THE LOST IRISH BUDDHIST
Ven. Dhammaloka, like all good Buddhists, first leaves the Old World, sweeps through California, passing San Francisco's Golden Gateway to the exotic East, before traveling toward the Land of the Setting Sun, Japan, and Asia.
He is likely the first Western Buddhist monk (not the two British men, Alan Bennett and H. Gordon Douglas, usually credited with this distinction).
The enigmatic, free thinking Dubliner used a variety of aliases, and is now known as Ven. Dhammaloka, "the Irish Buddhist," who converted to Theravada Buddhism around 1900.
He became widely known throughout Asia. But in the process managed to fall afoul of the colonial establishment as well as Christian missionaries.
Uncovering Dhammaloka's unique story has taken some inspired detective work on the part of UCC's Professor Brian Bocking and colleagues. But their efforts have not been in vain. The lost Irish Buddhist emerges after all these years as the earliest Western Buddhist monk, predating many others who have claimed the title. Professor Bocking takes us through an amazing odyssey.
IMAGES: Ireland map (lonelyplanet.com); Buddhist monks on alms round (Damir Sagolj/Reuters); Theravada monks evicted in Rangoon, Burma (Ashin Pyinyar Thiha17/Reuters).
Wisdom Quarterly (OPINION)
The akasha devas (the shining ones from space) like to land on islands and spread throughout the world from there. The British empire, the Japanese empire, the Greek empire, the Polynesian empire, the Vikings of Iceland, Atlantis, and even dear old Ireland has acted as a launchpad for spreading ideas and genes throughout the planet like no landlocked country can. Ireland is often dismissed as a member of the United Kingdom, falling under British influence. But this wondrous isle has had a disproportionate influence on the world that can hardly be explained by circumstance. And it's easy to become disaffected by the condemning, crushing Catholic Church that leaves any sensitive person to drink to bear it or flee. Danu, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw, and now Colvin.