Despite the richness that we find in the Druid tradition, such as the teachings of the eightfold wheel of the year, the myths and the old stories, the fact remains that when we look for a detailed exposition of the spiritual constitution of the human being and the universe, and of detailed methods for exploring these, it is in the teachings of the East, of the Dharmic traditions, that we find the most satisfying and helpful material, which in recent years have to a great extent been enriched with the insights of Western science and psychology.
Excitingly, this situation does not have to present us with a dilemma. It does not have to force us to choose between following an Eastern or Western path. It does not force us to abandon any cultural allegiances, or sense of connection to our native landscape, or sense of indigenous spiritual heritage, in order to seek wisdom or methods of spiritual transformation from distant lands or an apparently alien culture.
From a spiritual perspective, we all emanate from one source – Deity, the spiritual source of all Being. From a historical perspective, there is convincing evidence that the cultures and spiritual heritage of India and of the Celtic lands, and much of Western Europe, emanate from the same place of origin – probably in the area around the Caspian sea. Our ancestors moved both northwest and southeast from this region many thousands of years ago, forming a great arc of connection that runs from the rugged coast of northwest Ireland to the shores of the Indian Ocean. To bathe in the teachings and heritage of both ends of this rainbow that stretches across continents is to come home to our common source. In Druidry, we often use the image of the salmon swimming upstream to depict our souls returning to the source of our ancestral wisdom. With this understanding, whether we are swimming to the source of the Ganges or the river Boyne, we are travelling in the same direction.
If we are born into, or live in one part of the world, it will often feel natural and fitting to absorb and follow the spiritual culture of that land, the heritage of that place and of the people who live there, but we are also members of one family, and one race – the human race – and if we believe in reincarnation, we will have lived in different lands which followed different customs and religious traditions, and those experiences will be part of our heritage too in this life.
I believe that many of us are experiencing a real need now to weave our threads together, to unite the disparate strands of our memories and yearnings, of the wisdom and teachings found in both East and West. Now that we have the knowledge of all ages available to us in the World Wide Web, perhaps we can even open ourselves further than just including ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ in our sense of heritage, to allow ourselves to draw upon the entirety of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition. Perhaps we can start using instead the term ‘the World Wide Wisdom Tradition,’ agreeing with the teachings of the Dzogchen Tantra when it suggests: ‘As a bee seeks nectar from all kinds of flowers, seek teachings everywhere. Like a deer that finds a quiet place to graze, seek seclusion to digest all that you have gathered. Like a mad one beyond all limits, go where you please and live like a lion, completely free of all fear.’