Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths

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9780385489461: Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths
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Even though 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, Beyond the Darkness.

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 and direct terms the underlying unity of religions.

In Beyond the Darkness, readers experience a life as exciting as space travel and as passionate as a great romance. They will realize for themselves the culmination of Griffiths's knowledge: Beyond the opposites, beyond the darkness, is "that Great Person, of the brightness of the sun."

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Review:

To hear about a Catholic monk who meditates and seeks nondual union with Christ doesn't seem so astonishing anymore. That's because Bede Griffiths began blazing a trail to the East as far back as 1955. You might call Bede the Thomas Merton of England, except that Bede delved further into Eastern spirituality than Merton ever dreamed of doing. In Beyond the Darkness, Shirley Du Boulay traces Bede's ascetic tendencies back to early experiments in communal living after graduating from Oxford. A staunch atheist, Bede, like his professor and friend C.S. Lewis, then rediscovered the spiritual profundity of the Christian tradition. After entering the monkhood, a certain unarticulated pantheism led Bede to pursue the wide-open spiritual landscapes of the East, and to "discover the other half of my soul." In the 1950s, when the rest of the West turned to science and materialism for salvation, he donned the saffron robes of a Hindu monk and started a Catholic ashram in southern India. Left to his own devices by Rome, Bede, through his implacable kindness and theological writings, drew an increasingly large following, right through 1992 when he was drawing thousands of people to talks all over the world. Beyond the Darkness reveals a man who was called a saint while he lived but who achieved that status only through sustained curiosity and sincerity in his search for the truth behind all religions. --Brian Bruya

About the Author:

Shirley du Boulay was educated at Downe House School and the Royal College of Music. She was a producer of BBC's Woman's Hour and subsequently worked in the BBC's Religious Department. The author of The Road to Canterbury, she has also written several highly acclaimed biographies including Tutu: Archbishop without Frontiers, Dame Cicely Saunders - Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement and Teresa of Avila. She lives in Oxford and is a Patron of the Phoenix Prison Trust.

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