SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS

At the end of the First Millennium

Saint Gregory Palamas says: "Why speak only of knowledge of what we should do, or of knowledge about the visible world, or the invisible? No, even knowledge of the God Who created all that will not achieve anything on its own.  (The Triads, Volume 1.)

Today, as a result of politically-based changes, our community does not so often pass on to its children the way of life needed to sustain its best qualities.  As a result, the full awareness of our noetic consciousness is normally experienced only in early infancy,  This is how the Fathers interpret Saint Paul's words: ˜as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners' (Romans 5:19). This is saying that human nature had become sick. Wherever man was drawn away from God and lost the divine grace, he fell from Grace. This fall from God is  the captivity and fall of our awareness: its fragmentation, identification, and the resulting conflict in the psyche.

The easiest way to cure this, according to those Early Fathers of the First and Second Centuries, is to obey the commandments and to practice prayer and contemplation.

Saint Gregory Palamas was the last of the great Early Fathers.  More than 1200 years after the birth of Christ, At the end of the first millennium of the Early Church in Europe, 1200 years after its formation - he re-described certain teachings of the original Church in a form that is rarely understood today, other than in little-populated mountain lands, the last of which is simply known as ˜Mount Athos', in Northern Greece.   

There, Gregory Palamas faced the first beginnings of a change in people's way of life which modified the normal spiritual-formation of the Western man.  Aware of the reality of the Gospel teaching, on the one hand, and the deteriorating state of mankind on the other, he tells us that he knew 'by exact experience' that the contemporary human mind today is most usually in a state of limited consciousness which I call identification.

In Book 1, Chapter 9 of his Triads, Saint Gregory begins with this, and then moves on to say why it is necessary: But the basics remain the same.  One is that within us, according to tradition, to overcome the fragmentation induced by the rationalist and politicised education of our times and so reintegrate our minds, certain knowledge must be formed in most of us when we are spiritually mature and able to recognize it. 

The basic principle of that form of Christianity is that purification can lead through integration to increased consciousness.

In modern terms, this is partially understandable as forming additional connections in the brain and higher nervous system. today's neuroscience, this directly informs the brain, but what is lacking today is an understanding of how this is needed to give us control over our attention.

Without this, certain forms of upbringing lead to attention problems. Because of this, Christian psychological therapies require that we bring the state of our psyche into a state taught by the Church in the first few Christian centuries. This is the practical basis for Theosis; the deification of man, which is defined in both Old and New Testaments, as well as by the Early Fathers. 

This kind of Christianity is the best chance we have not only to heal ourselves, but to regain the best qualities of our civilization.  But what does our psyche consist of?  The problem here is that the English word ˜mind' has been used to describe  two entirely different concepts: In the Greek of the early  Church, the inmost heart (Gk. kardia) acts through two faculties: psyche and nous.  Historically, the meanings of all these three words are interrelated, and as a result they have been confused in almost all biblical translations has had serious consequences for Christian thought.