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Oazaki 10-15-10 08:05 AM

The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury
From wikipedia:

"He is also to use an extremely directed and controlled anger against the tempting thoughts"

It's basically the tradition I used to get in touch with the overseeing deity of modern Western culture. Though I did receive some basic tuition from my uncle - who was a Hesychast monk on Mount Athos - I then later developed and applied the techniques myself. It is, after all, a solitary enough practice...

What interests me here as a topic for debate is the personal usage of controlled anger to produce, or contribute, to spiritual progress. Anger in most traditions is not viewed as a benevolent force or emotion, nor one which is or should be used by spiritual practitioners. Yet it is employed for precisely those purposes within the Greek Orthodox monastic tradition.

From my experience of it, it is also a dark anger: a controlled fury which 'rises up in you and comes from the heart', controlled by Spirit yet wielded by YOU as a consciousnesses. It's strength comes from darkness, however, and its validity is the use to which you put it: you make it serve your will in the quest for the descent and application of The Light.

In ancient Greek thought, this was known as the masculine virtue of thumos. It is viewed as necessary, contrary to the position taken by Buddhism, for example. You need to get angry at times - when the situation warrants it - and you need to wield that anger in a controlled though not a creative manner. Doing so results in the attainment of the Light, or, if used later on, assists in the application of that Light (which we may call God) to the conditions and circumstances of the physical world.

So. Do you think anger has a place in Spiritual practice? And is that place one where it serves a higher will, or purpose?

all the best,

mr cheese 10-15-10 08:47 AM

Re: The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury
Anger...perhaps one of the greatest obastacles a seeker must overcome. Anger can of course be righteous, yes... when we see an injustice..or somethign simply wrong.... (although right and wrong can be tricky also). Righteous anger can guide us and help us to understand...for example: animal cruelty...

However I would tend to agree with the Buddhists, one should remain calm at all times...


Russian mysticism is predominantly monastic (though one meets an occasional exception like the modern non-monastic mystics, Father John of Kronstadt-recently canonized by the Orthodox Church-and Father Yelchaninov). It there­fore thrives in solitude and renunciation of the world. Yet anyone who has even the most superficial acquaintance with Russian Christendom is aware that the monasteries of Russia, even more than those of the West, exercised a crucially im­portant influence on society, whether as centers of spiritual life and transformation to which pilgrims flocked from everyw­here, or as bases for missionary expansion, or, finally, as pow­erful social forces sometimes manipulated-or suppressed‑for political advantage. Such struggles as those between St. Nilus of Sora.and St. Joseph of Volokolamsk speak eloquently E the age-old conflict, within monasticism itself, between the iarismatic drive to solitary contemplation plus charismatic pastoral action, and the institutional need to fit the monastic community into a structure of organized socio-religious power, as a center of liturgy and education and as a nursery of bishops.

Other conflicts, such as that between Eastern Orthodox spirituality and Westernizing influences, play an important part in the lives of the monks and mystics of Russia. Many students of Russian spirituality will be surprised to learn what a great part Western theological attitudes and devotions played in the formation of St. Tikhon in the eighteenth cen­tury. The seminary which Tikhon attended was organized on the Jesuit pattern and yet he was not influenced by post­Tridentine Catholic thought. Dr. Bolshakoff identifies him rather with German pietism. In any case, we must not be too quick to assume that St. Tikhon’s spirituality is purely and ideally “Russian.” Yet, paradoxically, this combination of Western and Eastern holiness is a peculiarly Russian phe­nomenon. St. Tikhon was perhaps the greatest mystic of the age of rationalist enlightenment.

Russian mysticism is to be traced largely to the greatest mo­nastic center of Orthodox mysticism, Mount Athos. Ever since the eleventh century the Russian monastic movement had been nourished by direct contact with the “Holy Moun­tain”-interrupted only by the Tatar invasions of the Mid­dle Ages. Liturgy, asceticism, and mysticism in Russia owed their development in great part not to literary documents but to the living experience of pilgrim monks who spent a certain time at Athos, either in the “Rossikon” (the Russian monas­tery of St. Panteleimon) or in various sketes and cells, before returning to found new monasteries or renew the life of old ones in their country. Periods when, for one reason or an­other, communication with Athos has diminished have also been periods of monastic decline in Russia.

One of the characteristic fruits of Russian monachism on Athos is the “Prayer of Jesus,” the constant repetition of a short formula in conjunction with rhythmic breathing and with deep faith in the supernatural power of the Holy Name. This was a Russian development of the Greek Hesychast way of prayer taught by St. Gregory Palamas. The “Prayer of Je­sus” became the normal way of contemplative prayer in Rus­sian monasticism, but, more important still, it was adopted on all sides by devout lay people, especially among the masses of the poor peasantry.

Until recently, Western theologians were highly suspicious of Athonite “Hesychasm” and regarded it as perilous, even heretical. Deeper study and a wider acquaintance with non­ Western forms of spirituality have made Hesychasm seem a little less outlandish. It is now no longer necessary to repeat the outraged platitudes of those who thought that the Hesychasts were practicing self-hypnosis, or who believed that, at best, the monks of Athos were engaged in a kind of Western Yoga.

The “Prayer of Jesus,” made known to Western readers by the “Tale of the Pilgrim,” surely one of the great classics of the literature of prayer, is now practiced not only by charac­ters in Salinger’s novels but even at times by some Western monks. Needless to say, a way of prayer for which, in its land of origin, the direction of a “starets” was mandatory, is not safely to be followed by us in the West without professional direction.

–Thomas Merton (Mystics and Zen Masters)

Oazaki 10-15-10 10:15 AM

Re: The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury

Originally Posted by mr cheese (Post 206133)
Anger...perhaps one of the greatest obastacles a seeker must overcome. Anger can of course be righteous, yes... when we see an injustice..or somethign simply wrong.... (although right and wrong can be tricky also). Righteous anger can guide us and help us to understand...for example: animal cruelty...

However I would tend to agree with the Buddhists, one should remain calm at all times...

I'd agree with a still, detached centre which you do everything you can to prevent emotions penetrating to. The control hub if you like. But, from there, the palette of emotions can be applied and experienced... or simply felt even.

The use of anger is entirely different from being controlled by anger, being moved by it.

It is a tricky distinction, yes, especially if you are engaging in action at the same time as being furious, or angry. The key difference is that you decide what action to take, calmly and rationally, from the still, detached, meditative and contemplative centre.

As for discerning what is right and what is wrong I agree that this is the most difficult thing to decide in many if not most instances. Ethics is the hardest part of philosophy, life, rulership and any other science imo...

all the best,

The Black Elf 10-16-10 08:45 AM

Re: The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury
I learned to be very still when sitting among top predators,which can produce great clarity of thought so anything is possible.

I had never previously heard of the Hesychast monk on Mount Athos,are they or is the order associated with a *colour*(such as black or Grey ? or another? )

I love the roots of Orthadoxy & you are doing a great thing by pulling the fragmented pieces back together after over a millenia of persecution as they fractured.

I know that the Greek Islands & otherplaces have monasteries built in divine proportion whose SOLE purpose is to confer one degree,can you tell us more of Mount Athos?

Emperor Napolean was a big fan of a Scottish Order known as *the Cluney or Cluny*,they were black monks/a black order,for instance.

I will absorb a lot of energy from the OP.:)

Oazaki 11-20-16 09:55 AM

Re: The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury
The practice of hesychasm results in the development of a modality of thought and perception which is distinct from ordinary rational thought (for fans of the oriental approach Musashi references this as "The state of direct penetration" in the Book of Five Rings). It is not irrationality nor intuition but something else entirely. Rather than putting together axioms, or even sets of observations, and then deducing some specific implications regarding the whole from that this modality of thought looks at the whole and how the individual specific instance under consideration fits into that much larger picture.

Hesychasm, literally the practice of inner stillness, has a lineage extending back to Ancient Greece within the Western tradition (though also identifiable as the main technique across cultures and traditions). More specifically, within the Western tradition, we can trace it back to the work of Parmenides and Empedocles. To enable others to look into this side of hesychasm more easily, I will reference the work of classical scholar Peter Kingsley in the field, who has done the clearest translations and published the best explanations currently available.

Both Parmenides and Empedocles point to one particular quality which they say is developed in the practitioner as a result of his practice of hesychia: metis. This is “a particular quality of intense awareness that always manages to stay focused on the whole,” ("Reality" by Peter Kingsley, 2003, p90) though it also has implications of cunning and practical intelligence to it. In other words, far from making the practitioner less able to interact effectively with the world (as being irrational would do) the practice of hesychia actually makes him more capable of doing so. This stands in distinction to the general masses who are “incapable of discriminating” and remain at the mercy of the fortunes of life, like “akrita phula”, leaves blown in the wind (Parmenides trans. Kingsley, 2003, p 95). Even more particularly, both authors distinguish this world as deceptive, and life’s path through it as subject to more deception still, and single out this quality of metis as the best recourse available to steer one’s way effectively through the maelstrom (Kingsley, 2003, eg pp 207, 380‐381). It is not, however, rationality as such nor a particular quality of rationality which may be developed through the exercise of rationality (Kingsley, 2003)

Through the development of metis, then, the practitioner comes to recognise the unity of all the cosmos and the individual soul’s role in it (Kingsley, 2003, p 121) and, through doing so, recognizes that the cosmos is perceiving itself through him (Kingsley, 2003, pp 186‐187). This enables him to participate in the motion of the consciousness of the cosmos and:

"Then, instead of being caught somewhere along the circle like an animal in a cage, we stop being a victim of reality and become the cage". (Kingsley, 2003, p185)

This, in turn, enables the practitioner to somehow participate in a relevant and meaningful manner in the still, eternal present where reality is continually being decided, moment by moment (Kingsley, 2003, p169).

This is definitely not ordinary rational thought we are talking about here. However, due to its provenance (the founder within Western tradition of both rationalism and logic) it is more than a little problematic to dismiss it as simply illogical or irrational. Rather, it is something else, something much neglected and even maligned in modernity. However, if it really does have the power and validity ascribed to it by the ancient authors then it may yet prevail...

All the best,

Oazaki 11-20-16 10:05 AM

Re: The Hesychastic tradition and the use of (dark) Fury

"Then, instead of being caught somewhere along the circle like an animal in a cage, we stop being a victim of reality and become the cage". (Kingsley, 2003, p185)
In other words, life on Earth is conditioned and unfree - at least partly because humanity must evolve their consciousness according to specific symbolic combinations through the progress of time.

However, this is not just imposed on humanity. Rather, some humans do participate in the interpretation given to events and so the harmonic calibration according to which their expression and subsequent resolutions coalesce into material reality. This, in turn, is the value and power of Truth: for example, what is happiness, or freedom, or success? What is suffering? What is health? How is it produced? Or, to return to this thread's title, what is sakki and how is it targeted on a group level?

All the best,

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