Br. Martin, the author, was a close disciple of Father Bede Griffiths and still lives and teaches at his Shantivanam Ashram in India. He travels widely promoting inter-religious dialogue, trying to explain how the visions of the Indian Upanishads and that of the Bible can be reconciled. While the author does not enjoy the same ease of writing style nor often the simple clarity of thinking of Bede Griffith, he does takes us deeper in the ways and meanings of key concepts in the two great spiritualities he explores.
When he writes that religion that is based on the scriptures takes away human will and intellect, Br. Martin, Licentiate in Spirituality in the Gregorian University in Rome, makes it loud and clear where he stands. He is profoundly concerned, even at some points almost angrily so in his sincerity, with spirituality and the great vision of life and eternity that can be found in Holy Scriptures but not holy scripture as the basis of an established religion. He condemns a faith that demands the giving up of human will and intellect. He deplores how religions and scriptures become greater than people. In the sense that the God of such scriptures takes away human will and intellect, Br. Martin says that in this way God is in effect like our murderer. He agrees with Nietzsche that God is dead means our freedom. When that happens, he declares we can take life into our own hands. We can become free spirits.
Br. Martin’s retreat talks in Britain are well attended and praised and in this book, which is a collection of his articles which appeared in the newsletters of the Shantivanam Ashram, he covers a lot of troublesome ground in the common land of our spiritual journey, offering us what he sees as the real vision of God in our lives. Whether we are Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims or Buddhist he believes our spiritual life has two aspects. One is the historical, which gives rise to structured religions and takes away our freedom and is an aspect of our human ego. The other aspect is the eternal one, which belongs to the image and likeness of God. He tells us that in order to give birth to the God of I am what I am, one has to discover one’s own I am what I am, reminding us once again that Know thyself is the universal key to all spiritual understanding. For this holy exploration we need, as Br. Martin points out, freedom of intellect and will.