(redirected from Hesychastic)
Also found in: Dictionary.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Visuality here encompasses, among other things, the following functions: the state's aim to acquire visibility for Russia on a European stage, the lingering hesychastic tradition of "seeing" the divine inner light, the general Enlightenment concept of knowledge as light, the visible (public) persona as a driver of classical tragedy, the quest on the part of certain Russian courtiers for self-promotion through heightened visibility, physico-theological proofs of God's existence in the visible world, the presentation of icons invested with spiritual power, and the goal of political transparency, both in Catherine II's vision of Russia and in those of her critics.
Instead, it opens us up to the embodied imagination of koinonia or sobornost in the full, hesychastic and liturgical sense.
And so he laid the foundation for building community based on love and tolerance rather than power and competition, including the Benedictine community in the west and the Hesychastic community in the east.
Sabbas Monastery in Palestine, the "Great Church" and the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople, and the monastic community of Mount Athos--over a period ranging from the end of the iconoclastic crisis (8th-9th century) to the wake of the Hesychastic debate (14th century).
Gregory Palamas (14th century) which focused on the doctrine of deification and the hesychastic method of prayer (i.e., the tradition surrounding the use of the Jesus Prayer).
As indicated so far, Isayeva's exposition is a mixture of review of what the earlier explorers of the field have said, philological determination of what certain ancient philosophers advocated, comparison with Hesychastic thought, and "creative" philosophy.(2) All these four approaches are indeed necessary for the kind of investigation she has undertaken, but since they have been attempted in a relatively short space, justice has not been done to any of them.
also looks at hesychastic influences on such icons, often exemplified by Gregory Palamas, where the transfiguration of the person is characterized as an ascetic ascent and a process of illumination.
Fr Staniloe's great love for the hesychastic period, and in particular St Gregory Palamas on the "uncreated energies" and Maximos the Confessor on the micro-cosmos and macro-anthropos, led him to deal also with the translations of the entire collection of Philokalia of the fathers and ascetics of the desert.
There is evidence of yoga-like practices in early Eastern Orthodox hesychastic monasticism.
In the monastic tradition in Orthodoxy, in particular in the hesychastic tradition as preached for instance in Philokalia, this ideal was strong; and it can be demonstrated that it influenced Tolstoi's ethics.
Fr Staniloe's great love for the hesychastic period, and in particular St Gregory Palamas on the "uncreated energies" and Maximos the Confessor on the micro-cosmos and macro-anthropos (see below), led him to deal also with the translations of the entire collection of Philokalia of the Fathers and Ascetics of the Desert.