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.