Beyond the experience of duality

Oblates of Shantivanam

A Message from Fr Dorathick, the Prior of Shantivanam Ashram

Dear Sisters and Brothers

Being an Oblate in Shantivanam is a Call to become conscious of the Divine Mystery as love yoking the world.

Oblates of Shantivanam can be, lay or ordained, who, committed to the living of their faith and continuing to live their state in life, desire to make their own the values expressed by Shantivanam Ashram. It can be individuals or families who have associated themselves with the Shantivanam Ashram community to enrich and enlighten their spiritual life. Oblates shape their lives by living the wisdom of Christ and seek God in the spiritual tradition of Shantivanam Ashram: Fr. Jules Monchanin (Swami Parama Arubiananda), Fr. Henry Le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda), and Fr Bede Griffiths (Swami Dayananda). By integrating their prayer and work, they manifest God’s presence in the place wherever they live and live for the wellbeing and harmony of all in the Universe. Oblates embrace values of Indian spirituality and Christian spirituality, such as Lectio Divina, spending time for daily meditation on the Sacred Scriptures; Bible, Upanishads and other sacred texts, cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in prayer, silence, meditation, and contemplation, inter-religious dialogues and by practicing they grow in the love of God and neighbour.

For the Oblates of Shantivanam, there are 5 key points so important Fr. Bede had given to become an Oblate of Shantivanam ashram you can check in an extract from The Golden String Vol.1No.1 also in our Oblates website:

1) Oblates are men and women, married and single, who offer their lives to God as Supreme Reality beyond name and form.

2) This Reality manifests itself under various names in Earth’s traditions; Christian Oblates respond to it through Jesus, the New Testament, and the Church.

3) Oblates recognize and revere traditions other than their own and respect all who seek God.

4) As monastics, Oblates claim kinship with monastics of all traditions.

5) Oblates of Shantivanam build on the foundation of prayer/study/work that characterizes Shantivanam in its Benedictine/Camaldolese tradition as their way of realizing the Divine Mystery as love uniting the world.

An oblation is a free act of self-offering to God, no titles you will be given, it is not sannyasa too because Sannyasa is a life of total renunciation. I request you not to use this term until you are renounced! The act of oblation is a true offering, and brings about a true belonging, though it is different from that bond which unites a monk to his community, and it does not bring about a change in the individual’s status in the Church too. The role of the Oblates is to live in the world, to become holy in the world, and to do what they can to bring the world to God’s experience by being witnesses and sharing the life with the world with wisdom and the spiritual tradition of Shantivanam. This means they will grow in openness and as well as rootedness in listening to the voice of God in the world. The Prologue of the rule of St. Benedict reminds us to let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge. The Oblates are identified with the Shantivanam Ashram community. They share the aspiration of the monks and the way of life. Oblates should always look to do their work with wholeheartedness in whatever work they can do. In this way, the oblates will make of it an act of worship of God. They will use their gifts and abilities for the service of others according to their skills and circumstances.

Oblates of Shantivanam share in the life of the ashram family through union with mediation and prayer and the vision of the Ashram.

The Shantivanam community is glad to help those who are in quest of God following the spiritual life of Shantivanam ashram and the simple life by actively partaking in the life of Shantivanam. Oblates can also have a chance to help our social works especially to the poor and needy around the ashram. Some are confused with the difference between being an Oblate and being a Friend of Shantivanam. The difference is that the Friend of Shantivanam does not make a commitment and promise to practice the vision and life of the ashram as the oblates do but they are free to do so. In Br Martin’s invitation to be Friends of Shantivanam he says: “This is a friendship that will be cultivated around the spiritual vision and mission of the ashram with benefits extending to the many poor and needy…” It is also an invitation to ” join us in this mission, to be peacemakers in the world, fostering better understanding among the world’s religions while living out of our own mystical depth and peace.” Friends of Shantivanam are also associated with our ashram especially in our social projects and help the socio spiritual dimension of the ashram. When possible, they stay at the Ashram for periods of retreat. They may also offer spiritual assistance and advice. The ultimate purpose of being an oblate of Shantivanam is to be in spiritual union with the Shantivanam community in their spiritual journey by actively participating in the life of Shantivanam where ever you live. The Oblate of Shantivanam should be a person who cultivates love and joy where ever he/she lives. They should cultivate a quest for God and should go beyond cast or race or any divisions! An oblate always works as an instrument of peace and harmony through deep prayer, meditation, inter religious dialogues and brings unity and love all over the universe.

Shanti Shanti Shanti

With prayers

Fr. Dorathick