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Old 10-15-10   #2
mr cheese
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: about 9 hours from Sweden by Boeng 747
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Default 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...

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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)
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"But what, according to you, is a true philosopher?" he asked.

"He," I answered, "who loves to contemplate truth…who is able to arrive at whatever remains ever constant. He who is capable of seeing the Whole is a philosopher; he who is not, is not."

Plato (Republic, V, 475; VI, 481-485)

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