Teachings of the Cosmic Christ from Fr. Bede Griffiths

Andrew Harvey during his time as a student of the late Father Bede Griffiths in India.

My search for the meaning of life had led me through the world’s great religions, to the teachings of Ramakrishna, the initiation of the mystical Mahayana teacher Thuksey Rinpoche, the community of the great Sufi mystic Eva De Vitray-Meyerovitch, the soft-breasted hills of Galilee, and ultimately the answer of the Dalai Lama: “The meaning of life is to embody the transcendent.” And as I pondered his answer, it led to another, deeper question: what does it mean to embody the transcendent?

And that question led me ultimately to Jesus, because in him and in the greatest mystics that were influenced by him, I could see what I had been lacking. I had been lacking a focus of embodiment on real action in the burning world.

And it was then that I met the man who changed my life. In 1993, when he was eighty-six, I met Father Bede Griffiths, and that brought everything that I had hitherto experienced together, because here was a being at the very highest level of awareness, who married the Eastern traditions with the Western traditions, who came from England, who had been to Oxford, but who was living out this utterly brave, naked, evolutionary life in the middle of India, fifty miles from the place where I was born. So I believe that we were destined to meet. I was destined to be at the feet of this transcendent and holy and beautiful man, and he was destined to break my heart, and to break my heart open, and to teach me by his presence three things.

The first thing he taught me was that the true Christ path is terrifyingly humble. He would never claim enlightenment. He would never claim to be a master. He would never claim to be a guru. He absolutely loathed hierarchy and separation. For him, Jesus had communicated in the tenderness of ecstatic friendship, and that was the way this great truth of the divinity of human beings was to be exchanged.

The second thing that he communicated to me was that the relationship with Jesus and the Cosmic Christ—Jesus, both Jesus the being and Jesus the archetypal face of the Cosmic Christ— that relationship that Mechtild of Magdeburg ecstasized over, that relationship that drove the whole life of Theresa of Avila, that relationship that gave the Cure of Ars the power to go and heal day after day after day in his tiny parish, that relationship that drove Francis into the arms of a divine love that enabled him to re-experience the crucifixion—that relationship was not some poetic, tender fiction. That relationship was the relationship that was clearly transfiguring this holy man, and it was something to him more naked and more real than anything else. And so it became so for me.

And the third thing that Bede communicated to me—and this is the key of the key of the mystery that is coming through the Christ path, I believe—the third thing that Bede communicated to me was the revelation that was coming to him in his eighties of what in the Greek Orthodox tradition is called theosis. And theosis means transfiguration. And from St. Macarius onwards in the fourth century to Romanian priests(?) in our current century and to Bede himself, we have had examples that have been celebrated and noted of human beings who so adored the revelation of love and wisdom in Jesus and in the exploding vision of the Cosmic Christ, that through intense discipline and intense love they transformed their minds, they illumined their hearts, and they also progressively became so flooded in their bodies by divine light that their bodies began to be transfigured by light.

Bede knew that he was living this holiest of mysteries. And for him, he would say the first big bang began the universe creation; the resurrection was the second big bang that began the creation of a divine humanity; and the radiation of that resurrection power and force is what the humble lover and servant of the Cosmic Christ, if they love enough and if they are rigorous and disciplined and purified enough, can access for a total transformation of the total being.

In other words, what Bede showed me was far more than the truth of the Jesus person or even  the extraordinary beauty of the Catholic tradition, or only of the Christian mystical traditions. What he showed me was that the Jesus that was an evolutionary revolutionary had birthed, in his life and through his life and through the resurrection, a force of divine love that could work with all the other benign forces of all the other teachers and masters and religious revelations to help us now, at this moment, birth the divine human—a being who isn’t simply in another level of consciousness, a being who doesn’t simply have a radiant intellect and an open heart, but a being whose own matter is being transformed so as to become the beginning of a wholly new species which will be able to co-create with the divine a wholly new way of being and doing everything.

That is the Christ path. And what is really astonishing about it, and what will change your life, whether you are a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Catholic or a Protestant or a Taoist or an atheist, what will change your life will be the moment when you really get three things that emerge out of this explosion of a new evolutionary energy that was birthed by Jesus and is now available to all beings as we come to that great revolution which will determine our future.

The first thing that we all have to realize it is that it is one minute to midnight. We don’t have time to take a less glorious adventure. The good news is that evolution always works through terrifying, convulsive crises. So the terror and ferocity and horror of our time are part of what this great divine plan is pushing us through so that finally we can abandon all the safeties of all the patriarchal protections and embark on the dangerous and precarious adventure of really turning up as divine humans to co-create with God in God’s work.

The second thing that any deep meditation on Jesus and the path that he offers will give you is that this is not an easy path. It is not a path for marzipan mystics who want to manifest Mercedes and McMansions. It’s not a path for those who want some kind of transcendent Tahiti that they can go and bask in to bronze themselves in divine light while the rest of the world burns in suffering. It is the most fierce path, because it is a path that does not shirk the necessity of getting into total connection with both of the opposites, the extremest beauty and the extremest horror, and to know them both as sacred, and to know the ecstasy as sacred as the horror, the chaos as sacred as the order, to embrace them all and to embrace all the sufferings and ordeals that are absolutely necessary, and all of the crucifixions, of all of the subtle hiding places of our demonic and destructive shadows, all of them, to embrace them fearlessly because that is the only condition through which the divine can be installed in power in the whole being.

No bypassing, no addiction to transcendence, no drugging yourself on mystical experience so that you don’t hear the screams of the children and the yowls of the lions that are being slaughtered. No magical thinking, because this great birth isn’t going to happen while we sit on our futons doing nothing. It’s going to happen because we engage with enormous intensity of truth with an evolutionary path that is going to burn us down before it re-creates us.

And the third thing—and this became absolutely clear in the following experience with which I’ll end, because it’s the experience that birthed sacred activism, and it’s the experience I return to every day, and it’s an experience of him as the Cosmic Christ, inviting the whole of humanity, beyond religion, into the fiery cauldron of an alchemical evolutionary transformation.

The third thing is you and I have got to do everything we can, from the deepest sacred consciousness we have, very urgently, very currently, very coherently, very unifiedly, and very fast, because if we do not put our mystical wisdom and love into action, we will not be able to embody the divine in the human. And if we do not embody the divine in the human, we will not have the power, we will not have the wisdom, we will not have the peace, we will not have the passion, we will not have the energy, and we will not have the wild creativity that you and I are going to need like oxygen to be able to have a hope in hell of getting through the period that is now going to unfold in unparalleled suffering and in unparalleled pain upon a world that we have largely abandoned.


To learn more  about the upcoming Christ Path Seminar weekend being offered online and on-site in Pittsburgh, PA, 6/28/30, see http://www.christpathseminar.org/ai1ec_event/cosmic-christ-and-the-historical-jesus/?instance_id=123

To order the complete 12-DVD set of recordings from the first Christ Path Seminar weekend – including Andrew Harvey’s delivery of the full talk from which this post is clipped – see http://www.christpathseminar.org/participate-by-dvd/

About Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is an author, religious scholar and teacher of mystical traditions. As Founding Director of the Institute of Sacred Activism, Andrew has spent the past two decades supporting global peace and sustainability. A lifelong scholar/translator of Rumi, author of more than thirty books on Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, he has devoted his recent work to envisioning inspired solutions for the world’s current crisis. You can learn more about Andrew on his website: www.andrewharvey.net

  • Gloria Burns Enoch, Ofs

    Bede Griffiths, I was just thinking the other day that I needed to get to some of his work. Today, here it was. This article is wonderful and comes to me at a very good time. I love how clearly questions I have had were answered. I am going to re-read some of Father Griffiths (father, as the Benedictine) work and listen to him as well. I just came from a retreat from the Benedictine Monastery here in British Columbia and again I was thinking of Bede Griffiths. No, he is not my Guru, Jesus is but I love him anyway. Thank you for writing and publishing this article. I will make some copies for folks. As we Franciscans say Pax et Bonum and in English just say Peace and Joy.

  • Jerry Lynch

    “… to bronze themselves in divine light while the rest of the world burns in suffering.” What a wonderful description of the greater part of my spiritual journey, and by “greater” I mean for too many years. I could not release myself to a “terrifyingly humble” existence. It is not that I am now transformed but merely that the “bronze” look has lost most of its appeal. Oh, how I used to ask in my stunning insights, marveling my listeners. I don’t know what to think of myself any more.

    It seems that I was blessed with a natural ability to get to the heart of the spiritual in all faiths, captured not in my actions but a talent to verbalize deeper truths. Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or even AA and A Course In Miracles. My comments and writing very much impressed those who had long studied and lived these various traditions. I was untouched. This is also true of the many mystical experiences I have had: I remain urbane, impenetrable it appears, polished to a degree that reflects all light.

    I love your piece, it makes me ache so good,a sweet torture I need to nourish but know my past; it will tantalize my soul for a few hours, then I will put in my notes and believe I have evolved. “Look! Look at what I wrote! Do you see now I know The Way?” Funny.

    For some reason I need to tell you two stories about my experiences and how they seem not my own; I have about thirty more.

    In 1986, I was going to meet some friends at the Taos Inn for our usual Friday-night-after-the-meeting get together. As I reached for the handle to enter, I heard a voice very distinctly say, “Have no image.” Though I had heard this voice a number of times before, I looked around the extremely dark patio for an actual presence; no one there. I entered and waved to my friends as I headed for the bathroom; they laughed in recognition. They knew that even with them my shyness demanded a moment or two alone to garner my psyche for company.

    Opening the door to the bathroom, I anticipated seeing my reflection in the large ornate mirror over the sink; there were only two holes in the wall where the mirror had been anchored. The other mirror had been torn out the wall as well. Then I remembered the voice: “Have no image.” An epiphany! Suddenly I saw what the Twelve Steps were really about: death to self. It lead me to a study of both Buddhism and the Mystics.

    It was my habit before going to work at the restaurant, as a breakfast cook and goody baker, to rise at four and sit at the dinette table, drinking cup after cup of coffee with a cigarette staring at Taos Mountain. I had many insights there which usually took me weeks or months to begin to understand. This one morning the Voice said, “Jesus only had to say three words: “Resist not evil.” I liked this, it seemed controversial and profound, but no amount of pondering had me feel I actually grasped the signiificance.

    On a break that morning, one of the owners gave me a book saying, “I got the clearest message this book was meant for you.” I had only a moment before I had to go back to work, so I randomly flipped open to a page, read a little from a middle paragraph that directed me to a footnote. I love footnotes. It read, “Leo Tolstoi believed Jesus only had to say three words: ‘Resist not evil.’”

  • Y. A. Warren

    “No bypassing, no addiction to transcendence, no drugging yourself on mystical experience so that you don’t hear the screams of the children and the yowls of the lions that are being slaughtered. No magical thinking, because this great birth isn’t going to happen while we sit on our futons doing nothing. It’s going to happen because we engage with enormous intensity of truth with an evolutionary path that is going to burn us down before it re-creates us.”

    This is the sticking point for so many and why I turn from the emphasis of Christian life being on the death of Jesus. Jesus was a joyful Jew, loving his life with his friends. It is often easier to die than to live a joyful life in this difficult physical journey we call life.