This is a response to Gille Asselin’s inspiring comments on today’s show – ‘Nurturing the Spiritual Spelunker in All of Us.’ (http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/87522/the-search-for-the-inner-grail)
The grail within is not a physical entity although we can express it or channel it by using mudras, or gestures. The opening of the hands in the shape of a cup or goblet, or lotus, at the level of the heart is powerful connection with the Air and Ether. For me, one of the most potent mudras is the Dharmachakra mudra representing the turning of the wheel of Dharma for Buddhists and Brahmins, which was common in the Golden Era of Human Beings when the gods walked among us.
This is the gesture of complete balance, hands resting in the lap, fingers interlaced, thumb tips touching lightly, at the level of the navel chakra connecting us to the Earth. The shape created by the hands in this meditative pose, symbolizes the oval, or ellipse, of the whole universe, through which all energies can flow freely back and forth. It could also be the wide mouth of a chalice tipped forward so that the substances of the universe pour back into the Earth, replenishing all we have selfishly taken.
The Cathars made predictions and promises related to this search for the grail within. Below is one of the more mysterious codices of their Church of Love creed written 700 years ago. I believe I was there, involved in writing this, and that one of my missions today in our troubled times, is to try to exemplify it, to use abstract words to try to touch the rim of the grails of those who read this.
I also mention the tireless emptiness of indigenous peoples: their grail has never been within – their grail actually is the cup or coolamon (carrying bowl) of the universe – and yet civilized people have tried to force it inside, under the poison of roof and window and separateness.
The Church of Love recognises 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.
This creed was created 700 years ago at a time of little hope for the survival of the Good Christians. The Catholic Church was determined to destroy the heretics, and even diverted their armies from the Crusades in the Holy Land to Languedoc in South-Eastern France to ensure their eradication. Such hatred and slaughter is still remembered by the people of the Carcassonne, Toulouse, Beziers and Narbonne, the vivid targets during a 20 year period. It is estimated that 30 thousand civilians were massacred, and several hundred Parfaites (Cathars) or their sympathisers, were burned at the stake to ensure that they went straight to the fires of Hell.
The Romans had no idea that for the Cathars there was no single flicker of fear of pain in such a death, only the joy of knowing that they were at last freed from the Hell of life on Earth dominated by the Bad God, the Catholic God. They knew with supreme confidence that the flimsy veil of death would be lifted easily, freeing their spirit, their essence, to go where it was needed in the infinite and eternal dimensions of the invisible world.
The ‘supreme transmutation?’ The ‘ultimate alchemic act?’ The early Christian teachings exemplified by the Good Christians, were gnostic (2nd/3rd centuries). In other words, they contained ‘secret knowledge’ not simply ‘knowledge.’ In Buddhist terms this is ‘Esoteric’ or ‘intuitive’ knowledge, the secret initiations made by master to pupil in a continual unbroken line from the Buddha, not ‘Exoteric’ knowledge anyone can discover from books or academics. Gnosticism is a term used to describe ancient people who considered the material world was created by Satan, or a Demiurge, so instead chose to fully embrace the spiritual world. Such seekers were aspiring for enlightenment, salvation, oneness, a state of perfection, and they could achieve this by altruistic acts to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence, and finding sources of wisdom in other human beings.
If we regard the mind as all, the absolute and only way we perceive the world, then the lower frequencies are represented by the material world, flesh, time, and an imperfect contrived world. But the upper frequencies are represented by the divine soul and perfection, the eternal and infinite, beyond the limitations of time and space. We can all access our higher self by putting down the mask, by opening up to our true nature.
There are consistent features of the gnostic blueprint for life on Earth:
- the supreme divinity is remote
- emanations or appearances of further divine beings occur
- the illusion of a Creator and/or demiurge which we must transcend
- that the world out of reach is essentially good and we are trapped in a flawed world
- a complex cosmological drama in which a divine element falls into the material world and becomes trapped there
- the possibility of the divine being reinstated through a process of individual and so collective awakening.
The key notion is that those trapped on the material plane cause an instability in the fabric of divine nature.
In Buddhism, everything is ephemeral, is constantly changing. Nothing is static and so we need a supple non-reactive mind to cope with this. Everything disappears or perishes eventually in the view of visible humans, except their faith and unconditional love, and other invisible and eternal energies. It could be said that there is alchemy and transmutation at work at every moment.
As a Buddhist practitioner, grappling with attachment to human life, I was once fascinated by how unaccountably different photo images of myself were, and then through a dream I realised that I could see karmic changes and adjustments, and imprints from other lives became clear to me. So, I assembled a collection of images of myself and pinned them to a board in no particular order. Were they really all the same person? Then, like a thunder-clap, I could see the instability of my form in human flesh. I became totally convinced that in any second my physical form might be extinguished. As Van Gogh said about his self-portrait, ‘This is not me; it’s a copy.’
The partnership between humans and their consciousness, and the Heavens and Earth, is an important element of all religious practice. The Buddha stressed the importance of making bonds with the universe by using certain mantras and mudras which enable us to become one with the universe. Here it is perhaps important to mention ‘interpenetration’ which Buddhists substitute for monotheistic-style prayer. If we are to be included in all aspects of the Universe and not separated away as aliens, then we can focus our attention on another different constellation of energy and exchange ourselves for that energy. Energy after all is transmutable, can flow if it is liberated from its imposed ‘permanence.’ In fact, the aureole (a circle of light around the head or body of a deity: halo in Christianity) are still used to remind us of the spiritual origin of all things manifest in the material plane. As above, so below as Gilles mentioned.
The mind is all in Buddhism. So, we can learn to use it to penetrate and ignite an exchange. We may interpenetrate with those in pain or suffering loss, taking on their sufferings and healing them, taking on their negative karma, as well as donating our accumulated virtue and merit to them. A Mahanyana Buddhist takes a vow to stay behind in samsara until all sentient beings are liberated.
Likewise, the Cathar energy or spirit is a constant presence in the invisible world especially today during their revival 700 years on. Becoming one with the universe is the principal aspiration, so that we are not separated away from it by our own synthetic views. The ‘supreme transmutation’ is surely the moment at which no synthetic views remain; in other words, emptiness. When the cup is emptied of every last drop.
Indigenous peoples are supremely integrated when they are living traditional life according to ancient tribal laws handed down orally, and fully absorbed in protecting the precious Earth and all its inhabitants. This is sacred work in One heart with the universe. But when their integration is interfered with by developed peoples they become unstable, torn out of their oneness, or rapidly ‘disintegrated.’ This has happened repeatedly during the history of so-called ‘progress,’ but it must never be allowed to happen again as the balance of the Earth depends heavily on the wisdom and protection of its ancient peoples. Where we moderns have failed miserably, self-consciously trying to be heroes and tame the earth for our selfish purposes, indigenous peoples have preserved the Dreaming Lands and they will save us all I am convinced.
ninija, my spiritual guide, who I helped to move back into traditional life from a government settlement, is almost torn out of the Lands by the lusty pursuit of lumaluma, white-fella ghost. He woos her and enslaves her with his bottles of alcohol and nicotine, and his promises. Eventually, she escapes from his relentless taunting and cajoling, and returns to the Burial Grounds so beautifully prepared by her people, led by Gina-granddaughter. Ginger-son’s (her son found dead in a telephone box in lumaluma’s city) spirit approaches quickly and she must officiate.
It is dusk and ninija and gina arrive at the Burial Grounds to a resounding cheer from their people. But almost immediately ninija drops her head, lank hair covering her eyes so that she cannot look at them.
There are no ears or eyes in her beneath her flaxen hair, constantly falling into her face. Here, eyes are absent. Eyes mislaid. Eyes that belong to Rock, crave Sky, catch green Fish in Waterhole, can identify the camouflaged body of giant Lizard from its desert hide and kill it dead with a boomerang. But, ninija no longer has eyes for ‘Here’ and ‘Now.’ She has left them somewhere in lumaluma’s city; somewhere in lumaluma’s hollow; somewhere in his bottle.
And there are no longer the ears of ‘Now’ and ‘Here’ in ninija. No listening stillness like a sheet of bark on which the Desert paints her sounds. No knowing the tread of Emu, of Wombat. No hearing the season’s changes in the Wind as Rainbow Serpent prepares to move on his thirsty journey back to the ocean after making white-fella Dreaming site. No hearing his shiny belly making new Waterholes as he slithers.
ninija great Traditional Landowner, has walked away from her Lands. She has gone from ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ with her people, with her joyous gina by her side holding tight to her hand. Instead, ninija is in a time and place of ‘Then,’ of ‘There.’ She looks and looks, frantic for ‘Now’ and for ‘Here’ at this ceremony. She searches for the wild, and the living with the wild, and the strong and ample of ‘Now’ and of ‘Here.’
….She walks unsteadily. There are no words on her lips, in her tongue, for she must not speak until ginger-son has gone on his way. Her words whirl like boomerangs behind the black Rocks of her eyes, inside words. She whispers, ashamed, raising her arm and moving it slowly across the beloved Burial Grounds.
‘i look your body paintings my people. Strong marks of Kangaroo, or Wombat, Bandicoot, of Platypus and the white Sea-Eagle in the Wet. Red Ochre. Black of Burned Wood. Bark brown. You make many-many Fires of Casuarina for big smoke to carry off his Spirit at the Djang. You make coffin. Paint with Emu. Stick on feathers you find. Cover with Paint bark. You dig long trench with many digging sticks where we can clean ourselves when we frighten away mokuy Spirit, bad Spirit.’
……ninija is bewildered. Her painting sisters pull her to the women’s area so that they can begin to paint her chest and neck with Ochre and Ash marks of Pelican Traditional Landowner. But she waits inside just like white-fella, and asks questions just like white-fella. She sits back as the paint is daubed on her skin, wondering if ‘Now’ is about to be dropped at her feet from the beak of white Cockatoo.
As the women skilfully use Hog-tail brushes to stipple her feather markings along her shoulder blades, she wonders if ‘Here’ will be continued in a drop of sweat dripping down her neck. She is with her sisters as always, but she is waiting to take ‘Now’ and ‘Here’ on the end of the long Rootail brush as the first circle of cool mixed Ash and Ochre is painted around her neck. The women sing in adoration of their Pelican leader, gondwan, craving to receive just one glance from her enlightened eyes, but there are no eyes for the ‘Now’ or ‘Here’ or ‘the Lands’ in ninija.
The ceremony goes on around her, but she is absent. And worse, she is breaking the sacred Laws on yet another count, for she must put all her heart into ginger-son’s journey, his new life in the Spirit world, not into the broken and discarded body and its human life story. That is not ginger. That is old Snakeskin, Lizard tail, Beetle-case. His perfect smooth Spirit will leave behind his wasted and empty body.
Ninija closes her drowning eyes and tries to track down ginger’s Spirit as it approaches the Burial Ground, listening across the miles and miles from lumaluma’s city. But suddenly, unbidden, she is consumed by immense fear and panic as the shiny doors to her fleshy heart, installed without permission by lumaluma, slam closed. Fear and panic because of white-fella’s meddling. She cries out inside, her voice splintering with white-fella doubt, with white-fella alien questions. She can no longer feel or see or hear or smell. She is being torn out. She is being separated from the Desert Mother. She is being shifted away from the antics of the Sky Heroes for the first time ever.
That something stealing her away from ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ sits behind her. It is dressed in a black theatre cloak. It wears a wide-brimmed hat. It has heavy black boots of shiny leather. Then, by some magical process, some mixing of her special powers and lumaluma’s ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy,’’Now’ and ‘Here’ suddenly appear in the long, manicured, beckoning finger of lumaluma.
Now is certainly the time for the ‘supreme transmutation!’ There are no questions and were never meant to be. If we remain with our higher vibrations we go way beyond such intellectual trinkets. We too can integrate into the whole! We must because now is the time according to the Skies! We can each offer up the contents of the Grail, our unique contribution to the Heavens and the Earth.
(for more from ninija see ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day’ by Linden Thorp) http://www.sbpra.com/lindenthorp/:http://www.amazon.com/author/lindenthorp_inthefield