The Nyingma school now includes teachings in Ati-yoga, Deity yoga, Drala energy, Dzögchen and Crazy Wisdom, some experience of which would not be amiss in the Celtic Buddhist priest. The Celtic psyche has similarly ancient roots.


By Aindriú Peers

The coming year 2023 will mark the 12th since my ordination as a Celtic Buddhist priest. But what exactly is a Celtic Buddhist priest?

Obviously there can be no standard product-description for this. Every priest or priestess will bring their own experience and talent to the role, their own energy and presence. Training in this sense may not even be particularly relevant. It’s more about who you are, than what you are. And you’re only as good as you are:

“The whole concept of needing training for things is a weak approach, because it makes us feel that we cannot possess the potential in us, and that therefore we have to make ourselves better than we are. We have to try to compete with heroes or masters. Although we are not actually them, we believe we could become them purely by imitating—by pretending, by deceiving ourselves constantly that we are what we are not. But when a sudden flash of genuine enlightenment occurs, such hypocrisy doesn’t exist.” Chögyam Trungpa

I quote Trungpa here as it was he who originally made the connection between things “Celtic” and Buddhism. Perhaps the most influential lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the 20th century, he read the story of the Irish saint Columba and recognized in it similar sources as the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. These lay in the Bön tradition and were animistic/shamanic in nature.

The Nyingma school now includes teachings in Ati-yoga, Deity yoga, Drala energy, Dzögchen and Crazy Wisdom, some experience of which would not be amiss in the Celtic Buddhist priest.

The Celtic psyche has similarly ancient roots.

The Mother-Tantra lineage associated with the Great Asura Danu and her Children began near the Ural Mountains—the geographical boundary between Europe and Asia. It then split and went in two different directions, one line going east, the other west. One gave birth to what became Buddhist Tantra and the other to the Royal Irish Faery Race.

These archetypes remain powerful keys to unlocking spiritual powers still buried in the earth of the modern western mind. The essence of priesthood might then include some representation or even better, the spontaneous embodiment of such living lineages, in all simplicity.

Their social service could be one more of a bridge than a barrier in helping others discover their own inner wealth. Clarity would be helpful, if not essential. A priest ideally sees himself clearly first before he can get out of the way and truly be of service to others.

Trungpa writes: “In the scriptures, a crazy-wisdom person is described as, “He who subdues whatever needs to be subdued and destroys whatever needs to be destroyed.” Whatever your neurosis demands, when you relate with a crazy-wisdom person, you get hit with that. Crazy wisdom presents you with a mirror reflection. A mirror will not compromise with you. If you don’t like what you see, there’s no point in blaming the mirror.”

Recently pondering all this, I dreamed of first kissing and then sleeping with a very large giraffe. Overnight it luckily became a female human form, and was reborn as a baby giraffe the next day in the canteen kitchens.

Now even in their natural habitat on the savannah, giraffes look ridiculous, crazily designed creatures. They have a higher view of things and eat from the topmost leaves on trees that no other animal can reach. They have an ungainly, even clumsy gait that is nevertheless spell-binding, and run with speed, even elegance. Their crashes are spectacular.

In the years after my ordination, I qualified as a civil funeral celebrant, later working more behind the scenes at a funeral, which involved picking up bodies all over London, sometimes in the dead of night—a sort of Chöd practice.

Around the same time I gave online sessions on dragon energy plus regular weekend workshops in Germany introducing inner journeying, a shamanic practice, yet not without a firm foundation in meditation. Included was an evening’s discussion on pure non-duality as cherry on the cake. During C19 times I worked and still work with people 1:1 online.

To kick off the New Year 2023, I was asked to hold a midnight fire ritual at a château in rural France.

“There are two somewhat romantic approaches to basic sanity. One is based on a sense of poverty. You feel you don’t have “it,” but the others do. You admire the richness of “that”: the goal, the guru, the teachings. This is a poverty approach—you feel that those other things are so beautiful because you don’t have what they have. It is a materialistic approach—that of spiritual materialism—and it is based on there not being enough sanity in the first place, not enough sense of confidence and richness.” ChögyamTrungpa

The “confidence and richness” of this priest is their fully open response to life and all its messages, not just the flattering ones, as an expression of Vajra pride. Only in this sense can the title lend a little dignity, albeit like the ludicrous dignity of a giraffe. Those creatures “shouldn’t” really exist at all, but they do, they do.

In conclusion, to my mind the Celtic Buddhist priest can beautifully bring together several golden threads from differing wisdom traditions under a single umbrella. Each individual priest will additionally have his or her own bag of skills over their shoulder. I wanted to help any aspirants out there and so set up the Order of the Longing Look, a digital space for initiation in this style of priesthood, where an apprenticeship for those feeling called is offered.

But for me personally at least, the Celtic Buddhist priest is ultimately also just a “passer-by,” someone who looks on the world as essentially the play of phenomena and completely illusory. A priest might however have learned to see the eternal already present within it, within even the here and now of it—a dignified witness to the possibility of inner freedom.


Aindriú Peers grew up in Nottingham, England. A punk rocker in his teens, he spent 21 years in Trappist monasteries in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. He gained a degree in law and later studied theology and philosophy. He is ex-chair of the MID (Monastic Religious Dialogue) for the Dutch-speaking region (including Flanders) and participated in the 10th Spiritual Exchange visit to Japan in 2005. He has over 35 years of experience in meditation. After leaving the Trappists in 2011, he qualified to give instruction in meditation as a Celtic Buddhist priest. Aindriú Peers writes articles on spirituality, gives retreats and is author of  The Family Jewels, Letters on Zen koan by a Trappist Monk.


Photo: Pixabay


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