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Navel Gazing -- WHAT?

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  • Anastasia Theodoridis
    Dear Lutherans and former Lutherans, Lately I have come across in Lutheran blogs references to navel gazing as an Orthodox practice, and have grown more and
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 25, 2007
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      Dear Lutherans and former Lutherans,

      Lately I have come across in Lutheran blogs references to "navel gazing" as an Orthodox practice, and have grown more and more curious. What is it we Orthodox do that reminds Lutherans of "navel gazing"? And what do these Lutherans suppose we are trying to accomplish by whatever it is we do, which they think is navel gazing?

      Thanks in advance.

      Trying to understand,
      Anastasia
    • Laura Frizelle
      Hi Anastasia, I haven t read many blogs lately, but I am going to take a stab at what the Lutherans mean by accusing Orthodox of navel gazing. I think it was
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 25, 2007
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        Hi Anastasia,

        I haven't read many blogs lately, but I am going to take a
        stab at what the Lutherans mean by accusing Orthodox of
        navel gazing.

        I think it was Luther who defined sin as "being turned into
        yourself".

        Lutherans, especially conservative confessional ones, are
        probably referring to asceticism and theosis as being
        self-centered and taking eyes off Christ. I have to say
        there must be a potential danger to become self righteous
        and proud when it comes to asceticism and theosis, but
        Lutherans are equally in danger because of their tendencies
        toward scholasticism and antinomianism. Whether Orthodox or
        Lutheran we are sinful and can and do twist everything all
        up.

        Another thing I noticed that would set off red flags for
        many confessional Lutherans in Orthodoxy is the talk about
        the human heart and the nuos. Hesychysm (sp.) and the
        Ladder of Divine Ascent are too introspective for Lutheran
        tastes and sensibilities. Lutherans are all about God
        revealing himself through the Word(--the Bible) and the
        Sacraments, natural revelation is definitely not emphasized
        or any kind of charismatic, sentimental, Pentecostal talk
        about feeling the Holy Spirit. Lutheranism is more confined
        to the head.

        To turn the tables, as Lutherans we are supposed to rightly
        examine ourselves before communing. Wouldn't this be navel
        gazing as well? But if we don't examine ourselves we are
        condemned....right?


        Isn't self examination what Orthodox are doing too--only
        there is more emphasis on repentance (change/theosis) after
        confession/Eucharist and in daily life?

        My 2 cents.

        Peace!
        Laura Frizelle
        who hopes she didn't stereotype to harshly
      • Randy Asburry
        I think that Laura has correctly identified the so-called navel-gazing charge that some Lutherans have come up with against our Orthodox brothers and
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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          I think that Laura has correctly identified the so-called "navel-gazing"
          charge that some Lutherans have come up with against our Orthodox brothers
          and sisters. At least this is what I have detected in "polite conversation"
          recently (and since I don't frequent "blogdom" much these days, I'm not up
          on what's being discussed there).



          Randy

          + + + + +
          Rev. Randy Asburry
          Hope Lutheran Church
          St. Louis, MO
          <mailto:r.asburry@...> mailto:r.asburry@...

          "...we on our part shall not omit doing anything, in so far as God and
          conscience allow, that may serve the cause of Christian unity." (Augsburg
          Confession, Preface, 13; Tappert, 26).



          _____

          From: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Laura Frizelle
          Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:50 PM
          To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Navel Gazing -- WHAT?



          Hi Anastasia,

          I haven't read many blogs lately, but I am going to take a
          stab at what the Lutherans mean by accusing Orthodox of
          navel gazing.

          I think it was Luther who defined sin as "being turned into
          yourself".

          Lutherans, especially conservative confessional ones, are
          probably referring to asceticism and theosis as being
          self-centered and taking eyes off Christ. I have to say
          there must be a potential danger to become self righteous
          and proud when it comes to asceticism and theosis, but
          Lutherans are equally in danger because of their tendencies
          toward scholasticism and antinomianism. Whether Orthodox or
          Lutheran we are sinful and can and do twist everything all
          up.

          Another thing I noticed that would set off red flags for
          many confessional Lutherans in Orthodoxy is the talk about
          the human heart and the nuos. Hesychysm (sp.) and the
          Ladder of Divine Ascent are too introspective for Lutheran
          tastes and sensibilities. Lutherans are all about God
          revealing himself through the Word(--the Bible) and the
          Sacraments, natural revelation is definitely not emphasized
          or any kind of charismatic, sentimental, Pentecostal talk
          about feeling the Holy Spirit. Lutheranism is more confined
          to the head.

          To turn the tables, as Lutherans we are supposed to rightly
          examine ourselves before communing. Wouldn't this be navel
          gazing as well? But if we don't examine ourselves we are
          condemned....right?

          Isn't self examination what Orthodox are doing too--only
          there is more emphasis on repentance (change/theosis) after
          confession/Eucharist and in daily life?

          My 2 cents.

          Peace!
          Laura Frizelle
          who hopes she didn't stereotype to harshly





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Edward Wolfe
          It is important to note that asceticism and theosis might be called navel gazing by Lutherans, but such is a false charge. They most certainly are NOT about
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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            It is important to note that asceticism and theosis might be "called"
            navel gazing by Lutherans, but such is a false charge. They most
            certainly are NOT about "navel gazing," but putting "it is no longer I
            who live but Christ who lives in me" "in the flesh."

            To call attention to oneself, one's own righteousness or faithful
            practice, that is, to take one's eyes off Jesus, then is not part of
            asceticism or theosis, but sin that must be repented.

            In retrospect, looking back over my life as a Lutheran, I joined in
            taking lots of potshots at this or that without a) truly understanding
            what was being said, and b) without listening to Holy Fathers and the
            Church of the Apostles. Now, in my short time as an Orthodox, I am
            overwhelmed by the rich fullness of Christ's Church. Those things I
            questioned or "shot" at in years past, I now understand.

            Theosis and the ascetic life are of the Church, given by our Lord
            through the Apostles -- they are more than buzzwords calling for
            someone's opinion or judgment of them. They are not optional.

            Unfortunately, in this country, the contemporary wisdom is that
            everything is up for grabs, and everyone's opinion is equal. That is
            to say, knowing the Truth that frees is challenging, because it says
            that everything is NOT up for grabs or subject to curren majority vote.

            For what it is worth ...

            Christos Anesti!

            Ezekiel+






            --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Randy Asburry"
            <r.asburry@...> wrote:
            >
            > I think that Laura has correctly identified the so-called "navel-gazing"
            > charge that some Lutherans have come up with against our Orthodox
            brothers
            > and sisters. At least this is what I have detected in "polite
            conversation"
            > recently (and since I don't frequent "blogdom" much these days, I'm
            not up
            > on what's being discussed there).
            >
            >
            >
            > Randy
            >
            > + + + + +
            > Rev. Randy Asburry
            > Hope Lutheran Church
            > St. Louis, MO
            > <mailto:r.asburry@...> mailto:r.asburry@...
            >
            > "...we on our part shall not omit doing anything, in so far as God and
            > conscience allow, that may serve the cause of Christian unity."
            (Augsburg
            > Confession, Preface, 13; Tappert, 26).
            >
            >
            >
            > _____
            >
            > From: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
            > [mailto:LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Laura
            Frizelle
            > Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:50 PM
            > To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Navel Gazing -- WHAT?
            >
            >
            >
            > Hi Anastasia,
            >
            > I haven't read many blogs lately, but I am going to take a
            > stab at what the Lutherans mean by accusing Orthodox of
            > navel gazing.
            >
            > I think it was Luther who defined sin as "being turned into
            > yourself".
            >
            > Lutherans, especially conservative confessional ones, are
            > probably referring to asceticism and theosis as being
            > self-centered and taking eyes off Christ. I have to say
            > there must be a potential danger to become self righteous
            > and proud when it comes to asceticism and theosis, but
            > Lutherans are equally in danger because of their tendencies
            > toward scholasticism and antinomianism. Whether Orthodox or
            > Lutheran we are sinful and can and do twist everything all
            > up.
            >
            > Another thing I noticed that would set off red flags for
            > many confessional Lutherans in Orthodoxy is the talk about
            > the human heart and the nuos. Hesychysm (sp.) and the
            > Ladder of Divine Ascent are too introspective for Lutheran
            > tastes and sensibilities. Lutherans are all about God
            > revealing himself through the Word(--the Bible) and the
            > Sacraments, natural revelation is definitely not emphasized
            > or any kind of charismatic, sentimental, Pentecostal talk
            > about feeling the Holy Spirit. Lutheranism is more confined
            > to the head.
            >
            > To turn the tables, as Lutherans we are supposed to rightly
            > examine ourselves before communing. Wouldn't this be navel
            > gazing as well? But if we don't examine ourselves we are
            > condemned....right?
            >
            > Isn't self examination what Orthodox are doing too--only
            > there is more emphasis on repentance (change/theosis) after
            > confession/Eucharist and in daily life?
            >
            > My 2 cents.
            >
            > Peace!
            > Laura Frizelle
            > who hopes she didn't stereotype to harshly
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Christopher Orr
            ... gazing as an Orthodox practice, and have grown more and more curious. What is it we Orthodox do that reminds Lutherans of navel gazing ? And what do
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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              --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Anastasia Theodoridis
              <anastasiatheo01@...> wrote:
              >
              > Dear Lutherans and former Lutherans,
              >
              > Lately I have come across in Lutheran blogs references to "navel
              gazing" as an Orthodox practice, and have grown more and more curious.
              What is it we Orthodox do that reminds Lutherans of "navel gazing"?
              And what do these Lutherans suppose we are trying to accomplish by
              whatever it is we do, which they think is navel gazing?
              >
              > Thanks in advance.
              >
              > Trying to understand,
              > Anastasia
              >

              The term actually has Palamite/Barlaamite roots. The term was a
              derogatory way for Western Christians to refer to the ascetic
              practices of the hesychast Athonite monks that would control their
              breathing while sitting with head bowed concentrating on their heart
              (the visible organ of the spiritual center of man, body, soul, spirit,
              mind) just below the left nipple as an aid to concentration in
              performing the Jesus Prayer. To the Westerners, this looked like the
              monks were sitting looking at their navels all night.

              In common parlance, it is assumed that navel-gazing is a slur against
              Eastern religions' meditation traditions, but it is actually an
              internecine slur of Christian origins.

              By way of background:

              Hesychasm can be a complex issue to understand, but it is easier when
              one realizes it has three distinct but interrelated meanings [as A
              Method or Technique of Prayer, as A Theological System (Palamism) and
              as A Byzantine Political Grouping.]

              The word itself derives from "hesychia" which means stillness, quiet,
              cf 1 Thess 4:1, 2 Thess 3:12, 1 Tim 2:2, 1 Pet 3:4.

              1. A Method of Prayer

              A psychosomatic method of prayer, probably dating back a long way in
              Byzantine monasticism [to St. Symeon the New Theologian in the 11th
              century, and earlier]. There is a possible, and speculative link to
              Buddhist methods [as with the rosary]. The method involved control of
              breathing, posture [perhaps including navel-gazing - hence the charge
              that the monks were "omphalapsychoi" - men (and it seems only to have
              involved men) with souls in their navels]. The intended effect of this
              prayer was the vision of light, often compared with the light seen at
              the Transfiguration at Mt. Tabor.

              These methods, and in a sense monastic power, were attacked by Barlaam
              of Calabria [later in life Petrarch's Greek teacher] in the early 13th
              century. (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/hesychasm1.html)

              +

              Omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to
              meditation. It is well known in the usually jocular phrase directed
              towards self-absorbed pursuits: "contemplating one's navel" or
              "navel-gazers". This criticism is also often leveled at professions
              which are interested in themselves: movies about Hollywood, for
              example, or television shows about television writers.

              From the Greek: omphalos (navel) + skepsis. The word has several other
              forms, such as omphaloskeptic, for someone that engages in
              navel-gazing, and omphaloskeptical, meaning to be in a self-absorbed
              state. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphaloskepsis)

              +

              "Now Barlaam may ridicule the breathing techniques taught to beginners
              as so much navel-gazing ( ομφαλοψύχους ). But beginners need to do
              something--not simply think something--to collect our scattered nous
              and concentrate it back into our body, where it rightly belongs.
              (I.ii.7, 10)"
              [http://www.conciliarpress.com/blog/index.php?title=who_can_argue_against_life_the_triads_of_1&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1]
              ]

              +

              na·vel-gaz·ing (nā'vəl-gā'zĭng)
              n. Slang.

              Excessive introspection, self-absorption, or concentration on a single
              issue: "The optimistic trend masks a looming problem, which has sent
              the travel industry into a renewed bout of navel-gazing" (Financial
              Times). [http://www.answers.com/topic/navel-gazing%5d

              +

              navel-gazing
              noun

              Unproductive self-analysis when direction action is called for.
              (Crystal Reference, copyright 2003,
              http://www.allwords.com/word-navel-gazing.html)

              Christopher
            • herrdave2_prime
              Navel gazing may be a reference to one part hesychast practice, which may result in seeing the uncreated light of God. I once read the procedure from Dan
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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                'Navel gazing' may be a reference to one part hesychast practice, which may result in seeing the uncreated light of God. I once read the procedure from Dan Clendenin's book. It involves breahing and moving the body in a certain way. At one point one ends up staring at ones own navel.

                From what I undertand, the main jist of the hesychast controversy was philosophical, whether the trascendent mystical God can be 'accessed'. Well the simple answer is yes indeed. I am not sure why one would think that with all the reports from saints lives, included in the Bible and the calendar, indicate God does things known to us. Some took the transendent part to an extreme that God was 'unreachable' or 'unknowable'. Sorry I don't have the exact wording on this subject- its from memory.
                --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Anastasia Theodoridis <anastasiatheo01@...> wrote:
                >
                > Dear Lutherans and former Lutherans,
                >
                > Lately I have come across in Lutheran blogs references to "navel gazing" as an Orthodox practice, and have grown more and more curious. What is it we Orthodox do that reminds Lutherans of "navel gazing"? And what do these Lutherans suppose we are trying to accomplish by whatever it is we do, which they think is navel gazing?
                >
                > Thanks in advance.
                >
                > Trying to understand,
                > Anastasia
                >
              • Anastasia Theodoridis
                Thanks to all for your answers. I didn t know any of that stuff. Perhaps the thing to realize is that the slogan about keeping your eyes upon Jesus keeps
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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                  Thanks to all for your answers. I didn't know any of that stuff.

                  Perhaps the thing to realize is that the slogan about "keeping your eyes upon Jesus" keeps one (locks one into) that level of union with Him. A deeper level would be to look not *at* Him but *with* Him, through His eyes.

                  We will never become vain if we behold ourselves through His all-seeing Eyes!

                  Anastasia




                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Laura Frizelle
                  ... Well said Anastasia! Within the body of Christ during the cycle of the Church Year, under the care of spiritual fathers, I definitely believe that
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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                    Anastasia said:

                    >We will never become vain if we behold ourselves through
                    >His all-seeing Eyes!

                    Well said Anastasia! Within the body of Christ during the
                    cycle of the Church Year, under the care of spiritual
                    fathers, I definitely believe that asceticism helps
                    Christians to examine ourselves rightly and to grow. Jesus
                    did say, "Be perfect."

                    Asceticism, I can imagine, when practiced must actually keep
                    one humble and more aware of sin and need for Christ and
                    repentance because of all the falling down and temptation
                    that happens along the way. Loving neighbor, denying self
                    and taking up the cross, struggling against Satan is
                    biblical and good. Christ came and The Holy Spirit was
                    given to us for this. We are a new creation!

                    Laura Frizelle
                  • Anastasia Theodoridis
                    Laura wrote: Asceticism, I can imagine, when practiced must actually keep one humble and more aware of sin and need for Christ and repentance because of all
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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                      Laura wrote:

                      Asceticism, I can imagine, when practiced must actually keep
                      one humble and more aware of sin and need for Christ and
                      repentance because of all the falling down and temptation
                      that happens along the way.




                      Exactly so. Ascetical practice keeps us real. Before I was Orthodox I used to imagine that my love for Christ was huge, enormous, practically infinite. That was before I found out I couldn't even fast very well for His sake. Or hold my temper or refrain from judging others for His sake.

                      I also realized such things as that When Morning Gilds the Skies, my heart, awaking groans, "Blast that alarm clock! It can't be time to get up again already!" and it wasn't until my face had been washed, teeth brushed, hair combed, and the first cup of tea had been sipped that anything akin to, "May Jesus Christ be praised!" occurred to my poor, groggy brain.

                      Also, I had never, ever come to the garden alone while the dew was still on the roses; I don't get up any earlier than I have to! And Jesus has never given me to understand that He loved me with a love "none other has ever known." On the contrary, every true Christian has known it. Yet I had sung that hymn countless times without batting an eyelash.

                      Makes a person wonder how much of his religion is/was pure fantasy.

                      Asceticism keeps us real. Reality keeps us humble -- or at least jolly well ought to.

                      Anastasia





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Christopher Orr
                      From The Jesus Prayer in Fr. Thomas Hopko s The Orthodox Faith , Vol. IV: The most normal form of unceasing prayer in the Orthodox tradition is the Jesus
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 26, 2007
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                        From "The Jesus Prayer" in Fr. Thomas Hopko's 'The Orthodox Faith',
                        Vol. IV:

                        The most normal form of unceasing prayer in the Orthodox tradition is
                        the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is the form of invocation used by
                        those practicing mental prayer, also called the "prayer of the heart."
                        The words of the prayer most usually said are "Lord Jesus Christ, Son
                        of God, have mercy on me a sinner." The choice of this particular
                        verse has a theological and spiritual meaning.

                        First of all, it is centered on the name of Jesus because this is the
                        name of Him whom "God has highly exalted," the name given to the Lord
                        by God Himself (Luke 1:31), the "name which is above every name."
                        (Philippians 2:9-10, cf Ephesians 1:21)

                        ...for there is no other name given among men by which we must be
                        saved. (Acts 4:12)

                        All prayer for Christians must be performed in the name of Jesus: "if
                        you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

                        The fact that the prayer is addressed to Jesus as Lord and Christ and
                        Son of God is because this is the center of the entire faith revealed
                        by God in the Spirit.

                        He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

                        Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

                        And Jesus answered, "Blessed are you...for flesh and blood has not
                        revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven...and on this
                        rock I will build my Church..." (Matthew 16:16-18)

                        That Jesus is the Christ, and that the Christ is Lord is the essence
                        of the Christian faith and the foundation of the Christian church. To
                        believe and proclaim this is granted by the Holy Spirit.

                        ...no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. (I
                        Corinthians 12:3)

                        ... every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the
                        glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11)

                        In calling Jesus the Son of God is to acknowledge God as His Father.
                        To do this is, at the same time, to have God as one's own Father, and
                        this too is granted by the indwelling Spirit.

                        And when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of
                        a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,
                        so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons,
                        God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba!
                        Father!" (Galatians 4:4-6)

                        When we cry "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit Himself bearing
                        witness with our spirit that we are children of God ... (Romans 8:15-16)

                        Thus, to pray "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God" is already to be a child
                        of God, and already to be certain that the Holy Spirit is in you. In
                        this way, the Jesus Prayer brings the Spirit of God into the heart of man.

                        "Have mercy on me a sinner" is the publican's prayer. When uttered
                        with humble conviction it brings divine justification. (cf. Luke
                        18:9-14) Generally speaking, divine mercy is what man needs most of
                        all. It is for this reason that the numberless repetition of the
                        request for the Lord's mercy is found everywhere in the prayers of,
                        the Church.

                        And finally, all men are sinners. To know this is a fact, and to
                        confess it with faith is to be justified and forgiven by God. (cf.
                        Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14:1-3)

                        The Jesus Prayer basically is used in three different ways. First as
                        the verse used for the "prayer of the heart" in silence in the
                        hesychast method of prayer. Second as the continual mental and
                        unceasing prayer of the faithful outside the hesychast tradition. And
                        third as the brief ejaculatory prayer used to ward off temptations. Of
                        course, in the actual life of a person these three uses of the prayer
                        are often interrelated and combined.

                        In the hesychast method of prayer the person sits alone in a bodily
                        position with his head bowed and his eyes directed toward his chest or
                        his stomach. He continually repeats the prayer with each aspiration
                        and breath, placing his "mind in his heart" by concentrated attention.
                        He empties his mind of all rational thoughts and discursive reasoning,
                        and also voids his mind of every picture and image. Then, without
                        thought or imagination, but with all proper attention and
                        concentration he rhythmically repeats the Jesus Prayer in silence -
                        hesychia means silence - and through this method of contemplative
                        prayer is united to God by the indwelling of Christ in the Spirit.
                        According to the fathers, such a prayer, when faithfully practiced
                        within the total life of the Church, brings the experience of the
                        uncreated divine light of God and unspeakable joy to the soul. Its
                        purpose is to make man a servant of God.

                        ...the mind when it unites with the heart is filled with
                        unspeakable joy and delight. Then a man sees that the Kingdom of
                        heaven is truly within us.

                        When you enter the place of the heart...give thanks to God, and
                        praising His mercy, keep always to this activity, and it will teach
                        you things which you will learn in no other way.

                        ...when your mind becomes established in the heart, it must not
                        remain idle, but it should constantly repeat the prayer: "Lord Jesus
                        Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!" and never cease.

                        For this practice, keeping the mind from dreaming, renders it
                        invincible against all suggestions of the devil and every day leads it
                        more and more to love and longing for God. (St. Nicephorus, 14th c.,
                        Discourse on Sobriety)

                        To practice the hesychast method of prayer requires always and without
                        exception the guidance of a spiritual guide, one must not use this
                        method unless one is a person of genuine humility and sanity, filled
                        with all wisdom and peace. To use this method without guidance or
                        humble wisdom, is to court spiritual disaster, for the temptations
                        that come with it are many. Indeed, the abuses of the method became so
                        great in recent centuries that its use was greatly curtailed. Bishop
                        Theophan tells that the bodily postures and breathing techniques were
                        virtually forbidden in his time since, instead of gaining the Spirit
                        of God, people succeeded only "in ruining their lungs." (cf. The Art
                        of Prayer, lgumen Chariton, ed.)

                        Such abusive and abortive used of the method - itself something
                        genuine and richly rewarding were already known in fourteenth century
                        Byzantium when St. Gregory Palamas defended the tradition. And
                        evidence exists from as early as the fourth century to show that even
                        then people were using the prayer foolishly and to no avail by
                        reducing it to a "thing in itself" and being captivated by its form
                        without interest in its purpose. Indeed, the idolatrous interest in
                        spiritual technique and in the pleasurable benefits of "spirituality"
                        and "mysticism" are the constant temptations of the spiritual life -
                        and the devil's most potent weapon. Bishop Theophan called such
                        interest "spiritual hedonism"; John of the Cross (16th c. Spain)
                        called it "spiritual gluttony" and "spiritual luxury." Thus, by way of
                        example from various times and places, come the following admonitions.

                        Those who refuse to work with their hands under the pretext that
                        one should pray without ceasing, in reality do not pray either.
                        Through idleness...they entangle the soul in a labyrinth of
                        thoughts...and make it incapable of prayer. (St. Nilus of Sinai, 5th
                        c., Texts on Prayer)

                        As long as you pay attention only to bodily posture for prayer and
                        your mind cares only for the external beauty of the tabernacle (i.e.
                        proper forms), know that you have not yet found the place of prayer
                        and its blessed way is still far from you.

                        Know that in the midst of all spiritual joy and consolation, that
                        it is still more necessary to serve God with devotion and fear. (St.
                        Nilus of Sinai, Texts on Prayer)

                        It is natural for the mind to reject what is at hand and dream of
                        something else to come ... to build fantasies and imaginings about
                        achievements before he has attained them. Such a man is in
                        considerable danger of losing what he has and failing into
                        self-delusion and being deprived of good sense. He becomes only a
                        dreamer and not a man of continual prayer (i.e. a hesychast). (St.
                        Gregory of Sinai, 14th c., Texts on Commandments and Dogmas)

                        If you are truly practicing the continual prayer of silence,
                        hoping to be with God and you see something sensory or spiritual,
                        within or without, be it even the image of Christ, or an angel, or
                        some saint, or if an image of light pervades your mind in no way
                        accept it...always be displeased with such images, and keep your mind
                        clear, without image or form...and you will suffer no harm. It has
                        often happened that such things, even when sent by God as a test
                        before victory, have turned into harm for many...who have then done
                        harm to others equally unwise...leading to pride and self-conceit.

                        For the fathers say that those who live rightly and are faultless
                        in their behavior with other men...who seek God with obedience,
                        questioning and wise humility...will always be protected from harm by
                        the grace of Christ. (St. Gregory of Sinai, Instructions to Hesychasts)

                        The use of the Jesus Prayer outside the hesychast method for unceasing
                        prayer is to repeat the prayer constantly and continually, whatever
                        one is doing, without the employment of any particular bodily postures
                        or breathing techniques. This is the way taught by St. Gregory Palamas
                        in his short discourse about how unceasing mental prayer is the duty
                        of all Christians. (see p. 130) Anyone can do this, whatever his
                        occupation or position in life. This also is shown in The Way of the
                        Pilgrim.

                        The purpose and results of this method of prayer are those generally
                        of all prayer: that men might be continually united with God by
                        unceasing remembrance of His presence and perpetual invocation of His
                        name, so that one might always serve Him and all men with the virtues
                        of Christ and the fruits of the Spirit.

                        The third method of using the Jesus Prayer is to have it always ready
                        for moments of temptation. In this way, as St. John Climacus has said,
                        you can "flog your enemies, i.e. the temptations, with the name of
                        Jesus for there is no stronger weapon in heaven or on earth." (The
                        Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 21) This method works best when one
                        practices the prayer without ceasing, joining "to every breath a sober
                        invocation of Jesus' name." (Evagrius of Pontus) When one practices
                        the continual "prayer of the heart," and when the temptations to sin
                        enter the heart, they are met by the prayer and are defeated by grace.

                        Man cannot live in this world without being tempted. When temptation
                        comes to a person, there are only three possible results. Either the
                        person immediately yields to the temptation and sins, or he tries to
                        ward off the temptation by the power of his will, and is ultimately
                        defeated after great vexation and strife. Or else he fights off the
                        temptation by the power of Christ in his heart which is present only
                        by prayer. This does not mean that he "prays the temptation away." Or
                        that God miraculously and magically descends to deliver him. It means
                        rather that his soul is so filled with the grace and the power of God
                        that the temptation can have no effect. It is in this sense that the
                        Apostle John has written: "no one who abides in Christ sins." (1 John 3:6)

                        He who sins is of the devil...The reason the Son of God appeared
                        was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits
                        sins; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin for he is born
                        of God. By this may be seen who are children of God, and who are
                        children of the devil. (I John 3:8-10)

                        One becomes a child of God, born of God in the Church through baptism.
                        One continues as a child of God and does not sin only by continual
                        prayer: the remembrance of God, the abiding in Him, the calling upon
                        His name without ceasing in the soul. The third use of the Jesus
                        Prayer, like the first two, is to accomplish this end: that man might
                        not sin.

                        http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=195
                      • herrdave2_prime
                        Philosophy aside, why is there a procedure to produce a vision? it seems manipulative as if God needed a reason to communicate to man. During the
                        Message 11 of 13 , May 2 10:45 AM
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                          Philosophy aside, why is there a procedure to produce a vision? it seems manipulative as if God needed a reason to communicate to man. During the Transfiguration the apostles merely witnessed miracle done by Christ and did not acquire it through hesychasm.
                        • Christopher Orr
                          Prayer of the Heart or Hesychasm is not a system to produce a vision. It is a system to support the command of the Apostel to pray without ceasing . The
                          Message 12 of 13 , May 2 10:56 AM
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                            Prayer of the Heart or Hesychasm is not a system to produce a vision. It is
                            a system to support the command of the Apostel to "pray without ceasing".
                            The Fathers talk about uniting the mind (nous) with the heart (karthia) so
                            that what sin has disintegrated - us - is integrated and praying with our
                            whole being (per the first evnagelical commandment of Christ). A potential
                            result of this prayer is that God deigns to reveal Himself directly and one
                            of the ways in which this revelation can happen is through seeing,
                            physically, the Uncreated Energy of God, i.e., the Divine Light. There are
                            saints that have seen this Light, there are saints that have never seen this
                            light. Salvation is not dependent on visions, and those that have seen the
                            Uncreated Light have not 'finished the race', but visions do sometimes
                            accompany right prayer. Similarly, while incorruption, myrrh-streaming,
                            sweet smells and wonderworking can be a sign of sainthood, not all saints
                            have these signs and are still saints.

                            Christopher


                            On 5/2/07, herrdave2_prime <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                            >
                            > Philosophy aside, why is there a procedure to produce a vision? it seems
                            > manipulative as if God needed a reason to communicate to man. During the
                            > Transfiguration the apostles merely witnessed miracle done by Christ and did
                            > not acquire it through hesychasm.
                            >
                            >


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Anastasia Theodoridis
                            Sinners have seen the Uncreated Light also, e.g., Saul of Tarsus. Anastasia
                            Message 13 of 13 , May 2 7:48 PM
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                              Sinners have seen the Uncreated Light also, e.g., Saul of Tarsus.

                              Anastasia
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