Thursday, June 17, 2010

Contemplation of God in Creation

Before we can expect to directly contemplate God we must first contemplate Him in nature.  It is by the beauty, order and mystery of the created world that we are guided to our union with Him.

There is a reason behind every created thing. This truth is called the logoi of the thing or event.  The Church Fathers use this term to emphasize that there is an objective truth behind all things.  The logoi are their sense, purpose, cause, finality and special relationship with everything else.  This truth is not a relative truth or subjective one.  

It is true that when most of us view an object or event we will have a different view of it. What seems relative in the truth of things is only due to our self-interest or our opinions being imposed on things and events.  When we develop dispassion and humility through the steps of Purification, these self-opinions disappear so that the truth of things, the logoi, is revealed in a pure objective sense.  These logoi are the obedience that the thing has to its Creator.  They come from God as divine directives. They represent God's ideas. The reality of all creation is that they are the same no matter which person is viewing them once we strip away the clutter of ego-centeredness from the observer.

Through the logoi of things we can gain an understanding of the divine Logos which is God, supreme reason, once we have overcome the passions.  
Saint Maximus the Confessor says,
The mind which cultivates in the spirit natural contemplation... recieves the proof of the creative Logos of all things from the beautiful order of visible things"
This truth or logoi is hidden in things.  As we contemplate them we will discover rays of the divine Logos. As we discover these truths hidden in things, we gradually ascend to the knowledge of God and our personal relationship with Him.

Fr. Dimitru Staniloae says,
On the road to our approach to God stands the world––we must pass through the understanding of it.... The world imposed on everyone as a stone for sharpening his spiritual faculties.... If we look at its beauty in order to praise its Creator, we are saved; if we think that its fruit is pure and simply something to eat, we are lost.  Salvation is not obtained in isolation, but in a cosmic frame. 
Through our contemplation of the things of the world we are stripping away from all things our biases, images and limited views we have imposed on them, which comes from our way of life being subjected to the passions.

In addition to nature we have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of the Divine Logos.  Therefore, by studying Scripture, the life of Jesus and his teachings, we can also gain spiritual insights.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 203 - 207 

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