Tuesday, November 25, 2014
This week, I decided to do some deeper research on Shantivanam. I knew the basics and ideals from talking with Rev. Riegel, but the more planning I do, the more interested I am in the history of the ashram. Here's what I learned from my research. Shantivanam was started in 1950 by French priests as a Christian ashram, but became the multi-cultural center it is today when it was taken over by Alan (Bede) Griffiths. He had grown up poor, but graduated from Oxford in 1929 on scholarship, and later become a Benedictine monk. Some time later, Griffiths travelled to India and stayed with other Roman Catholic monks. After deciding his time with them had not fulfilled his wish to find deeper spirituality, he travelled and studied culture, eventually taking the Sanskrit name Dhayananda, meaning 'bliss of prayer'. In 1968, he began studying and teaching at Shantivanam, helping transform it into a place that taught and tolerated the theology of many religions, both eastern and western. He passed away at the age of 83 at Shantivanam on May 13th, 1993, leaving behind a legacy of love and knowledge. For more information, please visit bedegriffiths.com
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This week has been all about getting my bearings in this project. Abby and I have set up a meeting with Rev. Riegel to discuss timeframe, travel costs, and more detail about the work and practices we will be participating in at Shantivanam. At this point, my main concern is not fundraising for the trip, but the timing of it. Missing several weeks of school in the middle of my junior year will have huge consequences if I don't prepare properly. I definitely need to talk to my counselor about workload and potentially taking summer courses to lighten my workload.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I would love to say that my 20 time project came to me easily, but that would be a lie. I thought that having so much freedom in deciding what I was going to do make it easy, but I found the exact opposite to be true. So many options made it nearly impossible to decide! I was really stressed out because I was past the deadline to decide when I started speaking to Rev. Alex Riegel at my church (Grosse Pointe Unitarian). He was teaching my youth group about Hinduism in modern India and brought up a multi-religious ashram there that he takes a retreat to every couple years with a small group. My friend Abby and I asked a few questions, and he said he would love to take us next January if we can get everything together! It'll be a challenge to raise the money and figure out my schoolwork, but I think what I'm getting out of this project will be completely worth it!