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Preobrazhenie

Russian Orthodox icon of the Transfiguration (Theophanes the Greek, ca. 1408).

Theoria (Greek θεωρία) is Greek for contemplation (literally, to view or witness, to behold something as a spectator). Within Eastern Orthodox theology it refers to the state of illumination in which one becomes aware of God and that all that is and is not has ontology in God. As it is the stage of theosis where one beholds God. In one sense it is obtained by means of contemplative prayer resulting from the cultivation of watchfulness (Gk: nepsis) achieved by the pure of heart who are no longer subject to the afflictions of the passions. Theoria is given as a gift from the Holy Spirit to those who through observance of the commandments of God and ascetic practices (see praxis, kenosis, Poustinia and schema) have achieved dispassion[1] and clarity of vision.[2]

In its purest form theoria is considered as the 'beholding', 'seeing' or 'vision' of God.[3]

Theoria is associated with the Eastern Orthodox ascetic tradition called hesychasm and plays a central role in the transformative process called theosis, considered (especially by the Eastern Orthodox church) to be the quintessential purpose and goal of Christianity.

EtymologyEdit

The word has its origin in the Greek language and is derived from the same root as the English word theory. Theoria is used to express the experience of life as "one who comprehends by watching a play or activity", the state of "being" is defined as spectator. The act of experiencing or observing and then comprehending is through consciousness called the nous or "eye of the soul" (Matthew 6:22-6:34)[4] Insight into being and becoming (called Noesis) through faith in God (action through faith and love for God), leads to truth through our contemplative faculties. This theory, or speculation, as action in faith and love for God, is then expressed famously as "Beauty shall Save the World". This expression of the idea comes from a mystic or gnosiology perspective (rather than say, a scientific, philosophical or cultural one),[5][6][7][8]

Theoria in Eastern Orthodox ChristianityEdit

According to the teaching of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the purpose and goal of being is to attain theosis or 'deification' understood as 'likeness to' or 'union with' God. This metamorphosis or transformation results from a deep love of God[9] leading a pure life, practicing restraint and adhering to the commandments. According to the standard ascetic formulation of this process there are three stages: The first stage is katharsis or purification. The second stage is theoria or illumination. The third stage is theosis or deification (also referred to as union with God).[10]

Purification proceeds conversion and constitutes a turning away from all that is unclean and unwholesome. This is a purification of mind and body. As preparation for theoria, however, the concept of purification in this three part scheme refers most importantly to purification of consciousness (nous), the faculty of discernment and knowledge (wisdom) whose awakening is essential to coming out of the state of delusion that is characteristic of the worldly-minded. Once the nous has been cleansed the faculty of wisdom may begin to operate more consistently.

With a purified nous, clear vision and understanding is possible making one fit by means of contemplative prayer to behold God.[11] Following Christ's instruction to "go into your room or closet and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret" (Matthew 6:6) the hesychast withdraws into solitude in order that he or she may enter into a deeper state of contemplative stillness. By means of this stillness the mind is calmed and the ability to see reality is enhanced. The practitioner seeks to attain what the apostle Paul called 'unceasing prayer'. In Eastern Orthodox tradition three degrees of prayer are recognized: 1) Ordinary oral prayer as is practiced in church or at home. 2) Prayerful thoughts and feelings united with the mind and heart. 3) Unceasing prayer.[12] Unceasing prayer is also called 'Prayer of the Heart':

"...the heart is warmed by concentration so that what hitherto has only been thought now becomes feeling. Where first it was a contrite phrase now it is contrition itself; and what was once a petition in words is transformed into a sensation of entire necessity. Whoever has passed through action and thought to true feeling, will pray without words, for God is God of the heart. So that the end of apprenticeship in prayer can be said to come when in our prayer we move only from feeling to feeling. In this state reading may cease, as well as deliberate thought...When the feeling of prayer reaches the point where it becomes continuous, then spiritual prayer may be said to begin...Without inner spiritual prayer there is no prayer at all, for this alone is real prayer, pleasing to God.[13]

As Saint Theophan here explains Prayer of the Heart is in essence wordless prayer involving wakefulness, watchfulness and concentration of the mind in the heart on God.

Prayer of the Heart is often associated with a highly venerated and widely esteemed prayer in Eastern Orthodox spirituality called The Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer has long been used in hesychastic asceticism as an invaluable spiritual tool to aid the practitioner to bring about the unceasing, wordless prayer of the heart that St Theophan describes. One important way the Jesus Prayer does this is to invoke an attitude of humility so essential for attainment of theoria.[14] The Jesus Prayer is also invoked to pacify the passions and the illusions that lead a person to express these passions through action. The mind is habitually accustomed to seek what is perceived as pleasurable and avoid what is perceived as bad or evil. This state of incessant agitation of the mind is attributed to the corruption of the primordial knowledge and breaking union with God, brought about by the Fall of Man which resulted in the defilement and corruption of the nous.[15]

The long association between the Jesus Prayer and the Prayer of the Heart has led to the mistaken notion that they are actually synonymous. That is erroneous:

"People say: attain the Jesus Prayer, for that is inner prayer. This is not correct. The Jesus Prayer is a good means to arrive at inner prayer but in itself it is not inner but outer prayer" – St Theophan the Recluse[16]

Theoria as the perception of beautyEdit

Theoria is also defined as 'the perception of beauty regarded as a moral faculty' (OED)

Theoria is validated because God is in the Universe or material world, which is evidenced by the material world containing beauty.

Ontological or Trinitarian TheologyEdit

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The highest theoria, the highest consciousness, as the experience by the whole person, is the vision of God.[17] In full nous in a state of ecstasy (ekstasis) called the 8th day, which is no internal or external world, no time, no space, the experience of God as infinite or limitless.[1][18] God is beyond being (hyper-being) God is beyond nothingness. Nothingness is a gulf between God and man (God is the origin of everything including nothingness). This experience of God in hypostasis showing God's essence as incomprehensible or by definition God as uncreated. God being the origin but having no origin hence apophatic and transcendent in essence or being, cataphatic in foundationial realities, immanence and energies. This ontic or ontological Theoria being the observation of God.[19]

False Spiritual KnowledgeEdit

Theoria does not manifest a false spiritual knowledge (and or incomplete spiritual knowledge) like incomplete knowledge akin to human rationalization as either conjecture or speculation.[18] Like that which may be arrived at through rational thought (dianoia) or rational speculation (Stochastic and or dialectics)[20] . False spiritual knowledge can also be iniquitous or of an evil origin being generated from an evil rather than Holy source. Hence the knowledge of Good and the knowledge of Evil, some knowledge is good, some knowledge is bad or evil. The most common false spiritual knowledge being derived not from an actual experience of God but from reading another person's experience of God. Then deriving one's own conclusions, and believing those conclusions as being equal to the actual experience knowledge (then causing conflict in interpretations). Since knowledge is derived from experience i.e. contemplation. Experience (or the being of contemplation) however is not derived from knowledge. Knowledge here defined by the change in mankind's nous caused by partaking in the knowledge of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since mankind in his finite existence (mankind is a created being or creature) can never by his own accord arrive at an objective enough consciousness to properly use such knowledge. Theosis is the gradual submission of man to the good, who then with Divine grace from his relationship or union with God, attains deification. Illumination restores mankind to his pre-Knowledge of Good and evil state, of faith existent in God called noesis before mankind's consciousness and reality was changed by the Fall of Man.[21] Where after illumination or theoria mankind in union with God, called theosis or deification, can now properly discern (have Holy Wisdom) by having peace and union with God. Hence theoria as the experience or Vision of God, silences all flesh.

Spiritual somnolenceEdit

False spiritual knowledge leads to spiritual delusion (Russian prelest, Greek plani) which is the opposite of sobriety. Sobriety meaning full consciousness and self-realization (enstasis) called true spiritual knowledge or true gnosis.[22] Theoria is the highest consciousness (i.e. the whole person united to God as a relationship or process is called theosis). Theoria is in contrast to allegorical or symbolic interruptions of church traditions.[23] Prelest or plani is the closing off or estrangement of the person to existence or Objective reality (what is real or truth), alienation being called amartía. This includes damaging or vilifying the nous or simply having a non functioning noetic and neptic faculty.[24] Since evil is by definition to turn mankind against its' creator and existence (see misotheism). Misotheism is the catalyst to separate mankind from nature or to vilify the various realities of ontology (i.e. the spiritual world and/or the natural or material world). Reconciliation between God (the uncreated) and man is arrived at by submission in faith to God the eternal (i.e. transcendence) rather than transgression[25] (magic). The Trinity as Nous, Word and Spirit is ontologically the basis of mankind's being or existence. The Trinity is the creator of mankind's being via each component of mankind's existence (see also hypostasis). Mankind's components or energies of existence as such being: origin as nous (ex nihilo), inner experience or spiritual experience and finally, physical experience which is exemplified by Christ (logos or the uncreated prototype of the highest ideal) and his saints. The following of false knowledge is marked by the symptom of somnolence or awake sleep and then later psychosis.[26]

False Ascetism or CultsEdit

Once the stage of true discernment (diakrisis) is reached by the individual (called phronema) to where they are able to tell false from valid gnosis this is referred to as wisdom or sophia. Sophia is cultivated by humility (emptying of oneself) and mortification ("In remembrance of Death") against thymos (ego, greed and selfishness) and the passions.[27] The passions and the ego in Orthodox asceticism are referred to as the World. Asceticism being dead to the passions and the ego and therefore dead to the world. The highest wisdom, holy wisdom or Hagia Sophia being cultivated by humility or meekness akin to that personified by the Theotokos and all of the saints that came after her and the Christ (collectively referred to as the ecclesia or church). This community of unbroken witnesses being the Orthodox Church.[28] God is beyond the fallen human mind or unclean nous which is the intuitive mind and or rational mind (called dianoia) both of which are part of the nous, heart or eye of the soul. God is beyond knowledge and as such can only be experienced in his hypostases through faith (noetically). False ascetism leading not to reconciliation with God and or existence, but toward a false existence based on rebellion to existence.[29]

True Spiritual KnowledgeEdit

Megaloschema

The Great Schema worn by Orthodox monks and nuns of the most advanced degree.

Theoria being experience is beyond conceptual knowledge.[30] It is when the mind is placed in the heart (kardio) and the nous is focused on the immediacy or immanence of the Trinity of God rather than strictly insight or foresight (which is to face the unknown with free will and faith) and rather than hindsight (determinism and knowledge). It is much like the difference between reading about an experience and reading about an experience one has already experienced. Thus theoria is an expression of insight (noesis), and is deeply focused on the 'now', the 'immediate', the 'present'. Though theoria is akin to acting by free will and by conscious choice rather than deterministically. It holds that, one moves through time into the future without knowing, but that we proceed by faith (faith is meta-gnosis or beyond knowledge). Theoria means placing the actual experience above recollection of an experience (mnemonic) or memory, knowledge of the experience (gnosis). As it is the contemplation of the present (insight) while in the present rather than the past (knowledge) or future (unknown), it is ultimately the experience of the hypostases of God. Or in other words, Theoria means primacy of experience, observation over speculative, discursive rational analysis (Orthodox Empirical theology). This illumination as photismos, a light that permeates all things and is without source, a light that illuminates not only the physical world but also the darkness within mankind, this light is also called the Tabor light. The Trinity who, in essence is incomprehensible the Trinities' being or essence or substance is not obtainable or knowable (or it would not truly be incomprehensible). As the Trinity is the three realities of the single God at once. Each reality or hypostasis critical to the ontology of being (ousia) and or existence (hypostasis).[31]

Orthodox theologyEdit

Preobrazhenie

Icon of the Transfiguration

Alexandrian tradition of theoriaEdit

Theoria is the knowledge of God in creation and of sensible things and thus their contemplation intellectually to the Origen or Alexandrian school of thought (150-400AD) (see Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Evagrius Ponticus) which then leads to communion with God akin to Divine Providence.[32][33][34]

Cappadocian tradition of theoriaEdit

To the Cappadocian school of thought (see Saint Basil, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and Saint Gregory Nazianzus) (350-400AD) theoria is the experience of the highest or absolute truth when one is in complete union with God. It is entering the 'Cloud of Unknowing' which is beyond rational understanding, and can be embraced only in love of God (Agape or Awe). The Cappadocian fathers went beyond the intellectual contemplation of the Alexandrian fathers. This was to begin with the seminal work Philokalia, which through hesychasm leads to Phronema and finally theosis which is validated by theoria. One must move beyond gnosis to faith (meta-gnosis). Through ignorance one moves beyond knowledge and being, this contemplation being theoria. Theoria means understanding that the Uncreated can not be grasped by the logical or rational mind, but rather only by the whole person (unity between the heart and mind) this perception is by the nous. God was knowable in his manifestations but that ultimately one must transcend knowledge or gnosis (since knowledge is based on reflection). Gnosis is limited and can become a barrier between man and God. If one wishes to commune with God one must enter into the Divine filial relation with God the Father through Jesus Christ, one in ousia with the Father which results in pure faith without any preconceived notions of God. Once one reaches this point one can commune with God just as Moses did. Covered by Gregory of Nyssa in his mystical classic, The Life of Moses.[33][35][36][37]

Dionysius the Areopagite's ApophatismEdit

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With the tradition of St Dionysus the Areopagite, theoria is the lifting up of the individual out of time and space and created being (see ekstasis) while the Triune God reaches down (or condescends) to the hesychast. The individual is brought into the presence of the hypostasises of God in what is called the 8th day. One cultivates the highest form of contemplation and the experience of the 8th day by attending the Orthodox liturgical services. The services being the applications of the sacraments and the person's perspective being one of sincere mortification. Memento mori being salvation through, the grace or acceptance of God, in death. This liturgical experience is the only way for a human being to attain the true knowledge of the living God, by the living person. This experience is the vision of God or theoria to the apophatic theology of the St. Dionysian tradition within Eastern Orthodoxy. Again God can be known in his immanence (kataphatic) or realities but not in God's apophatic or transcendent essence, since God is uncreated in his essence or being.[38]

St Macarius of EgyptEdit

In the theological tradition of St Macarius of Egypt (ca. 300-391AD), theoria is the point of interaction between God and the Human Person in the heart of the person (manifesting in spiritual gifts to the human heart); this interaction is beyond rationalistic contemplation. The highest form of contemplation (agape) originates in the heart, a form of contemplation that is higher than that of the intellectual mind.[39] What is consistent is the concept that Theoria is alloted to each unique individual by their capacity to comprehend God. This also being the tradition of theoria as taught by St Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022AD) that one can not be a theologian unless one sees the hypostasises of God or the uncreated light which would be to have theoria. For saints such an experience cultivates humility and meekness in people and most of all the love of the human race that the Triune God has (hence to be good is like God or Godlike, theosis). This invisible fire in the heart for humanity is manifest in absolute kindness and love for their neighbor akin to selfless humility agape or love, growing from mortification, kenosis and or Epiclesis. This love or agape (invisible, Holy fire) is the essence of Orthodoxy.[40]

The Hesychast controversyEdit

Under St Gregory Palamas (1296 - 1359AD) the different traditions of theoria where synthesized into an understanding of theoria as meaning that through baptism one receives the Holy Spirit. Through participating in the sacraments of the Church and performing works of faith one cultivates a relationship with God. If one then through willful submission to God is devotional (becomes humble) akin to the Theotokos (and saints) and proceeds in faith past the point of rational contemplation one can experience God. Palamas stated that this way was not a mechanized process as each person is unique, but that the apodictic way that one experiences the uncreated light or God was through contemplative prayer called hesychasm. Theoria is cultivated through each of the steps of the growing process of theosis. Gregory was initially asked by his fellow monks on Mount Athos to defend them from the charges of Barlaam of Calabria. Barlaam believed that philosophers had better knowledge of God than did the prophets, and valued education and learning more than contemplative prayer. It is important to note that Palamas taught that the truth is a person (Jesus Christ) which means a form of objective reality. In order for a Christian to be authentic he/she must experience the Truth i.e. Christ, as real and in person (see hypostasis). Gregory further asserted that when Peter, James and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor, that they were in fact seeing the uncreated light of God; and that it is possible for others to be granted to see that same uncreated light of God with the help of certain spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer. The only true way to experience Christ, according to Palamas, was the Eastern Orthodox faith. Once a person discovers Christ (through the Orthodox church) they begin the process of theosis which is the gradual submission to the Truth i.e. God (see mortification and asceticism) in order to be deified (theosis). Theoria then is seen to be the experience of God hypostatically (in person). However, since the essence of God is unknowable the essence of God is not able to be experienced. Palamas expressed theoria as an experience of God as it happens to the whole person (soul or nous) not just the mind or body, in contrast to an experience of God that is drawn from memory, the mind and or in time (recollection of an experience) i.e. gnosis.[41][42] Gnosis and all knowledge are created, as they are derived or created from experience and self awareness knowledge (spiritual knowledge). Theoria here is the actual experience of the uncreated in various degrees (i.e. the vision of God or to see God).[41] The experience of God in the 8th day or outside of time therefore beyond or transcending, self and or experience knowledge (gnosis).[43] Gnosis here is most importantly understood as a knowledge of oneself, theoria is the experience of God, transcendent or beyond the knowledge of oneself.[44] St. Gregory Palamas reposed on November 14, 1359. His dying words were, "To the heights! To the heights!" The reason for his commemoration on the Second Sunday of Great Lent is because Gregory's victory over Barlaam is seen as a continuation of the Triumph of Orthodoxy (i.e., the victory of the Church over heresy).

Theological Issues between Eastern Christianity and Western ChristianityEdit

In the Eastern Christian traditions theoria is the most critical component needed for a person to be considered a theologian (it is not necessary for ones salvation per se).[45] Theoria as being with God,[45] God in Eastern Christianity being the one thing that mankind truly desires the most,[46] that which is infinite (apophatic or transcendent) and also personal and real (cataphatic or immanence). God as ever new, never ending love, happiness, joy and bliss as is glory to glory. An experience of God being necessary to the spiritual and mental health of each and all created things, including human beings.[47][48]

Deification Edit

Theosis is expressed as having "Being with God" and a relationship (God is Heaven, God is the Kingdom of Heaven) that is infinite and unending, glory to glory.[49] Since God is transcendent (incomprehensible in ousia, essence or being) the West has over emphasized the point by qualifying logical arguments that God can not be experienced in this life.[50] This criteria is at the very heart of many theological conflicts between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western Christianity which is seen to culminate in the conflict over Hesychasm.[51] This is expressed in the idea that Western theology is too dependent of logic and reason (culminating in scholasticism used to validate truth, and the existence of God which it can not completely do) over establishing an actual relationship with God (theosis and theoria).[52]

Heaven and Hell Edit

Another such example that is often used in Eastern Christianity is the example of St Augustine.[53] From the works of Saint Augustine it is apparent to Eastern theologians that though a Saint, Augustine did not have theoria and many of his theological conclusions appear to be arrived at not from experiencing God and writing about his experience(s) of God. Augustine's conclusions appear to be arrived at by means of philosophical or logical speculation and conjecture.[54] Hence Augustine is still revered as a Saint, but does not qualify as a theologian in the Eastern Orthodox church.[55] Some of Augustine's Trinitarian conclusions appear to immanentize characteristics of theology which would be improper treatment of those things divine. This toward Eastern theologians who in light of their experiences would articulate their expressions of those things differently. Augustine's treatment of the inner relationship of the realities of God in Trinity and how God has manifest to mankind throughout time being an overview as such.[56]. Finally the theological concept of hell or eternal damnation also via theoria is expressed completely different in the West. Hell in the West is a created place of damnation, this being taught most explicitly in Dante's classic work Inferno[57]. The East teaches that hell or eternal damnation and heaven are the same place, which is being with God.[58] For one who hates God (see Misotheism) such a place as in the presence of God, will be eternal suffering.[24][59][60]

Eastern Orthodox traditionEdit

Theoria appears in a variety of contexts.

  • "The Lord considered the chief good to reside in theoria alone." St John Cassian [20]
    • Jesus, referred to here as "the Lord", states that "None is good but God alone" (Luke 18:19). Theoria is not God per se but is rather the union we hope to attain with God — the term is used relationally here, otherwise the sentence would say "reside in God alone". Theoria marks a relational and noetic understanding.
  • “St. Maximus goes on to say that man is ‘granted the grace of theology when, carried on wings of love’ in theoria and ‘with the help of the Holy Spirit, he discerns - as far as this is possible for the human nous - the qualities of God’.”
  • “St. Thalassios wrote that when man’s nous begins with simple faith, it ‘will eventually attain a theology that transcends the nous and that is characterised by unremitting faith of the highest type and the vision of the invisible’".
  • "[T]he other virtues, although we consider them necessary and useful and good, are to [be] accounted secondary because they are all practiced for the purpose of obtaining this one thing: theoria" (ibid).
    • Here the term is used to mark that which we hope to obtain or attain, for which all practice of faith is carried out. Theoria is a marker for the goal of union with God.
  • "We accept faith by hearing it not so that we can understand it rationally, but that our hearts may be cleansed, that, by theoria, we may attain faith and ultimately experience the Revelation of God." [21]
    • This may be a less clear use of the term, but it refers to the idea that faith is a gift, not purely a rational act. The gift of faith is from God, and here the word theoria indicates that special provenance.
  • "In the Holy Scripture it appears that faith comes by hearing the Word and by experiencing theoria (the vision of God)" (ibid).
    • In this example, theoria is indicated to be an experience and a vision of God. Vision of God often implies advanced mystical experience, not given to all and not necessary for salvation, but in the foregoing examples theoria is used to mark the onset of faith and the source of faith. Theoria is, then, a broad term.
  • "[T]he disciples of Christ acquired the knowledge of the Triune God in theoria (vision of God) and by revelation" (ibid).
    • Here the term clearly refers to advanced mystical experiences some disciples had in the company of Jesus.
  • "[T]heoria, vision and theosis are closely connected. Theoria has various degrees. There is illumination, vision of God, and constant vision (for hours, days, weeks, even months)" (ibid).
    • Here we see clearly that the term has broad application. The onset of faith as well as more advanced experiences are referred to as theoria. The term, then, implies a source of religious experience from onset to advanced stages, and suffuses the understanding of religious knowledge with a contemplative essence.
  • "They [Latin and Protestant] are influenced by the philosophical dialectic, which has been surpassed by the Revelation of God" (ibid).
    • Orthodox sources maintain that the meanings implied in theoria are fundamentally absent from western traditions, which they consider to have been misguided by scholasticism to the point that they abandon the faith of the Church Fathers and all hope of being therapeutically relevant to followers.
  • "St. Gregory the Theologian says that theoria and praxis are beneficial because theoria ... guides him to the holy of holies and restores him to his original nature; whereas praxis receives and serves Christ and tests love with actions. Clearly, theoria is the vision of God.... [P]raxis is whatever deeds it takes to lead to this love." [22]
    • Theoria is the source or means of growth toward union with God, praxis is the faith practiced along the way, theosis is the overall path or journey, and phronema is the understanding of Christian faith that guides the follower of Christ.
  • He prays with his body alone, and not yet with spiritual knowledge. But when the man once blind received his sight and saw the Lord, he acknowledged Him no longer as the Son of David but as the Son of God, and worshipped Him' (cf. John 9 38).'

St Symeon the New Theologian Philokalia Vol.4

Theoria in western traditions Edit

Theoria covers a broad range of inherent Western Christian concepts that are treated separately in Catholic tradition. These concepts include:

  • God is the source wherein lies the Chief Good
  • The hope for the union with God to which all Christians are called, is pursued through contemplation and action
  • There is a connection between incipient faith and advanced prayer life.
  • For the faith, our redemption by Jesus, is a restoration of supernatural goodness and innocence lost through sin
  • Theology cannot be divorced from prayer.

There is no conclusive term in common use in the Western tradition, but like the Eastern tradition everything is rooted in the universal Christian understanding that the risen Christ lives in us and that we participate in His life.

See alsoEdit

QuotesEdit

'We ought at all times to wait for the enlightenment that comes from above before we speak with a faith energized by love; for the illumination which will enable us to speak. For there is nothing so destitute as a mind philosophising about God, when it is without Him'." Of "Spiritual Knowledge" Discourse number 7 Philokalia volume 1 pg 254 — St Diadochos of Photiki

"Unless the heart be cleansed it is impossible to attain real contemplation. Only a heart purified of passion is capable of that peculiar awe and wonder before God which stills the nous into joyful silence." Archimandrite Sophrony

"The question of the vision of God, not only among Byzantine Theologians of the fourteenth century but also in earlier history, especially among the Greek Fathers, presents serious difficults for those who want to study it from the standpoint of the concepts appropriate to Latin scholasticism." Vladimir Lossky The Vision of God pg 20.

BibliographyEdit

  • The Vision of God by Vladimir Lossky, SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-19-2)
  • The Spirituality of the Christian East: A systematic handbook by Tomas Spidlik, Cistercian Publications Inc Kalamazoo Michigan 1986 (ISBN 0-87907-879-0)
  • The Macarian Legacy: The Place of Macarius-Symeon in the Eastern Christian Tradition (Oxford Theological Monographs 2004) by Marcus Plested (ISBN 0199267790)
  • Being With God by Aristotle Papanikolaou University of Notre Dame Press February 24, 2006 ISBN 0268038309
  • The Experience of God : Revelation and Knowledge of the Triune God (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Volume 1 : Revelation and Knowledge of the Triune God) by Dumitru Staniloae Holy Cross Orthodox Press May 17, 2005 ISBN 0917651707
  • The Experience of God : Orthodox Dogmatic Theology Volume 2: (The World, Creation and Deification) by Dumitru Staniloae Holy Cross Orthodox Press June 16, 2005 ISBN 1885652410
  • THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos Publisher: Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 9607070186 ISBN 978-9607070180
  • Reading scripture with the Church Fathers By Christopher A. Hall Published by InterVarsity Press, 2001 ISBN 0830815007, 9780830815005
  • THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos Publisher: Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 9607070186 ISBN 978-9607070180 [23]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ecstasy comes when, in prayer, the nous abandons every connection with created things: first "with everything evil and bad, then with neutral things" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). Ecstasy is mainly withdrawal from the opinion of the world and the flesh. With sincere prayer the nous "abandons all created things" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). This ecstasy is higher than abstract theology, that is, than rational theology, and it belongs only to those who have attained dispassion. But it is not yet union. That is to say, the ecstasy which is unceasing prayer of the nous, in which one's nous has continuous remembrance of God and has no relation with the `world of sin' is not yet union with God. This union comes about when the Paraclete "illuminates from on high the man who attains in prayer the stage which is superior to the highest natural possibilities and who is awaiting the promise of the Father, and by His revelation ravishes him to the contemplation of the light" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). Illumination by God is what shows His union with man. Orthodox Psychotherapy Section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  2. Vision here refers to the vision of the nous that has been purified by ascetic practise. See below on the three stages of theosis.
  3. "The contemplative mind sees God, in so far as this is possible for man"; What Is prayer? by Theophan the Recluse cited in The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology,p.73, compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, trans, E. Kadloubovsky and E.M. Palmer, ed. Timothy Ware, 1966, Faber & Faber, London.
  4. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" NRSV
  5. Saint Symeon the New Theologian On Faith Palmer, G.E.H; Sherrard, Philip; Ware, Kallistos (Timothy). The Philokalia, Vol. 4
  6. Nikitas Stithatos (Nikitas Stethatos) On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts
  7. Nikitas Stithatos (Nikitas Stethatos) On the Inner Nature of Things and on the Purification of the Intellect: One Hundred Texts
  8. Nikitas Stithatos (Nikitas Stethatos) On Spiritual Knowledge, Love and the Perfection of Living: One Hundred Texts
  9. Saint Isaac the Syrian says that "Paradise is the love of God, in which the bliss of all the beatitudes is contained," and that "the tree of life is the love of God" (Homily 72).
  10. Proper preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the noetic faculty. Without this it is impossible for man's selfish love to be transformed into selfless love. This transformation takes place during the higher level of the stage of illumination called theoria, literally meaning vision, in this case vision by means of unceasing and uninterrupted memory of God. Those who remain selfish and self-centered with a hardened heart, closed to God's love, will not see the glory of God in this life. However, they will see God's glory eventually, but as an eternal and consuming fire and outer darkness. From FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/Diagnosis and Therapy Father John S. Romanides Diagnosis and Therapy [1]
  11. Proper preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the noetic faculty. Without this it is impossible for man's selfish love to be transformed into selfless love. This transformation takes place during the higher level of the stage of illumination called theoria, literally meaning vision, in this case vision by means of unceasing and uninterrupted memory of God. Those who remain selfish and self-centered with a hardened heart, closed to God's love, will not see the glory of God in this life. However, they will see God's glory eventually, but as an eternal and consuming fire and outer darkness. From FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/Diagnosis and Therapy Father John S. Romanides Diagnosis and Therapy [2]
  12. What Is Prayer? p.63
  13. What Is Prayer? p.52
  14. There was an anchorite (hermit) who was able to banish demons; and he asked them:
    Hermit: What makes you go away? Is it fasting?
    The demons: We do not eat or drink.
    Hermit: Is it vigils?
    The demons: We do not sleep.
    Hermit: Is it separation from the world?
    The demons: We live in the deserts.
    Hermit: What power sends you away then?
    The demons: Nothing can overcome us, but only humility. Do you see how humility is victorious over the demons? [3]
    The Forgotten Desert Mothers: Sayings, Lives, and Stories of Early Christian Women By Laura Swan pg 67 Published by Paulist Press, 2001 ISBN 0809140160, 9780809140169
  15. THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos"If one wishes to be an Orthodox theologian one must begin from the state of Adam as it was before the Fall, what happened with the Fall and how we can be restored to our former state, even reach there where Adam did not. If a theology does not speak of man's fall; if it does not designate precisely what it is, and if it does not speak of man's resurrection, then what kind of theology is it? Surely, it is not Orthodox. In any case, we were saying earlier that Orthodoxy is a therapeutic treatment and science, and also that Theology is a therapeutic treatment. It cures man. Yet, if we do not examine where man's illness lies, how can we know what we should heal? If, regarding his body, man follows a wrong treatment he will never be cured. The same also happens with the soul. It must become clear to us that the darkness of nous is its illness and illumination is its cure. Mysteries and all the ascetic tradition of the Church are meant to lead us where Adam was before the Fall, that is, to the illumination of the nous, and from there to theosis, which is man's original destination. Therefore, it is very important for us to know exactly what the illness is. If we ignore our inner sickness our spiritual life ends up in an empty moralism, in a superficiality. Many people are against the social system. They blame society, family, the existing evil, etc. for their own problem. However the basic problem, man's real malady is the darkness of his nous. When one's nous is illumined one thus becomes free from slavery to everything in the environment, e.g. anxiety, insecurity, etc. " [4] Publisher: Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 9607070186 ISBN 978-9607070180
  16. 'What Is Prayer?' cited in The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology p.98 ISBN 0571191657 by Igumen Chariton ISBN 978-0571191659
  17. That is to say, the man who beholds the uncreated light sees it because he is united with God. He sees it with his inner eyes, and also with his bodily eyes, which, however, have been altered by God's action. Consequently theoria is union with God. And this union is knowledge of God. At this time one is granted knowledge of God, which is above human knowledge and above the senses. Orthodox Psychotherapy Section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  18. 18.0 18.1 It is necessary to renounce both sense and all the workings of reason, everything which may be known by the senses or the understanding, both that which is and all that is not, in order to be able to attain in perfect ignorance to union with Him who transcends all being and all knowledge. It is already evident that this is not simply a question of a process of dialectic but of something else: a purification, a katharis, is necessary. One must abandon all that is impure and even all that is pure. One must then scale the most sublime heights of sanctity leaving behind one all the divine luminaries, all the heavenly sounds and words. It is only thus that one may penetrate to the darkness wherein He who is beyond all created things makes His dwelling. Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky, p. 27)
  19. Orthodox Psychotherapy Chapter Six
  20. "Those who speak from their own thoughts, before having acquired purity, are seduced by the spirit of self-esteem." St. Gregory of Sinai
  21. "THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL" Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
  22. *History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии »(1951) by N. O. Lossky section on V. Lossky pg400 Publisher: Allen & Unwin, London ASIN: B000H45QTY International Universities Press Inc NY, NY ISBN 978-0823680740 sponsored by Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
  23. Reading scripture with the Church Fathers By Christopher A. Hall Published by InterVarsity Press, 2001 ISBN 0830815007, 9780830815005 [5]
  24. 24.0 24.1 Man has a malfunctioning or non-functioning noetic faculty in the heart, and it is the task especially of the clergy to apply the cure of unceasing memory of God, otherwise called unceasing prayer or illumination. "Those who have selfless love and are friends of God see God in light - divine light, while the selfish and impure see God the judge as fire - darkness". [6]
  25. History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии »(1951) by N. O. Lossky section on N. O. Lossky's philosophy pg262 "There is another kind of selfishness which violates the hierarchy of values much more: some agents who strive for perfection and the absolute fullness of being and even for the good of the whole world are determined to do it in their own way, so that they should occupy the first place and stand higher than all other beings and even the Lord God himself. Pride is the ruling passion of such beings. They enter into rivalry with God, thinking that they are capable of ordering the world better than its Creator. Pursuing an impossible aim, they suffer defeat at every step and begin to hate God. This is what Satan does. Selfishness separates us from God in so far as we put before us purposes incompatible with God's will that the world should be perfect. In the same way selfishness separates an agent in a greater or lesser degree from other agents: his aims and actions cannot be harmonized with the actions of other beings and often lead to hostility and mutual opposition.
  26. Orthodox Psychotherapy by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  27. But let him not remain in this condition. If he wishes to see Christ, then let him do what Zacchaeus did. Let him receive the Word in his home, after having previously climbed up into the sycamore tree, "mortifying his limbs on the earth and raising up the body of humility".[7]
  28. THE ILLNESS AND CURE OF THE SOUL by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos Chapter THE CURE OF THE SOUL, The Theotokos-the perfect model of a hesychast. Publisher: Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 9607070186 ISBN 978-9607070180
  29. History of Russian Philosophy «История российской Философии »(1951) by N. O. Lossky section on N. O. Lossky's philosophy pg262 "There is another kind of selfishness which violates the hierarchy of values much more: some agents who strive for perfection and the absolute fullness of being and even for the good of the whole world are determined to do it in their own way, so that they should occupy the first place and stand higher than all other beings and even the Lord God himself. Pride is the ruling passion of such beings. They enter into rivalry with God, thinking that they are capable of ordering the world better than its Creator. Pursuing an impossible aim, they suffer defeat at every step and begin to hate God. This is what Satan does. Selfishness separates us from God in so far as we put before us purposes incompatible with God's will that the world should be perfect. In the same way selfishness separates an agent in a greater or lesser degree from other agents: his aims and actions cannot be harmonized with the actions of other beings and often lead to hostility and mutual opposition.
  30. V Lossky Vision of God pg 123 "Knowledge is limited to what exists: now, as the cause of all being(The Divine Names, I, 1, col.588) or rather He is superior to all oppositions between being and non-being.
  31. This means that it is only when a person is within the revelation, as all the saints lived, that he can grasp this understanding completely (see theoria). The second presupposition is that mankind has and is composed of nous, word and spirit like the trinitarian mode of being. Man's nous, word and spirit are not hypostases or individual existences or realities, but activities or energies of the soul. Were as in the case with God or the Persons of the Holy Trinity each are indeed hypostases. So these three components of each individual man are `inseparable from one another' but they do not have a personal character" when in speaking of the being that is mankind. The nous as the eye of the soul, which some Fathers also call the heart, is the center of man and is where true (spiritual) knowledge is validated. This is seen as true knowledge which is "implanted in the nous as always co-existing with it".Orthodox Psychotherapy by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  32. The vision of God
  33. 33.0 33.1 The life of Moses ISBN 9780809121120
  34. Oasis of wisdom ISBN 9780814630341
  35. The vision of God
  36. Byzantine theology ISBN 9780823209675
  37. God's rule ISBN 9780878409105
  38. V Lossky Vision of God pg 123 "Knowledge is limited to what exists: now, as the cause of all being, God does not exist (The Divine Names, I, 1, col.588) or rather He is superior to all oppositions between being and non-being.
  39. The vision of God By V Lossky page 106 page 113
  40. *The Macarian Legacy: The Place of Macarius-Symeon in the Eastern Christian Tradition (Oxford Theological Monographs 2004) by Marcus Plested (ISBN 0199267790)
  41. 41.0 41.1 V Lossky Vision of God pg 162-163
  42. The vision of the uncreated light, which offers knowledge of God to man, is sensory and supra-sensory. The bodily eyes are reshaped, so they see the uncreated light, "this mysterious light, inaccessible, immaterial, uncreated, deifying, eternal", this "radiance of the Divine Nature, this glory of the divinity, this beauty of the heavenly kingdom" (3,1,22;CWS p.80). Palamas asks: "Do you see that light is inaccessible to senses which are not transformed by the Spirit?" (2,3,22). St. Maximus, whose teaching is cited by St. Gregory, says that the Apostles saw the uncreated Light "by a transformation of the activity of their senses, produced in them by the Spirit" (2.3.22). Orthodox Psychotherapy Section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  43. History of Russian Philosophy By N.O. Lossky section on V. Lossky pg 400
  44. Ecstasy comes when, in prayer, the nous abandons every connection with created things: first "with everything evil and bad, then with neutral things" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). Ecstasy is mainly withdrawal from the opinion of the world and the flesh. With sincere prayer the nous "abandons all created things" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). This ecstasy is higher than abstract theology, that is, than rational theology, and it belongs only to those who have attained dispassion. But it is not yet union. That is to say, the ecstasy which is unceasing prayer of the nous, in which one's nous has continuous remembrance of God and has no relation with the `world of sin' is not yet union with God. This union comes about when the Paraclete "illuminates from on high the man who attains in prayer the stage which is superior to the highest natural possibilities and who is awaiting the promise of the Father, and by His revelation ravishes him to the contemplation of the light" (2,3,35;CWS p.65). Illumination by God is what shows His union with man. Orthodox Psychotherapy Section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  45. 45.0 45.1 The Vision of God, SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-19-2)
  46. Value and Existence «Ценность и существование»(1931) by Nikolai Lossky and John S. Marshall published by George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1935 pg 56-61
  47. FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/Diagnosis and Therapy Father John S. Romanides Diagnosis and Therapy [8]
  48. Knowledge of God, as will be explained further on, is not intellectual, but existential. That is, one's whole being is filled with this knowledge of God. But in order to attain it, one's heart must have been purified, that is, the soul, nous and heart must have been healed. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt.5,8). [9] Orthodox Psychotherapy Section The Knowledge of God according to St. Gregory Palamas by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005) ISBN 978-9607070272
  49. From Glory to Glory: Texts from Gregory of Nyssa's Mystical Writings Publisher: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press ISBN 0913836540 ISBN 978-0913836545
  50. At the heart of Barlaam’s teaching is the significant idea that God cannot truly be perceived by man; that God the Transcendent can never be wholly known by man the created and finite. [10]
  51. FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE Part 2
  52. FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/EMPIRICAL THEOLOGY VERSUS SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY Father John S. Romanides [11] And, indeed, the Franks believed that the prophets and apostles did not see God himself, except possibly with the exception of Moses and Paul. What the prophets and apostles allegedly did see and hear were phantasmic symbols of God, whose purpose was to pass on concepts about God to human reason. Whereas these symbols passed into and out of existence, the human nature of Christ is a permanent reality and the best conveyor of concepts about God.
  53. "Paradise and Hell are an energy of the uncreated grace of God, as men experience it, and therefore they are uncreated. According to the holy Fathers of the Church, there is not an uncreated Paradise and a created Hell, as the Franco-Latin tradition teaches". [12]
  54. FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/EMPIRICAL THEOLOGY VERSUS SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY Father John S. Romanides [13] A basic characteristic of the Frankish scholastic method, mislead by Augustinian Platonism and Thomistic Aristotelianism, had been its naive confidence in the objective existence of things rationally speculated about. By following Augustine, the Franks substituted the patristic concern for spiritual observation, (which they had found firmly established in Gaul when they first conquered the area) with a fascination for metaphysics. They did not suspect that such speculations had foundations neither in created nor in spiritual reality. No one would today accept as true what is not empirically observable, or at least verifiable by inference, from an attested effect. So it is with patristic theology. Dialectical speculation about God and the Incarnation as such are rejected. Only those things which can be tested by the experience of the grace of God in the heart are to be accepted. "Be not carried about by divers and strange teachings. For it is good that the heart be confirmed by grace," a passage from Hebrews 13.9, quoted by the Fathers to this effect.
  55. "While pointing this out, this writer has never raised the question about the sainthood of Augustine. He himself believed himself to be fully Orthodox and repeatedly asked to be corrected" [14]
  56. Gregory’s (Palamas) view should not be seen to undermine a positive view of philosophical thought as a whole, which was a continual accusation made by Barlaam. Taken as a tool for the progression of the human person towards a state receptive to divine grace, Gregory saw philosophy and discursive knowledge as a perfectly reasonable set of aids for the Christian. It was only when philosophy, whose created end is the furtherance of knowledge of God, was misused by the philosophers and turned, in effect, into God, that Gregory raised his voice in ardent opposition.[15]
  57. The Franks, following Augustine, believed that the punished will not see God and therefore they considered the fire of Hell to be created. Dante's Hell and the descriptions of the punished are well known. Thus the Franks imagined the world to be three-storeyed, consisting of the unchanging heaven for the fortunate, a changing earth for the testing of men and a changeable underworld for those being punished and purified. Another consequence of this view is the teaching of the Franks about the purifying fire23.[16]
  58. "Paradise and Hell exist not in the form of a threat and a punishment on the part of God but in the form of an illness and a cure. Those who are cured and those who are purified experience the illuminating energy of divine grace, while the uncured and ill experience the caustic energy of God."[17]
  59. "Those who have selfless love and are friends of God see God in light - divine light, while the selfish and impure see God the judge as fire - darkness". [18]
  60. Proper preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the noetic faculty. Without this, it is impossible for man's selfish love to be transformed into selfless love. This transformation takes place during the higher level of the stage of illumination called theoria, literally meaning vision-in this case vision by means of unceasing and uninterrupted memory of God. Those who remain selfish and self-centered with a hardened heart, closed to God's love, will not see the glory of God in this life. However, they will see God's glory eventually, but as an eternal and consuming fire and outer darkness. From FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE/Diagnosis and Therapy Father John S. Romanides Diagnosis and Therapy [19]

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