Saint Symeon on Watchfulness

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Saint Symeon on Watchfulness

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:17 pm

"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and walk in the ways of your heart, blameless, expelling anger from your heart; and if the spirit of the ruler rises up against you do not desert your place," 'place' meaning your heart.

Similarly our Lord [Jesus Christ] also says, "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts", and "do not be distracted". And again, "straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life". Elsewhere He also says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit"; that is to say, blessed are those who are destitute of every worldly thought. Saint Peter says likewise, "Be watchful, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour". [...] In short, if you do not guard your intellect you cannot attain purity of heart, and so to be counted worthy to see God. Without such watchfulness you cannot become poor in spirit, or grieve, or hunger and thirst after righteousness, or be truly merciful, or pure in heart, or a peacemaker, or be persecuted for the sake of justice. To speak generally, it is impossible to acquire all the other virtues except through watchfulness. For this reason you must pursue it more diligently than anything else, so as to learn from experience these things, unknown to others, that I am speaking to you about. Now if you would like to learn also about the method of prayer [...] I will tell you about this too, in so far as I can.

Above all else you should strive to acquire three things, and so begin to attain what you seek. The first is freedom from anxiety with respect to everything, whether reasonable or senseless - in other words, you should be dead to everything. Secondly, you should strive to preserve a pure conscience, so that it has nothing to reproach you with. Thirdly, you should be completely detached, so that your thoughts incline towards nothing worldly, not even your own body.

Then, sit down in a quiet cell, in a corner by yourself, and do what I tell you. Close the door, and withdraw your intellect from everything worthless and transient. [...] Restrain the drawing-in of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily, and search inside yourself with your intellect so as to find the place of the heart, where all the powers of the soul reside.

To start with you will find there darkness and an impenetrable density. Later, when you persist and practice this day and night, you will find, as though miraculously, an unceasing joy. For as soon as the intellect attains the place of the heart, at once it sees things of which is previously knew nothing. It sees the open space within the heart and it beholds itself entirely luminous and full of discrimination. From then on, from whatever side a distractive thought may appear, before it has come to completion and assumed a form, the intellect immidiately drives it away and destroys it with the invocation of Jesus Christ.
-Philokalia Volume IV

Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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Re: Saint Symeon on Watchfulness

Post by aflatun » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:14 pm

"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

MMK XXII.15-16

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Kim OHara
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Re: Saint Symeon on Watchfulness

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:01 pm

Yes - very good - maybe better for sila than for samadhi.
I had to look up the saint -
and the book -
so I will save others the trouble. ;)


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Re: Saint Symeon on Watchfulness

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:39 am

From a similar thread; viewtopic.php?t=25232#p363514
Pinetree wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:51 pm
I found these days an old quote I had saved long time ago, and thought to share it, because it's a nice quote and with the hope that the religious references can be forgiven.

Apparently this comes from a writing called "On Inner attention (Nepsis)" by St Nektarios de Aegina (a monk from the Greek Orthodox church, who lived about 100 years ago). Not sure how accurate the translation is, the Greek language can be very complex.

Also, it is surprising to find what seems to me a method of insight meditation incorporated into Christian prayer practice.

I am not sure how the above mentioned author was using this approach to insight but some other resources found on youtube suggest that the method is about binding all senses to a sense object (likely conducing to a calm abiding meditation) at the same time with mindfulness of thoughts and emotions.
Attention is the first teacher of truth and consequently absolutely necessary.

Attention rouses the soul to study itself and it's longings, to learn their true character and repulse those that are unholy. Attention is the guardian angel of the intellect, always counseling it to be attentive. Attention awakens the soul, rouses it from sleep ...

Attention examines every thought, every desire, every memory. Thoughts, desires and memories are engendered by various causes, and often appear masked and with splendid garb, in order to deceive the inattentive intellect and enter into the soul and dominate it. Only attention can reveal their hidden form. Often their dissimulation is so perfect that the discernment of their true nature is very difficult and requires the greatest attention.

One must remember the saving words of the Lord: "Be wakeful and pray that ye enter not into temptation".

He who is wakeful does not enter into temptation, because he is vigilant and attentive.

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