Thursday, July 15, 2010

Perfection: Divine Light - Knowledge Beyond Knowledge

The Divine Light is of a spiritual nature, fills the mind, and reveals the mystical realities of God.

The Light which is seen in pure prayer is beyond all that can be known through our senses and reason.  In effect it surpasses knowledge.  It is a higher knowledge (supra-knowledge) based on a relationship with God.

Saint Gregory Palamas says,
Because union surpasses the power of the mind it is higher than all mental functions and it isn't knowledge, and because it is a relationship of the mind and God, it is something incomparably higher than the power which ties the mind with things created, that is than knowledge.  Such union with God is thus beyond all knowledge.... This union is a unique reality.  For whatever name one gives to it––union, vision, a sense perception, knowledge, intellection, illumination––would not properly speaking apply to it, or else would properly apply to it alone.
The divine light is often referred to as a vision (not based on the imagination which include apparitions and so forth) reached by a leap through the descent of Spirit.

Fr Dimitru Staniloae says,
The vision of the divine light is a vision and a knowledge [caused by] a divine energy, and received by man by means of a divine energy.  It is a vision and a knowledge according to the divine way. Man sees and knows qualitatively as God, or "spiritually and divinely"...
Saint Gregory Palamas gives us an analogy.
The light of knowledge may be compared to a lamp that shines in an obscure place, whereas the light of mystical contemplation is compared to the morning star which shines in full daylight.
Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 341-343 

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