Loyalty and Compassion

What are some of the Highest Spiritual Values?

One of the most important messages in the story of Parzival (and particularly Richard Wagner’s Opera entitled, “Parsifal”) is the importance of compassion. Wagner’s Opera was influenced by his reading of Arthur Schopenhauer’s work and his understanding of compassion as the only valid basis for morality. It is through compassion for the suffering of other beings that the fool, Parzival, acquires wisdom and becomes a sage.

The metaphysical message of Parzival, based on Schopenhauer’s ideas and having much in common with the Buddhist concept of Samsara (the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth), is quite beautiful, and requires compassion to truly understand: Stop striving, stop denying the Will, accept that suffering is an inevitable part of life and that desires can never fully be satisfied.

All things in this world are impermanent – meeting inevitably brings a parting, every beginning and ending. This is the nature of life – to deny it is to invite suffering. In the light of wisdom, the darkness of ignorance is lifted. All life is precarious; one must always seek a path of salvation and deliverance, the path of wisdom. We learn the importance of compassion from the suffering caused by our attachment to the impermanent – this is why compassion is one of the highest spiritual values.

Toward the end of the tale of Parzival, the great knight is invited to celebrate with King Arthur and his knights after the knights and ladies of the Grail Castle were rescued; he declines the invitation because of his steadfast loyalty to his wife, Condwiramurs, to whom he decides to return instead. His loyalty is immediately rewarded by the Grail Messenger, who shows him the way back to the Grail Castle and another chance to heal the ailing Grail King, which he does. Loyalty, then, is one of the highest spiritual values because it affirms the power of love; fidelity to love is fidelity to the divine, within you and all around you.