When a young philosopher arrived at Mount Athos, he had already read numerous treatises on Orthodox spirituality and knew, one might even say very well, “The Little Philokalia of the Prayer of the Heart and “Tales of the Russian Pilgrim”.
Moreover, he had been seduced by all this, but he was still not convinced. A deeply moving liturgy he attended spontaneously inspired his desire to spend a few days on Mount Athos on a holiday in Greece to learn new details about the mystery of the prayer of the heart and the method of inner listening of the Hesychasts, these completely withdrawn and silent people who are in search of “Hesyhya”, or deep inner peace, which reveals God to us.
In order to better understand the following, we will tell you, with all the necessary details, the meeting of this young philosopher with Father Seraphim, who lived alone in a hermitage near St. Panteleimon, on Mount Athos.
We will also content ourselves with mentioning that our young philosopher was at that moment a little disappointed, finding almost no monks on Mount Athos “up to” his books. It is not without importance to add that although he had read quite a few books on Christian meditation and prayer, he had never really prayed or practiced any particular form of meditation .
That is why his greatest desire – on the occasion of this trip to Mount Athos – was not an additional discourse on prayer and meditation, but a living and true initiation, allowing him to understand them as well as possible, even “from within”, through personal and direct experience.
Father Seraphim, who was a hesychast anahoret, had a bizarre reputation among the monks in his entourage. Some often accused him of spontaneously levitating, while others claimed that he used to scream, others considered him an uneducated peasant who threw tantrums, but nevertheless many people venerated him as a true abbot inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who was capable of giving the wisest advice.
In addition, Father Seraphim was able to read as in an open book the souls of the people who came around him.
Those who arrived at the gate of the hermitage where he lived experienced the unpleasant surprise (for many of them) of being examined to the depths of the soul, in the most “indecent” manner by Father Seraphim: for five minutes that seemed endless to some, he examined them with strange boring attention, from head to toe, without addressing them on that occasion a word.
Those who calmly resisted this examination could finally listen to the severe diagnosis of his spiritual X-ray: “In you, as far as I could tell, He went down below the chin.” By you. what to say, He didn’t even come in.” “Oh! What a wonder! It’s amazing… In you. I see that He has already come down to his knees!”
In all these situations, Father Seraphim was of course talking about the Holy Spirit of God and about the more or less profound level in which He (the Holy Spirit) touches the area of the head, but not yet that of the heart or abdomen… His essential criterion for evaluating people was always the degree of incarnation (complete encompassing of certain parts of the physical body and being) of the Holy Spirit in the man then before him. The perfect man (or, in other words, completely transfigured by the Holy Spirit) was for him only one whose body was inhabited entirely, from head to toe, by the divine presence of the Holy Spirit. “I have never seen this divine miracle in one man before,” he said, “and that is Abbot Siluan. He was indeed totally a man of God, full of both greatness and great humility.”
Our young philosopher was not at all in this high stage, and in his case God’s Holy Spirit had stopped in his head “at beard level.” When he asked Father Seraphim to speak to him about the mystery of prayer of the heart and inner hesychast obedience, Father Seraphim almost began to scream. But our young man did not give up at all and was not discouraged in that situation.
Later, at his humble insistence, Father Seraphim told him: “Before speaking with you about the mystery of the prayer of the heart, you must first learn to meditate just like a mountain,” and then with a broad gesture he showed him a nearby high peak. “Ask him starting today how he prays. Then, when you really know, come back to me.”
2. Meditating as deeply as a mountain
Thus begins for our young philosopher an authentic initiation into the method of hesychast inner listening. It was now quite obvious to him that the first indication he had been given was for as much stability as possible. That advice was therefore not spiritual, but physical: how to sit down as stable as possible.
To truly sit in a position as stable and firm as a mountain means, among other things, to “gain weight,” or in other words, to relax so deeply and perfectly that you simply feel like you’re sinking into the ground. In the early days, our young philosopher found it quite difficult to stand for so long completely still, standing just like a stone with his legs crossed and his pelvis slightly higher than his knees (this was the posture in which he discovered that he could really achieve the greatest stability).
One morning, practicing fervently, he spontaneously understood what it really meant to “meditate like a mountain.” Then, instantly, he felt his full weight; He was perfectly immobile, as if he had taken extraordinarily strong roots in the ground. The notion of time then acquired new valences for him, for the first time he ecstatically intuited that even in reality mountains have another time and rhythm of their own. To stand completely still and silent just like a mountain means, in fact, to always have eternity in front of you.
This is the most appropriate attitude of one who truly aspires to enter meditation: first of all, he must know that he always has eternity both in front of him, behind him, and even within himself. Before building a church it is known that a stone was always needed, and on this stone (or in other words, on the imperturbable solidity of the rock) God could build His church and make the human body His temple. This is how Father Seraphim understood the mysterious meaning of the Gospel words: “You are a stone and on this rock I will build my church”.
The young man thus spent several weeks that transformed him tremendously. He found it hardest on certain days to let the hours go by “doing absolutely nothing.” He had to relearn to exist, to simply exist, without any purpose, for no reason, no matter how small. To meditate like a mountain also means to meditate deeply on the Ultimate Existence, the Existence itself, the one before thought, the one before pain or pleasure. The mountain teaches you that it really exists… This is really his meditation.
Full of love, Father Seraphim visited our young philosopher every day, sharing with him some tomatoes and some olives. Despite the extremely frugal regime, it seemed to our young man that it was getting harder every day. He had also become much quieter. The mountain in front of him seemed to have gone completely into his blood. He now understood differently – in a way indescribable in words – time; He sensed the seasons that had been before, and they unfolded before him in the blink of an eye, and he remained silent and quiet like hard and barren soil, or sometimes he felt with all his being like fertile land waiting to be cultivated.
Meditating motionless like a mountain, the rhythm of his thoughts changed as if by magic. He was now learning to “see” without judging, and he could even contemplate, just as the mountain gives equally to all those who wander it the “right to exist”.
One day, to his astonishment, some pilgrims mistook him for a monk and, deeply impressed by his inner peace, asked for his blessing. He did not answer, remaining imperturbable as a rock. Learning about this, Father Seraphim came in a hurry and began to hit him all over the body. Our young philosopher stood still under the rain of blows and at one point just began to moan.
“Aha! I thought you became as stupid as a stone on the road. Hesychast meditation is based on stability, on steadfastness, but know that it does not have to change you into a dry log, but into a deeply sentient and truly living being.” He then took the young man by one arm and led him into the garden where, among the weeds, some flowers could be seen.
“From now on, you don’t have to meditate like a barren mountain. Learn from today to meditate just like a red poppy, but still take heed and do not forget everything that the mountain taught you…”
3. Meditate like a red poppy
Thus, from that day our young man began to learn to flourish… Meditation means first of all a stable position, and this is exactly what the mountain taught him. But it also means an “orientation”, and it was now to learn from the poppy: to rotate cyclically towards the sun, from darkness to light. Moreover, now he had to transmute all the “sap” of his being into energy and then, with its help, aspire to this.
This orientation towards goodness, towards beauty, towards light, towards truth sometimes made him blush like a poppy. It was as if God’s “wonderful light” was the light of an open gaze, accompanied by a smile and expecting from him a certain perfume. He also learned that in order to orient himself better, the poppy always had a straight stem, so he also began to straighten his spine.
At first he did not understand very well how things really were, for he had read in certain books of philokalia that, on the contrary, the monk’s spine must be slightly curved, even at the cost of painful effort, so that his gaze could be easily oriented towards the heart. To clarify himself, he asked Father Seraphim for explanations. He looked at him maliciously: “Oh, know that this advice used to be true for the strongmen of yesteryear. They were a little too full of energy, and needed to be reminded of the humiliation and nothingness of their own human condition. This being so, if they bowed slightly during meditation, it did them no harm. As far as you are concerned, however, you rather need energy; therefore, during meditation, recover, be vigilant, straighten your spine as best you can and raise your gaze to the light of God, which you can see at the top of your head, but take heed and do this without pride. In fact, if you observe the poppy very carefully, you will notice for yourself not only the verticality of its stem, but also a certain suppleness that allows it to easily lean in front of the wind; because he is also so humble.
You must realize in the depths of your being that indeed, the mysterious teaching of the poppy lies both in its fragility and in its transience. The young man you are now must learn not only to flourish, but to wither. Reflecting on what Father Seraphim said, our young philosopher understood better the words of the prophet: “Every body of flesh is to God like grass, and its delicacy is like that of wildflowers, for after all the time comes when the grass withers, the flowers wither, when the wind of the Lord blows upon them; but beyond all this, the word of our God endures forever. All the peoples of the earth are to God like a drop of water from the hearth, like fine dust on a scale… He makes all the judges of the earth meaningless in the eternal perspective. They are scarcely planted, they are barely sown, their stem has just taken root in the ground, and He (God) blows on them to dry them out, and then a whirlwind takes them like straw.” (Isaiah, 40-7, 8, 15, 23, 24).
The mountain had given our young philosopher a sense of eternity, and then the poppy taught him to realize the fragility of ephemeral things, which are subject to time. To meditate means, among other things, to know the Eternal at any time in the ephemeral moment. It also means that it is necessary to bloom completely when it is given to you to flourish, to love fully when it is given to you to love, never accepting anything in return, for apart from all that God gives us moment by moment, what else could we receive, and from whom? Let’s think deeply, why do poppies bloom? And for whom?
Our young philosopher thus learned to meditate deeply without pursuing a specific goal or profit, he also realized that he must meditate from the simple joy of existing, of loving God’s eternal light. “Love is its own reward,” said St. Bernard. “The flower blooms because it blooms,” Angelus Silesius once said.
“It is actually the mountain that blooms in the poppy,” thought our young philosopher now. The entire universe is now meditating within me. May he blush with joy in this privileged moment that is my life.” This thought, however, was too much for him. That is why Father Seraphim again had to pick him up and shake him a little, after which he took him by the arm again and now led him down a steep road to the seashore, in a small isolated cove, and said to him: “Stop ruminating like a cow on the tenderness of a poppy… Remember that you must now acquire a sea heart. Learn to meditate like the ocean.”
4. Meditating like the ocean
Our young man then approached with his new sea condition. In retrospect he realized that he now had a stable position and a straight spine. What else was he missing? What could the cyclone of waves teach him? Soon, he noticed that the wind was intensifying. The ebb and flow of the sea then became stronger, and this awakened in him the longing for the ocean. It must not be by chance that the old monk advised him to meditate like the ocean, and not like the sea. How did he know of the long hours the young man had spent in the North Atlantic, enveloped only by night, when he had learned to tune his breath to the rhythm of the waves? I inhale, exhale… Then: I am inspired by God, I am exhaled by God. Then I let myself be completely carried away by the breath, as if carried by the waves…
He now resumes these exercises again. But, how curious everything was at present! Before, when he did the same thing, he just forgot about it, it dissolved like a drop in the sea. Now, however, he realized that he-drop was completely retaining his form, his self-awareness. Observing these transformations, he wondered: “Is it the effect of posture, with the spine straight, is it the effect of rooting in the ground? Now our young man was no longer carried away as before by the deep rhythm of his breathing, but always managed to keep his identity of consciousness unaffected. It was at the same time a drop, and as if mysteriously it was “one with the ocean”. Thus, he learned that deep meditation also means a deep and natural breath, or in other words, letting go of the ebb and flow of the breath.
He also learned that although the waves were countless on the surface, the ocean floor remained constantly still. Soon after, he realized that his thoughts come and go, but that deep within his being, something eternal and indescribable (the Immortal Spirit) always remains immobile. With each new day of deep meditation, our young man completely lost his identity with the “waves” of thoughts, becoming more and more one with the motionless bottom (Immortal Spirit) of the ocean.
Now he remembered with delight the poet’s lyrics that had marked his adolescence: “Existence is like a sea troubled by waves. From it, ordinary people perceive only the waves. Watch very carefully as countless waves spring from the depths of the sea moment by moment to the surface, while it remains hidden beyond them.” Now, to him, the sea no longer appeared to him to be so “hidden”, the uniqueness of all beings and things was more obvious, without multiplicity being abolished. Background and form, content and appearance, visible and invisible did not appear to him now as absolute opposites, but to him, all this began to merge into the one ocean of life.
Was it, he wondered, that wasn’t the basis of his breath that Ruah or pneuma or prana of yogis or most simply, the almighty breath of God?
“He who listens with great attention and detachment to his breath,” said Father Seraphim, “is not far from God. Listen carefully to the end of your exhalation. Listen carefully to the beginning of inspiration.” Putting this advice fervently into practice, our young man realizes that indeed, there was in these mysterious moments of beginning and end a silence much deeper than the ebb and flow of waves, something that resembles the Ocean…
5. Meditating like a bird
“The stable position, the consistent orientation towards God’s light and the deep, naturally rhythmic breath like the ocean do not yet form the hesychast meditation,” Father Seraphim said one day to our young man. You must now learn to meditate just like a bird.” And taking him by the hand, he led him to a small cell, above which two turtledoves had nested. Their loud chirping first delighted our young man, but ended up annoying him. It seemed to him that they were choosing the exact moment he wanted to sleep, to chirp his sweetest whispers of love.
Our young man puzzled the monk asked what all this meant and how long this comedy would last. The mountain, poppy, and ocean still pass (though no doubt an outsider could immediately have wondered what all this had to do with Christianity), but now, to be offered all these languorous towns as a master of meditations, that seemed to him to be too much!
Father Seraphim then patiently explained to him that in the “Old Testament” the word expressing the state of meditation has the root “The Hague”, which is translated into Greek in the form of melete – meletan and which in Latin translates as meditations – meditatio. The root of its original term means to “murmur in a whisper.” The same root often meant the cries of animals, such as the roar of the lion (Isaiah 31:4), the chirping of the swallow and the babbling of the dove (Isaiah 38:14), as well as the grunt of bears.
“As you can see here on Mount Athos we are missing bears. That’s why I led you by these turtledoves. Their teaching to you is the same anyway. You must now meditate with your throat as well, using it not only for breathing, but also to whisper God’s name day and night.
When you are happy, you even unknowingly swallow a song, or maybe you murmur a few words without any meaning, and in those moments that murmur makes your whole being vibrate in a simple and serene joy.
Deep meditation therefore means letting the chirping of this turtledove resound in you, it also means letting the song that is born in your heart ascend and overflow, just as you let the fragrance of the flower invade you… Meditation also means breathing inwardly singing, without external sounds.
Without trying yet to find their profound meaning, I propose that you continually repeat, murmur, think, make vibrate deeply and fully within you these words that fill the hearts of the monks of Mount Athos with love for God: Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison. Our young man was not too pleased now, for he had long known the meaning of the Greek words kyrie eleison: “Lord, have mercy.”
Intuiting his condition very well, Father Seraphim smiled: “Yes, and this is one of the meanings of the expression, but know that there are others, for example: “Lord, God, I beg You to send Your Holy Spirit upon me! Let Your divine blessing descend upon me and everyone! May thy name be blessed forever and ever!” etc. But I told you that this is not yet the time to insist on meanings, because at the right time they will reveal themselves to you sooner or later. For now, know that it is enough to become sensitive and very attentive to the mysterious and uplifting vibration that these words awaken in your heart and body.
Then try to harmonize this vibration that appears then with the rhythm of your breathing. When you are assailed by too many thoughts, just gently return to this invocation, breathe as deeply as possible, keep yourself as straight and still as possible, and you will thus know a moment of Hesyhia, the deep inner peace that God gives to those who love him.”
Soon after, our young man was already very familiar with that expression (“Lord have mercy”). After some time he even came to repeat it not only with his lips but also with his heart.
Then he no longer sought at all to mentally grasp the meaning of words, and their continual repetition sometimes induced a deep, ecstatic silence that had hitherto been completely unknown to him. He thus gradually discovered what must have been Thomas’ inner attitude when he discovered the resurrected Christ. He is known to have uttered then, “Kyrie eleison, my Lord and God.”
This simple invocation sometimes instantly immersed him in a state of intense respect for all that exists, but also of overwhelming adoration for what lies hidden at the root of all existence. Father Seraphim said to him, “Now, it is good to know that you are no longer far from meditating like a man. That’s why I want to teach you Abraham’s meditation now.”
6. Meditating like Abraham
Until now, it could be said that Abbot Seraphim’s teaching had been natural and therapeutic. The monks of old, as Philo of Alexandria himself testifies, were actually “therapists” (“healers”). Before leading man to true enlightenment, their role was, above all, to speedily heal human nature and harmonize it fully so that he could receive God’s Ascending Grace, which does not contradict nature, but only restores and fulfills it.
The mountain, the poppy, the ocean, the bird, all in the end taught our young man to reconscious, to recapitulate the different levels of existence always alive that his being had once known or, in other words, the different kingdoms that make up the Macrocosm: the still, vegetative, animal kingdom. Man – as everyone can realize, looking very carefully around him and within himself – has lost contact (resonance) with all that is good and divine in the Macrocosm, with rock, with plants, with animals, and this evil state of affairs has led to the emergence of uncomfort, disease, insecurity, lack of love, of unhappiness and anxiety.
He became through this great sin a stranger in his own universe. Deep meditation means, therefore, first of all, the sincere and spontaneous glorification of the universe, for, as the Holy Fathers said, “all things and non-human beings have learned to pray before us.” Man, as a being privileged by God, is the only place in the universe where the prayer of the world becomes truly and totally aware of itself.
That is why man is here to consciously name things and beings that other creatures only stutter. Together with Abraham, we are now entering an entirely new and much higher level of consciousness, which is called faith, or in other words, the unconditional adherence of both intelligence and heart to this “You” that exists, which mysteriously transpires to those capable of intuiting Him, everywhere in multiplicity.
This is in a few words Abraham’s experience and meditation. With its help we realize that behind the stars there is always something more and bigger than the stars, a mysterious and overwhelming presence, very difficult to define, which no one can name precisely, but which nevertheless contains in it all the names… all forms… all forces… all aspects… all energies… and besides, something mysterious and unfathomable.
In the terrible mystery (God) that we intuit then there is something higher than the universe and which, however, cannot be grasped outside the universe. The difference between God and Nature is the difference between the blue of the sky and the blue of a gaze. Abraham was not looking for blue, but for the gaze.
Having learned righteous posture, rootedness, positive orientation toward God’s light, the silent breath of the ocean, and the mysterious inner song, our young man was now invited to fully and truly awaken his heart. “Learn now that you are a being of God,” realize that what really characterizes your heart is that it personalizes all things, all beings, even the Absolute, which is the Source (Ultimate Source) of all that lives and breathes. He realizes that everything that exists I call him, I call him: “My God, my Creator” and allow themselves to be penetrated by His Presence. To meditate like Abraham means, in reality, that, beyond the most varied appearances, you must always maintain contact with the One Presence (God). This profound form of meditation already permanently addresses all the concrete details of daily life. Remember that episode with the oak tree in Mamre.
Abraham was seated at the entrance to the tabernacle at the hottest time of the day. Here he had just received a visit from three strangers, who would later prove themselves messengers of God. To meditate like Abraham means to practice hospitality with dedication and humility, to give a glass of water to the thirsty. This will not take you out of your silence but, on the contrary, will bring you closer to the source (the endless Spring). Do not limit yourself to awakening in yourself the profound peace and light of God, but also fill your heart with love for all beings of the earth.
And saying these words, Father Seraphim read to the young man a long passage from “Genesis,” which talks about Abraham’s intervention with God. Standing before God, who is, who was, and who will be in eternity, he says, “Do you really want to suppress the righteous with the sinner? If there are only fifty righteous and good men in a city, will You destroy them together with the whole city, or will You forgive the whole city for these fifty?”
Little by little, however, Abraham had to reduce the number of the righteous so that Sodom would not be destroyed. “Oh Lord, don’t be angry. Maybe we’ll find at least ten righteous people there.” (“Genesis”, 18:16). To meditate deeply like Abraham means to intervene with love and compassion for people’s lives, without ignoring their sins, constantly and faithfully invoking divine compassion.
This kind of meditation soon frees the heart from judgments and various condemnations; whatever effort she may have made to contemplate, she will always invoke God’s forgiveness and blessing.
“Meditating like Abraham means something more, and now Father Seraphim’s voice trembles slightly with emotion. It means going even to the point of complete sacrifice, be it self.” And here he quotes to the young man another passage from “Genesis”, in which Abraham is able to sacrifice even his son, Isaac. “Everything comes from God, and everything belongs to God alone,” murmured Seraphim. Everything comes from Him and everything is for Him. Abraham’s meditation will thus lead you to total detachment from your ego and all that it holds dear. Look within yourself especially for what is closest to your heart, the thing or aspect with which you identify most. To Abraham, this was his son Isaac. If you are also able to give that to God, to surrender yourself totally, in full faith to the One who transcends reason and common sense (apparently), everything will be returned to you at the right time, a hundredfold. God always takes care of His children. To meditate like Abraham also means to fill all your time, heart, and conscience with God’s presence alone. Remember that when Abraham climbed to the top of the mountain, all he had in his heart was the thought of his son. When he came down, there was nothing left in his heart but God.
Learning the lesson of sacrifice means discovering that nothing ever belongs to “you.” Everything belongs to God alone. This means the death of the ego and the discovery of the Everlasting Self. To meditate like Abraham also means to merge fully, by faith, with the Eternal and Almighty One (God), who transcends the universe (the Macrocosm), it means to practice hospitality with joy and love, to intervene (through prayer) for the salvation of all people, to often forget oneself and to break all attachments as quickly as possible to discover that the One who dwells in the depths of one’s being, like the whole universe is “He who is, because he really is” (God).
7. Meditating like Jesus
Father Seraphim now appeared less and less frequently to give advice to his young student. But he felt from a distance (telepathically) all the progress his young disciple was making in both the art of meditation and prayer. Several times he even surprised his young disciple with his face bathed in tears, meditating like Abraham and praying fervently for people: “Lord, I humbly beg Your Divine Grace, for otherwise, without Your help, what will happen to all these sinners?”
One day, the young man specially seeks out Father Seraphim to ask him: “Father, why have you never spoken to me about Jesus yet? What was His prayer, His form of meditation? In all liturgies and services I know that only He is spoken of. In the prayer of the Heart, as described by “Philokalia,” His name is often invoked. Why don’t you tell me anything about Him?”
Father Seraphim seemed to be very troubled, as if the young man had asked him to reveal to him the innermost secret of his heart. The greater the divine revelation received, the greater the humility with which it can be transmitted to another. Father Seraphim then confessed that he himself did not yet feel so humbled to be able to communicate such a secret: “This, know that only the Holy Spirit can teach you. No one knows who the Son really is but the Father, and no one knows who the Father really is, except the Son and those to whom the Son desires to reveal himself” (Luke 10:22).
Having arrived here it is necessary to know that you must become ONE (in other words, fully identify) with the Son in order to pray like the Son and to maintain with Him whom He called His Father and Our Father (God) the same intimate relations as Him, and this fulfillment can only be the work of the Holy Spirit, who will then reveal to you the meaning of all the words of Jesus. Only then will the gospel begin to live fully alive in you and teach you to pray properly.”
But the young man insists on finding out more: “All right,” smiled old Seraphim. You must know that to meditate like Jesus means to first review very well all the forms of meditation in which I initiated you previously. You must also know that Jesus was, is, and will eternally be cosmic man. So he knew perfectly how to meditate like the mountain, like the poppy, like the ocean, like the bird. He was also familiar with Abraham’s meditation, of course. His heart had no boundaries and that is why He loved even His enemies, even His executioners.
Remember that when Jesus was on the cross, he said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” His hospitality and benevolence were equal to all. He received with love and compassion even the sick, sinners, paralyzed, prostitutes, those who would sell Him. At night, He would retreat into the solitude of Nature to pray, and then He would often murmur lovingly like a child: “Abba,” meaning “Father.” It may seem ridiculous to call the Transcendent, Infinite, Unnameable, the One who is beyond all things “Father.”
Yet this was Jesus’ main prayer, and He said it all with this one word. Heaven and earth then merged fully into Him because of His immense faith. God and man were only one at that time. No doubt you must utter the word “Father” with great dedication and aspiration in the silence of the night, to truly understand what it means.
Today, when in this world the relationships between parent and child have changed so much that in many cases they mean almost nothing, few will be those who will understand what I mean here. Perhaps now, this picture no longer corresponds at all to the realities of this world.
That is why I preferred not to tell you anything, not to use any image and to wait with the grace of the Holy Spirit to give you the feelings and mysterious knowledge that Jesus Christ had, so that this one word “Abba” would not only come out of the tip of your lips, but in reality would spring from the last depths of your heart. Only then will you be able to truly understand what mysterious prayer and hesychast meditation mean.”
8. And now go home!
The young disciple of Father Seraphim then stayed for several months on Mount Athos.
Jesus’ simple prayer often propels him into boundless and bottomless abysses, sometimes bringing him to the brink of ecstatic drunkenness:
“It is not I who live now, the eternal Christ lives in me“,
could he say then, just like St. Paul. When he was overwhelmed by these states, a constant delirium of humility appeared in him, and at the same time there was also a desire to intervene on behalf of others, which manifested itself in a burning desire “that all men be saved from the state they were in and attain the ecstatic fullness of knowledge of the Truth.” He had now become like a living flame, always burning in the fire of love. “It burned all the time, and yet it was never consumed.” He also often experienced sublime visions of light. Some even said they saw him walking above the water or remaining ecstatic and immobile a few feet above the ground.
At some point, again Father Seraphim came and began to scream:
“That’s it! Arrive! And now grab your stuff and go!” and so Father Seraphim asked his young disciple to leave Athos and return home to see there what would remain of his wonderful Hesychast prayers and meditations!
The young Hesychast disciple left immediately after this discussion, without asking why he was asked to do so. Back in his home country, his acquaintances found him weak. There seemed to them to be nothing spiritual or godly in his almost dirty beard and careless air. But all this and much more now troubled him at all, for he could not forget the teaching of Abbot Seraphim.
When he sometimes felt too agitated, finding almost no time for himself, he gave up everything and everything for a moment and went to the terrace of a café to meditate there like a mountain. When he felt pride, vanity grow in him, he remembered poppies flashingly.
“Every flower withers,” he said to himself, and his heart turned again to the everlasting light of God.
When in other situations sadness, anger, disgust invaded his soul, he would retreat into solitude and begin to breathe deeply and rhythmically, like the ocean; in doing so he soon felt himself in unison with the Breath of God, and then humbly invoked His Name, murmuring: Kyrie Eleison.
When he often contemplated the sufferings, wickedness, and helplessness of his fellowmen, he immediately remembered Abraham’s meditation.
When he was slandered or when he had to listen to various infamy about himself, he would again find his happiness and candor as a child of God meditating with Jesus. Outwardly, for the others he was a man like everyone else. He never sought to have the air of a saint.
7 years after his return from Mount Athos He had even forgotten to practice, even once a month, the method of Hesychast inner obedience. But nevertheless, what he never forgot was and will remain to love God moment by moment and to always walk in His presence (God).