Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summary of the the Stage of Illumination

The first phase of Orthodox Spirituality as outlined by Fr. Dimitru Staniloae was Purification.  He sees this as the necessary prelude to the second phase called Illumination.  The fist phase involves ascetical practices to cleanse us of our passions, liberating the mind for contemplation on the Divine.

Part Two: Illumination

In the phase of Illumination we learn to gain a new kind of knowledge that goes beyond mental concepts.  We first begin to see the divine intent in all things, discovering their truth and purpose, the logoi.  In this we see the handiwork of God in all things.  As we pursue this level of contemplation we begin to realize the limits of our knowledge and mentally classify our knowledge of God as not this or not that, but something beyond that is not subject to our normal powers of reason.  We discover and enter the higher reaches of the mind that is above reason.  Seeing that our conceptual knowledge is limited and inadequate we lose our ego-centered self and face an abyss of unknown.  This involves a letting go of all our concepts and discovering the pure self deep within our being, in the heart.  The way we bridge this abyss and enter into this mystical state and knowledge is thorough pure prayer.  With our focus on Jesus, we enter into the chamber of the inner heart and rest in the stillness that we find there.  We are bathed in knowledge that is higher and not subject to classification by concepts.  We lack words to describe this kind of knowledge.  We are now prepared to receive the gift of the Divine light and our union with God.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality by Dimitru Staniloae

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