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Author Topic: Is Hesychasm a Post-Schism Greek 'Innovation'?  (Read 5580 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: January 10, 2010, 07:35:33 PM »

Do any of the Church father's refer to earlier form of Jewish mysticism (pre-Kabbalah) in effort to defend Hesychastic practices?
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« Reply #46 on: January 10, 2010, 09:43:44 PM »

Do any of the Church father's refer to earlier form of Jewish mysticism (pre-Kabbalah) in effort to defend Hesychastic practices?
No.  They refer to the Apostles.
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« Reply #47 on: January 10, 2010, 10:28:34 PM »

Do any of the Church father's refer to earlier form of Jewish mysticism (pre-Kabbalah) in effort to defend Hesychastic practices?
No.  They refer to the Apostles.

I am referring to specific body positions, meditative and breathing techniques, etc. From where did these practices originate? If from the apostles, do we have any written record of such?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 10:30:19 PM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #48 on: January 10, 2010, 10:49:43 PM »

Origin:  Indulgences, Temporal Punishment, Purgatory, etc

-- Nebelpfade


And herein lies the problem. The Latin Church has chained their faithful to many post schism doctrinal innovations that were not taught by the holy fathers.

Is hesychasm a post-schism Greek innovation?

I could be wrong, but I thought it went back to the 6th century. If so, then that's 5 centuries before the Great Schism.



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« Reply #49 on: January 10, 2010, 11:08:22 PM »

I don't think this is an appropriate way to talk about a doctrine of the Church for starters. Holy doctrine is life with God, entrance in to paradise. To call it a steamy plate is too flip.

I was using an analogy.  I meant to show that I meant the final product; the way the dish is presently served to religious customers looking to become Orthodox and order some hesychastic prayer off the menu.  Such a person will be taught certain techniques, certain things to say (Lord Jesus Christ...), certain ways to breathe, and certain ways to position oneself.  It does seem like all of this package was in place prior to the schism and Catholic in its nature (the completed form I am talking about).  There's nothing wrong with it, but it is a developed practice.

You know what, in my own mind, I just drew the difference between East and West on this, so I'm going to agree and bow out; stop arguing my position.  This is a difference in praxis.  Just like the sign of the cross is made differently, I assume that these prayer techniques utilized in Hesycastic practices are not dogmatic, like breathing and posture.  I'm sure there's no written rule that one must pray in such a way, as to where in the West the developments are things that one must believe.  I don't know though.  As I haven't read any of these councils myself and am basing everything on second hand information, it seems fruitless for me to keep arguing in the abstract. 

Thanks for all of the responses; it seems like good meat to chew on.

Except for Mickey's responses.

When did  Saint Symeon the New Theologian live? Was it pre or post schism?




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« Reply #50 on: January 11, 2010, 12:52:48 AM »

He died twenty some years before the official date of the great schism.
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« Reply #51 on: January 11, 2010, 01:42:25 AM »

Hey, my old thread's making a cameo!  Play nice kiddos!  police
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« Reply #52 on: January 11, 2010, 01:59:33 AM »

Yes, I thought it was time to disturb the hesychia of this thread.  Cheesy
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« Reply #53 on: December 06, 2012, 03:48:46 PM »

Of course not.

But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.(Matt 6:6)

I'm pretty sure there that hesychasm is not summarized in that verse.  Where is the use of stillness/quiet/silence/hesychia?

Even if it was there, that is not a proof text that qualifies all of the meditation techniques involved as being distinctly apostolic in origin.  Do the Orientals practice hesychasm?  Nope.  Do the Latins?  Nope.  Do the Nestorians?  Nope.  Any Protestants?  Nope.  Well, it looks like it's just the Byzantines on this one, kids.  If the practice had existed since early apostolic times, then it would be in more than one geographically isolated communion.  Hell, do the Arab Orthodox in the Greek tradition practice it?  I don't even think I've come across anything showing that they do.  Maybe they do, but that wouldn't change anything.

You are getting so huffy and snarly about "post-schism innovations", and it's a real bore.  Hesychasm as the specific discipline that currently exists developed in the East after the schism.  Sure, there are plenty of precursors to it in Eastern patristics leading up to the schism, but there was no uniform practice that was Catholic in nature.  The Latins had their own Western Fathers who's ideas gradually developed into purgatory, the natural extrapolation of their isolated trajectory.  I consider hesychasm to be the Eastern equivalent to doctrinal developments like purgatory, the immaculate conception and Papal infallibility.  

The term 'innovations' takes on an accusatory tone.  "Oh, those Catholics, changing the faith with their innovations.  Well, not us!  We haven't had any theological developments since the schism!  There's nothing innovative about hesychasm!  True-Church-Bot; ascend!"

Perhaps a fair distinction to make is that hesychasm is not dogmatic as far as I know.  The energies/essence distinction is, but as far as the whole 'hesychast way', I don't think anyone is actually dogmatically required to pray in that way.  Some of the developments in the West are theological in nature, and dogmatic to boot.

But it seems like on both sides both parties are making the same case: That the belief that was clarified post-schism had always existed pre-schism; purgatory or hesychasm.  And in a way, both are right in their respective theological spheres.  Prototypical thoughts seemed to have been floating around, the ideas were just later synthesized and codified.  They had always been to some degree a part of the faith, they were just never sufficiently outlined in cooperation before the split.

I'm going to state my opinion as a non-orthodox. I think it's fairly certain that when some Orthodox INSIST on interpreting Christ's words in Mathew 6:6 as refering to some mystical inward practice of apophatic prayer, they distort the obvious and simple meaning of the text and ignore the context entirely. What was Jesus talking about before this? Hypocrites
who love to pray "standing in the synagogs and in the corners of the street to be seen of men". And what did he say the Christian was to do? To pray in private. Not that you CAN'T pray in public, but what he meant was simply to avoid doing things to win approval from men rather than God. It is that simple.

I'll be blunt: I agree with you in that Hesychasm as it is practiced today is an innovation. It was not practiced or taught by the apostles or earliest Fathers of the Church. It may be a helpful tool for some, but to teach it as a necessary thing for spiritual life and 'theosis' to distort the truth and add to the teachings of the apostles: clearly the early saints got along just fine without it. And to state that it was taught by the apostles is simply a historically and factually baseless attempt to justify a highly questionable practice and the highly questionable and apparently skewed theological system that has developed around it by retroactively patching it into the historic foundations of the Church. Such patchwork cannot stand.

What is actual prayer? Look at examples of prayer in the Bible. Look at the Lords Prayer given just a little later on in the same passage... Prayer is simply speaking with God, glorifying Him, thanking Him, petitioning Him, interceding for others, and so forth. using integrable words and thoughts. Prayer in not a negation of thought, but an affirmation of thought.

Endless repetitions of a single thought or string of words, encouraging ones mind to ceaselessly focus on that one single phrase...it doesn't surprise me that people who view prayer in this way think they have mystical experiences of uncreated light and so forth. Self hypnosis will do that. Wink      
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« Reply #54 on: December 06, 2012, 04:54:21 PM »

it doesn't surprise me that people who view prayer in this way think they have mystical experiences of uncreated light and so forth. Self hypnosis will do that. Wink      
Have you self-hypnotized yourself and experienced the uncreated light?
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« Reply #55 on: December 06, 2012, 04:59:36 PM »

Endless repetitions of a single thought or string of words, encouraging ones mind to ceaselessly focus on that one single phrase...it doesn't surprise me that people who view prayer in this way think they have mystical experiences of uncreated light and so forth. Self hypnosis will do that. Wink      

 Sad
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« Reply #56 on: December 07, 2012, 04:41:02 PM »

I think perhaps I was too harsh (narrow-minded) in the way I voiced my skepticism. I'm drawn to orthodoxy in many ways and on many grounds, but I'm not very keen on mystical practices. I had a very enlightening conversation with an Orthodox priest on the topic of Hesychasm and I feel I understand the point a bit better. I can't speak against it, as it is a spiritual practice that I haven't experienced, and therefore probably misunderstand. My apologies for the harsh language. I wrote that on a day when my skepticism got the better of me and produced some frustration. But I shouldn't belittle anything that enables a man to advance in holiness and draw close to God, if indeed it does. I will simply have to continue seeking and not allow myself to be overly-perplexed by things I don't understand. 
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« Reply #57 on: December 07, 2012, 07:03:47 PM »

I think perhaps I was too harsh (narrow-minded) in the way I voiced my skepticism. I'm drawn to orthodoxy in many ways and on many grounds, but I'm not very keen on mystical practices. I had a very enlightening conversation with an Orthodox priest on the topic of Hesychasm and I feel I understand the point a bit better. I can't speak against it, as it is a spiritual practice that I haven't experienced, and therefore probably misunderstand. My apologies for the harsh language. I wrote that on a day when my skepticism got the better of me and produced some frustration. But I shouldn't belittle anything that enables a man to advance in holiness and draw close to God, if indeed it does. I will simply have to continue seeking and not allow myself to be overly-perplexed by things I don't understand. 

Good to hear.  Smiley
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« Reply #58 on: December 07, 2012, 07:37:41 PM »

I think perhaps I was too harsh (narrow-minded) in the way I voiced my skepticism. I'm drawn to orthodoxy in many ways and on many grounds, but I'm not very keen on mystical practices. I had a very enlightening conversation with an Orthodox priest on the topic of Hesychasm and I feel I understand the point a bit better. I can't speak against it, as it is a spiritual practice that I haven't experienced, and therefore probably misunderstand. My apologies for the harsh language. I wrote that on a day when my skepticism got the better of me and produced some frustration. But I shouldn't belittle anything that enables a man to advance in holiness and draw close to God, if indeed it does. I will simply have to continue seeking and not allow myself to be overly-perplexed by things I don't understand. 

Good to hear.  Smiley

Yes, thank you Armchair!
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