Bede Griffiths

A Life in Dialogue

By Judson B. Trapnell
Foreword by Kenneth Cracknell

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791448724, 297 pages, February 2001
Hardcover : 9780791448717, 297 pages, February 2001

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Table of contents

Foreword, Kenneth Cracknell
A Chronology of Bede Griffiths's Life


Part I
God in Nature: 1906–1932

An Evening Walk
1 The Romantic Explorer of English Countryside
2 Reconciling Reason and Imagination
3 God through the Symbol of Nature
The Conditions for Dialogue

Part II
God in Christ and the Church: 1932–1968

Night of Conversion
4 The Benedictine in England and India
5 Faith as a Way of Knowing
6 God through the Symbols of Bible, Liturgy, and Prayer
Into Dialogue

Part III
Nonduality (Advaita): 1968–1993

The View from His Window
7 The Guide of Shantivanam and Prophet of Dialogue
8 The Way of Intuitive Wisdom
9 God beyond the Symbols of the Religions
Through Dialogue



Explores the work of spiritual leader and writer Bede Griffiths, who envisioned a union of Eastern and Western spirituality.


Bede Griffiths, O. S.B. Cam. (1906–1993) was a pioneer in the meeting of faiths and of cultures in the second half of the twentieth century. This captivating study of his pioneering work in intercultural and interreligious dialogue draws from meticulous research of Griffiths's writings and his sources, as well as numerous personal interviews with the man himself.

Born in England, Griffiths immersed himself in Western culture through an Oxford education and twenty-five years in Benedictine monasteries. Yet early mystical experiences in nature and the study of Asian scriptures sparked a life-long search for what he called "the other half of my soul"—a search that would in 1958 take him to India. After participating in two Christian monastic experiments, he accepted leadership of Saccidananda Ashram, a community dedicated to pursuing the recently renewed Christian contemplative ideal in an India context. Here he boldly explored interreligious dialogue and inculturation, two projects of the Second Vatican Council. Envisioning "the marriage of East and West" in his writings and incarnating that marriage in spirituality, Griffiths became a prophet of our age, publishing more than a dozen books and scores of articles. In latter years, Griffiths attracted large audiences and received recognition from fellow pioneers in the dialogue of faiths, including the Dalai Lama.

Judson B. Trapnell is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology of Religions/World Religions at The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University in Minnesota.


"This is a captivating story of the development of Bede Griffiths's thought. Trapnell does a superlative job of showing the interplay of the variety of cultures, traditions and experiences which eventually brought Griffiths to see and experience religions as complementary rather than in tension or competition with each other. " — Ronald Neufeldt, University of Calgary

"This is an excellent study of Bede Griffiths, probably the best available work on this important 'bridge' figure between India and the West, the Hindu and Christian traditions. Although other books have been written about Griffiths, including full biographies, this book is superior in its intellectual grasp, focus, and grappling with the enduring issues related to Griffiths as a significant figure. " — Francis X. Clooney, S. J., author of Theory After Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology