My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
by His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, HIEROTHEOS
[Source: Orthodox Psychotherapy]
The Science of the Holy Fathers
The value of dispassion for the spiritual life is very great. The man (person) who has attained it has come close to God and united with Him. Communion with God shows that there is dispassion. Dispassion, according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Church, is "health of the soul". If the passions are the soul's sickness, dispassion is the soul's state of health. Dispassion is "resurrection of the soul prior to that of the body."A A man (person) is dispassionate when he has purified his flesh from all corruption, has lifted his nous above everything created, and has made it master of all the senses; when he keeps his soul in the presence of the Lord. Thus dispassion is the entrance to the promised land. The Holy Spirit sheds its Light on him who has approached the borders of dispassion and ascended, in proportion to his purity, from the beauty of created things to the Maker. In other words, dispassion has great value and it is extolled by the Holy Fathers, for it is liberation of the nous. If the passions enslave and capture the nous, dispassion frees it and leads it towards the spiritual knowledge of beings and of God. "Dispassion stimulates the nous to attain a spiritual knowledge of created beings." Hence it leads to spiritual knowledge. A result of this spiritual knowledge is that one acquires the great gift of discrimination (discernment). A man (person) in grace can distinguish evil from good, the created energies from the uncreated ones, the satanic energies from those of God. "Dispassion engenders discrimination (discernment)."
Our contemporaries speak a great deal about common ownership and poverty. But the error of most of them is that they limit poverty to material goods and forget that it is something more than these things. When a man's (person's) nous is freed from everything created and ceases to be a slave to created things and lifts itself up towards God, then he experiences real poverty. This real poverty of spirit is obtained by the dispassionate man: "spiritual poverty is complete dispassion; when the nous has reached this state it abandons all worldly things."
But we must define what dispassion is. From ancient times the Stoic philosophers spoke of dispassion as mortification of the passible soul. We have emphasized that the passible part of the soul consists of the incensive and appetitive aspects. When these have been mortified, according to the ancient interpretation, then we have dispassion. However, when the Holy Fathers speak of dispassion, they do not mean mortification of the passible part of the soul, but its transformation. Since it is through the fall of man that our soul's powers are in an unnatural state, it is through dispassion, that is, freedom from passions, that our soul is in the natural state.
According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church, dispassion is a state in which the soul does not yield to any evil impulses, and this is impossible without God's mercy. According to Saint Maximus the Confessor, "dispassion is a peaceful condition of the soul in which the soul is not easily moved to evil." This implies that dispassion means that one does not suffer with the conceptual images of things. That is to say, the soul is free of thoughts which are moved by the senses and by things themselves. Just as in early times the bush burned with fire but was not consumed, so also in the dispassionate man, "however ponderous or fevered his body may be", yet the heat of his body "does not trouble or harm him, either physically or in his nous." For in this case "the voice of the Lord holds back the flames of nature". Thus a dispassionate person has a free nous and is not troubled by any earthly thing or by the heat of the body. Certainly this freedom of the nous from all impulses of the flesh and conceptual images of things is inconceivable to those who live not in a state of dispassion but by the energies of the passions...
"...Thus dispassion is linked with love and is life, movement. According to Saint John of the Ladder (Climacus), just as light, fire and flame "join to fashion one activity", the same is true of love, dispassion and adoption. "Love, dispassion and adoption are distinguished by name, and name only". Dispassion is closely connected with love and adoption: it is life and communion with God...
"...Partial or complete dispassion demonstrates the healing of the soul. The soul attains health. The nous which was mortified by the passions revives, is raised up. "Blessed dispassion raises the poor nous from earth to heaven, raises the beggar from the dunghill of passion. And love, all praise to it, make him sit with princes, that is with Holy Angels, and with the princes of the Lord's people." (Ladder. Step 29).
Please note: The term "Orthodox Psychotherapy" does not refer to specific cases of people suffering from psychological problems of neurosis. Rather it refers to all people. According to Orthodox Christian Tradition, after Adam's fall man became ill; his "nous" was darkened and lost communion with God. Death entered into the person's being and caused many anthropological, social, even ecological problems. In the tragedy of his fall man maintained the image of God within him but lost completely the likeness of Him, since his communion with God was disrupted. However the incarnation of Christ (Christ taking flesh) and the work of the Church aim at enabling the person (the Christian believer) to attain to the likeness of God, that is to reestablish communion with God.
The word "nous" refers to 'the eye of heart'. It is wrong to translate it as either mind or intellect. The adjective related to it is noetic (noeros).
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- St. John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God