A brief reflection in honour of Bede Griffiths on his anniversary of moving on to the greater light of samadhi 13th May 1993

It is not easy for anyone to express and make public his or her most intimate spiritual experiences and profound religious convictions.Bede Griffiths was one of those exceptional beings.He had the courage to communicate in his writings his personal spiritual journey as well as his vision concerning the important role of religions in the world of today.Although he was a Catholic monk according to the Benedictine tradition,he emersed himself in the religious and spiritual traditions of India.

Recently I began to read once again the book he published in 1983 called The Marriage of East and West.I can almost feel the burden he carried in trying to communicate to the world an insight which he believed to be vital for the future development of humanity.He observed that the world was culturally and philosophically caught up in two profoundly different and conflicting positions.The “western” position values  scientific ideas and technology, abstract thought,logical argument and rational thinking. The “eastern” position values the imagination and the natural experiences, the power of symbolism and the intuitive mind. His insight was that these two positions are meant to be complimentary and equal partners ; that neither must dominate the other nor be separate and independent of the other. He believed that the only hope for the future of humanity lies in more and more people and cultures cultivating this “marriage of east and west.”

However this insight is not obvious because generally speaking we are conditioned into one or the other position.The only way to discover this insight is through encountering the opposites and through constant observation and meditation.Eventually through perseverence we enter consciously into the deeper reality in which the opposites converge into a complimentary union.It was his hope that all religions would help people to seek and discover consciously this deeper reality in which the apparent opposites are united.

What was significant for Bede Griffiths concerning the differences in bona fide religions and spiritual traditions was his belief that each different religious path can help the adherents of their specific religion to discover that deeper reality – a reality of new light and warmth and energy which reconciles opposites.I like to compare this belief with the different methods people use for making a fire.Rubbing two sticks together can eventually create enough heat to start a fire in the dry leaves or paper; using the rays of the sun through a magnifying glass or even through a glass bottle can generate enough heat to start a fire in the bush;of course the simpler methods are available like striking a match stick on a box of matches or using a cigarette lighter and so on.The goal of all these different methods is the same,namely to make a fire.Once the fire is burning you enjoy its light and warmth and energy. It is in this common fire that all religions find their ultimate significance and value.

Bede Griffiths lived and died aglow with this fire burning in the depths of his heart.If only all people in this world would seek and find that same fire and live in unity and peace now and forever.

God bless you on your journey of life now and forever.

Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues

Tzaneen Diocese

South Africa

Photo below - Brother Martin with Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues at Shantivanam January 2015


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