Letters from Bede Griffiths      


March 10 1989

Dear Ron Dart,

Thanks you for your letter. I am glad to know how much you appreciate what we are trying to do here. As you say, it has been a gradual growth over many years for which we owe the origin and development to Fr. Monchanin and Fr. Le Saux.

As regards concern for social justice, the problem has been to establish a way of life in the church in India and all our efforts have been focussed on this. But this does not mean that the concern for humans has been neglected. We are always acutely conscious of the sufferings and needs of the people around us and have been involved in efforts to assist them in various ways. We started a co-operative among the weavers in the village and a spinning centre, and are now running a school for tailoring and embroidery for girls. We are also deeply involved in a movement to build up the villages in remote areas, bringing in methods of agriculture and village industries, as well as primary schools and dispensaries.  Of course, all this is on a very small scale when one considers the vastness of the problems of India, but I always feel that one should begin with what lies at hand rather than get involved in grandiose schemes which often fail to do any real good.

I agree that Zaehner has a point about Yudhisthira and one must realize the social context of the Gita. But, the teaching itself far transcends any merely social consideration. It has such overwhelming power and relevance to the human situation in general, that I continue to live by its inspiration.

I will send you a leaflet on our ashram, which will give you some idea of our life, under separate cover.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

Bede Griffiths



April 5 1989

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your letter of last November and please excuse the delay in writing. I think that it must have come by sea.

As regards contemplation and social concern, personally I feel that a contemplative should be aware of the problems of the world, much as Thomas Merton was, but the degree of his involvement must depend on his personal calling. Some like Gandhi are to be totally involved, others like Sri Aurobindo may be deeply concerned but not actually involved in direct action, others like Ramana Maharishi may not be apparently concerned at all, and yet by their profound humanity and compassion may exercise a very positive influence on the world. In other words, I think that there is a great diversity of contemplative vocations, but I would say that the danger for the contemplative is to get too involved, especially, in any kind of political action, and so lose the unique gift which he has to offer the world. As Ramana Maharishi said, those who become one with God raise the whole world with them.                  

Personally, I feel the need for social awareness if contemplative life is to be meaningful and we keep in touch with various people who are involved in social issues and giving assistance to people in need. But I keep away from all political involvement. I feel that one must be faithful to one’s own vocation and offer the world what it most needs—the power to realize the presence of God in everyone and everything.

I feel very much at one with Fr. Maloney and Matthew Fox. I would be interested to see your book on Contemplation and the Polis.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

Bede Griffiths

I had written this letter before your recent letter came. I think that I must have answered your questions about contemplative life before.  As regards the Gita, there is something to be said for Yudhisthira’s view, but I feel that the basic teachings of the Gita is so profound that it goes beyond all questions of caste and politics and takes us to the depths of the human condition. Did you know that I had written a commentary on the Gita called River of Compassion, published by Amity House, Warwick, New York?

With my best wishes and prayers.

Yours sincerely

D. Bede

 Extracts from a letter received from Fr. Bede

"I think that I can best answer your questions by saying that every human being is born with a capacity for God. As a result of sin this capacity is often obscured or distorted or totally buried, but it always remains - it is the 'image of God' in each of us. The grace of God, which is offered in some way to every human being can always renew this image in us and awaken us to the Divine Presence in us.

Jesus Christ in our Christian understanding is one in whom this capacity for God was totally fulfilled ("in him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily") and the image of God was realized in its perfection. Each of us as we grow in grace can come to share more and more in the gift of the Holy spirit and so grow in the likeness of Christ so that we share in his Sonship and are able to know God as our Father. "God has sent the Spirit of his Son in our hearts crying Abba, Father". (Galatians 4.6) In this way we come to share, as you say, in the inner life of the Trinity."




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