Who were the Cathars?

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The Cathars (from the Greek katharos meaning ‘unpolluted’ or ‘pure’) were a group of Christian mystics who changed the face of Christianity in Europe. They were at their most popular in the 11th and 12th centuries in the region north-west of Marseilles called Languedoc, near the modern frontier between France and Spain. They also were present in Spain, the Rhineland and Flanders, and Italy.

Their powerful influence came about in the midst of great adversity because they were branded ‘heretics,’ rooted out and exterminated by the dominant Church of Rome. They rejected many of its beliefs, texts and doctrines but they were well-supported by local nobility and popular among peasants and artisans.

One group of Cathars was known as the Albigenses taking their name from the local town of Albi, the scene of a huge massacre between 1209-1220 during which between 9,000 and 20,000 citizens were butchered. This happened because the credentes (Cathars believers) could not be distinguished from the Catholics. It constitutes ‘one of the most conclusive cases of genocide in religious history.’ (Lemkin, R)

Cathar practices probably developed as a consequence of traders coming from Eastern Europe bringing the teachings of the Bogomils, named after their founder the priest Bogomil who denied the Christian conception of the world of matter as a vehicle of grace. In France, they were heavily persecuted until the 13th century when the last group was burned at the stake by the Roman inquisition at the fall of Montségur hilltop Fortress in 1244 where they were hiding. However, those outside France continued to be rooted out and killed as late as the 19th century in Bosnia.

They referred to themselves as Les Bons Hommes, Les Bonne Femmes or Les Bon Chrétiens (the Good Men, the Good Women or the Good Christians). They had no hierarchy or physical church and those who silently knew they were Cathars were divided into 2 groups – the elite or Perfecti, who had mastered all the arduous trainings and travelled around in same-sex pairs as healers and the credentes, or believers who may be at various stages of training and vied for the honour of housing the Perfecti.

The Perfecti lived a life of austerity and extreme poverty and were believed to be the vehicle of the Holy Spirit. They believed they were heirs to the true heritage of Christianity and that the Catholic church had turned its back on Christ’s message in favour of reveling in vast material power and wealth.

Catharism : origin and doctrine.

They were dualists as are most of the followers of the world’s major religions but they were ‘absolute dualists,’ or monistic, their worldview dominated by the opposing principles of Good and Evil, the material world being intrinsically evil and to be overcome. Like Buddhists and Hindus, they considered time was cyclical not linear and so offered infinite opportunities to reincarnate until purification was complete. Also, that all beings were made from the same material substance created by Satan (the evil God or fallen angel) as a rebellion against the ‘Good’ God, but that humans each had a trace of the Divine Light of their origins trapped inside them which would eventually lead them back to God.

Catharism is an ancient faith based on Manichean dualism established by the Babylonian prophet Mani c. 215-216 C.E., which pre-dated Christianity itself. In respect of the Christian Bible, the Cathars’ abhorrence of physical matter was encapsulated by the God of the Old Testament, and the natural goodness of mind or spirit by the message of Jesus Christ of the New Testament, the spiritual Christ, which they lived by.

Persecution of the Cathars
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The Church of Rome hounded the Cathars forcing them to flee and hide in the abandoned hill-top castles of Languedoc. It insisted that provincial rulers use torture to maim them and if they refused they themselves would be punished. Made official by French law in 1229, their property and land were authorized to be confiscated which proved to be a great incentive for greedy state officials.

Pope Innocent III (1160-1216) launched a vicious crusade against the Good Men redirecting his military armies from the Holy Land so determined was he to wipe them out. This was triggered by the assassination of Peter of Castelnau, the papal legate responsible for opposing the Cathars.

During inquisitional interviews, if lay people showed favour in any way to the Cathars, they were often treated as heretics themselves. On 8th September 1308, all 114 inhabitants of the village of Montaillou in Ariege were arrested on heresy charges and found to be of the Cathar persuasion according to the relentless interrogation of Jacques Fournier, the Bishop of Palmiers at the time.

The Cathar Creed

After the extermination of supposedly every remaining Cathar in France in 1244, the Cathar creed of the Church of Love was discovered 700 years later in 1986. It was found using the techniques of dowsing or divination, so it could be argued that there is no actual scientific evidence to support its existence, but it is followed widely today by revivalists. It was left for future Cathars who the Perfecti predicted would be born 700 years later in the mid 20th century and who would continue on their work when the material world was on its knees.

In summary, the Church of Love has no membership or fabric, no hierarchy or structure and there are no rivals because it is not competitive: ‘Those who are, know.’ It has no ambition, seeking only to serve, and recognizes no barriers of any kind. It acknowledges all great teachers of the Truth and their teachings, saluting those who have blazed a path but paid the price for it. However, it professes not to teach but instead to be and by simply being, enrich. It recognizes the whole planet as a Being which humans are not separate from. It proclaims itself only in subtle terms of love, the dedication of each Cathar to the silent loving of their neighbour, the planet and the environment while carrying out their role in society however mundane.

Cathars have no expectations of any reward either in this life or the spiritual world except the ‘ineffable joy of being and loving.’ They never feel fear or shame, they keep no secrets or history or perform any initiations. Only the power of love will allow the world to change and that will come about only if humans change first. The influence of Catharism is still apparent in the south-east corner of France, its revivalist practitioners still working to purify the world of evil.

albi

The Cathar Influence

The medieval Catholic Church was greatly influenced and still bears those indications today. Inspired by the goodness of the Perfecti, the papacy of the Middle Ages created new orders like the Dominicans and Franciscans which imitated them. As a result of Cathar asceticism, finally celibacy was imposed on the Roman Catholic clergy after centuries of empty talk, and church buildings were greatly simplified – the cathedral at Albi is a spectacular example.

As for gender and the role of women in the church in the Middle Ages, the introduction of devotion to Mary Magdelene could be seen as a way of countering the prominence of women among Cathar Perfecti. In modern days, women are gradually preaching, teaching and administering sacred rites on an equal footing with men in the church. Thus the Cathar prophecy is steadily coming true. Protestantism was also influenced in similar ways.

Images courtesy of Linden Thorp
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Temple Chronicle: 29th February

look no further 1

The light of day comes and it goes from my personal theatre. Objects and people come and they go, they wax and wane, as I watch from the gallery. This appearance and evanescence can affect me in two ways, but I am free to choose only one of them.

Either I can swallow the beauty I see as it glimmers and gurgles, calmly enjoying, marveling, weeping, smiling in the centre of the moment, and moving smoothly without flinching on to the next to supersede. I look and listen in absolute trust at these arisings and descendings because I know and accept that they are finite, that they will run only for a limited number of seasons. My indestructible essence of love is the lubricant which brought me to the theatre and will convey me back to the ether high above the lit streets.

Alternatively, I can hold the beauty in my mouth, refusing to let it go, to swallow it, wanting to immortalize it and make it permanent, to possess it so that no-one else can have it. The emotions that arise as a result of the stimulus are negative, inverted, flinching so that they separate me away form everyone else in the world, from my race and from the natural world. They are rooted in my fear that the supply of beauty will end, and so I must create my own stores because I have no shred of trust. My love essence has brought me this far smoothly, but I sabotage it deliberately so that I do not have to leave, and put it aside as spent fuel.

In the same way, I can accept that my form is imperfect as it ages, becoming worn and weathered. I can humbly embrace its decay in concert with all things in the universe, accepting this physical withdrawal of flesh and bone, but constantly delighting at the sights and sounds that flow around me now and here. There is no astringent peak of the taste of fear, just a subdued broad flavor to savour. Everything is exactly as it is. There is no friction of ownership or cloying. I gently polish myself, restrained, quiet – disturbing no-one, content to cherish my steady but gradual evanescence along with that of everything in the universe.

As a saboteur, the taste of fear though momentarily thrilling and rousing will never allow me to feel contentment, will always block the free flow of the essence of love, my spiritual essence. It will always isolate me, remove me from now and here so that I am likely to miss the show entirely. I will become marooned in my archives, dependent on my storehouse, and unable to embody the love that I was endowed with. I will never trust and will live outside the theatre of all life on the wet streets, unable to believe even in the blue ether.

Which will you choose?

uchu-A
This is the final post of this series ‘Temple Chronicle’ for the whole month of February 2016. Each daily entry will be combined into a single continuous document entitled ‘Temple Chronicle: February 2016’ to be stored in the main menu of the site should you want to look back at them.
It is snowing intermittently here in western Japan as the winter austerities come to an end. Spring will be welcomed on 20th March and the year ahead looks bright when viewed from the very centre of the moment in this very spot on the Earth’s crust.

May you have determined exactly what kind of light will you become for the year ahead.

Temple Chronicle: 28th February

knowledge 6

We are living in the age of space travel so there are many images and films appearing. This is no coincidence. We are getting further and further away from ourselves, from putting our own Earth in order. We are moving into a gravitation-less state, in pressurised capsules full of flashing alerts and less and less direct contact with other humans, unable to put our feet firmly on the Earth. Such space exploration demands courage and vision, but they are visible emotions, displayed on large screens. It is probable that we are running away from our invisible Earthly responsibilities. We cannot afford yet another clean slate: indeed, there is no such thing except for those who are deluded.

It is salutary that indigenous peoples have no desire to physically conquer space and the universe. They are custodians, not conquerors, content in their spiritual territories. ‘Developed’-humans are marooned in a spiritual wilderness, in a neon-lit world, and so they restlessly search for new thrills, playing with their special toys, and feeling so proud of their advancement, their sophistication.

As they zoom through inner and outer space, they look back at the beautiful planet with sentimentality. It is ‘home’ with all mod-cons, and they created it from scratch. They turn a blind eye to all the destruction and conflict, all the failed states and ecological deterioration – sweep it under the carpet so they can see only a broad expanse of gleaming living space.

But more significant than this ignorance created by extreme filtering is that the gravitational field of Earth is brought about by the special consciousness of divine love, and we are choosing to look elsewhere for it as aliens might. Love is the special energy we and only we are endowed with. No other creation can utilise it. But we squander it, converting it into a possession, a commodity, a currency because we have become so arrogant and gone so far away from our true nature. We prefer instead to float around in our heads synthesising to embodying our divine energy here on Earth. Our blindness and defiant pursuit of pleasure and kudos help us to justify our lack of responsibility, to turn away from the mess we have created as a race.

Fear and delusion drive us into the stratosphere and beyond, breathing artificial air instead of pure oxygen and ozone reserved for our beings of love in the field, encapsulated away behind ever thicker artificial, space-resistant materials, and lost perhaps forever to the Lands of Pure Love.

link between father and son image

Temple Chronicle: 24th February

incongruence 9

I have no need to consciously meditate or pray or recite mantras, to sit carefully before exquisite images and light and incense, arranging time to sit and the particular mind to do it with. Buddha, Jesus, Mahavir, Mohammed never self-consciously sat to offer themselves to the deities, because they knew they had nothing to offer because there is actually nothing in the world. Once I make conscious gestures I must examine the motivation behind them. 

Of course, I may seek to quell the tormented mind in a beautiful sanctuary, to take refuge, but images can distract me if I gaze on them with emotion, surveying their materials, adoring their form, and ultimately becoming dependent.

I create something which can be dispersed in an act of total generosity, empty of attachment. I create a deity of mud, molding it with calm un-grasping hands and momentarily worship it – make it worthy or divine – then I throw it back into the river or ocean so it can be dispersed. In this way, I connect directly with the energy river. I make a worthy momentary image and then give it back to the Earth, to the invisible realm. I make a beautiful feast with empty motivation to momentarily make it worthy before I throw it into the forest. I cook a banquet with no agenda except love, and then feed my loved ones making the produce of the Earth worthy before they consume it. Everything is energy and vibrations made sound and light. There is no need to interfere with it: I just leave it alone. This is our true nature.

Our individual good energy temporarily housed in the flesh in the world of form is a prayer, a meditation, a mantra in itself. But with our arrogance we interfere and rearrange trying to make meaning from it. There is no meaning in or of energy.

It is. So be.

energy

 

 

Temple Chronicle: 21st February

architects of our world

Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow. We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving? Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

self-knowledge

Temple Chronicle: 19th February

wave

Embodying love, being the universal energy of love, cannot be limited to your thoughts, or added to your tomorrow to-do list.

Once we have put our visual accessories, ‘time’ and ‘space aside,’ then reality consists only of ‘now’ – this moment not the next or the one before, and ‘here’ – without borders or differences, regardless of weather or religion. Our conditioned mind may think this notion ’embodying love’ is interesting, intriguing even, but it will immediately disappear as thoughts always do the moment you have thought them. By thinking about it, you immediately make it indirect, a mere interpretation. So, create a mindful gap around this seed that has been dropped into your being, and stay in that gap. In other words, resist thinking about it or even giving it a name. Mark it as that ‘thingy,’ or your favourite song – music is concrete so cannot be erased as abstracts can.

Then in this gap, this opening, use your borrowed muscles and limbs to flow or swim into your day ahead. Staying in this fluid state you enter a crowded space, a train carriage, a shopping centre, a classroom. With every square inch of your body and your energy aura you can live that divine love that you have eternally embodied if the conditioned mind is quiet, held back outside the gap, prevented from its usual destructive, interfering activities. Then the love can flow freely, indiscriminately, for all of the people around you: A mountain stream cascading across everything in its path. You are in one heart.

You make eye contact only to love. You spread your lips in a smile only to love. You extend your arms and stride forward with your legs only to love. It is absolutely the only ‘agenda’ your spirit has. Then, staying for as long as you can in that identity-less gap, radiate into ‘now’ and ‘here,’ and others will radiate in answer.

This human form your spirit is using has absolute power to touch the other spirits around you. The exterminator ‘thought’ with its negative entourage, is utterly powerless.

In this ‘gap’ is where we truly belong, our true nature. There are no labels or identity. It is the flow and flux of our energy origins, of our love and light.

changes 2

Temple Chronicle: 18th February

attached

When someone you thought was so close to you dies, you will see it as a desertion because you are attached, in some way reliant, leaning on them. They have seemingly aborted their journey by your side, breaking their contract. Naturally, there are moments of aching loneliness and the glaring need to make changes, to adapt to a new style of life in their absence. There is also the profound shock that the object of your love, and perhaps your entire life, has vanished forever, perhaps suddenly.

We can easily project our feelings of need or possession on to others, contaminating them, forcing them to feel guilt if we do not get our own way, or if they do not feel or act the way we expect them to. And so, in the name of ‘love,’ we pressurise the people around us exactly so that we can get our own way, and use fixative from the mind to make love permanent. This manipulation is not ‘love.’ It leaves others with no choice but to wear masks, to be dishonest, to spare our feelings, and ultimately under the duress of these acts of violence and separation, they cannot bring out their true nature. This creates something unnatural, a museum piece, a stagnant pool, a plastic flower.

Divine love, the energy or force of our essence as humans, flows like light going wherever it can, indiscriminately. Its focus is as wide as the horizon, and it is not bound by likes or dislikes, by fads or fashions. When we embody love we know there is no choice and that the energy of our loved one is required to be combined with ours for a universal invisible purpose. The love embodiment of others will find us if we remain open, unprotected, standing always in the full flow.

Love is like the weather or the perpetual blue sky behind clouds. The conditioned mind has no power to change it because it is limitless, way beyond the visual aids of ‘time’ and ‘space.’

A beloved husband drowns while swimming in the ocean with his wife. She eventually finds his body along the beach. There are sparkling grains of sand on his lips, and that is what she remembers most of the last sight of him. She grieves, haunted by their significant moments together during a lifetime, but gradually she picks up her life and continues on with a strong sense that her love for him will never end. Then one day after she has healed, she visits his favourite local art gallery and there, walking towards her, she sees him. She wants to look more closely, but he is wearing a hat obscuring his face, and he quickly leaves, so she follows him, and presents herself in his art class.

Looking directly into his eyes, ravaged by his voice, she collapses with the shock of this appearance, and he is predictably bewildered by her reaction. She is certain he has come back to her exactly so that she can love him without fixing him in stone, without turning him into an object, and by letting his true nature run free.

Soon he dies, for a second time, and she receives a memorial card inviting her to his final exhibition consisting of all the paintings he did once they were together though briefly. And there, he has captured her swimming fearlessly full in the flow, and the painting sets her true nature free at once.

At last, they are both embodied in their love and breathe together as one eternally.

teachers