Greek Hellenism= Lift your mind up to higher things.
A Hasidic Zaddik was asked why people do not experience God, as in previous times. He replied, ‘they do not stoop low enough.’
The God revealed in the Jewish Bible is not impassible, nor should the humanity for whom God’s love is the driving force impassioning existence in the world, on the ground, in time, seek to be dispassionate.
Greek Hellenism, like its cousin Hinduism, is a wide umbrella that includes almost every permutation of Eros, though in all these versions the Daemonic is more or less ignored. There is nothing wrong when the path of Eros is followed ‘on its own’ with rigour and fullness. Why not?
The problem arises in Judaism and Christianity when the allure of Eros is made primary, and the summons of the Daemonic is resisted, evaded, excluded, hardly even registering as secondary, because the way Eros is articulated cancels out any conscience toward the Daemonic. Salvation is used to obscure Redemption. This is disastrous for both pre Messianic Jews and post Messianic Christians. In the case of the former, it means the ‘old dynamic’ leading to the Messiah is lost, in the case of the latter, it means the ‘new dynamic’ stemming from the Messiah is lost. Whenever this happens, in Judaism or in Christianity, it is always due to the influence of Greek Hellenism which looks on Jewish and Christian divine and human ‘pathos’ as ‘folly.’ In any true Judaism, in any true Christianity, the Daemonic is primary because it sets in motion the dynamic thrust into the gamble of fate, and Eros leaves its static refuge – refuge in the static — to ‘go on the road’ with the Daemonic as its help-mate. Hence, the divinely constituted Feminine Wisdom, Sophia, is “more mobile than any motion” [The Wisdom of Solomon, 7, 24].
There is a Greek Hellenism that knows Eros is love.
But the most vital contrast is with the Greek Hellenism that entirely rests in nous and reason= it can be called metaphysical philosophy. This is the Eros of mind, elevated mind rather than ordinary mind, but in jettisoning the soul, its tendency is to envision Eros as something higher than the human mind but in some way akin to mind, or at least more accessible to mind, provided mind is raised from the merely physical to the ‘meta’-physical, from the sensible to the intelligible, and from the intelligible to the celestial, and ever higher.. Eros, in this tradition, is not love, but something like a super mind, an ultimate mind, a limitless mind, a pure mind and an exalted mind – a nature, or substance, or essence, purely mind and exaltedly mind. Even if ‘transcending thought’, its very transcendence is framed by thought. It is a ‘beyond the mind’ envisioned by the mind, and only accessed when the mind is freed from enslavement to the below, and freed for travelling upward toward the above.
There is a strand of Greek Hellenism that knows Eros is love– not a sublime yet abstract nature, being, substance, essence= such terms are respectfully ascribed to it in order to signify it is a very superior entity unlike anything else. But it is not love. The Eros of love works through nous and soul [the Buddhist wisdom-compassion], and is mystical not simply philosophical, and at its fullest, it is also philanthropic socially, never just the flight of ‘the alone to the alone.’ This fuller Eros of love is evident in certain aspects of Hinduism, in Buddhism, in Sufi-ism, Neo-Platonism, and in Hasidic Orthodox Judaism and Greek Orthodox Christianity.
An example= The Greek Orthodox Christians built the first free hospitals, and the first free schools for girls, in the history of Europe. “St Basil himself, who had been trained in medicine in Athens, often was seen working with his monks and caring for the sick and infirm. ..Basil did not expect his monks to stay cloistered in their cells and pray all day, but rather should balance their prayerful life [theoria] with good deeds for their fellow man [philanthropia]” [‘Raising Lazarus’, John Demakis, p 17]. Interestingly, Basil regarded contemplation as belonging to the ‘night’, while action belonged to the ‘day.’
Still, how predominant this Eros of love is vis a vis the Daemonic ‘difficult love’, as Oliver Clement once called it, remains a grave problem.
Yet far more of a problem is the nous–reason axis, when denuded of soul, for that will inevitably become markedly anti-heart, in God and in humanity. The metaphysical philosophy of Greek Hellenism is no friend to Jews or Christians. [Western Buddhists have also fallen in with it when they refer to Big Mind, despite employing a Chinese term that really means Big Spirit.]
Abraham Heschel [‘The Prophets’, 1962] deftly sums up the two key elements of the loveless, mind-oriented, tendency in Greek Hellenism.
“The static idea of divinity is the outcome of two strands of thought: the ontological notion of stability and the psychological view of [affects] as disturbances of the soul” [p 335]. Given the former, the latter follows.
 THE ONTOLOGIOCAL NOTION= the philosophy
The ontological notion of stability refers to the Static Eros, yet this receives a very specific nuance when Eros is not ‘essentially’ love
The ontological presupposition that Greek Hellenism takes for granted is that real being, not its flimsy copy that degenerates, is incompatible with change. The real being, by definition, must be changeless. “The principle that change is incompatible with true being has led to what Sextus Empiricus called ‘the dogma of the philosophers that the Deity is impassible [‘Outline of Pyrrhonism’, I, 162]. Indeed, ..a static view of the Deity has become the common property of most [Jewish and Christian] philosophers. Rest and immobility are regarded as the typical features of divine pre-eminence. The Deity is thought of as a being who abides in absolute calm” [p 337].
Philo, a Hellenised Jew, establishes the pattern that many monastics of Greek Orthodox Christianity followed, in regard to the Biblical revelation of divine passion. Heschel puts his finger on its dishonesty= “To experience divine anger ‘as if’ God were provoked is a subterfuge alien to the Biblical mind” [p 359]. Philo misinterprets the Bible’s poetry in just this falsely symbolic manner= “Some people who hear these words suppose that the Existent feels wrath and anger, whereas He is not susceptible to passion of any kind. For disturbance is a mark of human weakness. To God irrational passions of the [heart] can no more be attributed than bodily parts or limbs. ..Thus it is for training and admonition, not because God’s nature is such, that these words are used” [‘Quod Deus Immutabilis Est’, XI, pp 52-54]. And= “..We shun indeed in words the monstrosity of saying that God is of human form, but in actual fact we accept the impious thought that He is of human passion. And therefore we invent for him hands and feet, incoming and outgoing, enmities, aversions, estrangements, anger, in fact, such.. passions as can never belong to the Cause; ..a mere crutch for our weakness” [‘De Sacrificiis Abelis et Caini’, XXI, p 96].
This statement takes on huge irony for Christians who acknowledge that the Logos, the Son of the Father, indeed did take on not only the hands and feet, but also the fallen and true passionate heart of humanity, assuming it into the bigger and deeper heart of God with its unwavering passion.
Never the less, Philo ‘has a point.’ Humanity does project all manner of psychological factors belonging to us onto God. We project our fallen passions into God when we misread the divine wrath as the white haired old man in the sky sadistically wringing his hands in glee as sinners – everyone else but us – are zapped and thrown into the waste bin. It needs psychological acumen to discern when our shadow sadism, allied with our murderous moralism [the perfect storm of id and super ego fused], is being projected from our interior into the supposed interior of God. Apophaticism is the medicine to cure this= though the too strict distinction between apophatic and cataphatic introduces an opposite illness of turning ‘the living God’ into the lifeless vacuity of the Blakean ‘Nobodaddy’ [as happened with another Hellenised Jew, Maimonides].
As it is possible to reduce the mysteriousness of God’s heart by projecting our fallen passions into his passion, conversely it is no more helpful to romanticise or idealise God, out of building an idol of God from our ‘better nature’, from our nobler heart and truer passion.
The Daemonic God destroys romanticism and idealism, even as all manner of sick and evil passions are challenged.
Philo is only right up to a point= it should not be believed that God is passionate in the same way as humans, rather it should be realised human passion is called to be ignited by divine passion, but falls short of it. Thus human passion struggles between true and false passionateness, between stronger and weaker passionateness. If you reject all passion, you reject all heart. The genuine warfare is not “war with passions”, as Theophan the Recluse puts it, but ‘war between the passion hitting the mark and the passions missing the mark.’
The Jewish prophetic revelation of the ‘two hearts’ in humanity, struggling to be faithful to the undivided heart of God, was forgotten, or put to one side, in early Christianity, due to the Greek Hellenism that Philo believed could be seamlessly melded into Biblical tradition.
By the fourth century AD, “the theory that God was impassible was a generally recognised principle” [p 387]. “Clement and Origin, following Philo, refused to take [seriously] the.. anger, repentance, and jealousy of God” [p 387]. Origin= “just as when we are talking with little children we do not aim to speak in the finest language possible to us, but say what is appropriate to the weakness of those whom we are addressing.. so also the Logos of God seems to have arranged the Scriptures, using the method of address which fitted the ability and benefit of the readers” [‘Contra Celsum’, IV, p 71]. The theologians, many of them monastics, in the Christian East are no different to Augustine of Hippo in the Christian West, for whom it would ‘feel a blasphemy and a desecration’ were anyone ‘really to suppose God passible.’
Heschel differentiates two aspects of the Greek Hellenic philosophical conviction that divinity is a changeless substance.
[a] Sublime Being
“Since to the Greek philosophers the Deity was immutable, remaining absolutely and forever in its own [formless] form, it could not be susceptible of pathos, which would contradict the transcendence, independence, and absoluteness of the Supreme Being. Indeed, to attribute any pathos to God, to assert he is affected by the conduct of those he has brought into being, is to reject.. him as Absolute. Pathos is a movement from one state to another, an alteration or change, and as such is incompatible with the conception of a Supreme Being who is both unmoved and unchangeable” [pp 334-335]. Hence “Xenophanes ..insists that omnipotence implies repose, absolute calm, and immobility” [p 335].
Similarly, Parmenides stressed being, but rejected becoming, affirming that generation, multiplicity, change and movement, are illusory. He claimed that being can only be ‘one’, for anything manifold is subject to change and motion, and this would be contrary to the very persistence that is essential to the nature of divinity as the ultimate support, and matrix, of becoming. Parmenides= divine being is “unborn and imperishable, complete, immoveable, and without end; nor was it ever, nor will it be; but now it ‘is’; all at once, a continuous one” [p 335].
[b] Abstract Being
“..the thought that God is too sublime to be affected by events on this insignificant planet.. stems from a line of reasoning about a God derived from abstraction. A God of abstraction is a high and mighty First Cause, which, dwelling in the.. splendour of eternity, will never be open to human prayer, and to be affected by anything which it has itself caused to come into being would be beneath the dignity of an abstract God. This is a dogmatic sort of dignity, insisting on pride rather than love.. In contrast with the primum movens immobile, the God of the prophets cares about his creatures, his thoughts are about the world. ..the [Everlasting] God is concerned with what is happening in time” [p 333]. Consequently, “..the denial of man’s relevance to God is as inconceivable as the denial of God’s relevance to man” [pp333-334].
It goes without saying that the Deity is impersonal in Greek Hellenic metaphysical philosophy.
When the emphasis is on the ‘what’ of God, but the ‘who’ is acknowledged, or, as in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Trinity, there is recognised both multiplicity of the ‘person’ as well as oneness of the ‘nature’, then there is a paradox, not a problem. The problem is acute when divine impersonality is used to eliminate divine personalness. This is really Deity as De-Personalised.
The key issue is what happens when we try to seek God through the mind without soul, without heart, without body. There is a certain dualistic ‘structure’ always generated by the metaphysical philosophy that has, as its basic premise, a divinity which is a changeless substance only accessible to the mind when it ‘pulls its socks up.’
For, what follows from this, inevitably, is that the divine is regarded as the ‘above’, while we and all creatures and things, are the ‘below.’ The Deity is the Upstairs, whilst the world of forms and decay is the Downstairs. Uncreated vis a vis Created is transmuted into Higher versus Lower.
Buddhism speaks of ‘Void and Form’, and that description is more mysterious, less static, not basically mentalised. For Buddhism, matter and mind is Form. A true apophaticism cannot believe God is mind any more than God is matter. But metaphysical philosophy, because of its bias toward the mind as the arbiter and pinnacle, subtly cheats. It negates the physical but affirms a de-physicalised mental as the Ultimate.
There is an unrecognised hidden motive in this= the preference for father sky over mother earth. The ‘spiritualised’ mind seeks the higher sky, and rejects the lower earth, in making the division between Upstairs and Downstairs, a High eternal infinity versus a Low temporary finitude.
This is ‘Angelizing.’ It appeals more to men than women, for it offers the man a way to escape having to take up the cudgels of the manliness of heart toward the world. The man, instead, identifies with his mind, and via the mind, seeks to flee the mother ‘here below’ in order to climb up to the father ‘far above.’ Of course, this is how a schitzoid mentality construes the father= as a saviour from the mother. It is not Yahweh at all.
Yahweh created the fatherly sky and the motherly earth as one of many polarities within the creation, and will destroy the old heaven and earth at the beginning in creating a new heaven and earth at the end. The mind-rooted apophaticism does not grasp the paradox that Yahweh is both beyond heaven and close to the earth at the very same time.
The Angelising mind seeks to shed the feminine soul, the masculine heart, the physical body, the world, nature, the cosmos, and it calls such seeking ‘spiritual.’ In the grip of this evil, we do not want to be human, frail yet brave, but prefer a de-materialised, ‘ethereal’ spirituality. We believe the spirits are ‘pure intelligences’, minds darting about in some ether beyond the impact of anything. Spirits are not purely minds, pure minds; pure intelligences, purely intelligences. In reality, they are wheels of fire, as well as wellsprings of living waters.
But we aspire toward a higher condition, the highest condition, as a spirit, a spirit of mental substance– unsuffering, unimpeded and unlimited.
And there is always a sneer, disguised or unapologetic, for those stuck in ‘the lower order’ of things. The angelised mind has contempt for the embodied soul and enworlded heart. It is disincarnational, not incarnational. Calmly, it looks down on everything and everybody, like a bird on a perch high up in the air, spared life’s joys and tribulations. But this ‘impudent bird’, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian commentator called the deceived nous, cannot really fly, as it believes it can. It is nailed to the perch, and like all of us, one day will ‘fall back to earth.’
The pseudo apophaticism= no humble bowing to the divinity beyond the mind.
 THE REJECTION OF PASSION= the psychology
Once the ontological duality of above and below is established, then this metaphysical division is carried over into human psychology= we too become divided into an Upstairs and a Downstairs, a rational part that is psychologically superior because it can see the Ultimate Superiority Above, and an irrational part that is psychologically inferior because it is blind to the real Ultimate, and chases after the Relative Inferiority Below. The former aspect would raise us up, the latter aspect would drag us down.
The nous-reason axis= the nous to rise higher, the reason to keep the irrational part under strict control, or even expunge it entirely.
Heschel summarises the Platonic Upstairs and Downstairs psychology= “..the human soul [is] a house of two floors, with reason dwelling upstairs, and the [affects] downstairs. The two tenants have separate ways and different manners. Reason is dissociated from the [life of affects] and sharply contrasted with it. [Affects] belong to the animal life in man, reason to the divine in man. [Affects] are unruly, fleshy, the source of evil and disaster; reason is order, light, and the power that raises man above the level of the animal” [p 322].
In short, from the metaphysical philosophical belief in divine impassibility arises the psychological bias against passion of any ilk in human beings= dispassion is the aim of spirituality. The more dispassionate we can get in relation to the Lowest Illusory nature of transient things, so the more expanded and clearly will we be able to see in relation to the Highest Real nature of permanent things.
Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics= “By passions I mean desire, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendly feeling, hatred, longing, jealousy, pity; and generally those states of consciousness which are accompanied by pleasure or pain.” This famous list fails to distinguish which of these energies is of the soul, which is of the heart; which are feelings and which are passions; which are emotions and which are passions. Moreover, there is no distinction between the fallen, fragmented passions of the heart of stone, and the innocent, struggling, holy, singular passion of the heart of flesh. Lumping all energetic phenomena together, and treating them as a problem to be overcome, is typical of Greek Hellenism, but it is not Jewish, and therefore it cannot be Christian. Passion must be discerned, but some of passion is to be wrestled with, while some of passion is to be enflamed so it can increase in ardour.
But by the time of Kant, the prejudice against passion as ‘anti-rational’ is ingrained. It is associated with ‘drunkenness of mind’, ‘an agitation of the soul’, ‘a fever of the heart’, just ‘an emotional convulsion.’ Hence it is ‘devoid of reasoned purpose’; it prevents the exercise of free will, as well as blocking the consideration of moral principle..
This misunderstanding and belittling of human passion, struggling to be true to its calling rather than false, arises because of the same misunderstanding and belittling of the divine passion. The divine passion is ethical because it is personal= passion is “an act formed with intention, rooted in decision and determination, but one charged with love” [pp 297-298]. Passion is never self-centred, but is always directed outward, in God and in humanity. Hence= “Neither in the legal nor in the prophetic writings is there a suggestion that the desires and passions are to be negated. Asceticism was not the [Biblical] ideal. The source of evil is not in passion, not in the [very] throbbing [of the] heart, but rather in hardness of heart, in callousness and insensitivity” [p 331-332]. The prophet uses the images of soul to stir the heart, to rouse it to action, to tell a different story that people are not living, so from the heart they can move in a different way, move in a different direction. Repent= change the movement.
The Greek Stoics were undoubtedly the most extreme advocates of dispassion in their doctrine of ‘apatheia.’ Passion per se “was considered the chief danger to the self-determination of man, whereas ‘apathy’ – the subduing of the [affects] – was believed to be the supreme moral task” [p 325]. Moreover, knowledge of higher, spiritual realities “is shown in the relation which man maintains to his passions. His overcoming of the world is his overcoming of his own impulses” [p 325], since passions chain humanity to the world.
“Zeno defined ‘pathos’ as a ‘movement in the soul contrary to reason and to the soul’s very nature’, and the post Aristotelian schools [said] that the only happiness consists of mental imperturbability, or peace of mind. [It] may be secured by avoiding all disturbances, those which are due to external causes and those which arise from within, namely, [the affects]. The wise man must strive for both apatheia [absence of feeling and passion; indifference to what appeals to feeling and passion] and autarkeia [independence, self-sufficiency]” [pp 326; 327].
Hence, the Greek Hellenic ideal of self-control, in this context, refers to reason controlling impulses= feelings, desires, passions. For, the affects in the widest sense are unnatural, unreasonable, the source of evil.
This dualistic psychology has had a vast influence upon the West. In the West, nous and reason declined into reason and intellect. No more seeking of higher vision, just building ‘world views’ from ‘higher ideas.’
Heschel thinks the gods and goddesses of the philosophers also provided a model for the Greek Hellenic ‘impassible divinity and dispassionate humanity.’ For the divinities of Greece, the divine realm is existence without cares, like the existence of the philosopher-sage who takes no interest in human affairs. The gods and goddesses possess everything necessary to their well-being, in a permanent state of bliss and serenity. Thus they are ‘not bothered.’ The immortal knows no trouble himself nor causes any trouble to anyone.
To be blissful and serene is a pseudo ‘god-likeness’, modelled on a vacant and vacated divinity.
This metaphysical philosophy, with its asceticism of self-control, dominates in certain traditions. We can see it in Plato– though he is not as given over to it as the Stoics; we can discern it in Thomas Aquinas, though like Plato, something else, something more, touches him occasionally; we can see it in Kant.
Much more dangerous= can we see it in the monastic traditions, such as Buddhism, and Greek Orthodox Christianity? Can we see it in St Isaac of Syria sometimes, but not all the time? Can we see it in Theophan the Recluse virtually all the time?
Buddhism= “The best of virtues [is] passionlessness; the best of men [those] who have eyes to see. This is the way, there is no other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. ..If you go on this way, you will make an end of pain” [‘The Life of Buddha’, Asvaghosha, the twelfth Buddhist patriarch].
Theophan the Recluse= “..passions harm our blood and effectively damage our health.”
Theophan insists ‘God does not tolerate any passion whatever.’
Thus= “We simply need to remind ourselves that God does not favour any kind of passion.. Because of this, passion sets God against us and cuts us off from Him” [‘The Heart of Salvation’, p 93].
Hence= “..monasticism.. is a perpetual labour of conquering passions and uprooting them in order that, being in a pure and immaculate state, one may preserve oneself before the face of God.”
And= “..ascetic struggle is cleansing the heart from passions.”
The same Hellenizing tendency exists in Judaism.
Maimonides= “It behoves the governor of a city, if he is a prophet, ..not to let loose the reigns of anger, nor let passion gain mastery over him, for all passions are evil; but, on the contrary, he should guard against them as far as this lies within the capacity of man.”
Maimonides contemptuously dismisses= “the stormy transience of passing affect.”
This falsehood is really dangerous when it seeps beyond the ivory tower of academia, or the monastery walls, and insinuates itself in the tradition as a whole. For then the Greek Hellenic ‘call upward’ becomes a block on, and escape from, the Jewish ‘call forward.’
Theophan= “Attention to that which transpires in the heart and proceeds from it– this is the chief activity of the proper Christian life.”
This is not discerning the heart to act with more truth of passionateness, as is evident in the Psalms of David. Rather, it is watching the stirrings of passion so as to contain them. Theophan is pursuing much the same practice as Maimonides who warns against allowing ‘any kind’ of passion to get a grip, and suggests always acting with moderation, in order to attain tranquillity. The rational mind must keep the passions under scrutiny and never simply ‘let them rip.’ Even a ruler, if he has to simulate anger, never the less should not give way to it, but should remain still and collected on the inside. The victim of take-over by passion wastes their life on unrealities or realities that are fleeting. For Maimonides, this is most of humanity.
St Isaac of Syria [seventh century AD]= “When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them the passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honour which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancour and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, [in the saints] there the world is dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”
John of Kronstadt= “earthly passions and worldly attachments.”
This is a vivid, and existentially accurate, description of the many fallen attachments of passion that distort the heart and therefore distort what the heart demands from the world. But the world has more value than heaven for the heart because God placed the heart in the world and called the heart to the world. The Contemplation that replaces Action, trumpeting itself as the ‘chief’ way of Christian life, creates that quietism which is a dereliction of moral duty to humanity ‘thrown into the world’ by God.
The Greeks were known in antiquity as ‘men of eyes.’ The seeing is contemplative, visionary, illuminative. The point is, the Greeks believed that such expanded seeing is the key to the most advanced state humanity can attain. In Eros, this is so. For the Daemonic, this is problematic, having some validity, yet more basically, misleading and very untrue. The Biblical ‘understanding’ is from the heart, and is not any kind of seeing; it ‘stands under’ the existential fate of God, world, evil, history, and bears it like the burden on the heart too heavy to carry.
The way of soul and nous is different. We see it in Philo as well as in Plotinus in Neo-Platonism. We see it radiantly and joyously in the tradition of Sufi-ism. St Dionysus celebrates and articulates its ‘ex-stasis’ of love in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This is the wine of love, the sacred drunkenness. But it all too easily lapses, and then we get a viciously anti-Jewish misconception put into play.
The falsely spiritualised mind of Greek Hellenism creeps into Judaism, and sneaks into Christianity, mainly among the monastics, and with them, more among the men than the women.
Women are more gifted at picking up the Eros of Love, and though they rise up, they also go outward, on its wave of beauty, and goodness. They know Love must come down, to nourish, succour, transform, refresh and renew. The feminine soul can curb the excesses of the nous in men inclined to regard not only air as superior to earth, but male as superior to female, light superior to water, day superior to night.
The specific dualism of Greek Hellenism has many biases..
Heschel points out something very important.
It is not being but the mystery of being that strikes Jewish awareness. The message of the Bible is not that God made the world, and that is why there is being instead of nonbeing. Rather, the message is that the world, nature, the creation, is not ultimate. The phrase ‘in the beginning’ is crucial– it sets a limit to being, as it sets a limit to the mind [p 341].
God is ‘uncircumscribed’ by all binary contrasts in the creation, such as being and becoming, top and bottom, within and without. Yet God is also, therefore, free to be in them all.
The irony is that mentalised contemplation, in being too lofty, misses the sacredness which is everyday, in small things, in the details, right around us, at hand, but lost if our gaze is too taken up in the grand overarching sweep. This is how the feminine soul sees, and it keeps the nous grounded. There is a Hassidic tale about this.
A Zaddik visits his son in law and daughter, who have a baby. The daughter goes out, leaving the baby with her husband. He is contemplating; the baby is in a cot in the same room. The Zaddik is in another room, also contemplating. After a while, the baby starts to grizzle, then to sob a little, and finally to cry with some gusto. The baby’s father does nothing to comfort the crying, because it continues.. The Zaddik goes into the room, picks up the baby, comforts the distress, and returns the baby to the cot. Throughout this, the father remains in a rapt state, oblivious to what is happening. Later that evening, when both men had come back together, the Zaddik asked his son in law about the incident. ‘Did you not hear your child crying?’ The son in law replied, ‘when I am in the state of contemplative consciousness, nothing can disturb it.’ The Zaddik exclaimed, ‘oh, what a pity! When I am in that state, I can hear a fly walking on a window pane.’
Without philanthropia, the real theoria is lost.
The worst error in the metaphysical philosophy and ascetic psychology of Greek Hellenism is that it equates ‘spirit’ with mind, or the mental, or with thought when over-viewing vast vistas and gazing toward remote mansions of the uplands; the very term ‘Spirit’ becomes identified with perceptive insight, expanded consciousness, ‘seeing’ but not ‘doing.’ Doing disrupts Seeing. This is a false light, a false beacon, a false way of ascent.
This sets up a more subtle error, with devastating effect upon Judaism and Christianity.
The false light, which eventually if pushed far enough becomes outright evil, is one problem. But the bias of equating Spirit with Light, even the true Light, is a different, more subtle, arguably worse, problem.
Spirit is the Dark Fire, not the Light.
If Spirit is limited to Light, then its Daemonic Dynamic is lost to yet another permutation in the Static Eros.
That destroys the real ‘thrust’, the real purpose and meaning, of Judaism and Christianity.
Anthony of Egypt [fourth century AD]=
“God is good, dispassionate, and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honour him, while turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is he won over by the gifts of those who honour him, for that would mean he is swayed by pleasure. It is not right to imagine that God feels pleasure or displeasure in a human way. He is good, and he only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to him; but if we become evil through not resembling God, then we are separated from him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make him our enemy. It is not that he grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to demons who punish us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made him change, but that through our actions and our turning to God, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God’s goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind” [‘The Philokalia’, chapter 150, p 352].
This statement is ambiguous. It contains the Eros of love, in speaking of God’s Goodness, and how we close our eyes to its ever shining and undimmed Light. Yet the ‘Greek Heresy’ of divine immutability and dispassion also is blatant.
The real error in this statement, in deploying Eros to blot out the Daemonic, is that it absolves God from any responsibility for the existential human problem. The Book of Job clearly implicates God in the human predicament because he is its author; or, rather, God’s gamble with Satan the Accuser sets it in motion.
Anthony of Egypt misunderstands the very name of God, the only name of God not just another energia, another quality, like the many rays of the sun. This is Yahweh.
Yahweh is not the name of the first, second, third, person of the Holy Trinity, but the name of God’s Heart which is common to all three persons. Father, its groundless ground. Son, its explicit and visible voice. Holy Spirit, its implicit and invisible power.
“What is a person? A person is a being whose anguish may reach the heart of God” [p 276].
This is Yahweh.
The God of passion takes on the real question of existence= what do you do with a broken heart?