The Aladzha Monastery

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Hesychasm

Type: stati | Historic Period:

As a religious doctrine within Orthodoxy, Hesychasm represents a kind of “revival” of the eastern meditative monkhood with its own theory and specific practice (“psycho-physical method”, “clever prayer” ). In a mystical way it gives the opportunity of contemplating the Divine light, and uniting with God, and obsesses continuously and permanently the spiritual life of Byzantium and the other Slavonic countries in the second half of 14th c.
In order to convince his students that he really is the God’s Son and Saviour, Jesus Christ appears in front of the apostles Peter, John and Jacob in the Mount Tabor. The God’s Son transfigures in front of them, his face brightens up as the sun, and his clothes turn snow-white. On his both sides appear Moses and Elijah, the two men from the Old Testament, and talk to Him. At that moment, a voice comes from the heaven, saying; “This is My beloved Son, in Him I am well-pleased ”. With these words God the Father reveals the real Divine glory of His Son.
But the Tabor light may be seen only by a man having realised its nature. The old men from the Aton monasteries have recorded that there are three types of light:
The first type is the physical, material, tactile light, in which a man sees the world surrounding him. This light is accessible not only to man but to all living creatures as well.
The second type is inherent to man only. This is the intellectual light – the brain’s light. This is the light of science, philosophy, and art. This light is spiritual but it cannot light up the metaphysical depths of the Genesis...
There is yet another type of light – spiritual light but it is eternal and not generated by a human hand, that is revealed only in front of the devotees through heart cleansing by prayers and contemplation. This is the light of belief, the light of spiritual insight and intuition, the light of the Tabor Transfiguration.

 

The psycho-physical “clever” prayer

In the admonitions of St. Reverend Symeon the New Theologian († around 1020):
“ Sit down speechless and secluded, bow your head, close your eyes, breathe more slowly, through your imagination look inside your heart and move your brains (i.e. throw away your thoughts) from your head and heart.
When breathing, say: ”Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!”, quietly with your mouth or only in your mind.”……
“… In the same way imagine that you can see your heart live as much as you can, and listen carefully with your ears how it beats. When you get used to that, start assigning words of pray to every beat of your heart while looking at it. This way, with the first beat say or think “Lord”, with the second one – “Jesus”, and with the third one – “Christ”, with the fourth one – “have mercy”, with the fifth one – “on me”, and keep repeating it…Then, once you get used to that, begin taking in and taking out of the heart the whole pray to Jesus, together with breathing. And as the saint fathers teach, when you take in air in yourself, say or think to yourself: ”Lord Jesus Christ”, and when you take it out – “have mercy on me”. Do this more frequently and more and soon you will feel a slight pleasant pain in the heart, and then warmth and bliss will appear in it…