From top: The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan; Myozan Kodo Kilroy, a Ireland-based Soto Zen Buddhist priest

Further to the discouragement of mindfulness and zen by the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan….

The Bishop has discouraged the practices of yoga and mindfulness, as they “are not of Christian origin” and are “not suitable for our parish school setting”.

He intimates that mindfulness, one of many ancient spiritual practices that originated in the Buddhist tradition, is in fact “mindlessness”, and he quotes Pope Francis, from a 2015 homily:

“You can take a million courses in spirituality. A million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things, but all of this will never be able to give you freedom”.

In his letter, the bishop displays an amazing ignorance of the yogic and Zen traditions, while he attempts to exert his ecclesiastical power over the schools, the teachers and the young pupils of Waterford.

That he feels he has the right to do this in the Ireland of 2019 reminds us that it is long since past the time when religion should be taken out of our schools, and that church influence be removed from the diverse and plural contexts of our nation’s classrooms.

Pope Francis and Bishop Cullinan conflate yoga, mindfulness and Zen, separate and ancient spiritual paths, all rich and beautiful traditions. In rolling them all together, they display a profound ignorance of their complexities and differences.

And contrary to their assertions, these spiritual paths potentially lead to the kind of freedom that cannot be accommodated by a blinkered, hierarchical view of reality.

Thankfully, there are many practising Christians who know better; and who are also aware of the rich meditative and contemplative teachings of their own tradition.

In the classrooms of Waterford, there are doubtlessly Buddhist and Hindu children. If this has crossed the bishop’s mind I do not know. If it has, his letter is disrespectful of their religious traditions.

The diverse and plural Ireland that we live in urgently needs an education system that is fit for purpose: one not dominated by one religious tradition, and where senior clerics cannot publicly disparage other faith traditions. – Yours, etc,

Oh, it’s om.

Fight!

Rev Myozan Kodo Kilroy
Teacher and Founder,
Zen Buddhism Ireland,
Dundrum,
Dublin 14.

Bishop Cullinane, Yoga and Zen (irish Times Letters)

Previously: Let us Scrap Physics

64 thoughts on “Meditate On This

    1. Dr.Fart

      the bish is saying it directly to schools though, he has access to influencing the next couple of generations. a lot of these kids have idiot parents who think god is real and will listen to the bish. its not good.

      Reply
        1. bisted

          …don’t you mean ‘gods’…the hindus alone have at least 33 and maybe as many as 330million…suppose they didn’t teach that in your madrasa…

          Reply
          1. Clampers Outside

            Not necessarily there Ted. What they have, in Hinduism, is a Trimurti of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, that I have read, can be roled into one, not too similar to the idea of the “Father, son and holy ghost” roles into one.

            Below that you have the lower gods or demi-gods, not too dissimilar to, say, Saints under Christianity.

            There was a multi-demoninational world conference in the 1920s, and the presentations of which were published, and from which I take this understanding / interpretation….

            I’m open to further discussion on the matter, but I do believe the similarities are greater than the differences when one looks at the basis of either.

            That’s me tuppence ha’penny on it.

    1. bisted

      …oops…spelt buddhist wrong…hope I haven’t incurred the wraith of the flying spaghetti monster…she’ll be sending the alphabetti squad after me…

      Reply
  1. Pip

    “You can take a million courses in spirituality. A million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things, but all of this will never be able to give you freedom. Or us any money, status or power.”
    If this is freedom, give me chains I can see.

    Reply
  2. Dr.Fart

    i genuinely find it insane that anyone can still believe in god/religion etc. It was clearly devised to control people before there were governments to do that. It’s been disproven with traceable facts to be untrue, yet people still think its real. people still let weird priests control their lives with lies.

    Reply
    1. scottser

      it’s just one more set of liars, doc. way i see it is anyone who has more than anyone else lied their ass off to get it and keep it.

      Reply
    2. newsjustin

      If you can’t understand it you must not know much about or take an interest in other humans.

      Take your (and my) view of the existence of any god or not out of it. There are very understandable reasons why human beings, of all types, in all places and at all times, believe in God and value religious activities.

      Reply
      1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

        fear is never a good reason, imo,
        fear of death, fear of illness, fear of the unknown, fear of punishment in an afterlife
        It’s all fear, there are other ways that don’t divide the human race to deal with fear,
        including education, equality, respect… not things I see religion teaching

        Reply
        1. Pip

          Fully agree, Janet.
          Meditation is a great way of rising above fear.
          Prayer, not so much.
          And no, they’re not really the same thing.

          Reply
        2. newsjustin

          Janet – People search for meaning in their lives. Those who scoff at those (most of the planet by the way) who find meaning in, amongst other things, any particular religion, or who ascribe their search for meaning to nothing but fear need to better understand human nature.

          And the notion that religions don’t foster and promote “education, equality and respect” is badly misinformed. I get that you may be approaching religion from a woke 21st century western European mindset. But, honestly, read about….The Sermon on the Mount, the saving of classical sacred and scientific texts by monks all over Europe and beyond, Nano Nagle, Edmund Rice, the entirety of catholic social teaching….

          Yes those examples are Catholic and European focussed…I’m sure others more familiar with other World religions can add to those for Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

          And fine, you’ll probably come back to me with points about same-sex marriage, etc (which are real issues). But I suggest you take a step back and really consider if it’s actually true that religious teaching doesn’t teach “education, equality, respect.” Or wether that’s a huge, unsubstantiated claim on your part.

          Reply
          1. Janet, I ate my avatar

            I’d come back from a female perspective and the harm and persecution of women in many religions for a start,
            also most religions only teach tolerance to those who share their faith and I’d point to all the religious wars,
            I’m not that woke ;), I was brought up in a strict Presbyterian household and I actually know my Bible, Sunday school,
            and I don’t buy it

          2. Janet, I ate my avatar

            the meaning of all life on a basic level is to pass on DNA, any other meaning you find is probably just a tool to do that

          3. newsjustin

            Your female perspective is welcome. One of the people I mentioned above (of a myriad of others I could have) was Nano Nagle. Motivated by the Gospel to open schools for the poorest Cork City girls in the 18th Century

            Things aren’t all rosey. But, again, your claim that religions don’t teach and value “education, equality and respect” is just wrong.

            “also most religions only teach tolerance to those who share their faith”

            If anything, this idea is even more far-fetched than your previous comments. It’s simply not true.

          4. Janet, I ate my avatar

            please explain religious wars then ?
            America is all about in God this and that and look at what they are up to ?
            What about jihad ?
            So one woman worked within the prison of Christianity to achieve good ? What about all the others whose lives were hell within the teachings of the church ?
            I stand by my statements and with all due respect I find it laughable to claim equality or education or love of peace through religion.
            I see power, abuse of power and excuses for disgraceful behavior.

          5. Janet, I ate my avatar

            actually news I know you are a firm firm believer and you will not really consider my points so let’s not get into it, I don’t think you can be subjective,
            and my female opinion as you say being welcome is only a recent idea as we throw off the Christian ideas of a woman’s ” place “

          6. newsjustin

            Janet. You’re misunderstanding me if you think that I’m saying that religions are thoroughly and always a force for good. They’re not and, where humans are involved, never will be.

            I am saying, though, that your assertions that no religions tolerate other religions and that religions do not teach “equality, education and respect”, both of which you’ve said, are over-egged, absolutist, narrow-minded and incorrect.

            That’s what I’m saying.

          7. Janet, I ate my avatar

            I believe only humans ARE involved, and if they didn’t hide the Divine maybe they wouldn’t dare get up to half the nonsense in the name of whatever divinity they chose to do so,
            so I guess I will look at the harm religion has done and consider it outweighs any good,
            humans and humanity could do better without it

          8. newsjustin

            Yes Janet. That has clearly proven to be the case in the various atheist countries that have been established.

          9. Janet, I ate my avatar

            give it time, not a single one of my friends have baptised their children or bringing them up with the associated jiggery pokeery ;)

      1. Janet, I ate my avatar

        I think he’s probably referring to the whole Adam and Eve, creationism, inferior woman bent, I could be wrong,
        plus the Jesus story is just an archetype found in most cultures, including our own with Cu Chulain, sacred conception, childhood feats, exile, death and rebirth ( apologise for spelling )

        Reply
        1. Clampers Outside

          True dat, and the Mary and baby image can be found in everything from ancient Egypt to earth mother symbolism across many ancient cultures… and I think that is both wondrous and wonderful :)

          Reply
          1. Janet, I ate my avatar

            hardly wondrous, we all start off with a Mother, it’s just relatable on the most human level, throw in a lack of understanding of conception and Bam it’s wondrous,
            btw Clamps if you have faith I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but it’s an online chat so just saying how I see it

          2. Clampers Outside

            I’m not religious, no. And of course, chat away… I’m just not as negative about religion as most, and I certainly don’t see anything better coming out of *much of* the secular offerings, which often come with their own “religious-like” fervour, in fairness.

            A balance would be nice :)

      2. bisted

        …hah…you (and you mother-in- law apparently) believe in talking snakes, virgin births and turning bread into human flesh and you want other people to prove you are wrong…

        Reply
  3. Tea And Brexits

    Buddhist culture is steeped in blood, violence, intolerance. They even slaughtered each other over monastic rights.

    Ask the Rohingya for a start.

    Yoga is athleisure for white people with Instagram accounts and money for LuluLemon tat. Go for a good run, FFS.

    Reply
    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      all religion is steeped in blood, death, control and hatred and hating the other, it’s a virus of the mind
      I agree with the go for a run bit

      Reply
          1. Janet, I ate my avatar

            that’s just too much too fast and poor muscle support, go away with your bending ;)

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          yes but all believe themselves to have their God on their side, I’d love to take that away and see would you murder without the possibility of forgiveness/justification

          Reply
          1. Clampers Outside

            You just reminded me of the movie Child 44? (Have you seen it?)

            Set in 1950s Soviet era Russia… an atheist backdrop, if you will.

            There’s a line in that movie about the idea that no one commits murder in “utopia”… which really shows how delusional the very idea is.

            Good flick… imho :)

          2. Janet, I ate my avatar

            I wouldn’t claim Utopia without religion, just an improvement,
            humans will commit crimes but maybe not whole states with the excuse that they are the chosen people

    2. Clampers Outside

      Yoga is a lot more than that silly take you have of it. If u don’t like it, don’t do it, and stick to your running… everyone’s happy :)

      Reply
  4. Clampers Outside

    I think the Bishop is taking a leap with what the Pope said, and applying his own hard-line approach to what he said by saying these things should be banned.

    He’s a bit of a relic, a class z relic, I’d say.

    Reply
  5. Clampers Outside

    When I went to rehab we learnt CBT practice, mindfulness, meditation and while we didn’t have yoga classes, the practice of, and benefits of were discussed.

    The rehab centre was established by, and run by two absolutely fabulous women… both of whom, are nuns!

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Bishop of Waterford.

    I highly recommend the centre for anyone in need of addiction counselling. They can be found at HopeHouse.ie and are based in Foxford, Mayo.

    Reply
  6. Clampers Outside

    Quick point on secular schools. Did anyone see what happened in the UK? More specifically a programme by Warwickshire County Council called Respect Yourself… website for which has since been taken down, thankfully…

    In it they were teaching 12 and 13 years olds about felching….

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10184906/sex-education-warwickshire-website/
    (yes, it is The Sun, but I couldn’t be bothered looking for another link, as I’m on a phone)

    Damned if you go secular, damned if you don’t !

    Reply
    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      ah hear I’m having a late lunch,
      on that note anyone one seen The Game Changer on Netflix ? You know what they should be teaching kids in schools, how to cook sustainable, healthy food

      Reply

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