This article is in an attempt to apply the Ratio Formationis into the Indian Cultural and Spiritual Context
- Br. Vincent Gabriel Furtado OFM Cap.
PART ONE: RELIGIOUS FORMATION IN INDIA.
As the Ratio Formationis (henceforth, RF) of the Order has brought out amazingly well the Christian and the Franciscan spiritual as well as theological dimensions of our Capuchin Franciscan vocation, we would like to focus in this article only one particular aspect of our spirituality, namely contemplation, that too through a concrete case of a particular religious tradition. The Capuchin reform was initiated with an emphasis on the practice of contemplative prayer (Cons. 50:3) with the Rule for “Religious Life in Hermitages ” as the guide and model. The significance and importance of contemplation is becoming more and more evident in the contemporary digitalised materialistic world, where innumerable people suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. The world is hankering for religious who can bear witness to prayer and contemplation. Our Formation programme can therefore highlight and reemphasize the need in our formees for contemplation. The paper is written with this perspective just to serve as an appendix to the Ratio Formationis. It can not only remind the contemplative character of our charism but also give incentive to our friars and fraternities to set apart time for contemplation in the daily schedule (Const. 55:2f).
The article deals with Indian spiritual tradition objectively as it is handed down to us, presented here as a parallel paradigm for practice. It does not deal with any theoretical questions concerning Christian theology or spirituality. Nevertheless, we note that (i) in India there is a constant search for unity, oneness of Reality, as a result the differentiations between the concept of God and the man in his human, empirical conditions which we as Christians are familiar with, are absent in the Indian mystic tradition. In Indian tradition we can speak of a “cosmotheandric intuition”, which expresses the all embracing indissoluble union, that constitutes all of Reality: the triple dimension of reality as a whole: cosmic-divine-human . It is the undivided awareness of the totality of all three, the Theos, kosmos and anthropos, constituting one supreme, divine Reality. (ii) There are two dimensions to this spiritual tradition, the mystic and the cultic. The cultic corresponds to our Liturgy and the Church, but this cultic aspect is not part of this essay, on the other hand it highlights only the mystic tradition. (iii) The unique characteristic of oriental spirituality is the importance given to the body, and hence the elevation of the body through spiritual exercises. The body is considered as an inseparable part of the whole spiritual process. (iv) The exercises narrated here in the second part may look like training the mind with some external force, but actually in practice they are meant only to bring the conscious mind to rest and begin the process of entering into peace. The unconscious mind is opened up and deeper you enter into it greater will be the peace you experience. (v) Finally, all contemplation can only lead one to the total “surrender” (samādhi); it is the prerogative of the Divine and the Holy to grant an ‘encounter’ (darshan) to the seeker; this aspect we study in Christianity under the title of ‘grace’. These clarifications are only for those readers who are not familiar with Indian tradition.
The origins of Indian spiritual tradition can be traced back to five thousand years from our times characterised by the presence of innumerable sages, ascetics and mystics who in the process of their relentless search even dared to reach the peaks of Himalayas just to enhance their experience of the Divine and the Holy. We shall try to delve into this long period in two parts : the first part will explain in nutshell the main principles of religious formation in India, and the second part will elaborate a concrete method of meditation which can help us Capuchin Friars to enhance the quality of our contemplative prayer. To provide interreligious insights into our Capuchin formation programme is sheerly an initiative of the General Secretary of Formation, which indeed is to be appreciated ....
We thank Br. Vincent Furtado for this inspirational article comparing Ratio Formationis with the Indian Spiritual Traditions. You are welcome to send your insights and feedbacks on it to this email: [email protected] . We thank Br. Francesco Neri Ofm Cap, Italy and Br. Pascal Aude Ofm Cap, France for combing through this text and giving their valuable feedback.
Brs. Charles Alphonse and Jaime Rey Ofm Cap
The full article can be read on our Formation Office website: