Randy England discusses Bede Griffiths on pages 70 to 72 of his book The Unicorn in the Sanctuary: The Impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church. (Rockford, Illinois, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1991.)
"It is the conventional wisdom of the mission field that the missionary must learn of the ways, language and culture of the people he would convert. The situation in the East has gone a step further, and we find that it is the pagan that has instead converted the missionary. Jesuit priests have started imitating the Hindu holy men, taking the title 'swami' and wearing saffron robes and sporting begging bowls. The so-called 'Indian rite' uses the mantra 'OM,' the name of the Hindu god Krishna. Fr. Bede Griffiths is one of these Christian gurus." (page 70)
"The initial religious formation of Dom Bede Griffiths, O.S.B. was minimally Anglican. Of immense influence upon him was his early reading of the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and other books of Eastern spiritual wisdom introduced to him by a friend of his mother. This friend, who was to have such a strong effect on him, was a Theosophist...." (70-71)
"Griffiths, once a student of C.S. Lewis at Oxford, converted from unbelief to Catholicism at about the same time Lewis was undergoing his own conversion to Anglican Christianity. He entered a Benedictine monastery within a few weeks of his conversion and was later ordained a priest.
"Bede Griffiths had assumed that he would preach the Gospel, but learned he could not teach that which he was still searching for. He went to India to help found a monastery, and never left. His community, called Shantivanam ("Forest of Peace"), is affiliated with the Benedictine community of Camaldoli in Italy, but follows the customs of a Hindu ashram, with Griffiths as guru. He says: 'Certainly from a Christian point of view the importance of Indian philosophy can hardly be overestimated. It marks the supreme achievement of the human mind in the natural order in its quest of a true conception of God."
"Griffiths calls the Hindu temple a 'sacrament' and is caught up in admiration for these people who have so penetrated the 'ultimate mystery.' In the temple of Shiva the destroyer, the innermost holy place contains the lingam or phallus where the worshipper communes with the ultimate reality.
"He claims that it is easy to meet the Hindu on the level of liturgy, language, music and art, but very difficult to meet him on a theological level. Nevertheless, Fr. Griffiths believes that the task is possible. Unfortunately, this is only accomplished by subordinating Christianity to Hinduism. He accuses Christians of having an imperfect understanding of Christ (which may be true), but he then proceeds to send us to Hindus and Muslims to clear up our misunderstandings. In the end he sees no rationale for preaching the Gospel, for at bottom we are all believers. Fr. Griffiths says:
"No one can say in the proper sense that the Hindu, the Buddhist or the Muslim is an 'unbeliever.' I would say rather that we have to recognize him as our brother in Christ. . .
"Our task in India is not so much to bring Christ to India (as though he could be absent), as to discover Christ already present and active in the Hindu soul."
Videos promoted and sold at The Theosophical Society:
"The Space in the Heart of the Lotus: Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine in India. Inner Directions/Wisdom Video Library."
"Kurt Hoffman. Looks at how Bede Griffiths blends the contemplative practices of Christianity and Hinduism. 1987."
"Discovering the Feminine. More Than Illusion Films. Bede Griffiths. Explains how a severe illness changed Bede Griffiths's views on love, duality, and the feminine aspects of life. 1993."
More Than Illusion Films. Bede Griffiths. Two lectures on modern science and spirituality, Christian mysticism, and Hindu Advaita. (1 tape). 1992."
"Interview with Father Bede. ...This Benedictine monk shows deep understanding of Indian wisdom, while remaining a Christian. 1983." [It all depends on how one defines Christianity]
The Swami From Oxford: "...this man is not a Hindu guru but a Benedictine monk named Bede Griffiths, originally associated with Prinknash Abbey in England. A former student of C.S. Lewis at Oxford, Griffiths is well known as a popular interpreter of Hindu wisdom to Western Christians. A convert to Catholicism, Griffiths is a British version of Thomas Merton, who, like his American counterpart, has had a long and abiding interest in Oriental religion. ...
"Griffiths has made the claim that he is 'a Christian in religion but a Hindu in spirit.' Such an assertion can be understood as his way of adapting the Christian faith to the local culture. But it raises the question of how far a Christian can go in adopting indigenous and non-Christian practices and concepts without giving up Catholic teaching itself."
Ancient Chinese Wisdom: "Today's scientists, East and West, include those who are willing to look to the ancient wisdom of all the great Faiths for inspiration and confirmation of their most astounding discoveries. There is a growing acceptance that these truths were understood intuitively thousands of years before there was any possibility of their being proven empirically. The positive outcome of this openness was predicted by that astute English, Christian monk, Bede Griffiths, who devoted much of his life to an ashram in southern India. Writing not long before his death in 1992, he said:
"'We are entering a new age. The European civilization that we have known for the past two thousand years is giving way to a global civilization... As we enter this new civilization, the meeting place of East and West will be science.'
"This trend can be witnessed in more than one branch of science: cosmology today is not simply the realm of philosophers, theologians and astrologers; the astronomers, physicists and transpersonal psychologists are also taking an active interest."
Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to His Interspiritual Thought: "Bede Griffiths—English Benedictine monk and lifelong friend of C.S. Lewis, who was his tutor at Oxford—wrote in 1955 to a friend: 'I'm going out to India to seek the other half of my soul." [a Gnostic concept of twin] There, he explored the intersection of Hinduism and Christianity and was a driving force behind the growth of interspiritual awareness so common today, yet almost unheard of a half-century ago. ...
"Fully exploring the antecedents and development of Griffiths' theory that the Christian mystery can be expressed through the worldview of Hinduism, Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to His Interspiritual Thought is a vital starting point for any spiritual seeker who wants to understand the shared territories of these two great faiths."
EAST AND WEST: The mystical connection with Father Bede Griffiths: "A Christian monk who lived in India for over thirty years, the late Fr. Griffiths shares some remarkable insights about the contemplative life. He builds a bridge linking the Gnostic tradition of early Christianity and the mystical tradition streaming down through the centuries with the ancient philosophies of Vedanta and Buddhism. The results are fascinating and profound."
Wisdom Christianity Index of Wisdom Christianity: "The attraction that we experience in the Eastern spiritual traditions today is the magnetism of wisdom: a knowing which is life, inner experience and union. This wisdom was the 'golden string' which drew Bede Griffiths to India.... This spiritual wisdom is not foreign to Christianity, though it has long been unfamiliar in the western world....
"Bede Griffiths, in dedicating his life to the 'marriage of East and West,' was working toward the rebirth of Christian wisdom in the light of the Vedanta: of nonduality... and of the discovery of the inner Self....
"Today Christianity finds itself confronted not only by the wisdom of the East—Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism—but by other wisdoms as well. Jungian and transpersonal psychology... tribal shamanism, hermeneutics, ecology and feminism... on every side, the sharp edges of western consciousness are rounded and silvered by an invisible river of psyche and spirit....
"We are dealing, finally, not with a specialization but with a breaking out from the confinement of our over-specialized consciousness—whether secular or religious. It is a question of recovering the fullness of the Beginning—in the energy of the Spirit."
Bede Grifflths Association: "The Bede Grifflths Association was founded to promote the renewal of contemplative life in the contemporary church and world."
Gnosticcenter - Gnosticism in the 21st Century:"Sufis have long understood the importance of music and rhythm as a metaphor for the Divine, and, in the above quote, Bede Griffiths lets us have a peek into the kingdom's rhythm section.... While at high school age, he was walking through the fields when he became totally transfixed at sunset while birds were singing....
"After graduation from Oxford, this student of C. S. Lewis worked in the slums of London until he was almost shattered by what he saw.... Fr. Bede surrendered to the Crucified One and had an astounding breakthrough, being swept up into what he called 'real prayer,' which he referred to as his own 'return to the Center.'
"...as spiritual paths open themselves to dialog and find their common ground, Bede Griffiths, the Benedictine monk, will be remembered as one of the shining examples."
1. Malachi Martin, "The Jesuits" (New York: Linden Press, 1987), p. 411.
2. Bede Griffiths, "The Golden String" (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1954), p. 58
3. Harrison Hoblitzelle, "A Visit with Father Bede Griffiths: INDIA'S CHRISTIAN GURU," New Age Journal, August 1983, p. 40.
4. Bede Griffiths, "The Golden String," p. 152.
5. Bede Griffiths, "Christ in India" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966), p. 99.
6. Ibid., pp. 183, 189.
12. Ibid, pp. 196, 217.
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