Recited during the Middle Ages in the Languedoc (what is now Southern France) by a pair of Cathari perfecti during a deathwatch, much as Buddhist monks recite verses from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.


This poem is my own invention.  I dedicate it to my father who passed away before I could recite it to him, to those who confront the uncertainties of life and death with no solid spiritual shield, and to those who must die one more time before they can make use of it…



Have no fear,

Oh Nobly Born,

For you will be Saved.


Christ will shoulder

Your Karmic Burden,

No matter how damning

It may seem for you.


Breathe deeply,

Breathe softly,

Oh Nobly Born.


Close your eyes

And be at peace.

Die easy, die sweetly,

Relax in peace

One last time.


Let your soul unwrap itself

From your failing body,

With confidence, joy and hope;

As you would approach

Your coming nuptials,

As Christ taught us to.


Oh Nobly Born!

You have bailed out of myriad bodies,

Before this one,

In just as many death agonies.

So many lifetimes

Filled with pain and anguish

That shaped your destiny

Up until this day.


You are free from all that now.


The next time you escape

From your mortal coil,

The way a fighter pilot would

Bail out of his burning plane,

Your discarnate soul

Will drift through space and time

Until you tire of their dreary drudgery,

Their hard vacuum and murky silence.


You may as well pass in review

The stars in the heavens,

Like a jaded old tourist,

And watch universes,

Cohere, spin up and die

In cosmic beauty.

Or just take in the birdsong,

And the perfume of flowers,

From sunrise to sunset.


You may cross paths with

Daemons, Angels and Beasts,

The reflections of your previous

Desires, Hopes and Fears,

Whom you may touch

And be touched by,

For good or ill.


You may linger on Earth,

Wander to old homes,

Haunt places familiar and strange,

Go see old children and lovers,

Give them goose bumps

At your imperceptible approach.

You’ll suffer deep loss and loneliness,

Over and over,

For as long as you can bear it.


You will soon tire of this,

Oh Nobly Born.

Sooner or later,

Your soul will yearn

More and more impatiently

For a new carnal life,

As urgently as the need to piss.


You will tumble back into life,

Fall backwards into it,

The way a rock finds its depth,

And water its downward flow,

Into the dim clarity of life



Once your soul

Will yearn for its next life,

You will defer your return,

To review a host of conceptions

In keen appraisal

Of a worthy rebirth

Back into this world.


Oh Nobly Born!

Seek the psychic beacons

Of Mary's Immaculate Conception

And Christ’s Resurrection!


Divine beacons at each end

Of a flare-strobed heavy runway

On an otherwise lifeless plain

Of furtive couplings and lugubrious deaths,

Mournful, carnal and gray.


Ignore the tidal pull

Of Karma, Fear, Desire and Familiarity

That will con you into seeking rebirth

In an earthly infant,

In a household setting,

Among your familiars,

And back onto the Wheel of Desire and Death.


Oh Nobly Born!

Give up your family,

Your best friends,

Your preferred households,

And your favorite possessions.

Take up His Cross instead.


Be reborn unto His Spirit,

And into His flesh.


Recall His many parables

That make no sense in any other context,

But perfect sense in this one.


Take hold of His lifeline,

Relive His sacred Life

That you could have led 

Had you held true faith.


But God is merciful,

Even unto the merciless,

Even unto evil,

Even unto you,

Oh Nobly Born.


Review and repent

Your many many sins

In the perfect radiance

Of His Lifetime and His Agony.


Oh Nobly Born!

How you will wish

You had obeyed God to the letter

And had submitted—

So harshly will your conscience

Torment you.


You will pass your many betrayals in review

During His Lifetime.

For thirty some years,

For every one of your sins

You will repent a hundredfold,

And in each of your good deeds,

You will find a dab of balm

For your sin-flayed soul.


This wince-worthy recollection will allow you

To speak His Words with utmost sincerity

And observe the world through His eyes

With divine clarity,

The beam at last removed from yours.


Have faith when they crowd in

To betray and crucify you.

Lower your head for His crown of thorns,

Grateful for this distraction

From your utter worthlessness.


Oh Nobly Born.

Your suffering will almost be over,

And His mercy

Might even spare you

The final torment He will have to undergo.


His long afternoon of Agony

May seem to you the last twinge

Of your incessant torment;

His Calvary going up Golgotha,

The last, faltering steps

Of your ascent to Paradise. 


No more rebirths for you

On the Wheel of Desire and Death.


You will accompany Him instead

Straight to Heaven,

That very evening,

You and the repentant thief, Dismas.


There you will find God

Waiting for you:

His only Son

And His companions,

Welcome prodigals.


There will you find there

Those who had flung themselves

From the Wheel of Desire and Death,

And had taken up His Cross.


You will rejoin your friends there,

Oh Nobly Born.

Sooner or later,

After one less death

Or one more, or many,

They will precede or follow you

Along this path.


He promised

To prepare many rooms in Heaven,

And return bring us with Hime,

His children.


Do not bother

With considerations

Of space and time,

Of before and after,

Of singularity and multiplicity,

And which soul should wrap which body.


The weakness of your faith

Blinds you to the fact

That you might pluck out an eye

Or hack off an arm,

Should they offend you,

Without much care,

So little do those things matter

During the make-believe that is your life

Which seems so important.


You cannot fathom

This material world

In the light of Truth,

Much less matters of Spirit.


Have a little faith,

Just a shred of hope,

Oh Nobly Born,

And you will be Saved.


No-one can take this from you,

No-one can talk you out of it,

Or extract it from you,

Not by force, not by sentiment,

Not by lying, not by persuasion.

Tell them anything they want to hear.

It won’t matter.


You will die in any case

And thus be free,

Perfectly, miraculously free

To choose the Cross and Paradise,

Else wrack yourself once again

Upon the Wheel.


You could indeed choose to come back

Or could be asked to, nicely,

Help your brethren find their way,

Bring a few more lost lambs,

Oh Bodhisattva,

Into the fold of God.


Or yearn for your next return

To the good old days of desire and ignorance:

The next hard lesson,

The next chance to do it the hard way;

Or merely cringe

Before Christ's fated Agony and yours,

Else your unworthiness for this honor;

And submit one more time

To the Wheel.


You will be perfectly free to choose,

Oh Nobly Born.


Great the Father,

Great the Son

And great the Holy Spirit,

The Comforter

Jesus left us pending His Return.


For it is through Them

That all are Saved

Who choose to be,

Who look and see,

Who listen and hear.


Have no fear,

Oh Nobly Born.

Even though everything that lives must perish,

And do so over and over again;

Yet we may be reborn and saved,

Just as soon as we choose,

We the people who are ready and willing,

As promised.


(The perfecti have left the room…

            Repeat alone

            Matthew 6-9, the Lord’s Prayer).




Learner, begin