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Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. XI No. 1 Bulletin January – March 2008
News Update | Articles | Researchers
New Arrivals | Mails & Emails
Spirituality for life and leadership
J. FELIX RAJ, SJ.
Religion is for spiritual
guidance and growth of people. It is a major resource for promoting peace,
harmony, liberty and justice. We must use religions to maintain and enrich our
cultural and religious plurality, which is our asset. Our response must be based
on reverence, respect, tolerance and compassion. Every person is an image of God
(Genesis 1:27) and so a person is sacred, unique, irreplaceable, and
irreducible. But the serious problem in society is that man has created God in
his own image.
We need to build and promote a
spirituality that is acceptable to, as many people as possible, if not all.
Spirituality is an essential part of an individual’s holistic health and
well-being. It plays a major role in human and societal governance and
development. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “God bless America” came easily
to the lips of all Americans. In fact, spirituality came alive. It established
the fact that human beings cannot do without it.
What is spirituality? It is
hard to define. It is often understood as having to do with escaping from life’s
temptations and challenges by going off to deserts and mountaintops to pray all
day. It is often identified with matters otherworldly, something to do with
spirits, something associated with pious and religious observances and
activities. It is often contrasted to the temporal, to the material, or to the
Until the 19th century, the
history of spirituality remained bound up within the history of religion.
Spiritual innovators, particularly the eighteenth-century Enlightenment
thinkers, often opposed to clericalism and skeptical of religion, sometimes came
to express as “spirituality” their more emotional responses to the world. In the
wake of the Nietzschean announcement of the "death of God" in 1882, people,
unconvinced by scientific rationalism, turned increasingly to the idea of
spirituality as an alternative both to materialism and to traditional religious
dogma. The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more
common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of
secularism and the advent of the New Age Movement.
One can simply state that
spirituality is one’s inner quality that makes one transcend the barriers of
worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one's connection with the
Truth. It focuses on personal experience. Many spiritual traditions,
accordingly, share a common spiritual theme: the "path" of perceiving and
internalizing one's "true" nature and relationship to God, to the universe and
to life, and of becoming free of the “egoic” self in favor of being fully one's
"true" "self .”
Spirituality has to do with the
"spirit" of our life - with the way in which we live out our relationship with
God: our way of being spirit filled. Richard McBrien writes in
To be "spiritual" means
to know, and to live according to the knowledge, that there is more to
life than meets the eye. To be "spiritual" means, to know, and to live
that God is present to us in grace as the principle of personal,
interpersonal, social and even cosmic transformation. To be "open to the
Spirit" is to accept explicitly who we are and who we are called to
Spirituality is a path to God
and to become God-like. Some Indian traditions define spirituality (Sanskrit:
adhyatma) as that which pertains to the self or soul (Sanskrit:
atman). According to Ursula King, it is understood "anthropologically as an
exploration into what is involved in becoming fully human”, and fully alive
(spirit-filled). In this respect, it is a supportive mechanism even in the
God is Spirit. That is how
Jesus explains it to the Samaritan woman: “The hour is coming, when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for God seeks such as
these to worship him. ‘God is spirit’, and those who worship him must worship in
spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24). ‘God is Love’ (1 John. 4: 8,16) and ‘God is
Light’ (1 John. 1:5).
God is beyond form, space,
time, sex, caste, color, religion and so on. The word ‘spirit’ has to do with
wind; with the air we breathe in, and therefore with life. The spirit is life.
Spirituality unfolds life that calls for transcendence: experience, awareness
and appreciation of life beyond self. It helps a person to experience God as
truth, love and peace. It takes him or her to something greater and higher. It
takes a person beyond his or her egocentric nature and fills him with an
The Tamil Poet, Thirumular
explains in his thought provoking Thirumanthiram that the Omnipotent
cannot be transcribed in a single place nor can he be measured, nor has he any
names but can only be experienced. God is love. It is only the ignorant who
think that Love and God are two different things. Only few understand that the
Divine is nothing but Love. Those who understand this become saints. He has no
beginning or end and is also timelessness. In spiritual ecstasy, some experience
the Divine as Abba, some as Spouse, some as Lover, some as Friend and so on.
Spirituality points to
something central to human life. It is the experience of being unique, being
human, being something – a power, energy, presence, drive – that shapes one’s
actions and cultivates his or her life. It is what St. Augustine called
“restlessness”. It is a path to God to become gradually God-like. The great
scientist, Albert Einstein, had once said that his every effort was to “know
God’s thoughts”. Spirituality is to be God–intoxicated as it happened in an
ardent atheist, Spinosa’s life.
For Mahatma Gandhi, God is
Life, Truth, and Light. He is Love. He is the Supreme Good. Gandhi could see
that, in the midst of death, life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth
persists; in the midst of darkness, light persists. He experienced God through
service of humanity, for he knew that “God was neither in heaven, nor down
below, but in every one.”
The unknown monk of the 12th
century lucidly explains the unfolding of spirituality. "When I was a young man,
I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I
tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to
focus on my town. I couldn't change the town, and as an older man, I tried to
change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only one I can change is
myself, and suddenly I realize that, if long ago I had changed myself, I could
have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on
our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have
changed the world."
We often don’t realize that
transforming the world starts with transforming ourselves. Human persons are
endowed with the greatest responsibility of preserving and promoting life. That
is the mission given to every human person by the Divine. Spirituality helps
persons to realize that mission, to become leaders and to reach out to fellow
persons in love and service. For service to humanity is service to God. Many
political, religious and business leaders succeed in deceiving people,
especially the poor. But they cannot deceive their conscience.
The famous US President,
Abraham Lincoln, was also a spiritual leader. During the terrible American civil
war, when his secretary of State, Stanton, said, “Mr. President, I hope God is
on our side”, Lincoln gently replied, “My dear chap, it is more important that
we are on God’s side”. As Sri Aurobindo describes, “All depend on the spirit in
which a thing is done, the principle on which it is built, and the use to which
it is turned”.
An important dimension of
spirituality is an awakened consciousness. St. Ignatius of Loyola speaks of this
aspect in his Spiritual Exercises as “seeing God in everything. God
dwells in all creatures – in plants giving them life, in animals conferring upon
them sensation, in human persons bestowing understanding. He also works and
labours in all living creatures”. The Upanishads describe “Cosmic
Consciousness”, as being present in all life and matter.
A guru once gave a test to his
disciples. He gave them each a dove and told them to kill the doves where no one
could see them. Only one of them returned to the guru and said, "I searched
everywhere but could not find an unseen place to kill the bird, because even in
the lonely places the bird was seeing me and I was seeing the bird and I felt
that God was seeing both of us.” God is ever present in all things and
People can be classified into three kinds as St. Ignatius explains in his
Exercises. They can belong to any walk of life – religious, business
persons, teachers, workers, students and so on. Their goal in life is the
attainment of life-satisfaction through perfect service to God and humanity. To
achieve this goal, they must be ready to sacrifice anything that stands in the
way. No matter how entangled a person is in secular pursuits, he has the
disposition to achieve the goal.
Suppose that each of these
three kinds of persons has an equal sum of money and has an unreasonable
affection for the amount. Any inordinate attachment produces inner disturbances
and consequently loss of peace. All three types want to get rid of this
inordinate attachment to achieve the goal. But, they differ in the means used.
Any thing I possess outside of
my mind and will, and to which I am strongly attached, would give me comfort,
pleasure and joy. It can be anything: money or cultural possessions or business,
or certain attitudes or even spiritual things. My will may become more or less
bound to any of these. But when, on reflection, I discover that my attachment is
inordinate, I am faced with the decision of either compromising or going “all
out” in ridding myself of the disorderly affection. According to St. Ignatius,
unless I am ready to be rid of the thing itself, I am not really sincere
The first of these three kinds
of persons is unwilling to use any means to attain the goal. Until death they
fail in the fundamental prudence to use suitable means to sacrifice the sum of
money. A variety of reasons may be given for this failure: slothfulness, or
avarice, or fear, or lack of self-confidence, or lack of conviction, or lack of
faith and so on.
The second ones of these three
kinds are compromisers: they want to be rid of the internal attachment and also
retain the sum of money. They want to shape the course of Providence to suit
them, instead of adapting themselves to the demands of Providence. It may well
be that the sum of money to which a person is now attached, may be kept or
continued without sacrificing, and detachment is still achieved. But if one is
sincere in wanting to be freed of the psychological burden, he must be willing
to dispose of the sum, which causes the inordinate interior effect.
The third type of persons has
the generosity to dispose of the money and to shake off the dangerous affection.
They are not satisfied with a minimal service, but want to do whatever is more
conducive to the service of God and humanity.
Spirituality is emptying of
self. It has no boundaries. It makes persons active and alive, transcendent and
joyful. The only source of joy and happiness is the “Spirit” (God), the Aatman.
It is the nature of Sat – Chit – Aanand (Existence – Knowledge – Bliss).
Bramabandha Upadhyaya adopted
the vision of Saccidananda as expressive of the Christian mystery of God
as Trinity. “I bow to Him who is Being, Consciousness and Bliss. I bow to Him
whom worldly minds loathe, whom pure minds yearn for, the Supreme Abode. He is
the Supreme, the Ancient of days, the Transcendent, Indivisible Plenitude, and
Immanent yet above all things.”
That reminds me of a story from
one of Fr. Anthony De Mello’s books about a Salt Doll. The Salt Doll wanted to
know who he was and so he went about asking people. One day he encountered the
ocean and was impressed by its vast beauty. So he asked it if it knew who he
was. The ocean said, “Come in and see for yourself.” The salt doll entered into
the ocean and was carried by the waves. Just as the last part of the salt was
about to dissolve, he said, “Now I know who I am!” I am a Salt Doll. But I am
afraid of dissolving, of course.
As a Tamil poetic work,
Purananuru proclaims, ‘To us, all villages and towns are one and all persons
are kin.’ “The hallmark of spirituality is responsiveness to the given
context….” affirms Swami Agnivesh, a spiritual leader of the marginalized and
bonded labourers. “The spiritually enlightened person cannot remain indifferent
to the problems and sufferings of others. Justice becomes the most authentic
expression of spirituality in the social context.”
Spirituality is not opposed to
religion. It is regarded sometimes not as religion per se, but as the active and
vital energy that transforms life. It is also not identical with religion. As
William Irwin Thompson put it, "Religion is the form, spirituality takes in
civilization". It is also regarded as a two-stroke process: the "upward stroke"
of inner growth, changing oneself as one changes one's relationship with the
external universe; and the "downward stroke" of manifesting improvement in the
physical reality around oneself as a result of the inward change. We all have
spirituality whether we are religious or not. It is that which unites all as one
human family, prevents us from disintegrating and puts people in harmony with
Osho Rajneesh, a controversial
Indian Guru, who was based in Pune, used to comment about spiritual leaders:
‘out of one hundred masters, there is only one Master, ninety-nine are only
teachers. The teacher is necessarily learned; for the Master ... it is not a
necessity... The Master is a rebel. He lives out of his own being, he is
spontaneous, outspoken, constructively critical, not traditional…’.
The earth is one, but the world
is divided. Spiritual leaders therefore should come together and take a bold
stand against corruption, injustice, and communal violence, and promote justice,
harmony and peace. In a climate of acute crisis, they must show the way to the
future. They must promote a sound and acceptable spirituality at the political
and corporate levels to liberate and empower politicians and business leaders
through a sense of shared purpose. Such a sense of purpose is a pre-requisite
for good governance, national unity and overall development.
A Pathway to God
Fr. Pierre Jacob, SJ
The spring from which Ignatian spirituality flows is the core experience he had
in his life, his God-encounter in Christ, a conversion-experience. This faith
experience is the wellspring, these experiences strengthened him then and always
gave him such a strength in his faith that he had often thought to himself: “If
there were no Scriptures to teach me these matters of faith, I would be resolved
to die for them, solely because of what I had seen” (T 29.9). He went on
deepening this experience all through his life and he intended his brothers and
sisters to undergo the same for themselves.
This is the purpose of the Spiritual Exercises: “When he noticed some movements
in his soul and found them useful, he thought they might also be useful for
others, and so he put them in writing” (T 99.2). From the start he wanted to
help others and this help was very specific. He wanted to help them to encounter
the God he had encountered, an encounter that had set him free, saved him from
himself, from his vain glory and sensuality.
“Up to the age of twenty-six, he was a man given to the follies of the world;
and what he enjoyed the most was exercising with arms; having a great and
foolish desire to win fame” (T 1.1). After his conversion, he was convinced that
he had nothing better to share and to give to this world, to his brothers and
sisters, than the Good News and the effective experience that God loves and
pardons this world and them. Any experience where one intimately knows oneself
to be loved and pardoned can become a pathway to God.
One does not approach this spirituality, or any real spirituality for that
matter, with the head, but one enters it with one’s whole being. A spirituality
is a sadhana, a way of living, a way of proceeding, a pathway to God, as
expressed time and again in his writings. A spirituality is something that you
do, that you practice. Ignatius speaks of spiritual exercises (S.E. 1). It is a
wisdom, a practical knowledge, not an abstract or theoretical one (a “savoir
faire” not a “savoir”). It is the fruit of a commitment, “For it is not much
knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and
relish of the truth” (S.E. 2).
Aware that he is a sinner who only merits to be judged and condemned, and
rightly so, Ignatius is surprised and filled with wonder when the Good News
strikes him that he is personally loved and pardoned by God in and through the
crucified and risen Lord (S.E. 53). Everything: angels, saints, fruits and
flowers, and the whole created universe reveal this love to him (S.E. 60; 234).
The angels and saints become the great intercessors. Ignatius begins to live
with all those who, like Mary, said ‘yes’ to God in Christ. This is one vein of
his being a man of the Church, a member of the community of those who keep the
memory of Christ alive. However frail they are, they still labor to say ‘yes’.
It is a community that is united with those who have preceded them in the faith:
the communion of the saints.
He knows he has a debt of gratitude (S.E. 61, 71). This fills him with a joy and
peace the world cannot give nor take away, and it is at the heart of what he
calls ‘consolation’. The crucified and risen Lord is the consoler (S.E. 224).
The individual and collective misery and sin of this world are not the last
word. God’s abiding love and pardon is. This is reason enough to live for the
greater glory of God, to show Him reverence and to serve Him (S.E. 23). Seeing
that nothing is outside the reach of God’s love and pardon is the source of what
he calls ‘devotion’, the capacity to find God in everything, even in the prison
of one’s selfishness and in the exile of one’s pride (S.E. 47. 5-6).
Rooted and grounded in this love and pardon, he feels impelled to be totally
available to God and to His will (S.E. 5; 97). This magnanimity will inspire his
prayer and action: ‘Take Lord, receive…’ (S.E. 234). Desirous to be Christ’s
companion so as to live a life shared together with him, Ignatius is eager to be
placed with the Son who carries the Cross (S.E. 95.5; 195-7 & 167), i.e. who,
with love, suffers human refusal and so is victorious over it: our victory is
He wants to relate to the world and its peoples the way God relates to it.
God-Trinity, in the contemplation of the Incarnation, looks at this world and
sees that it does not respond to His intention while creating it. Yet, He
responds neither with a destructive violence, nor by withdrawal from it, nor
with a call for moral rearmament. Rather, He decides to get involved. The second
person will become man in Jesus to reveal how man lives according to God’s
heart, intention and will: total self-gift in love, till the point of giving his
life. Like Mary, he wants to co-operate with God, present and active in this
world and its history (S.E. 101-109).
The meeting place of God and man is through fellow human beings - to love even
to the point of giving one’s life for others. There is no greater love than to
lay down one’s life for one’s friends. In no way does Ignatius want to get away
from this world (fuga mundi) but he clearly sees that there are two ways of
living in this world: according to the standard of Christ or of Lucifer (S.E.
136-147). The problem is not the world, but the way we relate to it and he wants
to relate to it as does God-Trinity, revealed in Christ.
To contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life (S.E. 261-312), to look at how he
behaves, to listen to what he says and, with a single purpose “to follow and
imitate Our Lord” (S.E. 109), along with being conformed to him (S.E. 197; 203),
is central to his spirituality. To imbibe Christ and to be transformed into him
is the abiding fruit of that first look at the time of conversion (S.E. 53),
sustained throughout life.
Contemplating how God is present and active in the world and in history, which
He beholds in his love and pardon, Ignatius joins God in being present and
active in the world. He becomes a contemplative in action, “in everything to
love and to serve his Divine Majesty” (S.E. 230-237). His is an incarnational
spirituality as it espouses God’s outreach to the world (S.E. 116). His is a
spirituality of the Cross that sees in the weakness of the Cross the
manifestation of the glory of God’s love and pardon (S.E. 196). His is a
sacramental spirituality and this is the second vein that makes him a man of the
Church. The Church is sacrament and thus is an efficacious sign of God’s
presence and action in this world. God works and manifests his glory in our
frailty - human beings whom He loves till the end. His power manifests itself in
In biblical terms, covenanted with God through the gratuitous
election by which
he knows himself to be loved and pardoned, Ignatius ‘chooses’ (‘election’ in the
sense of the S. E.) to let this love rule his life. He is, like Christ, a man
led by the Spirit, missioned to his brothers and sisters to minister to them
with a love that serves and pardons.
When General Congregation 32 asked itself what the identity of the Jesuit is, it
fell back on this experience. “What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one
is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was: Ignatius who
begged the Blessed Virgin to “place him with her Son” and who then saw the
Father himself ask Jesus, carrying the Cross, to take this pilgrim into his
company. What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the
standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for
faith and the struggle for justice which it includes.” (Decree 2, 1-2).
Spirituality for Life and Leadership
Person – Universe
| Contact with God
|| Agent of Peace
|| Agent of Growth
|| Family gatherings
|| Family Prayer
| Reverence (Bhaktih)
Seeing God in
|| Good Actions
|| Team Spirit
|| Letting go of-self
|| Positive Outlook
|| Holistic Approach
|This model is not exhaustive. You can keep adding values and qualities to the
Vision and Missions. Compiled by Fr. Felix Raj, SJ.
Person, 2. Persons, 3. Family, 4. Institution, 5. Society (universe)
Every day more than 200 million children around the world – one in very six
between the ages of 5 and 17 – go to work instead of to school. According to the
International Labor Organization, nearly 171 million children are engaged in
hazardous work, of which 111 million are younger than 15. Some 8.4 million
children are trapped in the worst forms of child labor, including slavery,
trafficking, debt bondage, forced military recruitment, prostitution and
Other publications by Fr. Felix Raj:
“Secularists All – A
concept more political than philosophical”, editorial article in The
Statesman, December 31, 2007, Kolkata
“Asia is One – Single
Currency can facilitate Unity”, editorial article in the Statesman, March
18, 2008, Kolkata.
Indian Economy: Economic
Ideas, Development and Financial Reforms – Essays in Honour of Prof. Raj Kr Sen, Deep & Deep Publications Ltd, New Delhi Pp.392. Rs
Special Lecture and Discussion
The Goethals Indian Library & Research Society organized a special Lecture and
Discussion on "THE PRACTICE OF RELIGION IN AN ERA OF TERRORISM" on 8th January,
2008 (Tuesday) at 4.00 p.m. in St. Xavier's College Central Parlour.
Prof. Dr. GEORG ESSEN, a renowned scholar and theologian from
University of Nijmegen, Netherlands, addressed the topic in terms of dialogue
between faith, reason and humanism to nurture a civilization in defence of human
Many students and teachers actively participated in the discussion and was well
The Library thanks Sri. N. G. Chandrashekaraiah, Bangalore for donating the book
“Kailas – Manasarovar” by Swami Pranavananda FRGS, Bangalore, 2007.
The Library is grateful to the Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata for the donation
of the book Mother Teresa : Come be my Light - The Private Writings of the
“Saint of Calcutta” edited and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., USA,
Next Issue of Goethals News will focus on
Churches in Kolkata. Readers are
welcome to send contributions for publications.
Some Indian Theological Reflections, By Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata,
An Indian Jesus from Sankara’s Thought, By Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata,
Rabindranath Tagore’s Concepts – State, Nation and Nationalism by Mukherjee,
Kedar Nath, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2003.
The Story of Museums, by Sen, Sujit Narayan, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2006.
A Christian Response to the Hindu Philosophical Systems by Nehemiah Nilkantha,
Sastri Coreh, by Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2003.
Chaitanya and his Companions, by Sen, Sahib Chandra Rai, R. N. Bhattacharya,
The Holy Buddha, by Ahir D. C. B. R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, 2007.
Indian Philosophy in Modern Times, by Chande M. B. Atlantic Publishers and
Distributors, New Delhi, 2000.
Tribal Development, by Rao Sundaram & Reddi Majji Sankara, The Associated
Publishers, Ambala, 2007.
Gods and Heroes of East and West, by Vannucci Marta, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
New Delhi, 2007.
Life and Teachings of Adi Sankaracarya, by Victor, P. George, D. K. Printworld
(P) Ltd. New Delhi, 2002.
Voice of Senses Edited by Saraswati Baidyanath, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd. New
Theology of Religions, by Aleaz K. P. Moumita Publishers and Distributors,
Rabindra Nath Tagore, ed. by Gajrani Shiv and Ram S. Commonwealth Publishers,
New Delhi, 2006.
Researchers at the Goethals
Dr. Joshi Sashi, New Delhi, on Mission in Asia (India, China, Japan).
Mr. Begrich Roger, Switzerland, on Adivasi & Alcoholic, Chotanagpur.
Prof. Maitreyee Choudhury, Darjeeling, on Geography / Himalayan Studies.
Prof. Syiemlieh David R. Shillong, on Christianity in North-East India.
Mr. Ayushman Datta, Kolkata, on Astrology, Numerology and Archeology.
Mr. Clement Rudolph Lakra, Kolkata, on Astrology & History.
Dr. Parna Ghose, Kolkata, on Women Travelogue writers of Colonial India, 19th
Ms. Sujata Bhattacharyya, Kolkata, on Women Travelogue writers in colonial
India, 19th Century.
Fr. Cherian Varicatt, Kerala, on History of 19th Century Malabar Coast.
Fr. Jose, Darjeeling, on Himalayan Region.
Mails & EMails
I would like to express my gratitude for keeping Bengali Books in the library.
Pintu Ghughu, Kolkata.
I am writing from Madras. In your library you have a three volume set called
Natesan's National Biographies. I would like to have photocopy of just one small
section from that book, the biography of V Bhashyam Aiyangar, and send it to me.
I am currently in the process of gathering materials for writing a book. Those
pages would be useful to me for my research. Your help would be deeply
appreciated. As far as my visits to all the libraries in Madras go, I can say
with certainty that the three volumes are nowhere to be seen in Madras. Hence my
request to you. I only want to pages containing the biography of V Bhasyam
Suresh Balakrishnan, Madras.
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa
Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director: Dr. Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Staff: Mr. Sunil Mondol and Debu Mondal.