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Article ID: 13501

VoxAcct: 344155

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,600

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Becoming a Buddhist Pagan

Author: Colin Bondi
Posted: December 13th. 2009
Times Viewed: 6,100

My spiritual path has included many variations and explorations over the years including some not so intelligent forays into magic and the occult with unfortunate consequences. For more than 20 years my path has centered on Buddhism in one form or another. I have spent years practicing meditation in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions and I find Buddhist teachings and practices to be some of the most powerful medicine that exists today for healing on all levels of being.

For me the practice of meditation has taught me how to let go of habitual patterns and thought processes and live more in the present moment, to connect with the power of being here and now. It has given me a direct way to experience the most subtle levels of consciousness where one can see and feel the oneness of all that exists and the interdependence of all beings. From this emerges true compassion and unconditional love and the Buddhaís teachings are very effective skillful means for cultivating a super conscious awakened state. This has healed and transformed my life over the years in unbelievable ways as well as formed the basis for the counseling practice that I do today.

However there are aspects of Buddhism that I find limiting and out of touch with the needs of modern western practitioners. One problem is that most forms of Buddhism emerge from vastly different cultures that can make its symbolism and practices difficult or impossible for a westerner to effectively grasp.

Tibetan Buddhism is deeply steeped in ritual but my experience was that I could never really connect with them in a deep way because the symbols and images did not speak to me at a subconscious level. The degree of dogma that has crept in over the years is also unfortunate in my view because I donít believe that in any way reflects the Buddhaís teaching but rather the use of Buddhism as a means of societal control much the way Christianity has been used by the powers that be.

Much of what passes for Buddhist teachings today seems very far from what I feel the Buddha was trying to communicate, again the same way that much of Christianity is out of touch with the core teachings of Jesus. This is solely my opinion and I donít mean to offend anyone, just my personal experience although I donít think Iím alone in it.

Over the last few years I have become more and more dissatisfied with formal Buddhist practice. My practice now involves very simple awareness meditation, loving kindness practice and meditation on the nature of reality. Iíve effectively dropped much of the form, structure and trappings of Buddhism which Iíd been very involved in before. However this has left a hole in my spiritual path. Of course whenever you make space in your experience something usually comes forth to fill it and for me that was the call of the Goddess and the Pagan path.

Buddhism has been criticized as being overly mental and denying more worldly forms of passion and this can easily be the experience for many westerners although it does not need to be. For me however it had become somewhat true. It was as if I had a great path to approach and experience the moment and absolute reality, which I believe is non-dual as the Buddha taught.

What I was lacking is a way to engage everyday life in a sacred way. I felt a desire for magic in my life and for ritual that actually meant something to me. I also felt a strong pull to mother nature but did not know how to approach her in a sacred way.

The call of the Goddess felt like a deep yearning from the repressed Divine Feminine within me. As I began to listen to it I suddenly saw the Goddess manifesting everywhere. The cycles of the moon, animals, nature, my female friends and lovers and deep within my being. The more I opened to the Goddess the more a magical world began to be revealed, a world that had been obscured right before my eyes for far too long.

This experience made me acutely aware of the repression of the Divine Feminine and the consequences of that and also illuminated the Patriarchal aspects of the Buddhist path that were infused into it by the male dominated cultures it developed in.

The Buddha himself was actually very progressive when it came to women and ended up ordaining and teaching women which was contrary to the practices of his time in ancient India and drew much criticism. For me this realization pointed to the need to emphasize the feminine in order to bring it back into balance and Goddess based spirituality was a way to do that while not repressing the masculine.

Iíve read that one cannot really combine Buddhism and Paganism very well because they are so distinctly different however I donít find that to be the case at all. Having condensed my Buddhist practice into the form its in today I find it to be compatible with any way of life that is conscious, compassionate and growth oriented which I find the Pagan path to be.

In taking a year and day course on Wicca I find a great deal of overlap between the two paths. Some of the overlap includes beliefs in karma, reincarnation, ethics and personal responsibility and meditation. Of course these vary greatly among Pagans but they are nonetheless prevalent.

What I find most attractive about Paganism is its independence. Neo-paganism has very ancient roots but is a relatively new path as itís practiced today. This has been a criticism of it by many but I find this to be its greatest strength because the Neo-pagan paths I feel reflect a 21st century trend in spirituality becoming more personal, less based on organized religion and without the need for middle men whether they be priests or gurus.

The spirit I see in Neo-paganism is the insistence of defining our own spiritual path not based on what anyone tells us is true or possible but based on where spirit leads us, a truly heart directed personal spirituality. I feel incredible gratitude for my Buddhist practice as well as my emerging relationship with the Goddess and the magical perspective she offers. To finally have an approach to ritual that fits me instead of me trying to fit into some prescribed approach is incredibly refreshing.

It feels good to finally leave religion behind and allow my spiritual path to take me in new unknown and exciting directions.


Colin Bondi

Location: Portland, Oregon


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