Beyond the experience of duality

A New Vision of Reality

A Talk given to the Bede Griffiths Sangha (by Zoom)

A Talk given to the Bede Griffiths Sangha (by Zoom) 16th May 2021 Adrian Rance-McGregor   In 1989 Bede Griffiths published ‘‘A New Vision of Reality’. The book was dictated onto tapes which were then transcribed and edited by Professor Felicity Edwards of Rhodes University in South Africa. The book is the culmination of a long search to find meaning in the New Testament vision of a ‘New Heaven and New Earth’ which goes back at least to Bede’s time in Pluscarden Priory in Scotland where in 1952 he started writing a book on ‘The New Creation’ which was to be a study of the seven sacraments of the Church. A far cry from the book he eventually created in India thirty-seven years later. What I would like to do is to give a flavour of what this vision of a new reality is all about and how the different themes developed over Bede’s life.

The essence of Bede’s New Vision of Reality is a working out of the mystical experiences he had as a young man which he recorded in his autobiography The Golden String (1956). Bede was convinced that the problems of the modern era, the problems of materialism, individualism and exploitation of the natural environment arise in great part from a loss of what Aldous Huxley called the ‘Perennial Philosophy’, a philosophy which underpinned all the great religious movements of the world and which formed the basis of the religious understanding of mankind from the earliest pre-historic times and which is found in the religious beliefs of all indigenous peoples. The essence of the Perennial Philosophy is the experience of the world as three integrated worlds – the physical, the psychological and the spiritual; an experience that was lost at the Renaissance in Europe and which was replaced by a vision of the world as solely physical and material after the scientific discoveries of the Age of Enlightenment. Bede’s book and his enthusiasm for what he saw as a new era in human development grew out of his encounter with new scientific paradigms that seem to make it possible to re-integrate scientific understanding once more in a vision of the universe that brought together the physical, the psychological and the spiritual. He saw that the evolution of human consciousness which is becoming more open to the ‘supraconscious’ open to the transcendent reality, makes it possible move towards a new world, the ‘New Heaven and the New Earth’ of the early Christian experience. Bede saw that the world is entering a new era, an era in which the evolution of human consciousness will “converge on an ‘ultimate reality’ a Supreme Being”. It will be an era in which all that which tends to fragment humanity would tend towards unity; an era in which religions would be able to relate their own experience to the experience of other religions which would be seen as complimentary; an era in which the dualistic paradigm of the cosmos being made out of individual particles or bodies from the atomic to the celestial, a paradigm which grew out of the insights of Newton and the Age of Enlightenment would be replaced by the modern understanding of the cosmos being a web of interdependent relationships, an era in which matter and consciousness are seen to be aspects of the same reality. It would be an era in which rational scientific understanding and spiritual understanding would converge as the universe and humanity return to the divine unity in which cre>ation is restored and renewed.

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