For the next several visits, Lancelot kept railing against the mind and its power to keep them from seeing the Grail. But Frith found that instead of diminishing their obsession with thinking, Lancelot’s ideas had both him and Alura thinking harder than they ever had before. Even when they weren’t with Lancelot, they were discussing his ideas. It was… amazing. Frith had never thought of himself as either a scholar or a saint, and Alura certainly would have agreed with him. But now they were talking about deep, spiritual matters like they were philosophers. And he was liking it!
However, there was an underlying hypocrisy that had been bothering Frith for a while. He made up his mind that today he would make Lancelot address it.
“Sir, it doesn’t seem fair,” Frith said. “You know the art of being a knight and the strategy of battle. You read and write several languages and have studied scripture. You’re obviously a great thinker, yet you spend all this time lecturing us against it.”
“I’m not against learning. In fact, am I not helping you learn?”
Frith nodded. “Well, yes, but that’s my point.”
“But recognize that there are two kinds of thinking. A cook knowing how much food to prepare for the number of guests at a banquet is a useful function of the mind.”
Alura smiled that Lancelot had used her for an example. And he wondered if Lancelot would scold her for her pride.
Lancelot didn’t. He just went on. “However, thinking about an argument after you’ve walked away from it, and then repeating it over and over in your head. How does that help? The conversation has ended, the other person has left.”
Alura’s smile disappeared. “But sometimes the old women won’t listen to me, even though I’m right.”
“That may be, but you’ll find arguing won’t really change them. You’ll be more successful if instead of fighting back, you just put the argument out of your mind and go about your business. When they see your way is working, maybe they’ll admit it.”
“What if they don’t?”
“Then that’s their problem, not yours. The habit of petty thoughts – who said what to whom, who has what and who doesn’t, who should be doing things your way – all of that is the mind I speak against. Until you get out of that mindset, it’s the only thing you’ll ever know.”
He could see that really upset his sister.
Lancelot stroked her arm. “I’m trying to get you past all of that so you can see the next thing. I want to talk you out of being enamored with your thoughts so we can get on to something deeper, but it’s hard. These habits of the mind are very powerful.”
“Frith asked earlier why I talk against the mind? It’s because you aren’t going to see the Grail until you give up on the mind as the source of your knowledge. It’s not. It’s only one aspect of your being; stop thinking that it’s right. Realize how much you don’t know. Then you’ll realize how little these thoughts are worth.”
“I already know that I don’t know,” Frith said. “That’s why I’m here.”
“I know, and I know you’re trying,” Lancelot said. “Tell you what, you want to learn something practical? Shall I teach you how to read?”
Frith smiled. “Yes please.”
“Take off your shoes.”
That was a strange request. What did his shoes have to do with reading? Still, Frith did as he was asked.
Lancelot scooped up a handful of pebbles, brushed the dirt from them and handed them to Frith. “To read one, must first learn the alphabet. This is how my Latin teacher taught us our letters. I am going to draw the first two letters in the sand. Arrange these stones in your shoes in the same pattern and then put your shoes back on without disturbing the stones. Wear them until tomorrow, when I shall give you the next two.”
Frith positioned the pebbles in his shoes – three straight lines that looked like a little house, and a looping couple of curves – and then carefully put them back on.
“In twelve days, you will know all 24 Latin letters. I warn you it’ll be an irritation, but you’ll never forget them.”
He gingerly put his weight on his shoes. The pebbles were annoying, but not painful. And he could feel the odd shapes imprinting into his flesh.
Lancelot turned to Alura. “Every person you meet, the majority of what you see, starts the mind talking: ‘Oh, that’s nice, I don’t like that, I wouldn’t like to have that happen, I wish that would happen to me, why can’t that happen to me, how can I make that happen?’ If you’re observant, you’ll notice that it always thinks about changing something outside of itself. ‘How do I make someone or something in the world behave so that I’m more comfortable?’”
“Why?” Alura said.
“Because that’s what it knows,” Lancelot said. “The mind knows nothing of the Grail or of experiences beyond the Grail. It only knows the world it’s seen. Its thoughts revolve about this world as a means to an end.”
Alura pushed her hair back with her hand. “Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?”
“No. When Percival and I were young, we and all the other knights went here and there because our minds said, ‘Go this way. Go that way.’ Never did it lead us to the Grail. It couldn’t. It can’t know about where it has never been.”
The pebbles pressing into the soles of his feet were beginning to distract him. He tried to concentrate on Lancelot’s words.
“As the sun rises and moves across the sky, we can see time on a sundial.”
“’cept when it’s cloudy,” Frith said.
“Does our mind stop measuring time when it’s overcast?” Lancelot said. “I don’t think so.”
Frith scratched his head. He admitted that was true.
“Your consciousness is like the sun, powerful and full of light. Where you shine it, things grow.”
Frith looked at Alura. He could see that she was as puzzled by Lancelot’s analogy as he was.
“I’m the sun?” Alura said.
“No, you are one with God. But just as the sun is necessary for plants to grow, your attention is necessary for your thoughts to grow. Your consciousness is the source of life for the mind. Because you give attention to certain thoughts they appear stronger, but that strength is derived only from your dwelling on them.”
“Wait,” Frith said. “Back up a little. You said ‘you are one with God!’”
Lancelot waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Ignore that. You’ll know that when you know it.”
How could he ignore it? Creatures of dust one with God? That was blasphemy.
“It all becomes one when it is one to you,” Lancelot said.
“One to me?” Frith said.
“Everything is already in oneness. It becomes one to you when you have no preferences to distract you.”
“No preferences?” Alura said.
“I know that’s hard for you to hear, but your likes and dislikes have created a… a diseased state in your mind. When you become capable of just observing the opposing forces in your mind, you will transcend them.”
“I still don’t understand what you mean about being one…” Frith said.
“The river and the ocean do not become the same thing when they meet. They are already part of the whole, the one. The ocean becomes the clouds, the clouds become rain, the rain becomes the river, and the river flows to the ocean,” Lancelot said.
“I see,” Frith said, but he didn’t really. It felt as if the ground where he stood was no longer solid. “But what becomes of us when that happens? When we... flow into the sea.”
“It’s not that you’re not still here, but the way you used to see yourself is different. Once, your self-concept fit in a tiny chalice. After you see, then what you are expands beyond even the Grail.”
Frith wished he understood. But Lancelot just pressed on. “While you’re engaged in mind, you are not seeing the world.”
“I’m seeing the world, how am I not seeing the world?”
“You are seeing your thoughts about the world. When you let that kind of thinking go, the world will look very different. You will begin to see everything and everyone as a manifestation of the underlying spirit. When you are in that spirit, you will see the world as it is. That is seeing the Grail.”
“You can show us.” Alura said.
She sounded so confident that Frith worried for his own ability to see the Grail. What if she got it before he did? No, what would Lancelot think about him for thinking those kind of thoughts?
“The Grail will not be yours because I show it to you, but because you found it for yourself. On that Pentecost long ago, everyone at the banquet had a vision of the Grail, but only because we shared Galahad’s experience. When I had my fourth experience of the Grail, it transformed me in ways that the earlier experiences didn’t because it was my own.”
Frith struggled to understand what Lancelot was talking about. “Can you better describe the actual experience? What’s going to happen? What should I look for?”
“The mind changes; you discover that you are not who your thoughts said you were. The heart that was heretofore discontent becomes still. You are filled with ecstasy and know peace.”
Frith looked at Alura. She was nodding like she understood. Perhaps when they were alone, she would explain it to him.