The Abyss At The ‘Base’ of The Human Heart

There is no origin of the heart, nothing more basic or elemental, from which it can be derived. This is because nothing stands between the heart and God. There is no intermediary. Therefore the origin of the heart is literally in no-thing because the heart comes directly from God. There is no-thing outside of, or other to, God upon which the heart leans.

At depth, the heart confronts God, nakedly, directly, inescapably.

As there is a limitless Pleroma above the heart, in the height, there is a fathomless Abyss beneath the heart, in the depth. The heart cannot look down into itself to find its ‘ground’ of being; when it looks down, it gazes into an Abyss.

The heart rests in the Abyss.

The Abyss is indescribable except as the ‘groundless ground’ that upholds the heart, or the emptiness into which the heart will fall, unendingly.

The Abyss is fathomless, it goes down into endless emptiness. Standing at its edge in the heart, the visceral sensation is that if you fell into it, you would fall forever. This would not be death; you would be alive, and feel the vertigo of falling through the floorboards, of all ground giving way, forever. You would pray for death as release..

Yet the emptiness of the Abyss can be filled by God, and this has the converse feeling that the groundlessness will uphold you; you can leap from the edge, and not fall, for at the end of this descent you will arrive on holy ground, ‘getting to the bottom’ of the mystery.

This emptiness declares there is nothing the heart can rest on, nothing the heart can take its impetus from, other than God. However, it also signifies the freedom in which God moves toward the human, and the freedom in which the human moves toward God. God is committed, and thus moves freely, and dynamically, to become the presence in the Abyss, but the human prevaricates, undecided, ambivalent, not persuaded, and this waxing and waning of trust renders the Abyss void of all presence.

Spiritually, emptiness is a blessing to the heart, for it means there is a hole in us that can be ‘filled’ only by God. But existentially this same blessing is also a predicament, because the heart can lose its inexplicable grounding by losing trust in the mystery beneath its feet. We try to lay hands on things that seem more secure. We try to preserve ourselves, we try to guarantee our ‘basis’, through things that have no foundation in the heart open to and moved by God. These things are ephemeral, without substance, without solidity, in what upholds the heart.

We choose sex instead of erotic love.

We choose drugs instead of mystical ecstasy.

We choose money, position, and success, instead of integrity of action.

We choose images of identity instead of self-giving, self-emptying, self-sacrifice, for love.

With nothing to undergird our fire of passion, it becomes troubling to us, and we can no longer trust the heart’s native urge to action. The energy falls back.

When we lose the ‘insecurity of God’ as the only basis for the leap of passion, this is when passion ‘falls’, fragments, and degenerates into what ascetics call ‘the [evil] passions.’ The most giving energy in us becomes, in that context of losing the Spirit, spiritless, mean, nasty, and all the other ‘fallen themes’ documented in the Desert Tradition. These themes [of fallen passion] are usually given as eight in number, but are grouped round three master themes, which St Maximus identifies as ‘Ignorance’, ‘Self Love’, and ‘Self Will’ [also ‘Self Pleasing’]. Such motives make the flames within us, that go out actively into the world, destructive.