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Theosis and Hesychasm

Discussion in 'Orthodox Christian DIR' started by DanielR, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hello,

    I'm a born EOChristian, but believe it or not I've never heard about Theosis until about 2 years ago :p, I've always thought that concept was more to be found in Eastern Religions like Hinduism.

    So, I'd really like to know, what happens if we don't achieve theosis in this lifetime??

    And is anybody here practising Hesychasm, it's basically the JesusPrayer right??
     
  2. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Hi there! :) One of the things I like about Orthodox Christianity is the fact that so many of the attractive teachings and practices of other religions can also be found within Orthodox Christianity, or reconciled to it without any issues. I can touch on this more if you want. :yes:

    Well, the process of Theosis is never over. Even when we're in Heaven, we'll never be done with Theosis, since God's perfection and Godliness is infinite.

    But as long as we make sincere and honest attempts at making progress with Theosis, then I have no doubt that God will accept that and grant us a favorable judgement.

    And as you are no doubt aware, we as Orthodox pray for the dead, that God may have mercy on them and cleanse them of their sin. The reason we do this, is that it is believed that we are able to continue to make some progress with Theosis even when we're dead, or at the very least, that God will have mercy on them and forgive them at the Judgement, and grant them Paradise and life eternal.

    Well, yes, the Jesus Prayer is a huge PART of Hesychasm, and I should be saying the Jesus Prayer more often than I do (which is once in a blue moon these days). I think this page on Hesychasm from OrthodoxWiki will be helpful to you, and to anyone else lurking:

    I know it's a popular (and true) saying that in Orthodoxy, everyone practices monasticism to an extent, including laypeople and married persons. This means that all of us are to practice discipline, stick to a prayer rule, participate in the Sacramental life of the Church and to regularly fast. But I'm just an inquirer into Orthodoxy at the moment, and likely won't complete my conversion for a while. Because of that, I haven't really started in on Hesychasm. If I remember correctly, those outside of the Church are discouraged from practicing Hesychasm, since they don't have the proper support and help that's available to those within the Church.
     
    #2 Shiranui117, Dec 21, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  3. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    yes, I would love to read that!! I noticed a lot of similarities with Hinduism, am I right about that, thanks for your response!

    thank you I didn't understand that before!

    Isn't it funny that most people (well all the Orhodox people I know in my family, friends etc :) ) don't even know about Theosis, maybe it depends, I can speak of Serbia only.
     
  4. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
    Premium Member It's My Birthday!

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    Story:

    A couple of years ago, as I explored the roots of my own birth tradition,the United Methodist Church,
    I came across a teaching by John Wesley, who was the Anglican priest who originally started 'Methodism' as a practice,
    not a sect.

    The teaching is called 'Christian Perfection' and Wesley has his own version of it,
    and as I read, it draws heavily on EO's theosis/divinization.

    That interested my HIGHLY....
    and was a page turning in my relationship to Christianity....
    But not necessarily to the Divine....

    In 2001 seeking mystic/contemplative practices, is what drew me to eastern religions,
    even though I didn't know at the time that that is what I was searching for by name....

    Once after a personal Bible study, I meditated by accident, and being me....
    I sought out more information on 'how to do'...etc...
    That led me to Buddhism, which to this day is best explanation for the corner stone of my practice.

    Had I only known about these aspects of my own tradition, the Methodists...
    And the deep wealth of mysticism in RC and EOC traditions.

    My first involvement with Christian Mysticism was through the RC's drop in centre, in the town I was living at....
    I volunteered there, and went to the diocese centre for a retreat, where I came across a book on Mysticism....

    That started the journey for me into this, which led to a lot more reading....
    Which led to the Methodism connection, which led to reading about EOC....
    And more reading... and discussions here.... videos... reading....

    At this point of my life I'm attending Buddhist meditation groups as I have for the longest time,
    and have been back in a Christian church for almost 3 years now... it is the Anglican church.
    The one I am currently at is a High Church,
    and the Father there is very into the fact that I am interested in mystic/contemplative practice...
    Secretly I think it finally give him someone else to talk about it with :D
    So there I've been fairly free to experience and experiment on my own....
    This has truly helped me grow back into a relationship with Christianity...

    But the more I talk with folks here about EOC... the more I wonder....
    if I'm wasting time at the Anglican Church... or if it's exactly what I need right now?


    Anyway... I'm really glad that you folks are here.
    Thanks for letting me talk.


    One last note.... I agree that Hinduism seems to have a lot in common with this vein of Christian traditions.
    After feeling like giving up the God question, deciding to just live my life For, In and With God...
    whatever it was... In Advaita (Non-dual) Vedanta, there I encountered a description and essence of God that I could understand, and that would be more of a pan(en)theistic Beingness....

    The more I thought about it... the more I felt that this 'God' described in Advaita,
    was the very was I knew God when I was just a child...
    And that childlike nature of mind is what I've focused on and recalled over the years since seeing that memory....

    Point is...

    Buddhism gave me a practice for action and contemplation,
    which I felt helped me actually be a better and aware Christian...
    even though I wouldn't say I was one exactly...
    but the same... it helped me never close the door.

    Hinduism brought yoga.... a prescription for knowing God in our lives...
    and a theistic concept I could relate to....

    Catholics introduced me to mysticism....
    And at that point I started attending Anglican worship...
    Meeting encouraging friends in Anglicanism has let me explore a different Christianity...
    Made me want to explore my roots....

    And found out that my birth-tradition had some EOC threads in the fabric of the tradition of Methodism...

    The further you go... the more you realize you don't really 'go' anywhere....

    LoL....

    THAT is Divine Humour right there.

    I'm still just being me... I'm not sure I'm a 'Christian'...
    Or if it's now just a part of my Universal acceptance of Gems where they occur....
    Perhaps I'm a very left wing Christian?
    But the more I read about EOC... and talk with folks here...
    The more normal and towards the centre I feel....
    I still might be a little 'far out'....
    Or not that into literalism.....
    But maybe I should more seriously consider talking to someone at the Greek EOC church here in town?


    /rant :D


    Thanks for listening...
    And thanks for being incredibly open to more talking and posting in your DIR.
    I hope the sharing of myself is quite alright and not offensive to any of your sensibilities...
    and I hope my notions of EOC aren't offensive or misguided.


    :namaste
     
  5. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Thanks for your post SageTree!

    I was at first a bit disappointed in Christianity because there seemed to be no practice to me, that's why I kept looking at other philosophies, especially in Hinduism (like you mentioned Advaita and Yoga for example). Only recently I realised that it was all there in EOC as well, now I'm alternating breathing meditation with Jesus Prayer, and theosis reminds me of merging with Brahman although I know it's not really the same!

    :)
     
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  6. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    I'm not gonna lie, I don't know much about Hindu practice; I'm only aware of a few VERY simple basics. I can speak a bit more to the similarities I see between Orthodoxy and Buddhism, however.

    In Buddhism, (SageTree, please correct me if I'm wrong here) on the one hand you have the Theravada Buddhists, who say that we have no real essence of "self", but that our not-self is made up of our body, mind, emotions, reactions, and consciousness, and our perception of "self" is made up of the union of all these things. Since each of these things is constantly changing, so is our "self." And because we're just more or less the sum of our parts, there's no deep, vast, hidden part of us that's unchangeable or permanent; if we try to dive below the surface, then just as soon as we think we're finally in this deep, dark part of us, we simply find that we're back on the surface.

    On the other hand, you have the Mahayana Buddhists, who say that we all have a "Buddha-Nature," that is, the potential to become a Buddha and to achieve Nirvana. The way it's presented seems more like an essence of "self," or at least that's what I've seen a few Theravada Buddhists accuse it of.

    Learning those two concepts and bringing them into my understanding of Orthodoxy actually opened my eyes to a fundamental truth about our Faith: Since we ARE always changing as the Theravadins say, we have the potential to repent (in Greek metanoia, literally, to change one's heart/mind) and turn towards God. And rather than "Buddha-Nature," perhaps you could say that we all have a "Christ-Nature," i.e. that part of us that has the potential to become more and more like Him through theosis.

    Likewise, in Buddhist meditation, one has the concept of watchfulness, that is, being aware of our bodies, minds, thoughts and feelings. Not interacting with any reactions, impulses, feelings, sensations, etc. or prodding them, but just watching them arise, linger, then pass.

    In the Philokalia, there are many monks who wrote entire writings about watchfulness, being aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, bodily sensations, etc. For one example:

    Source

    So, in Orthodoxy, watchfulness is used to guard against sin and sinful passions. Some monks felt that we only needed to extinguish the sinful side of our passions, and use the purified forms of our passions to serve, love and cooperate with God. Other monks felt, like the Buddha, that all desires and cravings must be extinguished in order to go further with theosis, and that once the passions were extinguished, one would have almost no desire to sin, and would be completely open to whatever God wanted them to do. I see good in both these goals.

    And then we have Taoism, or the Way of Balance between all things. One of the fundamental points is attuning ourselves to the Tao (or "Way," in English) and to the Universe, and that going against this Tao causes suffering for ourselves and everything and everyone around us. But by working WITH the Tao, and not against it, we can act effortlessly, wthout trying; we just do it naturally (wu wei). Some people call it wei wu wei, or action without action.

    I'm going to use a martial arts example, since that's how I understand it. Say someone's pushing me in a fight. What's the best way to respond, the most effortless way? I pull them. They push, I pull, and I step to the side and let them fall flat on their faces. I'm not fighting AGAINST them, but I'm coordinating my actions and energy WITH theirs to achieve the intended result.

    Further, in Hapkido, the martial art that I practice, we sort of embody these Taoist concepts, knowingly or unknowingly, in two of our Three Principles.
    One of these two Principles is "Harmony theory," which is more or less what I described above. We don't use brute strength to try and force ourselves against what our opponent is doing, but we act in such a way that combines both our energy and our opponent's energy--and uses it against them. This incorporates both "wu wei" and the attuning of oneself to their surroundings, and if one applies the Harmony theory outside of just fighting, one learns to attune themselves to the "Tao," or the Way of the universe.
    The second Principle that comes more or less straight from Taoism is "Water theory," that is, flowing like water. Water flows effortlessly and gently, yet can carve through rock and penetrate through almost any space. It conforms to the container that it's in, and can always find a way around the rock. Water theory is thus an embodiment of "wu wei."

    The final thing in Taoism that I'll touch on is the idea that we must return to our natural state of being in alignment with the Tao, and in this natural state, we are like carefree children, simple, without worries, simply going along our way, being compassionate, loving and humble.

    Now, what does all this have to do with Orthodoxy? SUPPOSEDLY (note the emphasis on "supposedly" and don't quote me on this), Lao Zi hinted that the Tao could be a Person. A few hundred years later, Jesus says that He is the "WAY, the Truth, and the Life." See the connection? ;) There was an entire book written about the comparison between the Tao and Christ: Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene. I haven't read it, but the reviews seem fairly solid. Also note that Christianity's first name was "The Way," as shown in Acts 9:2.

    In addition, Christ said that we must be like what to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? We must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! :D

    13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10)

    But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16)

    (cont)
     
  7. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    At first I thought, if I don't reach theosis in this lifetime, then maybe I should be reborn? But I know this is not an option in Orthodox C.

    I love philosophical Taoism, I've read on wiki, I think, that Tao was similar to the logos, do you think one could incorporate the Taoist practice of Qi Gong or Tai chi into Orthodoxy?
     
  8. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    (Cont)
    And then, in Orthodoxy, there is the concept that we must conform ourselves to the will of God. The Will of God can be said to be the Christian equivalent to the Tao. "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." And in prayer, we echo the words of Christ: "Not my will be done, but Yours."

    Christ said, "For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)
    And in Romans 12:2, Paul writes, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    No problem! :)

    Perhaps they know what theosis is and are actually practicing it, but don't know that it has a name?

    Fascinating. I find it interesting how many sects and movements in Western Christianity borrow or rediscover Orthodox concepts and practices... :)

    I do think that we Christians (and we Orthodox especially) need to do a better job of presenting the more mystical side of our faith. I feel that that kind of practice and experiential faith is what many people these days need and are looking for, and sadly, they can go their entire lives without knowing that it exists within Christianity.

    Coming from an anonymous stranger over the internet (in other words, you should take what I say with a grain of salt), I personally think that whatever helps you grow spiritually now, is where you need to be now. If you eventually feel that you are called or drawn to Orthodoxy, then it's more than fine for you to ease your way into it and take your time discerning what your needs are and what God's will is--the Orthodox Church isn't going anywhere. :)

    Anyway... I'm really glad that you folks are here.
    Thanks for letting me talk.

    Alright, I REALLY have to ask, since this has been bugging the crap out of me...

    What exactly is the difference between PanTHEISM and PanENtheism again? I think one states that all things are God, and the other states that God is IN all things... Different people tell me different things... :help:

    I know how that is... ;) I'd LIKE to think we're on a spiral staircase--we keep coming back to the same point, but with a better and fuller understanding of it than what we had before.

    Perhaps you may be more Orthodox than you know, but the cosmetics are different, and have a more Hindu/Buddhist/Far Eastern+Indian flavor?

    And if you feel that the Orthodox Church is where you should be, or a place that you should check out, I would certainly recommend doing so.

    Not at all! I say the more people willing to learn and share in this DIR, the better. :D What you've said so far about the Orthodox Church so far has been nothing but open-minded and charitable, and I thank you for being a good contributor here. :bow:
     
  9. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Sorry Shiranui, I didn't want to interrupt your postings, now I know what the (cont) stands for lol :D

    Theosis means we're only partaking in God's Engeries right?? You know I find that distinction between God's engeries and his Essence like the concept of Shiva and Shakti (dynamic aspect of Shiva) similar to Hinduism :)

    I do have another question regarding the Energies and Essence of God but I think I'll save it up for another thread!
     
  10. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    I'm not sure how it would fit INTO Orthodoxy, per se, but I see absolutely no reason why you couldn't practice Qi gong, Tai Chi, or any martial art and still be a perfectly good Orthodox Christian. I myself believe in ki (the Korean/Japanese name for the Chinese Qi/Chi) and I like to focus on how my ki is balanced during meditation, as part of practicing awareness. Tai Chi, Hapkido and many other martial arts have good principles that can be applied outside the battlefield or dojo/dojang/whatever you want to call your training center, and these principles can be aligned perfectly with Christianity, such as humility, patience, courtesy, loyalty, courage, respect and self-control.

    To me, the concept of ki/chi and the practice of martial arts relates to Orthodoxy in the same way as any science: They can coexist with Orthodoxy, and even if they are not in and of themselves Orthodox, they still can give us new insights into our Faith, and give us new ways to express it.

    Hah, it's all good :D

    Yes, in Theosis, we only partake of God's Energies. God's Essence is Who He is within Himself, and so we can never really come into contact with God's Essence, the core of Who He is. But we CAN partake of God's Energies, AKA His uncreated grace. The concept can be found in 2 Peter 1:4, where we are called to be "partakers of the divine nature."

    Feel free to start the topic, or to post the question here :)

    I'd also like to note that Hesychasm is intrinsically bound up with the question of God's Essences and Energies. In fact, the Hesychast Controversy (as Wikipedia calls it) is where St. Gregory Palamas expounded on the distinction between the Essences and Energies of God!
     
  11. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    Wish to speak more tomorrow perhaps.

    Just feeling the Love and Wisdom shared in this conversation.

    Speak soon,
    SageTree

    :namaste
     
  12. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Okay ,, thanks Shiranui, I really appreciate your knowledge in EOC, something that's been missing in this forum :), And I love your Okami Avatar hehe, anyways :)

    My question would be something like, how can god's energies and Essence exist simultaneously, does God's essence take up space, if it does how can there be room for his energies, do you understand what I mean?? ^^

    How I understand it we are all (creation) made of God's Energies?

    Thanks you so much
     
  13. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    No doubt. I feel that Anglicanism has the potential for me to explore EO concepts,
    but from the sounds of it.... the Spiritual Fathers are truly that... Pastoral advice in my experience has been lacking or just 'practical' advise... not of a spiritual nature per se.

    I agree with that wholeheartedly and is certainly much the case with my story as you can see. If I'd only known about my very own tradition's 'Perfection'... I might not stayed more rooted in the Church while I looked around at other traditions means and methods, which I feel has always been a part of me and my interest.

    Internet stranger... hard to tell where we might know each other from, ya know?

    I have a friend who attends the Greek Orthodox Church here in town,
    he's away at school, but perhaps it's time I pick his brain a little bit more about facilitating a visit. He might actually be home for Christmas/Off school right now actually.

    Pssssh! thank YOU! :)
    I find the dichotomy hard to play with, and I sort of feel 'in the middle'...
    or able to philosophically 'place' myself in either....

    My understanding is that Pantheism= God is All things.
    (God is the energy in all Creation, but not limited to that form of the Elements)
    And PanENtheism= All things are contained in God, so that God IS all things as well...
    (But God is distinct and unique at the same time..)

    It's tricky man... I certainly don't feel like I can clearly pin it down,
    from my own reading, nor that of talking with others about it.

    Perhaps I am. As I read more about it I keep encountering my own thoughts,
    about Christianity... and also how I 'know' in the Dharma language that I know....

    Is that what you meant here?

    Thanks for your continual kind words. :)

    I'm glad you and others I think are receptive to me opening in here...
    Of myself and experiences and to the EOC understanding of Life....
    And double thanks for allowing me the space to intermingle the two traditions in word a little to get a better understanding of it all.

    :namaste
     
  14. SageTree

    SageTree Spiritual Friend
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    I would say that our 'Not Self', what we 'really' are... is just that.
    The 'union', as it were are the illusion that the five aggregates/skadhas,
    which are Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness.

    The rest of what you spoke of impermanence is close enough for Jazz. :)


    I would add... or Bodhisattva to the list of things to 'become'... or realize rather ;)
    The wish to liberate all sentient being.

    "Essence of Self" idk.... I'd say the Path is more 'Other' focused verse 'Personally' focus... hence the "Large" and "Small" vehicle, although that is more and more antiquated to say I think?

    You might say that the Mahayana look at the aggregates as more of a tool to work with... for understanding vs a Theravadian's more ascetic approach to 'over coming them'... where as the Mahayana 'get to know' them... which is sort of a metaphor I think.

    I that way you could say Mahayana sees the Aggregates in a more useful way,
    thus a more 'positive' view of these things as who we are... our natural proclivities. They help us get a better sense of the Relative Self,which can help us better understand out Ultimate Self.

    A link about 'Relative and Ultimate Reality' aka. 'The Two Truths Doctrine', which might help explain the dichotomy above and what I'm about to say below.

    In Mahayana, there is a large majority in the tradition that holds Emptiness to be the Ultimate reality, up to and including Buddha-Nature. That is Sunyata/Emptiness from the rangtong view.

    However in Vajrayana Buddhism there is a sect called the Jongang, and while they meditate on the Relative level in a rangtong view... they feel that on the Ultimate Level, Buddha-Nature is an unchanging nature in all things.

    This is called Zhentong... also known as 'Other Emptiness', and in a way reconciles the paradoxical nature of Buddha-nature and Emptiness. For this reason, I've heard this called 'Theistic Buddhism'... but that doesn't mean God, rather It's more of a 'Ground of All Being', if you follow the distinction?

    Pure Land Buddhism, to me, also has a hint or flavour of 'eternalism' as well.

    All that said....
    Here is the TL;DR : A Basic Buddhism Guide: Differences betweenTheravada and Mahayana.

    Impermanence is a key stone of Buddhist thought, and each school builds on, expounds and honours the words of the other school. Theravada has it's canon. Mahayana uses their own canon, which is expounding off the Therevadian canon... and the Vajrayana use both of them and have their own exegesis as well....

    In that way 'changing self' is present in all three, but the Maha/Vajrayana emphasize the 'Buddha-Nature' as you say... and I would CERTAINLY and HAVE likened that to "Christ-Consciousness" (which is a term I first heard in a Hindu exposition of the Gospels)....

    What you say about that constant chance to 'repent' or become anew, as I would say, is very true about both Paths, albeit word 'repent' isn't likely to be used in a theological way in Buddhism, generally speaking.

    One thing I like about Christmas is that is celebrates a 'Divine Birth'...
    And for me that is a celebration that we can 'give birth' to that Divine-consciousness... or set out on the Path to it, at any moment.

    This is ultimately what I feel reincarnation, on a less metaphysical level is all about.
    That instant and reinstant of becoming (consciously or thoughtlessly)

    Which is a nice lead into this:

    The underlined is EXACTLY what I was trying to say about 'ascetic action' vs 'getting to know action', with 'sin' or 'aggregates'. Brilliant tie in!
    I dig what you added about Taoism... especially this last part.

    That is one reason I have a hard time with 'Anthropomorphic God', pantheism vs panentheism... God 'feels, looks, sounds' like Tao to me. :)

    Less form... more mystery... as it should be. :D

    It's highly likely that Eastern Religions made their way Westerly on trade routes,
    and it's likely that these ideas were in the culture... on some level... at the time.

    One reason Anglicanism (tangent) caught my eye when I started reading more about it, is that "Via Media" is it's theological stance... which means 'The Middle Way'... funny right? hahahaha.

    One last thing... Thich Nhat Hahn, a favourite Vietnamese Zen Buddhist and Engaged Buddhism wrote a book called "Living Buddha, Living Christ", which is really awesome and deals with Christianity mainly from the experience of the Holy Spirit. (Just a side note)


    OK... Thank you for allowing me to comment on this and I hope that it helps you understand what you understand, and as well feel less alone in your own Way that has drawn together to great ways of understanding our Self.... however you define it :)


    Now... as if I didn't test if enough before... I genuinely thank you for letting me post in here, talking these things out with you... and for not reporting me for being completely off topic.... well.... maybe not completely....

    All in Good will and Love.... I think we agree and meet on that point :)

    :namaste
    SageTree
     
  15. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    OMG, have I found another Okami fan? Have you played the game? :O

    I don't know if I would describe God's Essence as taking up SPACE... I suppose you could think of God as water within a fountain, birdbath or spring. God's Essence is the water within the birdbath, how He is within Himself. It's Who He is. God's Energies, on the other hand, would be the water that overflows. It's Who God is in interacting with others. So you can think of God's Essence as God being, and God's Energies as God doing.

    Let me know if that helps. :)

    We're certainly made BY God's Energies, but I don't know if I would describe us as being made OF God's Energies. You know what I mean?
     
  16. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Thank you, I think I understood it now, and no I haven't played Okami (yet), but I've heard great things about it, I like the (how do you say) design of that game ^^ :D
     
  17. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
    Premium Member

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    I suppose it does depend on the person. I do feel that priests/pastors should be able to also give that spiritual advice, if they are to be spiritual leaders for the community. One of my parish priests said it best: "Our job isn't to serve the people, it's to help the people serve God." A priest's job, aside from doing the sacramental work of the Church, is to also guide people along the way, helping them and teaching them to follow God, obey His will, and serve Him as we work with Him in our salvation, and helping others come to salvation.

    I often find myself looking into other traditions as well, though so far I think I've stayed closer to the Church than I give myself credit for, especially as I find that what I find appealing in other traditions and methods is either already in Orthodoxy, or easily mesh-able. Sometimes I do have moods where I feel like devoting myself to those other paths... But who doesn't, right?

    True, true.

    I have a friend who attends the Greek Orthodox Church here in town,
    he's away at school, but perhaps it's time I pick his brain a little bit more about facilitating a visit. He might actually be home for Christmas/Off school right now actually.

    I find the dichotomy hard to play with, and I sort of feel 'in the middle'...
    or able to philosophically 'place' myself in either....

    Right... I've also heard that Panentheism=God is in all things, yet distinct from them.

    Yes, that's it exactly.

    Of course. :)

    True.

    "Essence of Self" idk.... I'd say the Path is more 'Other' focused verse 'Personally' focus... hence the "Large" and "Small" vehicle, although that is more and more antiquated to say I think?

    Huh, so much like how some monks treat the passions as something to be extinguished, and others treat them as something to be purified and harnessed. Very interesting to see how the (roughly) same two ideas developed in both traditions. That's just uncanny.

    Right, almost like the Tao in Taoism?

    Pure Land Buddhism, to me, also has a hint or flavour of 'eternalism' as well.

    All that said....
    Here is the TL;DR : A Basic Buddhism Guide: Differences betweenTheravada and Mahayana.

    Impermanence is a key stone of Buddhist thought, and each school builds on, expounds and honours the words of the other school. Theravada has it's canon. Mahayana uses their own canon, which is expounding off the Therevadian canon... and the Vajrayana use both of them and have their own exegesis as well....

    I would agree with the concept of Christ-Consciousness, depending on how it's defined.

    Naturally. It's just coming to your senses, as it were.

    A universal, historical mystery from 2000 years ago pointing to a relational and personal mystery that can happen now? I like the way you think. ;)

    I have seen more metaphorical explanations of reincarnation and the various "paths" in Buddhism (hungry ghost, deva, animal, demon, etc.) that do make good sense.

    Hah, yeah. Though IIRC, they call themselves the "Via Media" between Catholics and Protestants.

    Alright, I may have to check into that.

    Yes, thanks for the clarifications. It is always fun to meet people who have similar experiences. :)
     
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