Saturday, October 4, 2008

Celtic Buddhism?

Ven. Seonaidh Riley Perks and friends on retreat in Ireland, May 2005. "We came here a few times to practice as the energy was palpable and the view quite lovely."

The lineage of "Celtic Buddhism" was suggested in the 1970s during casual conversation between the renowned Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his student John Perks. Its actual development is the result of the mixing of their minds.

The lineage was formally incorporated as a non-profit in 1989, when it took on an official status. After meeting for years in rented rooms Ven. Seonaidh Riley Perks established the Anadaire Celtic Buddhist Center on 11 acres in Vermont, where the sangha ["community"] erected a stone circle which has aided in increasing and focusing energies of transformation.

Beginning in April, 2006 several of the sangha would move to Ireland for a year to strengthen and expand Celtic Buddhism. (More details: Center Programs).

Sangha members are encouraged to establish a daily meditation practice. The Vermont sangha practices include shamatha/vipashyana, tonglen ["serenity/insight, taking and giving meditation"], deity yoga, and Tibetan style ngöndro and chöd. As a group there are yearly retreats to Maine or, to further connect with latent Celtic energies, Ireland and Scotland. One member has delved into thangka painting to explore the emerging Celtic Buddhist mandala.

The development of a new lineage is a very interesting and potent situation. Staying open and intuitive is both the challenge and the opportunity.

Traditional Buddhists may complain about unstructured aspects of Celtic Buddhism. Ven. Seonaidh says, "It's still a big question mark as to what Celtic Buddhism is going to evolve into. It's important to make the question mark very big, so that it remains a big open question. Not only about oneself, but the society in which one lives. Celtic Buddhism could be viewed as an open exploratory adventure with no conclusion."

Center stone of Circle of Blue Sovranty, Anadaire Celtic Buddhist Center, Vermont

Book: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant
by John Riley Perks

A unique autobiographical account of the author's seven years as butler and personal attendant to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Inspired by his Tibetan teacher's request to "write about how we worked together," John Riley Perks has given us a candid look into the dynamic and often magical relationship between a Vajrayana master and his student.

Excerpt: "One evening Rinpoche and I were sitting in the kitchen. Max rushed in from shopping in town. Now the closet and the basement doors were next to each other and both doors looked the same. The basement stairs were very steep and ran down about twelve feet. Max was distractedly talking to us as he took off his coat, opened the wrong door and, not looking, reached in to hang it up. Rinpoche yelled, 'Shunyata!' as Max and his coat fell into the basement. Unhurt except for a few scrapes, Max climbed out. 'Rinpoche,' said Max, 'you should have tried to stop me.' 'Why?' replied Rinpoche, 'You could have gotten enlightened!'"

"Venerable Seonaidh Perks played a crucial role in the creation of many of the Vidyadhara's institutions and his story of their mutual dance is hilarious, wild, shocking, and poignant. This book is a rare thing." -- Douglas Penick, author of Gesar of Ling, Wisdom Publications

Celtic Buddhist Center
PO Box 1241
Rockland, ME 04841
(207) 701-5022

Celtic Buddhist Lineage
Tir Argus House
Churchill, Letterkenny
Co. Donegal

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