Notes on Hesychasm - Meditating as a mountain - by J.Y. Leloup

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Meditating as profoundly as a mountain

And thus, an authentic initiation in hesychast inner listening began for the young philosopher. It was pretty obvious to him the first indication referred to a greater stability. The advice was not spiritual, but physical: how to sit more stable.

Sitting in a stable and firm position as a mountain means, among other things, “putting on weight” or, in other words, perfectly and profoundly relaxing to feel as if you “sink” in the ground. During the first days, the young philosopher found it hard to sit for so long without moving, like a rock, with the legs crossed and the pelvis a bit higher than the knees (he discovered that was the posture that gave him the most stability).

One morning, fervently practising it, he spontaneously understood what “meditating as a mountain” meant. Suddenly, he felt his whole weight; he was perfectly motionless, as if he had extremely deep and strong roots in the ground. Time acquired new meanings and for the first time he ecstatically intuited that mountains had another time and a rhythm of their own, in reality. To sit perfectly motionless means, actually, to always have eternity in front of you.

This is the most adequate solution of the one who really aspires to enter meditation: first of all, he must know he always has eternity in front of, behind and inside him. Before building a church, there is always a stone needed, and on this stone (in other words, the stone’s imperturbable stability) God could build His church and make from human body His temple. This is the way Father Seraphim understood the secret meaning of the evangelic words: “you are a stone and on this stone I shall build my church”.

The couple of weeks the young man spent that way transformed him a lot. The most difficult thing seemed to be letting the hours pass by “doing absolutely nothing”. He had to re-learn to be, pure and simple, without any reason whatsoever. Meditating as a mountain also means profoundly meditating upon Final Existence, Existence in itself, the one before thinking, before pain or pleasure. The mountain teaches you it really exists…this is its meditation, actually.

Full of love, Father Seraphim visited the young philosopher everyday, sharing with him some olives and tomatoes. Against the extremely limited diet, the young man felt heavier with each passing day. He became calmer.

The mountain in front of him seemed to have entered his veins. He understood time differently – in an indescribable way in words; he intuited long gone seasons that unwound in front of him in a moment, but he remained silent and still like a harsh and hard soil or like a rich land waiting to be cultivated one day.

Meditating as still as the mountain, the rhythm of his thoughts miraculously changed. He was learning how “to see” without judging and he could even contemplate, as the mountain equally gives “the right to existence” to all those that visit it.

To his wonder, some pilgrims took him for a monk one day, and profoundly impressed by his inner peace, they asked for his blessing. He did not answer, remaining as imperturbable as a rock. Hearing this, Father Seraphim came quickly and started hitting him all over his body. The young philosopher remained still under the rain of hits and only at one point he started moaning.

“There you go! I thought you became as stupid as a stone on the road. Hesychast meditation is based on stability, not stillness; it should not transform you in a dry log, but in a full profoundly sensitive and truly alive being”. He took the young man by his arm and led him into the garden, where a couple of flowers could be seen among herbs.

“From now on, you do not need to mediate as an arid mountain. Starting today, learn how to meditate like a red poppy but still, keep in mind all that the mountain has taught you…”