Holy Grail is a sacred object in religion and literature. It derives
its power direct from the divine. In some traditions it is said to be
the cup Christ drank from during the last supper.
However you interpret it, it is clear that it represents a lost
connection to the divine. It is a way back to the source of life itself.
The quest for the Holy Grail is a common theme in many folktales and
was popularized in the Arthurian legends. One of the great stories from
that tradition is that of the Fisher King.
The way I heard the story (and there are many versions) the Fisher King
is a wounded king and his lands are in dire straits as a result. Just
as the king is barren, so too are his fields and his people.
Yet, it is here in his keeping that the Grail resides. The symbolism
here can be read in many ways and one of them is that the grail is to
be found where you least expect it. This sacred object which is a
connection to the divine is in fact alive and living in a place of
great vulnerability, a place that is on the edge of destruction.
Of all the knights to find the Fisher King, it is Percival who does.
Percival was least expected to succeed in the Quest for the Holy Grail
because he had no training to be a knight. He was raised away from the
ways of men. He was feminine and in some stories he even wore a dress
when he first came to Arthur’s castle. It was generally thought that he
would not last long out on his own, and there was no way he would he
succeed on a magical quest.
Yet with the help of a mystic monk he found the wounded Fisher King .
The king gives Percival instructions to his castle where the Grail is
kept. Percival makes the journey and there he finds the stronghold.
The young knight is greeted, taken in, fed, bathed, cared for with the
utmost respect, and invited to attend a procession in the evening where
the Grail will be present.
He attends and sure enough he sees the Grail itself. It is a spectacle
and its beauty overwhelms him. He collapses. When he awakens he is
sleeping in a field. He has no bed. There is no castle. Things appear
as if it was all a dream.
Isn’t it often the case that we think we have found something great,
something central only to find that it has eluded us in the long run,
as if we had found only an apparition? Well, that is what it looks like
on the outside. But inside Percival knows he has seen something real.
He does not doubt his experience.
He goes back to find the Fisher King who is nowhere to be found. But
Percival does not give up. He trusts the authenticity of his experience
and searches for years. The years turn into decades and he is an old
man when once again he locates the Fisher King.
So, finding the Grail takes not only naivet� but wisdom – an
interesting combination to say the least, one which at first glance
would appear to be mutually exclusive. But, with the aid of time they
The king assures Percival that the Grail is still in his castle and
again gives him directions. As the knight approaches the castle he is
told that he lost the Grail last time because of his failure when he
saw it. If he wishes to retain the holy vessel, he must address it with
a question, “Whom does the Grail serve?”
This is what he does and this time he retains his consciousness. When
the question is asked, the whole situation is transformed. The Fisher
King is healed. And the castle itself moves from the nether worlds
where it had no stable attachment to the real world. It becomes a
legitimate castle and the grail survives with it. The land is healed.
The people are restored.
So, what is the message? Perhaps that an acknowledgement of the holy is
what it takes to form a lasting relationship with the divine. Perhaps
Percival’s question reveals a stance that conveys respect, admiration,
and sacred curiosity… one that goes beyond the Holy Grail itself to
If business is a web of interrelated activities, value is at the
center. Value is the driving force. Value is what customers pay for,
members show up for, and investors write checks for. Value drives the
enterprise. Yet, value is different for each party.
When it’s present, all the other pieces of the puzzle form a clear
picture. When it’s missing, it’s only a matter of time before
everything falls apart. Value is the Holy