Dean Joseph Jacques, Author of Chivalry-Now,
the Code of Male Ethics
particulars of my life
are not important, and shall not be charted out as if they were.
It is my quest for Truth that matters, no more than your own. After
a lifetime of searching, I have stumbled on some discoveries that
you might find valuable, if we share similar aspirations.
For one thing, I have concluded that
the pursuit of Truth is nothing less than the search for the Holy
Grail. To understand this, you must realize that the Grail is not
a cup, or stone or platter. It is the Mystery which draws
us into the world to discover what it is. It is the profound Mystery
we come face-to-face with when our search is ended (does it ever
really end?). Until that final goal, we catch glimpses of the Grail.
We find meaningful portents in serendipity. When we are on the right
path, invisible hands seem to guide and test us. The energy seems
palpable, exciting us to the depth of authentic living. When we
stray from the path, bad things happen. We lose the energy of life,
and supplement it with meaningless distraction. We may become obsessed
by bad luck or illness. Life becomes void of purpose. The future
bleak. We are tempted to follow this guru or that cult, and fall
out of the quest entirely.
his wife Lynne
own quest started on the banks of the Connecticut River.
I was 12 years old back then, a city boy just introduced to the
rural countryside. I was not pleased having to be there each weekend,
away from my home and friends. For various reasons, it was unavoidable.
Nature's beauty eventually won me
over. One day, I strolled through neighboring tobacco fields and
found myself on the serene banks of the Connecticut River. This
rapidly became my special place to visit, an escape where others
could not impose themselves, and my thoughts could be my own. Here
I would walk along the river bank contemplating life and nature
and the possibility of God. A seed was planted in my heart back
then. A seed that questioned things with new integrity, but did
not provide any answers. I found solace, however, in the asking.
(See The River)
There was something in nature's silence
that intrigued me. It seemed more real that the noise and complaints
of my family. I could not understand it then, but I had started
on my journey to find the Holy Grail.
(Click to enlarge.)
this time I started my martial
arts training and slowly delved into the wisdom of the Far East.
Taoism impressed me greatly, but my Western attachments told me
that something was missing in its appeal. Urged by the desire to
discover my own of truth, I broke away from the Eastern traditions
and looked to my own cultural heritage. This wasn't easy. There
seemed to be nothing similar to Eastern martial art philosophy.
I had heard of chivalry, of course, but didn't know enough about
it to take it seriously. To find what I was looking for, I had to
look inside myself.
In the autumn of 1974 (I was 23 years
old), I visited a lake one evening and was confronted by the most
beautiful sunset I had ever seen. But it more than just a golden
sky reflected in the calm water of the lake. (See The Lake)
It was the experience that it inspired within myself that had awakened
the Grail inside mealthough I had no idea at the time that
this was happening. The feeling of affirmation, both within and
without, was overwhelming. It changed meor rather, made
me capable of change. It told me there was a truer reality
than the one I participated in every day. Not a reality of ghosts
or spirituality in the religious sensebut a spirituality inherent
in matter itself, a quality we cannot appreciate without emptying
ourselves first. For the Grail is symbolically an empty cup somehow
synonymous with life and hope. We experience its true nature only
when we empty it of all distillations, distractions and false conclusions
that others have poured into it. There in, we find ourselves.
It is said that all boys experience
something similar to what I did at the lakesome short encounter
with nature that grabs their attention profoundly. Most boys place
it aside as something pleasant but meaningless. Some experience
fear and purposely ignore it. A few are fascinated by the mystery
of it all. They embrace it as a challenge to comprehend. I was one
of the latter.
The event never left me. It became
the backdrop for my thoughts and values. I explored various theologies
and philosophies, judging them against this mystical experience
that I knew to be true. I even wrote a manuscript called Until
the Dawn, an attempt to reconcile Christian theology with the
immediacy of experiential Truth. While very impressed by such scholarly
writers as Tiellard de Chardin and Paul Tillich, I
started to drift away from Christian theology, which seemed to twist
the inexplicable to fit its claims and doctrines. Chinese Taoism
greatly impressed me, but its distrust of learning and science ultimately
limited its potential.
In 1993, I attended a local rendition
of the play Camelot. I went there expecting nothing more
than an enjoyable evening. As the play went on, however, I felt
something stir inside me. The message was unclear. I left the auditorium
knowing that something in this play had personal significance to
I started to investigate Arthurian
literature to discover what it was. Little did I know what I was
walking into. The literature and legends encompassed a period of
time that included almost a thousand years, resurrecting during
the Victorian Era and modern times. Even after years of study, I
am still a novice in the field, focusing on Celtic and French sources
while setting most of the Welsh and Germanic aside.
A literary agent (in whom I am much
indebted) suggested that I write about something that I knew well,
combined with my own unique interests. My career was in social services,
while my interests centered on medieval literature. Why not take
concepts of chivalry and apply them to the cultural and social problems
of the day? It was then I started to realize how much of Western
culture was formed during the Middle Ages, and by Arthurian literature
in particular. Romantic love, our concept of being a gentleman,
loyalty, honesty, courtesy
the list seemed unending! It occurred
to me that while Western civilization was rooted in the formation
of chivalrous values, we we now suffer from a cultural disconnect
that was accentuated by the rapid advance of the Industrial Age
and today's technology. While we still have many of the words, their
meanings were degraded, and almost lost.
Here I found my theme! I would take
my grasp of medieval chivalry and give it a chance to evolve to
the needs of today's culture. I called my manuscript Chivalry-Now.
Although it was a labor of love, the
results were not very good. I set the work aside with the possibility
of writing it again in the future. In the meantime, I wrote a play
and then another book-length manuscript depicting the story of Sir
Lancelot du Lac. These were also put aside as I concentrated
on my career and relationships.
In 2002, my career in social services
abruptly ended and I tried my hand at web site design. The economy
turned, and I could not find a decent paying job. I started my own
business, but barely made ends meet. Although I was able to find
temporary employment now and then, the future looked bleak. Depression,
as well as desperation, started to set in.
In late 2005, I read a small book
entitled He Understanding Masculine Psychology, by
Robert A. Johnson. In it I found some interesting conclusions
about the story of Sir Perceval (Parsifal) and the Holy
Grail. There was a reference to a common male experience similar
to the one I had known at the lake, and how some men respond to
it the same way I did. This was all the inspiration I needed to
get back on course.
I now understood that my experience
at the River and the Lake
were analogous to being confronted by the Grail Castle in the Perceval
story. The first encounter raised numerous questions in my mind;
the second resulted in a profound inner experience that only the
grail could symbolize. While there might not be an actual, physical
object called the grail, the grail experience and transformation
are both real and attainable. I now know, with utmost certainty,
that all the other experiences in my life, good, bad, and indifferent,
led me to this realizationchanging my entire outlook on life.
my world was transformed. I rewrote the chivalry manuscript in a
matter of weeks, more certain than ever that its ideas were valid
and important. I then created this web site in order to reach as
many people as possible, hoping that my discoveries and experiences
would help others as well.