philosophical concept of stillness

Hesychia, a Greek term, is a concept that can be translated as "stillness, rest, quiet, silence".


In NeoplatonismEdit

  • In fact, one must not try to discover where it [the One] comes from. For there is not any ‘where’; it neither comes from nor goes anywhere, it both appears and does not appear. For this reason, it is necessary not to pursue it, but to remain in stillness [hesychia], until it should appear, preparing oneself to be a contemplator, just like the eye awaits the rising sun. The sun rising over the horizon – the poets say ‘from Ocean’ – gives itself to be seen with the eyes.

In ChristianityEdit

  • A brother asked an elder, “What is hēsychia and what good does it do?”
The elder said to him, “Hēsychia is remaining in a cell with understanding and fear of God, refraining from rancor and arrogance. That kind of hēsychia is the mother of all virtues and protects the monk from the fiery darts of the enemy, not allowing him to be wounded by them.
O hēsychia! The advancement of those who dwell alone.
O hēsychia! The ladder to heaven.
O hēsychia! The way to the kingdom of heaven.
O hēsychia! Mother of sorrow for sin.
O hēsychia! Patron of repentance.
O hēsychia! Mirror of offenses, showing a person his shortcomings.
O hēsychia! That does not hinder tears and sighs.
O hēsychia! That lightens up the soul.
O hēsychia! Mother of gentleness.
O hēsychia! Concomitant of humility.
O hēsychia! That brings one to a peaceable disposition.
O hēsychia! That converses with angels.
O hēsychia! That enlightens the way of the mind.
O hēsychia! Espoused to fear of God, inquisitor of logismoi, and toiling together with discernment.
O hēsychia! Mother of all good, the foundation of fasting, a bridle for the tongue and a barrier to gluttony.
O hēsychia! School of prayer, school of reading.
O hēsychia! Calm of logismoi and a sheltered harbor.
O hēsychia! That importunes God, a weapon of the young that maintains a state of mind for which one need not repent and that preserves untroubled those who are desirous of remaining in their own cells.
O hēsychia! The yoke that is easy and the burden that is light [Matt 11:30], conferring repose and support on the one who is supporting you.
O hēsychia! Delight of heart and soul.
O hēsychia! Exclusively concerned for that which is its own and speaking to Christ, ever having death before its eyes.
O hēsychia! A bridle for the eyes, the hearing, and the tongue.
O hēsychia! Looking for the coming of Christ by day and by night and keeping the lamp from going out [Matt 21:1-13]. In your longing for him you are ever singing the words, ‘My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready’ [Ps 56:8].
O hēsychia! That restrains boasting and supplies weeping in place of laughter to the one who possesses you.
O hēsychia! Mother of devotion.
O hēsychia! Enemy of shamelessness and hater of loose talk, ever looking for the coming of Christ.
O hēsychia! Prison of passions.
O hēsychia! The field of Christ bringing forth good harvests.
Yes brother, acquire this, being mindful of death.”
  • No. 35, Chapter 2 (On Hesychia), The Book of the Elders (Sayings of the Desert Fathers): The Systematic Collection, translated by John Wortley. Cistercian Publications, 2012.
  • Stillness is an undisturbed state of the intellect,
the calm of a free and joyful soul,
the tranquil unwavering stability of the heart in God,
the contemplation of light,
the knowledge of the mysteries of God,
consciousness of wisdom by virtue of a pure mind,
the abyss of divine intellections,
the rapture of the intellect,
intercourse with God,
an unsleeping watchfulness,
spiritual prayer,
untroubled repose in the midst of great hardship and,
finally, solidarity and union with God.
  • Niketas Stethatos. "On the Inner Nature of Things", #64. In: Palmer, G. E. H.; Ware, Kallistos; Sherrard, Philip (1999). The Philokalia: The Complete Text. Vol. 4. Faber and Faber, p. 125.
  • Similarly, stillness [hesychia] is initiated by attentive waiting upon God,
its intermediate stage is characterized by illuminative power and contemplation,
and its final goal is ecstasy and the enraptured flight of the intellect towards God.
  • Gregory of Sinai, #111, On Commandments and Doctrines. In: Palmer, G. E. H.; Ware, Kallistos; Sherrard, Philip (1999). The Philokalia: The Complete Text. Vol. 4. Faber and Faber, p. 237.
  • With the help of prayer ignore all images, whether sensory or conceptual, that rise up from the heart.
For stillness [hesychia] means the shedding of all thoughts for a time,
even those which are divine and engendered by the Spirit; otherwise through giving them our attention because they are good we will lose what is better.
  • Gregory of Sinai, #9, On Stillness. In: Palmer, G. E. H.; Ware, Kallistos; Sherrard, Philip (1999). The Philokalia: The Complete Text. Vol. 4. Faber and Faber, p. 270.
  • The start of stillness [hesychia] is the rejection of all noisiness as something that will trouble the depths of the soul. The final point is when one has no longer a fear of noisy disturbance, when one is immune to it. He who when he goes out does not go out in his intellect is gentle and wholly a house of love, rarely moyed to speech and never to anger. The opposite to all this is manifest.
  • Stillness of the body is the accurate knowledge and management of one's feelings and perceptions. Stillness of soul is the accurate knowledge of one's thoughts and is an unassailable mind.
  • Stillness is worshipping God unceasingly and waiting on Him.
  • It is only by means of this Prayer that the creature can be really united with his Creator, the goal of the Prayer of Jesus is consequently the supreme spiritual state, in which man is detached from everything pertaining to the creature and being directly united with the Divinity, is illuminated by the Divine Light. This supreme state is "Holy Silence" (hēsychia), symbolized by the black color of the Virgin in certain icons and images.
This "silence" is the exact equivalent of the Hindu and Buddhist nirvāna and the Sufi fanā’ (both terms signifying "extinction"); the "poverty" (faqr) in which "union" (tawḥīd) is achieved refers to the same symbolism.
  • Stillness does not come and go. It is we who come and go. Stillness abides, like a vast evenness, limpid and pure. It is a transcendent realm of infinite clarity.
  • Silouan Oner, "A Century on the Wisdom of Stillness" #60. In: Priest-Monk Silouan (2011). Wisdom Songs: A Book of Wisdom Chapters in Five Centuries. New York: Sophia Institute. ISBN 978-0-9835867-1-5.

See alsoEdit

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