Bede Griffiths Sangha News
Beyond the Experience of Duality
Above: This photo of Fr Bede was taken by D Gardiner
30th Anniversary of the death of Fr Bede
13th May 2023
A special Zoom Ashram day to mark the 30th anniversary of Fr Bede's death
On Saturday 13th May we will be holding a special on-line event to mark the 30th Anniversary of Father Bede’s death, or Maha Samadhi. This will have a format resembling a day retreat, but will be held like a virtual Ashram, with a rhythm of prayer and meditation interspersed with sharing sessions, with no need to sign up to anything specifically – just turn up to any of the sessions you are able to or which interest you during the fifteen minutes prior to the session and aim to stay for the entire session. It would, of course be best if as many people as possible were there for the whole day, but the entire programme will be voluntary, using our usual Zoom Ashram link.
The whole day will be held with Father Bede in mind. The prayer times will use the introductory chants from Shantivanam, with readings from the writings of Bede Griffiths and from different faith traditions. The day will be led by members of the Bede Griffiths Sangha Working Group, but during the sharing sessions anyone is welcome to share from their own experience or ask questions if they wish to learn more from others. This is the format of the day (all times are UK time):
8.00-9.00: Morning Prayer and meditation
10.00-11.30: Sharing session 1: Introduced by Adrian Rance. Adrian knew Father Bede early in his own life and was with him as Father Bede neared his end. He is a founder member of the Sangha, has written on Father Bede and researched and compiled a comprehensive collection of Bede’s writings, letters and talks. The session will focus on Bede Griffiths: our memories, what he meant and means to us; his teaching and writing, what inspired and inspires us; his legacy for the future.
12.00-13.00: Midday Prayer and meditation
15.00-16.30: Sharing session 2: Introduced by Michael Giddings. Michael has a long history of connection with Father Bede’s Ashram, Shantivanam, through the time of Father Bede, Brother Martin and Father Doratick, and has been there for many western visitors over the years. He is an Oblate of Shantivanam. The session will focus on Shantivanam: how we found it and experienced it; the Ashram as a model for community and a contemplative life; the community of friends and Oblates; how our lives continue to be guided by it; the future of contemplative life.
17.00-18.00: Evening Prayer and meditation
19.00-20.30: Sharing session 3: Introduced by Jane Saunderson and John Ryder. Jane and John have been in the Bede Griffiths Sangha since it started after Father Bede’s passing and Jane in particular has been active in the Sangha Working Group throughout its history. Jane has led Hermits in Company for many years and in more recent years assisted by John, and both John and Jane facilitate Zoom Ashram. This session will focus on the Sangha: how it developed, what it is, what it aims to enable; how people experience it, what they seek in it, what they give to it and get from it.
21.00-21.30: Nama Japa, sitting and leaving in silence
The suggested content of the sharing sessions is just that: as with all our contemplative sharing sessions, they will evolve.
If you would like to receive a link to the event please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org, saying a little bit about yourself. John will send out the link and any other information about the event on or after 11th May.
There is no charge for the day, but donations to the Bede Griffiths Charitable Trust are invited (www.bgct.org.uk).
Christ with the cobra: Shantivanam.
The Universal Truth
Until recently the Church in India has not been conspicuous for originality or creativity. It was content to receive the religion which was brought to it from abroad by foreign missionaries without any significant change. It accepted the liturgy, whether in Syriac or in Latin which had grown up in Europe or the Middle East, without change. It followed the stem of scholastic philosophy and theology, which derived from the Middle Ages in Europe, without reference to any system of Indian philosophy, and it adopted the spirituality and devotions of the post reformation Church in Europe while ignoring the whole rich tradition of spirituality in India. In other words, an Indian Christian had to forget that he was an Indian, and adopt the language, the thought and the customs of Europe. Naturally, the architecture of the churches, the statues and holy pictures, the vestments and church furnishings were all faithful reproductions of European models. But today a remarkable change is taking place. The Indian Christian is beginning to discover his Indian inheritance, and the outlines of an authentic Indian Christianity in liturgy, theology and spirituality are beginning to emerge.