Glimpses of Truth

Inner Christianity Glimpse of Truth Different Knowledge Darkness of the Psyche
Inner States Consciousness Retold Speaking of God Seeking Self
Inner Identity Civilizing Knowledge    




 

The Inner Tradition

as a state of mind

 
O taste and see that the Lord is good’  (Psalm 34:8.).

For all these reasons, and as the result of many years of investigation, I have now come to understand these teachings as a true representation of the ancient Christian Inner Tradition. I have also discovered that this tradition continues to be taught by the Hesychasts and other ascetics of the Orthodox Churches, especially on Mount Athos, the active centre of the tradition during the past thousand years or so.

Hesychasm, as a practical form of the Christian method of spiritual growth that was made possible by Christ, has now been proven over something like two thousand years, and is still quietly producing results – the fruits or gifts of the Spirit - to this day. For the individual, those results involve periods of inner illumination which continue to lead in time to Theosis or Glorification. This idea of orthodoxy implies a teaching that is orthodox in the sense that it must not be changed, not because it is the only way to say it, but  because it is a teaching which has led others to the real experience that it represents. This is often explained tautologically, but although this statement is true, it was not the full original meaning of the term. In fact, it refers specifically to the internal event known as Glorification, the experience which is the peak and summit of Christian illumination: the true praxis is the tested way to Theosis. The tests for it are known and can still be applied.

Thus it is for this reason that we are taught that this knowledge must not be changed, and there are good reasons for this attitude. In simple terms, these reasons are because it contains:

 

  • Knowledge that originates from outside space and time as we know them: from outside our psyche and so outside our normal purely human thoughts and ideas.

 

  • Knowledge that can be proven to lead to practical results

 

  • An understanding of the meaning of that knowledge that can be gained only by practice leading to more or less direct experience of  those results


In its narrowest sense, then, this tradition must never be changed because it is not simply an idea, not even a statement of belief. In one sense it is a formula, like a recipe or a medical prescription. The same rules apply: if the instructions are changed, the results they produce will also almost certainly be different. This means that not only should nobody ever plan on leaving out certain essential parts of the instructions, but nor should anybody who is using this method change a single word in those instructions. But it is not so much for their own sake that the instructions should not be changed, as that, if they have been properly understood, then they will not be changed.

At the same time, other truths which are not directly related to and proven by the method, nor are necessary to the understanding of that method, should not be regarded as final and complete in the same way. One can develop and refine one’s understanding of these things progressively. Discoveries made by individuals can be used, refined, or developed by anyone who understands them clearly.
   
The Inner Tradition of the early Church was a stream of teaching produced by the early saints and tested for its ability, in those who recognised the realities it represented, to bring about a progressive change in their state of mind. Often it is seeded in the individual not by ideas but by a series of coincidences whose growth is fed by a compost of dead branches of previous searches. At other times the process is assisted by individuals whose recognition of these inner truths is relatively mature.
My own introduction began within half a mile of the Kings Cross end of London's Pentonville Road. Within a half-mile circle lie three buildings that in the 1950's formed much of the background of my early investigations into the spirituality that can only be built around and its reality proved to us by our own individual inner experiences. That is how I first found it; in a whole series of experiences or, as they were known at one time, revelations, I learned to see the world in a different way, a way that led me to think differently abut life, and to be experientially certain of that different world-view.
What was it that happened there all those years ago? At the beginning of my search for inner truth, in a London emptied out by a World War that had only recently ended, and which had consumed the attention of a whole people for a period of years, I came together - at different times in those three different buildings - with other people who were also searching. What I learned in those times was how to give attention in the stillness of one's heart to the others there with me; how to begin to pray and meditate; how to be attentive to life itself; how to remember and recognise forgotten truths. How to trust the voice from the silence that says: wordlessly. "Be still, and know that I am God."
What I remember most from those times was an intense stillness within me; a stillness all of us there then shared together; a stillness around which, for three or four years, our lives revolved, perhaps twenty people not much more than twenty years old, twenty people with too little knowledge and too many questions; twenty people containing a stillness that combined emotional warmth and vitality. "Be still, and know that I am God."
The answers were not actually found in that part of London; but they were found not simply within my psyche, but within that stillness in my psyche. "Be still, and know that I am God."
Better than describing the spatial locations, I can still describe some of the revelations, the experiences themselves; what they seemed to be and what, in some strange way, were the truths they taught me, right at the beginning of my way; the invisible revelation that said: "Be still, and know that I am God."
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Since then I have gathered the compost from successful searches of the past, and even discovered one 1500-year-old set of rules for defining fertile seed and identifying nourishing sources of compost. There are of course other alternatives that would work, but one not only only needs one cure, as long as it works, but one needs to follow one prescription and not confuse oneself by 'mixing medicines at random'; the one prescription that says 'drink me'. "Be still, and know that I am God."
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There are traditions that teach this; one of them is Christian; formulated in advance for the diseases of our time. The seeds kept through the harsh winter include methods of sacramental therapy. The compost includes the Gospel, the teachings of the early saints, the more recent lessons learned and shared by monks, hermits and elders of our own time. Praxis Research Institute exists to collect this material and make it available, so that we all may hear the true being in our hearts that speaks wordlessly to us, saying: 'Be still, and know that I am God."


                               Robin Amis         December 2005