Steward Breen Dharma Talk: A New Irish Freedom

A New Irish Freedom

by Steward Brenden Breen

30 years ago very few people could have foreseen that the writings of Meister Eckhart, the teachings of the Zen masters, and the regular practice of zazen would sow the seeds for a spiritual renaissance in 21st century Ireland .One person who did have an intuition about changing attitudes to spiritual practice was Yamada Koun Roshi who said that the future of Zen was within Catholicism. Now zazen is practiced in Catholic monasteries in many parts of the world. Here in Ireland, zazen practice has liberated many people from the prison of the ego-self. No longer imprisoned by self-identification with the contents of consciousness, and the cultural mindset of mindless consumption, particularly the attainment of possessions for status elevation, there is now a greater sense of social solidarity among all classes of Irish people and a new value system is emerging.

Throughout the towns and cities, unnoticed by the mainstream media, there is a grassroots movement committed to a more holistic lifestyle. A movement grounded in the realization that all of humanity are part of the great ocean of compassion and inspired by the following words of Meister Eckhart : “I once had a dream. I dreamed that I even thought a man was pregnant and filled with nothingness, and out of this nothingness, God was born.”

As compassion by its nature moves people to embrace their human destiny, a more life-affirming and joyous social narrative is also beginning to emerge within the grassroots movement. I have seen there is a new freedom in the social discourse between people, a freedom to connect with whatever the day will bring, a sense of belonging of being active participants in the mysterious process called life. How wonderful. The future is now.