Gregory's Triads Analysis

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Gregory Palmas (1296-1359) was born into a highly respected family of the Byzantine Aristocracy in Constantinople. Although his education focused heavily on Aristotelian disciplines (rhetoric, physics, and logic), Palmas decided to forgo his future in politics in order to become a practicing monk. Accordingly, he underwent an extensive theological education, which was supplemented by the instruction of spiritual masters (i.e. Nikodemos). At the age of 26, Palmas made a life altering decision to adopt the monastic lifestyle of a “hesychast” (i.e. a lifestyle of solitude, asceticism, and mystical prayer). In accordance with the hesychast creed, Palmas spent 5 days of the week dedicated to “silence and interior prayer.” On the weekends, however,…show more content…
Essentially, Palmas interpreted apophatic meditation as “the experience of the divine in quiet stillness” (pg. 141). Although many spiritual practitioners prior to Palmas argued that apophatic meditation constituted an acceptance of the impossibility of divine experience, Gregory refuted this claim by asserting the following: although God can not be experienced in his own “being,” He makes intimate contact with mankind through an extension of his “energies of love” (pg. 142). Furthermore, God’s energies provide creative nourishment for all beings and extend the healing power of grace. According to Palmas, we as human beings are not required to actively seek out these energies. Rather, these energies (which constitute the actual presence of God) tend to find each individual regardless of whether or not they are actively seeking them. As I spent extensive time pondering Palmas’ idea of divine experience through God’s energies rather than His essence, I found myself challenged by the ostensible abstractness and ambiguity of this teaching. Although I understand the core of Palmas’ argument, I struggle to accept his assertion that the energies of God do not have to be actively pursued. Partially due to the specific “brand” of spirituality that I was taught in my youth, I have always maintained a firm belief in the intentionality of spiritual experience. However, it could be possible that
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