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 (a name meaning ‘dove’), later called Columcille (‘dove of the church’), and saw in it an echo of his own pre-Buddhist faith with its natural affinity with nature. 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 by a dove in many portrayals of the saint. Yet it is interesting to note that his father was a Druid and some even argue that Coluncille took pre-Christian symbology into Christianity (Columba, the Last Irish Druid, Chris McClintock, Aesun Publishing 2012). Columcille went on to found a monastery on the Scottish island of Iona in the 6th century, an place originally known 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 element to Columcille’s story. It offers a spirituality based on self-study and Buddhist principles yet more connected with European soil and culture and in communion with the mind-set of our European ancestors. Their songs still sing in our blood today if we but listen, encouraging us in our search for peace. They too had contact with, and learned from, the East.
Despite the pressures of modern life, it is still possible to find the door to inner calm. 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 show us the vastness of the Spirit, the experience of the infinite openness that is our true selves.
“The seed-idea… is one of an informal, mobile tribe (clan) of spiritual warriors engaged in the search for peace. This entails a new way of looking at the world and responding to it. In this search, the magic of nature can encourage and inspire us to practice 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.