This was an excellent insight into masculine psychology.
I do not want to get in to so much of what Johnson wrote in the book as much as I want to write what I got out of it. Johnson takes the Grail myth, and all characters included, and relates this old story to the modern man. This book is definitely one that I will have to read again and again. I feel that I got a lot from this book. I believe that the book was written in a way that it is meant to be read in the different stages of our lives. He suggests three stages of evolution in every man’s psychology: the unconscious perfection of childhood, conscious imperfection of middle life, and conscious perfection of old age (with important events in-between that either happen in the stages, or help transition to the next stage.)
I have learned a little more about myself after reading this book. The book was a little hard to relate to at times, given that I am still very new to reading Jungian and Jung-inspired work. I could connect most with the main thread of the story. Parsifal, the innocent fool, our consciousness. He is unknowingly the best knight in King Arthur’s court (after unintentionally becoming a part of the court), he finds the Grail castle and forgets the most important part of being there, travels aimlessly for many years, stumbles upon a hermit who tells him where the Grail Castle is, finds the Grail castle again, remembers to do what he is supposed to do, saves the Grail kingdom and in return lives happily ever after. This Grail he has been searching for is happiness. The thing he was supposed to do in the Grail castle was ask, : Whom does the Grail serve? Once Parsifal asked this of the Grail king, he realized that he was not the center of his own universe. The question was never answered. The answer was the question itself. The Grail king is what Jung calls, the Self (the process of integrating conscious personality with our unconscious.)
People tend to flow through life searching for this happiness that is around the corner. Parsifal, our consciousness, has the capacity for this happiness whenever we ask the right questions of it. He went through a dry spell in his life after his first visit to the Grail castle, searching again and again for the “right thing to do” in order to get to this castle again. At the end of this dry spell of events, Parsifal was driven to the introversion inside; a place he had inside of himself but never experienced until this moment, the moment he met the hermit.
The quest is not for happiness, but to serve this Grail. Once we figure out that this quest is not for personal happiness, we realize that the Grail, the happiness, is at hand. “For a man to be truly healed he must allow something entirely different from himself to enter into his consciousness and change him.”
Ask yourself, “Whom does the Grail serve?” You may be surprised to find that your personal quest for happiness will change and you may experience that happiness you have been searching for all along. I was.