Lanza Del Vasto

Lanza Del Vasto

Italian­born writer, pacifist

Lanza Del Vasto (1901-81), founder of the Community of the Ark, a pacifist group in France; Lanza del Vasto, (Giuseppe Giovanni Luigi Enrico Lanza di Trabia), (September 29, 1901 – January 5, 1981) was a philosopher, poet, artist, and nonviolent activist.

He was born in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy and died in Elche de la Sierra, Spain.

A western disciple of Mohandas K. Gandhi, he worked for inter-religious dialogue, spiritual renewal, ecological activism and nonviolence.

In December 1936, Lanza went to India, joining the movement for Indian independence led by Gandhi. He knew of Gandhi through a book by Romain Rolland. He spent six months with the Mahatma, then in June 1937, went to the source of the Ganges river in the Himalayas, a famous pilgrimage site.

There he saw a vision who told him "Go back and found!"

He left then India and went back to Europe. In 1938, he went to Palestine, then in the midst of civil war, to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, "between two lines of tanks".

He come back to Paris at the time when the Second World War started. He wrote some poetry books and in 1943 he published the story of his trip to India, Return to the Source, which became a huge success.

He founded the Community of the Ark in 1948 which first met a lot of difficulties. In 1954, he went back to India to participate in nonviolent anti-feudal struggles with Vinoba Bhave.

In 1962 the Community of the Ark settled in Haut-Languedoc, in the south of France, at the Borie Noble, near Lodиve, in a deserted village. The community, once numbering over a hundred members, now suffers from an ageing population (under thirty members) and a lack of interest in its work and lifestyle.

Lanza del Vasto, a friend of Dietrich, who set himself in the role of witness to the meeting, by wanting to understand too much, did not understand a simple gesture, and reported they were shocked by the petty and insensitive attitude that that gesture expressed. In reality a gesture is a mirror: Gurdjieff had constructed his apostolate on mirrors (Meeting with a Remarkable Man: George Ivanovic Gurdjieff by Walter Catalano translated from Italian by Chuck Salvo)

He also had friendship relationships to Rene Daumal.“The highest art is created by the man who has attained to being and unity,” Daumal said to him in their Dialogue on Style (The Strait Gate La Porte Étroite by Basarab Nicolescu).