Perhaps the most influential lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the 20th century was H.H. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Towards the end of his life he read the story of St. Columba (meaning ‘dove’), later called Columcille (‘dove of the church’), and saw in it an opportunity for Buddhism to make a fresh start in the West, free from eastern cultural trappings. At Trungpa Rinpoche’s suggestion, John Perks – seven years Trungpa’s personal attendant – took up this task and in 1989 officially founded the Celtic Buddhist Lineage.
Columcille was above all a bringer of peace, symbolized in many Christian portaits by a dove. His father however, was a Druid. Columcille went on to found a monastery on Iona in the 6th century, an island known originally as Isla nan Druideach, Isle of the Druids. Visitors to the island are often struck by the sense of peace they experience there.
The Celtic Buddhist lineage emphasizes the Druidic and shamanic background to Columcille’s story and brings focus to a Celtic spirituality that can otherwise lack focus. It offers a form of meditation based on Buddhist principles yet embedded in the natural European landscape and in alignment with the mind-set of our common European ancestors. The Celts, once spread across the whole of Europe, were also in contact with the East. Their songs still sing in our blood today if we but listen, encouraging us in our search for peace.
Despite the pressure of modern life, it is still possible to find the door to peace. This door is easier to find in what the Celts called ‘thin places’ in nature, where the local gods can touch us in the heart and guide us to an experience of the vastness of the Spirit, to an experience of the infinite openness of our true selves.
“The seed-idea… is one of an informal, mobile tribe (clan) of spiritual warriors who seek the source of peace. This entails a new way of looking at the world and responding to it. The affinity with nature can encourage and inspire us in the practice of leading a more consistent and focused spiritual life.” Andrew Peers
♦ Andrew Peers is Anglo-Irish and spent over 20 years in Trappist monasteries in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. In 2011 he left the Trappists and traveled to the home of Celtic Buddhism in America. He later returned to Europe to work as a meditation teacher in the Celtic Buddhist tradition. He combines this work with a passion for writing.