Thursday, 14 August 2008

Diadochos of Photiki, Gnostic Chapters 71 - 80

Update March 1, 2012: Please see this post.

The word of gnosis teaches us that in the beginning many passions annoy the theological soul, most of all anger and hatred. Such a soul suffers this not so much on account of the demons that bring these things into activity as on account of its own progress. For as long as the soul is carried off with the mindedness of the world, even if it should see its right trampled upon by certain people it remains unmoved and undisturbed. For taking a care to satisfy its own desires, it does not keep in view the right of God. But when it starts to be above its own passions, then because of the contempt for present things and because of the love of God it does not bear even in dreams to see the right set aside but becomes choleric with the wrong-doers and agitated until such a time as it sees that those who are insolent against righteousness have become defendants with pious attitude[1] before the dignity of righteousness. For this very reason, therefore, it hates the unrighteous and has an exceedingly great love for the righteous. For the eye of the soul becomes completely undespoiled when the curtain, the body I mean, is woven into great fineness by means of temperance. However, it is much better to weep for the insensibleness of the unrighteous than to hate them. For even if they should be worthy of hatred the word [of gnosis] does not want the God-loving soul to be annoyed by hatred, because whenever there is hatred in the soul gnosis is not active.
On the one hand the theologian, deeply sweetened and enflamed by the very sayings of God, after certain seasons sends his soul towards the breadths of dispassion[2]. For he says: ‘The sayings of God are pure sayings, fired silver tried on the earth.’ On the other hand the gnostic, established from his active experience, comes to be above the passions. The theologian, if indeed he disposes himself to be more humble, also tastes the experience of the gnostic; and the gnostic, if indeed he has the discerning part of the soul faultless, tastes for a little time the virtue of contemplation.[3] For it does not happen that the two charisms are given in their entirety to each, so that both of them being in wonder at what each has in excess of the other, humility be multiplied in them with a zeal for righteousness. For this reason the Apostle says: ‘To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit; to another is given the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.’
When the soul should be in the abundance of its natural fruits,[4] it both makes the psalmody in a louder voice and wishes to pray[5] vocally. When, however, it is put into activity[6] by the Holy Spirit, with every comfort and sweetness it chants and prays[7] only in its heart. There follows on the former disposition a joy which has been suffused with fantasy; there follows on the latter, spiritual weeping and after that a certain rejoicing of heart that loves stillness. For by means of the moderation of voice that has been maintained, the warm remembrance at all events prepares the heart to bear certain tearful and mild thoughts[8].[9] Whence it is possible, really, to see the seeds of the prayer[10] sown with tears in the ground of the heart in the hope of the harvest of joy. When, however, we are weighted with great despondency, for a little we must make the psalmody in a louder voice, striking the strings of the soul in the joy of hope up to the time that that heavy cloud is dispersed by the winds of melody.
Whenever the soul comes to be in deep knowledge of itself,[11] it brings out of itself a certain God-loving warmth. For not being confused by the cares of worldly life, it acquires a certain Eros moderately seeking the God of Peace. But this is rapidly dissipated either because the remembrance is betrayed by the senses[12] or because nature consumes its own good quickly on account of indigence.[13] Whence the wise men of the pagans did not have as it should have been whatever they thought they had attained by means of temperance, because their mind was not set into activity by the eternal and completely true Wisdom. However, the warmth which is brought to the heart by the Holy Spirit is, first, completely peaceful and unyielding[14]. It invites all the parts of the soul to a longing for God, not being fanned outside the heart;[15] and by means of it the whole man is rather brought into deep rejoicing for the sake of a certain limitless love and joy.[16] Therefore one must know the former warmth and arrive at the latter. When through temperance nature[17] is more or less healthy, there exists as a characteristic sign, natural love; but this natural love[18] is never able to make the mind good[19] up to the level of dispassion the way that spiritual love can.
This air around us remains clear when the north wind is blowing in Creation because of the certain subtle nature of that wind which brings a clear sky, but when the south wind is blowing the whole air is as it were made thick and overcast by the mist-producing nature of this wind, which from a certain relatedness bears out of its own parts clouds over the whole inhabited world. Thus also, when the soul is set into activity by the inspiration of the True and Holy Spirit it finds itself to be wholly outside the demonic mist, but when it is greatly inspired by the spirit of deception[20] it is wholly covered over by the clouds of sin. Therefore, with all our strength we must ever return our intention to the vivifying and purifying breeze of the Holy Spirit—that is, towards the Spirit[21] coming from the north that the Prophet Ezekiel saw in the light of gnosis. Then, if we do that, the contemplative part of our soul will certainly ever remain clear,[22] in order that we may then attend without deception to the divine contemplations[23], seeing in an air of light those things that belong to the light. For this is the light of true gnosis.
Certain men[24] have supposed that among the baptized Grace and sin, that is, the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of deception, are hidden in the mind at one and the same time. Whence, they say, the one person[25] calls the mind to the good things whereas the other directly calls the mind to the opposite things. From the Holy Scriptures and from the very sense[26] of the mind, however, I have comprehended that before Holy Baptism, from the outside Grace urges the soul towards the good things, whereas Satan lurks in the depths of the soul attempting to block all the exits of the mind that tend to the right[27]. But from the very hour that we are reborn[28] the demon comes to be outside and Grace inside. Whence we find that as deception reigned over the soul before [Baptism], so Truth reigns over it after Baptism. Nevertheless, after this, Satan is also active in the soul just as before (and worse, most often) yet not as present together with Grace—may it not be so!—but as it were, rather fumigating the mind with the sweetness of the irrational pleasures by means of the moisture of the body.[29] God allows this to occur so that through the storm and fire of trial the soul come to be, if it wishes, in the enjoyment of the Good. For he says: ‘For we have passed through fire and water and you have led us out into refreshment.’
Grace, as I said, is hidden in the depth of the mind from the very instant in which we are baptized, hiding, however, the very perception of its presence. However, whenever one should begin to desire God ardently from his whole intention, then by means of the sense of the mind, Grace, using a certain unspeakable word, begins to speak to the soul some certain part of its goods.[30] Whence, thenceforward he who wholly wishes to hold on to this discovery securely, comes to a desire of divesting himself of all present goods with great joy, so that, really, he acquire the field in which he has found the hidden treasure of life. For when one divests himself of all the wealth of this worldly life, then he finds the place[31] where the grace of God is hidden. For according to the progress of the soul, the Divine Gift[32] also shows its own goodness to the mind. Nonetheless, thereafter the Lord then allows the soul to be afflicted by the demons, so that he teach it the discernment of good from evil and make it more humble, on account of the great shame that occurs to it, when it is being purified, from the filthiness of the demonic thoughts.[33]
We are in the image of God in the mental[34] movement of the soul; the body is as it were the house of the soul. Therefore, since through the transgression of Adam not only were the lines of the portrait[35] soiled but our body also fell under corruption, for this reason the Holy Word of God was incarnated, as God granting to us for the sake of our rebirth the water of salvation by means of his own Baptism. For we are reborn by means of the water[36] in the activity of the Holy and Vivifying Spirit, whence we are purified directly both in soul and in body (if someone should come forth to God out of his whole disposition), the Holy Spirit sojourning in us and sin being driven away by it.[37] For it is not possible, the nature[38] of the soul being one and simple, for two persons[39] to be present in it, as some have thought. For when in a certain limitless affection the Holy Spirit attaches itself closely to the lines of the ‘according to the image’,[40] in a pledge[41] of the likeness,[42] where is it possible that the person of the Evil One might find place, there certainly being no communion at all between light and darkness? We believe, therefore, we the runners in the sacred contests,[43] that the multiform serpent is expelled from the treasuries of the mind by means of the bath of incorruption. And let us not wonder for what reason we again think bad things with the good after Baptism. For on the one hand the bath of holiness completely removes the stain of sin from us but on the other hand it does not now change the duality of our will,[44] nor certainly does it impede the demons from warring against us or speaking to us words of deceit. This is so that those very things that we did not observe when we were ‘psychic’[45], we [henceforth] guard taking up the weapons of righteousness in the power of God.
Satan, as I said, is expelled from the soul by means of Baptism, but it is permitted to him for the forementioned reasons to act on the soul by means of the body. For on the one hand the Grace of God dwells in the very depth of the soul, that is, in the mind. For he says: ‘All the glory of the daughter of the King is within;’ not appearing to the demons. For that very reason we feel a divine longing, gushing up as it were out of the depth of our heart, when we are warmly in the remembrance of God. On the other hand the evil spirits henceforward[46] leap on and lurk in the senses of the body, acting on those who are yet infants in soul by means of the licentiousness of the body. Thus, therefore, on the one hand according to the Apostle our mind ever rejoices at the laws of the Spirit, whereas on the other hand the senses of the body want to be carried off with the softness of the pleasures. Whence, among those who progress in gnosis, Grace gladdens the body into unspeakable exultation by means of the sense of the mind, whereas the demons—and certainly when they find us running the course of piety carelessly—violently capture the soul by means of the senses of the body, the murderers calling the soul to that which it does not want.
Those who say that the two persons of Grace and of sin co-exist in the hearts of the faithful[47] because the Evangelist has said: ‘And the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it;’ wish to recommend their suggestion by saying that the Divine Brightness is not at all dirtied by the sojourn together with it of the Evil One. But they are proved by the very same passage of the Gospel to be of a mindedness outside the Holy Scriptures. For since the Word of God, the True Light, deigned to appear in the flesh to his own Creation, in his immeasurable love for Mankind kindling among us his light of gnosis, (although the mindedness of the world did not comprehend the counsel of God, that is, did not know it, since the mindedness of the flesh is hostility to God)—for this reason the Theologian[48] made use of a phrase such as this. Passing over some lines in the middle, the divine continues: ‘He was the true Light which enlightens every man coming into the world;’ (instead of guides or vivifies) ‘he was in the world and the world came to be through him and the world did not know him; he came to his own places and his own people did not receive him; as many as received him, to them he gave authority to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.’ And the wisest Paul also says, interpreting the ‘did not comprehend’: ‘Not that I already have received or I already have been perfected, but I pursue so that I might perhaps comprehend, since I have already been comprehended by Christ.’ So the Evangelist does not say that Satan has not comprehended the True Light (for from the beginning he is foreign to it because it does not shine in him), but worthily he dishonours by means of this word those men who hear the mighty deeds and the wonders of the Son of God but who do not wish to approach the light of his gnosis on account of their darkened heart.

[1] Greek: logismo.
[2] Greek: apatheia. It is not clear here precisely what the author wishes to say. Ordinarily, dispassion is the virtue of the gnostic not of the theologian. That would suggest that the text means that the theologian passes for a time from theology to dispassion. However, the parallel structures that the author is using would then want something more for the gnostic than merely that he comes to be above the passions. This is quite true, certainly, but we would expect the author to continue with something about the gnostic and theology, as he does further on. Although the author is erudite there are a number of such ‘defects’ in the text as we have it—weaknesses in style. We do not of course know why.
[3] ‘Virtue of contemplation’: Greek: theoretikes aretes. Here, given the context, the author must mean the charism of speculative theology.
[4] Recall that the author contrasts the fruits which belong naturally to the soul with the charisms that accrue to it from the Holy Spirit.
[5] Greek: proseuchesthai. This word is ordinarily used for discursive intercessory prayer.
[6] Greek: energeitai.
[7] Greek: euchetai. This word ordinarily applies to the Jesus Prayer.
[8] Greek: ennoias. This might also be translated ‘ideas’ or ‘meanings’ or ‘conceptions’. Implicitly, the ennoias are spiritual. The word is to be contrasted with logismous, which is also translated ‘thoughts’ but which is used for more vulgar thoughts, even thoughts sown by the demons.
[9] In more Western terms, the voice having been kept moderate, the activity of the Holy Spirit brings the soul to a state of still, quiet and tearful compunction.
[10] Greek: euche. I.e. the Prayer of Jesus as prayed in this context.
[11] As the author develops, this is a natural activity of the soul, not something arising from the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
[12] I.e. the bodily senses.
[13] I.e. this being a natural charism, it is quickly consumed.
[14] I.e. unwavering.
[15] This means that the warmth of the Holy Spirit does not spread to the other parts of the body to excite them. This is an important principle of discernment.
[16] This sentence seems to be corrupt. We have construed it as we could.
[17] I.e. the soul in its natural attributes.
[18] The text has ‘it’ here. It is not entirely clear what the referent for this ‘it’ is. In general, the syntax of this chapter seems somewhat confused.
[19] Greek: agathon. This word is used for moral goodness.
[20] Greek: pneumatos tes planes.
[21] Greek: pneuma. This could also mean wind, although the word used previously in this chapter for wind was anemos.
[22] Greek: aithrion. I.e. clear just as the sky is clear.
[23] Greek: theoremata. While this word is usually used for discursive contemplations, here the author seems to mean intuitive contemplations of God and the things of God.
[24] I.e. the Messalians.
[25] Greek: prosopon. This would be the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of deception.
[26] Greek: aistheseos. This would be the spiritual sense that the author has discussed.
[27] Greek: dexias. I.e. to the good.
[28] I.e. in Baptism.
[29] The author seems to have in mind the image of the vapour bath.
[30] It is important to understand that this is not a matter of hearing words spoken either out loud or silently in the mind. Rather it is a matter of a non-verbal illumination by the Holy Spirit of the mind (the created spirit of man). It should also be apparent that this word spoken to the soul by the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with emotional states, especially states of enthusiasm or elation. What the author is describing is ordinarily called a plerophoria—an inner spiritual assurance conveyed non-verbally to the mind by the Holy Spirit. It is a matter of the charism of discernment for an Elder to discern whether an experience of this type is indeed from the Holy Spirit or not.
[31] As should be evident, this is the place in the mind where Grace has hidden since Baptism.
[32] I.e. the Holy Spirit received in Baptism but hidden since then.
[33] ‘Demonic thoughts’: daimonikon logismon.
[34] Greek: noero. This could well be translated ‘spiritual’.
[35] Greek: charakter.
[36] I.e. of Baptism.
[37] It should be evident that for St Diadochos this ‘sin’ is the spirit of sin, not just a juridical notion of original sin and personal sins committed.
[38] Greek: charakter.
[39] I.e. the Holy Spirit and the spirit of sin.
[40] I.e. to the soul or, more precisely in this school of mysticism, to the mind, the created spirit of man.
[41] Greek: arraboni. This is the engagement pledge of two who are betrothed to be married.
[42] As the author will discuss, by this act of the Holy Spirit Baptism restores the ‘according to the image’ but the baptized person then has to work, with the assistance of the now-indwelling Grace, on restoring the ‘according to the likeness’. However, the author is saying that this ‘according to the likeness’ is already present in potential (‘pledge’) through the act of the Holy Spirit in Baptism.
[43] The author and his kind are being compared to runners competing in the sacred games.
[44] I.e. we still have free will. The ‘now’ indicates that after the General Resurrection we will not be able to sin any more, this duality having been abolished.
[45] Greek: psychikoi. The author provides an interpretation of this mysterious usage of St Paul: he treats the ‘psychic’ person that Paul refers to as the person before Baptism, and the spiritual person that Paul refers to as the person after Baptism. An interesting interpretation.
[46] I.e. after our baptism.
[47] I.e. the baptized.
[48] I.e. St John the Evangelist.

No comments:

Post a Comment