Monday, June 21, 2010

Illumination: Steps Needed to Discern Truth

"Preparation is necessary because our reason, in every condition of our life, doesn't remain invariable with the same capacity to objectively capture the truth."

The following are the steps outlined by Fr. Dimitru Staniloae to return to the way of truth.

1. The first is faith.  We need to be obedient to God's commandments.

2. Second, is a long term effort to direct our lives and to explain things in the world in light of our faith.
This involves the steps of purification outlined earlier.  We need to gain control over the passions, gain a life of virtue, and give up seeing things as objects for egoistic satisfaction.

3. Third, we need the experiences of life gained by the first two steps.
This develops valid value judgments and legitimizes an explanation of things and their logoi having their source in God.  We learn that a life directed only on fleshly things is a distortion of the full reality.  We realize a life of faith and observe the truth of life.  We understand that discernment is based on more than what we can learn from our own rationalization or judgment.  We begin to realize the logoi in things are also logoi in God.  Our discrimination of logoi becomes ever clearer.

4. Fourth, with this increased sharpness of mind our discernment is accelerated.  We can see what is evil or good in a thing or event at our first glance. With a long habit of such discernment we realize logoi do not consist of fleshly utility but in a revelation of a spiritual sense––a divine intention.  This is all gained gradually as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

5. Finally, we develop the capacity to grasp the rational relationships of things and events with the logoi of other things and events.

Fr. Dimitru concludes this chapter,
For  man to know the Logos from nature and Scripture, something necessary for him if he wants to reach perfection, he must understand both of them "in spirit" going beyond their material covering.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 214 - 223 

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