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Section 2 — ¶12 [36] – 12 [40]

12 [36][1] And concerning the Trinity Holy and Worthy of Worship, for the present let so much be said to us. For it is not now possible to examine more extensively the reason (logos) concerning it. You, then, taking seeds from our lowliness, cultivate mature wheat since we will also demand interest on these things, as you know.[2] I believe in God that you will bear fruit both thirty-fold and sixty-fold and one-hundred-fold on account of the purity of your lives.[3] For: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’ [37] And do not think that the Kingdom of the Heavens is anything other than the true comprehension of beings (onton), which the divine Scriptures also call ‘blessedness’. For if ‘the Kingdom of the Heavens is within you,’ and concerning the man within there is nothing but what is constituted from contemplation, then contemplation would be the Kingdom of the Heavens.[4] Of the things we now see the shadows as in a mirror, later being freed from this earthy body and being clothed with the incorruptible and immortal, of these things we shall clearly see the archetypes. We shall see [them], however, if we indeed pilot our own way of life towards the straight way and make provision for an upright faith, without which things no one will see the Lord. For he says: ‘For wisdom will not enter into a soul that uses evil arts, neither will it dwell in a body involved in sin.’ [38] And let no one protest saying: ‘You who are ignorant of what is underfoot are philosophizing to us concerning the bodiless and completely immaterial substance.’ For I judge it to be an absurdity that the senses might be filled with their own materials while the mind (nous) alone is restrained from its own native operations (energeies). For as the senses [are skilled] in sensible things, so the mind (nous) is skilled in intelligible things. At the same time, this must also be said, that God who created us has made the natural criteria [to be] untaught.[5] For no one teaches the eyes to comprehend colours or shapes; neither the hearing, sounds and voices; neither the sense of smell, fragrant and malodorous odours; neither the sense of taste, flavours and juices; neither the sense of touch, the soft and the hard or the warm and the cold. Neither could one teach the mind (nous) [how] to apply itself to the intelligible things.[6] And just as, if the [organs of sense] should suffer something, they require only assiduousness and they easily discharge the native operation (energeia), thus also the mind (nous), since it has been joined to flesh and has been filled with the fantasies which are from the flesh, requires faith and a right conduct of life, which things train its feet as if it were a deer and place it[7] on the heights. [39] This the wise Solomon also recommends, mark you; and at one time he offers to us the worker that has no cause for shame, the ant, and by means of him portrays for us the way of praktiki[8]; at another time, the wax-making organ of the wise bee and by means of the bee hints at natural contemplation, in which also is mixed the reason (logos) concerning the Holy Trinity, if indeed from the beauty of creatures the Generator is proportionately seen. [40] But giving thanks to Father and Son and Holy Spirit let us put a limit to the letter, since even the proverb says that all moderation is excellent.[9]

[1] We take this passage from here to the end of the letter clearly to be a part of Layer 3.

[2] Note the contrast of the very authoritative tone here not only to the pleading tone of Section 1, but even to the less authoritative teaching tone of Layer 2 of Section 2.

[3] Consider KG IV, 42: The promise of the ‘hundredfold’ [Matt. 19, 29] is the contemplation of beings, and the ‘eternal life’ [Matt. 19, 29] is the gnosis of the Holy Trinity: ‘And this is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God.’ [John 17, 3.]’

[4] According to Evagrian doctrine in other works, this is natural contemplation, not contemplation of the Divinity, which is the Kingdom of God (cf. Logos Praktikos 2 and 3).

[5] This is an argument for the intuitive nature of the comprehension of intelligible things by the mind (nous).

[6] This is interesting and important for its statement of the power of the mind for the intuitive apprehension of intelligible things. Natural contemplation is not discursive meditation (‘thinking about’) but the intuitive cognition of the reasons (logoi) of created things, first material created things (second natural contemplation) and then immaterial created things, including the angels and their reasons (logoi) (first natural contemplation).

[7] I.e. the mind (nous).

[8] See fn. 32 above.

[9] Note the rather abrupt closing with no reference at all to Section 1, the plea for more time with Gregory.


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