Wild Goose Sangha

The Wild Goose Sangha

The Wild Goose Sangha, which is made up of people who are committed to the practice of Zen meditation. The name is taken from the Celtic spiritual tradition that sees a wild goose as a metaphor for the divine creator. This is because of their total determination and faithfulness. Those of the sangha are similarly dedicated to their practice as best they can.

The Sangha is under the direction of Sensei Patrick Kundo Eastman, a Roman Catholic priest and a Zen teacher  in the Zen White Plum Asangha that was begun in the United States by Taizan Maezumi Roshi.

What is Zen Practice?

Zen practice itself is very simple and yet utterly profound and capable of changing a practitioner's life. Being totally attentive is at the heart of the practice by sitting in an upright posture that enables you to sit absolutely still and then watching each breath as it comes into your body and then as it leaves. It is a very practical way in which anyone can sit still in silence.

Why would anyone want to do that?

A great student of world religions, Mircea Eliade, asserts that at the heart of all world religions is the death of the ego. This refers to the self made superficial self that we tend to identify with. This ego rests on externals and demands a tremendous amount of energy to sustain it. Because it relies on externals there is always the anxiety that it will be lost. Spiritual practice then is orientated to seeing beyond this external self into our own true nature. As the Buddhists put it "To see our original face before our parents were born." The Christian Scriptures describe God as saying to every human" Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."

What are the effects in a person's everyday life?

To sit regularly in this way is called Zazen and it has the effect of enabling you to be more attentive to every moment of your life. This means that we actually live our life. To experience life we have to be in the present moment and when we are dominated by the ego we are so often either filled with anxiety for the future or trapped in guilt for the past. Zazen in bringing to the present moment takes away our fear.

In liberating us it also permits us to live. not out of our heads, but from the deep centre. The Buddhists call this Joriki. Live our own inner truth that enables us to live a life of compassion to all others in our created world.

Helpful Quotes

Zen gives us a method to put the wordless and imageless prayer of contemplation into practice. Zen training does not allow us to analyze or theorise about prayer or life. Instead it plunges us at the outset into the contemplative act in which there is no subject or object.

Zazen is the practice of stilling the mind through wholehearted attentiveness to the breath. This steady attention coupled with the stillness of the body frees the mind from normal activities. 

Yamada Roshi, a great Japanese Zen Master said to all his Christian Students, "I am not trying to make you a Buddhist, but to empty you in imitation of your Lord, Jesus Christ." 

It is "the duty of Christians now to draw from the rich heritage of the East the elements compatible with their faith in order to enrich Christian thought. The Church of the future will judge herself enriched by all that comes from today's engagement with Eastern cultures and will find in this inheritance fresh cues for fruitful dialogue with the cultures which will emerge as humanity moves into the future." John Paul II in his Encyclical on Faith and Reason. 

Pope Benedict in his interfaith meeting during his visit to the USA, after naming the dialogue of truth on the deeper questions of human life as the higher goal of inter religious dialogue he declared that, "The ardent desire to follow in Christ's footsteps spurs Christians to open their hearts and minds to dialogue." He concluded with these words: "By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task - through dialogue and countless acts of love, understanding and compassion - we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family." Tablet 26 April 2008.