Hesychasm

Septextura

Active member
Why this? Is it to self-induce trance and hypnosis? To catch divine sparks, absorb God's radiant energy like eastern mystics do in Islam, Hinduism, Shamanism, Buddhism and Kabbalah?


Someone sits in a monastery and repeats a short sentence all day for 80 years. Why? How does this serve God? What does it do for Christ's Kingdom?

Matthew 6:7
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

As long as it's vetted by a council of few men then it's OK I guess.
When Gregorios Palamas defended Hesychasm (the Eastern Orthodox Church's mystical teaching on prayer), Barlaam accused him of heresy. Three Orthodox synods ruled against him and in Palamas's favor (two "Councils of Sophia" in June and August 1341, and a "Council of Blachernae" in 1351).

100 years later God gave His own council by the fall of Constantinople. Now you can hear the muezzin call to prayer at Hagia Sophia.


If you want to navel gaze in Asia Minor, now you have to see a Turkish belly dance instead of a Hesychast prayer.

Navel-gazing or omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation.
Actual use of the practice as an aid to contemplation of basic principles of the cosmos and human nature is found in the practice of yoga or Hinduism and sometimes in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In yoga, the navel is the site of the manipura (also called nabhi) chakra, which yogis consider "a powerful chakra of the body".[3][4] The monks of Mount Athos, Greece, were described as Omphalopsychians by J.G. Minningen, writing in the 1830s, who says they "...pretended or fancied that they experienced celestial joys when gazing on their umbilical region, in converse with the Deity".

If anyone is interested on the topic of Hindu religious syncretism in Eastern Orthodoxy, give this a read.
The present article will try to show differences and similarities in description about the ascetic teaching and mystical experience of two totally different spiritual traditions, i.e. in regard to the “Jesus Prayer” in the late Byzantine era and “yoga” in ancient India. A prayer made much use of by Christians in the Eastern Orthodox Church is the so-called “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the heart,” including a short phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me” that is repeatedly and continuously recited.

The Jesus Prayer began to spread generally in the Eastern Church with the birth of “hesychasm,” a spiritual movement of Orthodox monasticism in the 14th century Byzantine empire. But a significant part of this movement was not so much the establishment of the Jesus Prayer itself but a special psycho-physical technique which began to be practiced with this prayer by monks on the Holy Mountain of Athos. What interests us in this regard is that this psycho-physical method, including a special bodily posture and a breath control technique, appears to be quite similar to the methods set out in another religious tradition, namely that of yoga that developed from ancient times in India.

Because of its impressive similarity, a Byzantinologist, Endre von Ivánka, called the practitioners of hesychasm “byzantinische Yogis.”2 For this present article we take up the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali with its comprehensive method of yoga, and clarify similarities and differences in the conceptual and methodological frameworks of the two systems.
 
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Sherman

Active member
While the music sample you posted is pretty sounding to my ear, to repeat for a hour or more, does seem rather pointless.
 

Septextura

Active member
The core of the new doctrine was ancient hesychastic practice: ceaseless repetition, day and night, of the "Jesus Prayer " ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner "), while breathing is coordinated with the timing of these words. The purpose was to obliterate mind altogether, as was described by a Russian practitioner in this time:

"Listen to me, a sinner. I reveal to you a secret .... After my arrival at Neamtu Monastery, hearing from Starets Paisius about Hesychast prayer, I began to experiment with it. This prayer appeared to me so sweet that I liked it above everything else in the world! For this reason I isolated myself from the brethren, I loved silence and went often to solitude avoiding all scandals and particularly, vain talk. For the sake of this prayer, I often became a recluse. I spent all my strength in order to attain it, even to the point of prostration. Many years passed by in this kind of living and little by little prayer began to deepen .... I sleep hardly one hour in twenty-four, and then sitting. When I rise again, it seems as if I never slept. And even when I sleep my heart is watching .... If I wish, I can weep without stopping .... Often I rise in the evening to read Psalms or say the Prayer of Jesus and I become enraptured, drawn out of myself I know not where, in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows. Only when I come to myself it is already light. But a sting of the flesh is given to me-to disturb me-to keep me humble. In no wise can I be with people, still less with laymen. With women I cannot even talk. For more than 40 years, in Moldavia, no woman has visited me although many wanted to have a talk with me. But I refuse, saying that I am ill. " - (Quoted in Sergius Bolshakoff's Russian Mystics, CistercianPublications, Inc., 1977.)

Alexandre Bennigsen, the Orthodox-bred specialist in Sufism, has compared the Russian Orthodox technique of "the Jesus Prayer" to the Sufi practice of zikr, which also employs hyperventilation in the pursuit of mystic ecstasy.


Dhikr (Arabic: ذِكْر‎, romanized: ḏikr, IPA: [ðɪkr]), also spelled Zikr, Thikr, Zekr,[1]:470 or Zikar,[2] literally means "remembrance, reminder" or "mention, utterance". They are Islamic devotional acts, in which phrases or prayers are repeated. It can be counted on a set of prayer beads (Misbaha مِسْبَحَة) or through the fingers of the hand. It plays a central role in Sufi Islam.[3] A person who recites the Dhikr is called a ḏākir (ذَاكِر, [ðaːkɪr]). Tasbih (تَسْبِيح), literally meaning "glorification" (i.e. the saying of "subḥāna -llāhi" [Arabic: سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ‎]) is a form of dhikr that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences glorifying God. The content of the prayers includes the names of God, or a dua (prayer of supplication) taken from the hadiths or the Quran.

 

Theophilos

New member
Or it is taking the Bible literally:

Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thes 5:17-18 KJV
 

Septextura

Active member
Or it is taking the Bible literally:

Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thes 5:17-18 KJV

How about this verse?

Matthew 6
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

heathen = pagan
 

Theophilos

New member
Perhaps the key word is "vain". Heathens address their prayers to numerous deities, not the one true God. Also the prayer needs to be sincere, not mindless.

A few verses later in Matthew, Jesus instructs his disciple to pray the Lord's prayer. The prayer is to be prayed daily:

Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Likewise, the angels in heaven pray unceasingly the same hymn of praise:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Rev. 4:8
 

Septextura

Active member
Perhaps the key word is "vain".

The context is on repetitions or "much speaking." But Hesychasm certainly falls in the vain category as well.

If only these monks chose to praise God like Revelation 4:8 and not constantly asking something repetitively.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
....


Ironically, they are not even asking for mercy. It's just a mantra to induce a state of trance. The words could be anything and it would work to the same effect.
 

Theophilos

New member
The context is on repetitions or "much speaking." But Hesychasm certainly falls in the vain category as well.

If only these monks chose to praise God like Revelation 4:8 and not constantly asking something repetitively.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
....


Ironically, they are not even asking for mercy. It's just a mantra to induce a state of trance. The words could be anything and it would work to the same effect.

The prayer is based on the Gospel of Luke:

. . . the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:13-14

Personally I try to mind read about other people's motives. Here is more background on the Jesus prayer:
The Jesus Prayer - Prayer & Spiritual Life - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (goarch.org)
 

Septextura

Active member
The prayer is based on the Gospel of Luke

You can take any sentence from the Bible as a mantra, and given enough repetitions and hyperventilation exercises, you will fall into a state of trance, hallucinate, open yourself to suggestion from lying spirits etc. You don't even need a sentence, just hum. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......

And there's another problem. If Hesychasm is vain repetition, then you are repeatedly saying God's name in vain perhaps millions of times in your lifespan. A normal unsaved ungodly heathen may do it only thousands of times in his life.

Exodus 20:7
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
 
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Theophilos

New member
You can take any sentence from the Bible as a mantra, and given enough repetitions and hyperventilation exercises, you will fall into a state of trance, hallucinate, open yourself to suggestion from lying spirits etc. You don't even need a sentence, just hum. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......

And there's another problem. If Hesychasm is vain repetition, then you are repeatedly saying God's name in vain perhaps millions of times in your lifespan. A normal unsaved ungodly heathen may do it only thousands of times in his life.

Exodus 20:7
The question is what the intent of the monks is. Are you able to read minds?

My observation is that prayerful use of the Jesus prayer is entirely consistent with scripture which calls on Christians to pray unceasingly (1 Thes 5:17) and to show complete humility (Eph 4:2).
 

Septextura

Active member
The question is what the intent of the monks is. Are you able to read minds?

I can't read minds but I can read what they say their goal is. It's to bade oneself in God's energies (ousia-energeia distinction), being filled in the Spirit, then they can exercise the spiritual gifts described in the Bible. They've reduced God to sun worship and humans to solar panels.

It's the same as Kabbalah in the form of catching divine sparks (Sefirot's ten energies or emanations of the Divine that are reflected in the human soul). Same thing with the Kundalini spirit, the energy in the body when cultivated and awakened through tantric practice, is believed to lead to spiritual liberation and supernatural manifestations (miracles like levitating, healing). Catholics do this, Sufi muslims, gnostics, shamanism, buddhism etc, all false religions do the same. It's a simulation of spirituality. It's spiritualism, but it's not of God. If it was, it would make all religions valid (kinda like ecumenism *wink*, *wink*).

One thing is for sure. God abhors eastern mysticism influencing His people.

Isaiah 2
5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
6 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.

Icons are considered spiritual lenses, focusing God's energy into a material location, example a home or temple building. They are ascribed divine properties... just like in Hinduism. Icons and statues are called Avatars in Hinduism.





Notice the prayer beads (Japamalas, beads, rope knots, same thing really) in one hand and battle axe in the other. This is the theologian King like Justinian I, or its western reverso alternative, Cesaropapism. State power and Church spiritual peace together in Symphonia.
 
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Theophilos

New member
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27

The Greek verb corresponding to "baptized" means to immerse or dip. Paul said baptized Christians have been immersed into Christ and have put on Christ. That sounds pretty mystical to me.

Was Paul secretly a Hindu?
 

Septextura

Active member
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27

This is about being born again, baptized (immersed) by the Holy Spirit, sealed for eternal life. When monks meditate with mantras and breeding exercises to induce a state of trance, they are not getting baptized and being born again over and over again.
 
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