Bede Griffiths was a serious student of religions and of Hinduism and Christianity in particular. By living in a Hindu culture he immersed himself in many ways (including the clothes he wore) into that culture.
A list of the titles of just some of his books alone gives an outline of his interest in Deep Ecumenism:
River of Compassion: A Christian Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
Christ in India: Essays towards a Hindu-Christian Dialogue
Return to the Center
The Golden Spring (an autobiography)
The Cosmic Revelation: The Hindu Way to God
The Marriage of East and West (Forward by the Dalai Lama)
One of his important teachings about religion is the following statement about the central role that mysticism plays in all religions:
All religion derives from a mystical experience, transcending thought, and seeks to express this experience, to give it form, in language, ritual, and social organization.
Myth is not something negative or inferior to rational thought and fact-finding. Rather,
Myth is the language of primitive religion: it is the poetic expression of a mystical experience. Myths can only be understood as poetry. They spring from the depths where man encounters the ultimate mystery of existence and interprets it in poetic form.
If this is true, then does it not follow that to renew religion is to return to mystical experience and to alter forms of language, ritual and social organization accordingly? To invite the poetry out of people’s hearts and the poet into the heart of religious education?
So often religion, instead of renewing itself this way, defensively re-entrenches its social organization, makes walls of orthodoxy ever thicker, deepens slight differences into moats. Meanwhile, poetry withers, becomes ever distant.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 260.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: The Hindu god/dess Ardhanarishvara, Elephanta cave (Mumbai, India). Ardhanarishvara represents the cosmic integration of of masculine and feminine energies, merging Shakti and Shiva, the female and male aspects of the Divine as the source of all creation. Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Fr. Bede that all religion derives from a mystical experience? Is there any way to revitalize healthy religion or spirituality except through mystical experience? Surely this is what Carl Jung meant when he said that “only the mystic brings creativity to religion itself.”