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Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with Nature Paperback – 28 Oct 2016
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In every page you can sense that the author has learned these insights through experience, that she really understands and lives these principles from a place of deep heart-knowing...I highly recommend this book. It is proof of how seemingly different spiritualities can enrich each other, and for those of us who are drawn to both western and eastern paths, it's a real gem! --Maria Ede-Weaving, Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
I liked how this book brought together both Buddhist and Druid practices to create a practice that is one with nature and enhances our spiritual practice. I learned a lot about both Druidry and Buddhism and how they can work seamlessly together to create a spiritual practice. --Rose Pettit, Insights into the Wonderful World of Books
About the Author
Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid, best-selling author and teacher. She is the co-founder of Druid College UK. Joanna moved to the UK in 1998, where she now lives with her husband in a small village in Suffolk near the coast of the North Sea.
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Top customer reviews
Even before reading the book I had heard of the concept 'awen' without quite understanding what it means. It is mentioned repeatedly in this book but the explanation or definition only appears the final chapter. For me personally the first chapter would have worked better.
The author gives many clear and succinct perspectives on some the most taxing human issues (such as suffering and illusion). I will definitely return to those lucid descriptions. There is some repetition in the middle section and personally I feel that was not necessary. I would rather have read in more detail about Druidry! Then again, this book is the "further guide" - I might have been better off reading her previous book about Zen Druidry as I am new to both practices.
I hope that the author will take her work even one step further, into Inter Faith work. It would be interesting to see her compare Zen Buddhism and Druidry to other major schools of spiritual thought (I am trying not to use the word religion!) exploring how they take us to the same place: unity not separation,compassion not competition and so forth. I will recommend this book to others and I would welcome an even further-ranging book!
My only complaint is the title - not because it is wrong, but because I fear that there are people who would gain tremendously from reading this book who, not seeing themselves as Druid or Zen, might mistakenly dismiss it as 'not their sort of thing' and thereby miss out on so much packed into so delightful a book.
The author draws specifically on Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Master who founded the Community of Interbeing and is a leading model and exponent of ‘engaged Buddhism’. This cultivates personal, social and ecological levels of awareness. It recognizes the radical interdependence of all beings and a need to make ethical/political choices in line with this interdependence. Such Buddhism is not in any way world denying, in the way that Buddhist tradition has at times been in the past. I see Thich Nhat Hanh as a perfect source of influence for this book, and several of his own works are cited in the bibliography.
Zen for Druids is divided into five parts. The first is a clear exposition of Buddhist basics, helped by that tradition’s own style of clear exposition and list making. It includes chapters on the three treasures, the four noble truths, the five basic precepts for lay Buddhists, the eightfold path and the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts. By age-old Buddhist design, there is a certain amount of repetition in these lists, with the same issues coming up again in slightly different contexts. Each individual chapter ends with a set of questions designed to engage the reader in their own reflections.
The second part moves through the eightfold wheel of the year, frequently found as a festival year in Druid and Pagan communities. Each festival is given its own chapter, and each chapter combines traditional Druid and Pagan themes with a principle from the Buddhist eightfold path. The author starts at Samhain (right effort), moves on to the Winter Solstice (right mindfulness), Imbolc (right concentration), Spring Equinox (right intention), Beltane (right view), Summer Solstice (right action), Lughnasadh (right speech) and the Autumn Equinox (right livelihood). Each section is followed by a list of suggestions for practice.
The book’s remaining three parts are shorter. They concern, respectively, meditation, mindfulness and integration. In two chapters on meditation, the first explores ‘mind traps’ – “those little prisons of our own making. We are constantly hijacked by our thoughts and feelings, attachments to them and our egos, such that we spin endlessly in circles until we fall down”. The second shows us to how do a brief meditation session in the Zen manner. The following section, concerning mindfulness in the world, suggests a practice of ‘mindful Mondays’ and explores the relationship between present time awareness and an animist world view. The final section, on integration, focuses on our integration with nature, looking at the issue of ‘ego, self and identity’ before reflecting on ‘awen and relationship’. For Joanna van der Hoeven, indeed, “awen is relationship and integration, the connecting threads that bind us soul to soul”.
In Zen for Druids, one Druid shows how she has taken an iteration of Zen Buddhism into her life and practice, combining them into one path. She sets out her stall very clearly and offers the reader specific opportunities and resources for practice and reflection. This book does a valuable job well.