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THE BETHANIAN WAY OF LIFE: A MODEL FOR

INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT TODAY


A Study on the Human Development in the Consecrated Life as Lived Out in Bethany
Ashram and its Possible Application in the Development of the Modern Human Being


U
GEORGE SEJIN JOHN OIC
ROLL NO. 11623
III B.TH.


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0

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge with
gratitude all those who lend me a helping hand in one way or another
towards the fulfillment of this task.
First of all I join my hands with utmost humility and profound
gratitude before the Almighty for inspiring and guiding me all through
the work.
My deep and sincere thanks to Rev. Dr. Philip Vysanethu OIC,
the Director of BVP, for his guidance, support and timely corrections
as the guide of this work.
My heartfelt thanks to Rev. Dr. Isaac Parackal OIC, my Superior
and Rector and to all the Rev. Fathers in Bethany Ashram, Pune for
their encouragement.
My deepest appreciation to Bro. George Thomas OIC for his
valuable feedback and corrections.
Special thanks to all my batchmates and my junior brothers for
their brotherly concern and encouragement.
Once again a big thanks to all those who played a part in the
completion of this work.
George Sejin John oic

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

GENERAL INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................... 4
CHAPTER 1
FROM HARMONY TO DISHARMONY: AN ANALYSIS OF THE
HUMAN CONDITION TODAY
1.0 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 8
1.1 Biblical and patristic understanding of human Beings: ............................................... 8
1.1.1. Human being as a composite of body, mind and soul......................................... 9
1.1.2. Relatedness ........................................................................................................ 10
1.2 An idea of integral human development ................................................................... 12
1.2.1 Development of the Body ................................................................................. 12
1.2.2 Development of the Soul ................................................................................... 13
1.2.3 Development of the Spirit ................................................................................. 14
1.2.4 Growing in ones relation with God ................................................................. 14
1.2.5 Growing in ones relation with other human beings ......................................... 14
1.2.6 Growing in ones relation with the world ......................................................... 15
1.3 The present human condition: a loss of harmony ...................................................... 16
1.3.1 Primacy of intellectual growth: a neglect of the body and spirit ...................... 17
1.3.2 Primacy of the body: a neglect of the soul and spirit ........................................ 17
1.3.3 The spiritual renaissance and the emphasis on the primacy of the spirit: a
neglect of the body and soul ............................................................................................ 18
1.3.4 The human quest for autonomy from God from God ....................................... 18
1.3.5 Rising individualism: the other as a hell. .......................................................... 19
1.3.6 Objectification and destruction of nature .......................................................... 19
1.4 Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 19
CHAPTER 2
HOLISTIC HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN THE BETHANIAN
CONSECRATED WAY OF LIFE
2.0 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 21
2.1 The Institution of Consecrated life as a model .......................................................... 22
2.2 The Problem of Consecrated Life as a Model ........................................................... 22
2.3 Bethanian Consecrated Life as a way of life and a model ........................................ 23
2

2.4 Unique aspects of Consecrated Way of Life contributing to Holistic Development 23


2.4.1 A balanced and harmonious way of life as a rule ............................................. 24
2.4.2 Self-awareness through constant self-critique and fraternal corrections .......... 24
2.4.3 Emphasis on discipline ...................................................................................... 25
2.5 Holistic human development in the Bethanian way of Consecrated Life ................. 27
2.5.1 Spiritual growth ................................................................................................. 27
2.5.2 Psychological growth in the Bethanian way of life .......................................... 28
2.5.3 Intellectual growth ............................................................................................ 29
2.5.4 Physical growth ................................................................................................. 29
2.5.5 Growth in the Cosmotheandric union ............................................................... 30
2.6 Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 32
CHAPTER 3
THE BETHANIAN MONASTIC MODEL FOR BUILDING THE LOST
HARMONY
3.0 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 34
3.1 Spiritual Growth and harmony with the Divine ........................................................ 34
3.1.1 Prayer as a genuine human need ....................................................................... 35
3.1.2 Practical approach towards spirituality ............................................................. 35
3.2 Physical Growth: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body .............................................. 38
3.3 Psychological Growth: Remaining Sane in an Insane World ................................... 38
3.4 Towards a Harmony with Fellow Beings .................................................................. 39
3.5 Towards a Harmony with the Cosmos ...................................................................... 40
3.6 Towards a Change in attitudes .................................................................................. 41
3.7 Self-awareness: a starting point towards self-renewal .............................................. 41
3.8 Putting on a new and better self: an inspiration from the monastic consecration ..... 42
3.8.1 Metanoia: a full turning back ............................................................................ 42
3.8.2 New zest towards life ........................................................................................ 43
3.8.3 New responsibilities and duties ......................................................................... 43
3.8.4 New meaning and purpose in life...................................................................... 44
3.9 Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 44

GENERAL CONCLUSION .................................................................................................. 45
BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................................. 47


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GENERAL INTRODUCTION
0.1 Harmony and Interrelatedness
There are two things in nature that astonishes humans: one, the harmony and order in the
whole of the cosmos, which the sages of our great nation would refer to as rtha and second,
the interrelatedness between all the entities that exist. Both these characteristics which are
found in the whole of the cosmos are also found in each living organism, in each tiny cell and
in each tiny atom. Hence it is without doubt that human beings also, being part of the entire
cosmos, possess these two qualities of harmony and interrelatedness. The human person is a
complex being and according to Christian anthropology, is constitutive of body, soul and
spirit. These three dimensions of the human person exist in perfect harmony and is the source
of the well being of the individual. Externally, the individual human person is interrelated to
all the other entities that exist around him. First of all he/she is connected to God who is
his/her creator, redeemer and sanctifier. Secondly, he/she is connected to the other human
beings around him/her as brothers and sisters. Finally he/she is related to the nature and
cosmos as that which nurtures and sustains him/her. Of all created reality, it is the human
person who is endowed with intelligence and freedom. Hence, the Lord God who created
human beings has appointed him/her as the steward of whole creation and has entrusted the
whole created reality to him/her to till and keep.
1

But unfortunately, humanity did not utilize this intelligence and freedom to till and keep but
rather to destroy and consume until the whole of creation is brought to naught. As a result
of this the whole order and harmony of the cosmos is now slowly turning into chaos. This
scenario is getting much worse with the onset of science and technology which has created
Weapons of Mass Destruction not only in the military context, but in every field of human
activity. Slowly and steadily, this chaotic disorder which humans create out of their greed is
affecting humans themselves because, they are after all part of this cosmic interrelatedness. In
its quest for excellence, humanity no longer is concerned about the harmonious integration of
the body, soul and spirit within each individual which has resulted in the whole system of
the human individual going haywire, thus giving rise to innumerable illnesses in all the
realms, physical, psychological and spiritual. On the extrinsic level, the cosmotheandric
interrelatedness is also slowly fading away. Each individual today is becoming increasingly
self-centred so as to question the role of the Divine, fellow human beings as well as the

1
Cf. Gen 1: 28, 2: 20.
4

environment in sustaining his/her life. In short, the harmony and interrelatedness which had
been envisaged by the Creator to be part of Creation is now threatened and the whole of
creation is moving towards extinction at a dangerous pace.
0.2 Consecrated Way of Life: A model in harmony and integration
At this juncture, what humanity needs is a metanoia a full turning back to the situation
where the world is again characterized by harmony and interrelatedness. How can this be
done? For metanoia to take place what is first and foremost needed is a change of attitudes, a
change of life-styles etc. And any change in attitude can be brought out only through a
process of education that aims at an integral human growth and development. But in the
present scenario is there any education system that brings about integral human growth?
What humanity needs today is a model of human development that proves to bring about this
growth and development in an holistic and integral way, a model that does not ignore any of
the various composites that make up his/her complex being or any of the entities to which
he/she is interrelated. In the ancient times human development always did take into
consideration all these aspects, since, every human development was aimed at teaching the
future generations, the art of living in contrast to today, where we only teach the art of
earning in our schools and colleges.
Humanity need not go far and wide to look for such a model. For, such a model is surely to
be found within the confines of monasteries, religious houses and every place on earth where
human beings embrace the monastic/consecrated life. The way of life prescribed by
monasteries and religious orders not only give stress to a holistic development of humanity,
but also equips them to be competent in worldly affairs. The daily life of the consecrated
consists of adequate time for spiritual activities, skill development, recreation, physical
activities etc. thus creating a balance way of life paying attention to the body, soul and spirit
of the individual. The consecrated way of living also is a model of growth that does not
compromise ones relatedness with the Divine, fellow human beings and the Cosmos.
0.3 Bethany ashram
Bethany ashram is a semi-monastic religious congregation founded in India by Servant of
God, Archbishop Mar Ivanios. The charism of this congregation is to imitate J esus Christ,
(the perfect human being), in his life of prayer and action (his way of life, attitudes, world
view etc.) realized within the context of Oriental Monastic Traditions and Indian Sannyasa.
5

Thus, the Bethanian way of living the consecrated life is part of the whole tradition of
monasticism (in which ever form it is manifest). Since the Consecrated Way of Life is
manifest in numerous forms each significantly different from the other, it is necessary to
concretely pick out one among the whole lot for our analysis and to prove the point. In this
paper, Bethany Ashram is the specifically picked out religious congregation, since the author
has a first-hand experience of the life lived here and it was this experience that made him
realize the importance of consecrated life as a model for integral human development.
Secondly, Bethany Ashram is unique in the sense that it combines different spiritual
traditions, the Eastern Orient, the Western Catholicism and Indian culture and spiritual
traditions. Thirdly because, balance and harmony are part of the slogans of Bethanian
Spirituality, as in balancing contemplation of Mary and the active service of Martha. This
balance is sought after the model of the Biblical Bethany where the diverse personalities of
Martha, Mary and Lazarus live together in perfect harmony. And such a place of perfect
harmony is where the Lord wishes to rest and recline,
0.4 Scope of the paper
As I began my work on this paper, I realized that I had very few researched works to bank on.
It seems that very few people have thought about the integral human development in
Consecrated Life in a serious academic way, at least, none which I have come across. In other
words, this was a road either less taken or not taken at all. As I carried on my work, I began
to realize that this is a vast topic having vast research possibilities. But at the level of a
Bachelors degree, there did not seem a scope for such a study. As a result what this paper is
about is only an introduction into this topic, a presentation of the possibilities to explore.
There are many areas in this paper where I have stopped short of a detailed elaboration and
have left open the topic for further exploration. In short, the scope of this paper is to just
introduce the various possibilities of this topic.
0.5 Division of the paper
The whole work consists of three chapters. The first chapter entitled From Harmony to
Disharmony: An Analysis of the Human Condition Today underlines the harmony and
interrelatedness in human beings on the one hand as envisaged in the Christian Anthropology
derived from the Word of God and the Oriental Church Fathers, and on the other points out
the loss of this harmony and interrelatedness in the modern era. The chapter ends on a
negative note and presents humanity as looking for a model which would present modern
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human beings with the dynamics of an integral human development. The second chapter,
Holistic Human Development in the Bethanian Consecrated Way of Life presents the
Consecrated or Monastic Way of Life, concretely lived out in the Bethanian Way of Life, as a
model for integral human development. In the third chapter, The Bethanian Monastic
Model for Building the Lost Harmony we try to apply the unique characteristics of human
development in Consecrated Way of Living, especially as that lived out in Bethany to the
problems of the modern world in order to bring about the lost harmony and interrelatedness.
With this short introduction, we embark on our journey towards restoring the harmony and
interrelatedness that human beings are on the verge of losing, whereby it looks towards
harnessing the ancient wisdom enshrined in the Monastic-Consecrated Way of Life, in order
to bring about an integral human development.

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CHAPTER 1
FROM HARMONY TO DISHARMONY: AN ANALYSIS OF THE
HUMAN CONDITION TODAY

1.0 Introduction
We begin our journey by analyzing the present human condition. The revealed Word of God
manifest as Scripture and Tradition (mainly the teachings of the Church and the fathers of the
eastern orient) helps us to develop a Christian theological anthropology which effects as a
reference point for our analysis. God is the author of the whole of creation. Hence it is not
surprising to find order and harmony in the whole of cosmos. When this harmony is viewed
with respect to humans, we find that humans are part of the harmony extrinsically and
intrinsically. Regarding intrinsic balance, the Biblical and Patristic teachings view human
beings as a harmonious combination of body, soul and spirit. But modern humanity with its
misplaced priorities emphasizes one at the cost of the other thus tilting the balance.
Extrinsically humans have a balanced relationship with God and the whole of the created
cosmos. God, humans and cosmos form a wonderful harmony of relationship which is
described as Raimundo Panicker as the cosmotheandric relationship. We shall also see in
this chapter the problems faced by humanity when this order too is trampled upon.
1.1 Biblical and patristic understanding of human Beings:
The biblical understanding of human beings begin with the assertion that human being is
created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26,27). Such an assertion has a deep
implication as far as human dignity and ethics is concerned. In fact the entire Christian
anthropology is transfixed upon this single understanding of humans as the Image of God.
But in this paper, we do not take this understanding any further because it falls outside the
scope of this paper and leads to conclusions we do not wish to reach. Another view of human
beings in the Hebrew understanding that builds upon this idea of the Image is that of human
beings as composite of body, soul and spirit.
2

2
Christian theologians would rush to point out that this is the Trinitarian dimension in humans since they are
created in the Image of God who is Trinity.
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1.1.1. Human being as a composite of body, mind and soul


The Greeks understood human beings as a composite of body and soul. However, the Hebrew
understanding stresses upon a trichotomic combination of body, soul and spirit. In Christian
literature, this anthropological understanding is first seen in Paul who in his letter to the
Thessalonians say, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your
whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord J esus Christ comes
again.
3
The Husoyo prayer used during the Holy Qurbono according to West Syrian Liturgy
also reonates this idea of the Human Person, Give rest to their souls, spirits and bodies and
shed the dew of your mercy and compassion on them.
4
The three constitutive elements of
humans namely body, soul and spirit are in constant harmony with each other. Each of them
has a particular role in shaping the identity of the human person. The inter-connectedness is
stressed by Isaac of Nineveh would put it as follows: This spiritual element is often pitched
against the flesh in as much as its desires are opposed to those of the flesh. It is the soul
which is endowed with the gift of rationality and therefore freedom, which has to make a
choice as to let the body have its way or the spirit. The spirits desires correspond to the
Divine will and in following the spirits desires over that of the body, the human person
attains nobility. Thus, human being is a harmonious existence of body, soul and spirit.
5

1.1.1.1. Human being as the body
In Greek thought there are two separate terms to denote body and flesh each with its distinct
meaning. Sarx is the word used for flesh whereas the body is called soma. The Hebrew
thought holds no such distinction. For the Hebrews there is only basar which literally means
flesh, but understood as body. In fact, the very concept of flesh in Hebrew corresponds to
the combination of the Greek concepts of body and soul.
6
In other words, flesh in the Old
Testament understanding stands for the whole person.
1.1.1.2. Human being as the soul
The word soul appears 754 times in the Old Testament with a variety of meanings. It simply
denotes breath, respiration, a sign of life, or in certain cases, throat or breathing canal. But
primarily, the soul is the principle of life which renders a man living. Soul is not a

3
1 Thess 5:23
4
The Order of the Holy Qurbono of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, English Translation, Trivandrum,
2012, 23
5
See also Thomas Panicker, Some Features of Syriac Spirituality, Aikya Samiksha, September 2006: 5-15
6
Cf. J oseph Fichtner, O.S.C., Theological Anthropology: The Science of Man in His Relations to God, Nortre
Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963, 14
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disincarnated reality like Greek thought, but the whole of man (Gen 2:7). The departure of
the soul causes death. It is the seat of psychic phenomenon and religious sentiments. In this
regard, it is often parallel with the spirit but closely linked with body organs such as the
throat and blood. According to Isaac of Nineveh, the soul has higher and lower elements. The
higher element is often named as the intellect or mind (nous). The lower element of the
soul corresponds to the souls constant temptation to turn aside from the spirit and yield to the
attraction of the body. It is the source of the instincts and passions.
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1.1.1.3. Human being as the spirit
Spirit is not strictly a supernatural reality but through it human being encounters the divine
Spirit of God, which makes possible a life with God. Specifically, it means breath or wind. It
implies something of a dynamic quality, a moving, active force within humans. God has
endowed human beings with the spirit so that he/she be open to the supernatural and docile to
the entry of God in him/her. By means of it, the human individual is prepared for
participation in the life of the divine Spirit.
8
In short, the spirit is the supernatural concept
proper to revelation. It enables human beings to enter into dialogue with God.
1.1.2. Relatedness
Every human being is engaged in a harmonious relationship on three levels: first with the
Divine, secondly with other human beings and finally with the cosmos. This cosmotheandric
vision of reality, pointed out by Panicker would help us to explore and analyze some of the
problems faced by humanity today.
1.1.2.1. Human beings related to the divine
God is related to the human in as much as He is the humans creator and protector. Further
the human is created in the image and likeness of God and hence have a semblance to Him
in the humans very nature. In contrast to all other creatures, human beings stand in direct
relationship to God. Between a human and God there is the possibility of correspondence.
Thus a fundamental dialogical character constituting the vertical dimension of his existence is
underlined. Human being in this respect is a unique creature on earth; he or she is a person to
whom God speaks and who in turn answers Him. Further through the incarnation and death
on the cross, God opens wide the doors of communication to humanity.

7
Cf. Manoj Odalil OIC, Spiritual Vision of Man: A Study based on the Complete works of St. Isaac of Nineveh,
Rome: Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1999, 68
8
Fichtner, 14
10

1.1.2.2. Human beings related to each other


The human being is related to the other in terms of being a brother, neighbour, and member
of the body of Christ. Primarily every human being depends on and needs the assistance of
other human beings to exist and prosper on earth. No one can even come into existence
without another human beings. Hence all of humanity is related to one another.
1.1.2.3. Human beings related to creation and the world
Human beings live in the realm of nature and are constantly surrounded by it and interact
with it. As creatures they are constantly aware of the influence of nature in the form of the air
they breathe, the water they drink, the food they eat etc. Christian theology reminds us time
and again that God, looking at creation constantly said to Himself that it was good. Hence an
authentic Christian theology would emphasis on this relation of human beings with nature.
The bearing on human beings being created in the image and likeness of God is that he is
required to dominate, have control and to tend and keep. Often interpreted in a distorted
way, today theologians emphasis on stewardship as the role of human beings envisaged by
God with regard to the created world. Humanity is able to transform the face of the earth by
its works.
Another aspect of the relation between humans and the created reality is that the latter helps
the former to praise, glorify and know God. In the letter to the Romans Paul reminds us that
creation is the basic and most natural means of Gods revelation, Ever since the creation of
the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been
understood and seen through the things he has made.
9
In the Book of Daniel we read:
Let the earth bless the Lord. Praise and exalt him above all forever. Mountains and
hills, bless the Lord. Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord. You springs,
bless the lord. Seas and rivers, bless the Lord. You dolphins and all water creatures,
bless the Lord. Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord. All you birds of
the air, bless the Lord. All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord, you sons of
men, bless the Lord
10

In his Message for the 41st World Day of Peace, 1 J anuary 2008, Pope Benedict XVI placed
his understanding of peace, creation, responsibility and love into the context of the family and
the environment. He wrote: The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop
its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that

9
Rom 1:20
10
Dan 3:52
11

God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for
the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with
responsible freedom, with, the good of all as a constant guiding criterion
11

1.2 An idea of integral human development
Though the Bible very vividly describes the creation account, recent inroads in science would
challenge us to read between the lines of the narrative that is more concerned with theological
understanding rather than recording history. Modern science would describe evolution as
the process through which the world we see has come to being. The Church though hesitant
in the beginning now, accepts evolution but presents it in such a way as to point to God as the
cause of evolution. Whatever be the case there is no doubt that evolution is a part and parcel
of Being. In other words, to be is to be in growth. Anything that does not undergo some
change or the other as part of the evolution process is a non-being. Hence, today we have the
understanding of creation as a process through which God creates the potent being and
endows it with the capacity to evolve and develop while maintaining an epistemic
distance
12
as eminent professor Cyril Desbruslais SJ of the faculty of philosophy at J DV
would put it. Hence the keyword in every branch of knowledge that studies reality is
growth, or evolution or development. When it comes to humans, we know that the very
nature of human being is very complex as we have seen above. Hence any development of
the human being has to be an integral development: a development that involves the whole of
his/her being, of all his/her faculties. In other words, an integral development of the human
being would involve the development of the body, of the soul, and of the spirit. But for
human beings, growth, or integral growth cannot take place in isolation because human being
is a related being. Hence integral development or growth would also involve a growth in
relatedness to God, other human beings and the world.
1.2.1 Development of the Body
Christian theology, especially the Western counterpart, influenced by Socrates, Augustine
and philosophies like Gnosticism, Manichaeism often downplayed the body and matter as
evil and as a burden to the soul which was spiritual and nearer to God. While the soul desired
good, the flesh would not only prevent the good, but persuade it into sin and evil. But such a
thought is alien to the Biblical understanding of the human person as seen above. God

11
L'Osservatore Romano English Edition [ORE], 19/26 December 2007, n. 7, p. 8
12
Cf. Cyril Desbruslais, The Human Person, Pune: J nana Deepa Vidyapeeth, 34
12

himself testifies to the goodness of matter. God saw everything that he had made, and
indeed, it was very good. and he saw that everything was good.
13
The Eastern fathers while
insisting on disciplining the body in order to achieve spiritual growth, never did really call the
body or flesh as intrinsically evil. Secondly, Christian theology stresses on the resurrection of
the body. At resurrection the body is raised from the dead attains a glorified form. Regarding
the theology of the body, the Second Vatican Council teaches us thus:
Through his (human beings) very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements
of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection
and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the creator. For this reason man may
not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold
it in honour since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.
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From these perspectives we can safely conclude, that according to the Christian
understanding, the body is as important as the soul or the spirit. Hence any development of
the human person cannot take place while neglecting the seat of the material reality in beings,
namely the body.
1.2.2 Development of the Soul
The fathers believed that the soul possesses the spiritual faculties of intellect, will and mind.
Besides, the soul was also the seat of all emotions. Plato suggested that the soul of humans
have three parts: rational, irascible and appetitive. Isaac of Nineveh terms them as
concupiscible, the irascible and the rational. In any case, a harmony is attained only when the
rational part is able to attain mastery over the lower forces.
15
This understanding seems to be
a pre-runner to the understanding of the mind developed by the father of psychology, Freud
who talks about the id, ego and the super-ego, with the super-ego balancing the id and the
ego. All this points to the fact that, what the fathers mean here to be the soul or the non-
material principle in human beings is in fact a combination of what we today perceive as the
intellect, will and mind and emotions. Hence an integral human development would also
involve intellectual, volatile, psychological and also emotive development. In such a view of
growth, the EQ, or the Emotional Quotient which measures the maturity of emotional
behavior is as important as the IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, which measures the intellectual
capacity and aptitude of the person.

13
Gen 1:31
14
Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, [Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World] (7
December 1965) in, Vatican Council II, Vol I: The Concilliar and Post Concilliar Documents, ed. Flannery,
O.P., Austin. Bandra: St. Pauls, 2010, 794- 879, no. 14
15
Odalil, 72
13

1.2.3 Development of the Spirit


As we have seen above, the spirit which is the element of the Divine in human beings enables
the human to reach out to the Divine and yearn for communication and communion with
Him. From ancient times people have devised ways and methods to help the human spirit
grow in maturity. These include, prayer, meditation, contemplation, observance of silence,
penance, yoga and ascetical practices. Volumes and volumes have been written by great
sages and especially the fathers, doctors and saints of the Church. Of these the famous ones
are The Ladder of Divine Ascent by J ohn Climacus, The Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius
Loyola, among many other. Even if one doesnt believe in God, one has to allow their spirits
to grow and mature. Though they do not believe in God, they ought to spend time with
themselves to listen to the voice within themselves and to get in touch with their innermost
self. They could observe silence and solitude and help their spirits grow integrally with the
body and soul.
1.2.4 Growing in ones relation with God
In the Genesis account we see human beings walking in the garden hand in hand with God
and communicating as if to a friend. This relation is now destroyed due to sin and human
beings need to yearn to regain this communion. By the passion, death and resurrection of
Christ, once again, the door of Divine-Human relationship is opened up. God has done
everything in His power to bring humanity back to Him and now its humanitys turn to return
to the invitation of God.
This relatedness to God helps human beings in their growth and development towards
fullness and maturity. The Spirit of God constantly accompanies and guides the human
person in his/her journey towards the final destiny, which is essentially the fullness of this
relation. This guidance is concretely given to humanity through the Word of God, inspired
human beings, Church, sacraments etc. Openness to these realities and especially to the Spirit
of God would help a person to grow.
1.2.5 Growing in ones relation with other human beings
From the womb to the tomb every human being is dependent on a number of other human
beings for their growth and development. In fact human beings grow together as a
community and not as isolated individuals. Hence an integral or holistic human development
cannot rule out the growth of inter-relatedness among human beings.
14

The Vatican II document Church in the Modern World underlines that God in his fatherly
care for us, desired that all human beings should form one family and deal with each other in
a spirit of brotherhood. It reminds us that love of God and of ones neighbour, is the first and
the greatest commandment.
16
According to the teaching of the Church, among the social ties
necessary for human development, some correspond more immediately to the innermost
nature of man. These include the family and the political community; others flow rather from
his free choice.
17

According to the conciliar vision, man is a being who exists in relationships. J ean Galot in his
commentary on Gen 1:26-28 highlights the interpersonal aspect in biblical anthropology. He
puts it in this way: it is a community that is created in the image of the community of divine
persons. Human beings are placed relationally to one another. They exist mutually. There is
no representation here of being for itself which preceded the being for others. Since their
origin, they appeared as being relational.
18

1.2.6 Growing in ones relation with the world
The simple word world conjures a variety of meanings and ideas. Here we take into
consideration, the creation and the material reality into which human beings are placed. The
Word of God proclaims unto us that the human person is placed at the crown of creation. He
has the special vocation to have dominion and to till and keep. Nature and created reality
all help us in our journey towards our final destiny. It helps us in our quest for growth and
maturation. It aids not only by providing us and fulfilling our physical needs, but they also
meet our spiritual needs. In his book Meditation: Hindu-Christian meeting point Francis
Acharya of Blessed Memory, writes of three books of meditation: they are, the Book of
Creation, the Book of the Human Heart and the Book of Gods Word. About the Book of
Creation he writes: The Book of Creation is the whole universe with its order, with all its
beauty and glory and mystery, seen as an epiphany (in Greek) or darshan of his invisible
nature, his wisdom and his power.
19

16
Cf. GS 24
17
GS 25
18
George Karakunnel, The Christian Vision of Man. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 1984, 85 quoted
from J . Galot, La Personne du Christ, Gembloux, 1968, 49,50.
19
Francis Acharya, Meditation: Hindu Christian Meeting Point, Kottayam: Kurisumala Ashram, 2005, 16
15

1.3 The present human condition: a loss of harmony


Thus it is without doubt that the human person, a complex reality is indeed a harmonious
being. The three composites or rather the three states of being of the human person namely
the body, soul and spirit exist in harmony with one another and as we have seen any human
growth and development that rules out one of these would be a thwarted or retarded growth.
Another aspect of the holistic growth we have already seen is the cosmotheandric inter-
relatedness which has to be regarded when talking of growth.
Coming to the present day situation, we find a loss of harmony in the being of the human
person where this holistic or integral human development would be ignored. Development or
human growth in our times is often profit-oriented and not human oriented. We are living in
an age where the human being is considered as only an object for use. Hence no development
is human oriented, rather money or wealth-oriented. Such a shift in orientation is taking a toll
on the human person. A growth that does not consider the holistic human development would
result in disharmony and imbalance. Issac of Nineveh, who lived centuries ahead of us had
already envisaged such a situation. Fr. Manoj Odalil OIC, who did his research on Isaac of
Nineveh, says:
Isaac insists that man who is composed of body and soul and functions on these three
levels must have a harmonious disposition in his way of excellence. For, when there is
an imbalance in one of the parts, it does not keep the original measure of its stamp.
The original measure is the state of man before the fall.
20

Though many imbalances exist in todays human growth, we shall here consider a few of the
misplaced priorities which give birth to these imbalances and disharmony. First of all there is
a tendency towards a misplaced priority given to the intellectual growth and development of
skills so much that the human person today has ignored the body and spirit to his
disadvantage. Secondly we have another group who might give priority to the growth of the
body, a growth which ignores the spiritual and in certain cases psychological and intellectual
growth. Finally as a reaction to the first two, we have a group of people who emphasis on the
growth and development of the spirit so much so that the body, intellect and psyche are
ignored.

20
Odalil, 76
16

1.3.1 Primacy of intellectual growth: a neglect of the body and spirit


For the average human being of our century, the schools and colleges are institutions that aide
in growth and development. An analysis of the syllabi of the schools and colleges would
reveal that great stress and importance is given to equip the children to acquire skills that
would help them in getting a good job in the future. What the modern education system fails
to teach is the art of living. The modern human person is ill equipped to cope with the
pressures of life. Ignoring the spiritual aspect within him/her has left human beings without a
mechanism to face the challenges of life boldly. He/she has simply lost one perspective of
looking at reality, a perspective which helps him/her to see that the problem in front of
him/her can indeed be dealt with ones inner strength and courage.
Again, in the pursuit for excellence and profit, the modern human person has ignored his/her
health again leading to disharmony and imbalance. Hence we have an onslaught of lifestyle
disease and disorders, stress related health problems, etc. affecting every other person we
come across. The irony is such that even doctors treating high blood pressure may have high
blood pressure due to work-related stress.
1.3.2 Primacy of the body: a neglect of the soul and spirit
If the modern education system goes to one extreme of overstressing the intellect and mind,
neglecting the body and spirit, there is another extreme which overstresses the aspects of the
body. On the one hand we have tremendous stress being given to health and physical fitness
and on the other there is a tendency towards luxury and comfort. As wealth multiplies, the
standard of living increases and a culture of comfort sets in. Technologies especially
television, internet and the mobile phone are increasingly turning not only adults but young
children as well into couch potatoes. When these very people are threatened by lifestyle
diseases and problems related to health, they have no hesitation in spending lakhs on gym
facilities and sliming centres to even cosmetic surgeries. As a reaction to this we have
growing number of fitness gurus and health magazines that focus on improving and
attaining the perfect body. Thus a growing number of people are obsessed with their bodies
to the extent that they are no longer concerned about their spiritual or psychological health.
All these alienate humanity from its real nature as the image of God.
17

1.3.3 The spiritual renaissance and the emphasis on the primacy of the spirit: a neglect
of the body and soul
The pace at which the world is ignoring the spiritual dimension of humanity is not without
reaction. Today humanity, which seeks answers and has found none so far, is finally looking
for answers in the spiritual realm after having found no solution in other spheres. Hence there
is a renewed interest in the Word of God, prayer, meditation etc. But the problem comes
when this renewed interest is exploited by some quarters to attract followers and with it profit
and wealth. Such individuals and groups survive by overstressing on the spiritual aspect of
human beings giving no consideration to psychological, intellectual or the physical needs of
human beings. Examples of such cases range from many of the retreat centers (as in Kerala)
to god-men who are concerned about their own hype and not on the holistic development of
human beings. As seen above, a holistic development of human beings would stress on equal
importance of the mind, intellect, body and all the faculties of growth.
1.3.4 The human quest for autonomy from God
21

Humanitys quest for independence from God begins in paradise when they (the first parents)
pluck and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad which God had forbidden
them. The Serpent entices them with the very words, you shall be like God.
22
This act of
rebellion against God is known in common parlance and J ewish-Christian religious literature
as sin. Gaudium et spes points out that:
man (humanity) enticed by the evil one, abused his (/her) freedom at the very start
of history. He lifted himself up against God, and sought to attain his goal apart from
him.
23
Although they had known God, they did not glorify him as God, but their
senseless hearts were darkened, and they served the creature rather than the creator.
For when man looks into his own heart he finds that he is drawn towards what is
wrong and sunk in many evils which cannot come from his good creator. Often
refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the relationship which
should link him to his last end; and at the same time he has broken the right order that
should reign within himself as well as between himself and other men and all
creatures.
24

Today, humanitys quest for autonomy has taken worse forms. Atheism is one among them.
Modern atheism which has taken on a systematic form insists on mans desire for autonomy
as to object to any dependence on God at all. This is again pointed out by GS which says:

21
This phrase is used by the Second Vatican Council and seen in GS no. 20
22
Gen 3:4
23
GS no. 13
24
Rom 1: 21,25
18

those who profess this kind of atheism maintain that freedom consists in this, that man is an
end to himself, and the sole maker, with supreme control, of his own history. So far as God
as a reality is deeply related to human beings as their creator and as one who loves them to
the point of folly, any growth or development without Him is not a healthy growth.
1.3.5 Rising individualism: the other as hell
Nowadays for various reasons mutual relationships and interdependence increase from day
to day and give rise to a variety of associations and organizations, both public and private.
Socialization, as it is called, is not without its dangers, but it brings with it many advantages
for the strengthening and betterment of human qualities and for the protection of human
rights.
25
This is what Gaudium et spes has had to say about human relations today. But 50
years down the lane, we see that things today are very different from what the Church had
envisaged. The recent onslaught of media and technology was considered as a breakthrough
in improving human-to-human relations. But a simple observation of society today reveals
that human beings are becoming more and more individualistic. Each one is enclosed within
ones own shell not willing to accommodate or even acknowledge the existence of the other.
An increasing number of people seem to agree with the Sartian principle of the other as a
hell. Such an individualistic growth does not fit into the vision of an integral development of
man.
1.3.6 Objectification and destruction of nature
Much has been written and said about humanitys attitude to look upon nature as an object of
exploitation for its own selfish needs. This paper therefore does not seek to elaborate any
further. For its holistic growth towards maturation and its final end, humanity requires the
help of nature. J ust as a child is nourished by its mother, Mother Nature nourishes us with her
bounty and carries us forward on our journey towards our final destiny. Therefore the
destruction of nature is not desirable for humanity. Not only is it undesirable, it is also
suicidal. The recent change in the climatic conditions, depletion of the ozone etc. point out
that its high time to draw the line.
1.4 Conclusion
The order and harmony within human beings and their interrelatedness with realities outside
them has now been destroyed by humans themselves. As each day passes, the situation is

25
GS no. 25
19

only getting worse. The need of the hour is to show that an integral human development is
not only most necessary, but also a practical and viable solution. One institution where this
integral human development takes place and still takes place is Monasticism. The way of life
prescribed by monasteries and religious orders not only give stress to a holistic development
of humanity, but also equips them to be competent in worldly affairs. In the next chapter we
shall explore upon the monastic way of life as a model for holistic human development.

20

CHAPTER 2
HOLISTIC HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN THE BETHANIAN
CONSECRATED WAY OF LIFE

2.0 Introduction
Archimandrite Boniface in his book Eastern Monasticism and the Future of the Church,
explains the need for paradigms in human society in the following manner, All human
activity directed toward a transcendent goal and meant to build up community, needs an
exemplar as its model and incentive, a model that incarnates as in a life-giving root the
principal values that this community is meant to materialize in its myths and institutions.
Such a paradigm works as a constant presence or anticipation of the goal as if already
attained, and hence as a norm for living, an uplifter to hang on to, a boost to spur us on and to
inspire us.
26

In the previous chapter we have seen how modern humanity yearns to restore balance and
harmony not only within themselves but also in relation to external and internal realities.
Monasticism or in general the Consecrated Life in Christianity has been a champion of this
balanced way of life especially in the modern era where more scientific studies have shown
the genuine needs of human beings. Today, institutions of Consecrated Life have tried to
correct the mistakes of the past where certain aspects of human growth were overlooked or
neglected. Hence, we could say that the whole institution of the Consecrated Life has
positively responded to the modern anthropological studies and vie with one another to
provide holistic growth and development to their human resources. As far as the author of
this paper is concerned the concept of Consecrated Life is actualized and concretized by his
own congregation, the Order of the Imitation of Christ or commonly known as Bethany
Ashram. It is here that he has experienced this holistic growth. Hence this whole chapter is
concerned with an analysis of the Bethanian Way of Living: the way of living out
consecrated life according to the charism of Bethany, and how it serves as a model or
paradigm that, as Archimandrite Boniface had said, serves as a norm for living, an uplifter to
hang on to, a boost to spur us on and to inspire us.

26
Archimandrite Boniface, Eastern Monasticism and the Future of the Church, Kottayam: Oriental Institute of
Religious Studies India, 1993, 77
21

2.1 The Institution of Consecrated life as a model


Monastic or religious life is a life of perfection wherein a person who enters into this life
aims to attain perfection through daily practice of virtues and spiritual exercises. This quest
for perfection in the spiritual hemisphere of ones life gradually spills out into other spheres
as is evident in the history of consecrated life. Thus gradually throughout the centuries,
monastic life has become an institution where human beings model their lives on the perfect
human being J esus Christ constantly pursue perfection not only in spiritual matters but in
spheres of the mind, body and intellect. Consecrated life has thus become that institution
which not only inspires but also provides means to form human beings into better human
beings providing them with all the means to pursue a holistic development through a life of
harmony and balance.
Consecrated life has proved that this is possible through its history of around two thousand
years. Throughout the centuries, though the external form of consecrated life has changed
from covenantal life to eremitism to coenobitism and finally to the modern religious orders,
the basic ideal of monasticism as a life of constant pursuit of perfection to the extent possible
by humans remains. In other words forming a perfect human being is the ultimate aim of the
consecrated life. By the term a perfect human being, what is meant is a human person
developed in all his/her faculties and dimensions, of body, soul and spirit as we have
envisaged in the first chapter. Thus consecrated life which modeled on the perfect human
being Christ, who is the perfect image of God, seeks to restore the image of God which
human beings have lost in the paradise through the first sin and disobedience.
2.2 The Problem of Consecrated Life as a Model
Often in the past the opposite have been said of consecrated life, especially monasticism in
the middle ages. It is true that most of the time consecrated life has churned out human beings
devoid of humanity, true emotions, feelings and even maturity in terms of psychological
development. It is true that out of every thousand who pursue this life only a few may attain
the perfection we have claimed above. We extol them as saints and try to emulate their lives.
Their life-stories are quoted often to inspire the younger generations. At times we have a
Pachomios, an Antony, a Basil, a Benedict, a Theresa of Avila or Lesieux or Kolkatta. But
the truth is that for every saint, every good monk who is closer to perfection, there are a good
number of monks and nuns who fail to make it even closer to perfection. But the very fact
that indeed a good number make it to the closer to perfection state vindicates the very
22

institution of consecrated life in general. We cannot overlook the fact of human freedom
wherein every human being is able to choose his/her formative influences that shapes up
his/her life for the better or worse. Thus the very life of the large number of persons who
have succeeded in their pursuits point to the fact that monasticism indeed does possess the
means to a holistic human development which is nothing less than perfection. Thus
consecrated life takes after the Irenean axiom, The glory of God is human being fully alive.
2.3 Bethanian Consecrated Life as a way of life and a model
What is true for Consecrated Life in general is also true as far as Bethanian Consecrated Life
is concerned. That the Bethanian way of life indeed is a way of life that promotes integral and
holistic human development is the very experience of the author who has been living this life
for around twelve years. One cannot deny this fact when one compares oneself with the
generation of ones companions with whom one had lived before taking up the Bethanian
way of Consecrated Life. Anybody who wishes to experience this may live a few days in any
of the Bethany Ashrams where strict religious routine is followed and experience this balance
and harmony for oneself. If that is too much, then a detailed study of the Daily Time-Table of
such houses would suffice to understand it at least at the intellectual level if not at the
experiential level. A Bethanian on an average spends a good deal of his (we shall consider the
mens order since the author of this paper belongs to it) time in pursuit of spiritual activities
and experience of the Divine. The time he devotes to contemplation, divine office and
Eucharist is the prime time, the mornings and the evenings described in Indian tradition as the
shubha-muhurtha. As soon as ones spiritual pursuit is over, one engages in the different
fields of ones activity. In between one is given adequate time to pursue studies, to read,
update ones knowledge and skills, to recreate, to chat leisurely with other members of the
community, pursue sports, cultivation, gardening etc. and all this is done within the short
span of twenty-four hours which includes an adequate sleep of about six hours as well. All
these activities belong to different spheres of ones existence and hence contribute to the
growth of the different dimensions of ones being, thus leading to a holistic development.
2.4 Unique aspects of Consecrated Way of Life contributing to Holistic
Development
Consecrated Life especially monasticism has always been and still is acclaimed as the power
house of the Church. Having its humble birth in Egypt, monasticism spread out to Syria and
Palestine and the later into the Latin West. By the dawn of the modern era, monasticism had
23

evolved in the West into religious congregations and apostolic institutes though some
monasteries do still exist. During this long history of evolution, consecrated life has churned
out great luminaries, spiritual stalwarts, thinkers, etc. who have not only provided the Church
with a sense of direction but also inspired humanity in general to pursue excellence first of all
in their spiritual lives and along with it in all the diverse dimensions of their lives. Through
its centuries long course of history, consecrated life has developed some unique
characteristics that make it make it an excellent model for holistic human development. Some
of these characteristics are as follows:
2.4.1 A balanced and harmonious way of life as a rule
We have already seen that the Bethanian lives a balanced and harmonious life engaging in
activities that contribute to his holistic and integrated growth. What needs to be pointed out
here is that this balance is sought to be maintained as a rule at all levels by the members of
the congregation especially the seniors. The author himself has had the experience in the first
year of formation, when a senior priest had scolded him for spending too much time in
prayer when instead he should be spending time in leisurely pursuits with his brothers. This
author did not know then that ones relationship with ones brothers is as important as ones
relation with God to the extent that the former is not to be sacrificed at the altar of the latter.
Another example that could be given would be of the situation when the whole community
might return from a programme, a trip or picnic at the end of the day tired and exhausted and
the superior might still insist that we come to the chapel and spend a few minutes in silence
and quiet reflection. Most often, after such a short silent meditation, many seem to be
energized and refreshed. In such cases, the superior, knowingly or unknowingly displays
wisdom which seeks to maintain the balance that is typical of the Bethanian way of life.
There are many other examples but to recount all of them would be beyond the scope of this
paper.
2.4.2 Self-awareness through constant self-critique and fraternal corrections
Leaders thrive by understanding who they are and what they value, by becoming aware of
unhealthy blind spots or weaknesses that can derail them, and by cultivating the habit of
continuous self-reflection and learning,
27
says Chris Lowney to whom this author owes the
idea that self-awareness is of much value in todays leadership skills. Lowney analyses J esuit
history and way of life to give his leaders ample lessons in leadership and management. One

27
Chris Lowney, Heroic Leadership: Principles for Lasting Success. Mumbai: Better Yourself Books, 2008, 30
24

of the most important leadership lessons for him, as already mentioned is self-critique and
evaluation that leads to self-awareness. Though Lowney presents this as a J esuit quality, this
is in fact true of every religious order or monastery in the Christian consecrated life and
naturally in the Bethanian way of living too. The Holy Rule of the Order of the Imitation of
Christ (Bethany Ashram) prescribes spiritual reading, daily examination of conscience,
monthly recollections and annual retreats as tools for self-awareness.
28

The Daily examination of conscience is of two types: General and Particular. In the general
examination of conscience, one examines ones entire day to discover ones faults and to
correct them with the help of God. This is usually done after the night prayers. Particular
examination of conscience is where one focuses on one particular vice and seeks to correct it.
Particular examination is usually done at mid-day, after the noon prayers.
29
Besides these, a
day of every month is assigned as Monthly Recollection where the entire past month is
examined and an Annual Recollection of not less than five days every year.
30

If the daily, monthly and annual examinations are personal and subjective, there is also
another mechanism in the consecrated life through which one sees oneself through the eyes of
the other. This mechanism is none other than fraternal corrections. Since consecrated life is
a life of perfection, it is not surprising that co-pilgrims that we are, we help one another in
this pursuit by pointing out ones drawbacks and correcting them with fraternal love. The
Holy Rule exhorts followers of the Bethanian ideal to accept with humility any corrections
and punishments on the one hand and on the other to help one another to correct
shortcomings in a spirit of charity. It asks the superiors to do so through exhortations and
above all through good example. The Holy Rule also talks about an assembly of the members
of a house at least once a month, for prayerful self-examination, fraternal dialogue and
corrections.
31

2.4.3 Emphasis on discipline
From the time of Pachomios who introduced community life into consecrated life, discipline
came to be synonymous with the consecrated life. Think of religious life and one thinks of
rules, regulations, a strictly followed time-table, mortification, obedience, etc. All these have
one name in common and that is discipline. The very word used for one aspiring to this life is

28
Cf. The Holy Rule of the Order of the Imitation of Christ, Kottayam, 2000, nos.188, 189, 198, 199
29
Cf. Mishihanukarana Sanyasa Samuhathinte Acharanushtanangal (Malayalam). Kottayam, 2003, no. 252.
30
Cf. Holy Rule (HR) 199
31
Cf. HR 152
25

disciple i.e. one who strives towards a life of discipline. This discipline is brought into the
life of a monk/nun through various means; some of the most relevant are presented below.
2.4.3.1 The religious vows
The religious vows of obedience, chastity and poverty are the most solemn means by which a
monk/nun binds himself/herself to the consecrated life. It is the symbol of ones dedication to
God and a renewal of the baptismal vows. Servant of God Mar Ivanios, the founder of the
Bethany Congregations and the one who envisaged the Bethanian way of life, equates
religious consecration with the Biblical Holocaust which is the ultimate form of sacrifice
according to the J ewish customs.
32
Obedience, the first of the vows is acclaimed as the
foundation of all religious discipline.
33
For the practice of obedience one needs to subject
ones will to the will of God which is manifest through the will of the Superior.
34
The vow of
Chastity requires that one disciplines ones thoughts, hearts and senses by diligently watching
over them, especially the eyes, ears tongue and touch and that one keep away from all
unhealthy relationships.
35
The vow of poverty enjoins one to keep away from the love of
wealth and temptations towards luxurious goods and their usage. In other words, it entreats us
to discipline ourselves from vainglorious pursuits which lead to pride.
2.4.3.2 The daily time-table
As already mentioned earlier, the daily time-table is what infuses discipline into the lives of
the consecrated. This time-table should either be a common one or in the absence of a
common one, at least a personal one. Compared to great spiritual exercises, obeying the time-
table may not seem to be a big deal especially given the fact that it hardly invites much
serious censure. But history claims that mere obedience of the daily time-table has made
saints out of ordinary religious. As we have already seen earlier, the daily time-table is in
itself balanced with human activity that spreads out into every sphere and dimension of
human existence and growth. By obeying this time-table faithfully, one is rightly on the path
to perfection i.e. an integrated and holistically developed individual.

32
Cf. Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Girideepam (Mountain Lamp), ed. Dr. Antony Valiyavilayil OIC, Trivandrum:
Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, 2006, 133
33
HR 83
34
Archbishop Mar Ivanios, A Guide to the Malankara Sanyasa, ed. Dr. Antony Valiyavilayil OIC, Trivandrum:
Cause of Canonization of Mar Ivanios, 2006, 93
35
Cf. HR 99
26

2.4.3.3 Silence
Though silence belongs to the sphere of contemplation and prayer, it is also relevant in
disciplining a person. Fr. Placid OIC, once novice master of the congregation and an
exemplary religious, had introduced the Indian concept of mauna vratha among novices.
Every day each novice is to undertake mauna vratha i.e. the vow of silence while the others
were exempt from it. While all the others indulged in recreation (as permitted), this poor
monk had to maintain silence even when ridiculed or scolded. He had to bear everything in
humility and silence. This practice had instilled a lot of will-power and a sense of discipline
in the life of the novices.
2.4.3.4 A sense of nishkama (detachment)
Fr. Placid writing under the pseudonym J nanadas writes in his article, One who desires Yoga
and approaches the guru should be one who has renounced everything and is totally detached.
Among the things to be detached include most importantly, wealth, sensual pleasures and
pride. This trinity is the cause of attachment (raga). The renunciation of the same is
detachment (vairagya). Detachment leads to Yoga. The essence of Gitas teaching is
detachment. A sanyasi should be totally detached from the work itself as well as the fruit of
the work. One neither abandons ones duty nor is one passionately attached to it. One is
often misled when one reads Girideepam that Mar Ivanios and his monks themselves tilled
and cultivated the land until they could produce enough. But the truth was that the monks
worked only in their free time and labourers were hired to do the rest of the work. Mar
Ivanios himself writes, the Superior of the Ashram used to allot Sanyasis at the request of
the Ashramite-in-charge, for certain works for which workers need not have to be employed.
It was the strict rule of that they returned to the Ashram after completing the prescribed work
within the stipulated time. After all they should not foster any particular attachment or desire
or anxiety about anything. Such strictness not only helps the subjects to be detached but also
maintains the balance and harmony in their lives.
2.5 Holistic human development in the Bethanian way of Consecrated Life
2.5.1 Spiritual growth
A Bethanian on an average spends around three hours a day in common spiritual activities
that include the Holy Qurbono, Daily Office, Mediation, examination of conscience etc. The
Bethanian imitates the life of prayer of our Lord J esus Christ for whom the source of the
strength of his life was his constant union with the Father in prayer. The Holy Rule reminds
27

us of Luke 10:42 where J esus endorses Marys presence at his feet as the one thing
necessary and says that an inner attentiveness to God is indeed the one thing necessary for
every Bethanian religious. The Holy Rule therefore exhorts every Bethanian to pursue a life
of radical living of the Gospel in an atmosphere of joyful asceticism, conversion of the heart,
flight from the world, silence, fast, and long vigils that are nourished by lectio divina,
unceasing prayer and ceaseless celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
36
Such spiritual exercises
go a long way in the spiritual growth of the human person.
2.5.2 Psychological growth in the Bethanian way of life
This is one area where consecrated life has fared rather poorly as far as past history is
concerned. The present situation is not much different. Often in the past, the psychological
needs of the individuals in consecrated life had been neglected and as a result many were
seen to have turned neurotic and depressed. To add to it there is an ever increasing identity
crisis among consecrated which has only aggravated in the modern scenario. Many a times
religious communities were seen as a common machinery where all human beings were
passed through the same mould and their individuality neglected.
37
There are also a vast
number of cases where the psychosexual development have never taken place adequately and
as a result we have a crop of immature and insecure monks and nuns, perpetually paranoid,
skeptical and vying for power and wealth as school children for toys. This situation has to an
extent been brought under control due to a general awareness in the recent times. Today,
there are several measures in formation to ensure psychological development of those under
formation though not in a professional way. One of the best of these measures is the
increasing human contact especially with that of the opposite sex. In the past, especially in
the monasteries, a rigid and misunderstood idea of the system of enclosure had kept the
consecrated away from genuine human contact, not only with the outside world but also
among themselves. Today on the other hand, those undergoing formation as well as those
who are already consecrated rub shoulders daily with a large number of people. Developing a
good and healthy relationship with these people especially those of the opposite sex would
ensure adequate psychosexual maturation.
Since the dawn of monasticism in its rudimentary form in the deserts one of the mechanisms
to maintain a mental and psychological balance was the fraternal recreations. There is a story
of St. Antony of the desert which goes as follows:

36
Cf. HR, 4:iii,a.
37
Cf. Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action. New York: Image Books, 1973, 75-100
28

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was
shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the
brethren, the old man said to him, Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it. So he did.
The old man then said, Shoot another, and he did so. Then the old man said, Shoot yet
again, and the hunter replied, If I bend my bow so much I will break it. Then the old
man said to him, it is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond
measure, they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their
needs. When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly
edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home
strengthened.
38

That recreation and brotherly love are adequate stress relief mechanisms is beyond
doubt. In Bethany, the bond of love and brotherhood is seen to be strong enough for any
brother in need to approach another to seek solace. Besides, today we also have a number of
personality development programmes, development of soft skills as well as
technical/vocational skills, to deal with identity crisis and other mental handicaps.
2.5.3 Intellectual growth
Intellectual growth of the consecrated personnel was one of the most important things in the
mind of our founder Servant of God Mar Ivanios. Having been the first person in the whole
of the Malankara Orthodox Church at that time, Mar Ivanios knew the importance of having
educated personnel in the service of the church. Hence he identified talented people, both
men and women and took them with him to Serampore and gave enabled them to complete
graduation at his own expense. From this bunch there arose tremendous leadership in the
Church which not only saved it from extinction, but also heralded the Malankara Church
(Catholic and Orthodox) into the twentieth century. Keeping this in mind, the superiors of
Bethany Ashram ensure that every Bethanian gets good quality intellectual training. But this
intellectual growth is not at the expense of spiritual growth or physical growth. Come what
may, a Bethanian is not to forgo his daily dose of prayers or manual labour or exercise even if
he is to appear for exams the next day.
2.5.4 Physical growth
Eastern monasticism has never considered the body as evil, rather as the temple of the Holy
Spirit. Yet the fathers teach that the body is the arena where temptations abound. But this is
not the fault of the body. According to St. Antony of the Desert, the body possesses a natural
movement to which it is adapted, but which it cannot follow without the consent of the soul.

38
Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Udhanamala: Udhanashram Editions, 2002, 9
29

Moreover all fathers teach that passions arise in the heart. Heart here is not the physical heart
but the conceptual heart which is the meeting point of the body, soul and spirit and hence the
centre of ones personality. Hence we can say that though it is the body that fall into
temptations, the whole human person is equally responsible for falling into it. But since it is
the body that houses the senses, and which plays the final part in the evil, it is necessary to
subdue the body and bring it under the control of the spirit. But nevertheless, the fathers
never encouraged mortifications that wounded the body. Rather they recommended fasts and
vigils. Though fasts and vigils did harm to the body, the real positive development was in
terms of developing the will power and thereby self-control. These fasts and vigils were also
accompanied by ceaseless prayer, obedience, practices of humility etc. which did not target
the body, but the ego, will etc. What is proved here is that the oriental fathers never had a
negative theology of the body unless inspired by the West.
Bethany Ashram being an oriental congregation shares the view of the oriental fathers.
Though canonically, it is a religious congregation, its way of life is semi-monastic. Hence it
follows the monastic ideals yet in moderation. An average Bethanian undergoing formation is
not only well fed but also taught to observe fasts according to the teachings of the Church. In
other words, both fasting and feasting is important but the balance has to be maintained.
Every Bethanian has to therefore learn how to maintain this balance. Besides, adequate
importance has been accorded to physical exercise. In the daily time table of the Bethanian
way of life the time after the evening tea and before sunset is the ideal time for physical
activities. Bethanians mainly take to manual labour and sports for physical activities.
2.5.5 Growth in the Cosmotheandric union
Cosmotheandric vision was a concept developed by Raimundo Panicker, a famous
philosopher and theologian of Indian origin who is also a Catholic Priest. According to him,
there are not three realities: God, Man, and the World; but neither is there one, whether God,
Man or World. Reality is cosmotheandric. It is our way of looking that makes reality appear
to us at times under one aspect, at times under another. God, Man, and World are, so to
speak, in an intimate and constitutive collaboration to construct Reality, to make history
advance, to continue creation. The cosmotheandric intuition expresses the all embracing
indissoluble union, that constitutes all of Reality: the triple dimension of reality as a whole:
cosmic-divine-human. The cosmotheandric intuition is the undivided awareness of the
30

totality.
39
What Panikkar proposes is to live so open to this triple dimension of reality, open
to others, to the world, and to God that we might achieve harmonious communion with the
all.
2.5.5.1 Growth in harmony with the Divine
We have already seen the contribution of the Bethanian Way of Life towards spiritual growth
of a person. However growth in harmony with God is a different matter altogether, although
they are related. The reason is those even atheists possess a spirit and are in need for spiritual
growth. Even atheist need spiritual exercises like meditation, solitude etc. to maintain their
tranquility. The difference with the believer is that the believer experiences the same growth
in harmony with God. The best image of Divine-Human companionship seen ever is that
which is found in the book of Genesis where the first human beings and the prototype of all
human beings were seen enjoying the companionship of God in the garden of Eden. When
this companionship gets broken due to human infidelity, God takes initiative after initiative to
restore this relationship finally culminating in the cross of Christ. A consecrated person
surrenders his/her life at the foot of the cross as a response to this love, standing as a
representative of all human beings and reciprocating His love for humanity. The relationship
between a religious and God is like that of two lovers or in conventional words, of the
relation between a bride and a bridegroom.
In every growth there are only two directions: growth against God and growth towards God.
For a consecrated person, every growth has to be a growth towards God. In whatever he/she
does, whatever he/she gains, if he/she does not grow towards God and in harmony with Him,
the very purpose of existence of the consecrated person is futile. By seeking to grow in
harmony with the Divine, the consecrated seeks to restore the cosmotheandric union that was
seen in Eden before the first sin of humanity.
2.5.5.2 Growth in harmony with fellow humans
Consecrated life in Christianity unlike in Hinduism has a vertical as well as a horizontal
dimension. While the vertical stands for union with the Divine, the horizontal stands for
relationship with ones brothers and sisters. Both these vertical and horizontal dimensions
add up to make the cross of Christ which is the symbol of ultimate love. Consecrated persons
begin their practice of horizontal charity at home, i.e. in their religious houses and

39
Raimon Panicker, The Trinity and the Religious Experience of man, London and New York, 1975
31

monasteries. They begin their life of perfect charity by loving their brethren: their partners
and co-pilgrims in the journey to Christ. Fr. J ames Puthuparampil OIC points out that such
perfect charity cannot be said to be practiced by mere sharing of space, food or goods. Rather
it calls for an intimate sharing of personalities in Christ. According to him this intimate
sharing of personalities is manifested concretely in the feeling of a sense of belongingness,
mutual help and mutual trust.
40
Such an intimate sharing is possible since all are created in
the image and likeness of God and Christ is the perfect image of the Father. In other words
when one loves ones brothers and sisters, one is in fact loving and honouring the image of
God within him/her and the cross with the horizontal and vertical dimensions is complete
2.5.5.3 Growing in harmony with nature and cosmos
The primary contact of the Fathers who lived in the aridness of the desert with nature was
through manual labour as they believed in the axiom that one ought to eat bread by the sweat
of ones brow. According to Fr. Bobby J ose OFM Cap., nature came into the monastic
cloisters as a source of contemplation, admiration and revelation through St. Francis of
Assisi.
41
He narrates one of the most popular stories of Francis wherein he asks different
objects in nature to reveal to him the love of God and each of the objects of nature respond in
their own particular way and show forth the splendor of their existence which in turn leads
Francis to praise and thank God. Talking of the importance of being in harmony with nature,
Fr. Bobby points out that in the Indian System of Sanyasa, a person could attain this state
only after successfully living in the dense forests for a particular number of years. He exhorts
us to traverse through nature not as a tourist, but as a pilgrim looking at each reality of nature
with the eyes of J esus, the poet and sage who saw the grandeur of Solomon in the lilies of the
fields and the great providence of the Father in the birds flying carelessly through the open
sky.
42

2.6 Conclusion
The author of this paper has put down in this chapter what he had been experiencing in his
own life for the past twelve long years. Standing at this juncture, as he compares himself with
his stressed and worn out companions in the world, he feels that the life that he lives, i.e. the

40
Cf. J ames Puthuparampil OIC, "Kristiya Sanyasathinte Samuhika Manam Adyapithakanmarude Darshanathil
(Malayalam)", In Sanyasabhashaym (Malayalam), ed. J ose Mariadas OIC, Kottayam: Bethany Publications,
121-139, 2004, 131
41
Cf. Bobby J ose Cappuchin, "Sanyasathile Aranyakantham (Malayalam)", in Sanyasabhashaym (Malayalam),
ed. J ose Mariadas OIC, Kottayam: Bethany Publications, 73-85, 2004, 75
42
Cf. Bobby Jose, 77
32

balanced and harmonious Bethanian Way of Life has the solution to some of the problems
which people face in the world especially those that arise due to lifestyle mismanagement.
Hence what is done here is an analysis of the Bethanian Way of Living the Consecrated Life
and to pin-point certain values and characteristics in this Life which could be used for
application in modern lifestyles. A life of balance, self-awareness through constant self-
critiquing and fraternal corrections, discipline, detachment, holistic growth that aims at the
body, soul and spirit and a harmonious living relationship with the Divine, the cosmos and
fellow humans, all these are but a few characteristics that make the Bethanian Way of Living
the Consecrated Life a paradigm for modern human development. In the next chapter we
shall explore how we can apply these values in a modern society without making everyone a
consecrated religious.




33

CHAPTER 3
THE BETHANIAN MONASTIC MODEL FOR BUILDING THE LOST
HARMONY
3.0 Introduction
Pope J ohn Paul II in his apostolic letter Orientale Lumen calls monasticism as the reference
point of all baptized. He writes, Moreover, in the East, monasticism was not seen merely as
a separate condition, proper to a precise category of Christians, but rather as a reference point
for all the baptized. Bethany Ashram founded by Servant of God Archbishop Mar Ivanios in
the year 1930 is deep rooted in the Oriental monastic traditions. Hence it would be most
appropriate to portray Bethanian Spirituality and Way of Life as a model and reference point
for all baptized. In this paper we have gone one step ahead to portray it as a model and
reference point for all people in the modern world. In the previous chapters, namely chapter
1, we have tried to analyze the situation of the world today and to present its various
problems and in chapter 2, we have looked at the characteristics of the monastic or
consecrated life especially as lived in Bethany Ashram, that serves as a model for human
beings in the modern world. In this chapter, we shall apply the unique characteristics of the
Bethanian Consecrated Life in the lives of the modern humans in order to make an attempt at
solving their problems and envisioning the development of an integrated and harmonious
human person.
3.1 Spiritual Growth and harmony with the Divine
J ohn Shea OSA professor of Pastoral Psychology, points out in his writings that: Spirituality
is a developmental reality and it comes into its fullness in adulthood.
43
In this he refers not
simply to the attainment of years lived, but to the actuality of adult living. Spirituality can be
defined as: that which gives meaning to life and allows us to participate in the larger whole.
According to him, no matter how lofty its focus, spirituality is not something other than the
human or transcending the human, or added on to the human. It is a fully human
phenomenon.

43
J ohn Friel C.P., Reflection on Psycho-Spiritual Development, Human and Spiritual Development Services,
(article on-line: accessed on J an 25, 2014) available from: http://daneoservices.weebly.com/refection-on-
psycho-spiritual-development-john-friel-cp.html
34

3.1.1 Prayer as a genuine human need


Prayer is to the soul and spirit what food is to the body. Observing that the Prophesy of Doom
regarding religions predicted by the Enlightenment philosophers have come to a naught,
former Pope Benedict XVI had pointed out during his weekly General Audience on May 11,
2011, that religion is intrinsic to human beings. The Pope explained that the source of
humanitys religious instincts is nothing but a thirst for the infinite, a yearning for eternity, a
search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which impels us toward the
Absolute. According to him, the desire for spirituality is something we carry within us. It is
this desire that is expressed in prayer. According to Pope Benedict, In prayer, human beings
experience themselves as creatures in need of help, incapable of attaining the fulfillment of
their existence or their hopes alone. In the experience of prayer we orient our very souls to
that Mystery from which we look for the fulfillment of our deepest desires and help to
overcome the poverty of our lives.
44

In the past two chapters we have seen how humanity today is disconnected from God and
most individuals from his or her own spiritual self. We have also seen how the Bethanian
Way of Life treats prayer and connectivity with God as the one thing necessary (Lk
10:42).
45
Besides, we have also seen that every monk or nun, whether Bethanian or not, is to
have an inner attentiveness to God at all times regardless of whatever activity he/she is
involved in.
46

In todays world it is difficult to develop a spirituality that is replete with hours of vocal
prayer, meditation, spiritual exercises etc. since people generally lead a hectic life style.
Hence what is applicable here is the idea embedded in the Holy Rule of Bethany Ashram, i.e.
of having a constant inner attentiveness to God
47
round the clock even while one is busy in
the affairs of the world. In other words, what is needed is a practical approach to spirituality.
3.1.2 Practical approach towards spirituality
By a practical approach to spirituality what we mean here is an approach that contextualizes
theories of prayer so as to be realistic to the needs of the individuals in a busy world. Below
are some of the practical approaches to spirituality drawn from the monastic model.

44
David Kerr, Prayer responds to human desire for God, CNA: Catholic News Agency, (article on-line:
accessed on Jan 26, 2014) available from: http://www.catholic newsagency.com/news/prayer-responds-to-
human-desire-for-god.html
45
Cf. HR 4/iii a.
46
Ref. Chapter 2, nos. 2.5.1 and 2.5.5.1 of this paper. 24, 28
47
Cf. HR 4/iii a.
35

3.1.2.1 Prayer on the move


Those in contemporary religious circles are familiar with the concept of contemplation in
action. This concept is something derived from St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the
Society of J esus and is enshrined in the very annals of Ignatian Spirituality. Ignatius men had
several tasks at hand to which they had devoted their lives, one of which was being at the
helm of the counter-reformation movement. These men had very little time to spend in
contemplative prayer or common liturgical prayers as in the monasteries. Hence Ignatius
devised the idea of contemplation in action. As a J esuit website on Ignatian spirituality
would inform us,
The key here is letting your reflection and prayer time inform how you approach your
work when you return to it. Perhaps you discover the need for more rest time or that you
need to focus more on a particular relationship. Or maybe you find that the activity
youve been up to has become dissatisfying. Or perhaps you discover a desire to
reinvigorate your jobContemplation allows us to renew our active lives (work, play,
relationships) so that all we do does not become mindless action but rather glorifies God.
Then the cycle repeats. Your activity leads you again into a time of stopping, resting,
reflecting, and then returning to activity with greater zeal and purpose. Being a
contemplative in action means that your active life feeds your contemplative life and
your contemplative life informs your active life. That is what contemplation in
action means, and the cycle never ends.
48

When applied to the daily lives of busy people, it could mean that they could make use of
every little time they could afford to spend time in prayer. Be it during travel or while
performing ablutions, taking a bath, any time when the mind doesnt usually work is an
appropriate time to fix our attention towards the Ultimate reality and so as to renew our
spiritual self so that just as the above extract from the website informs us, we do not end up in
mindless activity nor do we end up losing our minds. As the author reminds us, our activity
ought to be interspersed with enough time for stopping, resting, reflecting, and then returning
to activity with greater zeal and purpose. The end result is that our period of activity is
intensified and our productivity increases.

48
Andy Otto, Contemplatives in Action, Dotmagis: The Blog of Ignatian Spirituality.com, (article on-line:
accessed on J an 26, 2014) available from: http://www. ignatianspirituality.com/16166/contemplatives-in-
action/#sthash.EOEcPIRv.dpuf.
36

3.1.2.2 Meditation and Contemplation


In an article Why meditation, Swami Chinmayananda cites the phenomenon of the split
personality of Dr. J ekyll and Mr. Hyde.
49
He points out that for the modern individual, the
various propensities within are straining at the leash and the individual is, more often than
not, an unhappy house divided against himself/herself. According to him, the modern
individual is rent apart by conflicting desires and ultimately, is bound to fall as an epitome of
desire and failure. The only advice he would like to give to such a person is that he/she
should resolve the conflict that tears him/her. And the ultimate solution pointed out by Swami
is meditation. In his own words,
The physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual personalities must all be blended into
one harmonious whole. Meditation is the technique of achieving this harmony. It is
the highest spiritual discipline. Through meditation man comes to experience peace
within and without. Internecine wars between desires are ended. Conflicts between
duties no longer wreck his nerves. His mind is enabled to view life as whole. There is
nothing in which he shall not meet with success, for, his meaningless flutterings and
the consequent dissipations have stopped. He would direct his potentialities with a
concentration that cannot be baulked.
50

Swami Chinmayananda is not alone with these views. Modern management gurus to human
resource development personnel would suggest daily dose of meditation for the average
modern working man and women. Robin Sharma in his best seller The Monk Who Sold His
Ferrari, goes one step ahead as to suggesting that every individual who seeks solace in the
busy world ought to not only devote one hour daily to meditation, but also that it should be
consistently the same hour and the same place every day. Sharma suggests that the sanctity of
the place is to be maintained in as much as it is not used for any other purposes except
meditation.
51

49
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the Scottish author Robert
Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly associated with the rare mental
condition often spuriously called "split personality", referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder,
where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality. In this case, there are two
personalities within Dr J ekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality.
The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase "J ekyll and Hyde"
coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.
50
Swami Chinmayanada, Why Meditation?, (article on-line, accessed on J an 26, 2014), available from:
http://chinmayasaaket.org/articles/gurudev/Why_Meditation.pdf
51
Cf. Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, (book on-line, accessed on Feb 11, 2014) available at
http://khg.edu.vn/upload/file/eBook_The%20Monk%20Who%20Sold%20His%20Ferrari_Robin%20S.%20Shar
ma.pdf, 119
37

3.2 Physical Growth: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body


As we have already seen in the previous chapters, the body is given its due importance in
Christian Theology and is placed on par with the soul and spirit. We are once again reminded
of Pauline maxim of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, through
Incarnation, the Son of God sanctifies the human body and makes it the arena of Divine-
Human encounter. This is why we need to insist on the physical health of the modern human
beings.
The average modern individual with the exception of sportspersons or certain fitness freaks
are on the downside when it comes to caring for their bodies. Some of the few problems
plaguing modern human beings with respect to taking good care of their bodies is the rise of
an unhealthy lifestyle with too little time for recreational sports, a culture of unhealthy eating,
late-night working etc. The result is an increasing number of life-style related disease and
disorders like diabetes, hypertension, heart problems etc. The model of consecrated way of
life, especially that of the Bethanian model points out the necessity of a balance in this
respect. An average individual needs to spend at least half an hour of the day in extreme
vigourous activity. Today with the surge of technology, one may have gym equipments
within the comfort of ones home. But nothing can substitute outdoor exercise. Apart from
the average sports and exercises, indulging in a bit of creative manual labour including
gardening could work wonders as is the testimony of many monks and nuns who indulge in
creative manual labour.
Yoga is a good option for people of any age or profession. But yoga, as gurus say is not to be
reduced to mere physical exercises. Yogic physical exercises are meant to control the mind so
that the mind may engage in spiritual activities. This again points to the interconnectivity
between the body, spirit and psyche.
3.3 Psychological Growth: Remaining Sane in an Insane World
Stress, suicide, depression, anxiety, etc. are all words one would hear every now and then in a
modern society. According to a recent study, mental illness is on the rise in the United States
and other parts of the world. Yawo Besa, a professor of the Allen University in the U.S., has
contributed to psychology by showing the effects of society on the psychological health of an
individual. He brings in four different theories by four different social scientists to show the
co-relation between sociology and psychology namely, the structural strain theory (Merton,
38

1957), anomy theory (Durkheim, 1951), the social stressor theory (Thoits, 1999), and the
labeling theory (Scheff, 1999). After a close study of these four theories, Besa has this to say:
A close examination of the four modern sociological theories reviewed above shows
the importance of the concept of balance or equilibrium in their formulation. All of
them put a strong emphasis on this central concept of balance and its corollaries. In
the case of the anomie theory, Durkheim insisted on the importance of the balance or
equilibrium between social integration and collective consciousness or conscience
collective. This pivotal concept of equilibrium noted in Durkheims theory of
anomie is also present in Mertons theoretical perspective of structural strain. An
analysis of Marxs theory of social classes also stresses the importance of the
concepts of balance or equilibrium. According to Marx, the absence of balance
between the productive force and ideology is a source of the revolution that causes
social problems and alteration of traditions. Stability and order within society can be
achieved through equilibrium between the structure and the superstructure of society.
The notion of balance was also important for Scheff and is consequently present in
his labeling theory. However, Scheff did not explicitly use the concept of balance
or equilibrium but instead the one of conformity (Scheff, 1999). Conceiving of
mental disorder as the non-conformity to residual rules reflects the idea of the
disequilibrium between the individuals behavior and the residual norms. This can
implicitly mean that the conformity of the individuals to the residual norms will result
in the absence of mental disorder. This assumption stresses the importance of the
balance or equilibrium between the individuals behavior and the societal residual
norms.
52

In other words, what the social scientists have proved is that individuals in a society tend to
lose their mental health when they tip the balance. Hence, balance is indeed a very key term
as far as psychology is concerned. And it is this very balance that the Bethanian Consecrated
Way of Life advocates. Modern individuals ought to righty prioritize every different aspect of
their life in order to maintain the equilibrium. One needs to find adequate time for prayer,
studies, work, recreational activities, hobbies, sports, etc. every day of their lives in order to
keep the balance which is so very necessary to remain sane in an insane world.
3.4 Towards a Harmony with Fellow Beings
After having achieved a harmony within the self, the modern human being needs to now
reach out to the other. Today in spite of the surge in communication and means of social
networking, human beings are moving away far apart from each other. The Community Life
model of Consecrated Life needs to inspire the rest of humanity of the importance of living as
one human family. People in the consecrated life need to show it to the world that such an

52
Yawo Bessa, Modernity Theories and Mental Illness: A Comparative Study of Selected Sociological
Theorists, Columbia: Allen University, (article on-line, accessed on Feb 2, 2014), available from:
http://www. ijhssnet. com/ journals/ Vol_2_No_17_ September_2012/ 4.pdf
39

ideal can surely be attained. Consecrated life indeed teaches us a theology of the other. First
of all it teaches us that the other is an image of God as much as I myself am. Usually
children are said to bear the resemblance of their parents. Thus here God is our Father and we
are his children. This leads us to the second understanding of the brotherhood of all human
beings. Besides, this whole brotherhood of humanity was further saved by Christ on the cross
and is being constantly guided by the Holy Spirit.
Hence the need of the hour is to reach out and build a network of relationships with as much
people around us as possible. More often even if we make friends, we limit our circle to the
few people with whom we share our interests and who we think would love us above all else.
But this is not the reaching out that is envisaged here. Here we need to transcend the
boundaries of caste, creed, colour, ideologies, etc and reach out to the whole of humanity so
that the vision of God that all human beings should form one family and deal with each other
in a spirit of brotherhood,
53
is fulfilled.
3.5 Towards a Harmony with the Cosmos
There is no monastery or a religious house or an ashram for that matter, without even a small
garden or a tree around. This explains the proximity of consecrated life to nature. We had
already seen Fr. Bobby J oses take on the interrelatedness between monastic spirituality and
nature, and Francis Acharyas idea of nature as a book of meditation.
54
This spirituality of
religious life that finds an echo in the Bethanian Way of Life teaches humanity to foster and
care for nature. It calls for a greater contentment and self-control. Moreover it teaches us to
treat nature with respect. Recently, the organizers of Kirloskar Vasundhara International
Film Festival was praised by the Green crusader Hema Sane for modifying the slogan reduce,
reuse, recycle by adding refuse and restore, Sane went on to add a new R, i.e. respect. She
reminds us to look at our past and see how we valued the environment then. She said that we
need to go back to respecting our environment in the same way.
55

A nature centric lifestyle can only be wrought by a nature-centric spirituality and vice versa.
The relationship between these is such that one fosters the other as is seen in the model of
consecrated life. For the modern individual, a nature-centric lifestyle would mean growing
more plants in ones vicinity, causing no harm to animals and birds through our frivolous

53
GS 24
54
Ref. Chapter 2, 2.5.3.
55
Cf. Times of India, Add Another R To Mantra, 26 J an 2014, 4
40

lifestyles, conserving trees and even promoting wild life. By keeping our needs to a
minimum, if not to the ascetical levels, but at least to the level of bare necessity, we could
develop a healthy relationship with the cosmos.
3.6 Towards a Change in attitudes
Finally what the modern human being is needed to do is to bring about a change in attitudes.
A change in attitude will go a long way in developing a healthy and harmonious life-style that
would lead to a harmony within the human person as well as without. This change of attitude
is something that is developed from the formation of an individual in the consecrated life.
From the time an individual joins an order to the time when one attains a maturity; one
undergoes a whole lot of transformation, if indeed one is open to the formation imparted.
This transformation is practically seen in the above said change of attitudes. Learning from
this, we could also suggest a similar change of attitudes for the modern individual who seeks
to live a life of integration and harmony. Thus from all that we have seen so far, we can
conclude that what is necessary at this time in history is a serious change in attitude from the
following perspectives: From an attitude of greedy conquering we need to inculcate an
attitude of contentment and sharing of resourses, from disrespect we need to change to an
attitude of respect and concern, from an attitude of arrogance towards God to an attitude of
self-surrender,
3.7 Self-awareness: a starting point towards self-renewal
The monastic-consecrated model as we have already seen is centered on self-awareness. We
have already seen the practices of examination of conscience, monthly recollections and
annual retreats and their efficacy in bringing about a transformation in individuals who
practice them sincerely. Any change in attitude aimed at a self renewal would only begin
from an awareness of ones present condition. This self awareness should be constantly
complemented by self-critiquing. In a busy world, this self-awareness could be brought about
using quite moments of ones life, preferably at the end of the day to spend time ruminating
over the entire events of the day, analyzing the way one responded to each situation. This
time could also be used to consider whether one has tipped the harmonious balance in any
way and to seek to correct the imbalance. One ought to also consider how one had fared in
building up and nurturing ones relationships with other human beings within ones family,
friend circle, colleagues and the rest of humanity. Occasionally, one could spend an hour or
so every month and year trying to evaluate the events of the past month and year respectively.
41

For Catholics this may culminate in an annual confession. Such self-awareness should bring
about repentance for our failures in fostering the harmony and integration that God has
envisaged for us. And repentance in itself is not a virtue until it urges us to a full turning
back, which in theological parlance is commonly known as metanoia. In other words,
repentance should make us put on a new and a better self.
3.8 Putting on a new and better self: an inspiration from the monastic
consecration
The monastic consecration comes as a result of a candidates immense urge to consecrate
himself/herself entirely to God in response to Gods loving grace which he/she has
encountered. Through the monastic consecration, the candidate offers himself/herself fully to
God in order to be transformed by him. Since the moment of consecration, the candidate, who
now becomes a monk or a nun enters into a different mode of existence. His sinful past is no
longer remembered and he becomes a new creature having a new existence in God. In other
words, he/she is dead to the world
56
so as to be reborn in Christ. This reality of experience
newness in existence is not limited to the monastic consecration. In fact, what happens in
monastic consecration is only an affirming of what happens in the life of every Christian
during the reception of each of the Sacraments in ones life from Baptism to the Anointing of
the Sick.
Applied to the ordinary life, the moment one is encountered with a repentance for ones failed
past, one needs to make a renewed commitment and consecration, if not to God, at least to
oneself, if not in a solemn ceremony, at least in a solemn moment of personal prayer or
silence within ones heart. The failure of the past mentioned here does not mean a failure in
the sense of failing to succeed in worldly matters, but a failure to integrate the different
aspects of ones personality and a failure to live in the cosmotheandric harmony. What
happens in such a renewed commitment is what St. Paul describes as putting on a new self or
a new man, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of
God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:6). This putting on of the new self involves
the following processes:
3.8.1 Metanoia: a full turning back
Metanoia is a biblical and theological term derived from the Greek language meaning a full
turning back, a roundabout turn, or in colloquial terms, a 180 degree turn. In biblical

56
HR 79
42

Greek, metanoe and metanoia signify a change of mind, a change in the trend and action of
the whole inner nature, intellectual, affectional and moral. This meaning of metanoia as a
transmutation of consciousness contrasts with classical Greek in which the word expressed
a superficial change of mind.

It was in its use in the New Testament and in writings grounded
in the New Testament that the depth of metanoia increased until it came to express that
mighty change in mind, heart, and life wrought by the Spirit of God.
57
Today some versions
of the English Bible translate metanoia as conversion and most theologians and
philosophers use it in the understanding of a full turning back.
The first and foremost step therefore towards putting on the new self would be a full turning
back, a complete change of mind and heart, i.e. nothing short of a metanoia. Our metanoia
should involve a full change of our lifestyle and attitudes. If in the past we have been leading
a life of disharmony, we need to stop and turn ourselves until we are on the right track, in the
right perspective. We need to stop and consider ways and means to live a balanced and
integrated life in order to enjoy happiness and bliss which a true monk always experiences
even when living amid problems and tensions. We need to mend our ways so as to develop a
harmonious relationship with God who loves and yearns for us and with our fellow beings on
whom we depend for our sustenance and on the cosmos which engulfs us and is the basis of
our earthly existence. Only then can we have a peaceful and harmonious life.
3.8.2 New zest towards life
Consecrated life is marked by a positive attitude towards life. Metanoia is only a starting
point towards putting on the new self. A consecrated (who is true and sincere to his/her
vocation) begins every day of his/her life with new zest and vigour for his/her existence is in
Christ. Similarly every human being in this world needs to inculcate a positive attitude and
zest towards life. As the poet of Lamentations sings, But this I call to mind, and therefore I
have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:21-22)
3.8.3 New responsibilities and duties
When one has truly experienced a metanoia, i.e a full turning back from ones past life, and
when one is full of zest and positive attitude towards a new life, then one is faced with new
responsibilities and duties. One of the first responsibilities is to sustain this experience for

57
Metanoia (theology), (article on-line, accessed on Feb 14, 2014) available from: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia
.org/wiki/Metanoia_(theology)
43

ones lifetime. For this one needs to device ways and means. In the consecrated life, there are
structures that ensure such sustenance. One such structure is the daily time-table which
ensures that ones whole day encompasses different fields of activity wherein all the
dimensions of body, psyche and spirit are engaged. Another responsibility would be to share
this experience so as to bring about a transformation in as many people as possible. The
number of such responsibilities that come with a new outlook towards life are endless. One
only has to continue to look at life in the positive way and live along.
3.8.4 New meaning and purpose in life
A new self, a renewed zest towards this life coupled with new responsibilities would result in
having a new meaning in life. When everything is new, ones whole identity is changed and
one acquires a new meaning in life. Ones whole being gets a new perspective and one gets a
clearer vision about ones goals and objectives and about the very purpose of life. Thus life
acquires a new meaning. Ones outlook towards oneself, ones fellow beings, the whole of
cosmos and ultimately towards the Divine would acquire new dimensions.
3.9 Conclusion
In this chapter, we had been aiming at applying the values and characteristics of the
Bethanian Way of living the Consecrated Life into concrete human situations and trying to
envision a modern humanity that is integrated and harmonious with oneself and with different
realities outside including the Divine Principle we call and revere as God. A truly monastic
spirituality brings about an integration of the whole person bring in as we have seen above
spiritual growth, physical growth, psychological and intellectual growth and also helps one to
have better relationships with the Divine, Cosmos and fellow human beings. In order to
achieve this what is need is a metanoia: a change of heart, a full turning back from our
present and past situations and putting on a new self that is open to new challenges and ideas,
full of energy and zest for life. Thus the anthropological vision of the Bethanian Way of
Consecrated Life is thus complete.

44

GENERAL CONCLUSION
There are two mantras that I remember from my novitiate days that our novice master taught
us. The first is: yoga chittavruthi nirodaha, and second one tathra sthithav yagnav
abhyasaha. Both of these are associated with the life of a sanyasi. Yoga in its true sense
means union with the Divine. According to its true philosophy it means the union of the
jeevatman with the paramatman. And this union is achieved through chitavruthi nirodhana,
i.e. through eliminating the fluctuations of the mind. Indian thought would compare the
average human mind to a markada i.e. a monkey. In this case, the monkey, already an
irritable creature, gets all the more irritable when bitten by a swarm of ants. And to make
matters worse, it is also drunk with strong wine. If this is the condition of the human mind,
then to control it would required strenuous effort. Then the only solution is tatra sthithava
yagnav i.e. keep on trying relentlessly. Such relentless effort is called abhyasa which means
training, formation or education.
All through this paper we have seen the importance of restoring the harmony and
interrelatedness within and without human persons in the modern world. We could compare
our pursuit for harmony with a yogis pursuit for yog or union with the paramatman. For the
yogi to achieve his goal, he needs to control the fluctuations of his mind. Similarly to achieve
our goal, we need to control the fluctuations of our priorities, i.e. our tendency to prioritize
one aspect, often the most profitable aspect of our lives over the others we consider not so
profitable. In fact we all have the desire to improve our lives, but many a times we lack the
intent to pursue the journey towards a better life, since the path to life is narrow and the path
difficult. Hence what is needed is abhyasa or in other words, constant and relentless effort at
renewal. Constant and relentless effort is a maxim par excellence as far as monasticism or
consecrated life is concerned. There is a story from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers that
goes as follows: Once a young monk from a monastery was selling his wares in the market
when a woman asked him, What do you do whole day in the monastery? He replied, We
fall and we rise again, again we fall, and with the grace of God, we rise up again.
58

Such an attitude of rise and fall until we reach perfection should mark our metanoia as we
look forward to a new life characterized by harmony and interrelatedness, a life akin to that
lived by our first parents in paradise, since this was the way of life that God the Loving
Creator and Father envisaged for us as humans. When this harmony was lost due to sin, the

58
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Udhanashram Editions, Udhanamala, 2002.
45

Son the Loving Redeemer restored this harmony through his life-giving sacrifice on the cross.
By emulating his life, we participate in the salvation granted by him. Consecrated Life is in
itself an imitation of Christ. Hence by modeling our lives on the positive aspects of the
Consecrated Way of Life, we are already participating in the life God has willed for us. The
Holy Spirit, who is the Perfector and fulfiller of all, will help us as the Paraclate in our effort
towards the achievement of this new life marked by harmony: between the different
dimensions of our being as well as in our interrelatedness with the Divine, our fellow human
beings and the entire Cosmos.

46

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