Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Perfection: The Mind and the Divine Light

What is the Divine Light?

Fr. Dimitru Staniloae says,
It is, from one point of view, simply the happy radiation of divine love, experienced in a more intensive form in moments of ecstatic focus on God.
The experience which characterizes this state could be expressed by three terms: love, a knowledge by experience, higher than conceptual; and the light which is the expression of joy.
To attain this state is a journey.  The mind finds itself through prayer.  When the passions have been overcome and the mind is still, there is a descent of divine love which is often experienced as uncreated light.  There is an ascent through purification and illumination and then the divine descent for our purification.

Saint Gregory Palamas describes it as follows:
The one who desires union with God... frees his soul as much as possible from every impure tie, and dedicates his mind to unceasing prayer to God, and by this becomes wholly himself; he finds a new and secret ascent to the heavens, an unapproachable ascent to the silence of the initiate, as someone might say. With an unspeakable pleasure, he submerges his mind in this deep night full of pure, full, and sweet quietness, of a true tranquility and silence and he is lifted up above all creatures.  In this way, he completely goes out of himself and becomes wholly of God; he sees a divine light inaccessible to the senses as such, but precious and holy to pure souls and minds; without this vision the mind couldn't see by being united with things above it, only by its mental sense, just as the body's eye can't see without perceptible light.
In the divine light the mind is enabled to see God directly and to find itself in union with Him.  This is not a light which is beyond itself or higher,

Gregory Palamas again,
But seeing itself, it sees more than itself: it does not simply contemplate some other object, or simply its own image, but rather the glory impressed on its own image by the grace of God.  This radiance reinforces the mind's power to transcend itself, and to accomplish that union with those better things which is beyond  understanding.  By this union, the mind sees God in the Spirit in a manner transcending human powers.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 327 - 336 

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