African Zen - 'Ubuntu' in Action

Ixopo BRC IMG_3131


I just completed another retreat in Ixopo at the Buddhist retreat centre. We danced, sang, drummed and prayed. I was overjoyed to be joined by the Zulu cooking staff who helped keep the rhythms sweet and joyful. It is always such an honour for me to be able to share the wisdom of Sangoma culture with people. The Sangoma people of Southern Africa are equivalent to the Buddhist monks and nuns in the Far East. After my time in South Korea in the early 90's studying Korean Zen under the late Zen Master Su Bong, I discovered a number of similarities with my Sangoma colleagues in South Africa. The similarities involved an emphasis on prayer, humility and connecting with the divine through chanting.  This included working together as a team, putting differences aside for the common good. In this way we all help to realise our ‘Ubuntu’, our humanity, and thus also our spiritual direction.

IMG_3132I was delighted to see the dedication of fellow South Africans to learn about Sangoma traditional culture. This is the future, and it gives me great hope. We had a number of elders with us who were over 80 years old. One of them said to me that this weekend retreat at the BRC in Ixopo was ‘a wish come true’ for her, and she quietly said that she had wanted to learn about Sangoma traditional culture her whole life, and now she had. She was very happy. This warmed my heart and inspired me to continue sharing the beauty of South African traditional medicine.

I will be back at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo again next year from the 15-17th January 2016, and I welcome all South Africans to join us.

John Lockley April 2015.