“Community will be humanity’s salvation’

“Community will be humanity’s salvation’
Thought for the Day

In today's #KLASSBlog, Dan, our Primary Counsellor, looks at the idea of community.

Community will be humanity’s salvation - Bede Griffiths

Father Bede Griffiths, that true icon of interspiritual thought and interreligious dialogue, lived most of his adult life in monastic communities. The founder of Shantivanam, the Benedictine ashram in Southern India, was perhaps a living symbol of that core truth at the heart of monastic and contemplative communities; That the basis of all love is self-sacrifice and that community offers us a crucible for growth in self-sacrificial love.

Father Bede GriffithsFather Bede had in mind small, functional communities with a core contemplative vision as the connective thread holding people together. As in Shantivanam, there would be no social, racial, sexual or economic barrier to entry, and no fear of the exclusion of any marginalised group or ethnicity. His writings speak directly to the paucity of the contemporary condition; That communities devoid of a contemplative heartbeat, inevitably ask members to give up who they are and to leave unexplored their deepest longings. To help with the meaningless of this, distractions that lead to an obsession with consuming flourish, which creates a false sense of aliveness. Father Bede envisioned a community in which economy serves life and not the other way around. Perhaps we are all reminded of that right now.

I’ve spent time in various monasteries over the years of my adult life and have benefitted from being around those contemplative souls for whom life in a community offers the best expression of their desire for a meaningful life. I’ve never found it easy. One thing that becomes clear in a monastery is that monks often find that the strife they had resisted and wanted to flee from in society, was in fact inside of them all along. A monastery is not a refuge from being human. The young monk comes to realise that this struggle will be repeated and even amplified within the monastery walls until resolved, and that one benefit to a contemplative community is of a collective spirit of solidarity in the face of the human condition.

The practice of ‘obedience’, in monastic terms, is also important to the solidarity of a monastic community. Within contemplative settings, obedience is ultimately a promise to work democratically (inclusive of the voice of Nature) in order to look for the consensus of the larger group and to realize that wisdom comes through a round of decision making and sharing. It is to commit to the circular rather than vertical (hierarchical) dictates of community and to co-create a rhythm of life well-balanced in work (practical necessity) and contemplation (soul making).

Like novice monks right now, in our enforced isolation within the cells of our homes, we’re perhaps given opportunity to remember the contemplative vision of community; An invitation to reintegrate the rhythmic wisdom of nature and to appreciate the benefit of a contemplative circular vision of community in our minds, homes and neighbourhoods.

How might you introduce a contemplative spirit into your notions of community? Make space right now for the stuff of life and also for silent reflection. Make space for the unlived contemplative in you and others...

The thought for the day is a short reflective writing relevant to the art of suffering well (enough) in difficult times, for parents and staff of Alice Smith. If it offers comfort amidst adversity, read the text and call it to mind when needed (even if just a short phrase from the larger text), allowing it to soak into the marrow of your bones and merge with your breath. Remember, we are all in this together…

Take good care, Dan

New call-to-action