Friday, June 19, 2009

Final thought on Attentiveness by Saint Basil

Saint Basil suggests that we should be attentive to the structure of the body and how it is an appropriate place for the rational soul to dwell. Think about how we differ from the animals. We have been fashioned by God to be able to look towards heaven and NOT to be slaves to our passions – the desires of the stomach or our sexual drives.

The nature of our makeup cannot but help to lift you to become attentive to its Creator.

Saint Basil concludes,

“Then God placed the head at the top, locating in it the most valuable of the senses. There sight, and hearing, and taste, and smell have been established, all near each other. And although confined in a small space, none of them impedes the activity of its neighbor. The eyes have laid hold of the highest lookout point so that nothing blocks their view of the body’s parts, but placed under the small projection of the eyebrows, they reach out from the prominence above in a direct line. Again, the hearing is not directed straight, but by a spiral-shaped pathway it takes hold of the noises in the air. This indeed exhibits the highest wisdom, enabling sound to pass though unhindered, or rather be led in, bending around the twists, while nothing from outside that accidentally falls in can be a hindrance to the auditory perception. Examine closely the nature of the tongue, how it is tender and nimble and is sufficient by its varied movement for every need of speech. Teeth, also organs of speech, provide strong resistance to the tongue and at the same time also take care of food, some cutting it and others grinding it. And so when you have traversed all things with suitable reflection on each, and have observed carefully how air is drawn in through breath, how warmth is kept around the heart, and the organs of digestion, and the channels of blood, from all these you will perceive the unsearchable wisdom of the Creator [Rom 11.33]. So you will also say to him with the prophet, "Your knowledge from myself has become wonderful" [Ps 138.6].

Therefore be attentive to yourself, that you may be attentive to God, to whom be glory and dominion unto the ages.”

Quotes from On the Human Condition, trans. by Nonna Vera Harrison, pp 93-105

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