Author Topic: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question  (Read 1124 times)

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Offline Zephyr7

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Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK? Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!






Offline Agabus

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2019, 12:23:41 PM »
In short, intention is everything.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

I haven't read the book in question -- and likely never will -- but I'm going to grant it the good faith that he accurately describes what he knew of TM at the time of publication.

When you pray, prostrate, burn incense, etc., are you doing it to enter into a TM state, or are you doing it as an act of worship to Christ?
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline PorphyriosK

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2019, 12:34:49 PM »
Yeah, when you approach icons in humility and prayer it's different than trying to achieve some exalted or altered consciousness.

Great book.

Offline isxodnik

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2019, 01:05:32 PM »
Let's put things in their place )) Devil is monkey of God.  And it is a pagan religious practices superficially similar to Christian.
Meditation, or the search for pleasure in prayer, is the death of the soul. I don't remember, what father Seraphim writing on a theme of prayers, perhaps you should move on to more solid fathers to teach prayer.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

Offline Rubricnigel

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2019, 05:34:14 PM »
Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK? Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!

Are you worshipping it?
No.
They are, they worship variois demins they call god, and never ask the important questions.

Seraphim rose will be a saint soon, he is a great author and God blessed him immensely. He's helped so many

Offline Eamonomae

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2019, 10:47:24 PM »
Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK? Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!

Are you worshipping it?
No.
They are, they worship variois demins they call god, and never ask the important questions.

Seraphim rose will be a saint soon, he is a great author and God blessed him immensely. He's helped so many

It isn't that simple; in Jainism, for instance, there is an explicit rejection of deity worship, and their saints (which is what they call them) are venerated only due to the qualities of their life, having achieved Moksha. It seems the same is true in Buddhism, where Buddha is not worshiped, but venerated.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/worship/worship_1.shtml

https://www.buddhanet.net/ans6.htm

Certainly in religions like Hinduism, deities are worshiped and mantras are chanted to invoke magical powers of these deities, but in others, like Jainism and Buddhism, this is rejected as far as I know.

I find it really fascinating that these different religious systems all come to similar debates and schisms with each other; for instance, within Jainism, there was a schism due in large part to debate over the usage of iconography in religious rituals, and in Islam, you have debates about whether the Quran - God's Word, according to them - is uncreated or created.
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Day day day day day day day day day
By now now now now now now
Now now now now now now now now
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Feels the way I do, do do do do" - Wndrwll by Neil Cicierega

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2019, 11:12:07 PM »
In short, intention is everything.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

I haven't read the book in question -- and likely never will -- but I'm going to grant it the good faith that he accurately describes what he knew of TM at the time of publication.

When you pray, prostrate, burn incense, etc., are you doing it to enter into a TM state, or are you doing it as an act of worship to Christ?

Indeed so. And furthermore, we venerate icons, and do not offer them worship, whereas in several of the cult movements Fr. Seraphim Rose describes, guru worship is a standard practice.   

Fr. Seraphim Rose is obviously not condemning the veneration of icons; indeed, for me, the major point of Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future was how the latter was an evil imitation of the former, a counterfeit Christianity in name only, corrupted by syncretic influences taken from Eastern religions which are also by their nature mere shadows of genuine Orthodox worship practices.

Fr. Seraphim Rose also translated an excellent book, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, and that work, if read in tandem with Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, could well clear up any confusion on the part of the OP.

By the way Agabus, although we have an in-joke on OCNet about highly recommending Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, I do personally consider it quite worthy of such a recommendation.  If one wants to look at heresiology from the perspective of presently active cults, and contrast that with the beauty of the Orthodox faith, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, the second edition of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy by Fr. Andrew S. Damick, and The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware form a nice trio; the first explored counterfeit spirituality, the second explains the importance of doctrine, and the third represents a beautiful exposition of Orthodox doctrine.  I think if you were able to find the time to read Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, you would find it edifying.  :)

Offline Eamonomae

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2019, 11:15:17 PM »
Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK? Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!

The truth is, I don't know the answer to this question with absolute certainty; but it's clear that the usage of icons and art in Christian worship started very early on, at least the 3rd century, if not earlier, as not only do we have statuettes of Biblical events that people made (Christ the Good Shepherd, Jonah and the Whale) from the 3rd century, and not only are some of the Catacombs filled with Christian imagery (notably the Catacomb of Priscilla, which started being used in the 2nd century), but Eusebius, throughout his works, tells stories of Christian images with a positive attitude. More than this, ALL of the Churches with Apostolic claims - which go back to the 4th century, when the Churches that exist today started schisming - the Church of the East, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church - all venerate Saints and make images. They also all use incense, despite having been separated theologically for around 1700 years for the Church of the East, 1600 years for the Oriental Orthodox Church, and 1000 years for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

http://projects.leadr.msu.edu/medievalart/exhibits/show/iconographyofchrist/statuetteofthegoodshepherd

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacomb_of_Priscilla

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxbridge/eusebius-and-christian-images/

It seems likely to me that the veneration of Saints and creation of artwork of the Church must have been Apostolic to start that early; it seems unlikely that just within like 110 years or so (assuming the cutoff date of what the Apostles practiced is with Domitian's reign, 96), the entire Church apostatizes and embraces idolatry everywhere. The biggest evidence for me is the Book of Revelation, assuming it's authoritative, most of all, as what is described in Heaven is very liturgical, with incense, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the Martyrs under the Altar (which literally is what the Church does, by placing Saints under the Altar), the Woman giving birth to the Child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron (reference to Virgin Mary and the Church), etc.

The truth is, we cannot know for sure what exactly the Apostles prohibited and allowed on this topic. You can't even use the Bible to solve this question; if you accept the Bible, you must accept the authority of the Church which was already venerating Saints and creating images of the Gospel and Old Testament, as the Church which codified which Scriptures were legitimate were already were doing this (as the Bible was pretty much codified by the 4th century). All we can really go off of are Scriptures which historians know for certain that Paul wrote, which isn't enough to answer the question.

I would much rather trust the 3rd century Church's authority than the authority of people whose churches go back to the 16th century, which is around 1450 years disconnected from what the Apostles practiced.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 11:25:19 PM by Eamonomae »
"Today day day day day day day
Day day day day day day day day day
By now now now now now now
Now now now now now now now now
I don't believe that anybody
Feels the way I do, do do do do" - Wndrwll by Neil Cicierega

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2019, 11:36:20 PM »
Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK?


It is entirely acceptable to venerate icons in the course of Orthodox Christian worship, and indeed such veneration is prescribed for the Eastern Orthodox by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.  Icons are also venerated in Oriental Orthodoxy.

Transcendental meditation is about as far removed from Orthodox veneration of icons and the Orthodox faith, as gambling is from giving alms to the poor.

Quote

Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?


No, in no respect are we engaging in the dangerous, counterfeit spirituality Fr. Seraphim describes.  Indeed, I understood the book you are reading primarily as an expose of how the adversary deceives people through cults that superficially resemble aspects of the Orthodox faith.

Quote

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?


If you are asking whether it is sinful to enjoy transcendental meditation and other related non-Christian or heretical practices (such as certain occult aspects of the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches), the answer is yes, because these are contrary to the worship of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ in spirit and truth.  Conversely, if you are asking if it is sinful to enjoy Orthodox worship in the Orthodox church, the answer is no; God is love, the worship of God entails the experience of this love in the form of divine grace, and this is enjoyment in the purest sense possible.

Quote

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....


Indeed so, and I believe this is one of the two main points Fr. Seraphim sought to make in Orthodoxy and The Religion of the Future.   The other point being to explore specifically how, in the perverse countercultural environment of the era in which that book was written, the ill effects of which are still with us, religious syncretism and the occult were destroying (and still are) destroying lives and seeking to corrupt the authentic Christian faith.

I hope this helps.  :)

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2019, 12:12:09 AM »
Orthodox Christianity has meditation, but not trance. Even the ecstasy of the saints is sober (e.g. John of Kronstadt).
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

May the Blessed Light shine Forth

Offline isxodnik

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2019, 01:02:48 AM »
When you speak on the subject of spiritual life, please remember that you will answer for your words at the Last Judgment.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

Offline Zephyr7

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2019, 03:37:17 AM »
Yes, I remember - my intention was never to question veneration of icons.

Following the thinking of Fr. Rose, to me the answer is FAITH - we do such things with faith.

We do not glorify an emptiness, any remote deities but the Living God in Holy Trinity.

The question was somehow difficult to me - as I was drawn to the Orthodox Church mainly because of its misticism, spirituality, prayer. It was a complete contradition of Roman Catholic church services.

Rejecting all of this would be impossible...

But when you feel the "hunger" for these spiritual experiences during liturgy or other church services - is it something improper? How not to behave like pagans who are looking for such experience in meditation, rituals, drugs, music? :-[
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 03:39:04 AM by Zephyr7 »

Offline isxodnik

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2019, 04:11:03 AM »
sorry, i say about:
Orthodox Christianity has meditation
Orthodox Christianity has not meditation.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

Offline isxodnik

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2019, 04:35:44 AM »
The Holy fathers teach - and this follows from the very logic of things - that we are decently one experience, the experience of a repentant sinner in the face of the Lord and the Judge.
Truly spiritual joy, peace, love - are sent, firstly, by a pure soul, and secondly and most importantly - only by the will of God.
To the natural emotional feelings and should be treated as regular emotions. First, the mind is enlightened by the gospel, then, under the guidance of the enlightened mind, the heart is purified - and only then does it become capable of receiving spiritual sensations. Until that time, our inner life is full of sin.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2019, 07:44:44 AM »

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!


. . . ?

If the practice is wrong, then stop.


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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2019, 11:12:56 AM »
Orthodox Christianity has meditation, but not trance. Even the ecstasy of the saints is sober (e.g. John of Kronstadt).

Indeed so.  For me, a trance seems to be a state where people are, at best, in a neutral mental state, succeptible to external influences, and more commonly, those external influences are manifesting themselves in some disturbing way.  For example, the spasmodic displays we see in Charismatic praxis.  And a major point of Fr. Seraphim Rose was that this sort of occult praxis, while it might be temporarily enjoyable, is in the long run spiritually destructive.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 11:13:59 AM by Alpha60 »

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2019, 11:15:25 AM »
Yes, I remember - my intention was never to question veneration of icons.

Following the thinking of Fr. Rose, to me the answer is FAITH - we do such things with faith.

We do not glorify an emptiness, any remote deities but the Living God in Holy Trinity.

The question was somehow difficult to me - as I was drawn to the Orthodox Church mainly because of its misticism, spirituality, prayer. It was a complete contradition of Roman Catholic church services.

Rejecting all of this would be impossible...

But when you feel the "hunger" for these spiritual experiences during liturgy or other church services - is it something improper? How not to behave like pagans who are looking for such experience in meditation, rituals, drugs, music? :-[

I am a but confused by your question I have to confess, because its not clear to me what you are hungering for?

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2019, 12:03:08 PM »
Please forgive asking a controversial question which some of you may consider a blasphemous one (although it was not my intention at all!)

I am reading a book of Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy a religion of the future) in which he provides a description of practices of various eastern sects and quasi-faiths.

In the chapter about transcendental meditation (not sure if exactly in this one) he writes that an adept of such practice bows in front of a picture of a guru, offers chants and incense, etc.

Now - it worries me a little 'cause we, the Orthodox, do simillar things in front of icons:

- keep chanting the prayers
- prostrate and bow
- offer oils, incense, candles, etc.

This puts us in a very unique, sort-of-meditative mental state -

and my question is - is it OK? Or are we behaving like people described by Fr. Rose?

Is it a sin to enjoy all of this?

On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....

Anyway - I am curious to learn your opionions!

The truth is, I don't know the answer to this question with absolute certainty; but it's clear that the usage of icons and art in Christian worship started very early on, at least the 3rd century, if not earlier, as not only do we have statuettes of Biblical events that people made (Christ the Good Shepherd, Jonah and the Whale) from the 3rd century, and not only are some of the Catacombs filled with Christian imagery (notably the Catacomb of Priscilla, which started being used in the 2nd century), but Eusebius, throughout his works, tells stories of Christian images with a positive attitude. More than this, ALL of the Churches with Apostolic claims - which go back to the 4th century, when the Churches that exist today started schisming - the Church of the East, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church - all venerate Saints and make images. They also all use incense, despite having been separated theologically for around 1700 years for the Church of the East, 1600 years for the Oriental Orthodox Church, and 1000 years for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

http://projects.leadr.msu.edu/medievalart/exhibits/show/iconographyofchrist/statuetteofthegoodshepherd

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacomb_of_Priscilla

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxbridge/eusebius-and-christian-images/

It seems likely to me that the veneration of Saints and creation of artwork of the Church must have been Apostolic to start that early; it seems unlikely that just within like 110 years or so (assuming the cutoff date of what the Apostles practiced is with Domitian's reign, 96), the entire Church apostatizes and embraces idolatry everywhere. The biggest evidence for me is the Book of Revelation, assuming it's authoritative, most of all, as what is described in Heaven is very liturgical, with incense, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the Martyrs under the Altar (which literally is what the Church does, by placing Saints under the Altar), the Woman giving birth to the Child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron (reference to Virgin Mary and the Church), etc.

The truth is, we cannot know for sure what exactly the Apostles prohibited and allowed on this topic. You can't even use the Bible to solve this question; if you accept the Bible, you must accept the authority of the Church which was already venerating Saints and creating images of the Gospel and Old Testament, as the Church which codified which Scriptures were legitimate were already were doing this (as the Bible was pretty much codified by the 4th century). All we can really go off of are Scriptures which historians know for certain that Paul wrote, which isn't enough to answer the question.

I would much rather trust the 3rd century Church's authority than the authority of people whose churches go back to the 16th century, which is around 1450 years disconnected from what the Apostles practiced.

So, . . . You are exploring a Question about the history of the Ancient Church? . . .

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2019, 12:27:10 PM »
But when you feel the "hunger" for these spiritual experiences during liturgy or other church services - is it something improper? How not to behave like pagans who are looking for such experience in meditation, rituals, drugs, music? :-[

Honestly, I think your concerns are overstated. Fr. Seraphim definitely wasn't writing against Orthodox tradition. The similarities in appearance are superficial.

But since you are concerned:

First, don't take drugs for spiritual reasons. Preferably, don't take drugs.

When you worship, pray to God to keep your heart pure and to unite yourself to him. Repent when needed. Partake of the Mysteries regularly.

When you hunger and thirst after God, remember that he "makes [you] to lie in green pastures, leads [you] to quiet streams and refreshes [your] spirit." Ask him for that refreshment.

Do the usual practices as you have been taught. If you are worried about prayer, stick with, "Lord have mercy" and "Thy will be done."
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 12:27:23 PM by Agabus »
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

THE OPINIONS HERE MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ORTHODOX CHURCH

Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline Zephyr7

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2019, 01:23:39 PM »
What I was trying to say - when you're attending an evening service (all night vigil) and a person recites or sings the beautiful prayers for an hour or so - you see the candles, smell the incense, hear the music - your mind wanders and you are suddenly in a different state of mind (and obviously, without using any addictive substances like alcohol or drugs).

Although definitely it is not a trance, it is somehow a meditative state.

I feel the same when I keep praying in the evening - and I really do not think that is something bad. However, when I read about people who do similar things when practicing pagan beliefs, I feel a little bit uneasy.

Is it something wrong to like, to enjoy the mystical experiences of the Orthodox Church?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 01:25:50 PM by Zephyr7 »

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2019, 02:16:40 PM »
Is it something wrong to like, to enjoy the mystical experiences of the Orthodox Church?

In a word: no.

Sometimes God grants us moments like that. Sometimes aesthetics and human psychology do. Receive them for what they are. Just don't live for them.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 02:17:08 PM by Agabus »
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Offline jah777

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2019, 12:18:27 PM »
Is it something wrong to like, to enjoy the mystical experiences of the Orthodox Church?

In Orthodoxy it is essential to have someone to guide you personally, a spiritual father who you recognize as being more advanced than you spiritually, who has experience overcoming the passions and of various phenomena.  It is also important not to pursue spiritual experiences and to question them when they occur, submitting them to the scrutiny of someone more experienced than yourself.  The lives of the saints are filled with stories of pursuing the acquisition of divine grace, but we need to make sure that what we are experiencing and pursuing is grace and not something else.  We also have to be careful that such positive experiences do not lead us to think more highly of ourselves than we should, which could lead to pride and further alienation from God.

To acquire the experience of the grace of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, we have to first be purified of the passions and make progress in acquiring the virtues.  We have to grow in humility and repentance.  God may give us little "treats" along the way, times when prayer and spiritual struggle feel very wonderful, times when we feel joy and inner peace and love.  Yet, these states are not permanent but may be given for consolation and encouragement so that we stay on the course and continue our spiritual struggle. 

The problem with taking too much delight in passing states without the discernment of knowing whether these states are spiritual or more emotional/psychological is that we may find ourselves pursuing a state that is not from God.  There is a reason why there was a close relationship in the 1960s in American between interest in non-Christian Eastern mysticism and interest in mind altering drugs.  Non-Christian meditation practices and the use of mind altering drugs both are self-focused and aim to help us experience various states through psychosomatic methods or chemical means (drugs).  The focus is on the inherent goodness of the self and the inherent goodness and value of exploring various mental states.  Orthodox prayer is focused on discovering the extent of our sinfulness and our need for God's mercy and not on the exploration of various internal states.

Elder Sophrony of Essex spoke about the distinction between the Orthodox practice of the Jesus prayer, a prayer to Christ asking for mercy in a state of repentance, compared to Non-Christian meditation methods.  These meditation practices can lead to an experience of the created human spirit but not to the experience of the Uncreated God.  Elder Sophrony further stated that if a person believes that this experience of their own inner being is an experience of God or of the Ultimate, such a belief becomes a bigger obstacle to knowing the true God than the most carnal passions.  The Elder further said that the self-contemplation of the non-Christian spiritual practices is exactly the self-contemplation of Lucifer before his fall, when he contemplated his own glory to the extent that he thought himself superior to the Living God. 

It is good to have delightful experiences in prayer and worship but we need to be sober-minded and careful, submitting to another's guidance.  When we have such experiences, it would be good to remind ourselves of how sinful we are compared to Christ and the saints.  We should also remember what the Fathers have said, that the man who can see his own sins is greater than he who can work miracles. 

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2019, 01:38:45 PM »
It seems we have spotted two differences:

- consciousness (a prayer is never a form of a trance)
- focusing on the Lord, not on the experience


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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2019, 01:56:54 PM »
- focusing on the Lord, not on the experience

There are two sides to prayer: the Almighty, the Merciful, and the Unflattering Lord , and the repentant sinner (or thanksgiving. There is also praise/glorification, but it is still for the more perfect). As the Holy fathers say, the vision of one's sins must precede the vision of God's greatness.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2019, 07:42:26 PM »
sorry, i say about:
Orthodox Christianity has meditation
Orthodox Christianity has not meditation.
Sorry, but is English your native language, or Russian? I mean meditation as in religious contemplation. Even reflecting on the meaning of the Gospel is "meditation", and the verb "to meditate" is often used in this sense.
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2019, 01:01:02 AM »
My native language is Russian, and meditation is a spiritual practice in paganism. Words do not exist in a vacuum, there is always a context. Contemplation - for the perfect man, and even a simple discussion of it on these pages - is inappropriate and ridiculous. Remember the fate of Nadav and Aviud, who brought an alien fire to the altar. Do you want spiritual death for Zephyr7?
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2019, 01:47:23 PM »
Meditation is reflecting on the Gospel and Scriptures for the day . . . (For like 15 to 30 minutes)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2019, 01:56:17 PM »
Are you saying that your spiritual vocabulary is so poor that you have to borrow terms from paganism?
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2019, 05:26:32 PM »
Psalms 1:2 - But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psalms 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalms 49:3 - My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart [shall be] of understanding.

Psalms 119:15 - I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.


Offline platypus

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2019, 10:30:45 PM »
I feel the same when I keep praying in the evening - and I really do not think that is something bad. However, when I read about people who do similar things when practicing pagan beliefs, I feel a little bit uneasy.

Have you finished the book yet? Fr. Seraphim's main point is that genuine religious experience comes from worshipping Christ, fasting, obeying God's commandments, and recieving the Holy Mysteries. Whereas false religious experience comes from worshipping pagan gods, taking hallucinogenic drugs, the charismatic movement, etc.

Basically, he instructs the reader to participate in the life of the Church, and not be pagan or heterodox.
"Eternal truth finds no favorable soil where one encounters at every turn the skeptical, sarcastic query 'what is truth,' where life insurance takes the place of eternal hope." -Hieromonk Antonius

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2019, 11:48:16 PM »
Psalms 1:2 - But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psalms 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalms 49:3 - My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart [shall be] of understanding.

Psalms 119:15 - I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Understood. Was wrong. The word "meditation" appeared in English not from pagan practices. And it has the meaning of "thinking, studying." But here we are talking about prayer - and meditative States. In this sense, no meditation is appropriate, and certainly harmful.
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2019, 12:35:46 AM »
Yeah, when you approach icons in humility and prayer it's different than trying to achieve some exalted or altered consciousness.

Great book.

+1

Selam
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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2019, 12:36:39 AM »


On the other hand - it's a typical style of the evil to twist and distort something which is good and worthy and turn it into a blasphemous practice....


Yes. This is a key point here.

Selam
"Whether it’s the guillotine, the hangman’s noose, or reciprocal endeavors of militaristic horror, radical evil will never be recompensed with radical punishment. The only answer, the only remedy, and the only truly effective response to radical evil is radical love."
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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2019, 07:09:31 PM »
Yeah, when you approach icons in humility and prayer it's different than trying to achieve some exalted or altered consciousness.

Great book.

+1

Selam

+2

Shlomo

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2019, 07:16:38 PM »
Is it something wrong to like, to enjoy the mystical experiences of the Orthodox Church?

In a word: no.

Sometimes God grants us moments like that. Sometimes aesthetics and human psychology do. Receive them for what they are. Just don't live for them.

Indeed so; if it were a sin to enjoy moments like that I would be in a lot of trouble considering how much I enjoy our beautiful liturgy.

But, you are right to say we should not actively pursue spiritual ecstasy; we should remain grounded in our sinfulness and recognize that in Orthodox spirituality, as in all things, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is (with the sole exception of God Himself, who is infinitely good, but his infinite goodness calls us to repentance to that much greater an extent.

Indeed, in our willingness to repent in Orthodox and admit our sinfulness, we come to a major point of departure between our religion and evangelical Protestantism, which would hold that such contrition is supererogatory, and its offshoot, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, which, ignoring the directives of St. Paul that all things in worship should be done decently and in order, embrace various ecstatic trance-states which many Orthodox, including Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose, regard as being demonic.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 07:18:01 PM by Alpha60 »

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #35 on: May 26, 2019, 09:05:57 PM »
My native language is Russian, and meditation is a spiritual practice in paganism. Words do not exist in a vacuum, there is always a context. Contemplation - for the perfect man, and even a simple discussion of it on these pages - is inappropriate and ridiculous. Remember the fate of Nadav and Aviud, who brought an alien fire to the altar. Do you want spiritual death for Zephyr7?
If Zephyr7's English skills are good enough, he will understand my comment. The "contemplation" meaning of the word "meditation" is much older than the Pagan one and even St. Jerome used it translating the Bible to Latin, as I just checked (Psalms 18, 48 and 118; Wisdom 7; 1 Timothy 4).
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 09:13:27 PM by RaphaCam »
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

May the Blessed Light shine Forth

Offline isxodnik

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2019, 02:34:48 AM »
My English is getting better against my will. Thank you )) For more than a century of passion for Buddhism-Hinduism, and other yoga, the word "meditation" is not stuck no extraneous meanings?
Оскверняются путие eго на всяко время, отъемлются судьбы Твоя от лица eго, всеми враги своими обладает. (Psalm 9:26)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2019, 05:45:10 AM »
Are you saying that your spiritual vocabulary is so poor that you have to borrow terms from paganism?



Do you mean me? I learned to appreciate Paganism along the way.

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2019, 11:56:48 AM »
My English is getting better against my will. Thank you )) For more than a century of passion for Buddhism-Hinduism, and other yoga, the word "meditation" is not stuck no extraneous meanings?

Alas it might be getting better, but for the life of me I can’t unambiguously parse your sentence due to a syntax error.  There are about three different questions you could be asking and I don’t want to answer all three, or risk answering the wrong one, or risk setting to work on an answer and Segmentation Fault.

(Let the reader understand)

What I will do however is provide an analogy that might be edifying: when someone says “Yogi”, first I think of Yogi Bear, then of Yogi Berra (memory eternal), and only then, at last, does the picture of a beared Hindu swami begin entering into my consciosusness.


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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2019, 06:06:23 PM »
My English is getting better against my will. Thank you )) For more than a century of passion for Buddhism-Hinduism, and other yoga, the word "meditation" is not stuck no extraneous meanings?

No, this is a hobgoblin of your own imagining.

meditation (n.)
c. 1200, meditacioun, "contemplation; devout preoccupation; private devotions, prayer," from Old French meditacion "thought, reflection, study," and directly from Latin meditationem (nominative meditatio) "a thinking over, meditation," noun of action from past-participle stem of meditari "to meditate, think over, reflect, consider," from a frequentative form of PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures."
https://www.etymonline.com/word/meditation#etymonline_v_12520
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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2019, 06:48:03 PM »
That sucks . . Because opening myself up to it . . Getting rejected.

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2019, 09:53:36 PM »
Catholics still use the word "meditation" a lot, such as in the Lectio Divina, I could come up with some other examples but I chose the Vulgate because Latin Orthodox is always better.  :P
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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #42 on: May 29, 2019, 12:52:45 AM »
Catholics still use the word "meditation" a lot, such as in the Lectio Divina, I could come up with some other examples but I chose the Vulgate because Latin Orthodox is always better.  :P

And what about the historic literary usages of the Romanian Orthodox, or the Portuguese speaking Orthodox communities, or the Francophone Russian emigres in the Rue Daru jurisdiction?  It would seem their use of meditation or derivatives thereof could provide a definitive answer (either directly by the witness of the Romanians or Aromanians, who speak a related Romance language but one which is not IIRC used in church; the Aromanians live in the South Slavic Area and Greece), particularly in combination with anything written by St. Ambrose of Milan, or St. Gregory Dialogos, and further definitive clarification on the Orthodox meaning of the term could be obtained from a composite of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Catalan, and Anglophone converts, Swedish-speaking Finnish Orthodox, and Sicillian or Italian speakers in the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Catholic usage.*   This would give us a non-Hellenic, non-Slavonic interpretation of a Latin word that propagated primarily into Western Europe via the Latin tongue in an ecclesiastical context, a word which I propose is being deliberately abused by those seeking to propagate the false religions of India and the Far East, and contemporary occult derivatives thereof.

*Note that while quotes from Orthodox speakers of these languages would be preferred, failing that, the prevailing definition of historic, pre-1960s, pre-New Age provenance would be compelling evidence.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 01:05:30 AM by Alpha60 »

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #43 on: May 29, 2019, 06:04:59 AM »
Catholics still use the word "meditation" a lot, such as in the Lectio Divina, I could come up with some other examples but I chose the Vulgate because Latin Orthodox is always better.  :P

And what about the historic literary usages of the Romanian Orthodox, or the Portuguese speaking Orthodox communities, or the Francophone Russian emigres in the Rue Daru jurisdiction?  It would seem their use of meditation or derivatives thereof could provide a definitive answer (either directly by the witness of the Romanians or Aromanians, who speak a related Romance language but one which is not IIRC used in church; the Aromanians live in the South Slavic Area and Greece), particularly in combination with anything written by St. Ambrose of Milan, or St. Gregory Dialogos, and further definitive clarification on the Orthodox meaning of the term could be obtained from a composite of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Catalan, and Anglophone converts, Swedish-speaking Finnish Orthodox, and Sicillian or Italian speakers in the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Catholic usage.*   This would give us a non-Hellenic, non-Slavonic interpretation of a Latin word that propagated primarily into Western Europe via the Latin tongue in an ecclesiastical context, a word which I propose is being deliberately abused by those seeking to propagate the false religions of India and the Far East, and contemporary occult derivatives thereof.

*Note that while quotes from Orthodox speakers of these languages would be preferred, failing that, the prevailing definition of historic, pre-1960s, pre-New Age provenance would be compelling evidence.

(I think I've learnt that other Alternative language because of liturgy.)

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Re: Prostrations, incense, images - Seraphim Rose book question
« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2019, 12:51:22 AM »
And what about the historic literary usages of the Romanian Orthodox, or the Portuguese speaking Orthodox communities, or the Francophone Russian emigres in the Rue Daru jurisdiction?  It would seem their use of meditation or derivatives thereof could provide a definitive answer
Hard to tell since "meditation" isn't really a common term in Byzantine christianity, I guess you'd see it much more often in Latin mysticism (e.g. the lectio divina).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 12:51:59 AM by RaphaCam »
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

May the Blessed Light shine Forth