Hesychasm

From OrthodoxWiki
Revision as of 12:41, March 19, 2008 by Magda (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search
This article forms part of the series
Orthodox Spirituality
Holy Mysteries
Baptism - Chrismation
Eucharist - Confession
Marriage - Ordination
Holy Unction
Three Stages
Catharsis/Purification
Theoria/Illumination
Theosis/Divinization
Hesychasm
Nepsis - Metanoia
Hesychia - Phronema
Mysticism - Nous
Asceticism
Chastity - Obedience
Stability - Fasting
Poverty - Monasticism
Virtues
Humility - Generosity
Chastity - Meekness
Temperance - Contentment
Diligence
Prayer
Worship - Veneration
Prayer Rule - Jesus Prayer
Relics - Sign of the Cross
Church Fathers
Apostolic Fathers
Desert Fathers
Cappadocians
The Philokalia
The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Edit this box

Hesychasm is a mystical tradition of experiential prayer in the Orthodox Church. It is described in great detail in the Philokalia, a compilation of what various saints wrote about prayer and the spiritual life.

Contents

The Hesychastic prayer

In practice, the Hesychastic prayer bears some superficial resemblance to mystical prayer or meditation in Eastern religions (e.g., Buddhism and Hinduism, especially Yoga), although this similarity is often overly emphasized in popular accounts.

For example, it may involve specific body postures and be accompanied by very deliberate breathing patterns. It involves acquiring an inner stillness, ignoring the physical senses. The hesychasts interpreted Christ's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew to "go into your closet to pray" to mean that they should ignore sensory input and withdraw inwards to pray. It often includes many repetitions of the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me[, a sinner].". While some might compare it with a mantra, to use the Jesus Prayer in such a fashion is to violate its purpose. One is never to treat it as a string of syllables for which the "surface" meaning is secondary. Likewise, hollow repetition is considered to be worthless (or even spiritually damaging) in the hesychast tradition.

Saint Theophan the Recluse once related that body postures and breathing techniques were virtually forbidden in his youth, since, instead of gaining the Spirit of God, people succeeded only "in ruining their lungs."

Gregory Palamas: Defender of Hesychasm

Hesychasm was defended theologically by Gregory Palamas at about three separate Hesychast Synods in Constantinople from 1341 to 1351; he was asked to by his fellow monks on Mt. Athos to defend it from the attacks of Barlaam of Calabria, who advocated a more intellectualist approach to prayer.

Some words from St. John Climacus

From Step 6 - On Remembrance of Death in The Ladder of Divine Ascent:

Every word is preceded by thought. And the remembrance of death and sins precedes weeping and mourning.
Not every desire for death is good. Some, constantly sinning from force of habit, pray for death with humility. And some, who do not want to repent, invoke death out of despair. And some, out of self-esteem consider themselves dispassionate, and for a while have no fear of death. And some (if such can now be found), through the action of the Holy Spirit, ask for their departure.
Some inquire and wonder: “Why, when the remembrance of death is so beneficial to us, has God hidden from us the knowledge of the hour of death?” – not knowing that in this way God wonderfully accomplishes our salvation. For no one who foreknew his death would at once proceed to baptism or the monastic life; but everyone would spend all his days in iniquities, and only on the day of his death, would he approach baptism and repentance. From long habit, he would become confirmed in vice, and would remain utterly incorrigible.
And I cannot be silent about the story of Hesychius the Horebite. He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul. Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he expired. And when he came to himself, he begged us all to leave him immediately. And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water. And, always remaining motionless, he was so rapt in spirit at what he had seen in his ecstasy, that he never changed this manner of life but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears. But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions, this alone was all we heard from him: "Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin." We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transfigured by this blessed change and transformation. We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort, and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not find them. So by Hesychius's true and praiseworthy repentance, the Lord showed us that He accepts those who desire to amend, even after long negligence.


This article or section is a stub (i.e., in need of additional material). You can help OrthodoxWiki by expanding it.


See also

External links

References

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Navigation
interaction
Donate

Please consider supporting OrthodoxWiki. FAQs

Toolbox
In other languages