New book – to be released in July 2015 – ‘Glorious Death: Glorious Life’

Buddhists and Cathars jacketThis book is based on the series of articles which I wrote last year about my experience of both the Buddhist teachings and the Cathar Creed. Through my spiritual development I am now able to add a third comparison – that of the faith of indigenous peoples, as 25 years ago I was privileged to be able to live briefly with a tribe of Australian native people and be involved in helping to move back to their traditional lives deep in the south Australian desert. This book is inspired by attitudes to death and so to life: to our eternal existence as spirit energy in the invisible world, and our physical life in the world of matter, the visible world.

This is chapter 1.  The date of completion will be end of July 2015.

1: blueprint

Everything we encounter in our lives is embedded with crucial messages for our spiritual progress. If we can notice, interpret and apply them in all our living moments, then we will be able to be truly and lastingly happy and perfectly content. Imagine such a comprehensive curriculum, custom-designed for our development as a fully alive and enlightened human being for the whole span of our human life, laid out before us. It is a blueprint, and if we are fully aware of its dimensions and able to act on them, we can use it to build ourselves into a fabulous indestructible beacon to shine its light into infinity and eternity, way beyond the limits of the human world. This light will be visible in both the quirky mists and tides of the visible world, and the vast quintessential clarity of the invisible world. I have seen the light of many with my own eyes.

Before describing blueprints and beacons in detail, these aspirations for happiness and contentedness, which are not necessarily in line with those of all human beings, need to be justified. I write this work from a strong desire to share the way with all beings so that they might get the tiniest sense of their own full and lasting happiness, live some moments according their true nature, and learn to eagerly embrace the glories awaiting them at their death.

As children, before we become intellectually complicated and our conditioning becomes unconscious to us, we are often truly happy, secure, basking in the love of families and adults in general, with the promise of future life unblemished. Children are often so pure, free of complexes, and totally at home in their bodies. Then as we develop into adults inhabiting densely populated societies and communities and abiding by their rules, we compromise our true inclinations and become immersed in living up to the expectations of others, and in seeking their approval.

While we are negotiating the minefield of the human world as adults, our dark side emerges behind the masks that we are forced to wear to fit in. It is natural that we unconsciously or consciously resent the suppression of our natural urges and preferences, and become respectively either passively accepting or aggressively anarchic.

It becomes difficult for most of us to trust others, and to deal effectively with negative emotions such as envy, greed, covetousness, and lust. So, it is common to become isolated from ourselves and disaffected, or else we succumb to temptations and live in immoral ways, always in rebellion, or worse.

Aspiring to live comfortably, in full health and free of worries, surrounded by people who love and accept us for who we are, and to be able to feel satisfaction in the way we have lived our lives by the time we die, is surely unequivocal and universal. We aspire to goodness and happiness because we are intrinsically good and naturally happy. The pressures of living in large social or urban groups and communities is the greatest challenge of all which we are ready to face at the time our spirit becomes flesh.

If we can remain positive, emotionally unattached to matter and self-honest at all times, we will keep the divine flame alight for others and our mission will be complete. Then we can return to the invisible world as spirit, as energy, to take up our place in other dimensions, in infinity, eternity and divinity – known by the enlightened as ‘reality.’

Ancient Indian history tells us that there was a Golden Age of Humans, when the gods and holy beings dwelt among us. Our divine spark was burning brightly because civilization was young and we were pure and innocent like young children often are. As a result there was no need of intermediaries like priests or shamans to contact the spiritual world, because we actually were highly evolved gods and holy beings. In that epoch, our accumulated mistakes and bad deeds as a race of humans were few in number, and so no pay-back was required to balance out the energy in the world. The Universe demands balance because it is constructed from invisible energy, not matter as we see it with our human eyes.

These notions above have been highly criticized, called ‘nice words’ skillfully used to cover up the dark and dirty reality of what some people believe to be real human nature, ie. the opposite of good and bright and honourable. But some would say that these criticisms are the words of the devil, of evil incarnate; that they represent a force intent on destroying the light, of creating a block between the mind and the human heart. This dark view can possess people, can wag their tongues without their conscious consent, and is contagious, spreading out to corrupt others.

Each human being makes their own unique view of the world according to their own energy and environment. Add to this our inheritance from ancestors and earlier versions of culture and evolution in which they lived, and we have another blueprint we are born into human life with. We are born into a family, and each family carries with it a history, a certain energy or set of proclivities, which are usually perpetuated through the generations.

Modern science informs us that we inherit DNA from our parents and they from their parents and so on, and that we cannot change this unless we take dramatic steps with surgery, drugs or other medical intervention. This is combined with the rules and structure of the culture, religion, climate, gender, class, etc. we arrive in. It is perhaps easy to see how people become separated from their true natures and their dreams, and live in a shell of compromise and insincerity.

We see those around us who have ‘lost’ themselves. These foundlings act as if they are slumbering or intoxicated by life, swept helplessly on the highs and lows, buffeted by their luck or misfortune, blaming others and over-cherishing their fragile selves. Our objectivity allows us to apprehend how their inner life is incongruous with their outer life, but we must learn ways to be able to see our own incongruities from vantage points inside. We must also accept that every human being is a reflection of ourselves, and cease arrogantly separating ourselves away as ‘different.’ There are no ‘differences’ because we are all made from universal energy, which knows few boundaries.

Many people become so adept at wearing a wardrobe of different masks to cope with each social situation they must participate in, that the masks grows into their face and they can never remove them. Spiritual training can provide the tools to first detect and then remove the masks occluding our self-sincerity, so that we can live according to our true nature and eradicate all conflicts and friction.

The universal quality of our true nature is unconditional love and all its irresistible trappings – tolerance, patience, generosity, honesty, putting others before ourselves, and understanding. We know this as children and can often put it into action because of our innocence. Then gradually the ego develops to enable us to live in the world of suffering, and we accumulate experience, which, if viewed without delusion, we are told by others, can turn into wisdom.

However, I have realized that we must first and foremost listen to our own voice. Also, that wisdom is a bright sudden light, not always something we have to work for diligently, filter by trial and error, to achieve by ploughing through synthetic concepts of time and space. We are wisdom. We are love. It is imbued in every cell and skin pore. All we have to do is nothing – no thinking, no striving, no sweating or self punishment. The Buddha called this ‘the Middle Way,’ the Cathars, medieval mystical Christians, called it ‘formlessness’ or ‘being,’ insisting that ‘we (humans) are the way,’ and the desert dwellers of Australia call it ‘the Dreaming,’ and the ‘now-and-here.’

Some intrinsically know that their spiritual quest is to find their true nature, which has been buried beneath many layers of all types of conditioning. As a young child, I knew this through the devotion and unconditional love of my grandparents, and I aspired to it even then. They were often on their knees praying for others and the world, their gorgeous eyes filled with tears of joy, and their every move was dignified and humble. With living examples of such qualified guides in my life, I realized that the first stage of the search is to reconnect with our true nature by perfecting our spiritual blueprint; the second stage is to transcend the blueprint and the form of that guidance, and expand our greater awareness of all dimensions of life.

I have spent my life in this endeavor, taking some wrong turns, growing tired and sometimes distracted by the irresistible force of human needs the gravitational force field of materialism and self-image. But I have been fortunate that I could always snap back to realizing the emptiness and transience of all things, and appreciating my privileged and divine origins.

During my human life, which I am certain is the culmination of many others lives, I have found three such legitimate blueprints to integrate with my inheritance and environment. This composite allows me to realize my aspirations for goodness and everlasting happiness.

The first blueprint is from practice of and aspiration to the full range of the brilliant teachings of the Buddha – the beginning, middle and final period of his ministry. As I mentioned, I was the legatee of the devout Christianity of my grandparents, but after they died when I was a young adult, I realized that I had been practicing to please them and that modern Christian dogma did not reach me. At that point, I turned to Buddhism from an intellectual perspective, started to study sutras and doctrine, and was deeply touched by its genius.

Then gradually, I became able to accept the invisible, spiritual aspects of Buddhism and put away my books and my intellectual curiosity. Instead, I cultivated emptiness through mindfulness and meditation, and attempted to live in a way that did not create any more negative karma. Karma for my purposes in this work concerns actions, either our own in present life, or those of our lineage of ancestors through the passage of history. There are bad and good actions which evolve from good or bad thoughts. We know this instinctively, and if we endeavor to think and live in a good way, then we avoid creating negative karma for the future. This is the principle of cause and effect: all thoughts and actions have an effect somewhere in the organism of the universe we are part of.

The second comes from a close reflection of the Cathar way of life, and the creed they left for us to reveal in 20th century, 700 years after they were exterminated as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church. The Cathars, also known as the ‘Good’ and the ‘Perfect’ (Les Bonnes, Les Parfaits), were a late-medieval sect (12th-14th centuries) of mystical Christians, who lived according to the original teachings of Jesus Christ, the spiritual Christ. So little is known about them because they worked tirelessly behind the scenes, quietly ‘being’ as ordinary members of society, but tirelessly tending to people’s spirits and helping prepare them for glorious death.

According to their creed recently rediscovered to initiate a 20th century revival of Catharism, we do not need to wave banners about our beliefs because that is the human visible way. Faith is an invisible quality, it is formless, not bound by its intellectual concept or time, or visibility.

The third blueprint is from my direct experience of living with an indigenous tribe in the desert lands of south Australia. I was involved in assisting them to return to traditional life after a long period of hijack by European settlers in Australia who were determined to ‘civilise’ them. The elders and children of this tribe had decided to return to traditional desert life deep in the scorching interior of Australia. Their leader, Ninija, initiated me and became my spiritual guide, imparting desert wisdom and how to live directly and fully in the field of awareness.

Her way of being, integrated fully into nature and rarely involving making concepts except out of compassion to understand self-professed ‘civilized’ people, convinced me that we live always indirectly because the tool of our intellect is so well-honed. We rarely experience reality directly, fully, as the desert people do every moment of their desert lives. They have mostly not set foot in the prison of the mind even to visit, and so have a variety of other tools at their disposal, e.g. prediction, telepathy, intuition, vision, healing, and many more.

At first sight, the possible combining of three unlikely blueprints into one offering true and everlasting happiness and allowing our human goodness to surface, may seem unlikely. However, if we view the human way before the diversity and pluralism of modern ages overtook us, as one united belief in goodness, in light, in unconditional love, within each of us, then we are united, in one heart, breathing one breath. Once, we had no need of intermediaries to guide and connect us with the invisible domain, and our divine flame was burning brightly.

But my blueprints are transparent and so can be easily superimposed on each other to make a composite, because human faith is invisible, is universal, is divine and originates in love. As the Cathar Creed of the Church of Love quietly indicates, “Its members shall know each other by their deeds and being, and by their eyes and by no other outward sign save the fraternal embrace..…It has no secret, no Arcanum, no initiation save the true understanding of the power of love, and that if we want it to be so, the world will change, but only if we change ourselves first.”

I hope to show you in this work of creative non-fiction – “true stories well told,” (Lee Gutkind) – how my composite blueprint works in daily life. This is my story, my view, and I am unashamed to assert that fact. It does not aim to be a scholarly work laced together with the views of experts or spiritual adepts. I try to write sincerely, much in the way that the early mystics like Shantideva and Sylvanus, et al, wrote. The platform I write from is my life as a sincere seeker of spiritual insights, a devotee of mysticism, and above all an appreciative tenant in the body I have inhabited during my human course. I have always realized that my skin is the only thing to physically separate me from the invisible world.

As already mentioned, we find ourselves in the midst of the human world of suffering and loss, sickness and dashed hopes, exactly because we are being given a golden opportunity to liberate ourselves from that suffering, distorted view of life. It is probably our only chance, because it is said that being born a human is exceedingly rare and difficult, as the struggle to emerge from the womb exemplifies. Living for the most part in secular societies, remote from our original divine spark and purity, we have become disconnected from our basic constituents of unconditional love and compassion. So, we have to train spiritually to regain what once came so naturally to us, and the invisible world puts such trainers into the world so that we can find our way to them.

In my life, I have learned not to consciously search with my eyes for these trainers, but instead to listen for their voices. This may seem difficult to understand if you have never experienced free-falling through your life while detecting and then heeding spiritual indicators. If we look with our physical eyes, we may well be searching with the human ego, in a self-serving way, with the hidden agenda of success, status and satisfaction in human terms. But if we open up our heart and realize that spiritual elevation and compassion are the real and natural goals of the human species, then the invisible world will arrange everything. It is simply a question of accepting and listening to the whispers from your own heart, the seat of your intuition and of your higher self. There have been many such whispers during my life, so perhaps I can help unravel this conundrum a little.

In my childhood in northern industrial Britain in 1950s, I was brought up in a typical lukewarm Christian household and attended a Christian school. My grandmothers were devout Catholics all of their lives and wanted to hand their faith on to me. I adored them and wanted to be compassionate and constantly loving like them. One day, I was listening to the radio with my father and brother as we ate lunch together. The presenter was talking about someone or something called ‘the Buddha.’ I remember thinking that I had never heard this strange phrase before, and that as it had the prefix of ‘the,’ it must be something very impressive like ‘the Queen’ or ‘the Prime Minister.’

The talk went on to say that encountering the teachings of the Buddha was, ‘as rare as a turtle paddling through the great ocean encountering a piece of driftwood with a hole in it, and then swimming up to the surface and putting its head through the hole to look at the sky.’

I did not know what ‘teachings’ were at that age, but this notion was stored away inside me until the day I actually did encounter the Buddhist teachings as a young adult. I had no experience of or knowledge about Buddhism, and there were no Buddhist practitioners in my life. Much later, when my grandparents were deceased, I turned away from Christianity and by a series of coincidences found myself attending lectures about the Buddha at university. These teachings so necessary to revealing my full blueprint had been indicated when I was about 7 years old, and I had caught something spiritual, invisible, which would transform my life. I went on to aspire to their wisdom for the next 40 years, and eventually they provided the means whereby I could go beyond them.

Another striking example is how I came to be in Japan where I presently live and work. Much later in my life I was myself teaching at a university, again in the north of Britain. I was assigned as coordinator to a large group of Japanese female students for an intensive summer course. The professor in charge of them was friendly and we became good friends during that time. One day, she asked me what my dream was, and I revealed to her that I had always wanted to live in Japan having taught many outstanding and special Japanese students during my teaching career.

To my total surprise, a few months later, she sent me an email recommending that I apply for a position as visiting foreign teacher at her university. I did and was selected out of a large number of candidates. So, I started to pack up my belongings and send them ahead to my new life in the Far East. My friends and family thought I was demented giving up my secure life in England to go to an unknown culture almost six thousand miles away. But I knew that this was something I had to do.

I applied for a visa from the Japanese Embassy in London, and was summoned to collect it once it was ready. Whilst I was there, I asked if they had any posters of Japan that I could display in my new office. They regretted that they only had one of a beautiful temple in Kyoto, western Japan, the area I was going to. I duly packed it away and set off East.

A key person in my smoothly settling in was the international secretary at my professorial residence in Kyoto, and one day I invited her to come to my apartment for coffee to thank her. She was surprised to see a sizeable golden Buddha image, which I had brought from Myanmar en route to Japan, where I had had an audience with a Burmese Buddhist Master. She told me that she was also a Buddhist seeker, and that she would like to invite me to her temple one day.

I did accompany her and to my amazement found the core text of her sect was the very last of the Buddhist teachings, the Nirvana teachings. I was stunned, as having worked my way unconsciously but systematically through what are know as the early and middle period teachings, I was perfectly ready for the final teachings as the welling up of tears indicated. I committed myself there and then and started to practice Japanese Buddhism, which I had hardly ever encountered before in the west. These final teachings given by the Buddha from his deathbed were indeed my final teachings. The ancient mother temple of this sect, Daigo-ji, was situated in the mountains of Kyoto, beautiful, loaded with spiritual energy which I connected with immediately.

Later, my friend who had become my spiritual teacher by this time, visited my university office. She walked in and stopped still in her tracks as she looked up at one of the large posters I had on my office wall. It was to me an anonymous temple, one of 30,000 in Kyoto, acquired from the Japanese Embassy in London, but to her it was her mother temple, Daigo-ji. Before coming to Japan, I had never heard of her sect, a branch of Shingon Buddhism brought from China in 9th century to Japan by Kukai, known as Master Kobo Daichi. But out of all the thousands of temples in Kyoto, this was the image I had acquired from London. We were both speechless. The spiritual messages were screaming loudly, unmistakably, and I had managed to hear them and take action with my human body.

In terms of my second blueprint, I am filled with gratitude that my spiritual partner while living in Europe, at exactly the right time in my short human life, had the means and unconscious wisdom to make my second blueprint a reality on my behalf.

Almost 20 years ago, I had the great privilege to live for several years in a tiny village in the remote eastern Pyrenees, on the Mediterranean side of the mountain frontier between France and Spain. It was a simple life, mostly sequestered away from the media and other worldly distractions. I was practising the Buddhist teachings at the time, but entirely on my own among Catholics, without either designated Master or sangha (spiritual community). It was a heavenly location, with unhindered views of untouched primeval forests and stunning peaks.

The village I lived in was medieval, abandoned by young people who had moved to the cities to make a living, and mostly in ruins. Climate change had caused water sources to dry up so it was quite difficult to survive the long hot summers there. In the hottest times, people’s kitchen gardens, often their main source of food, suffered unmercifully, and water had to be brought up the mountain in tankers on a daily basis.

My long days were spent restoring and cultivating a huge medieval garden to try to provide all the food we needed, and making the carcass of an old farmhouse more habitable. Early mornings were spent exercising on the sandy roads once trodden by Les Bons or Les Parfaits, the Good, known by medievalism as the Cathars, and nowadays used as short cuts by shepherds and vineyard workers. I had never even heard of Les Parfaits before arriving there.

In forest clearings, beautifully preserved Roman Chapels could be found. In the cliff faces of deep gorges, hermitages were perfect shelters. And from the valley floors, fortresses expertly balanced on high crags, would intermittently come into view against the cloudless sky. The whole environment had once been dedicated to religious devotion, and now I found myself, a religious devotee also, in an ideal spiritual environment.

As I looked more closely at the beliefs of this mysterious Christian sect viewed as heretics by the mainstream Roman Catholics of the time, I realized that their practice was not dissimilar to the Buddhist way. At that moment, I remember being so relieved that I did not need to jump on the sectarian wagon along with everyone else, because to me, all spiritual pathways are valid and share the same values. It just depends on your karma as to which guise your practice takes.

I am certain that all denominations of faiths long for the sacred to again occupy the waking and dreaming moments of human beings, as it once used to. We all battle, whether directly or vicariously, with samsara (the Buddhist term for the human world), or what has become know as the ‘secular world,’ the realm of human desires and self-induced suffering.

I would go so far as to say that my spiritual blueprint had demanded that I was transported to these mountains to tread the footsteps of the Cathars as they fled from the relentless hounding of the Church of Rome, or ‘of Wolves’ as they saw it. I dreamed many Cathar dreams, both subtle and gross, during my stint there, and came firmly to believe that my ancestors had been Cathars. As it had been for them, reading snippets of their lives, each of my own days became a triumph of good over evil, and the thin veil of my death, which they believed was the sole thing separating beings of flesh from the spiritual world, threatened to blow away at any moment.

I recently realized part of my Cathar dream in publishing a novel called ‘Veil,’ which is a transcript of my life there.

One of the things that branded the Cathars as heretics in the eyes of the Inquisition forces sent to the mountains to accuse and dispose of them, was the belief that men and women were equal. The Roman church has always excluded women from key positions, and perhaps always will, but many eminent Parfaits were women. Buddhism has become similarly gender aware, though in ancient India, women were somewhat whimsically excluded from enlightenment, and are still treated with caution by many sects. My present Nirvana guru is a woman, and despite her rank as overall spiritual leader of a huge world-wide sangha, certain predominantly male Hinayana sects in Thailand and Myanmar, are not allowed to touch her!

The origin of the Cathars remains mysterious, recent research showing that they probably hailed from central Asia or perhaps further east. My spiritual instincts tell me that they were likely Buddhist propagators en route from India traveling along the Spice and Silk Roads, who found their way west, and ended up in direct confrontation with the monopolist Catholics of Europe.

As hinted at above, one of their most striking beliefs is that the world is a battle place between the forces of good and evil, and that as humans we have to make our choices about which side we are on. Buddhist samsara – something which flows on relentlessly until beings attain Nirvana, or the extinguishing of and freedom from all cravings, could be viewed as the world of evil we desire to be free from. The Cathars rejected the Christian crucifixion and baptism outright as the devil’s propaganda. They believed in the laying on of hands and that everyone was fundamentally ‘good,’ or possessed True Nature instead. They rejected the romanticized story of the bearded carpenter born in a stable of an immaculate birth, predicted by three wise kings.

In the Buddhist scheme of things, we work to be liberated from samsara, the human world of the 4 sufferings : birth, illness and suffering, old age, death, and in the Cathar scheme, from the flesh housing for our divine spirits, by the lifting of the veil of death. For many indigenous peoples, their traditional lives are already enlightened. They are integrated fully into reality, their intellectual skills redundant there because the spirit prevails, the spirit of their totem, the natural species they are born into.

The desert provides all they need so they do not become attached to visible material items, and they can clearly hear the spiritual messages in their Lands. They are not distracted by status, money, lust or fame, and their human lives are a training ground for the glories of death. They long for death and the final Burial Ceremony known as the Djang.

The Mahayana Buddhist teachings focus on emptiness. They express human life as a projection from the mind of the individual, like a constant replay of a video, and train us to turn off that video so we can find reality. I believe the Cathars had a very similar approach to living in the human world. Using prayer and contemplation as Buddhists use mantra and karmic cleansing, they took refuge in the pure and positive light of the spirit of God as Buddhists take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Australian desert people, as custodians of the environment and guardians of the Dreaming stories which appear in the lands, spend their days visiting Dreaming sites and singing the sacred songs to celebrate the heroes. Abiding faithfully to the desert laws and rituals, they remain pure, integrated and focused on protecting the planet and ensuring their survival and spiritual lineage.

My third blueprint is the result of experience living with Australian native peoples in the south Australian Desert. Again, this came about completely by chance during a two-year world trip I made in the mid-nineties. I knew of the shocking history of these people and the destruction of their civilization by white missionaries, my ancestors, but it was only when I was actually there face-to-face with them that I fully realized the implications of their demise.

I was a member of a group of Europeans assisting a tribe of elderly and young aboriginals to return to the center of Australia, the country finally designated as their ‘Lands’ by white rulers. They were leaving all social and financial support especially so they could return to their traditional life, a life of survival, entailing living rough, close to Mother Nature, their creator. So many of their young adults had been abducted and sanitized by white landowners to become their slaves, and in the process of losing contact with the Lands and their Dreaming heroes, they had fallen prey to substance and alcohol abuse. This often resulted in painful and undignified deaths. Such interference and wholesale conversion of these wise and spiritually evolved desert people to western ways, suffocates their natural spirits. In their traditional life, they are not dominated by concepts such as time and space, they do not work or wait, they do not hide themselves away from the Great Mother Nature under roofs and behind glass.

In the desert, I got insights into how to avoid making concepts altogether, and how to live directly in the field of awareness. I learned how to respect and accept, and to have no attachment to anything, to move with the weather, fully accepting that the natural way was the best for the thriving of the planet. In their natural element, these people are fully happy and content. They watch the land for dreaming stories and indications of how to become spiritually perfect. Nothing else matters apart from the learning of spiritual lessons in human life so that glorious death will come quickly and they can go on travelling in the great sky of existence. The travellers light small campfires as they go which the ‘civilized’ intellect has given the label of ‘star’ to, a word which does not exist in any aboriginal language, or in ethnic languages on the whole.

Three spiritual leaders. The God of Christianity – one God, omnipotent, the Father, the spiritual Christ, present in all beings and all things. The Buddha, all spirit and giver of the laws of ever-present Dharma, eternal, indestructible, Father and Mother. The Creators of the Dreaming, Mother Nature and Father Earth, Lord of all totems, eternal and indestructible.

My life has been blessed by the presence of all three of these emanations of goodness and things natural, and their means whereby. This combination of concepts and systems has brought me to Heaven, to Nirvana and to the Dreaming. Now all cravings are extinguished and I have reached true and lasting happiness. This is the story of going beyond, or letting go, of actually embodying universal Love and transcendent Wisdom.

Following are the codices of the Cathar Creed.

The Church of Love has ‘no fabric, there is no membership, save those who know they belong.

It has no rivals because it is non-competitive.

It has no ambition; it seeks only to serve.

It has no boundaries for nationalisms are unloving.

It is not of itself because it seeks to enrich all groups and religions.

It acknowledges all great teachers of all ages who have shown the truth of love.

Those who participate, practice the truth of love in all their beings.

There is no walk of life or nationality that is a barrier.

Those who are, know.

It seeks not to teach but be and, by being, enrich.

It recognizes that the way we are may be the way of those around us because we are the way.

It recognizes the whole planet as a Being of which we are part.

It recognizes that the time has come for the supreme transmutation, the ultimate alchemic act for conscious change of the ego into a voluntary return to the whole.

It does not proclaim itself with a loud voice but in the subtle realms of loving.

It salutes all those in the past who blazed the path but have paid the price.

It admits no hierarchy or structure, for no one is greater than the other.

Its members shall know each other by their deeds and being, and by their eyes and by no other outward sign save the fraternal embrace.

Each one will dedicate their life to the silent loving of their neighbour and environment and the planet, while carrying out their task however exalted or humble.

It recognizes the supremacy of the great idea, which may only be accomplished if the human race practices the supremacy of love.

It has no reward to offer here or in the hereafter save that ineffable joy of being and loving.

Each shall seek to advance their cause of understanding, doing good by stealth and teaching by example.

They shall hear their neighbour, their community and the Planet.

They shall feel no fear, feel no shame, and their witness shall prevail at all odds.

It has no secret, no Arcanum, no initiation save of the true understanding of the power of love and that, if we want it to be so, the world will change, but only if we change ourselves first.’

I learned during my time exploring the sandy pathways of Les Parfaits in Languedoc, while practicing as a Kadampa Buddhist, that before the Cathar martyrs were burned at the stake, that they secreted this creed in a cave not far from where I was living. It predicted a revival 700 years later, stipulating that those born in the nineteen fifties, sixties and seventies would lead the revival. I was born in 1952.

Extract from ‘Veil,’ showing how the Cathars viewed human life.

 

Veil book jacket

Fabrisse, a well-know trobiaritz (poet-minstrel) and Bons August (a Bonnes or Good, member of the Church of Love) discuss how humans are trapped angels.

………….And so it was………..What do lovers talk of in the Sacrarium at midnight? Each night the excitement of our loving in the valley of high candles was followed by much closeness. Naked, warmed by the flames of our little fire, we stretched out and intertwined a leg or an arm, and with sleepy eyes began to talk.

There was great calm and safety in the tiny room surrounded by holy instruments with the wind howling outside. And this particular night, I was ready to go beyond all temporal life, and to reach out into the vast spiritual world.

I looked hard at you, examining a flawless body, made pure by prayer and fasting, by putting aside your own needs and guiding others to your pathway. You worked as a simple weaver, keeping yourself to yourself, responding to the needs of your customers for whom you lovingly made tunics.

I asked softly as I finger-tipped the line of fine dark hairs running between your breasts up from your navel,

“When and why did the naked flesh, the armpits and crevices, the openings and extensions of the miracle of the body, become forbidden by the followers of Christ? How could something like this being that I survey be considered in any way evil?”

“Certainly Christ in human form was born naked. Born from the passion and procreation of his mother and father. Born from such passion as we have for each other.”

I was pleasantly surprised to learn yet another natural belief from my new teacher.

“You mean the virgin conception is a fancy?”

“His flesh was born of flesh. The spirit was made flesh, exactly as the Bible says. Our Lord was a child of such joy, such curiosity! That could only have come from the joy of his parents as they rolled around each other. As they coiled and uncoiled, tensed muscles steadily and relaxed them to create fluids in which to transfer the seed from here to here.”

He smiled as he lightly touched the place of exit of the seed of himself, and then touched me gently where I would receive such a seed.

“There is nothing here to hide or fear. But the lowland Friars and clergy mistakenly became unable to focus on their studies if there were thoughts or traces of women around. Then men and women became separate, which is something so unnatural. It is so tragic that women cannot become priests of God in the Roman faith. If they were permitted, then perhaps the wolves would not have become dominant.”

I understood how if natural things were hidden, they would become sought after. Humans always enjoyed the quest for something they were not able or not allowed to see.

He explained further.

“The devil will be allowed in if there are secrets. He thrives on them. He creeps into the fickle thoughts of humans, and has the skills to make them obsess. We must not allow these to ever get a hold.”

It was true. I craved his lovemaking in my mind when I was away from him. I asked, “Is it wrong to desire you when I am away from you?”

“No! No! That is the pleasure. And once we become used to each other, that phase of longing will be over, and we will go beyond. Such temporal pleasures are joyful, but we must be careful not to beget a child! There are already too many angels trapped inside bodies. And many evil spirits who will eagerly inhabit a body too full of the wrong kind of thoughts.”

I understood that I was still fertile and he virile, so we must make our pleasure secure by the use of herbs which would not allow this transfer to take place.

“My darling, am I such a trapped angel to you?”

“No, your songs keep you free, and your teaching of the art of making holy sounds, your precious Alexandra. But sometimes you are trapped by your fears or wrong thinking, by your human weakness. Sometimes you go back, and that will happen until you take the Consolamentum.”

This word was bandied around the village, associated with the Good and their ability to transcend those of lowland faith. But apart from the word and the notion of a final blessing before death, I knew little more.

“My Lord, tell me more about this. Am I ready to receive it yet?”

He became more serious, moving away a little so he could see my expressions clearly, and holding my hand firmly.

“Must I be clothed to receive it? ”I made to get up and cover myself.

“When the time is right, we will dress and kneel. But Fabrisse, you know there is no going back once you receive it. You can never go back to the way of your lowland faith.”

I understood, and already after only a short time I was so refreshed by the ways of the Good in the pure air of the mountains.

“I know. And I know that there is much to cleanse before I am ready. Please go on teaching me, and gradually I will take on your ways.”

He asked me if I had any doubts that through him I could connect to the original apostles. Could I accept that I would be connected through an unbroken line of ancestors, directly back to the true spirit of Christ himself?

“August, my Lord, it has not been my habit to have doubts through the whole of my life. Why should I start now, especially since my two freed angels have come to me. I am quite ready to be baptized by fire, having so long ago been baptized by water.”

“Then we must train more rigorously, for there is not much time. I heard that the Cardinals are holding inquisition courts all over Roussillon, and their holy soldiers are arresting all adults who do not pledge themselves wholeheartedly to the Romans, leaving only the children and animals untouched.”

“I am not afraid. Though many others are, I know. But the holy spirits of these high places will prevail I am sure. Perhaps they will come for me, for I must sing at the Vigil soon. I am a public figure in the midlands, and there are the spies even  around here.”

I was truly not afraid. But I feared that my beloved Alexandra would be taken, for some said that the lusty Cardinals were taking the beautiful virgins for themselves.

“…And what of my Alexandra? Is she worthy of receiving the Consolamentum also?” “What have you told her of us?”

“Nothing so far. She is so absorbed in her initiation into trouverie that she has not questioned I think.”

“Yes, one so pure with such a mission as hers is perfect. Let her training commence immediately. Bring her to me when you can.”

“August, I must warn you that her father locks her away when she is not with me. And before I took her on, he checked my credentials so thoroughly to make sure I was not a lusty man in disguise in search of a concubine.”

“There you have said it my lady! We must disguise her if she is to come to me. A young curate from the lowlands is due to come to reside at my brother’s house, but I know that he has the pox and is not able to make the journey. Can you find the garb to change her and send her to me in the afternoons after she has had her lessons with you?”

It was agreed then. I must work quickly to tell her, and to swear her to secrecy, for her father must never know. He would certainly be able to betray us. He trusts no one.

“And now, the Creed. There is little time to prepare something that must transcend time.”

He jumped down to floor level and reached under the bed lifting a rough silk-wrapped parcel onto our bed. Before he revealed it, he closed his eyes, kneeling tall, and once more I saw his veil and longed to die with him. Never had I witnessed a single potent energy such as his. It filled my senses, compelling me to do the same.

I knelt tall opposite him and closed my eyes behind me the sounds of the howling wind, the faint crackling of the candle flame. Nearby in the creaking of the chestnut tree and in the distant barking of the shepherd’s dogs, I felt my eyes open. It was no ordinary opening. It felt like waking up for the very first time. Later I learned that these were the eyes of my soul, the eyes of spirit. This would help me to focus like August did.

Bons August gently opened the fabric wrapping to reveal a parchment scroll, tied with a green cord like the one he generally wore at his waist. He sat cross-legged, still opposite me, begging me to listen while he explained the clauses of the Creed which had been agreed by all the other Bons and Bonus.

“It’s almost finished, but you are the one who must finally decide, for you must find a song to convey these truths like the wind into the hearts of the powerful landowners and policy makers who will attend the Vigil. There will be Bishops from Palmiers and Toulouse present, so these sentiments must be disguised so they cannot guess.”

“Yes, since the precipice at Serrabona, I have felt the glimmerings of this important song. It comes from my olive press without logic or reason, so I must work to weave these codices into its fabric. Please make it crystal clear to me my Lord, so that I can make no mistakes.”

He reached across to touch the side of my face with the back of his long hand, its fine hairs like silk creating a frisson which made me dizzy with ecstasy.

“My Lady, this is truly the work of all the gods and apostles. But it is dangerous and there is no return. Those who are ready to hear will hear in their hearts. Those who are not may be suspicious, may betray you.”

“I know my love precisely what I am doing. I know my fate, and perhaps always have. As you patiently answer my questions or instruct me, I recognize all the doubts, all the dissatisfactions clustered around this thing called faith throughout my life. I now understand the difference between theory and practice. We perhaps know in our heads, in our limited minds, but how to live those baubles of the mind called ‘beliefs?’”

“Yes, surely these faint discords, although most people bury them in the name of harmony, to meet the expectations of others, or because their courage is not strong enough, are faith itself. For how can we each accept the faith of others. We have to be a light unto ourselves. We can only depend on ourselves in human life, for if the human vessel is to fulfill its mission, to complete its voyage, it must listen to itself only.

The wolves herd the sheep into their jewel-encrusted houses built for them with the sweat and toil of pure angels in devotion to God, a physical God. They must repeat the same rituals, be regulated by confession and receiving the Body and the Blood of this imaginary Christ in communion. The former arouses the lusty Friars and stuffs their fantasies, and the latter ends up in the latrines. They are mistaken in not recognizing our true nature and encouraging us to embody it in everyday life through love.”

“Yes it is so clear to me now. But why could I not see it before. This perplexes me darling August.”

“You were not ready before my Lady. You were trapped, caught deep in the mire of mask wearing and appearances. The Friars and all their followers had filled your ears with doctrine and dogma so that you were deaf to yourself and the truth of nature.”

“Yes, but something was calling me to the high passes from the sweaty valleys. And although the children and loyal spinners protested, crying tears of insecurity at leaving what they knew so well. It was hard not to give into them, but I trusted my instincts. They led me to you my Lord.”

“The spirit moves us if we let it. It teems and cascades like the mightiest of waterfalls and if we resist damming the stream with petty logic and narrow reason, then it will flow through us and with us.”

We kissed tearfully. Such purity, such truth, was here.

“Now! How does this sound?”

Bons August read the clauses of each codex to check my understanding of them. We must try to anticipate how it would be received by other lowland sheep, for it was to include and one day to reach all the people of the Earth.

“The Church of Love.”

He began, and I must write my impressions to add to the embers of my song. I scratched on a slate as he spoke.

“First. The Church of Love has no fabric only understanding.”

Oh, how I agreed with this. Some found the darkness, the buried saints and relics, the stained glass stories of the Bible, the exotic resins of incense and presence of holy water, a haven, a shelter. But I had always felt enclosed, synthetic. No living things are present there, and not even light is allowed its freedom. Flowers are cut. They die as we watch them on the altar cloth. The darkness made by curtains always drawn, by doors and secrets, the priest always a filter between God and the sinner.

“This is so joyful. Never could I know the gods, the spirits, inside, locked away in the cold thick darkness. That first day in the threshing yard when you came to me, sitting among the winnowed barley, I found myself in a real church. I never wanted to set foot inside another false church ever again. Indeed, I hope we can move to a more natural bed than this one soon. In a cave in wintertime, or a tree in summer snuggling up to all the apples and fragrant leaves.

‘Understanding.’

Yes, the invisible and formless. Love is understanding. If we allow love to be in its original state, we understand everything. There are no doubts or dark corners because the great light shines on all beings equally.”

August smiled, loving me with such a glorious light of complete understanding. He promised me that we would move out of the chapel very soon much closer to the gods, set up high in the abandoned fortresses on the crags.

“Your song my Lady. Can this citadel of love and space be expressed with your voice?”

“Oh yes, and yes! It ‘comes’ unbidden. It is just as you said.”

He went on satisfied.

“Second. The Church of Love has no membership, save those who know that they belong.”

My heart began to sink, to fall down the precipice of regret when I thought of how many conditions there were to being a member of a parish and a communion. The covenants, the blessings, the offerings and taxes, the service and favours. But worst of all was the pride. Belonging to such and such a parish, led by such a priest, the favourite of this Bishop and that Cardinal.

“Titles. Status. Spiritual level. Record of purity, number of blemishes and indiscretions. All the counting and measuring! The badges and awards! Every single one is a separation, a drawn curtain. We position ourselves separately from others. Different. We attract attention this way. It is violence I no longer commit. When people ask me about my faith, my church, my priest, I tell them it is ‘humanity,’ it is ‘love.’”

Again August is pleased. He tells me he longs for my performance at the Vigil. And so, we must ensure together that the creed is acceptable universally, that there can be no possible confusion so simple is it. We must continue in haste in the  afternoon.

“There is much to do my beautiful lady. Before we leave this sacred bed where we are free to be our true selves and which is blessed by all the holy energies, allow me to bless you. Let me leave you with a thought to fill your time away from  me.”

I buried my face in his fragrant beard, smiling, filled with gratitude for having been treated to such unconditional love for the first time in my life.

“Please let my divine training begin and continue forever.”

I moved away and knelt in front of him.

 

On the way back to the ostal that dawn, I had much to arrange. First, before starting the practice of my songs for the Vigil, I must feed some more scraps to the spinners giving them more hope from Bons August. Finally, I must prepare my Alexandra for the training of her life and find her disguise.

I hurried along checking the surroundings for spies. It was not quite dawn and looking down the slope, I could see that no one stirred yet in the ostal.

Oh sacred rock, I cannot believe it! I cannot actually accept that the gods are walking amongst we sinners, and that they are touching my life. I have tried all my life to find such love, in each of my 6 husbands all of whom have died, and in my children, some of whom have also died. But it has escaped me until now. It seems that it was impossible down on the plains, and that it is only with the pure air that I am ready to see the true glories of the gods.

It has been intended I am sure that my lowlands Roman faith would bring me to this rarefied place. I am certain that there is good in it, and that I have benefitted so much from it. But that somehow, there has been a breakage in the ancestry leading back to the first teachings and the apostles. Somehow it is no longer pure, it has become corrupt.

But, the interrogators will ask me, how can I be so sure that the Good are actually ‘good?’

How did August put it? Yes, ‘the devil made the world and everything in it, but only God could make the souls of beings, and they remained pure and eternal. And through an agreement between the forces of good and evil it was that the bodies of men, fabricated by the devil, were deemed the only place where the goodness of the indestructible soul could be tested.’

And,‘It is the life that teaches us the lessons we must learn to get free from the devil, life that shows us how to see only good in everyone and  everything.’

These lessons are precious and we can find them everywhere we look. But up here in the mountains where the light is so clear, they are more evident to those who are ready to see them and to take them into their lives.

Ah, I was so ready in the threshing yard that day when not one but two gods walked into my ostal. Fabrisse de Caramany, the blessed! It was the moment when any  fears I had of human life, which I have to say were few and far between, completely vanished.

There is really no question to ask. Questions, August says, are the currency of devils and doubters. The Good and unconditional love is what our spirits are made flesh to seek out and find. And it is right that we must adore those Good that walk amongst us in male or female form. The Good is all we need to embrace and to live. Yes, we must train every minute to see nothing but the Good in everyone and everything. And if we fail or make mistakes, the Good God will forgive us if we repent.

‘Sin’ in the lowlands faith is something we should be in a state of constant debt and sorrow about. But this odious ‘sin’ is merely mistakes, which we are bound to make as we go about learning our lessons. And the devil and evil are all around us exactly in this life, not in a different realm awaiting us after death. The Roman church has indeed become confused, and now hounds the heretics out to cover it and to keep its evil power and wealth.

The ‘Church of Wolves.’ It is so. And the wolves will hunt and eat.

Oh Ram Rock, I am bursting with this joyous faith, with the gushing of love and honesty. August is willing to be naked with me, to show me his body, his tunic, inside which is the Good God. I cannot any longer harbour fantasies, or let my mind, controlled by the devil, create false motivation for the fulfillment of worldly desires. There will be no covering away, no partial veiling so that the devil can work my imagination.

There is only one remaining veil, and that is the veil of death. This is the only flimsy thing that keeps me away from the spiritual world. It is easy to remove if needed, but apart from that, life will be lived in the open of the threshing yard. The loving will be in everyone and everything. The naked will be naked. The flaps and puckers of skin which inflate and deflate, and arouse lust, will be brought out into the open, to be part of the loving, not hidden away to incite peeping and lust.

And now, my training must accelerate. My songs for the night Vigil will ooze with the Good and the unconditional. I am not afraid of the lusty posturing of the Cardinals, or if the lessons are learned or not, or the blessings of the spirit absorbed. Death is truly a veil, which I will pull away myself if I need to!

How can we be so blind as to be taken in by the devil’s way, and then live without noticing the gods who surround us. It is as if most of us are drunk, oblivious, out-witted by the negative.

Ohhh! I long to tell my beloved Alexandra that her training will be undertaken by both August and myself, the Good and the seeker. We must start immediately.

And my devoted Noses? I will teach them by and by, when I am made Good. Until then, I will show them unconditional love, and keep them hoping through my stories and my songs. For that is the way to keep alive the spirit. That is the way to keep the devil at bay.

Oh beloved Ram Rock, I will be back again tomorrow at 5.00 just before supper and my next lesson with my golden girl. My talking to you moves me on, keeps me level, for that I must remain if I am to train among the wolves.