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OTT (Text) -- 15

40 The mind would not be able to see the place of God in itself not having become higher than all <mental representations> which are in [sensible] objects. It will not become higher, however, if it does not unclothe itself of the passions, which are what, by means of the mental representations, bind it together with the sensible objects. And the passions it will lay aside by means of the virtues; the mere thoughts, then, by means of spiritual contemplation; and this [i.e. spiritual contemplation], again, when, during the time of prayer, that light shines upon the mind that works in relief the place which is of God.

41 Of the mental representations, some imprint and form figures in our ruling part while others provide gnosis only, neither imprinting nor forming figures in the mind (nous). For the ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God’ [John 1, 1] puts a certain mental representation into the heart but it neither forms a figure in nor imprints the heart. And the ‘taking bread’ [Luke 22, 19] forms a figure in the mind (nous), while the ‘he broke’ [Luke 22, 19], again, imprints the mind (nous). The ‘I saw the Lord sitting on a high throne and lifted up’ [Isa. 6, 1] imprints the mind (nous) without the ‘I saw the Lord’; and what is said appears to imprint the mind (nous) while what is signified does not imprint [it]. For he saw with the prophetic eye the rational nature raised up by means of the practical life and receiving in itself the gnosis which is of God. For there God is said to sit, there where he is known. Therefore the pure mind (nous) is also called the throne of God. And it is also said: ‘A throne of dishonour is the woman’—that is, the soul (psuche)—‘which hates justice.’ [Prov. 11, 16.] The dishonour of the soul (psuche), then, is vice and ignorance. Therefore the mental representation of God will not be found among those mental representations which imprint the mind (nous), but among those mental representations which do not imprint the mind (nous). Wherefore it is necessary that he who is praying be separated absolutely from the mental representations which imprint the mind (nous).

And you will investigate if, indeed, as it is in regard to the bodies and their reasons (logoi), thus it is also in regard to the bodiless [powers] and their reasons (logoi). And in one way will the mind (nous) be imprinted when it sees a mind (nous) and otherwise will it be disposed when it sees the reason (logos) of that mind (nous). Hence, we know how the spiritual gnosis puts the mind (nous) away from the mental representations which imprint it, and presents it, then, to God without imprint, because the mental representation of God is not among the mental representations which imprint the mind (nous)—for God is not a body—but among those mental representations which do not imprint the mind (nous).

Again, of those things which are contemplated which do not imprint the mind (nous), some, on the one hand, signify the substance of the bodiless [powers], while the others, on the other hand, signify their reasons (logoi). And it does not occur thus in reference to the bodiless [powers] as it occurs in reference to the bodies. For with regard to the bodies some [mental representations] imprinted the mind (nous) while the others did not imprint [it]. Here, neither mental representation imprints the mind (nous).

42 The demonic thoughts make the left eye of the soul quite blind, the one giving its attention to the contemplations of things which have come to be.

The mental representations which imprint and form figures in our ruling part make quite turbid the right eye, the one which contemplates during the time of prayer the blessed light of the Holy Trinity, by means of which eye the bride in the Songs of Songs ravished the heart of the Bridegroom himself [cf. S. of S. 4, 9].

43 Desiring pure prayer, watch the temper closely, and, being fond of chastity, become master of your stomach. Do not give bread to your belly in satiety and in water distress it greatly. Keep vigil in prayer and put rancour far from you. Let not the words of the Holy Spirit fail you, and knock on the door of Scripture with the hands of the virtues. Then dispassion of heart will rise upon you and you will in prayer see the mind (nous) in the form of a star.

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