Buddhist and Heathens ~ Part I of Guest Post by DCP

Stoicism and Revelry!

This is a guest post by DCP, a practitioner of the Old Norse religion of Astrasu (actually a revival of the Old Norse tradition but what do I know).  DCP is a proud supporter of my practice which is fortunate due to the fact that he supports it with mead and revelry!

The Buddhist and the Heathen

In 1904, archeologists began excavating an amazing find in the county of Vestfold, Norway. The Oseberg Ship, a Viking burial ship dated to approximately 800 A.D., contained a wealth of exquisite treasures from the height of the Viking Age in Scandinavia. Among these was a bucket, and where the handle met the vessel was a hinge in the shape of a tranquil male sitting in the lotus position. This is not the only presumed “Buddha figure” to be found in association with a relict Viking horde. A grave site from the island of Helgö in Sweden also contained a statue remarkably similar to the depictions of Buddha from northern India.

So, is there a philosophical connection between the Vikings and Buddha? Probably not; you will not likely find Norse heroes such as Sigurd Volsung or Egil Skalagrimsson contemplating the noble truths. However, in my conversations with John I have found parallels with the philosophy of Northern Europe and of that which originated with the devout of Asia. I am an Asatruar. Asatru, literally translates from Old Norse as “true to the gods”, is the modern revival of the Old Norse spiritual belief system. As Asatruar, we strive to reconstruct the spiritual essence of our Scandinavian predecessors, and we endeavor to embody the courageous and noble spirit of the strong heroes, explorers and ancestors who made such a grand impact on the ancient Eurasian world.

Does this mean that we long to board longships and pillage the settlements of the British Isles and Normandy? No (usually), it means that we attempt to embrace our fate, be it good or bad, with courage and conviction, and we live with the notion that all of our actions have an effect on those around us, and that effect, positive or negative, has an immediate impact on the world. This impact bears directly on our reputation, and it is our reputation that is the key to our lasting impression in this world, and our standing with our gods in the next.

The more positive our impact and reputation, the more beneficial our impact is on Midgard (this world), and the better our standing in Asgard (the world of our gods). I share with Buddhists the notion that my actions have an immediate and lasting effect on myself, and by extension this world, and positive actions create a positive world. Even though, to me, these actions may have implications in the next world, my primary concern is that beneficial actions benefit those close to me now, and detrimental actions are harmful to this world and to those I hold dear. Much like Buddhist philosophy, as I understand it, I am emphatically concerned with my impact on the world as it is now, and I strive to perform just and honorable actions for the sake of the world around me, for making a better world is ultimately beneficial to me as a member of this world.

Asatruar strive to live life, do the right thing, and accept our fate as it comes. We long to achieve our best when we are in the moment, as that is the point in time when our true selves are revealed. It is in the words of one of our most sacred texts, the Havamal (The Sayings of the High One) in which I see some of the most compelling similarity between our faiths:

Averagely wise a man ought to be,
never too wise;
no one may know his fate beforehand,
if he wants a carefree spirit.

More to come…

Thanks brother!  You are always welcome to throw your 2cents in over here.  I’ll leave us with the “5 Remembrances”.  Something that both Buddhists and Asatruar can agree on.

 I am of the nature to grow old;
there is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health;
there is no way to escape having ill health.
I am of the nature to die;
there is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature of change;
there is no way to escape
being separated from them.
My deeds are my closest companions;
I am the beneficiary of my deeds.
my deeds are the ground
on which I stand…

Very similar excerpt from the Havamal….

Cattle die, kinsmen die,
The self must also die;
I know of one thing which never dies,
the reputation of each dead man.
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31 thoughts on “Buddhist and Heathens ~ Part I of Guest Post by DCP

  1. “Deyr fé,
    deyja frændr,
    deyr sjálfr et sama…”

    [Cattle die,
    kinsmen die,
    the self must also die…]

    ~Hávamál

      • ” For I am lord of the winds…and the storm! Thunder and lightning are my hunting dogs…the rain is my whip…and when I must, I ride a great and terrible steed…the earthquake! Nothing mortal can stand before it.”

        ~The Mighty Thor

  2. Unfortunately, my mind will not allow me to focus on the content of this post as it is too much distracted by the beauty of the falling snow

    • Best get that mind straightened out! Those vikings are at the gates, brother! And they love the snow too.

      Cheers,

      John

    • Indeed! I enjoy the fact that many of my friends have different spiritual/religious paths but we are able to converse without preaching to each other.

      We have, in the past, combined some of our practices together. The Asatruar/Wiccan/Hindu/Zen mix is obviously interesting. Meanwhile the atheists keep the drinks rolling for us.

      One thing you can always count on atheists for – Good, Single Malt Scotch! Great for offerings to any God or Gods.

      Cheers,

      John

  3. Great post! I am myself a Norwegian and have always been interested in nordic folklore and religious beliefs. Although norse mythology have always been much to “fairytaily” to believe in word for word, I too find the essence of it very inspirational. I’ve never heard of Asatruare before and I found it very intriguing, is there some kind of website where I can collect more info?

  4. One of my best friends from college is Astruar. It’s interesting and I see how it is similar to Buddhism. The whole Asgard thing and the Gods nixes it for me, but I do brew mead.

    I just finished a short mead, in fact, and have a Braggott in the primary as we “speak.”

    weird how I went to brewing there. It’s inevitable I suppose.

    Good post!

    • This viking loves him some braggot.

      And, to be fair, most of us Asatruar to not practice a “fundamentalist” interpretation of our mythology (as far as I can tell). We are quite aware that these stories are probably metaphorical in nature. It’s the underlying philosophy that we strive to emulate.

      • Indeed! You will find that a similar theme with many Buddhists as well. Many take the cosmology literally while others take a more “applied” view of it.

        In the esoteric japanese tradition of Buddhism an adept actually starts his practice believing in the “Gods” (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) and graduates at the end to an understnding of their non-existance.

        I think I got that right. Its some crazy shit.

        Personally I like focusing on some aspect of the esoteric Buddhas (wisdom, strength, compassion etc.) to help nurture that attribute in my daily life. They are very fancy.

      • Interpretive mythology having been said, that does not mean that I/we do not give paise and make offerings to our gods. I do belive in the deities Odin, Thor, Frey, Loki, etc, and make regular offerings to them, but I ofen interpret the exact cosmology in a metaphorical sense.

  5. Hi,

    Great idea for a post, and great post too (although, as someone from a long East Anglian Anglo-Saxon background, brought up in the shadow of St. Edmund’s tomb, should I be saying that?! LOL!).

    All the best and thanks again for a very interesting read.

    Marcus

  6. What a great blog!

    I’m no longer surprised at the connections between all the seemingly different spiritual systems in the world. As I write in my eBook:

    “…Yoga assumes itself to have discovered universal truths. Yoga is just a powerful way of discovering and exploring this aspect of our existence. Yoga didn’t invent it.”

    This Viking spirituality is one that I wasn’t aware of, although I know the Vikings have certainly gotten the raw end of history just because they were historical nemesis of the history writers.

    I enjoyed this very much. I hope you will write more.

    Now, about all this snow. It seems to be popping up on half of all WordPress sites. I don’t want it on mine, but, just out of curiosity, where is the on-off switch?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    • Falling Snow -> Go to Dahsboard, then Appearences, then Extras. You can click on it. It lasts till Jan 4th. I just turned it off. I’ve gotten so many complaints!

      I, too hope that DCP does a few more posts. I believe that he is planning on doing two (?) more over here.

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