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Interspiritual Mysticism
Interspiritual Mysticism

Our Common Heritage

Friday, September 25, 2020

Interspiritual Mysticism

Our Common Heritage
Friday, September 25, 2020

Today’s meditation continues with reflections from interspiritual mystic Bede Griffiths who I introduced yesterday. I invite you to read his words with an open mind and heart.

It is only today that these different religious traditions are beginning to mix freely all over the world and are seeking to relate to one another, not in terms of rivalry and conflict, but in terms of dialogue and mutual respect. One of the greatest needs of humanity today is to transcend the cultural limitations of the great religions and to find a wisdom, a philosophy, which can reconcile their differences and reveal the unity which underlies all their diversities. This has been called the “perennial philosophy,” the eternal wisdom which has been revealed in a different way in each religion. . . .

The different world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have themselves to recover the ancient wisdom which they have inherited, and this has now to be interpreted in the light of the knowledge of the world which Western science has given us. . . . [1]

According to the Letter to the Colossians, in Christ “all things were created, in heaven and on earth . . . all were created through him and for him” [1:16]. This is truly a cosmic vision embracing the whole created world, which we now know to be an integrated whole, and this forms a body, a living organism, which is capable of embracing all humanity. We have therefore the conception of a universal community capable of embodying the universal wisdom and uniting all humanity in one body, one living whole, in which the “fullness,” the whole, of the Godhead dwells. . . . [2]

The Second Vatican Council said that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in [other] religions.” [3] There is truth and holiness in all genuine religion. . . . It has been our experience in the ashram that the more we open ourselves to the other religions, to Hinduism in particular, the deeper our Christian faith grows. Our aim is the deepening of our own faith, which then becomes more open to others. . . .

If you go deeply into any one tradition, you converge on a center, and there you see how we all come forth from a common root. And you find how we meet people on the deeper level of their faith, in the profound unity behind all our differences. . . . The grace of Christ is present in some way to every human being from the beginning to the end. [4]

Bede Griffiths draws his theological insights from the teachings of the Catholic Church to which he remained committed and the Christian Scriptures, which he never stopped reading and interpreting as the word of God, yet now as a part of the perennial tradition. He is an example of how interspirituality can strengthen our Christian faith by deepening our capacity to love and respect the other.

[1] Bede Griffiths, Universal Wisdom: A Journey through the Sacred Wisdom of the World (HarperSanFrancisco:1994), 7‒8.

[2] Ibid., 42‒43.

[3] Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate (In Our Time): Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (October 28, 1965), 2. Full text at

[4] Bede Griffiths, A New Vision of Reality: Western Science, Eastern Mysticism, and Christian Faith (Templegate Publishers: 1989, 1992), 99‒100.

Image credit: Spärlich Belaubt (detail), Paul Klee, 1934.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: I had long been familiar with the mystical tradition of the West, but I felt the need of something more which the East alone could give; above all the sense of the presence of God in nature and the soul. —Bede Griffiths
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