Zen and Druidry

I’m sure lots of you out there have heard of Zen Buddhism.  It is the form of Buddhism most prevalent in Japan today.  Zen is often seen as an aesthetic that embraces simplicity or as a relaxed state of mind.  Neither view is false; they just don’t tell the whole story.

Zen is a whole sect of Buddhism, with its own temples, priests, monks, and nuns.  Their most well-known practice is zazen (seated meditation).  The goal is to achieve “no-mind,” a state of mind (lack of?) where the mind is empty.

What does this have to do with contemporary Druidry, a tradition of modern Paganism?  More than you might think.

Zen Buddhism rejects the duality between the sacred and the profane (as theorist Mircea Eliade discussed), or, to put it another way, the separation between enlightenment and ordinary life.  Enlightenment is already present within the world, in our mundane daily tasks like washing dishes and getting ready for the day.  Everything, then, is sacred. However, because of this lack of duality, everything is also profane.  Zen asks us to see the sacred in everything.

Many Pagans today say that they recognize everything as containing a bit of the Divine, yet they establish sacred space before ritual with circles, smudging (carrying a lit bundle of herbs around the space), asperging (sprinkling the perimeter of the space with blessed water and salt), and many other means.  However, if every single thing on Earth contains the Divine, the sacred, then why does sacred space need to be established?  The space we are in is already sacred, nothing more needs to be done, except perhaps reminding the ritual’s participants of this reality.

Even ADF, the organization of which I am a member, separates the sacred from the profane (Eliade’s work is a basis for the Liturgists’ Guild study program), though it claims to be a tradition of contemporary Paganism.  Ritual is seen as a sacred act, taking place in a sacred time with sacred tools.  If everything is sacred (and everything is profane at the same time), then every moment is a prayer to the Kindreds in a sacred time just after the Creation of the Cosmos.  Every tool we might use, whether a pen, laptop, or a book, is sacred.

In my personal Druidry, I understand myself to simply be making the already-present sanctity of space and time more obvious.  This way the Divine is awakened in myself, and I am better able to understand the sacred nature of the Cosmos.

May the Kindreds make themselves manifest in each of us.



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