Hesychasm

(redirected from Hesychasts)
Also found in: Dictionary.

Hesychasm

 

(from the Greek hesychia, “quiet,” “silence,” “detachment”), a mystic trend in Byzantium.

Hesychasm is used in two senses. In the more general meaning, hesychasm is an ethicoascetic teaching on the path of man to union with god through “purification of the heart” by tears and through concentration of consciousness within itself; to achieve this, a set of techniques for psychophysical self-control was devised, which bears some outward resemblance to the methods of Yoga (the inclined sitting posture, regulation of breathing and circulation, constant mistrust of spontaneous “wishes,” and the practice of the so-called Jesus Prayer, entailing single-minded repetition of the very same phrase several thousand times in succession). The teaching was created by Egyptian and Sinaitic ascetics of the fourth through seventh centuries (Macarius the Egyptian, Evagrius, and John Climacus). During the religious restoration of the 14th century it underwent renewal and development; by no means was this an original creation. Only in this sense can one speak of the hesychasm of Gregory Sinaites and of his Russian followers (Nil Sorskii, for example).

In the narrower sense hesychasm is taken to mean the religio-philosophical teaching that Gregorius Palamas elaborated in disputes with spokesmen for theological rationalism, a teaching that included the thesis of the distinction between the essence and the energies of god (the doctrine of the uncreated nature of the “light of Mount Tabor”). Palamism, which historically was combined with a sociopolitical position supporting Emperor John Cantacuzenus, was after a prolonged struggle declared official Orthodox teaching at the local Blachernae Synod in 1351.

REFERENCES

Uspenskii, F. Ocherki po istorii vizantiiskoi obrazovannosti. St. Petersburg, 1891. Pages 246–364.
Syrku, P. K istorii ispravleniia knig v Bolgarii v XIV v., vol. 1, part 1. St. Petersburg, 1899. Pages 78–102, 168–240.
Ostrogorskii, G. “Afonskie isikhasty i ikh protivniki.” Zapiski Russkogo nauchnogo in-ta v Belgrade, 1931 [issue 5].
Prokhorov, G. M. “Isikhasm i obshchestvennaia mysP v Vostochnoi Evrope v XIV v.” In Trudy otdela drevnerusskoi literatury, vol. 23. Leningrad, 1968. Pages 86–108.
Lossky, V. Théologie mystique de Téglise d’orient. Paris, 1960.
Ivanka, E. von. “Hesychasmus und Polamismus.” Jahrbuch der öster-reichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaft, 1952, vol. 2, pp. 23–34.

S. S. AVERINTSEV

References in periodicals archive ?
The hesychasts believed that the intellect (nous) concentrated in the heart, and by noetic unceasing prayer the believer could attain enlightenment and the vision of the "divine light" as it was manifested in the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor.
This avoids the heresy of becoming one with the essence of God, because, in Orthodoxy, the "likeness" is the theosis (glorification), which is salvation by grace--freely given to the hesychast by God.
Sabbas that he composed his three-part Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, or Triads.
Much of what Barlaam learned about hesychasm--even, so he claimed, from hesychasts themselves (see Meyendorff, St.
Uncreated light, according to the teaching of Palamas and of the hesychasts in general, is the divinizing gill of the Holy Spirit, 'this glory of the divine nature, whereby God has communion with the saints.
Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure was able to develop a theology that was uniquely open to the mystically inspired, monastically grounded theological tradition of the Christian East, such as the theology of transcendent-immanence developed by Gregory in his Defense of the Holy Hesychasts.
Divinization, the experiential heart of the hesychast tradition, is that graced process by which a person is brought into union with God.
Gregory presented the hesychast vision of the christocentric character of divinization in terms of the Incarnation, specifically as this was defined by the Councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381): that the second person (Gk.
The prevalence of asocial tendency of the Eastern Christianity, further strengthened by the Hesychast mysticism, is one of them.
The mystical, even occult propensity of Russian religious philosophers, their strong inclination toward asceticism and "pure spirituality," betrays, regardless of their personal differences, the ever present Hesychast tendency.
Both the articulate language of Western theology and the Hesychast silence of the Eastern tradition have attributes that turn into merits or drawbacks depending on the context.
It seems irrational to expect civil society in a country where some of its best thinkers still see the future within the frame of Hesychast mystery, and perceive in social mutism a form of heroic resistance to power.