Welcome to Zen Shaman.
I’ve been practicing both Zen and Shamanism for, wow… taking the time to add up the years and suddenly I feel old. I got into Zen meditation around 2005, and Shamanism in 1998. I’ve gotten to where I almost feel like I might sort of have an idea about a handle on this stuff.
When I was a kid, I was a Southern Baptist. Not because I really believed all that stuff, but because it was what my Nana expected of me. She took me to church, because my mother had misgivings about the structure and hierarchy of the the church as a political entity. I remember the only Bible Study Camp I ever went to, in 1986; at the end of a week of lock-ins and intense memorizing of approved Bible verses, they had a big sermon in the main church building. Lots of yelling and enthusiasm, and the minister stood at the front and said if you felt the call to come up to be baptized in the fire. And I heard a voice that spoke in my heart and soul and told me to walk. So I did.
I’m sure I was just as obnoxious as any ten year old freshly washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
Not long after that, I went to go visit my Aunt in Arizona, to stay for a month. And of course I tried to convert her (she’s born again now, and rather loud about the whole thing), but then, she told me that I should never take anything on face value. I should question everything and always have more than one source. She taught me about logical fallacies and faulty reasoning, and I’m sure she regrets that now, as that teaching led me directly to where I am today.
Where am I today?
I’m a Zen Shaman. To me that means I use the teachings of Zen Buddhism to alleviate suffering, both my own and others, while operating within a world that obeys Shamanic concepts. Zen is about realizing your unbeginning enlightenment. Shamanism is about realizing that you exist in an interconnected web of interdependent beings who may or may not have corporeal form, and that as a member of that web you have a responsibility to the entire matrix.
Zen is about sitting still (or moving, it’s up to you what form your meditation takes really. Walk a labyrinth, knit a scarf, dance…) and working to help suffering beings find peace. Shamanism expands the experience of zazen with other tools and methods, like ecstatic trance, plant helpers, and spirit guides. The goal of each is the same, the methods are compatible, and the melding of the two has lead me to some very interesting and fun places.
I hope you’ll join me, because the collaboration between myself and readers is what I’m looking for now. Join me in creating a place for the exploration of the Zen Shaman practice.
2 Comments Add yours
I am so inspired by your work. I was also raised Southern Baptist, and then began to study zen in college, and eventually began to practice shamanism as a way to heal from an illness. From the outside, the two practices seem incompatible, yet the Bon tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the work of zen master Roshi Joan Halifax show that the two are quite compatible: two paths up the same mountain. Both do not require a set of beliefs and can be accessed and experienced directly by the practitioner. I have seen zen practitioners forget their place in the interconnected web of life, and I have seen shamanic practioners forget to “tame the mind.” I’m so grateful you have been able to integrate these two wonderful spiritual traditions. Gassho!