Frederika Van Ingen: “Buddhism and shamanism share a keen awareness of interdependence. »

- through Sophie Solere

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Journalist, Frederika Van Ingen has just published What the Root Peoples have to tell us. This immersion in traditional knowledge on the health of humans and that of the Earth resonates with Buddhism.

We learn in your latest book on the care practices of the root peoples that the latter see their health as a balance between themselves and their environments. One perceives similarities with Buddhist thought. Are there Buddhist root peoples or peoples influenced by Buddhism?

Yes, because Buddhism very quickly came into contact with shamanic cultures, for example in Nepal. Then Buddhism spread to the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. In Mongolia, we know that cohabitation was sometimes difficult when the Mongols created a vast empire and tried to exploit religion. There are persecutions in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries in Mongolia, the execution of a great shaman at court, but in the villages or camps, shamanism persisted and cohabited with Buddhism until it mixed. From this story, we have a heritage, that of black shamans and white shamans, formerly called yellow shamans. Black shamans are associated with state Buddhism and are accused by the people of being malevolent. Whereas white or yellow shamans are benevolent.

Be that as it may, in Mongolia, Tibet, Korea or Japan, where root peoples are present among Buddhists, shamans use many objects, bells, texts and many rituals from Buddhism. It is very visible in Ladakh, in the north of India, where they treat thanks to the tibetan medicine and their intimate knowledge of flora and fauna.

As for Tibetan medicine, it comes from the coexistence between Buddhism and the shamanic religion. prayer. From shamanism, it recognizes the existence of spirits, and some of these spirits, the hungry, the karmic, are requalified in Buddhist terms; from Buddhism, it inherited the conceptual framework of the three poisons of ignorance, desire and anger, to explain the origin of disease. Tibetan medicine aims to heal the inner balance, an objective shared by shamanism and Buddhism. His practice of hygiene, his use of plants, the use of meditation to inspire practitioners derive from Buddhism, but shamanic spirits and plants are obviously part of it. Shamanism and Buddhism have married in medical practices.

Beyond medicine, do you see any similarities between Buddhist and traditional worldviews?

Yes. Buddhism and shamanism share the idea that it is in the realm of the invisible that the real is created, that consciousness results first of all from the relationship with oneself, from one's interiority. They both believe that the source of imbalances is to be found in the spiritual realm. That it is in an immaterial space that the unity of the Self is found.

Then, both resort to meditation, which is found everywhere among the root peoples, with variations; it remains an internalization to connect with the world, a work on the senses, perception.

“Buddhism and shamanism share the idea that it is in the realm of the invisible that the real is created, that consciousness results first of all from the relationship with oneself, from one's interiority. »

And, of course, the central place given to respect for the living. Buddhism and shamanism share a keen awareness of interdependence. Buddhist impermanence is found in a typical shamanic way of perceiving life. I would say they live in impermanence without theorizing it as deeply as Buddhism does.

Buddhism and shamanism are worldviews that have a lot in common. Which favored syncretism, knowing that it is very easy for shamanism to integrate universal archetypes. They have no problem inviting into their pantheon Buddha, or the Catholic Virgin, who is the Lakota equivalent of White Buffalo Woman.

What can these root peoples bring us in the face of current developments in the world?

They can teach us other postures, other ways of being in the world. To regain awareness of interdependence, of the place of humans in the chain of life. We have the responsibility to be at the service of the living and not to consume it.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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