Thursday, March 4, 2010

Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Heart

Saint Theophan speaks to one of our greatest challenges (At least one of mine).

You've got to get out of your head and into your heart. Right now your thoughts are in your head, and God seems to be outside you. Your prayer and all your spiritual exercises also remain exterior. As long as you are in your head, you will never master your thoughts, which continue to whirl around your head like snow in a winter's storm or like mosquitoes in the summer's heat. If you descend into your heart, you will have no more difficulty. Your mind will empty out and your thoughts will dissipate. 

Thoughts are always in your mind chasing one another about, and you will never manage to get them under control. But if you enter into your heart and can remain there, then every time your thoughts invade, you will only have to descend into your heart and your thoughts will vanish into thin air. This will be your safe haven. Don't be lazy. Descend. You will find life in your heart. There you must live.
- St. Theophan the Recluse

So what does it mean to descend?  Is he talking about surrender?  Surely this involves much ascetic effort to purify our heart, to open its gates, to overcome our ego-centeredness.  

Keep up the fast.  It prepares us to receive many rewards.
* As quoted in Jean-Yves Leloup, Being Still: Reflections on an Ancient Mystical Tradition (New York: Paulist Press, 2003), p. 124.

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