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Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths Hardcover – 1 Jan 2000
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Traces Griffiths' life, his friendship with C.S. Lewis, his religious leadership in India, and his efforts to reconcile Eastern and Western religions.
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the English Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths was well known during his lifetime (1906-1993) for his efforts to harmonize the spiritual practices of East and of the West, the full range of his influence is only just becoming widely appreciated. Now, from respected journalist and biographer Shirley du Boulay, comes the first major biography of Griffiths's life, <i>Beyond the Darkness.</i><br><br>Du Boulay shows the transformation of Griffiths from an idealistic, highly intelligent, serious, and sometimes irritable schoolboy into a man of profound wisdom who emanated unconditional love and who was often revered as a holy man and a living saint. During his life of intellectual and spiritual discovery, he became an associate of the Inklings, a close friend of C.S. Lewis, and eventually a leader of an ashram in India. His long and eventful journey was often filled with controversy, pain, and anguish. Yet, Griffiths attained a spiritual wholeness granted to few, enabling him to express in simple a
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Du Boulay's biography discusses Bede's personal life, but wonderfully summarizes the successive stages of his journey toward God. Ordinarily biographies are best read only after some familiarity with their subjects' writings. But this one is an excellent introduction to the thought of Bede.
Bede Griffiths was a luminary in the interfaith dialogue, and during his lifetime he helped many Christians to come to a new appreciation of the contemplative roots of their own faith by inviting them to explore the spiritualities of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Unfortunately, the interest in interfaith dialogue and exchange that he encouraged seems to have waned in recent years, and particularly after 9/11.
However, admirers of Lewis may be advised that these two men profoundly diverged in their religious thinking. While Lewis was an apologist for orthodox Christianity, Griffiths eventually said he could understand Christ only by means of the Vedanta; that Jesus rejected the God of the Old Testament; that only a bit of St. John's Gospel attained to the insight of Hindu "advaitic" mysticism, etc. For readers whose faith is close to that of Lewis -- who said he was as dualistic as possible within Christian theology, meaning preoccupied with good and evil, and aware of God's warfare with the devil -- this book might have been better titled "Into the Darkness" of spiritual error. The book is readable and informative, presented by a biographer who wishes to promote Griffiths' "deep ecumenism."