Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Bede Griffith on a sense of the sacred

Everything in India has a sacred character. It meets on every side–they are living in a sacred world. Here in the West we live in a profane world. For the last three centuries we have tried to reduce everything from the sphere of the sacred, the sphere of God. Science tries to eliminate the sacred; the moon is not something sacred. It has become simply a chemical formation about which we seek to learn all we can. The same is true of the earth and the other planets. So we have eliminated two dimensions of reality, the psychological and the spiritual. We begin to think that the world is one-dimensional, that it is only material. We forget the sacred character of the whole creation. The incarnation of Christ is the great historical affirmation that all matter is sacred.

Bede Griffiths was an English Benedictine monk  who was drawn to the monastic experitments modeled on Hindu Ashrams happening in South India. In 1955, he settled in India and later became the monastic leader at Saccidananda Ashram (also called Shantivanam). A noted author and retreat leader, he was important figure in Christian-Hindu dialogue. Learn more at .

For one day or one week, begin, end and sprinkle through your day, this short mantra by Mary Lou Kownacki, “Everything on earth is filled with sacred presence., let us bow down and worship.” In doing so, do the words change how you look at others, at the earth and its resources, at the things you own and use every day? Does it help you understand what Bede is trying to tell the Western world? Explain.


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