Jesus said: “Grapes are not harvested from thorns, and figs are not harvested from thistles; they do not produce fruit. A good man brings a good thing out of his treasure; an evil man brings evil things out of the wicked treasure in his heart (alt. ‘in his mind’), and he speaks evil (because) from the excess of the mind he brings out evil things.”Gospel of Thomas, Logion 45
The 12th century dualist Cathars called themselves “bons hommes” and “bonnes femmes”—the good people. They renounced the material world, its artifices, its ways of life, and its schemes. They were vegetarian,1 non-violent, earnest, and they lived simply. Their treasury was not a place in the world, but the vaulted chamber of the heart. Their influence on medieval society was stabilizing and helped foster a cultural renaissance in the 12th century southern counties of France.
The Church of Rome with its pursuit of power, authority, and possessions had assembled a treasure of evil. The infamous inquisition was originally created to destroy the Cathar “heresy” and hunt down its followers to the last. Slander, torture, threats, abuse, robbery, murder, nothing was too monstrous for a papacy who was more interested in worldly benefits than in spiritual values. Within a hundred years, the church of the pontiff and his cardinals eradicated the church of the perfecti, decimated the credenti, burned their sacred books, and erased their unique knowledge.
The tragedy of the Cathars is a striking illustration for Logion 45: a good people who brought good things out of their treasure pitted against hypocrites whose heart and mind overflowed with evil, though they claimed to do good. There is no redemption for those who cannot make the difference.
1 Although there may be many reasons to be a vegetarian in the 21st century, by and large, vegetarians themselves overlook the mystical roots of vegetarianism when the practice was meant to distance the soul from the violence of the kill and to wash the taint of death and decay off the divine essence. According to Porphyry in his exhaustive treatise On Abstinence from animal food, the newly initiated in the bacchanal rites would declare:
Clothed in pure white garments, I flee from the birth of mortals; I do not approach graves, and I do not tolerate in my food anything which has lived.
—Quoted in Eugène Goblet d’Alviella’s Mysteries of Eleusis.
Thus, vegetarianism is an additional step in the ascent of the elect who rises above the material plane defined by cycles of birth, decay, and death. (See also Logia 7 and 11 as analyzed in A Book to Free the Soul)