Ancient Truths? - Part 5 : From 100 AD to 1200 AD
Reflections On Part 4, and then...The history of the world is usually framed around events and individuals, but this outline history is foremostly concerned with eschatological causation. In other words, I see history having originally been stimulated by spiritual objectives - a creationist perspective that has seen an evolution of life and civilisations even up to 10,000BC and carried on in a different milieu according to changed circumstances - physical and spiritual - on Earth.
My view - as referred to in earlier chapters (parts) of this story - is that history then passed through 10,000 years consisting of the re-development of mankind and saw the coming of great influences by beings that became known as 'gods', and also stimulated by great spiritual incarnations such as Zarathustra, Krishna, Lao Tzu and the Buddha (and others), culminating in Jesus as the spirit of the age at the start of the so-called Christian era.
Up to 100AD (and afterwards), there was no mass 'Christian' religion. Nor was there such religion for some time to come. Instead, there were a number of strains of esoteric or gnostic interpretation, though also the development of an 'outer' form akin to religion. But it should not be thought that the early Roman version of Jesus's teaching was as it became a few centuries later. Indeed, until Emperor Constantine (Caesar 306-337AD), any form of 'Christianity' was often put down heavily by Rome.
This history is now going to mainly concern itself with the influence that various institutions - including the official Christian church and Islam - had on the western world and how the events of the western world have been triggered as a result of such influences. This would appear to be the framework of real history in the west: schools and universities teach a history that is primarily based on anthropological, political and cultural events, without taking into account hidden influences. My approach may seem to consist of conspiracy theories, but the facts seem to confirm this form of history. Indeed, 'hidden influences' always seem to have been present, as talked of in earlier chapters.
Benjamin Disraeli had cause to make a reference to 'hidden influences' in a speech to the House of Commons, July 14, 1856:
There is in Italy a power which we seldom mention in this House ... I mean the secret societies.... It is useless to deny, because it is impossible to conceal, that a great part of Europe--the whole of Italy and France and a great portion of Germany, to say nothing of other countries--is covered with a network of these secret societies, just as the superficies of the earth is now being covered with railroads. And what are their objects? They do not attempt to conceal them. They do not want constitutional government; they do not want ameliorated institutions ... they want to change the tenure of land, to drive out the present owners of the soil and to put an end to ecclesiastical establishments. Some of them may go further....'Secret societies', as we shall see, owe a substantial part of their foundation to religious and esoteric orders.
Nesta H. Webster in 'Secret Societies and Subversive Movements' (1924), stated:
... from the first century of the Christian era ... it is only by taking a general survey of the movement that it is possible to understand the causes of any particular phase of its existence. The French Revolution did not arise merely out of conditions or ideas peculiar to the eighteenth century, nor the Bolshevist Revolution out of political and social conditions in Russia or the teaching of Karl Marx. Both these explosions were produced by forces which, making use of popular suffering and discontent, had long been gathering strength for an onslaught not only on Christianity, but on all social and moral order.In writing this chapter I have been greatly helped by the book 'The Secret History Of The World' (2010) by philosopher and theologian Mark Booth (usually published under the name Jonathan Black). However, my main usage of this book is in respect of its historical outlines of institutions and individuals and their influence, which I find well researched. The author's views on certain aspects are, however, mostly very different from my own. Indeed, the author's lack of experience of eastern spiritual teachings takes away some of the value of his otherwise valuable book in my view.
It is my humble observation that the thinking of western authors is based heavily on what is a unique western perception as they invariably have not been much exposed to other sources of thinking. What they do glean from the east is typically interpreted in the objective western way, and sometimes with some gloss. This is the result of scientific objectivity that has been the mainstay of education in the west this past few hundreds of years and an approach which will be seen to be unbalanced - indeed it has led us to the extreme climate and warlike conditions of the past one hundred years and more, and which thinking has been in contradiction to the teachings of the spiritual masters.
From 100AD to 1200ADIgnoring the early church at Jerusalem and the claims of Britain to have been the scene of the first church in Europe, at Glastonbury, Clement (bn 35AD) has been formally considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch. However, there was another Clement - Clement of Alexandria - a theologian and philosopher who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. This Clement was a substantial influence in the development of spiritual thought in the near east in the latter part of the 2nd century. Origen was a foremost pupil.
The Clement/Origen strain would appear to have been imbued with Hellenistic ideas, but it is said that the teachings of the Greko/Egyptian pre-first-millennium mystery schools played their part, influencing - as they did - the Essene and Druidic movements. Indeed, the Alexandria School was influenced also by Buddhism.
Arabia saw the rise of a new religion, beginning in 609AD, but one that acknowledged the validity of previous prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Indeed, the Arabs were also known as 'Ishmaelites', indicating that they were the descendants of Abraham's firstborn son, Ishmael, through his servant Hagar.
The world soon heard of the name of Islam and Prophet Muhammed was both its spiritual and temporal leader until he died in 632AD. What then transpired determined a schism that has lasted within Islam ever since in the form of the broad division of Muslims into Shia and Sunni factions. On the death of the Prophet, it was determined that a caliph should be appointed to lead the Muslim community, but the party that eventually came to be called the Shia had expected the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, to be the Muslims' automatic leader. They say that the Prophet indicated as much not long before his death. Although the spiritual Ali (a tradition reports that he would walk the streets at night to find poor to be fed) eventually came to be the fourth caliph, he was murdered and, not long after, further blood in Muhammed's family was spilt. This hardened the division to an extreme.
The Alid community were more disposed towards peace. Indeed, the followers of Ali saw in him a depth of both humility and transcendental teaching, while the literalists wanted another kind of Islam. But the matter of the lineage of Ali came to an important head when a Fatimid Caliphate was established in Egypt in 969AD. The 'Fatimid' line of the Shia comes from the fact that Fatima was the daughter of the Prophet, and Ali was her husband. Their lineage became the successors of Ali in Egypt via the line of Isma'il, and hence were also called Isma'ili Shia.
The city of Cairo was built by the Isma'ili Shia, and 'Cairo' is actually taken from the name 'al-Qahira al-Mu'izz' - 'the conquest of Mu'izz'. Mu'izz was the first Fatimid Caliph, and he and his successors built a city of civilisation, including a university. Cairo was a counterpoint to the Sunni caliphate at Baghdad, which became equally famous for art and science, and, equally, the Moorish Sunni occupation of most of Spain, which also became a place of splendour. Alhambra and Cordoba are still famous today. As is Morris (Moor-ish) dancing in England.
During the Fatimid period in Egypt, Isma'ili Shia Islam outwardly developed in a very different way to that of the Sunni faction, and, indeed, began to differ also from other Shia of different legacies. The Sunni and Isma'ili Shia factions, however, developed their own forms of mystical practise - in the case of the Sunnis it was the development of (what became known as) Sufi thought, while the Fatimids (Shia) developed what was called Batini thought. Both streams were similar in outlook (and cooperated), but there were many variations of thought in both factions, just as there had been in early Christianity. "Many paths lead to God."
Rebellion took place in Egypt, however, as the whole population did not support the Fatimid cause, and the Fatimid movement took steps to relocate to create a new state which became based around the mountain fortress of Alamut (Persia) in 1094AD, when Caliph al-Mustansir Billah died. It was from this Persian state that the famed Assassins operated with the expressed intention of appropriating justice over the whole Islamic community while maintaining the ethos of Islam as they believed it to be. They thus struck terror into the heart of the Sunni Islamic leadership when the Fatimids decided that serious maladministration or persecution had occurred.
It is interesting that the sixth Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah was deified by a mystical group that came to be called the Druze in 1021AD or thereabouts. The Druze still exist today as a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion whose teachings are said to include those of Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Zeno of Citium.
Another development that is believed to stem from either the Isma'ili Shia Islam or the Sufis (or combination of both), was a pious movement that called themselves Ikhwan al-Safa', a term that has been translated as both 'Brethren of Purity' and 'Brethren of Sincerity'. They were based around Basra, Iraq, in the 8th or 10th century AD and were noted for not only their sincerely pious practise but also their deep intellectual study. Also, there once lived, in the 8th c. AD, a much-loved female Sufi saint named Rabia of Basra, and it is possible that there was some connection between her and the establishment of the Ikhwan al-Safa'.
With those latter spiritual developments, it may be worthwhile mentioning a somewhat contemporaneous development in India in the form of Adi Shankaracharya, who was an important early 8th century AD Indian philosopher and theologian. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism. His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the Ātman (man's inner self) and Nirguna Brahman (God), and thus he consolidated the associated doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
A Fatimid line did continue in Egypt but faced a decline and petered out, while the main Fatimid (Isma'ili Shia) line continued in Persia where (severely interrupted by the Mongol invasion of the 13th c. and dislodged from Alamut) they remained largely based until the 19th c. Today they exist throughout the world as a modern Islamic community (adjusting to time and place) under the leadership of HH The Aga Khan. The Sunni world of Islam (by far the greatest portion of Islam) tends not to have a favourable attitude towards the Isma'ili Shia community, nor towards the Shia faction in general. The Isma'ili Shia community has, however, proved itself to be a highly organised and energetic Muslim community with a progressive vision of Islam who, in spite of their minority status and almost uninterrupted persecution throughout their history, were able to make significant intellectual and cultural contributions to Islamic civilisation, a tradition which they have continued to maintain to the present day.
With this great development of Islam, Christian Europe, therefore, felt itself to be under siege. Indeed, there were relatively low-key Muslim attempts to invade France in 720 and 732AD, but these attempts were finally repelled. Otherwise, in terms of learning, Europe fell a long way behind their Islamic counterparts, although, in time, much of the science and philosophy that evolved in Spain and elsewhere in the Islamic world, from Greek and Indian sources, eked its way into the Christian world. Today we use 'Arabic numerals', and we know well the meaning of alcohol!
The Vatican, however, was jealous and waited for its chance to get back at Islam and in particular to secure Jerusalem, which had long been held by the Muslims. When Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem were set upon by Arab trouble-makers, the Christian world did not take too long to go into action. A Papal bull was issued and promulgated, and many stepped forward to rescue what they regarded as the spiritual home of Christianity. The Crusade of 1096AD (the first crusade) was launched and Jerusalem was finally captured in 1099AD, but it has to be said that there was the appalling slaughter of men, women and children, both Muslims and Jews. So much for the true teachings of Jesus. The inflamed religionists of both sides believed their adversaries to be unbelievers. And both felt entitled to consider Jerusalem as their spiritual capital.
But there came to be a group of crusaders whose attitude was somewhat different and had a different objective.
The Knights TemplarIn 1104, Hugh, the Count of Champagne, and Hugh de Payens set out for Jerusalem and returned in 1107, though they appear to have made the trip a second time in 1114, returning 1116. Hugh de Payens was the co-founder and first Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and later chroniclers write that Hugh de Payens approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (whose reign began in 1118) with eight knights with an offer to provide protection for pilgrims. However, though this is the first occasion they are recorded in the Middle East, it has been thought by some that the Order's creation was as far back as 1100.
Now, many a question has been raised about the true purpose of the Knights Templar, and there is a strong suggestion that Hugh de Payens (himself apparently from Champagne) and probably other early members of the Order were descendants of Jews who had left Jerusalem after the destruction of 70AD and at some time got to Champagne. Further, that those Jews knew that something valuable was hidden at Temple Mount before the said destruction. It would seem that information had been handed down and was the true cause of the founding of the Knights Templar, for them to find a way to get to Jerusalem in order to excavate and extract what it was that had been hidden there. Whatever it was that had been hidden was clearly of great importance.
There is plenty of evidence that the said knights did undertake such an excavation, as a Britsh army captain, Charles Warren, himself excavated under Temple Mount between 1867 and 1870 and uncovered Templar artefacts and additional tunnels that they had dug. Entry to that site since then has been very restricted.
It is quite clear that only nine Templar knights would not have been enough to properly provide protection to pilgrims, and in 1128AD Hugh de Payens returned to Champagne, presumably with copious evidence of what had been excavated, that being the true reason for their presence in Jerusalem. He obtained support from the highly regarded monk Bernard of Clairvaux (founder of the Cistercian Order), and subsequently returned to Jerusalem with a much greater number of knights and associates in the Order and a document called the Latin Rule, which was a detailed code of behaviour for the Order. The said Bernard of Clairvaux had helped with the drafting of that code. Interestingly, Bernard of Clairvaux was religiously connected to an extraordinary polymath named Hildegard of Bingen, who has lately been rediscovered and is regarded as an inspiration to women.
So, in 1128AD the Knights Templar obtained the basis of good organisation to enable them to float themselves as a great service. However, the Knights Templar were, effectively, devout monks who wore armour and were able to fight as professional soldiers. They swore to live in poverty and owned few things - just a sword and (probably) two horses. Invariably they would have sold their other possessions and donated the proceeds to charity before embarking on their spiritual quest.
The Knights Templar were feared by their enemies and resolutely refused to retreat unless faced with overwhelming numbers. Even so, it was believed there were times when one Templar on his own could deal with six or more adversaries in one combat. They were without fear.
They accomplished - over time - far more than just fighting. They were builders of great castles and were admirable administrators, running their affairs with remarkable precision. This led to the Templars becoming bankers, and though they themselves continued to live a life of poverty, the bank vaults were brimming with their takings and profits. Their system of banking became a model for subsequent banking organisations.
But what is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of their approach is that they were broad-minded when they needed to be. Perhaps as an indicator of what they had uncovered in Temple Mount revealed itself in the interest they took in the esoteric beliefs of other religions - including those of their apparent adversaries. For example, the Templars had frequent contact with the Assassins, previously described as members of the Isma'ili Shia fraternity. It is my observation that in the Assassins they found like-minded strivers after justice, and thereby some trust grew between them, both sides being true to their word. The Assassins and Templars established treaties and engaged in other amicable relations.
One treaty even allowed the Templars to build several fortresses on Assassin territory. It is believed by some historians that, during peaceful interludes, the Templars learned about the Assassins' extensive mystical teachings and incorporated some of those teachings into the Templar system. There is some evidence to suggest that a secret society structure inherent in the Assassins was learnt by the Templars and applied in their own Order and later in Europe. This may even apply to the introduction of three degrees of initiation in the Order.
The Templars probably also had discourse with Sufis and other mystical streams, such as the Mandean sect. The Templars became a law unto themselves and yet while under the protection of the Pope himself!
There is even reason to believe that the Templars had sympathy with the mystical Cathar movement in southern France, and tried to support them during their 13th c. oppression and final destruction. The Roman Catholic church mustered another crusade - this time on European soil - to destroy the Cathars. Hundreds were burnt at the stake as a result of treachery.
During the third crusade (1189AD-on), Richard I worked considerably with the Knights Templar. To add a further note indicating the close connection in thought between the deeper elements of Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages, Idris Shah (a master Sufi, in his book, 'The Sufis') refers to Richard The Lion Heart (King Richard I):
Richard the Lionhearted ... is said to have proposed that his sister should marry the brother of Saladin. She was herself the widow of the King of Sicily, whose rulers were using Sufi phrases in heraldic devices.
The Lionhearted's brother, John (excommunicated 1209) sent an embassy from England to the Spanish-Moroccan Commander of the Faithful, offering to embrace Islam. Richard himself married (in 1191) Berengaria of Navarre, whose brother, Sancho the Strong, was a close ally of the Spanish Arabs.Deep respect existed between the opposing commanders at the time of the third crusade, Richard I and Saladin, and it is said that Richard brought knowledge of the Sufis back with him from the Levant.
Idris Shah, who says "The ancient doctrines of Egypt and Greece are in direct line with Sufism", went on to provide more useful data on what the Templars gleaned from the Sufis (and Isma'ilis):
That the Templars were thinking in terms of the Sufi, and not the Solomonic, Temple in Jerusalem, and its building, is strongly suggested by one important fact. "Temple" churches which they erected, such as one in London, were modelled upon the Temple as found by the Crusaders, not upon any earlier building. This Temple was none other than the octagonal Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century on a Sufi mathematical design, and restored in 913.
The Sufi legend of the building of the Temple accords with the alleged Masonic version. As an example, we may note that the 'Solomon' of the Sufi Builders legend is not King Solomon but the Sufi "King" Maaruf Karkhi (died 815), a disciple of David (Daud of Tai, died 781), and hence by extension considered the son of David, and referred to cryptically as Solomon-who was the son of David. The great murder commemorated by the Sufi Builders is not thatof the person supposed by Masonic tradition to have been killed. The martyr of the Sufi Builders is Mansur el-Hallaj (858-922), juridically murdered because of the Sufi secret, which he spoke in a manner which could not be understood and was thus dismembered as a heretic.
The [two main] pillars of the Temple are not physical ones, but follow the Arabic custom of calling an individual (elder) a pillar . One of the Sufi pillars is Abulfaiz, sometimes called Abuazz . He is the great grandfather (third in teaching succession) of "David" (Maaruf Karkhi), and is none other than Thuban Abulfaiz Dhu'l-Nun the Egyptian, founder of the Malamati Order of Sufis, whose similarity to Freemasonry has often been pointed out. He died in 86o A.D., and is also known as the King and possessor of the Egyptian secrets.The above thus lays the foundation for the final part of this history and which will soon be available. The final part will talk more about the influence of Secret Societies - and the antidote.