Beyond the experience of duality

“The hope of humanity today is to get beyond the experience of duality” 

 Bede Griffiths

Bede Griffiths was a mystic who pioneered the contemporary revival of contemplative or ‘wisdom’ Christianity.

Fr Bede experienced the non-dual unity at the heart of Life and at the heart of all religions. He was described by the late Cardinal Basil Hume as a “mystic in touch with unconditional love and beauty”. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “His vision has guided him to open the hearts and minds of mankind to gain understanding and acceptance of all the major religions with respect and dignity”.

The Sangha was founded after Fr Bede’s death in 1993, as a community of friendship and as a resource of information and inspiration. It is for people all over the world who seek the renewal of contemplative life, inspired by the non-dual unity at the heart of Life, the need for the meeting of all religions at this deep level, and the exploration of Christianity in the light of the spirituality and philosophy of other faith traditions.

Special Zoom Ashram with Brother Martin

10th December 2023 15.00-18.00 UK time
 

"The Birthing of Universal Consciousness in the Fullness of Christ”

This event will replace the usual third Sunday Zoom Ashram on-line gatherings for November and December.  Our virtual doors will be open from 14.30.  From 15.00, during the first hour, Brother Martin, who we are very happy to have joining us from his home in Tamil Nadu, will reflect on the above theme.  During the second hour, the space will be open for questions and sharing arising from meditation on the experience of listening to his talk, which we hope will unfold and deepen. During the third hour we will share in evening prayer and meditation.  

All are welcome.  Those on the Zoom Ashram mailing list are already included.  If you are interested in participating and are not on this list, please email to doctorjohnryder@hotmail.co.uk, saying a little about yourself and indicating whether you want to register only for this event or with to join the Zoom Ashram mailing list.  I will then include you in further correspondence and send you the link before the gathering.  I am happy to clarify further if this is needed.  There is no charge for Zoom Ashram, but donations to the Bede Griffiths Charitable Trust at www.bgct.org.uk are invited.

To provide some context for the event with Brother Martin, it might be appropriate to reflect on a couple of paragraphs from Return to the Centre, possibly the most seminal work by Bede Griffiths. In his chapter The Eternal Religion, he writes (I’ve taken the liberty of generalising some of his use of the masculine pronoun):

“What is this essential Truth of all religion, in the light of which every scripture has to be understood?  Of course, it cannot properly be put into words, yet there are words and phrases which symbolise it, which point towards it for those who have eyes to see.  Jesus spoke of it as the ‘kingdom of God’ or the ‘kingdom of heaven’.  This was the essential content of his message: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand.’  But what is this kingdom of God?  Let us say that it means the divine life among people.  This is the essential message of all religion.  The Infinite, transcendent, Holy Mystery, which is what is signified by ‘God’ or ‘Heaven’, is present in the world, has its kingdom, its reign, its dwelling among people.  Is not this the message of all the scriptures?  ‘This Brahman, this Self, smaller than the small, greater than the great, is hidden in the heart of every creature.’ (Svetasvatara Upanishad, III, 20). ‘The sun radiates its splendour on all alike; in like manner do the Tathagatas [Buddhas] radiate the truth of noble Wisdom without recourse to words and on all alike.’ (Lankavatara Sutra). ‘I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people’, (Leviticus 26:12) says Yahweh.  ‘I am closer to you than your jugular vein’, (Koran, L, 16) says the Koran.  Yet these are only words which point to the Truth.  We cannot properly say what ‘God’ is, what is this Brahman, what is this Truth, this noble Wisdom, what is the kingdom of heaven.  We have to meditate on these words in our heart, until the Truth shines out and enlightens us, until we experience the presence of God, the kingdom of heaven, within.

“All external religion, with its rites and dogmas and organisation, exists for no other reason but to lead people to the knowledge – which is also the experience – of this inner mystery.  The Church exists for the sake of the kingdom of God.  This kingdom is universal, it is the presence of God among human beings.  It has existed from the beginning, in all times and in all places.  Every religion bears witness to it: each represents it according to its own particular mode of thought and experience.” Return to the Centre, p 107-8)

In the following chapter, The Christian Mystery, Bede writes of the incarnation:

“Jesus knew himself as a man, a human being like us in all things but sin… But he also knew himself in the depths of his being, in the eternal ground of his soul, as God, as the word of God expressing the mind of God, as the Son manifesting the Father.  This mystery has been expressed by saying that in the person of Jesus there are two natures, a divine and a human nature… But if we are to know the mystery, we must share in the experience of Jesus.  We must know ourselves as children of God, eternally coming forth from the Father, as words of God expressing the mind of God.  We have to know ourselves as God, God by participation in the divinity of Christ, as we participate in his humanity.” (Ibid, p114)

So, Bede continues, the purpose of the Church is to manifest this relationship:“The essential nature of the Church, therefore, is to be this mystery of love, of the divine love revealing itself and communicating itself to humanity.  All the sign-language of doctrine and ritual has no purpose but to reveal and communicate this love.”

I anticipate that Brother Martin’s presentation at our Advent Zoom Ashram will bring us closer to a direct and uncluttered appreciation of these essential truths as we walk the way together.

John

 

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