Digression -- 4
We can now turn to the fourth and last transformation, that from the first natural contemplation to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity, Theology.
If among the things which are tasted, there is none of them which might be sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, and if the gnosis of God might be said to be superior to these things (cf. Ps. 18, 10), it is evident that there is nothing at all that is on the earth which might give pleasure like the gnosis of God (III, 64). This is clear.
In this, there is one among the pleasures which is coextensive with the constitution of the mind (nous), that which accompanies gnosis, because all will pass with the world to come (IV, 49). This passage is very similar to TPL 3: ‘The
The end of natural gnosis is the Holy Unity, but there is not an end to ignorance, as it is said: ‘There is not’, indeed, ‘a limit to his grandeur.’ (Ps. 144, 3.) (I, 71.) In the first place, this passage is saying that natural contemplation naturally progresses to Theology, the contemplation of the Holy Unity. Its further sense is that God, being infinite, is never completely knowable by his finite creature, even in eternity. In eternity the mind (nous) ever learns more of the Holy Unity and is ever still ignorant on account of the infinity of God. If we discard the notion of the ‘Holy Unity’, replacing it by the concept of the Holy Trinity, then this passage can be understood in an Orthodox way.
In the pure thought are imprinted a sky splendid to see and a spacious region, in which it appears how the mental representations of beings and the holy angels draw near to those who are worthy. And irritation makes this vision which is imprinted to be seen obscurely, and anger, when it is inflamed, destroys it completely (V, 39). Evagrius is speaking of a very high state of contemplation, one in which the angels easily draw near. He remarks on the destructive effects of irritation and anger on this vision. He and, as we shall see, St Hesychios are emphatic on the destructive effects of anger on all mental representations. Here, the mental representation in question is the ‘sky splendid to see and a spacious region…’; the word ‘imprinted’ tells us that this is a mental representation. This state of contemplation we originally saw as one of the higher forms of first natural contemplation, as a state which followed the states described in chapters discussed under first natural contemplation, above. Given the references to holy angels which approach, we did not consider that this chapter referred to the ‘place of God’, Theology, that we will see in OTT 39. However, Evagrius’ Epistle 39 quotes this chapter of the Kephalaia Gnostica as the immediate continuation of what we shall find below as OTT 39. But OTT 39 is clearly discussing Theology and not natural contemplation. Hence, the proper interpretation of the present chapter is that it is referring to Theology, and that would also apply to the next three chapters:
The intelligible ‘mountain’ (cf. Exod. 19, 3 et seq.) is the spiritual contemplation which is placed on an elevated height to which it is difficult to draw near; when the nous will have come close to it, it will become a seer of all the mental representations of the underlying objects (V, 40). This chapter describes the same stage of Theology as the preceding chapter. We think that the particular sense of the image, clearly based on the ascent of Moses to the summit of Mt Sinai, is that the ascetic who attains to Theology will possess in power all the lower natural contemplations.
He in whose soul the intelligible world is completely imprinted abstains from all corruptible covetousness, and henceforth he is ashamed of the things of which he was formerly complacent, his thought making him reproaches concerning his previous insensibility (V, 41). ‘He in whose soul the intelligible world is completely imprinted’ we take to be the gnostic at the stage of Theology as described in the preceding chapters. The rest of the chapter is clear. The ascetic who engages in Theology has a complete change of heart. Since, clearly, however, for some time, according to the Evagrian system, the ascetic will have been dispassionate, this change of heart must be seen as a great increase in his spiritual sensitivity. This much greater sensitivity has a moral dimension, here expressed in the matter of the passion of avarice. We ourselves would think that it would also be expressed in a much greater sensitivity to issues of Christian charity.
The world which is built in the mind seems during the day to be difficult to discern, the senses distracting the mind and the sensible light shining; by night, however, it is possible to see this world imprinted very brightly during the time of prayer (V, 42—Greek fragment). This chapter is an interesting comment on the preferability of prayer by night, a statement that we have often heard during our brief stay on
The gnosis of Christ requires not a dialectical soul but a seeing soul. For to engage in dialectic happens also to impure souls, whereas seeing happens only to pure souls (IV, 90—Greek fragment). This is quite clear. A dialectical soul is one which proceeds using reason, whereas a seeing soul is one which proceeds using the faculty of intuitive cognition. The required purity is not only the purity of dispassion (apatheia), but also the purity of the mind (nous) purified by natural contemplation. However, the purity to which the ascetic attains in the practical life, dispassion (apatheia), is the precondition of all further purification by natural contemplation. In Gnostic 45, we find the following very similar passage:
45 The pillar of the truth, Basil the Cappadocian, said: Careful study and exercise, on the one hand, master the gnosis that comes from men; justice and freedom from anger, and mercy, on the other hand, that which comes from the grace of God. And it is possible for the passionate to take upon himself the first; the dispassionate alone, however, are receptive of the second, those who during the time of prayer also see the native light of the mind (nous) shining on them.
According to the notes to Gnostic 45 in the critical edition, this passage is not known from any of the extant works of St Basil the Great, so, if it genuinely is of St Basil, then Evagrius received it orally from St Basil, who ordained him Reader, or in some other similar fashion.
Just as, being awoken, we say various things concerning the sleep and when we are asleep, we learn them by experience, so when we will have been in God we will receive the proof by experience of all things which we hear on the subject of God, being outside him (I, 38). This is simply a statement, common among mystical writers, that the experience of God will teach us experientially what we previously have only heard concerning God.
It is said that the mind (nous) sees the things which it knows and that it does not see the things which it does not know; on account of this, it is not all the thoughts which prohibit for it the gnosis of God, but those which assail the temper (thumos) and the desiring part (epithumia) and which are contrary to nature (VI, 83). This is rather an unusual statement. We shall see in OTT 40 and 41, below, that during the time of prayer the mind must be free of all mental representations in order to attain to the contemplation of God. We therefore take this chapter to refer to the habitual state of the monk, not to his condition at the hour of prayer.
The mind (nous) will not be crowned with the crown of the essential gnosis, if it has not rejected far from it the ignorance of the two struggles (III, 49). These two struggles are the ascetical struggle for virtue in praktike and the contemplative struggle for truth in natural contemplation. These ‘struggles’ would therefore correspond to the second and third renunciations that are given both in OTT 26 and in the Kephalaia Gnostica I, 78–80.
Among the gnoses, one will never become material, and the other will never become immaterial; but that gnosis which is material can also become immaterial (II, 63). The gnosis which will never become material is the gnosis of the Holy Trinity. The gnosis which will never become immaterial is the gnosis related to objects of sense. We are not sure what the final clause intends to say. It seems to mean that the gnosis of objects, taken as sense-perception, can, in addition, without losing this material character, also become immaterial by means of the second natural contemplation, but this is conjectural.
The gnosis which is in the four is the gnosis of the mental representations of creatures, and the gnosis of the One is the gnosis of him who alone is (I, 19). This is a contrast between second natural contemplation, or even natural contemplation in general, and Theology. ‘The four’ is the four elements; recall that all the worlds, including the angelic worlds, are created from the same four elements, although in different proportions and with a variation of quality.
The first of all the gnoses is the gnosis of the Monad and the Unity and more ancient than all natural contemplation is the spiritual gnosis; this latter, in fact, went out from before the face of the Creator and it has appeared with the nature which it has accompanied (II, 3). This is more properly a chapter which belongs to the Evagrian cosmology, but we have included it here so that the reader can see the connection between gnosis and cosmology in the Evagrian system. They are intimately connected. The Orthodox monk must be careful to strip all Evagrian material concerning contemplation of its heterodox cosmological and other elements. This is facilitated by the fact that later writers do not dwell on the cosmological aspects of Evagrian gnosis but on his psychology of contemplation. The spiritual gnosis referred to here is the gnosis of the Holy Trinity, the first gnosis. Then the nature which this gnosis accompanied would be the reasonable nature which went out after the Movement and after the First Judgement into all the worlds. It is conceivable that Evagrius is referring here more specifically to the mind which became the Christ, which went out from before the face of the Creator to incarnate into all the worlds for the salvation of all the minds (noes).
With God, it is said that first is he who knows the Holy Trinity, and, after him, he who contemplates the reasons (logoi) concerning the intelligibles (noeton); third, again, he who sees the bodiless powers themselves; fourth, he who knows the contemplation of the Ages (aionon); he, then, who possesses dispassion (apatheia) of soul would justly be counted fifth among these (I, 70—Greek fragment). Here we have one among the many Evagrian typologies of contemplation, this one formulated as a ranking of contemplators. The first and highest and most important contemplation is the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Next is the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of intelligibles. Evagrius never explains precisely what he means by the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of the intelligibles, which here is placed higher than the contemplation of angels. We think that he is referring simply to the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of the angels—this would require a one-letter emendation of noeton to noeron. It is conceivable, however, that he means the Platonic forms. Next is the contemplation of the bodiless powers, which we know from other passages to be the first natural contemplation in its classic expression. Afterwards is the contemplation of the Ages. Above, we have seen passages which indicate that the contemplation of the Ages, or worlds, is a stage subsequent to the contemplation of angels, that is, that it is set between the contemplation of angels and the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Here it is placed in the position that we would expect to find the second natural contemplation, the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of objects of sense, of objects which have come to be. It may be that the expression, ‘contemplation of the Ages’ is here to be taken in the sense of second natural contemplation. Last is dispassion (apatheia). As we have already discussed, dispassion (apatheia) is the flower of the practical life, and, as such, it is the door to contemplation, not itself being a contemplation but in the Evagrian system the presupposition of contemplation. The interpretation we have given of this chapter agrees with the schema implicit in the passage of St Isaac the Syrian that we have often referred to, although there St Isaac does not refer to the soaring mystical ascent to the Holy Trinity in the higher stages of first natural contemplation.
The promise of the ‘hundredfold’ (Matt. 19, 29) is the contemplation of beings, and the ‘eternal life’ (ibid.) is the gnosis of the Holy Trinity: ‘And this is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God.’ (John 17, 3.) (IV, 42.) We take the ‘contemplation of beings’ here to be the contemplation of the angelic powers, first natural contemplation, and not the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of objects of sense, second natural contemplation. The identification of eternal life with the gnosis of the Holy Trinity is, of course, both scriptural (cf. John 17, 3) and in accordance with the soteriological contextualization of contemplation in Evagrius. Indeed, there is reason to believe that this identification of eternal life with gnosis of the Holy Trinity is also characteristic of Orthodox mysticism once the terms are interpreted in an Orthodox fashion. For how else can dispassion (apatheia) in the Ladder of Divine Ascent of St John of Sinai be construed if not as eternal life and the knowledge of the one true God, if, as St John of Sinai writes, such dispassion (apatheia) is the resurrection of the soul before the General Resurrection and knowledge of God second only to that of the angels?
He who knows God has either the gnosis of his nature or that of his wisdom, of which he made use in making all things (III, 81). The gnosis of the nature of God is the gnosis of the Holy Trinity itself. It is noteworthy that Evagrius here makes the nature of God knowable. We have already seen a chapter, KG V, 51, which makes the nature of God unknowable, but, as we discussed, we think that in order for that and other such chapters to be consistent with the remainder of the Kephalaia Gnostica, it is necessary that we take them in a restricted fashion: the nature of God is unknowable from the wisdom found in his material creation. Evagrius makes a sharp distinction between the wisdom of God and his nature, but he seems to make each of them knowable in its own way: the wisdom of God in second natural contemplation and the nature of God in Theology.
In KG V, 51, where he denies that one can know the nature of God, Evagrius begins by referring explicitly to the wisdom of God. It seems to us that that chapter might be glossed that Evagrius is denying that one can know the nature of God from his material creation. It is entirely possible, however, that Evagrius did not realize that he was being inconsistent. The unknowability of the nature of God was one of the arguments of the Cappadocian Fathers against the Arians and their offshoots: conceivably, Evagrius had brought the sentiment with him to
In Orthodox theology, the nature of God is absolutely unknowable; only his operations (energeies), his uncreated operations (aktistes energeies), to use the language of St Gregory Palamas, are knowable. One of these operations (energeies) of God is his wisdom. For Evagrius, that is the only operation (energeia) of God that is knowable, really, apart from his providence and his judgement; in Theology, it is the nature of God that is known. It is the wisdom of God that is known in the second natural contemplation, for the wisdom of God is precisely the reasons (logoi) of objects of sense expressed in the material creation just as the art of the artist is expressed in the artist’s creation. The contemplation of the angelic powers, the encounter with the angels themselves, is not considered by Evagrius to be merely a contemplation of the wisdom of God, but he is not completely clear on this point. However, we encounter the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of the angelic powers as part of first natural contemplation, and Evagrius does seem to view the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of the angelic powers as a contemplation of the wisdom of God, although of a different, higher order than the second natural contemplation of the wisdom of God in his material creation. As for the contemplation of the nature of God in Evagrius, that is what we are now discussing, Theology.
If the perfection of the mind (nous) is the immaterial gnosis, as it is said, and if the immaterial gnosis is the Trinity only, it is evident that in perfection there will not remain anything of matter. And if that is so, the mind (nous) henceforth naked will become a seer of the Trinity (III, 15). This passage is properly a proposition of Evagrian eschatology, one which was explicitly condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod. We have included it because of the homology in Evagrius between eschatology and the ascetic, mystical ascent. The passage sheds some light on how Evagrius understands the contemplation of the Holy Trinity: the mind (nous) is stripped bare before the gnosis of the Holy Trinity. To give this passage an Orthodox interpretation, we would have to discard the eschatological elements, treating the nakedness of the mind (nous) in the contemplation of the Holy Trinity as a state of extreme purity, without for all that suggesting that the mind (nous) loses its identity as a human mind (nous) which is the rational part of a human soul (psuche) to which pertains a human body. Recall St Isaac the Syrian’s interpretation in Homily 3 that the ascetic divests himself of the senses when he passes into first natural contemplation and that the mind (nous) which has divested itself of the senses is the ‘naked mind (nous)’. Taken in this sense, ‘naked mind (nous)’ would seem to be an acceptable concept. This would be part of the purification of the mind (nous) for Theology. Moreover, as Orthodox, we would have to treat the contemplation of the Holy Trinity as a contemplation of the uncreated operations (aktistes energeies) of the Holy Trinity, not as a contemplation of its nature or essence. Needless to say, this would be inconsistent with Evagrius’ notion that the Holy Trinity is essential gnosis.
Love is the excellent state of the reasonable soul which in this cannot love anything at all among corruptible things more than the gnosis of God (I, 86). This is an important statement of the psychology of healthy contemplation.
There is a good love which is eternal, that one which the true gnosis chooses for itself, and it is said that it is inseparable from the mind (nous) (IV, 50). This also is a statement of the psychology of gnosis. It can also be taken as a statement that the ascetic who attains to true gnosis is transformed by love. ‘For God is love.’ Recall St Diadochos of Photike’s doctrine that the illumination (photismos) which conveys the fullness of the kath’ homoiosin also confers on the Christian the fullness of divine love. This divine love is both the love which is God that the ascetic experiences and the love, divine in origin, which is infused, if you will, into the ascetic by the Holy Spirit, that the ascetic conveys to others.
Just as the fire possesses its body in power, so also the mind (nous) will possess the soul in power, when the mind (nous) will be entirely mixed with the light of the Holy Trinity (II, 29). Here we see that for Evagrius one consequence of the contemplation of the Holy Trinity is that thenceforth the mind (nous) possesses its soul (psuche) in power. Recall that for Evagrius one consequence of dispassion (apatheia) is that the soul separates itself from its body. Recall also that for Evagrius, ‘pure prayer’ is a synonym for Theology, the topic of this chapter.
If the rational part is the most honourable of all the powers of the soul—only this is conformed (poioutai) by wisdom—then superior to all the virtues should be wisdom, for our wise teacher also called it ‘the spirit of adoptive sonship’ (Rom. 8, 15) (VI, 51—Greek fragment). That the gnosis of the Holy Trinity should be ‘the spirit of adoptive sonship’ seems to us quite Orthodox; it is a common statement on the part of mystical writers more Orthodox than Evagrius. Taken in an Orthodox way, the spirit of adoptive sonship is dispassion (apatheia) in the sense of Clement of Alexandria, in the sense of St Diadochos of Photike in the Gnostic Chapters, in the sense of St John of Sinai in the Ladder of Divine Ascent. The spirit of adoptive sonship; the resurrection of the soul before the General Resurrection and the knowledge of God second only to that of the angels; the restoration of the fullness of the likeness to God (kath’ homoiosin) that Adam lost in
In the Syriac version intégrale (S2) of this chapter of the Kephalaia Gnostica, superior to all the virtues and ‘the spirit of adoptive sonship’ is ‘gnosis’, not ‘wisdom’. However, in TPL 89, Evagrius defines the work (ergon) of wisdom this way: ‘to contemplate the reasons of bodies and bodiless [powers]’. This agrees with what he says in Gnostic 44. Hence, in Evagrius, wisdom is the virtue associated with the natural contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of created objects and bodiless powers, and its gnosis. However, in the Greek fragment that we have used, the wisdom referred to is clearly the gnosis of the Holy Trinity. It seems unreasonable to suppose that Evagrius intends as ‘the spirit of adoptive sonship’ a gnosis lower than that of the Holy Trinity.
When the mind (nous) receives the essential gnosis, then it also will be called God, because it will also be able to found diverse worlds (V, 81). To say the least, this is not the Orthodox doctrine of divinization (theosis). The use of ‘God’ rather than ‘a god’ in our translation depends on Guillaumont’s French translation, which shows both Syriac versions to have this sense. It is conceivable that Evagrius originally wrote ‘a god’, but it is difficult to see how we would ever know, the Greek original of the Kephalaia Gnostica having as far as we know forever been lost. Even with the notional reading ‘a god’, however, the assertion surely is not Orthodox that the mind (nous) which contemplates the Holy Trinity can found—create—diverse worlds. That is an attribute of the Divinity itself, not of a creature, however divinized the creature might be in the Orthodox sense of divinization (theosis).
Just as man after having received the insufflation ‘is become a living soul’ (Gen. 2, 7), so also the mind (nous) when it has received the Holy Trinity will become a living mind (nous) (III, 71). On the surface, and as far as it goes, this chapter does seem to contain the Orthodox doctrine of divinization (theosis). Of course, this ‘living mind (nous)’ cannot be understood by the Orthodox to have attained to essential identity with the substance of God. We do not know whether Evagrius intends here to assert that, however. We Orthodox assert that the mind (nous), soul and body of the ascetic who participates in the contemplation of the Holy Trinity are permeated by the uncreated operations (aktistes energeies) of the Holy Spirit.
It is said that ‘on high’ is where gnosis leads those who possess it, and ‘below’ is where ignorance leads those who possess it (IV, 17). This is quite clear.
He who is at the head in gnosis has someone after him; but he who is at the head of ignorance does not have one (I, 69). This is straightforward. He who is at the head of ignorance is he who is the most ignorant of all, so he cannot have anyone after him. This would appear to refer to the Devil.
Those who have arrived in the immaterial contemplation are also in the same order; but those who are in the same order are not those who are henceforth also in the immaterial contemplation. It is possible, indeed, that they might yet be in the contemplation which concerns the intelligibles, which also has need of a naked mind (nous), if it has also seen it nakedly at a former time (III, 17). Here, the immaterial contemplation refers to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Those who have arrived in the immaterial contemplation are all in the same order ascetically on the basis of the homology between the ascetical state of Theology and the eschatological condition of the Restoration of All Things, in which the minds (noes) will all form an henad. The eschatological doctrine was condemned in Anathema 14 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod. What Evagrius is saying is that those minds (noes) which have attained to the stage of contemplation that corresponds to having a naked mind (nous)—we take this to be a proposition of asceticism and not of eschatology—might not all be in the contemplation of the Holy Trinity, since some of them might still be in the contemplation of the intelligibles. We take the contemplation of the intelligibles here to be the first natural contemplation, the contemplation of the bodiless powers; as we have seen, in the underlying Greek, the difference between ‘intelligibles (noeton)’ and ‘spiritual powers (noeron)’ is a matter of one letter. Recall St Isaac the Syrian’s interpretation in Homily 3 that the naked mind (nous) is the one which has divested itself of the senses and that this occurs in the passage from the second to the first natural contemplation. The remainder of the passage, which states that the minds (noes) would have previously seen the intelligibles in contemplation refers, of course, to the condemned Evagrian doctrine of the condition of the minds (noes) prior to the Movement. Anathema 6 refers to the pre-existing form which the Evagrian Christ used to make the world, and it is conceivable that this form has a connection to the intelligibles being discussed by Evagrius in this and similar passages, but the matter is by no means clear; and the interpretation that the passage is referring to the contemplation of the bodiless powers seems to fit well with the rest of the doctrine of the Kephalaia Gnostica.
The first and second contemplations have this in common, that they have a naked seer, but in distinction this, that the one is immaterial and the other material (III, 19). The second and third contemplations have this in common that they are material, but in distinction this, that the one has a mind (nous) naked and of the same order, and the other is with the bodies and in diverse orders (III, 21). This is difficult to construe unless we depend on St Isaac the Syrian’s interpretation in Homily 3. Here, the first contemplation refers to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. That is why Evagrius says that it is immaterial and requires a naked seer or mind (nous). The second contemplation is the contemplation of the angelic powers. It too, Evagrius seems to be saying, requires a naked seer, a naked mind (nous), but it is material. That the contemplation of the angelic powers requires a naked seer agrees with St Isaac the Syrian’s interpretation that the nakedness of the mind (nous) is its divestiture of the senses, and that this occurs in the passage from the second to the first natural contemplation. We are surprised, however, that the first natural contemplation is here considered by Evagrius to be material, since the angelic powers are bodiless and the angelic bodies that they do have are not at all sensible. However, Evagrius does say that all the worlds, and presumably, by extension, all the bodies, are composed of the same four elements with only a difference of quality; perhaps that is what he means here. That the naked mind (nous) which contemplates the angels should be in the same order as the angels seems to indicate that the mind (nous) of the ascetic making the contemplation has become spiritually angelic. The third contemplation is the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of material objects. That the mind (nous) in this contemplation should not be naked means in St Isaac the Syrian’s interpretation that the mind (nous) still makes use of the senses. The significance of the minds’ (noes’) being in diverse orders seems to be that the ascetics participating in the second natural contemplation are a spiritually diverse lot, in the sense that the second natural contemplation has a variety of degrees and forms. Finally, the second natural contemplation is clearly material in the sense of depending on material objects.
We have known the wisdom of the Unity united to the nature which is below it, but the Unity itself cannot be seen bound to one of the beings; for this reason, the incorporeal mind (nous) sees the Holy Trinity in those things which are not bodies (III, 13). To grasp this passage, it is important, we think, to understand that for Evagrius, the wisdom of God is what informs the creatures created by God. Hence, Evagrius can say that the wisdom of the Unity is united to the created nature which is inferior to the Unity. However, Evagrius goes on to say, the Unity itself, the Father, cannot be bound to a creature and because of that, the mind (nous) contemplates the Holy Trinity in those things which are not bodies (i.e. not creatures). The passage seems to imply that the mind (nous) sees the Holy Trinity in intelligible things, or even angels, but that flies in the face of other passages which say that the contemplation of the Holy Trinity completely transcends all creatures. What this chapter means, we think, is that the contemplation of the Holy Trinity is completely free of creatures, including intelligible ones.
The next passages on the altars are ambiguous. We take them, somewhat arbitrarily, to refer to the three stages of contemplation: the third altar is the contemplation of the Holy Trinity; the other two are the first natural and second natural contemplations respectively.
We have learned that there are three altars on the heights, of which the third is simple and the two others are composite. The wisdom which concerns the second altar makes known the wisdom of the third, and that which concerns the first altar is anterior to that which is in the second (II, 57). If our surmise is correct, then the wisdom of the contemplation of the angels (second altar) leads to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity (third altar), whereas the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of created things (first altar) leads to the contemplation of the angelic powers (second altar).
The three altars have been given to those who now dwell in breadth but to those who dwell in breadth and depth, these will be given in the world to come (II, 58). This is a proposition of the Restoration of All Things, when the demons will be saved; that is the significance of ‘those who dwell in breadth and depth’.
Of the three altars of gnosis, two have circle and the third appears without a circle (IV, 88). We take the altar without a circle to be the contemplation of the Holy Trinity, and the other two altars to be the first and second natural contemplations.
We now leave the contemplation of the Holy Trinity, the fourth transformation, and turn briefly to the two contemplations that Evagrius listed that were not included in the four transformations. These are the contemplations of the judgement and providence of God.
The reasons (logoi) which concern the judgement are second, from what has been said, in relation to the reasons (logoi) which concern the Movement and the providence (V, 24). This passage ties the Evagrian contemplations of the judgement and providence of God to the Evagrian cosmology, which we cannot accept. It is based on the notion that the First Judgement followed the Movement. It is not clear why the providence is here grouped with the Movement, since Evagrius elsewhere says that temporally, providence follows judgement, unless ‘second’ is to be taken to mean ‘logically posterior’. Then the sense would be that the providence of God is logically prior to his judgement: God wants to save us more than he wants to judge us.
The multiform Movement and the diverse passions of the reasonable beings (logikoi) have forced the mental representations which concern providence to appear obscurely, and their diverse orders have rendered hidden the mental representations which concern the judgement (V, 23). The best way to explain this passage is to quote Gnostic 48:
48 The great and gnostic teacher Didymus said that we should ever exercise the reasons (logoi) concerning providence and the judgement when we are by ourselves and try to bear the materials of these by means of the memory, for almost all stumble on these things. And you will find the reasons (logoi) concerning judgement in the difference of bodies and worlds, the reasons (logoi) concerning providence, however, in the ways which lead us from vice and ignorance back to virtue and gnosis.
The first sentence of this chapter of the Gnostic shows the significance of the contemplations of providence and the judgement for the Evagrian ascetical system, and the second sentence clarifies just how Evagrius understands these two contemplations. The judgement of God is known in the difference of the bodies and worlds: this means for Evagrius that the bodies and worlds that he supposes that the ascetic will encounter in contemplation reveal to him the multiplicity of the judgements that the Evagrian Christ made after the Movement. We discussed this adequately in Chapter III of Volume I, but the striking thing here is that Evagrius uses this as the defining characteristic of the contemplation of the judgement. We have also encountered in Chapter III of Volume I the Evagrian doctrine that the providence of God is manifested in the ‘pushes’ that God gives to the reasonable beings to turn them from vice to virtue, the characteristic of praktike, and from ignorance to gnosis, the characteristic of natural contemplation and Theology. Again, the important thing here is that Evagrius uses this as the defining characteristic of the contemplation of the providence of God. It is also interesting that this passage of the Gnostic suggests that the ascetic always exercise these contemplations. This raises the question of the use of such contemplations by the ascetic as he goes through his daily routine in the context of OTT 17, where Evagrius delineates his concept of sobriety. In other words, while the ascetic were doing the things that we discussed in OTT 17, he would be bearing in mind not only the mental representations of this Age, the topic of that chapter, but also the mental representations of these two contemplations. This would correspond, in an Orthodox ascetical context, to the ascetic who maintained, say, the memory of death while he was going through his daily routine. Of course, these two contemplations of Evagrius must be given an Orthodox interpretation free of Evagrius’ heterodox cosmology in order for them to be used by the Orthodox ascetic. Evagrius himself spends very little time on them in the works we are considering.
To return to the chapter of the Kephalaia Gnostica we are considering, we can now see that the multiform Movement and the passions of the reasonable creatures make the contemplation of the providence of God obscure because these things complicate, so to say, the providence of God, the ‘pushes’ towards virtue and the gnosis of God. Similarly, the very diversity of the orders of the reasonable creatures that arise in the Evagrian system from the judgements of the Christ, especially from the First Judgement after the Movement, renders obscure and confuses, so to say, the judgements of God, precisely because it is the very multifariousness of the judgements of God that has created that diversity.
 See Chapters I and II of Volume I.
 We will of course discuss the concepts of ‘mental representation’ and ‘imprinting’ when we return to the commentary on OTT.
 In a passage excerpted in Golitzin p. 336. In his works, Evagrius often quotes himself in this way.
 Gnostic G.
 KG I, 78–80 are presented later in this Digression, but without discussion. For discussion, see Section 6, Chapter III, of Volume I and OTT 26.
 Loc. cit.
 Ladder G Step 29, 2; = Ladder E Step 29, 4.
 See Section 1, ‘The Evagrian Doctrine of God’, Chapter III, of Volume I.
 See Section 11, Chapter III, of Volume I: Anathemas 10, 11 and 14.
 Loc. cit.
 1 John 4, 8.
 See Chapter V of Volume I.
 By ascesis, not by suicide. See TPL 52, 56 and 61.
 Syriac: gnosis.
 See Chapter V of Volume I.
 ‘Henad’ is a synonym for ‘monad’ or ‘unity’. It is used in this way: it refers to the condition of the minds (noes) after the Restoration, or even before the Movement, when they are, or were, united the one to the other in the contemplation of God without individual or personal distinctions. ‘Monad’ (capitalized) refers, as a synonym for ‘Unity’, to God the Father. See Chapter III of Volume I, especially Section 2.
 See Section 11, Chapter III, of Volume I.
 Loc. cit.
 See Anathemas 2 and 15, ibid.
 See Sections 4 and 7, Chapter III, of Volume I.
 See Skemmata 18 and 20 in this regard.
 See also KG V, 84.
 See Section 2, Chapter III, of Volume I.