Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Entering the Next Phase of Spiritual Development - Illumination

We are now entering a new phase in the major steps in the Orthodox spiritual life.  The first step was called Purification.  This is the stage where we work to liberate our soul from the passions.  It is one where we develop meekness and humility, setting aside our ego-centered desires and learn to practice the virtues which are based on love.  This carries us to the next phase called Illumination or often Contemplation.  It is where the true meaning of things, the logoi, are illuminated for us.  We work to see God's purpose in all things.  With this the world becomes a teacher for us about God––the divine Logos.  Finally there is Perfection which is the direct contemplation of God or mystical knowledge.

In the phase of Illumination we will cover the following topics:

   1. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
   2. Contemplation of God in Creation
   3. Spiritual Understanding of Scripture
   4. Negative and Apophatic Knowledge of God in general
   5. Steps of Apophatism
   6. Negative and Positive Theology: a Dynamic Relationship
   7. Pure Prayer
   8. Methods for Facilitation of Pure Prayer
   9. To Jesus by what is Deep Within Us
  10. Mental Rest: the First Step of Stillness

The First phase is a necessary preparation for the Second.  And the Second for the Third.  There is a progression in our spiritual growth.  Beware of trying to skip beyond the level which is appropriate.  It is wise to follow the guidance of a spiritual Father.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 69 -73

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