Sunday, November 29, 2009


As you may know I am on a Sabbatical year, after being 18 years working as the director of Gurjarvani. I still continue the work of the President of Signis India, the International Organization of Catholic communicators, thanks to the internet.
Between July and September I attended 4 courses/retreats of 10 or 12 days each at Atmadarshan, Patna, Bihar. Atmadarshan is Jesuit run Pycho-spiritual centre. The courses/retreats help one discover one’s inner self, spend time with the Lord and can achieve inner healing of experiences half or not digested, which cause harm and sicknesses. They have a highly competent team of counsellors/therapists, and I found the experience practical, deep, enriching and liberating.
Half of September and October I was at Gurjarvani, with a ten day trip to Thailand to participate in the Signis World Congress.
In the second week of November I reached Bodhi Zendo, the Zen Meditation Centre at Perumalmalai, near Kodaikanal, a hill station in Tamildandu. I hope to be here till the end of January, 2010, living and experiencing Zen meditation under the Jesuit, Fr.AMA Samy, the only recognized and approved Zen Master in India. He follows the Japanese tradition of Zen, which he mastered in Japan under an eminent Zen Master.
All spend about four hours a day in official meditation in the Bodhi Zendo (Zen prayer room), with a Cross and a statue of Buddha below it. More meditation, as one wishes. After half an hour of meditation, there is a brief meditative walk always.
The daily time table at Bodhi Zendo goes like this:
6.00-7.00 meditation.
7.00-8.00 breakfast
8.00-9.30 Seva (work in the garden, cutting vegetables, cleaning, etc... )
10.30-12.00 silence
12.00-12.30 meditation (optional)
12.30-1.30 lunch
1.30-4.00 silence
5.30-7.00 meditation
7.00-8.15 supper
8.15-8.45 meditation
(Silence after 5.30)
Full silence every Wednesday. Thursdays are free days till the last meditation, and Sundays free after lunch. Kodaikanal is just 12 kms from here, and there are many buses from Perumalmalai, outside the Estate. From the first Thursday evening of every month there is a 3-day Mini Sesshin with complete silence and about 6 hours of meditation with a talk by AMA Samy. During the morning meditation every day anyone can meet the Zen Master for very brief guidance. On Sundays, Eucharist is celebrated.
There is an excellent library on Buddhism, Hinduism, Mysticism, Philosophy, etc.... Good food, vegetarian with eggs, with good fruits and much of the vegetables organically grown here.
What is extraordinary for me is the beauty of nature around here. Deep inside a 500 acre Jesuit Coffee estate, Bodhi Zendo is surrounded by the Palani hills, and far removed from all noise except for the birds. Green mountains all around. Mist, clouds, rain and sun alternate, almost every day. Temperature around 18 C., most of the year. Beautiful Zen gardens, vegetable patches, coffee under Silver Oak and Eucalyptus trees. On a sunny day, the landscape is incredibly beautiful!
There are about 30 rooms, fully occupied most of the year. Booking needed, well in advance. Seekers of peace and meditation, of any/no religion come from many countries in the world; relatively few from India. Some spend 3-4 days, a week, some weeks, some months, ...., some come every year,... People come from Auroville, or after visiting different other Ashrams, mostly in south India. The other day we had a group of older people from the Church of England, with 3 pastors. After that a group of 20 University students from the USA, doing a semester of their studies in India, spent 8 days here.
I am enjoying the Zen experience very much. It takes me deeper into myself - gently, quietly, almost imperceptibly, and the Lord is within.


  1. Dear Rappai,
    I am very happy to hear about your enriching experiences in your Sabbatical Year. After eighteen years of fruitful ministry, one can feel the vibrations, reading the anubhava you are going through the intense self-searching and God-Experience.
    Love and prayers,
    Alpesh Macwan s.j.

  2. Yoga is a way of life, a conscious act, not a set or series of learning principles. The dexterity, grace, and poise you cultivate, as a matter of course, is the natural outcome of regular practice. You require no major effort. In fact trying hard will turn your practices into a humdrum, painful, even injurious routine and will eventually slow down your progress. Subsequently, and interestingly, the therapeutic effect of Yoga is the direct result of involving the mind totally in inspiring (breathing) the body to awaken. Yoga is probably the only form of physical activity that massages each and every one of the body’s glands and organs. This includes the prostate, a gland that seldom, if ever, gets externally stimulated in one’s whole life.

  3. Dear Fr Rappai. even though we hardly talked I very much appreciated your presence at Bodhi Zendo last year at the same time I was there. Hope we meet again.

    Bruce from Australia.

  4. Dear Fr. Rappai.

    I am an norwegian artist, finishing the academy this spring. I would like to go to a zen-cebtre for some time (maybe a year or so) to learn more about this quiet, endless room of where it somehow seems that art and being meets. Would you reccomend to come to Bodhi Zendo if i do not have much experience in beforehand? Will i learn from ground, and is it unproblematic only speaking english (and norwegian) and not difficult to be able to stay there for some months?

    Will be most grateful for answer if you got the time, my e-mail is :

    Hope to hear from you, wish you all the best.

    Marit from Norway