Bede Griffiths (1906-1993) pioneered a form of Christian community based on meditation, tolerance of all religions, and a keen respect for the unfathomable mystery that lies beyond reason. Andrew Harvey once referred to him as "the Mozart of mystics" and that hits the mark. In this enlightening biography, Shirley du Boulay, who covered religion for the BBC for many years, sheds light on this middle-class, Oxford-educated Englishman who wound up as a leader of an ashram in India.
She begins with his mystical experience as a youth and goes on to cover Griffiths's experiment in communal living with some friends in 1930. He took the name Bede when he was ordained as a Benedictine monk. C. S. Lewis dedicated his autobiography Surprised by Joy to him as a fellow spiritual traveler. Throughout his life Griffiths was caught between the antinomies of reason and faith, intellect and experience, mind and heart.
Du Boulay writes, "His inner life and development have the excitement of space exploration and the passion of a great romance." She does a fine job assessing his many roles as a monk, author, ecumenist, mystic, superior, Hindu sannyasi, and guru. She concludes that his single greatest contribution to twentieth-century spirituality was his ability "to make Christianity acceptable to people who had wandered from its embrace."