Shantivanam a new beginningBede Griffiths 

…a Christian ashram or monastery today should be above all a spiritual centre, where people of any religion or of none, who are sincerely seeking God, can come and find that atmosphere of quiet and meditation which they need. For this purpose it must be above all a place of genuine prayer and contemplation, where the search for God takes precedence over everything else. But at the same time it must not be closed on itself but open to all men, Christian or non-Christian, who are seeking God in any way. We envisage a community growing up round a small nucleus of monks or sannyasis, who will include men and women, married and unmarried, priests and laity. Christians and non-Christians. Some may wish to make a permanent commitment to the life of the ashram, others may wish to stay for months or years, but without any final commitment…

…In all this we have to keep before us the ideal of the ashram as conceived originally by Father Monchanin and Father Le Saux. It must above all be a place of prayer and contemplation, where those who feel a call to a life of seclusion from the world and total commitment to a life of prayer in poverty, chastity and obedience may find the opportunity which they seek. But at the same time we want this spirit of prayer to radiate outwards, so that those who are engaged in the world may be able to come here and discover something of the reality of the presence of God in their lives. It is our belief that no economic or social development can be of any lasting value, unless it is based on a deep awareness of the reality of God, of that infinite transcendence which is known in prayer and meditation, which alone gives any ultimate meaning to human life. We believe that it is such centres of prayer and meditation, which are the greatest need of the Church and the world today. We pray that this ashram of Shantivanam, for which Father Monchanin and Father Le Saux sacrificed so much, may come to be such a centre of prayer and fulfil the purpose for which they devoted their lives.

Saccidananda Ashram 1972.

extracts taken from: "Kurisumala: A Symposium on Ashram Life" Edited by Francis Acharya

Shantivanam a new beginning – Bede Griffiths  Page 76

with kind permission Kurisumala Ashram


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