How did the Apostles and the Saints get the information of how to cure the heart and the psyche?
There are two ways by which man can acquire knowledge. The first way is known as philosophy, it is described as a man-centred way in acquiring knowledge because man has always the first word to his own understanding, his own mind, and his own logic.
Man’s logic and thinking process have the first word in formulating ideas in order to express ideas, opinions or visions, or in order to further benefit mankind in medicine and science.
The second way is through Revelation by God and it is known as the Christ-centred way. The precondition of acquiring knowledge the Christ-centred way is that religious life is practised according to the will of the triad God delivered to the Apostles 2,000 years ago.
The truth is revealed only to those who have properly prepared to receive it, and it is received person to person, meaning that the triad God delivers the knowledge personally to man just like he delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses.
In the third chapter of the first book of Genesis the holy Prophet Moses, who is the author of the Old Testament informs us that after the fall of Adam and Eve, the Lord provided them with leather tunics.
The term ‘tunic of skin’ is used to describe a condition of death and deterioration that they were bind with (clothed them is the acquisition of a body because of disobedience) as a second nature in their place of exile.
Two illnesses of two doctors
A person visits a psychiatrist because he hasn’t been able to sleep in weeks. He was informed of a relationship of his wife with his employer who is very rich and very good looking. ‘I really hate him and if I did not need the job I would beat his face in’ he says to the doctor.
Here we are witnessing a case of a psychiatric illness (loss of sleep, jealousy, hatred,) that is in need of two doctors. The medicine of psychiatry which can consist of a remedy of sedatives and sleeping peels are remedies for the body (mind) alone. This medical treatment is aimed to help a person rest and sleep by receiving medication for the body/mind that can help the patient do these things.
To drug, however, a person to sleep ‘does not heal the passions of jealousy and hatred’ that are merely ‘pushed on the side’ until the right circumstances make them ‘take over’ again. Passions are known to the Church as illnesses of the heart/soul.
Full psychiatric recovery must mean to heal both the body (the mind) and soul (heart) both. When speaking about the heart, (soul) as meant in the gospels we are speaking of a person
Our hearts and our minds
The heart is the person that represents each and every one the moment of death when the soul exits the body. This is the heart/soul upon which Lord Jesus will restore man ‘to body and soul’ again at His Second Coming according to each person deeds.
According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church, the centre of a person’s self-conscience is not the brain or the nervous system but it is the heart because of having a certain supernatural function. Under the correct circumstances, it becomes an area of communion with God through His Divine Grace. This is a knowledge that became known through the experience of the Holy Fathers and not through the logical power of the mind or mental theologising.
When the Orthodox monks pray they do not look upward but downward toward their hearts where they hope to witness the Divine Glory of God and get to know Him personally and get revelation.
A Mount Athos monk Saint Nicodemus (who passed away in 1809) in his work ‘counselling manual’, names the heart as a ‘natural center’, that is supernatural but at the same time paranormal when the supernatural function stagnates because the heart is ceased by passions. This supernatural function of the heart sets the preconditions for perfection, the completion of man, his deification and his full integration into society in Christ.
The Holy Fathers teach that the Heart and the Nous (mind) is one and the same thing. The intellect of man is genius, mind, mentality and wits and are also described to contain the logic of this world. A person, however, cannot know God through His intellect but through his Heart alone providing there is a therapy first because it is ill begotten. The heart is the place inside where God testifies to His Self, it the faculty of intuiting that gives man the axioms upon which to reason.
Our relationship with God
The main precondition however in knowing God personally is the therapy of the heart beginning with baptism which will eventually allow the individual to theosis and back to the presence of his creator God, as mentioned in Matthew 5:8.
The cause of mental illness (chemical imbalance) comes from passions of the heart constantly forcing the body (mind) to work unnaturally (sins). Passions are known to ‘live’ in the heart ‘which is the centre of man’s psychosomatic self’ and take over the mind. They are known to come forth and reveal (manifest) themselves as sins. Vainglory, selfishness, envy, hatred, lustfulness, gluttony, stinginess, and greed are only a few passions that imprison, and compel the mind to the unnatural act of sin.
What are passions?
Passions are ‘fixed ideas or obsessions’. According to Saint John (6th century) who is the author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a passion is a mischievous thought or reflection that burrows into the soul after a last longing exposure that brings about a familiar attraction that seems to become a natural part of one’s self that causes the soul to ‘run to it’ (to the passion) willingly and not by force.
While a sin can be described as a single fall, or a specific violation of the moral law, a passion can be characterised as a rooted situation of evilness. It is the takeover of a soul by a moral illness. Sin becomes then the ruler of the soul. When this happens, the soul becomes incapable of reacting.
Examining man through the scriptures we find out that he was spiritually created to have a Christ-like morality. In Genesis 2:7 we read: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’.
Within the life-giving breath of life, God installs within man a Christ-centred morality, that we know as conscience. The conscience according to the Holy Fathers is the ‘mind of our minds’.
The confrontation then between sin and conscience (the morality of Christ) becomes the reason of a prolonged psychological conflict between the body and the soul that always resolves to the illness of the weakest of the two, which is the mind. The prolonged unnatural presence of sin in the heart/mind causes the mind a chemical reaction, that is known by psychiatry as a psychiatric illness.
According to the Bible any person who has kept unspoiled their divine given conscience (the connatural moral law) during their earthly lives, are going to be recognised by the Lord as righteous, regardless of any beliefs and will be awarded Paradise (not heavenly Kingdom) at His Second Coming. Romans 2:12 states that: ‘For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law’.
The Greek Orthodox Church and Psychiatry have in their disposal different ‘schools’ of therapy each. Psychiatry, on the one hand, has the knowledge to restore the chemical unbalance of the mind with psychiatric medicine, and the Church on the other has the knowledge to cure the soul (heart) from sin through the Church’s Holy Sacrament where Lord Jesus is High Priest and Mediator to His Father for the Salvation of each and every one individually.
As a result, this can enable man to becoming a new creation, an adopted son of God known as being Holy, New Adam, Eternal Life and being a ‘god by the Grace of God’. All of these terms have in common the return of man to the presence of his creator God.
The vision of divine light
For those who decide to seek the therapy of the Church (Salvation) who are begotten by mental illness, they must continue with their doctors’ therapy because there is a need for a ‘sound mind’ if one wants a relationship with God by the participation in the life of the Church.
The Church heals the passions and helps to heal the heart; but it does not cure chemical imbalance, which are illnesses of the body that belong to the science of psychiatry. The spiritual father of the Church that all Christians have as a guide, will give individual advice for the personal salvation of each and everyone but does not know of the type medicine a person needs, in order to go to sleep.
How can we be cured?
The therapy of man, in essence, has to do with the cleansing of the nous (mind) and the heart (soul) of a man who is created in the image of God, the bringing back of the mind to the ancient primordial beauty and something more, his presence (union) with God. When man becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit then it can be said that a cure was accomplished. Those who were cured are God’s saints.
Constantinos James Williams is a spiritual writer. His articles has been published on a number of digital publications.