Ancient Indians, like the Aborigines of Australia and Japanese Shintoists, believed wholly in the supernatural and the natural world. They especially envied the characteristics of some animals. The peacock was one such creature they revered and desired to emulate.
At first, they were afraid of the peacock with its mournful cry, its fantastic plumage and feral ways, and especially shocked when they realized on observing that it was capable of eating poisonous spiders and snakes in order to nourish its large physical structure, and could survive. Quite naturally, they also wished to transcend such poisoning and human fragility, and so came to worship the peacock out of a mixture of envy and fear.
At this time in India there were 2 powerful religions: Hinduism for the masses, and Brahmanism for the elite and all beings aspired to spiritual liberation through these pathways. Therefore many mantras, or recited invocations, were used as a matter of course in everyday life. It is clear from research that the ancient Indians possessed an authentic insight into the use of the spiritual voice to communicate with the invisible world.
So, such mantras were developed to emulate the peacock and bring this animal god closer to the human world—mantras, which even incorporated the doleful cry of the peacock, for example, the Great Peacock King mantra from Tibetan Buddhism: “Om Mayura Krante Svaha.” They really believed that by calling upon this magical and terrifying bird, they may themselves would gain some of its divine qualities and so enable them to transcend their human weaknesses and limitations.
So, Mantrayana, the next stage of Buddhism after the Golden Buddha’s initial teachings and death (circa 2600) was created. This movement was inspired by the idea that all poisons are the same so that in time, the negative aspects of the human mind such as ignorance, greed, and hatred became known as ‘poison’ which required an ‘antidote.’ Mantras or invocations were viewed as just such a kind of antidote and eventually became recognized as a part of nature and not created by man at all.
They represented an esoteric or secret language which nature or the universe would respond to. In other words, a way for humans to fuse with the microcosm.
These faith pioneers had enormous imagination not having yet learned the passiveness of modern, intensively technological societies. As today, poisonous snakes such as the cobra were common, so protection and awareness was essential to prevent fatal bites or stings. One method was to mesmerize the snake with the sound of a flute so that it would obey, but another way was to worship creatures that could dispose of them.
When a peacock comes face to face with a snake, it purposely pretends to be scared and allows the snake to wrap itself around its body. Then just as the snake is about to attack, it spreads out its wings and feathers with great force and sends the snake flying.
The image of the elegant peacock driving away a poisonous snake, like a beautiful woman driving off an evil beast, impressed people. They thought this bird had god-like powers, and so gradually this image metamorphosed into a Buddhist deity or Holy Being. Much later in Japanese Buddhism (7th Century), this image below became known as Peacock Myoo or Guardian of the Law.
The Guardian of the Law is riding on the back of the peacock and holding sacred instruments in each of her four arms: a lotus, a peacock feather, a fruit resembling a lemon, and a pomegranate. The lotus represents benevolence and kindness. The lemon cures the diseases of anyone that eats it. The pomegranate drives off evil spirits. But the mighty peacock feather has the power to actually prevent disasters such as earthquakes and floods. This painting was made using luxurious materials like silver and gold leaf to make it sparkle and shine with the Peacock’s mystical power. However, the metals have tarnished over time so it is difficult to see clearly.
In general, the peacock is a symbol of openness and acceptance. In Christianity, it is a symbol of immortality, and in Hinduism, the patterns of its feathers, resembling eyes, symbolize the star constellations. And in Buddhism as we can see above, wisdom is its attribute. The five feathers on the peacock’s head are said to symbolize the five spiritual paths and the five Buddha families. Their beautiful colours give pleasure to all beings in the same way that setting eyes upon a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being) or Buddha (an awakened being) can bring comfort and provoke bliss.
Sacred human intelligence is awe-inspiring. The unique human spirit naturally will find many ingenious ways to communicate with its divine origin, the invisible world. I believe that this communication beyond what we can see or prove visually is the way to true balance and unending happiness.
It is sizzling summer here which induces a panic in non-natives used to more temperate climates. We cannot survive without air conditioning, so it is difficult to stay long in the open air, even for native Japanese, born in the far south in tropical Kagoshima and Okinawa. So, driving in the car with cold air rushing in through the vents, is so calming as well as tantalizing.
This land is exquisite when away from the rather careless and pragmatic urban areas. We drive north-west of bold and brassy Osaka, into the mountains. The forests of mixed pine and bamboo are dense with rigorous and ancient energy, and sure to be full of brown bears, raccoons and monkeys.
It is 3.45 in the morning, and we set out to join the crowded motorway, filled with people returning to their hometowns in order to clean and adorn their family graves, and to wait for the return of their ancestors from the world of spirits. Dawn approaches as we dive into the forests interspersed with rich green rice paddy, and I marvel at this glorious land of rock and tree and bear.
My partner Mariko chants he Heart Sutra in Japanese as we drive on, followed by iced Oolong tea and freshly sliced Japanese pear, nashi.
Three hours later, we arrive in Takeno, a tiny seaside village, Mariko’s hometown, and park our little ‘k’ car (economy car) in the small shale yard of the old family house. Her cousin and her daughter with her children are waiting for us, offering us a cool shower, and iced Barley tea.
After we have cooled down, we prepare to chant for Mariko’s mother’s 27th death memorial, putting on our robes and preparing the giant home altar (butsudan) with candles and incense. Every one sits behind us holding their juzu(rosary beads) being sure to copy our bowing and gassho (palms together at the level of the heart).
The chanting is more of a challenge and pleasure than usual because the ancient owner of the house has abandoned real Buddhist practice to join Sokka Gakai, a Japanese religious organization which has prohibited any Buddhist images. So, we must focus extra hard in order to slice through this misguided diversion from Dharma to reach the golden reclining Nirvana Buddha right at the back of the butsudan.
Afterwards, we take flowers to the family grave and chant again, being sure to wash the tall head stones with fresh water so that the spirits will not be thirsty. In the hottest part of the day, the local people will retreat indoors, closing all sliding doors to create a cool place, and relax together drinking sake (rice wine) to wait for the arrival of their ancestral spirits.
Later, when the sun has set, they will go again to the graveyard with lanterns and food to offer at the grave. They have come together from all parts of Japan to meet together at the family house and celebrate their ancestors.
This profound gratitude to all their descendants without whom they could not be alive today, is most moving. This is supreme Dharma, identical in the human world and the world of the spirits!
I have learned so much from this most inspiring Japanese custom.
(The following will be interspersed with the indigenous voice of an Australian tribal leader.)
Putting aside the man-made lenses of ‘time,’ ‘space,’ ‘race’, ‘gender,’ and ‘money,’ and so on, is the only way to integrate into life’s true course. This is how we can best begin to repair what we perceive as the damaged links of the broken chain of existence.
The human race has interfered persistently with what is natural, almost insisting on creating its own reality and then imposing it on others instead of listening to the truth and staying put. We have traditionally searched outside for our sensual satisfaction and the realization of dreams, when all the time the glories of our human existence lie inside, deep within our divine spirit.
We have therefore become ‘disintegrated’ beings because we block what is natural, always choosing to ‘live’ indirectly, vicariously, or ‘outside’ reality in our minds, our noses pressed up against the glass. We were given life 2.5 million years ago, but why do we still utilize so little of our cerebral potential(10% maximum) and fail to realize our divine potential. We claim that we are ‘civilized’ when we lie and cheat, abuse and kill, suffer and seek revenge so readily.
Given the passage of so much time since our birth, is it reasonable to assume that we are handing down the information and knowledge needed to improve and develop us? Or are we unable to access our immense resources because we have lost the skills and tools to do so? We mostly defer to one crude tool only, the intellect. Is this why we are presently swallowing our pride and seeking the help and ingenuity of indigenous people whom we once pronounced ‘savages’ in a last ditch attempt live in a way meaningful to the planet?
In our present state, it seems that we may never repair the conceptual ‘circles’ and ‘cycles’ and ‘phases’ of universal energy we have adopted in order to try to understand it. The irony is that we were never meant to understand it, just accept it, integrate with it, because our personal energy is already a component part of it. The leaves of a tree do not question their existence.
We are on the inside if only we looked directly but education in the developed world is designed to develop individual intellects, to produce leaders and hierarchies, in short, to control. In contrast, indigenous people in their traditional lives are always inside looking out; they are active participants in the centre of a universal reality. They stand in the eternal stream of energy, both visible and invisible, and in their natural, uncorrupted state, they are entirely accepting and consequently wise. Unlike ‘civilised’ people who rebel if there are insufficient options, there are no choices for them because they are finely tuned to something far greater than the human ego.
ninija, traditional landowner of thousands of miles of the Lands and spiritual leader, says:
White-fella they come before, talking on and on. They tell ninija what ‘best.’ We not understand ‘best.’ We not choose. We no choice. We just. White-fella choose, count, talk and point with long-long white finger.
By way of an example of this ‘disintegration’ mentioned above, we outsiders can visualize beautiful things in immense detail by virtue of our superb memories. Beautiful flowers have been immortalized by photographs and works of art which are also quickly recalled. In fact, thousands of images are stamped onto our memories so that there is no need to go to find the real thing. Even if we do encounter the real flower itself, it may be in a contrived garden and we may compare it with those in our mind collections.
We are addicted to recalling a flower’s name, both common and scientific, its country of origin, the soil and climate type it prefers, as well as its use as a motto or symbol, its rarity and health benefits, and so on. So, we are rarely experiencing the flower directly but instead through interpretations, knowledge or representations.
It seems that no stone is left unturned in the present world so that the drive to make everything common knowledge is at its height. Traveling to remote places to bring back mementoes is applauded and now the Internet is fully at our disposal to further accelerate these global trends. As a consequence we have become inveterate consumers with the means to go anywhere and everywhere to acquire whatever takes our fancy.
Indigenous peoples in their traditional state actually ‘own’ nothing except what they can custom-make from raw materials provided by the Earth. Here is a description of what the tribal members I helped to move from a state settlement back into their traditional lives were carrying as they departed. They were walking back into the Lands in the scorching center of Australia.
…they took only a few handmade possessions which they habitually carry or wear. Their dilly bags woven from Mangrove string, containing personal effects such aschuringas (totemic identity badges). Their Wood and Grass carrying bowls,coolamon, sported on heads, shoulders or against bellies. Their custom-madedigging sticks slung across shoulders with ornate Kangaroo straps. A range of beautifully crafted decorated boomerangs for hunting both for children and women. And perfectly cylindrical Hollow Log coffins containing Bones of their deceased. Churinga. Coolamon. Hollow Log Coffins. All hand-crafted and customized from Desert materials.
The party of shiny black skins with their blond and red topknots of wild hair was occasionally joined by competing Kangaroos. On one side, they were flanked by a massive flock of high Emus, great scratching Bird of the Lands, and on the other by a troop of wild Camels. Above the whole assembly, white Pelicans flapped their slow wings through an indigo Sky, muttering to full Moon.
These desert people most probably will die if they leave their Lands for any length of time, especially if they move into synthetic, urban environments. Following is a description of the experience of Ninija and her granddaughter Gina going to ‘white-fella’s city’ to collect the body of dead Ginger-son. Lumaluma is the ghost of white-fella who comes to plague Ninija to be his concubine, all the time distracting her from her duties to officiate at her son’s Burial Ceremony. The Djang, or climax of the burial ceremony, is the greatest of all rites of passage for their people. (Notice the writing convention of all things belonging to Mother Nature are capitalised, and all those to humans are in lower case. ninija insists on this to show utter respect and gratitude)
When we bring ginger body back to Lands from city, lumaluma, he follow us. He bring him terrible sounds with him. Car. Truck. White-fella whirring engine. Many many people loud. i think i stop breathing because i not hear my own lungs crinkling shut then open again. i not hear lovely sweet flapping sound of just-knowing – lumaluma he call it “waiting.”
And smell? Smoke! They fill Sky so it like white night. i breathe fast because white night sting if it inside me. i pant like Dingo. i look out but only see white-fella wall, wall, and more wall. wall bigger than ninija Rock or Buga Mountains in Lands. wall and roof so I not see Sky. I cannot run without big hard concrete stop!
In fact, knowledge of something is an indirect way of ‘knowing’ it. It stimulates our intellects and memories, but it is not reality. The phrase ‘snap-shot’ has become popular in recent years to describe how our minds are continually opening camera shutters, recording, archiving, attempting to make everything we encounter permanent. We are image consumers with very little need to turn away from our fantastic internal collections. But, this habitual activity always pulls us back to our minds where everything is convenient and controllable. How can this be reality?
This is how I felt before I went to the Desert and encountered ninija and the Dreaming, and before ninija became my spirit guide.
Before the Desert and ninija ‘back-then,’ i was a human camera. i was an archivist, and a repository for captions. “Say it. See it. Check it. Now prove it!’ After arriving here, i soon stopped looking and listened instead, and so slid into my rightful place. Now, if i cease listening to the Universe for an instant, ninija strides into to my mind and elbows me roughly in the ribs. she strictly guides me back from the needy eye, and from the very needy ‘i’ of my ego.
Another aspect of the integration/disintegration mentioned above involves the concept of time. Indigenous peoples use only the moon and sun to regulate their days and nights, so they never wait, recover/change gear, or smoke a cigarette or swig time concept alcohol to help them to overcome the ordeal of living. Rarely do they become stressed by external pressures as we do, counting the seconds ticking on.
They move smoothly from one instance of their life to the next, listening for their roles, so there are no concepts of work or leisure, etc. There is nothing else except seamless immersion in what the Earth and Great Mother Nature, their totem group, and their fellow tribesmen need. There is no media but instead the songs and stories of celebration and morality, which are handed on orally and need no interpretation because they are concrete.
The original energy source of modern urban humans is permanent and indestructible as it is for indigenous peoples, but we moderns have become compulsive archivists and rebuilders and therefore have damaged it. Surely, it is not possible to compartmentalize and analyze such sacred energy as we do: concepts and theories will never heal the diseased flora and fauna, rebalance the planet or prevent us from destroying each other.
These interferences and interruptions in what is natural, fueled by human hubris and synthetic, excessive emotions, have turned us into an invasive species, a common garden weed, aliens. Shockingly, we move around intently seeking pleasure, status and the fulfillment of our desires and wishes, almost exclusively to any other concerns.
We are also frantic to achieve something notable before our visible life ends and we become invisible and, as we see it, powerless. Whereas those who protect the natural environment and never ‘die’ have no white-fella status.They find contentment and pleasure exactly in the natural world and live in the moment. They never hanker after tangible signs of their existence or use filters to alter their perceptions, change their mood, forget or bury the things that are distasteful or brutally honest.
We are all animals and yet we humans diverged from animal species as our brains developed. We wanted to be different, standing on two legs instead of four, reaching for the best fruit at the top of the tree instead of groveling for grubs. In this divergence, we lost touch with our instincts and intuitions, refusing to fit in with the natural order and went all out to exploit the world’s resources for personal, religious or national gain.
In so doing, we needed to stamp out the traces of ancient and indigenous cultures as they presented an obstacle to our betterment. This was when we broke the virtuous circle, becoming determined to create something entirely new. And because we turned our backs wholesale on natural wisdom, we were forced, ironically, into ‘survival’ mode, using trial and error, making fatal or fortunate mistakes and supposedly learning from them.
It has frequently been pointed out by religious and spiritual wisdom that ‘there is nothing new under the sun,’ and yet we constantly think we can invent and innovate, throwing out what already exists. Our motivation is often power, recognition, money and worse, and while we are investing all of our precious life’s moments in this ‘progress’ pursuit, ancient peoples are absorbed in being the stalwart custodians and protectors of reality. They are single-mindedly devoted to preserving, blending in, and living in awe of what already exists. Without a doubt, radical change is needed inside each of our minds not in the natural world. Our leaders need more wisdom to be able to work in equal partnership with what is natural.
In hindsight, it is easy to see that it is unnecessary to make devastating often fatal mistakes, rushing blindly into situations and taking over officiously. We ‘developed’ people are constantly end-gaining, striving to reach goals which are often arbitrary in terms of the planet and the natural world, not to mention our spiritual well-being. As indigenous peoples and the enlightened will tell you, there actually are no ends as there are no beginnings. Existence is one eternal circle.
So, why can’t we use our higher minds to innovate and extemporize to enhance what already exists, rather than sweep it under the carpet? We could effortlessly stay in the universal circle in harmony, integrated and eager to gather wise beings around us. After all, rash acts spring from rash thoughtsproduced from our lower minds; whereas wise and considerate thoughts emanating from our higher minds, our true and divine origins, produce wise and balanced acts. Thoughts are actually acts in rehearsal.
In contrast, in their traditional lives Australian aboriginals are fully integrated. They flow with the tide of reality not against it and so are absolutely ready to catch any ball that may be thrown to them. For them, there is no meta-reality, no perceived reality, no personal interpretation, because they are reality itself. They absolutely embody their Dreaming Lands. They are their feelings not simulacra as we are. But above all they are love and respect and awe for each other, and for the forces of nature and the Universe, which they consider to be their loving parents.
They just embody what is – never thinking or speculating, selecting or deciding, always submissive to and fully aware of their divine origins and mission. That is why they easily die or succumb to outside influences if they are removed from their Lands.
They are part of the Dreaming reality at all times, fully integrated, and not at all separate. They are immersed in what is known as the seamless ‘here-and-now.’ The arrogance of ‘civilized’ people tears them out of their own origins, their own ‘Lands,’ leading them to pursue life for gain and power, always at a distance from reality, and often from sincerity. They are rarely submissive and if they are, they are negatively judged by the mediocre majority and feel a sense of shame or loss of pride.
You can read ninija’s story in ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day,’ Strategic Books, 2013 PB, 2015 epub., to get a taste of desert integration and wisdom: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UUSPLYM
I wrote this article ‘Integration into Life’s True Course’ in response to David Suzuki’s article in the Vancouver Sun, ‘Aboriginal People not environmentalists, are our best bet for protecting the planet.’ June 8th, 2015, link: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/David Suzuki Aboriginal people environmentalists best protecting planet/11112668/story.html
article images courtesy of Megapixyl.com: Aboriginal woman-Rosedarc.com; Didjeridoo3-Fotandy.com; Part of a native Aboriginal wall painting-Ingehogenbijl/com; Man Hunting-Bushman’s primitive art-Wilad.com; Quantas Beoing 737-800-Amlindley.com; Devils Marbles-Teedee.com; Indigenous Australian Art-Lucidwaters.com; Didgeridoo-Lucidwaters.com
Ancient Indians, like the Aborigines of Australia and Japanese Shintoists, believed wholly in the supernatural and the natural world and especially envied the characteristics of some animals. The peacock was one such creature they revered and desired to emulate. At first, they were afraid of the peacock with its mournful cry, its fantastic plumage and feral ways, and especially shocked when they realized on observing that it was capable of eating poisonous spiders and snakes in order to nourish its large physical structure, and could survive. Quite naturally, they also wished to transcend such poisoning and human fragility, and so came to worship the peacock out of a mixture of envy and fear.
At this time in India there were 2 powerful religions: Hinduism for the masses and Brahmanism for the elite, and all beings aspired to spiritual liberation through these pathways. Therefore many mantras, or invocations, were used as a matter of course in everyday life, the Indians possessing an authentic insight into the use of the spiritual voice to communicate with the invisible world. So, such mantras were developed to emulate the peacock and bring this animal god closer to the human world—mantras, which even incorporated the doleful cry of the peacock, for example, the Great Peacock King mantra from Tibetan Buddhism: “Om Mayura Krante Svaha.” They really believed that by calling upon this magical and terrifying bird, they may themselves gain some of its divine qualities, and so transcend their weaknesses and limitations.
So, Mantrayana, the next stage of Buddhism after the Golden Buddha’s initial teachings and death (circa 2600), was created, and the idea that all poisons are the same, pondered upon, so that in time, the negative aspects of the human mind such as ignorance, greed, and hatred, became known as ‘poison’ which required an ‘antidote.’ Mantras or invocations were viewed as just such a kind of antidote, and so eventually were recognized as a part of nature and not created by man at all. They represented an esoteric or secret language, which nature or the universe would respond to, and a way of fusing with the microcosm.
The people had enormous imagination not having yet learned the passiveness of modern, intensively technological societies. As today, poisonous snakes such as the cobra were common, so protection and awareness was essential to prevent fatal bites or stings. One method was to mesmerize the snake with the sound of a flute so that it would obey, but another way was to worship creatures that could dispose of them. When a peacock comes face to face with a snake, it purposely pretends to be scared and allows the snake to wrap itself around its body. Then just as the snake is about to attack, it spreads out its wings and feathers with great force and sends the snake flying.
The image of the elegant peacock driving away a poisonous snake, like a beautiful woman driving off an evil beast, impressed people. They thought this bird had god-like powers, and so gradually this image metamorphosed into a Buddhist deity or holy being. Much later in Japanese Buddhism (7th Century), this image below became known as Peacock Myoo or Guardian of the Law.
The guardian is riding on the back of the peacock and holding sacred instruments in each of her four arms: a lotus, a peacock feather, a fruit resembling a lemon, and pomegranate. The lotus represents benevolence and kindness. The lemon cures the diseases of anyone that eats it. The pomegranate drives off evil spirits. But the mighty peacock feather has the power to actually prevent disasters such as earthquakes and floods. This painting was made using luxurious materials like silver and gold leaf to make it sparkle and shine with the Peacock’s mystical power. However, the metals have tarnished over time.
In general, the peacock is a symbol of openness and acceptance. In Christianity, it is a symbol of immortality, and in Hinduism, the patterns of its feathers, resembling eyes, symbolize the star constellations. And in Buddhism as we can see above, wisdom is its attribute. The five feathers on the peacock’s head are said to symbolize the five spiritual paths and the five Buddha families. Their beautiful colours give pleasure to all beings in the same way that setting eyes upon a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being) or Buddha (an awakened being) can bring comfort and provoke bliss.
Human intelligence, the unique human spirit naturally will find many ingenious ways to communicate with its origin, the invisible world, and this is the way to true balance and happiness.
Images courtesy of Megapixl.com: Peacock by jessealbanese; Three Peacocks-kvkirllov; Indian Architecture exterior-Jaipur City Palace-twinandphotography; Peacock Myoo-Japan Temple exhibition-clthorp; Beautiful Peacock Roof design-Japan-Lucyinsisu; Japanese Peacock – Krookedeye
The story of how I wrote my Australian work Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day
As an author, I sometimes find myself between two worlds: that populated by the hard facts with visual proof told in R.T. (Real Time) or man-time as I like to call it; and that of the spirit, invisible, unbidden, in need of no proof. The former is championed by frightened people of knowledge, out of contact with their fire and their true nature, who argue and disturb people in the name of the so-called truth; the latter champions speak quietly from their experience, not knowledge, and have no argument with anyone but simply wish innocently to share their view of the world, to enrich, to edify others.
What should I do if I have repeated dreams and take on wholesale the strong flavour of something invisible beyond knowledge, something I cannot pin down into facts and justification? I could stay quiet and for the most part do, but in some cases, I can use the literary or artistic vehicle to convey a crucial message out loud. People listen to art whereas they often stuff their fingers in their ears when it comes to politics, religion or humanitarian common sense, all of which are often based on the much over-rated ‘knowledge.’
25 years ago I arrived in Alice Springs on my way to visit Ayer’s Rock, the aboriginal belly-button of the earth, and was unexpectedly selected to join a group project in the South Australian Desert. At the time, I had no idea that this experience would completely transform my life, but it did, and I have written about it quite innocently in my novel,Easy-Happy-Sexy (2013). Some years after the experience, I had several very strange dreams, both waking and sleeping, about the tribal leader I had encountered briefly there called Ninija. Quite soon after through the ether she initiated me into Desert Wisdom and became my spirit guide, and to this day she appears unbidden in my meditations and dreams, always addressing my higher self.
Ninija indicated to me that developed peoples are in the process of rapidly destroying the Earth and each other and that it was time she told her story of the damage they had done to her people. She appointed me as custodian of this story and set about relaying it to me through images, songs, and fables. It tumbled out of me and I wrote it down in strangely disconnected notes which eventually I consolidated into Easy-Happy-Sexy. There is no way I can prove this happened to me, so I ask my readers to take my word on it, and to listen avidly to the urgent message Ninija wanted me to convey to ‘my people,’ (people of the developed world).
I have no logical explanation as to why this happened or what my connection with these amazing tribal people is, but I do know for a fact that we who inhabit the visible or mortal world are our ancestors and that we are entrusted to carry forward our line. I strongly feel that my ancestors were once indigenous to Australia and have chosen me to convey this wisdom at this precarious time in human history.
Now you may say that every white English-speaker or speaker of European languages may expect to have ancestors who were involved in the migrations and exclusions from overcrowded Europe to various parts of the New World. But in my case, I feel the reverse happened. By the same token, if we consider that the presence of aboriginal Australians has been detected as long ago as 40,000 years and that our ancestors may stretch back to that prehistoric epoch, then why is it not possible that I have traces of them in me, modern citizen of the developed world that I am?
The objective of my group experience in the South Australian Desert was to escort Ninija and the surviving elderly and children of her tribe back into Aboriginal territory in the very centre of Australia so that they could once again pick up their traditional life. I actually experienced some beautiful aspects of that traditional way which was being revived, and I felt so at home with them: they made good sense in terms of the Earth and its inhabitants. Many of their traditional ways are truly ancient, stretching far back long before they had encountered white-fella’s concepts of ‘time’ and ‘space,’ to an epoch of harmony and the flourishing of the Earth. This Golden Era when humans were young and innocent and lived closely with nature is how things were meant to be before arrogance and power took hold and we allowed negative emotions to rule us. The visible was just a small part of the invisible then so we were energy-sensitive – able to predict the future and tell the past, to know each others minds, to live outside concepts and theories, but most of all able to commune directly with our ancestry and the spiritually-evolved beings who walked among us.
Recently white settlers in Australia are arguing about who actually is from indigenous stock, bringing discrimination into the most natural and ancient scenario of all. The native people have lived peacefully and harmonically in Australia for 40,000 years. Talk about Hubris! Arrogance! Discrimination! Going where the limelight is! Etc. And the so-called white writers can only write about native life as observers if they insist on observing the facts and staying within charted and visible territory. I have ventured outside these boundaries into the vast invisible world and through my spiritual awareness am certain that I have, as mentioned, native Australian DNA somewhere in my being which laid me open to becoming an advocate for the rights of native peoples in general, and to awakening to my Australian spirit guide Ninija.
About a year ago, I started to conceptualise a non-fiction work which came out of another such spiritual and life-changing experience of the Cathars, medieval mystic Christians exterminated as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church. Once again I found myself transplanted to the Eastern Pyrenees, the chain of peaks which has created a natural border between Spain and France, where I lived for about 6 years. And once again, through a series of dreams, meditations and being touched by the potent spirit of that place where they were exterminated, I touched another thread in my ancestral line and realised that my relatives had been Cathar martyrs in that place.
At the time, I was seriously practising the Buddhist teachings but had a vivid revelation that the Cathar beliefs were almost identical and that they, in turn, dovetailed beautifully with the creation spirituality of the Aboriginals. My spiritual life became ecstatic watched over not only by the Buddha and all his emanations, but the highly-evolved Cathars martyrs and Ninija and her Desert wisdom too. Tuning into one’s legacy through meditation and awareness of a higher being is available to all of us, but it seems that only spiritual seekers grasp the opportunity to accept the visible and invisible worlds as one. Only fear of the unknown, the unseen, leads us to throw up a wall between them. After all, the human race is innately good, and it is generally agreed that the positive virtues of trust and acceptance are greater than the negative of suspicion and defiance.
My feet of clay as a creator could easily be unearthed by the knowledge-dependent R.T. brigade, but I will not allow it. If only they really understood the fragile nature of the notions of time and space, and opened to the idea of three thousand dimensions instead of just three. If only they had for a moment walked outside their concepts and theories, stood back and put their weapons down, and examined their motivation for expressing their ‘mere’ opinions. For what are opinions and knowledge when compared with experience and insight and the knowledge that we human beings are one with the glorious universe that gives us our lives?
We cannot embody opinions and knowledge. They are specks of dust, mere material floating in the sunlight, compared with our magical essence of love and light.
The world of words demands that we churn out concepts and assertions mindlessly. Each word creates an image in our visual libraries and memory banks. The bridge of the mind leading out to the vast field of consciousness is so cluttered with verbiage and images that we cannot move. We are blocked in.
But unblocking is not just a matter of clearing out, discarding our highly documented lives out on to the scrap heap. No matter how badly they make us suffer by living always indirectly, marooned in our own minds, we have created them in our unique way. They are what we amount to so far, our materials. But we can be sure that materials are not permanent.
So we can first acknowledge them, accept them as our way up to this point, and then we can tenderly build a fire and set them alight, watching them burn with gratitude. They are a means whereby and without them we would be deprived of their richness.
In the desert, in the Dreaming Lands, aboriginals set light to large tracts of land to promote new growth in the universe, and to send cleansing smoke up to the sky travelers. Japanese Buddhists write prayers and mantras then burn them in a special Homa fire to convey them into the invisible world, and to burn away human delusions. Fire cleanses and promotes new growth, so let go of the archives and new growth is guaranteed to appear. The bridge will instantly be unblocked.
We must keep creating because that is our modern way, teeming with diversity, but we can discard, empty the trash on a regular basis, and spend a little more time each day in the great still silence where words and images have no purpose. Then we can slowly and steadily intersperse listening with looking because sound is concrete whereas images are abstract.
And words? Concentrate your attention on the sound of the words instead of the meaning. Listen to the heart behind the words that reach you and linger lovingly there without reacting or categorizing, or trying to make them permanent. They are the utterances of a fellow true spirit after all.
With a sincere heart and awareness, you can cease to assert and window-dress your ego when you interact with other true natures in your vicinity. Asserting is merely a desperate attempt to make yourself and your world permanent in someone else’s eyes, and in your own. It excludes and separates.
When you speak remember that you are essentially spirit so you must express yourself in an artfully vague way like a breeze, the rapid flapping of the wings of the hummingbird, or the constant fluttering of a candle flame.
We actually have no single ‘claim’ to make via our soft lips or balanced on plump tongues because we are pure love energy, and the human throat is best-suited to singing. Instead of words, fingers and eyes and warm breath and our unique fragrance will register our sincere heart with perfection. Therefore, it is wise to refrain from talk until you have checked your free flow of love.
Hindu deities are fashioned out of mud exactly so that there is no danger of them or the spirits behind them becoming permanent. Tibetan Buddhists make the most exquisite mandalas out of coloured sand outdoors and then walk away abandoning their delicacy to the weather. Japanese Buddhists copy sutras and prayers on to parchment and hang them from trees or bury them to welcome future Buddhas millions of years in the future. Indigenous people place their dead on high platforms or in the upper limbs of trees so that the weather and creatures can clean the flesh from their bones. There is no clinging in these acts. There is nothing to be saved and stored away.
If we can live in this way, avoiding sticking to anything, avoiding the heat of static, then we can find happiness in everything, every moment. Our emotions may flare up – anger, hatred, envy – but we can just walk away from the hot flames. Turn away our faces from such violent heat, and walk away from the site realizing that nothing can be accomplished by projecting these distortions on to other targets. Emotions spark a fire in the mind which burns others. We must ask ourselves if we truly want to be responsible for burning and mutilating other humans.
Everything except our loving kindness and our unique energy is impermanent. This human life as tenants flows on towards the great ocean of Nirvana. Our best contribution is to join the flow and shower our loving kindness on all our fellow bathers.
That morning I drove through a dawn sky so glorious I thought the world had come to a spectacular end.
I drove as a vehicular robot while tears forced their way out on a bore tide.
My route is a weekly occurrence, same time, same speed, same stops and starts, but today I was certain I would die before I arrived.
The massive sun pulses like an orange human, pulling me further out on my own river with each beat. I am molten, formless, in a silence shroud. A synapse pops and I suddenly feel exactly why I learned to drive: to flow out I need automated speed at this moment. But am I really moving? The gold leaf samovar of sky is running and we are part of it.
I pass a few vehicles and look across to search for other tears and glory on drivers, but they chew gum, drink from hot tins of coffee, talk illegally on their phones. No-one seems moved, so this dawn must be for me. It must be my turn to die today.
Flowing forward on my tears I notice another hidden orb reflecting through silver and bronze clouds. Can it be the moon? My river turns to silver now, cool, wise. How privileged to be served up with wisdom and passion in one splash. This sky silence has spoiled me forever I smile, and the close-guarded secret of the illusions of time and space are out of the bag.
Now I know the sky is not too high, the earth is not too still, and our edges are not real at all. I am inside-out, wielding an acetylene torch to cut through the thunderous blue between the two orbs to reveal a vertical scratch of white light. Aboriginal desert dwellers call this the Djang, the final moment when the human spirit climbs out of its human chrysalis to travel on. They long for it from the moment the oxygen is connected to them.
That morning my robot delivered me to my usual destination. I sat on the temple boards, palms together in gassho, serious on the first day of winter austerities. The Djang dawn was my robe and hood drawing all the Buddhas in close. And then I opened my physical eyes on an etching of my Djang sky in gold. The sky was the sky.
We have to let go of the fragile ‘self,’ to throw away all the masks, to turf out ‘wanting’ and ‘needing,’ in order to reach our higher consciousness and step into the bright light of the expanded field of awareness.
We must realize that the images we have of ourselves are dictated by the media and other forms of propaganda designed to keep down our true nature. We cling on to every word of praise or denigration from others, desperate to be accepted and approved, as if it were the last drop of water we will ever drink, the last crumb! But while we are putting all our animal effort into clinging, like a dog does to a bone, we can no longer hear our higher minds calling to us. ‘Let the bone go! Let someone else have it!’
There is no trust left in the world! If we give our precious bone to another dog, why do we doubt there will be another. Why are we so afraid of loss and scarcity when fear and craving do not exist in the expanded field of consciousness. We have to take risks which means the disintegration of the permanence we have cobbled together out of dreams. Now is the time to make way for the new integrated world. Let the papier-mache reality we have thrown together be rained on incessantly until it becomes pulp once more and flows away down the drains. Let our greed evaporate: in the integrated world, there more than enough for everyone because we are all One with the planet and Mother Nature.
Not until we listen and follow our higher consciousness will the new world be created because we the divine are the only way. The world was made of materials doting on form, and forms were preserved at all cost because we had ceased to trust in what we could not see or prove or collect. We always need evidence and perpetual witnesses to make us memorable in our massive communities and societies, and in the face of death and disappearance.
But in losing trust in the universe, we have lost our integrity. We have become weak and dependent, devoid of spiritual confidence. Integrity of mind does not signify that we have to go to live in the wilderness: we are too weak to survive that. It means that we live happily in this world we have created, loving and supporting each other, and always aspiring to higher states of awareness. Our environment may not change quickly to reflect this integrity because it is matter, but our attitude to it, our view of it, will change totally. There will be different priorities. Without greed there is enough to go around for everyone, and with that sharing mass anxiety will be decimated.
Our energy can flow where it wishes if only we stop throwing up countless obstacles in its way. But the real key to disintegrating and dismantling our complex, immovable ‘selves,’ is having sincerity inside our hearts. Then, once we are certain of our integrity, our wholeness, we must generate the confidence and courage to be always honest and honourable with others. This is the embodiment of pure unconditional love, which is our divine essence.
Words have become small explosives we react to as if our life depended on it. They can easily undermine the fragile selves we live by. Let those plaster statues crack and collapse as those of Stalin and Lenin did after the Soviets were deposed. Let the crumbling heads and hands roll and smash, until we are in a thousand pieces. Then, and only then, will we be free like desert winds and ocean currents. Then rapidly we will integrate ourselves into the fabric of the universe once more, standing deep inside a rock, living with the sun and moon, and walking among the gods.
So, make a start with the dismantling. Listen to yourself honestly, remaining untouched by external views and pressures. At least once in every day, be pure and honest with yourself and with others. This will coax to the surface your true nature, which is indestructible and eternal, and ‘good.’ Please know this well.
True nature needs no fabric, no stone shelters, no secrets, no paraphernalia. It belongs to the Earth and the Universe. So, stand naked and free like the wind and the sky.
This 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.
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.