Bede Griffiths on the Sacred Marriage of East and West

For Fr. Bede Griffiths, the marriage of East and West must take place at the deepest level of the human consciousness.  It is an encounter ultimately between the two fundamental dimensions of human nature: the male and the female—the masculine, rational, active, dominating power of the mind, and the feminine, intuitive…and receptive power. 

Medieval woodcut (c. 1550) linking the archetypal masculine and feminine (animus and anima) with the sun and moon. Image from AstroWiki

This meeting needs to include religions.  All the Christian churches Eastern and Western, have to turn to the religions of the East, to Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and the subtle blend of all these in Oriental culture, and to the deep intuitions of tribal religion in Africa and elsewhere, if they are to recover their balance and evolve an authentic form of religion which will answer to the needs of the modern world.  

Thus the marriage of East and West will also be a marriage of Science and Intuition, of Masculine and Feminine.  And it begins in ourselves, within each individual.  This union includes intuition and imagination and being at home in the darkness for intuition belongs not to the sunlit surface of the mind, but to the night and the darkness, to the moonlit world of dreams and images, before they emerge into rational consciousness.  

“Communion” Photo by 3MotionalStudio, Pexels

Intuition precedes intellect and the very “source of intuition” derives from “the experience of the body, the senses, the feelings, the imagination.”  All these pre-cognitive experiences marry and interact together:

there is no such thing as a mere sensation, a mere feeling, a mere thought.  Every sensation, every feeling, every imagination affects my mind, modifies my being.  I live and act as a whole. 

And how big are we?  How does our “whole” interact with other “wholes”?  The self is not the little conscious ego, constructing its logical systems and building its rational world. The self plunges deep into the past of humanity and of the whole creation.  I bear within my mind, my memory in the deep sense, the whole world.*  The self, therefore, is cosmic in size.  Psyche and cosmos marry.

*Bede Griffiths, The Marriage of East and West (Tucson, AZ: Medio Media Publishing, 2002), pp. 151-160.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp.263f.

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

Banner Image: The Soweto Gospel Choir performing in the ‘Voices of Spirit’ Choir festival, December 2014, in Graz, Austria. Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that the limitations of Western science and education often excludes intuition and imagination?  And that religion too much find a fuller balance of both?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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8 thoughts on “Bede Griffiths on the Sacred Marriage of East and West”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask: “Do you agree that the limitations of Western science and education often excludes intuition and imagination? And that religion too much find a fuller balance of both?” Yes, and Yes !!! AND I’M ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION HOPING THAT OTHERS WILL ALSO ANSWER IT TOO, SO WE CAN REFLECT TOGETHER ON THESE “queries for contemplation.” It is definitely true that Western science and education exclude intuition and imagination. Science has become so fact oriented–just the observable, provable facts! That’s why in schools they have felt it necessary to dump art, music home economics, woodshop, as all superfluous–not needful for living. And we definitely have to find a balance between fact oriented thinking, and intuition and imagination in thinking.

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    Educational systems have definetely devalued the necessity of intuition and imagination and the creative expressions of the feminine, as you have stated Richard, by cutting out artistic programs that nurture this important aspect within our humanity. It’s not surprising though, as the Divine Feminine has been oppressed and suppressed in this manner for centuries. The deeper wounding of all of this is the disconnect to one’s ability to deeply sense and feel not only ones relationship to ones inner world, but also ones relationship to the outer world as well. This modification within the consciousness of the heart, mind and soul of humanity has produced a stasis of apathy, that has become destructive to all relationships, not only with ourselves and others, but with all of creation as well.

    The arts, inparticular help us to move through the complexities of what we humans deeply sense and feel, allowing for a healthy expression of processing this energy in motion, in creative, intuitive and imaginative ways… which actually connects us to the Divine Mother, whom offers comfort, consolation and wise counsel through this artistic, transformative process. When this is oppressed and repressed we often see something else, like the use of addictive substances, to fill the void. So many, within the family of humanity, both young, middle aged and old, no longer know how to embrace what they are deeply sensing and feeling, or how to process this energy in motion intuitively, creatively or imaginatively… and have become actually anxious and fearful, self medicating or virtually gaming or technologically binging…. numbing out instead.

    We need to revive the arts and the value and necessity of all that this encompasses. If it can’t be done in our educational systems, then we must intuitively, imaginatively and creatively find other venues; like youth, community or senior centers, or summer camps and retreats, or privately run nonprofit art institutions that offer workshops. These may be smaller than the larger educational institutions, but there will also be alot more freedom in the expression of what can unfold within this intuitive, imaginative, and creative new manifestation. The arts will not die, if we don’t let it.

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    While science education is primarily fact-based, it seems to me that coming up with a hypothesis or picking a scientific method to prove that hypothesis can be an imaginative/intuitive part of the process. It is when total adherence to data reigns supreme that the scientific method becomes too rigid. Matthew has mentioned Einstein’s approach a few times and it seems that he accessed his imagination/intuition in his work. However, I do agree that there has to be a better balance, and as Richard wrote in his comment Western education has been denigrating the value of the arts and humanities in its curricula. How does the feminine intuitive side get integrated with a culture that is so adamantly power-driven and sneers at the “softer” arts? What would be the process to help that to happen?

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    Matthew, another beautiful and profound meditation on the spiritual wisdom of Bede Griffiths and indigenous spirituality! The last paragraph of your written meditation well summarizes this spiritual wisdom: “And how big are we?… Psyche and Cosmos marry.”

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    True scientific progress cannot happen without the gifts of imagination,inspiration.intuition and openness of heart and mind. These are all gifts of the Spirit(wisdom). Like all gifts they can be used to promote darkness or light. Witness weapons of war and also progress in bringing balance back to Mother Earth. We as humans are always given the right to choose. Such is the power we have.

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