Trapped Angels

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There are so many varied stages to the spiritual experience, and it is for each of us to live through them on our own terms being sincere with ourselves every second. Hopefully we can share those transitions with others, but for the most part, we need to be silent, shifted away from such trivialities as thought, removed from the mind-field of making comparisons, and avoiding the white knuckles of attachment to the sacred teachings because they are merely a means whereby.

We can be inspired to elevate ourselves by words, ideas and by texts, but we must always remember that they are entirely abstract. They are indirect and so necessitate our correct interpretation, no matter how beautiful they may seem. We can allow them to touch us deeply, but they do not constitute our faith, our core, our true nature. They are risky accessories which if we lose our self-honesty for a split second could put us out of balance. So we have to learn to roll away the parchments, close the books, and live entirely according to ourselves, because only we humans are the way. It is for each of us to listen deeply to our mission directly. Such accessories can amplify or distort such messages.

Sacred chants and melodies built on ancient mantras in forgotten languages are more concrete, as their vibrations can amalgamate with our own and so set in motion desirable rhythms. They deep meditationare invisible, not interpretable, and so they prevent us from manufacturing concepts and then becoming attached to them. Our base human emotions are capable of rendering these sacred means into commodities, false realities or rafts, which convey us to a fixed location in the eternal, irrepressible surge of energy that is existence. We must leave the raft behind for others to use. We must close the book. We must listen to our own vibrational patterns.

Experience, it is said, is needed to bring us closer to true happiness and to have wisdom, but this can become fixed also, creating pride and narrowness. Unless we are mindful in our thoughts and words, carefully monitoring them to find a middle way, it is quite possible to create very damaging experience, which we then turn into stone out of the craving of the lower mind for permanence. For experience to be of value I have learned not to always leave it behind me like a snail trail in a linear model, but to meet it head on as the ellipse of our living moments is completed again and again. Experience has the potential to be as lifeless as thought if it always relegated to the past. Similarly, Dharmakayapredictions of elevation into the future according to prescribed systems and stages, can splinter the moment. Ever-lasting nowness is not subject to the shallow concepts of time and space. We must step beyond them into reality.

In true stillness and the great silence we can feel that the thin membrane of the skin is the only flimsy barrier between the inside and the outside. The skin pores are two-way valves so that the inside and outside become one. Similarly, the veil of death is the only other flimsy separation between the visible and the invisible. This unique feeling ‘nowness’ is reality, beyond all interpretation and comparison. It is our true nature.

Giving to others without conditions is our true nature. If we deem our human form truly Scan 4impermanent then there is no impediment to giving our lives for others for we are bestowing pure spirit or energy to one another. This is our mission. After all, the Universe and Nature gives us a chance at human life without a second thought. Due to our special qualities of divine and unconditional love, our human form then gives us the perfect opportunity to express them.

We can give of the material world because it is simply a means for us to express our divinity. But as the visible is the opposite of the invisible, and everything in the vast invisible world is reflected in the environment of matter in which we find ourselves manifest, we can succeed in our human endeavours if we notice those reflections in reality without interpreting them. We must find balance, the middle way, between our base human mind, which reflects the delusional nature of matter, and our higher mind or true nature, which reflects the invisible reality or truth of the Universe. We embody both the human and the invisible, constantly going between them to find a middle path. We must accept both equally, connecting them together to create a never-ending web of goodness and light.

We humans are indeed angels and can very easily get trapped in the world of matter because we struggle to make meaning and in so doing we may become oblivious to the subtle energies of our origins. The two-way valves in our skin pores can get blocked with such crude materials, so ellipsewe must strive to keep the divine tides ebbing and flowing despite the limitations of the mind of matter. If we do not stay awake during our visit to this dangerous material world, we may become blocked and it will become almost impossible to escape and go back to the source.

Reading the Air: Open up the Temple Precincts

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I wake thinking of our lovely neighbors waking up in their apartment above us. We live in the hills around Takatsuki City in western Japan – an area filled with Emperor’s tombs preserved in their beautiful enclosures. Our neighbours are pure and generous, their faces clear-skinned, their universal respect shining through gentle mushroom eyes always give me a warm feeling. We exchange local produce quite often but do not spend so much time together as we would like.

Then suddenly, I remember the temple precinct we live in and wonder if they feel excluded because they are not members/followers. The high walls of the temple loom over the whole area, its strong gatehouses manned always by young guards, impenetrable. Entering is impossible without badges and ecclesiastical proof. In other words, visitors who do not have the right qualifications cannot enter. They are excluded because the spiritual current is only accessible to those who make a commitment to it. How must they feel to have this citadel with its gleaming golden sorin visible for miles on top.

Religion and spirituality are fearful things to most Japanese so they often avoid any discussion on the matter. The Dharma Crisis here after World War 2 when all religions were sanitized, their status regulated, has made these shy, sincere people retreat in fear from religious visibility. And yet, their hearts are naturally connected to sacred things such as respect and peace. They often venerate their ancestors each day on their home altars, lighting candles and incense on their special days, ensuring that their throats are not dry with daily offerings of green tea, their stomachs not empty with rice cooked before sunrise in the first drawn water. They remove themselves back to their home towns once or twice a year en masse to prepare for the arrival of the spirits, waiting with all their loving relatives in the lantern light.

Perhaps they are right to avoid associating themselves with one particular religion, one sect, one view. Their wisdom comes from the time when our divine flame was alight and there were no divisions, only one universal faith. No-one was excluded. No membership credentials were needed. A time when each human was a spiritual leader, a god, a Buddha, a holy being.

I close my eyes and open up the precincts of the temple in my mind, removing the stout gates enclosing the spirits to exclude the uninitiated. The temple is surely a sanctified space for all beings, even animals and plants, without discrimination. It is not a place of fear and secrets. I vow to remove all boundaries in my own mind and to regard all my neighbours with exception as fellow holy beings.

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Sylvanus: 1st century Christian mystic, certainly fully embodied the Christian teachings

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Christianity has strayed far form the original teachings and the beautiful minds of the gnostics and mystics who carried forward the true teachings of the spiritual Christ. In the Middle-Ages there was a clear recognition of the misguided and manipulative ways of the Church of Rome. The Cathars referred to it as the ‘Church of Wolves’ because the teachings increasingly dwelled on sin and the material Christ, choosing to ignore the spiritual and mystical aspects of the original teachings.

A relatively recent book, ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixsmith in 2009, and the film adaptation called ‘Philomena’ directed by Stephen Frears (2013), traces the inflexible attitude to teenage illegitimate births of the Catholic Church. Accidental pregnancies are even today seen as evil acts demanding severe punishment and a life devoted to atonement for committing this sin of all sins.  15-year old Philomena’s son Anthony is wrenched from her at the age of 2 to be sold for big money to rich Americans. As an elderly woman she decides to search for him on his 50th birthday. It turns out that he has died of AIDS, but as the disease progressed he returned to the convent where he was born in Philomena’s native Ireland, to try to find her.  The greedy sisters, living in luxury thanks to their illegal income, fail to tell her of this, or even that his body was buried in the convent graveyard.

The senior sister at the time of this shocking incarceration of teenage Pilomenamothers and the nurturing of their babies born without pain-killers as penance, now frail and in retirement, is finally confronted by the journalist helping Philomena with her search. Sister Hildegarde says bitterly that she has kept her vow of chastity all her life so why shouldn’t others! Celibacy is something so unnatural and unnecessary in the name of religion. Catholics seem to thrive on the suffering and self-punishment meted out by an omnipotent and ruthless King of their imagining. These are the crooked interpretations of power-seeking egos surely, as it was in the Middle Ages.

This kind of religion demands that we submit and vacate our true and natural self. We buy into such hierarchies by deferring without question to their absurd and harsh rulings. The divine spark of original Christ is extinguished forever by the blood and sweat of human suffering and punishment as followers (those who follow and have no mind/nature of their own) become merely consumers buying a material set of beliefs and idols. In the story, Philomena’s sense of goodness is strong, natural. She doesn’t blame what Martin calls ‘the evil nuns,’ and yet her whole life has been ruined by the mistake she made at the age of 15. She considers herself to be a serious and irredeemable sinner. She is so pure that she defers wholesale to the rulings of God’s dubious representatives. What profligacy is this?

Sylvanus taught clearly, as did the Buddha and other remarkable energies, that we humans have the potential to be God. His model is realizable in our daily life. He says,

‘Light the light within you.  Do not extinguish it!  Certainly, no one lights a lamp for wild beasts or their young.

Many followers of religions look to the lights outside themselves for light. They mistake their own light as ‘ego,’ or some kind of arrogance which they must eradicate or hide. There is no place for the individual in the eyes of obsessive clerics who sadly climb into positions as educators and damage the purity and natural qualities of many of their ‘sheep.’

‘You were a temple, (but) you have made yourself a tomb.  Cease being a tomb, and become (again) a temple, so that uprightness and divinity may remain in you.’

Unfortunately, the world is dominated by living tombs who have lost all contact with their own unique voices. This is why we live in a world of mass mediocrity often studded with dubious and adulated stars.

‘Knock on yourself as upon a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road.  For if you walk on that road, it is impossible for you to go astray. And if you knock with this one (Wisdom), you knock on hidden treasures.’

We each have all we need inside us to become living Gods and Buddhas, now, in our lifetime. We all have a sacred mission which we constantly evade while deferring to other so-called ‘leaders’ and ‘holy beings.’ As Sylvanus advises, it is important to always keep in mind that ‘everything which is visible is a copy of that which is hidden.’ The Cathars referred to the visible world as the world of the Devil, created to tempt us away from the invisible and our essential being as spirit.

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Going Beyond : Buddhist and Cathar

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I have recently written a book based on my experience of Catharism while living in the remote Pyrenees, south-eastern France. The title is ‘Veil’ and it is in fictional format, but actually it is a work of creative non-fiction. In other words, it actually happened to me and to my partner at the time. You can watch the short video explaining a little more about it in a general sense here. But in the wider context of Buddhism I would like to elaborate.

As mentioned in the articles I have made into a portfolio on this site, and am busy making into a non-fiction book to be released in July this year, 2015,  called Buddhists and Cathars and the People of the Earth, I have been chosen to lead a revival of the Medieval mystical sect of Christians known as Les Bonnes or Les Parfaits. Many people may consider that I have jumped ship and am turning my back on my Buddhist training and benefits, but this is not the case as I am not a benefit-seeker.

To qualify that term ‘benefit-seeker’ a little more, I am not looking for personal benefit from my spiritual seeking. I live in Japan where I am surrounded by Buddhists who pay homage to numerous and varied deities and put great energy into practising and donating simply in order to receive benefits for themselves and their loved ones.  This way of seeking is rooted in superstition and goes way back to the original religion of Japan, Shinto. A clapping of hands accompanied with a bow while standing in front of an image, or the throwing of a coin into an offering box placed before the deity, is meant to bring good fortune in a land where fortune-telling is still a valid way of looking into the past and the future. Of course, this kind of activity is wonderful as long as we are not attached to it. The deities and holy energies exist unconditionally to balance and harmonize – we do not need to bribe them by begging and offering. If we are not separate from them, we merge into that balance and harmony.

Of course, this kind of superstition is practised across the world and the world’s religions. Humans in their fearful helpless mode, recognise that there is something greater and so as they navigate samsara, the world of transience and suffering, they offer money or food and drink in return for constant and helping power. I have ceased to do this recently because instead I offer myself and my human life in all its aspects. I no longer need a witness, a public moment of dedication, and I make no distinction between myself and all beings, my life and that of all sentient beings.

Beliefs are a type of thought, and I have ceased that kind of thinking, because I have woken up to the fact that my so-called beliefs make me either separate from others, or bring me closer to those with the same beliefs. In either case, I exclude someone by such a thought. Beliefs serve to separate us from others and from the spiritual/invisible world. As the Cathar Creed for The Church of Love, strongly advises, ‘It’s members shall know each other by their deeds and being, and by their eyes and by no other outward sign save the fraternal embrace.’

The Cathars were Buddhists, just as Moslems are Christians, and Sikhs are Taoists. There is no difference between these subdivisions! Can you remember or imagine a time when the human race started out and had only one faith; it is said that in this Golden Age, the gods were not separate because they walked among us. Diversity and pluralism create too many options to choose from until the point where everything becomes splintered and we feel we are forced to choose. Some choose not to have any beliefs, but surely that also creates a separation. I am the Buddhist and Cathar teachings. I embody them.

I do not choose. Instead I listen. Buddhist and Cathar teachings found me, and they are merely a means whereby. In other words, they have brought me to this very place where I can say I simply ‘am’ like the trees and flowers, the animals and other natural organisms.   I no longer use my thoughts to contrive beliefs according to a particular guru or doctrine. I am cradled in my being. My altar or butsdudan (Japanese home altar) is my life. I live it, breathing and smiling and loving unconditionally.

The Buddha taught me that I must go beyond all form, all thinking. I have no need for benefits to be bestowed. One teacher asked me why I believed in the Buddha and his power, and I answered that I just did. He said, ‘but the Buddha is beyond all form, so please stop blocking your own formlessness by imposing images. Turf all images and thoughts away to take up your proper place standing in the Cosmic Stream.’ He had realised ’emptiness’ at the time, and I had not.

Going beyond! Disposing of all blocks so that the friction which causes us to stop, to get stuck, does not occur. This smooth eternal flowing of being and beings, without beginning or end, is beyond Nirvana, the ceasing of all craving.  It is beyond words, so I must not say more.

My gratitude is eternal to all my teachers whatever they taught me. But now there are no more lessons because my mind and my body are not separate from the Great Truth.

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