Of all the great Indiana Jones movies made, my favorite one is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The plot has Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) racing to rescue his father, Doctor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) from the Nazis to find the Holy Grail, the cup Christ used during the Last Supper.
Using the magic of Netflix, I summoned the movie to replay it for my enjoyment. I gathered my bowl of popcorn and a can of Diet Pepsi and sat down to watch this rerun.
Even though I have seen this movie at least twenty times (Ok, Ok, maybe a hundred times), I am always surprised to find new connections to life. This time, I was inspired by the three trials the Jones boys had to take when they reached the Temple of Al Khaznehin Petra, Jordan. The scene is as follows, the Nazis arrived at the temple first and were able capture the Jones clan. Having lost several of their men attempting the first trial Papa Jones had outlined in the Grail Diary he had kept, the leader of the Nazis fatally shoots the senior Jones to coerce Indiana into risking his life trying the challenges. The only chance for Papa Jones to live was for Indiana to get Christ’s chalice, pour its holy water onto his father’s wound and hope for a miracle.
The three challenges
Although the search for our authentic self may not threaten our lives, it is definitely a hero’s journey with risk involved. Indi’s three challenges provide a great metaphor for how we find our truest self.
Challenge No. 1. The Breath of God – “Only a penitent man will pass”
In his efforts to divine the first challenge, Indiana suddenly remembers that a penitent man kneels before God. He lunges to his knees immediately and rolls forward as a giant blade passes by and misses cutting off his head. Off to trial number 2.
It took my latest life challenge to show me that relying on my old habits, values and beliefs had run their course. I had to acknowledge I had lost my way and needed to change or forever continue in a life of misery and shallows (spiritual version of getting my head cut off). The penitent man metaphor reminds me of how progress towards my enlightenment did not happen until I acknowledged my old ways were flawed and I surrendered to the way of my higher self. This did not come easy, as I needed counseling to hear the messages, but it was the only way out of the darkness I was experiencing.
Challenge No. 2. The Word of God – “Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed”
To continue on his way to the Grail, Indiana Jones runs into a matrix of letters carved into a stone path. He deciphers the riddle when he realizes he can only take steps on the stones that spell out the name JEHOVA. The other letters are clay facades that, when stepped on, will cause the traveler to fall into a deadly abyss. We discover this when Indiana steps on the letter J because he forgot the name of God in Latin starts with the letter “I” (IEHOVA). But our movie hero hangs on and gets to the third challenge.
Of all the three challenges, No. 2 sounds the most religious. We don’t just find our salvation by knowing how to spell the name of God. But the metaphor is valid in this sense, the road to enlightenment is the road of love. In my mind, love is the name of God. This is contrary with the way we have been brought up. Jealousy, anger, deceit, humiliation and devaluing the contribution of others were acceptable options for me to establish my self-importance. These were wrong. My life changed for the better when I followed my better angels; kindness, generosity, courage, acceptance, inclusion and selflessness.
Challenge No. 3. The Path of God – “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth”
The lion’s head is a figure Indiana finds carved into the face of a rock wall leading to a bottomless cliff. Indiana concludes that he must take a leap of faith though death seems unavoidable if he steps out into the cliff. He steps forward only to find that certain death was an optical illusion, the path to the grail was there all along. He was just not capable of seeing it until he took a step forward.
It is scary to veer off from our old ways and traditions, yet this is the path we must all take to create our greatest lives. Achieving earthly goals to assert my value in the eyes of others and pleasing my romantic partners at the loss of my boundaries to get their love was the way I had always known. I knew I had to step away from that way of life and acknowledge my self-worth from within. But this was scary, for I thought I would become someone unrecognizable to myself, family members and my old friends. It took a leap of faith to head in a different direction, but once I did, it was easy to see a path towards the life I truly wanted. The path had been there all along; I was the one choosing not to take it.
Inspiration can come through different sources, even from an adventure movie. This is further proof of how everything in life has value and purpose. There is one more lesson in this movie important to remember. Even when he finds the room where the Holy Grail sits, Indiana Jones must choose the right one from many chalices to save his father. Choosing the wrong one led his nemesis to meet his end. This reminded me that, just because we set ourselves on the righteous path, we will still be tempted to return to our old ways. Just like Indiana Jones had to do, we must “choose wisely” as we move towards our highest selves.
As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.