Bede Griffiths and the Cosmic Rhythm

By: Brian Robertson

"The ultimate Mystery of being, the ultimate Truth, is Love. This is the essential structure of reality. When Dante spoke of the 'love which moves the sun and the other stars', he was not using a metaphor, but was describing the nature of reality. There is in Being an infinite desire to give itself in love and this gift of Self in love is for ever answered by a return of love....and so the rhythm of the universe is created."

- Bede Griffiths


Sufis have long understood the importance of music and rhythm as a metaphor for the Divine, and, in the above quote, Bede Griffiths lets us have a peek into the kingdom's rhythm section, as it were.

For those who haven't had the experience of reading Bede Griffiths or seeing one of the unfortunately few videos of his talks, a bit of an intro.

While at high school age, he was walking through the fields when he became totally transfixed at sunset while birds were singing. Everything seemed new -- the sounds of the birds, the hawthorne trees and the way they bloomed. Completely overcome, he knelt on the ground. After graduation from Oxford, this student of C. S. Lewis worked in the slums of London until he was almost shattered by what he saw. In confusion, he fasted and prayed all night until tears brought a tremendous breakthrough and he realized he was no longer the "center of his own life." Fr. Bede surrendered to the Crucified One and had an astounding breakthrough, being swept up into what he called "real prayer," which he referred to as his own "return to the Center."

It was soon after this that he entered the Roman Catholic Church and then the monastery. His life would take him to India, where he absorbed the Vedantist and Buddhist ways, always remaining grounded in his native faith.

You can say you read it here first -- as spiritual paths open themselves to dialog and find their common ground, Bede Griffiths, the Benadictine monk, will be remembered as one of the shining examples.

His quote above is not something that comes from an intellectual understanding of the Mystery. These are the words of someone who has lived the Light and seen it, felt it each day. In them we find a stunning hint at the mystic vision -- that the Universe basically runs on Love, Divine Love, that the fact that it is such pervasive, deep Love makes it the Mystery -- we cannot even begin to compare it to the love we might have for someone dear to us -- a spiritual traveling companion with whom we share our adventure, a son or daughter, a parent. All of this is Love within the boundaries of time, while what Fr. Bede talks about here is the mystic force that moves in a pulsing heart of light and life, pushing out and drawing back into itself nothing but the energies of Love.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have caught even a glimpse of this -- in the eyes of someone, in a moment of prayerful contemplation or, as with Fr. Bede, while walking in nature -- know that it is beyond the capability of words to express. When our very cells, the very chromosomes, are empowered by this constant welling up and return of God's energy, when the molecules and electrons dance to that rhythm in our vision and move out from us by word and touch, we are fully alive.

Shortly before his death, Bede Griffiths took a look at his life and told someone, "I have given everything I can give, I have received everything I can receive." What a remarkable thing to say! A challenge for each of us to live in such a way that Love, which is the everything he refers to, is the energy that powers that great dance.