The Other Half of My Soul
The Other Half of My Soul -- Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue
Compiled by Beatrice Bruteau, Quest Books 1996 XV + 397pp
Reviewed by Vladimir Loncar, SOF NZ Newsletter #21, May 1997
This is an encyclopaedic tribute to the journey of a great soul. The twenty four contributors, most of whom were personal friends of Father Bede, share his journey through poems, memoirs, awesome philosophical investigations and dialogue.
The authors are mostly Catholics striving to realise more fully the significance of their name-universal. Even the title of this book is fully transcended by Father Bede himself, going beyond England and India, Eastern or Western, to a spiritual unity which most of us can barely think of.
All these essays and poems are profoundly evocative. While the main theme is inter-religious dialogue, there is music, meditation, mysticism, ecology, God as feminine, the Bhagavad Gita and Christ and Buddha embracing.
Beatrice Bruteau addresses a complex philosophical problem in her essay "The One and The Many", throwing more light on similar issues raised by Frederick Copleston in his Religion and the One (Search Press 1982).
Matthew Fox is there. So are Protestants Paul Knitter and Rupert Sheldrake. Raimon Panikkar offers a tribute. Monks, nuns, scholars all, while avoiding facile syncretism, strive towards a transcendence that will overcome exclusivism, that virus which, for too long, has been programmed into our religious psyche.
If mountains of theology have to be moved, they will move them. There are many essays worth going back to again and again. They haunt the reader with the sense that here are metaphysical vitamins essential to one's theological diet. No "easy read" here.
These essays are the Western Wisdom meeting the Eastern Wisdom in the lives of those who had a lifelong dedication to the Spiritual Quest. Their's is the more difficult path; it has always always been easier for East to meet West, for example in Ramakhrishna and M.K. Ghandi. Dom Bede Griffith's life and work has been dedicated to this harder path.
This book is an outstanding tribute to his endeavours, and will be a further inspiration to many others who pursue this crucial adventure.