Mitrofan Vasilyevich Lodyzhensky

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Mitrofan Vasilyevich Lodyzhensky[note 1] ((Russian)

Митрофа́н Васи́льевич Лоды́женский), in some sources Ladyzhensky ((Russian)
Лады́женский),[1] February 27 [O.S. February 15] 1852 – May 31 [O.S. May 18] 1917, was a Russian religious philosopher, playwright, and statesman, best known for his Mystical Trilogy, comprising: Super-consciousness and the Ways to Achieve It; Light Invisible; and Dark Force.


Lodyzhensky was born on February 15, 1852 near Tula, Russia, and he was the son of Vasily Vasilyevich and Olga Alekseyevna Lodyzhensky. Descended from a long line of Russian nobility, he was the distant relative of composer Nikolai Lodyzhensky. He had a religious upbringing, and most of his immediate family—his father, mother, and three of his four sisters—all became monastics.[2]

In 1873, Lodyzhensky graduated from the St. Petersburg Agricultural Institute. He served as a senior forester with the new Forestry Department of Vologda Governorate. In Tula, he was a land captain (overseer) of the Chernsky District. In 1881, he married his wife Olga Pavlovna (or Aleksandrovna according to some sources), which resulted in a happy marriage of over thirty years.[3]

Lodyzhensky rose through the ranks of the Forestry Department, becoming its head from 1884–1886. He then consecutively served as lieutenant governor of several regions: Semipalatinsk (1896–1898),[2] Vitebsk, and Mogilev.[4] Through his years of public service, Lodyzhensky eventually reached the rank of state counsellor and was awarded with the Order of St. Vladimir (3rd and 4th class), the Order of St. Stanislaus (2nd and 3rd class), and the Order of St. Anna (3rd class).[5]

Nevertheless, he always had financial difficulties and was forced to apply for a pension from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.[3] After retirement, he and his wife traveled the world, going to India, Egypt,[6] and Japan.[7] He also took up literary work, writing several plays — Iz novenkikh (Brand New) and Lozhny vzglyad (False View) — which performed well at the Russian Dramatic Theatre in Moscow.[3]

Mysticism and Esotericism

Lodyzhensky’s main interest, however, was in mysticism and esotericism, especially Theosophy. He was a member and secretary of the Russian Theosophical Society, and friends with the esotericist P.D. Ouspensky. Like Helena Blavatsky, Lev Tikhomirov, and other contemporary thinkers, he attempted to synthesize philosophy, religion, and mysticism into a unified way of life.

He was familiar with the Hindu yogic tradition, drawing a parallel between it and Eastern Orthodox mysticism with the implicit belief that they were essentially the same. At a November 1909 meeting of the St. Petersburg Religious-Philosophical Society dedicated to Theosophy, Lodyzhensky declared, “It is possible to be a true Christian and a true Theosophist.” However, he later became convinced of the inherent incompatibility of Theosophy with Christianity, and reaffirmed his Russian Orthodox faith.[8]

Magnum Opus

His magnum opus, the Mystical Trilogy, which examines the differences between Eastern Orthodoxy and other mystical traditions, reflects this shift in views.[3] The books were well-received. In their reviews of Light Invisible, Bishop Nikon (Bessonov) of Yenisei-Krasnoyarsk highly recommended it,[3] and Sergei Glagolev of the Moscow Theological Academy (despite some reservations) states that Lodyzhensky “simply, clearly, and convincingly established the apologetical significance of mystical phenomena from an Orthodox perspective.”[9]

Later Life

In the summer of 1910, Lodyzhensky and his wife Olga stayed in the village of Basovo, which was located only a few miles from Yasnaya Polyana, the estate of the writer Leo Tolstoy. The Lodyzhenskys called upon Tolstoy in late July. The composer Alexander Goldenweiser, one of Tolstoy’s close friends, refers to Lodyzhensky as “very loud and talkative,”[7] and Sofia Tolstoy, the author’s wife, describes the Lodyzhenskys as “interesting, lively people.”[6] Lodyzhensky and Tolstoy spoke about yoga, hypnotism, Theosophy, and Christian asceticism, introducing him to the Philokalia, one of the principal collections of spiritual texts for the Eastern Orthodox Church. A few days later, Tolstoy visited Lodyzhensky to continue the discussion on the Philokalia. This was their last meeting; Tolstoy died not long afterward.[note 2]

In his later years, Lodyzhensky continued to write, collaborating with the St. Petersburg journal Veshnie vody (Spring Waters) and publishing his last work, Nevidimye volny (Invisible Waves), in 1917.[3]

Lodyzhensky died on May 18, 1917. He is buried with his wife Olga at the cemetery of the now-defunct Dormition Convent in Tula.[10]

Published Works

  • (1906) Sverkhsoznanie i puti k ego dostizheniyu (Сверхсознание и пути к его достижению)
(Super-consciousness and the Ways to Achieve It)
  • (1911) Indusskaya Radzha-Ioga i khristianskoe podvizhnichestvo (Индусская Раджа-Йога и христианское подвижничество)
(Hindu Rāja Yoga and Christian Asceticism)
  • (1912) Svet nezrimyi (Свет Незримый)
English translation: Light Invisible: Satisfying the Thirst for Happiness (2011, Holy Trinity Publications. ISBN 9780884651871)
("Printed with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia."[11])
  • (1914) Temnaya sila (Темная сила)
(Dark Force)
  • (1916) Vragi Khristianstva (Враги Христианства)
(The Enemies of Christianity)
  • (1917) Nevidimye volny. Povest v pyati chasyakh. (Невидимые волны. Повесть в пяти частях.)
(Invisible Waves: A Story in Five Parts)


  1. Also romanized as Lodyzhenskii or Lodizhensky.
  2. For Lodyzhensky’s account of his interactions with Tolstoy, see Light Invisible, pp. 157ff.


  1. (Russian) Ermichev, A. A. (2007). Religiozno-filosofskoe obshchestvo v Peterburge (1907–1917): khronika zasedanii. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University. p. 261. ISBN 9785288044076.
  2. 2.0 2.1 (Russian) M. and S. Sabashnikov, (Eds.), (1928). Tolstoi i Turgenev: Perepiska. pp. 96–97.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 (Russian) Epopkina, O. I. "Ladyzhensky Mitrofan Vasilyevich". Tulsky kraevedchesky almanakh. (3rd ed.). pp. 107–113. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  4. (Russian) Yu. I. Gerasimov, et al., Ed. (1963). Lichnye arkhivnye fondy v gosudarstvennykh khranilishchakh SSSR. Moscow. p. 385.
  5. (Russian) "Putevoditel po fondam Gosudarstvennogo arkhiva Tulskoi oblasti". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tolstoy, Sofia (2010). Cathy Porter, (Eds.). The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy. (1st ed.). New York: HarperCollins. p. 381. ISBN 9780062029362. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Goldenweiser, Alexander (1923). Vblizi Tolstogo. Moscow: “Kooperat. izdatelstva”. pp. 185–188.
  8. (Russian) Kuraev, Andrei (2000). Kto poslal Blavatskuyu? Teosofiya, Rerikhi i pravoslavie. Moscow: Troitskoe slovo.
  9. Lodyzhenskii, M. V. (2011). Light Invisible: Satisfying the Thirst for Happiness. Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Publications. p. 199. ISBN 9780884651871.
  10. (Russian) "Preobrazhenskaya tserkov (khram byvshego Uspenskogo zhenskogo monastyrya)". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  11. Lodyzhenskii, M. V. (2011). Light Invisible: Satisfying the Thirst for Happiness. Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Publications. p. iv. ISBN 9780884651871.