All material laws are simply stages in evolution
"We see that in Christ the world of space and time is not annihilated; it does not disappear but it is transfigured, and that is precisely what St Paul means by the New Creation. The New Creation is this present creation transformed into the spiritual creation, matter no longer obeying the present laws which, as we know, are related only to this particular stage in evolution. All material laws are simply stages in evolution. At the inorganic level there are certain laws operating, and then new laws come into being as the earliest living creatures emerge. Later, new laws develop pertaining to the animal level and, later still, other new laws develop pertaining to human persons. The next stage is the transcendence of finite being, as we enter into the divine consciousness and into the divine mode of being. That is the New Man of St Paul, which is also the heavenly Man and can be related, as we saw, to the perfect Man of the Muslim tradition and the 'purusha' of the Hindu."
The World Transformed in Christ - Part 1
[Bruno Barnhart]: In another chapter of 'A New Vision of Reality', Bede develops the cosmic dimension of the Christ-mystery. In this further step toward his final synthesis, the newness which entered the world in the Christ-event is exerting its transformative power upon the elements of the material creation.
[Bede Griffiths]: In the Bible itself this incomprehensible Godhead, which is one with the mystical vision of India and of Islam, is revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. That is the essential Christian faith. The ineffable Godhead, the one absolute reality, was revealed in the historic person of Jesus of Nazareth at a particular time and at a particular place. It has to be emphasized that, in the biblical faith, it is a matter of the infinite being manifest in the finite, the eternal in the temporal, in a specific historical time and place. This is a key point by which the Christian revelation is distinguished from the Hindu and the Buddhist view. For the Hindu the 'avatara' is first of all not historical. Many 'avataras' are purely mythological, the tortoise, the fish, the boar and the lion, for instance. Even Krishna and Rama, the supreme 'avataras', are not fully historical. They are legendary figures, probably with some historical background, but in their case the historicity is not important. Any Hindu will say that whether Krishna lived or not he is a symbol of the divine, a symbol of the Godhead. As such he is of infinite value, whereas his historicity, or otherwise, is not significant.
It is the same with the Buddha. Buddha was a historical person, no doubt, but for the Buddhist this is not important. There were hundreds of buddhas and 'bodhisattvas', all symbols of the great 'sunyata'. But in the Christian tradition the infinite reveals itself in a historic time and place and this gives value to history and time. In the Eastern traditions time is cyclic. In Hinduism everything comes out from the 'brahman', as the 'Bhagavad Gita' says, and it returns and comes forth again in endless cycles. But in the Judaeo-Christian tradition all time is moving towards an end, the 'eschaton', which is the final fulfilment of all things. This is why Jesus is said to be not an 'avatara' who can come again and again, nor a buddha who has many other buddhas before and after him, but rather the one who brings the whole purpose and meaning of the entire universe to a head. It was the divine plan, "in the fullness of time, to bring all things to a head in him, things in heaven and things on earth." That is one of the central affirmations of the gospel.
The infinite, then, is manifest in Jesus, in this historic person coming within the historical context of Israel. He was the prophet who was expected to initiate the Kingdom of God, the priest who was to reconcile man with God, and also the king, the ruler, the messiah, who was to rule as God, in the place of God. Jesus was born in that historic context and was recognized to be the fulfilment of all these roles as God's revelation on earth. That is the understanding of Jesus within the Hebrew context. Further, Jesus' earthly life ended at the crucifixion and the crucifixion is an historic event. "He was crucified under Pontius Pilate," as the Creed says. It is really an extraordinary thing that it should be of the essence of Christian faith that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate at a particular time in history and under a particular Roman governor. This kind of thing is absolutely alien to Hinduism or Buddhism. When Krishna or Rama, or Buddha in the Mahayana, lived is of no account whatsoever; they are manifestations of the eternal, not confined to any time or place.
Jesus, on the other hand, manifests the infinite God in historic time and place and in his historic death, dying on the cross. There are many ancient myths of the god who dies and rises again but these are symbolic figures and their meaning is deep but different. Jesus' death, on the other hand, is not simply symbolic. He was an historic person, and the descriptions we have of his suffering and death, in the four different accounts in the Gospels, are given in minute detail. On that historic death and on the resurrection the whole Christian faith centres. The experience of the disciples after the death of Jesus, that the body was not to be found in the tomb and Jesus' appearances to them, convinced them that he was risen from the dead. They understood that, unlike Lazarus who was raised from the dead but simply carried on with his limited life in this world, Jesus was alive for evermore, transcending this world. What this means is that in the death and resurrection of Jesus the matter of this world was transformed. In other doctrines, in other great faiths, matter is often conceived simply as an appearance and the appearance disappears when we have reached the one reality. But in the Christian understanding the matter of the universe is transformed. The atoms, the molecules, the cells of Jesus' body, which are part of this cosmic energy, were changed. Matter is a temporary condensation of energy and that structure of energy which made up the body of Jesus on the cross was transformed into a new structure. It may be suggested that in the resurrection that structure of energy became a psychic body, which is a more subtle body. His body was first of all what is called a gross body which anyone could recognize, and then it became a subtle body, which could not always be recognized. This subtle body could appear and disappear, as we know from the Gospel narratives. Finally he becomes a spiritual body at the Ascension. He transcends matter at both the gross and the subtle levels and enters the spiritual level and, with that transformation, the matter of this universe is taken up into the Godhead. That is the Christian mystery. It is amazing when we begin to grasp it, that the matter which exploded in the so-called Big Bang fifteen or even twenty billion years ago at that point was finally transfigured. In fact the transfiguration has been going on all through history and we ourselves are involved in this transformation of matter, as consciousness is working on matter. The Christian understanding is that in Jesus consciousness finally took possession of matter, and this means that matter was spiritualized. In him the matter of the universe was, in other words, made totally conscious and became one with God, in the Godhead.
It is also important to emphasize that the soul of Jesus did not disappear. In the view of Shankara and so many others the 'jivatman' disappears at death. You simply realize yourself in the total reality and there is no jiva, no individual, any more. But the soul of Jesus, the unique Jew of the first century with all his personal characteristics, is eternal in the Godhead. It is not that he disappears into the Godhead. Rather, both the body ('soma') and the soul ('psyche') are taken up into the spirit ('pneuma') in the transcendent one and are totally transfigured in the One. This is beyond our comprehension but we can perhaps try to conceive how it takes place.
We see that in Christ the world of space and time is not annihilated; it does not disappear but it is transfigured, and that is precisely what St Paul means by the New Creation. The New Creation is this present creation transformed into the spiritual creation, matter no longer obeying the present laws which, as we know, are related only to this particular stage in evolution. All material laws are simply stages in evolution. At the inorganic level there are certain laws operating, and then new laws come into being as the earliest living creatures emerge. Later, new laws develop pertaining to the animal level and, later still, other new laws develop pertaining to human persons. The next stage is the transcendence of finite being, as we enter into the divine consciousness and into the divine mode of being. That is the New Man of St Paul, which is also the heavenly Man and can be related, as we saw, to the perfect Man of the Muslim tradition and the 'purusha' of the Hindu. But there is this great difference here in Christianity, that the individual human being of Jesus does not disappear in the Ultimate but rather is fully realized. As with Kashmir Shaivism and Mahayana Buddhism, the Christian tradition recognizes interrelationship in the Absolute. Shankara denied any relationship or differentiation in the Absolute. For him the Absolute is 'saccidananda', pure being, pure consciousness and pure bliss, with no differentiation into Shiva and Shakti which we have discussed, and the 'spanda', the pulse or stirring of will between them which is self-conscious within the One. The One is totally one without duality, yet there is also differentiation. This is expressed in the gospel when Jesus says, "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." If Jesus had been an advaitin he would have said, "I am the Father" or "I am God." Jesus never says that. In saying, "I am in the Father and the Father in me", "I know the Father and the Father knows me," "I love the Father, the Father loves me," Jesus is affirming total interpersonal relationship.
The One Light - Bede Griffiths' Principal Writings
Chapter II, West: Part One Civilization and Christianity, p. 89-93
Edited and with Commentary by Bruno Barnhart
Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois
 'A New Vision of Reality', 165-171.
 Ephesians 1:10
 John 14:11
Disclaimer: Our material may be copied, printed and distributed by referring to this site. This site also contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the education and research provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance freedom of inquiry for a better understanding of religious, spiritual and inter-faith issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.