Ordained Celtic Buddhist Priests
It is important to understand the name 'Drala priest' in the context of Celtic Buddhism. I cannot say I am a Buddhist, just as Celtic Buddhism does not claim to be a religion (see the first page of this website). Yet I am a Buddhist in the sense that all people - including the bugs - already are 'Buddhists'-without-the-name, because they are all continually working with things as they are, which is what Buddhism concerns itself with. The name’s not important for those who have open minds and seek the truth. What is important is the energy, the practice, i.e., the concrete way we interpret our lives. Unlike bugs, we develop and become explicitly conscious of the dual nature of life - hot and cold, long and short, and of course, birth and death. We know there are skilful and harmful actions. Judgement of external behaviour is not however the field of expertise for the Drala priest in Celtic Buddhism. The priest is in no way a check-point guard at the bridge to God, but has *become* him or herself a bridge to the higher self. As such, the priest is long practised in 'right-minded' thoughts, guided and inspired by the spirit, even if his or her external behaviour is not always understandable. The priest has the role of teaching mind training for a life-giving interpretation of what is happening right now in front of our noses, one based on our common spiritual longing. This introduces practitioners to 'right view', the non-dualistic 'dream-time' way of looking our ancestors enjoyed. This reduces dis-ease permanently, as it addresses the unconscious, the part of the mind not dealt with directly by mindfulness, the Power of Now, vipassana, which offer only temporary relief.*
*‘Drala’ means the energy above aggression.*
"I am of Anglo-Irish descent. For 21 years I lived as a monk in monastic communities in England, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. I am inspired by the Irish saint Columcille (521-597) and his relationship to creation. Now, I lead workshops to share my knowledge, and help others to find their true destiny."
If you are interested in joining a tour of the 'thin' spiritual places in Ireland this year, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Intertwining Celtic and Buddhist tradition
By Andrew Peers
Sitting down at a wooden table in front of the window, a landscape of green fields and stately mature oak trees opens out directly on the other side of a quiet back road. It is autumn and leaves are turning yellow and orange. This village lies in an area particularly associated with oaks. Silently tuning in to the rhythm of the seasons, is in the broadest sense what is understood as ‘Celtic’ in Celtic Buddhism. It is the felt connection to the natural world as it continually changes; a way of learning to move with it, and celebrate it as the dance of transience in the moving mandala called Nature.
We know that the Celts in their day probably did not live to a ripe old age but this did not make them fatalistic or somber. The artwork of their rich culture testifies to this. They were warriors familiar with the threat of war and the struggle to survive, and their songs and legends have the brassy, bragging tone of a proud people in love with their own eloquence. For them, life and death were closely interwoven, with many ‘thin places’ between the two worlds.
When still a Trappist monk living in a community in Northern Ireland, I visited the abbey shop one day and was confronted in the entrance passage by a poster hanging on the wall depicting twenty gargoyle-like faces: “The River Gods of Ireland.” How on earth, I thought to myself then, could a poster like that be hanging in the shop of a Roman Catholic abbey? And who do those faces belong to? Where do these gods live?
The late Chogyam Trungpa, an influential Tibetan Buddhist teacher of meditation and the inspiration behind Celtic Buddhism, saw these local energies and gods as the western equivalent of the gods of his own native Tibetan religion, called Bon. In Tibet, the more war-like gods go by the name of Dralas. The word Drala is connected to the word ‘deity,’ and signifies simultaneously both a natural force operating in the phenomenal world, and an aspect of our own pure awareness. Trungpa was deeply saddened by the loss of the great Drala traditions of Europe. Celtic spirituality can be portrayed as a battlefield where danger is inevitable: the poison of arrogance, the trap of doubt, the ambush of hope and the arrow of uncertainty. Yet the enemy in this case is the ego and its projections.
The greatest ‘weapon’ against it, is radical openness. Real victory is the victory precisely over war and aggression. Drala energy is the energy beyond it. Celtic tribes were historically warrior tribes and Celtic Buddhism seeks to rekindle this attitude of daring in spiritual practice in the battles of modern life today.
This is not a passive or passionless spirituality. Life is still short, and a pro-active warrior-like bravery, beyond anger, can serve it best. Working with spiritual realities of another order also introduces the shamanic aspect of Celtic Buddhism. The shaman-like figure in the tribes of the Celts was known as a Druid. The name Druid has sometimes been translated as ‘knower of the oak’ and apprenticeship to a Druid could last as long as 20 years. The Druid was able to put aside fear and show his or her being to the student in complete openness. Such an act contained within it the possibility of inducing a sudden gap in the student’s usual way of thinking at what might be called a ‘thin place’ of the mind, where the Spirit suddenly interrupts the ego-thought system.
By patiently ‘learning silence’ and looking deeply into the rhythms of nature, life and death need not hold us in the grip of fear. Seeing the world from somewhere beyond it, beyond transience, we can sally forth into the battlefield as enlightened warriors, raised above the fray. Or we can continue to choose to remain unconvinced, projecting our own shadow onto everything, and keep each other in chains.
WE COME WE GO
(a monkpunk tale)
By Sir Eido Boru
a Celtic Buddhist Bard
Conditions were right
dark dust sunlight
Earth looks dreary
perhaps the cause
of extinct dinosaurs
birds on the wing
hear them sing
black white tan
the historic flood
lots of mud
precepts and karma
many many wars
lots of gore
music 'n' art
horse 'n' cart
man on the moon
into the starlight
conditions now bad
gone crazy mad
we are no more