until this point in the story.

The Grail King represents Jung’s idea of the transcendent Self – with a capital “S” – the aspect of consciousness transcending the gross confines of our skin and bones. Some religious traditions might call this “God”, or the “Holy Spirit”. 

In He, Robert Johnson writes, The object of life is not happiness, but to serve God or the Grail … If one understands this and drops his idiotic notion that the meaning of life is personal happiness, then one will find that elusive quality immediately at hand.

He goes on to offer a slightly more practical interpretation:

Dr. Jung speaks of the life process as being the relocation of the center of gravity of the personality from the ego to the Self. He sees this as the life work of a man and the center of meaning for all human endeavour. When Parsifal learns that he is no longer the center of the Universe – not even his own little kingdom – he is free of his alienation and the Grail is no longer barred from him.

In other words, if your paradigm is set up in a way where happiness is a function of what happens to you, it will forever elude you. If you’re out to merely serve the small-time ego in life, the gates to the Grail Castle (or the “Kingdom of Heaven,” if you will) will be tightly closed.

To adapt one of Johnson’s ideas: “The origin of the word is instructive: happiness stems from the root verb to happen, which implies that our happiness is what happens” when we focus on bringing out the best in ourselves and give it away to the world.

Paradoxically, this selfless orientation is necessarily born from selfishness. You must first care enough about your own life to begin examining the quality of it, and ask, “How could I be happier?” before finding an answer. 

In the end, we’re ushered through this selfish enquiry and out the other side, to contemplate the ultimate question:

“Whom does the grail serve?”

With a single comment, Rodney Mullen, the godfather of modern street skateboarding, inadvertently told of his visits to the Grail Castle during an interview. While talking about the secret to finding true happiness beyond the delusions of fame and materialism, he said:

“Find joy in what you do for the sake of it, and recognize how you’re being changed in the process, and hopefully, you become a better man through it.”

A Personal Note & How We Can Bring This To Group

Your weekly meetings are ideal grounds on which to goad this process. We all need a little help to bust loose from myopic thinking and the conventional rules of the game, which have lodged themselves in the folds of our gray matter.

Share honestly your loftiest dreams, as well as the deepest fears surrounding them. Be mirrors for each other’s innate greatness, not just their flaws. Reflect back what you perceive to be their natural gifts, abilities and best qualities. Push their accountabilities in the direction of their expressed aspirations. As you extend your heart to them, you extend it to yourself as well. 

Remember that we usually have multiple Grails in our lifetime, or vehicles through which we channel our passion. Allow yourself to choose one, for now, and have faith the rest will fall together in time. Don’t worry about finding the one. Pull focus to the deeper values and how it engages you.

I’m drawn to this point of the Code because it’s been a core struggle of mine. Years ago, I decided there was a better way to live life than the way we’re sold, but I didn’t have enough self-esteem and personal authority to do much about it. 

After developing some authentic self-confidence, I still found myself at an impasse. I saw my heart in many things, especially music, writing, men’s development and creating passive income streams. I was paralyzed with indecision about which endeavour would be the most right, meaningful, or impactful to dedicate myself to. 

Beneath this disorienting fog was a fear of failure in anything on which I based my sense of identity and purpose. Once this resistance to moving forward had worn its welcome, I relaxed my grip and chose the path on which I’d already laid the most foundation, and therefore would bear the nearest success: music. 

As I fed into it, the rest followed naturally, much like ducks in a row. Shortly after releasing an album and beginning to play frequent gigs, my writing business was expanding, as was my fire for men’s work, and I was able to quit my day job.

As a bonus, by focusing on the initial selfish purpose of creating a mobile, freedom-based lifestyle through self-employment, I’ve since stumbled on one greater than myself, which tethers together my once-disparate callings, and fuels them even further. 

It seems to me the contents of what we do are rogue ducklings. What matters is the directive impetus of concentrated passion behind which they fall into place.

Nobody said it better than the Scottish poet W.H. Murray:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now’.”

Previous Post
“I Don’t Want To Hear It”
Next Post
He and I

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Avatar
    Samuel - Phoenix Squad
    November 18, 2018 7:46 pm

    I struggled with this code last meeting, fumbling, awkwardly convincing each other we kinda had it or didn’t need it… well delivered article- writing one of your talents!

    Reply
  • Fantastic article, Chris. Thank you for this in-depth exploration in to the fourth point in the code.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Menu