Sunday, 24 January 2010

‘The Name of God as Nondifferent From Himself’

We recently received the following email:

Dear Monks,

I am interested in Mount Athos and monastic life, since I heard you accept the name of god as nondifferent from himself. And also accept that chanting his name is the means to spiritual development.

Can people who are not orthodox become monks and live in Mount Athos? I myself follow the 4 regulative principles: No illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication or gambling.



We were struck by the phrase ‘nondifferent from himself’ since it sounded like a technical term in oriental religion. So we googled it. We saw that the phrase is associated with a branch of Hinduism that includes but does not seem to be limited to ‘Hare Krishna’.

From our vantage point here in the Arctic, here’s what we can say to Arnold:

According to law of the State of Greece, which exercises sovereignty over the peninsula of Mt Athos as an integral part of the Greek State, only members of the Orthodox Church in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch can take up permanent residence on Mt Athos. We imagine that Arnold would be able to visit Mt Athos for a few days but not to remain there.

Also, although there are similarities between the Jesus Prayer and ‘Hare Krishna’—both involve the repetition of a fixed phrase—the Orthodox Church definitely does not accept that the name of Jesus is ‘nondifferent from himself’. This is a Hindu position having to do with Hinduism in one of its manifestations, and not with the teachings of the Orthodox Church. For more information Arnold could look at our recent posts which contain the text and our commentary on the Gnostic Chapters of Diadochos of Photiki. In that work Diadochos discusses the practice of the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Church. He emphasizes the connection of the Jesus Prayer to Orthodox Baptism. This is a very ancient work in the Orthodox Church, from 450 AD. We would also suggest that Arnold read our recent Commentary on the Our Father, which at times discusses the relation between prayer and God.

If Arnold has more interest in the Orthodox understanding of these matters he should address himself to the nearest Orthodox Bishop or priest.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the world of All Attractive Lord; Krishna.......Hare Krishna. Chant & be happy. His name is non-different from Him, that makes Him absolute in the real sense...Cheers.