Jack believes he is doing Parry a favor by being his friend, while, in fact, Parry understands Jack's problems all too well. Parry, though suffering from psychosis, still knows that those who serve are the greatest, and those who seek after personal glory will never find it in any way that gives lasting meaning and true fulfillment.
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Traleg Kyabgon, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, in Mind at Ease, observes, “If too much emphasis is placed on so-called self-discovery, we might find nothing worth discovering.” Indeed, he observes that “our own experience will be transformed by our paying attention to the experiences of others.” Therefore, the cultivation of positive mind-heart qualities, like love, joy, equanimity, peace, and patience are so that we might better experience our oneness with others and serve them, gratefully and humbly. Yet, in serving others, we, too, must be receptive to be served; in loving others, we must be welcoming to the love offered to us. Otherwise, our serving, our loving, is another act of the self manipulating the other in our own self-interest, a subtle ploy of the wound-focused ego.
Parry, the Fisher King story, Johnson, and Kyabgon remind us of the teaching of Jesus.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, will you do us a favor?" Jesus asked them what they wanted, and they answered, "When you come into your glory, please let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left." Jesus told them, "You don't really know what you're asking! Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from or be baptized as I must be baptized?" "Yes, we are!" James and John answered. Then Jesus replied, "You certainly will drink from the cup from which I must drink. And you will be baptized just as I must! But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for God to decide." When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with James and John. But Jesus called the disciples together and said: You know that those foreigners who call themselves kings like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over the people they rule. But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people. (Mark 10.35-45, CEV)
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The closing scene of "The Fisher King" shows both Parry and Jack lying side-by-side, in the dark night, naked, and looking up into the starry night. Jack is a transformed man. Parry, ironically, the man who had lost his mind and become somewhat a "fool," based on cultural standards of sanity, had shown Jack the way to Life.
(C) brian wilcox 2020