Bede Griffith on the Search for Intuition & the Divine Feminine

Bede feels that we are especially out of balance in the West insofar as we are out of touch with intuition and the Divine Feminine.  He believes that the East has much to teach us about that dimension to life.

Woodcut illustration of the practice called “Nourishing and growing the sacred embryo” (spirit and Qi distilling to form Elixir), from the Daoist text “Pointers on Spiritual Nature and Bodily Life” by Yi Zhenren (1615). Image from Wellcome Images on Wikimedia Commons.

There is an activity of the mind which is grasping, achieving, dominating, but there is also an activity which is receptive, attentive, open to others. This is what we have to learn. The classical expression of this intuitive wisdom is to be found in the Tao Te Ching, which speaks of the Spirit of the Valley and the Mystic Female.

He observes that

intuition cannot be produced. It has to be allowed to happen.

But that is just what the rational mind cannot endure. It wants to control everything. It is not prepared to be silent, to be still, to allow things to happen. Of course, there is a passivity of inertia, but this is an ‘active passivity’. It is what the Chinese call wu wei, action in inaction. It is a state of receptivity.

Floating in Divine awareness. Photo by Lachlan Dempsey on Unsplash

Bede Griffiths speaks out about the power of stillness and of allowing things to happen. This way is an offense to the rational mind. It is a “state of receptivity.”

The via negativa teaches us these matters. There we learn letting go and letting be.

Bede Griffiths believes that the East is better at the via negativa, which allows things to be themselves, than is the hyperactive West. This “intuitive wisdom” has a feminine dimension to it. Griffith is addressing patriarchy’s failures.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 240, 239.

Also Spirituality for a New Era: Lectures by Bede Griffiths and Matthew Fox.

Also see

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE

Banner Image: “Forest passageway.” Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense a correctness in what Father Bede is proposing?  Is it your experience that the rational mind “tries to control everything”?  How valuable and necessary does this make our practices of receptivity, deep listening, contemplation?

Recommended Reading

Spirituality for a New Era – An Evening with Bede Griffiths and Matthew Fox in Dialog

Matthew Fox and Fr. Bede Griffiths each lecture for approximately 30 minutes followed by 30 minutes of dialogue. 91 minutes. 1990. (Audio file; to download, click HERE.)

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12 thoughts on “Bede Griffith on the Search for Intuition & the Divine Feminine”

  1. Avatar

    Father Bede said, that in India he discovered the other half of his soul, which I take to mean that he discovered the Divine Feminine side of his soul; that intuitive, attentive, introspective and receptive side that led him to the wisdom of the internal forms of spirituality.

    Today in today’s DM, you talked about the external forms of religion falling away. Is this falling away, or letting go, apart of making space for the internal forms of spirituality to manifest themselves within the inner monastery of one’s being, as we are the temple of the Divine nature, its presence and essence, which manifests and expresses itself within our humanity?

    In Soham yoga, one simply breathes in So, which means I and exhales Ham, pronounced Hum, which means AM. It follows then, within my understanding, that this simplicity of breathing I AM, is a pathway that leads to experiencing and encountering the intuitive, attentive, introspective and receptive side of the Divine Feminine of one’s soul, and the wisdom offered within the inner monastery of our spiritual beingness, our true spiritual nature, which like an egg or pod, holds the potential seeds we are capable of manifesting within our humanity… that being the expressions of Divine Love and all that this is, was and ever shall be… that, I AM THAT I AM.

    This seems to me to be one way, in which we can tend to, nurture, and kindle the spark of the Divine within. So simple and also so beautiful.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I think you are right in that this falling away, and letting go, are “a part of making space for the internal forms of spirituality to manifest themselves within the inner monastery of one’s being, as we are the temple of the Divine nature, its presence and essence, which manifests and expresses itself within our humanity,” however I think Matthew would add (and I would too) that he would like the outer temple or “the Church” to change as well–that why Matthew worked tirelessly to change things in the Church while he was still there in the outer, institutional Church.

  2. Carol Kilby

    YES, Everything, all forms, religions, will pass away. I appreciate the tone of Father Bede’s message… the gentler form of prophetic rhetoric, without judgement… I so appreciate Matthew’s embedding Father Bede’s wisdom in the evolutionary story… that larger reality or face of the divine dilutes, even washes away the dogmatic woes unto you of so much religious orthodoxy. A gentler more hearable message. Perhaps this is the via negativa – the action through inaction, the activity of receptivity. AND YET…. NOT YET … As I go tomorrow morning to lead at a church in a time of transition, preparing for the future, there still seems to be a role for any community, religious or otherwise, that is committed to co-creating with this evolutionary moment and bringing forth a culture free of planet abuse. What, Matthew, is the work of the church in these immediate days?

  3. Avatar

    I had a dream about being in a cathedral full of people I didn’t know. We were picking apart the bones of the Catholic Church. Up to this point , I had no intention of joining the Archdiocese Synod on Evangelization. The very reasons why I didn’t want to join were the very reasons why I did join. Your DMs on deep Ecumenism and Inclusivity, Fr. Bede’s insights, and a deeper experience of the via negative helped me find my voice. No throwing the baby out with the bath water! I found I can speak my truth with love and compassion and no combat. I have never felt this ease before. Daily I swim in the River with Many Wells thanks to Original Blessing and you, Mathew Fox. You are a huge blessing to a cradle Catholic. I feel like a warrior in a tutu. Namaste

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Susan, If I had your dream it would have meant for me, saving what is left of “the bones of the Catholic Church.” The bones suggest the things that support and provide a framework for the Church. After Vatican II there was a response by a number of theologians in the Church to do interfaith dialog. People like Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Merton and our own dear Matthew Fox began to do just that. Matthew went on to call what he was doing, “deep ecumenism” and that in deed is what it is. You say, “No throwing the baby out with the bath water!” Good for you! Stay in, and do what you can, for as long as you are able.

  4. Avatar

    It is one thing to worship the Divine Feminine – in the west Mary and the east Guan Yin – but another to put a chokehold on human females by disallowing them to participate in the political or religious commons. In the east they added painful foot binding for young girls to minimize their mobility. There was a report yesterday of an Afghan father selling his 9 year old daughter to a Taliban man in order to buy food. I weep for that 9 year old girl and her many ‘sisters of sorrow’ in the chaos of war….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, what you say is true, and a change MUST come that will give women all over the world freedom, respect, and dignity. No more should women be thought of or treated as, second class citizens–not only the “anawim” or voiceless ones but the cursed ones! So we wage an ideological war on patriarchal structures and thinking.

  5. Avatar

    I just finished reading, “Becoming Kuan Yin” by Stephen Levine. As I read this book, everything that we have been discussing about sacrifice and the holiness of this, being the manifestation and expression of our true nature through compassion, mercy and love came together. Kuan Yin, through this book appeared to me, to be the twin soul of Jesus, in the form of the Divine Feminine. Both of their stories I found to be so similar in so many ways. In Kuan Yin, I see the heart, soul and spirit of the Divine Universal Mother. I highly recommend this book, if you are seeking the Divine Feminine as well as a deeper understanding of the many things we have been discussing as of late, within the DM’s.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I am very familiar with Stephen Levine, and especially his work on dying. Kuan Yin is the Bodhisattva of Compassion who carries the tears of the world. I can see how Jesus would appear to you as Kuan Yin’s twin soul, and the Divine Mother. Thank you for your comment and the recommendation!

  6. Avatar

    In an increasingly urban, crowded, fast-paced, interconnected but isolating, and information-saturated modern life, people are desperately searching for something calming, healing, worshiping and nurturing (for both their inner and outer environments). The Church has the tools and resources to provide that — it has the intuitively-revealed holy truths, mythologies (frameworks of understanding), meditation, and intuitive contemplation — but it’s been hampered by a reluctance to promote them. It promotes the outer forms, but seems ambivalent about inner contemplation.

    1. Avatar

      I think this reluctance of the churches in general to teach and nurture inner contemplation is the desire to maintain control, which is a reflection of the toxic masculinity and patriarchy that Matthew so clearly describes.

  7. Avatar

    Living~Loving~Creative~0neness Awareness of the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment is our mantra in the Silence of our Meditative/Contemplative Prayers and in our daily human~Divine lives as co-creators with one another, all creatures, nature, Mother Earth, All Creation/Cosmos, and with-in our Loving~Wisdom~Creative Source….

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