Who Am I ?
‘Oh long and dark the stairs I trod,
With stumbling feet to find my God,
Gaining a foothold bit by bit
Then slipping back and losing it.’ (The Stairs Author Unknown)
Just when I thought I had the answer to the Holy Grail with the teachings of Sneha jhoti and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
I let it slip away again.
I am not exactly sure how it happened but somehow the simple became complex.
For the briefest of moments, a heartbeat….. The Why …The Here… slipped into another room and the ever present loving accepting I Am floated by…and was gone
And, so like all life’s journeys…. I am moving on …traveling from Tiruvannamalai to Shantivanam to visit the famous Bede Griffith ashram otherwise known as Saccidananda: The ashram of the Holy Trinity.
The ashram of the Holy Trinity in Shantivanam.
This very interesting Ashram was founded in 1950 by two French fathers Jules Monchanin and Henri Le Saux; Who, in anticipation with and preparation for, the upcoming second Vatican Council, sought to relate their own Christian experience and search of God with the Hindu quest for the Absolute, which inspired monastic life in India from the earliest times.
Fr Jules Monchanin became Parama Arubi Ananda- meaning the bliss of the Supreme Spirit. Fr Henri Le Saux became Abhishiktanada- meaning the bliss of Christ.
They also called the ashram after a Hindu Godhead ‘Saccidananda’ – meaning ‘Being, Consciousness and Bliss’ and related this to the mystery of the Holy Trinity
Unfortunately Fr Monchanin died in 1957 before the ashram could be properly established.
Swami Abhishiktananda remained at the ashram alone for several years, before leaving to live as a hermit in the Himalayas, where he died in 1973.
In 1968 after Swami Abhishiktananad’s departure the ashram was taken over by a group of monks led by Fr Bede Griffith.
In 1980 the ashram became part of the Camaldolese Benedictine Order where it remains today.
Fr Bede Griffith died in 1993.
Today, Brother John Martin Sahajananda – Camaldolese Benedictine Monk, Theologian and Author, is one of the main spiritual directors in the Shantivanam ashram.
The ethos of the ashram retains the teachings of its founders, where the community
make use of Hindu methods of prayer and meditation- Yogi
follows Christianity as well as the Hindu Doctrine (Vedanta)
utilises customs of a Hindu life, such as
o wearing the ‘Kavi ‘- the saffron coloured robe of the sannyasa,
o sitting on the floor and eating with the hand.
In this was the ashram preserves the character of poverty and simplicity which has also been the mark of the sannyasi in India.
It is the combination of the Christian and Hindu traditions which makes this ashram so fascinating
Note to self
Brother Martin’s book is a must read for anyone who believes that their chosen faith is the one true faith!!
Brother John Martin and Michael talking to us about finding a meeting point between the Verdic vision (of Hinduism) and the vision of Christ ( Christanity)
Another Note to self
Brother John Martin’s talk was very intellectual and I know certain members of our group were with him through all the instruction and dialogue. I could follow some, BUT not all of it!! Sorry!!
Anyway, what I gleamed from the lecture is this…..
- Human consciousness goes though different levels of God experience.
- Divine life is not conscious. For example, Turtles live in the sea and yet they are born on dry land. After birth, they naturally return to the ocean. It is an innate response: Likewise, with man we return to the ocean of our God experience..
- Most of us are born blind to the manifestation of God.
- Obstacles in life it is good, because they awaken the Divinity within us.
There are main Archetype Relationships with God as expressed in the Unpanishads.
And these are
- ‘Waking consciousness’. In this state the goal of life is to satisfy physical ambition and we ask God/ pray to God to satisfy ambition. In this state our happiness is limited
- In Dreaming consciousness usually triggered by exposure to Compassion and Love. The Divine Light that is within us shines forth and is awakened. We no longer live for the physical body but strive to follow the teachings of the Collective Ideal.
- In Deep Sleep Consciousness, there are no dreams, no ideals. Past comes to an end. Future comes to an end. What remains is the eternal present. Universal consciousness. There is no time. Manifested eternity is in the now
- Awakened consciousness of Brahman or Atman . The I Am. Only God is. I and God are one.
Yet another note to self
Oh no I might only be at stage 1
Brother Martin then went onto to explain how Jesus went through four very important transitions in his life in His Relationship with God
- His physical birth
- His Childhood, as a boy he went to the Temple to study the the Jewish religion and entered collective consciousness of the God of Judaism
- As he grew in wisdom He began to see limitations of the Jewish faith and he realised that Love was the most important teaching of all.
- At his Baptism he broke away from collective consciousness into universal consciousness He became aware of the awakened consciousness of Atman. I and God are one
Gosh, I hope I got it right.
As my mother used to say..It is what it is…and then some!!
HOWEVER, I plan to read his book Fully Human Fully Divine which asks the following fundamental questions
Why am I here?
Am I merely a creature of God: A manifestation of God?
Or, Am I at One with God?
Phew!!! challenging stuff … I wish I knew the answers….don’’t you
Brother Martin e mail is firstname.lastname@example.org