3. PRESUPPOSITIONS OF THEOPTIA (VISION OF GOD)
One thing is meant by “illumination of Divine Grace,” something else by “constant vision of Light,” and another, entirely different thing by “vision of things in the Light, when the distant things appear in front of the eyes and the future events appear as present. Even here, however, a graduating scale also exists, which is connected to spiritual progress. This progress will continue ad infinitum, being incoherent with the capacity of the Divine illumination in the faithful. The vision of Divine glory is always analogous to the receptivity of the seer. In novices for example, the illumination of this Light is dimmer and not constant, whereas in the perfect, in addition to the superabundance of Light, an endowment of humility takes place—one of a different kind than that of the novices. Humility leads to penthos (mourning), and mourning increases the purification of the heart—a necessary perquisite toward receptivity for more illumination. Secure advice about the method of gaining vision of the Light of Grace can be given by those who see it para ton oronton from all those who experienced its knowledge empirically. In other words; those who received santification through the harshness of askesis and humble prayer, without which (sanctification) no one will see the Lord, according to Saint Paul. Sanctification presupposes the cleansing of the heart by the keeping of the commandments and the continuous preoccupation of the nous with the genuine and immaterial prayer, and especially through the commandment of love. Thus, God is seen by those who have been purified through love via purification, namely, all those who have been cleansed from passions and ignorance. Their nous, having been purified and illumined and clearly sharing in the Grace of God, affords them to become partakers of mystical, supernatural spectacles. Simultaneously, they see the brightness by which the nous has been enriched from the Grace of God, which furthers strengthens the power of the nous to transcend itself and to complete its union with the things beyond reason. With this illumination, the nous sees God in the Spirit. With the power of the Holy Spirit, it acquires the spiritual experience and hears things unheard and sees things unseen. Not only the envisioned Divine Light, but even the seeing power by which the nous sees, is a spiritual power found incomparably higher than the created rational powers. And this power is provided by Divine Grace. The vision of Divine Light takes place in those who have spiritual eyes and the mind of Christ, with which they behold the invisible and comprehend the incomprehensible. The nous of the faithful sees the spiritual realities with clarity when it becomes one Spirit with the Lord. Then he knows the things of God, since only the Spirit knows the things of God. Thus, the Divine Light becomes visible with the transformation of the senses, which is precisely why it remains invisible to other people during its charismatic manifestation. Besides this, Divine Grace is acquired by the saints as supernatural and Divine participation, according to the same parameters that scientific knowledge is acquired by scientists, which while being always present in them, its action manifests itself only when necessary. As energy of the Holy Spirit in a pure soul, it appears as the power of sight in the healthy eye and becomes one with the entire man, much like the unity of the members of the body and the unity of the soul to the body.
The Divine Light is envisioned by its own Light, with a vision energized by the Holy Spirit. How does this take place exactly? In reality, the method by which the invisible God is seen is inexpressible. Saint Paul, to whom Palamas refers, will tell us that this happens “in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Holy Spirit.” The champion of Hesychasm proceeds towards very profound clarifications. The immaterial nous, he says, gazing toward the first, the supreme and true Light—God, without turning back, with the immaterial, incessant and pure prayer, and having already transformed to the angelic office, after being enveloped by the same first Light, he also appears the same by participation with the One Who is the archetype according to cause. Then he radiates, having the comeliness of the mystical beauty, the brilliance and the ineffable radiance. In this manner, this Light, which is God, illumines its participants charismatically with their union with it in an inexpressible way. The deified, beholding in themselves the uncreated Light, see the garment of their deification (theosis) which Christ promised to them in His archieratical prayer, and according to that prayer He wanted them to be with him and to behold His glory.