The Holy Grail: Legends of the Search

By: Ranilo Abando (Manila, November 22, 2020) ****

You may have watched the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  The movie is about finding the Holy Grail, the cup that was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and was used to catch the blood of Jesus during his crucifixion – well, at least according to the legend.  It was said to have miraculous powers, including the power to heal all wounds.  That is why, according to the movie, the Holy Grail is strictly guarded by a secret society.  Luckily the brain behind the search, Henry Jones, father of Indiana, was a well-intentioned guy who was able to trace and find the location of the Grail by correctly interpreting… hold your breath Folks… metaphors.  Yes, those old reliable metaphors. Reliable, if you have the trained eyes in spotting the genuine from the fake.

Looking for the grail is considered as the mother of all searches.  The holy grail plays a different role everywhere it appears, but in most versions of the legend the hero must prove himself worthy to be in its presence.  The legendary knights of King Arthur of Britain looked for it.  In those tales, the knight Percival’s lack of readiness prevented him from fulfilling his destiny when he first finds the grail, and he must grow spiritually and mentally before he can find it again.  In later tellings, the grail is only fully realized by those who prepare themselves spiritually, like the virtuous Galahad.

During the Age of Exploration, one version of such grail search was that of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon looking for the legendary Fountain of Youth in Florida.  Another grail version is the Spanish conquistadors looking for El Dorado, the legendary city of gold in South America.  Alchemists in the Middle Ages looked for the grail-like philosopher’s stone that is capable of turning base metals into gold and is an elixir for immortality.


A variance to the grail search is the search for the idyllic and mystical place rooted in legends, such as Hyperborea, Shangri-La, Arcadia, Valhalla, and Shambhala.  After experiencing the stress of living in the rat race associated with our modern society, our spirits yearn for a place where conflicts, deterioration, hard labor, helplessness, and ignorance that generally characterize our world, can no longer reach its shores. 

In modern times, the term “holy grail” has become synonymous to an ultimate objective with great value that looks unattainable – like a cold fusion power plant or a human teleportation system in applied physics.  In modern literature, Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code is based on the idea that the real Grail is not a cup but the womb and later the earthly remains of Mary Magdalene.  These sorts of ideas are sometimes amusing to many of us.  But deep inside us they evoke the question:  what is the real holy grail?


The holy grail and its many variants are obviously a metaphor for a goal with great significance for each and everyone of us – a mind empowered by higher spiritual knowledge.  Let us deal individually with the concepts mentioned above.  

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the lesson imparted is that if you want to find the holy grail, you have to have a deep love for knowledge, similar to what Henry Jones had.  When I said holy grail there, I refer to higher spiritual knowledge which is not something given to just anybody on a silver platter.  There must be love and dedication inside you, and your intentions are untainted with worldly desires.  The latter will only result in one’s demise, just like what happened to the Austrian Elsa character in the story who tried to grab the grail just to gain worldly powers.  The Nazis and Elsa did not deserve the holy grail.

In the British legend of King Arthur, the young Arthur proved to everybody that he has the pedigree of wisdom by metaphorically pulling the sword that was embedded in a stone.  The sword represents spiritual wisdom, while the stone represents clay or stone tablets, walls, or cylinder seals with ancient knowledge written on them.  Stones or dried clay are ideal for preserving records of knowledge in this physical world where deterioration is a rule rather than an exception.  Woe to our modern digital recording system which will never stand the test of time because of its reliance on fickle electrical technology to store information.  Can you imagine a future archaeologist after a major world catastrophe excavating a laptop computer and retrieving its records in a world where technological standards are radically different from ours?

The sword in the stone metaphor is similar to the metaphor in the story of Sleeping Beauty where the prince was equipped with the sword of knowledge and shield of virtue to defeat the world dragon Maleficent.

The Fountain of Youth that Ponce de Leon tried to look for in Florida is another metaphor for higher spiritual knowledge.  If you possess higher spiritual knowledge, you will not be born again here, and you will stay forever young in a place where the Second Law of Thermodynamics no longer operates.  The El Dorado that the conquistadors tried to look for does not exist in this physical world.  It exists somewhere else where things more precious and more beautiful than gold are found everywhere.

The philosopher’s stone, the dream of all alchemists during the Middle Ages, is a metaphor as well of the mind empowered by higher spiritual knowledge.  The latter converts raw information gathered through experience in this physical world into high-grade information more precious than gold.  Remember the metaphor of the seven dwarfs mining useless rocks in order to extract gold from them?

The idyllic and mystical places rooted in legends, such as Valhalla, can be found high up the mind column, not in this virtual physical world.  As you go high up your mind column, the better the quality of the reality that you will find yourself in.  However, these rules-based virtual realities built by the higher mind are presently not accessible to ordinary human seats of consciousness, as it requires a certain level of intellectual evolution before a person’s higher mind is active enough to be able to operate in these levels.

Finally, I have mentioned above the scientific holy grail of teleporting a human being, a la Star Trek.  It is very unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, you know why?  Because presently science considers a human being as a physical body only, which is not the case.  How can you teleport something that you do not know the nature of? How can you reconstruct a mind (not the virtual physical brain) if you do not even understand what it really is?  How can you teleport a much more complex seat of consciousness that you do not (and cannot) even acknowledge exists?  Science presently has a hazy understanding of the concept of consciousness and where it is coming from.  And even if science finally understands all information regarding the complete constitution of a human being, it will decide not to teleport a human being.  Why?  Because it will understand that the old way of transporting people physically is an important aspect of human experience that you would not want to eliminate.

(Thanks to for the photos above)

Published by rabando

I am a Filipino and a geologist by profession but I have also been an ardent searcher for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence ever since 42 years ago. It has been a long, lonely and difficult journey. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What on earth is this world where I found my self in? Surprisingly, I found out that the answers are right there under our noses. There just need to be some adjustments in the way people think.

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