Communauté De L Arche Lanza Del Vasto

Lanza de Vasto and the Community de the Ark

By mark Shepard

Excerpted and adapted indigenous the livre The Community ns the Ark, simple Productions, Arcata, California, 1990

For more resources, visit Mark Shepard’s Peace Page at

Vous lisez ce: Communauté de l arche lanza del vasto

We space accused de going against auto times. Nous are doing the deliberately and with all our strength.

—Lanza de Vasto

The device enslaves, thé hand to adjust free.

—Lanza cette Vasto

Tucked away in the windswept mountains of Languedoc in southern france is a small island of tranquility known as the Community of the Ark. Founded and formed passant par Lanza après Vasto—often dubbed Mahatma Gandhi’s “first disciple in thé West”—the Ark is a model of a nonviolent société order, an alternatives to the overt et hidden violence de our times.

Joseph jeans Lanza del Vasto (1901–1981) was an Italian aristocrat deeply concerned about this violence. In 1936, Lanza travel to inde to fulfill Gandhi, the one person he thought might know comment violence could be uprooted. Gandhi offered Lanza a new name: Shantidas, “Servant du Peace.” et Lanza returned to leurope  with hopes of starting a “Gandhian order in the West.”

Lanza après Vasto, 1979Photo by Mark Shepard



In 1948 come the news of Gandhi’s assassination. Lanza felt the right temps had come, and he established the sapin Community de the Ark nous a petit rented farm in southwest France. This sapin community, though, to be a fiasco. Many who came to live weren’t suited venir community tons or were not in oui with thé community’s principles.

The neighborhood dissolved, marqué was quickly reestablished on an estate in thé Rhone Valley. This time, anyone wanting venir become a complete member—a “Companion”—had to marche through a three‑year apprenticeship et then be authorized unanimously passant par the divers Companions.

Even so, the community grew. In 1963, thé community purchase 1200 acres of farmland et forest in the mountains of southern France. Included on the pays were several village deserted because World War I, their half‑ruined buildings fabriqué of stone, in auto traditional architectural of the region. The Companions rebuilt et expanded one ns these villages, les Borie Noble, to serve ont their nouveau home.

When je visited thé community in 1979, thé Companions had spread à three est différent “villages” nous the land. Altogether, thé community now organized over 100 residents, including Companions, applicants, long‑term visitors, and children. Thé residents came from virtually every country du western Europe, and even farther. Though the Ark in its early on days had drawn mostly intellectuals and aristocrats, inhabitants now come from a broad range de backgrounds.

Besides this “mother community,” auto Ark had actually smaller branch communities in other parts du France, several est différent European countries, et Quebec. In all the neighborhoods combined, there were about 140 Companions.

La Borie Noble, 1979Photo de Mark Shepard



What was standing out many about thé Ark was that cette was a community du workers. Auto Companions believed strongly in the principle de “bread labor,” expounded by Gandhi and Tolstoy. This principle held that everyone that is able must share auto physical work-related required to produce life’s an easy needs, such oui food and clothing.

According to the Companions, auto practice of bread job avoided the kind du oppression that establishes when some people try à avoid your fair share of this essential labor. Thé practice additionally avoided division into classer of workers and non‑workers. And it assisted restrain material desires, i beg your pardon often prosper unreasonable when someone else works à satisfy them.

For these reasons, auto Companions witnessed bread labor oui the key à a “nonviolent economy”—an economy that abuses neither personnes nor nature.

While practicing bread labor, the Companions also aimed at producing everything they used—though they to be still frais from that goal. In this way, they to be trying to du repos their links with thé modern economy, which they saw as built nous injustices toward thé poor, auto Third World, et the earth.

Also, thé Companions prefered à use facile tools, powered de hand or animal, believing that complex machinery is a product ns human greed. Simple tools, castle said, benefit the worker, building physical, mental, et spiritual health.

The Companions grew all their vegetables and much ns their actes using horses et hand techniques in essential agriculture. A dairy products at la Borie fantaisie provided milk and cheese. (No pets were raised pour meat, because auto Companions rejected death animals pour food.)

Farming at thé ArkPhoto by Mark Shepard



The Companions put high dimportance on crafts. Thé women handspun wool and wove cette into cloth pour garments, providing some of the community’s clothing, concède some apparel for dollar outside. Différent crafts practiced at auto Ark contained carpentry, mince woodworking, stonecutting, blacksmithy, pottery, et printing. In tous these crafts, seul hand outil were used.

The spirit de the Ark was embodied in the crafts. Objects were fabriquer with an eye to beauty and elegance, never seul to function. Each was carefully and lovingly decorated. Still, it was not auto object that was many important. The henn purpose du any work, lock said, was à enrich thé worker.

The Companions to be trying venir be self-sufficient in energy as in différent ways. Firewood couper from auto community’s woodlands was used à la indoor heating, water heating, and some cooking.

The Companions supplied almost no electricity. Candles to be used parce que le indoor lighting, and vegetables to be stored in cellars there is no refrigeration.

Still, the Companions had lugged in heat current venir run a flour mill in your bakery; et they offered batteries à la flashlights and for small record-players. Also, thé Companions had revived a water-powered sawmill venir generate electricity à la producing wood from the community’s forests.

Each human being at the Ark operated according à ability et received according à need. No de largent was used within thé community, et no Companion individually owned money—though de largent was available à la such needs oui medical treatment and transportation. The Companions additionally did not very own individual property, except pour personal items such as clothes and books. There to be no economic privilege at thé Ark à place une person above another.

JanePhoto passant par Mark Shepard



Second in sens only venir work was auto spiritual tons of auto community. The Companions believed that peace among personnes can seul be achieved when individuals gagner inner peace. Soja each human being was motivated in the practice ns his or her own religion, and there to be a neighborhood spiritual discipline oui well.

Most ns the Companions were solid Catholics, but the Ark and its spiritual discipliné had ne sont pas ties venir any simple religion. Instead, thé adherents of any religion were welcome in thé community. The Companions witnessed this as année important part of their nonviolent example, since religious intolerance soja often creates problem in auto larger society.

Work, worship, and other aspects du community first were woven ensemble in a daily collective that balanced these activities et provided a sense de rhythm—and haricot de soja helped the Companions find the inner tranquility they sought. At les Borie Noble, an old church bell sounded to marque off each les pièces of auto day.

It to be still foncé when the cloche first classement to announce the day’s beginning. At 6:00 a.m., numerous gathered pour yoga exercises et meditation in thé community’s common Room—a long, court room of white‑washed plaster walls et a varnished pine tree floor.

Voir plus: Cuisiner Des Queues De Langoustes Congelées, Golfo Gourmet: Accueil

An hour later, most of the ar gathered pour morning prayers held in thé Common Room, jaune outside if the harsh weather ns those montagnes permitted. Auto Companions recited prayers that came from the croyant tradition but that would certainly be acceptable à adherents de any faith. At the end, each human being greeted each différent with the “kiss du peace.”

A facile breakfast followed, with family members eating independently in their apartments et single toutes les personnes together in auto kitchen. Work started at 8:00 and continued till noon. Each hour, auto tolling of the bell interrupted tous work, calling auto community to worship—either à a few protocole of prayer in petit groups, or to a moment of silent inward reflection.

At 12:30, auto community gathered à la lunch in thé Common pièce (or outside, when it was warm). People sat conditions météorologiques wide reed mats moche around auto edge of the room, et the food was placed on a table in thé center. One of the women led the singing ns the Ark’s grace.

Lord, bless this meal

From which nous draw the strength venir serve you.

Give bread à those who haven’t any,

And hunger et thirst for righteousness à those who have more 보다 enough.

People got up to fill their bowls at the center table. The food was cooked simply, without spices, cible had a riche flavor du its own. Lunch was the henchmen social event du the day, haricot de soja there was much talk et laughter.

Lunch in auto Common RoomPhoto by Mark Shepard



Work started again at 2:00 et lasted until 6:00, through hourly pauses parce que le worship ont in the morning. For dinner, again, households ate apart and single personnes together, despite the food had been prepared communally. Supper was also the time pour special dinner gatherings in exclusive apartments.

At 8:00, thé Companions gathered in the chapel to recite auto vows ns their Order—Bread Labor, Self-Purification, Nonviolence, et so on. Then auto Companions joined auto rest du the community pour prayers, in auto Common Room or around a bonfire in auto courtyard of the henchmen building. The day ended as it began, with auto kiss ns peace.

The rhythm de the days ongoing through thé seasons in auto celebration of festivals. These were the opportunité for thé community to celebrate its unified and, passant par celebrating it, to strengthen it.

Festivals were organized about once a month—whenever the Companions might find a reasonable excuse for one—so the Companions were typically preparing à la one fermé or another. On dur days, auto Companions dressed in blanche woollen garments fabriquer at auto Ark. Each festival was different, marqué there was constantly feasting, dancing, et singing.

The singing of the Ark ran through tous the days et seasons favor a golden thread. Virtually every gathering de the community was an occasion pour song.

This unaccompanied singing had actually reached a state of fine arts under Lanza del Vasto’s late wife Chanterelle. Most de the song were by Lanza et Chanterelle, usually on religious themes. The music had thé feeling du church musique during auto Middle Ages, but was modern at thé same time. Thé Companions’ recordings had twice won internationale awards.

Just as the Ark had tried venir build a nonviolent economy, it had tried à build a nonviolent government ont well—a government free de compulsion. To this end, thé Companions conducted all their entreprise by consensus. Coordinators to be chosen à la each area du work and for every “village” à help regulate day-to-day affairs.

Lanza self occupied auto highest bureau in the Order ns the Ark, the office ns “Patriarch.” Though the power du this office had always been circumscribed, cette had wielded that puissance a good deal in auto stormy at an early stage years of the Ark. Then, oui the neighborhood became more stable et united, the Patriarch’s authority had shifted to the Companions oui a whole.

Today the bureau is greatly honorary et advisory, et the location “Patriarch” has actually been set aside. Pierre Parodi, Shantidas’s successor from 1981 à 1989, to be instead called “the Pilgrim.”

To maintain la discipline in the community without coercion, auto Companions used thé system ns “responsibility et coresponsibility.” “Responsibility” intended that each human being should take conditions météorologiques a an ideal penance parce que le a wrong he or elle had committed, whether or not it was known à others.

If auto offender fail this duty, “coresponsibility” came right into play. Autre person, seeing the wrong, had venir approach the offender in exclusive and mission out thé fault. Cible if the offender refused to acknowledge it et the accuser remained convinced, the accuser had à take conditions météorologiques the penance. The accusent might fast, or take on work the other failed à do, or anything rather suitable. Generally, this commander the offender venir recognize thé fault et assume the penance.

Maurice the BakerPhoto by Mark Shepard



The Companions had actually placed themselves well off the beaten path, but they kept fermer la porte contact with thé outside people in order à spread their message. A thousand or more visitors came each year and stayed pour varying lengths de time. During the summer, the Ark could seem an ext like a training centre than a community. Also, Lanza de Vasto, Parodi, et other Companions had actually traveled extensively to spread the message of thé Ark.

The Companions had also reached out into the larger culture with a series of nonviolent travail campaigns, models of strictement Gandhian nonviolence. These included the first‑ever captation of a nuclear puissance facility, in 1958! the Companions had also aided farmers conditions météorologiques the nearby Larzac plateau in a successful campaign to bloquer expansion of année army base. This campaign had helped provide a model for later europe mass acte that consequently inspired thé launching de the American anti‑nuclear déménageur at Seabrook, nouveau Hampshire.

Though thé people de the Ark to be trying à affect the larger society, lock did no expect à bring around widespread change. Castle saw un film western civilization racing à its self-destruction, propelled passant par greed, ignorance, violence, and a an innovation that magnified toutes les personnes of these. Castle doubted the momentum could be checked.

But they hope they might at the very least serve ont a model to those who rebuilt from auto ashes—and perhaps themselves survive oui seeds ns a nouveau society.

Dancing at thé ArkPhoto passant par Mark Shepard



Make Straight the Way of the Lord: année Anthology de the thoughtful Writings de Lanza après Vasto, Knopf, nouveau York, 1974.

Warriors du Peace: Writings on the Technique du Nonviolence, par Lanza cette Vasto, Knopf, new York, 1974.

Return to thé Source, par Lanza après Vasto, Schocken, new York, 1972. Includes an account du Shantidas’s stay with Gandhi.

Voir plus: Cas Coaching : Comment Savoir Si On L Aime Encore ? 10 Questions Pour Savoir Si Tu L'Aimes Encore

The Community de the Ark: A Visit with Lanza de Vasto, His fellow Disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, and Their Utopian neighborhood in la france (20th Anniversary Edition), de Mark Shepard, facile Productions, Friday Harbor, Washington, 2011. A personal, detailed account of mien visit.

La Communauté ns l’ArcheLa Borie Noble34650 RoqueredondeFRANCE046 744 0989 (within France)+33 46 744 0989 (international)