The Cathars have
sometimes been described as 'Western Buddhists' with many shared
Whilst professing to be
Christians, they rejected the Old Testament and especially revered the
Gospel of John.
Their religion appears
to have originated in Armenia and had Dualistic and Gnostic schools,
similar to ideas promulgated by Marcion of Sinope.
generally rejected authority, especially
that of the established Church, maintaining that Love and
power were incompatible. One of the key doctrines was that the world
and worldly things were created by the devil and that they were essentially
evil. They repudiated the incarnation, crucifixion and
the resurrection of Jesus who was seen a pure spiritual and not physical,
worldly and therefore evil entity, created by the Rex Mundi or
Devil. The Trinity, Hell and purgatory were similarly
rejected. Jesus was seen as a pure spiritual and not evil worldy
being. As in Buddhist philosophy believers could escape through
a series of births and rebirths, rejecting worldly desires and embracing
The leaders were called
'Parfaits' who lived austere lives being celibate, vegetarian,
avoiding dairy products, promulgating non violent and refusing
to swear oaths. They are not technically priests, though they
would gave a form of deathbed blessing. Again many of their vows
parallel those of Buddhist monks in some ways. Lay believers could
lead a more normal lifestyle, though many would take on the full vows in
old age or before death. This ceremony called Consolamentum was in effect an ordination, absolution
and baptism combined.
Clearly their beliefs
brought them into collision with the Church of Rome who turned on them
with the greatest vehemence.