• on July 15, 2016


Over the ages human knowledge has increased exponentially, particularly in the present century. Fr Kosmas the Apostle of the poor (born 1714) predicted that “Out of schools will come things which your mind cannot imagine” (Father Kosmas by Nomikos M. Vaporis, pp. 160). There is no doubt that the technological advances of our century have been quite phenomenal particularly when we consider such items as electrical goods, cars, airplanes, space ships, communication systems and so on.

Self Knowledge

Knowledge is something which demands application, it is more than a record of information and facts.
Socrates (469-399 BC) identified the importance of self-knowledge by his attention to the quest ‘Know Thyself’. Aristotle (350 BC) extended this idea to focus on self knowledge of the soul. In his essay ‘On the Soul’ he states that “The knowledge of the soul admittedly contributes greatly to the advance of truth in general…” and that “To attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world.”

The tragedy today is that knowledge has been applied to serve materialistic endeavours that have turned us away from the attention to our souls and true knowledge which is of God. Knowledge is perceived by the world today as a god, beholding the promise of improved life-style, leisure, health, wealth and well being.

Always Learning

The information age has swamped us, confused us, with the myth of progress, whilst diverting us from our real task and endeavour to seek out the knowledge of the truth, which is the knowledge of God. The reaction to this so called knowledge explosion is the delivery of a wide range of education and training courses focusing on skills and personal development.
Today many people attend formal training programs out of necessity to keep up pace with developments in a particular trade or professional field or out of some personal interest to develop higher learning. These programmes however seem to leave little room for self-knowledge, knowledge of the soul and knowledge of God. St Paul (2 Tim. 3:7) refers to those people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

It is evident that as the age of information and knowledge gathers pace it is rapidly outdated, de-valued and replaced as are those who apply it or belong closely to it. The consequence is massive social and economic upheaval which continues to escalate and alienate people for which it was designed to serve. In this environment of information and technology, knowledge of the soul and the divine, appears to have no dwelling place. The stone cold hearts of those who have learned to respond only to the material cues of the world cannot contemplate the existence of the spiritual world of truth.

“Human knowledge” says St Isaac the Syrian, “cannot learn without examination, while faith requires a mode of thinking that is single, limpidly pure and simple, far removed from any deviousness or invention of methods… The home of faith is a childlike thought and a simple heart. Human knowledge is unable to do anything without matter; it moves in a material world, while faith has authority, after the likeness of God, to make a new creation. Human knowledge does not begin a piece of work without having examined how it will end, while faith says: All things are possible to him that believes. For to God nothing is impossible” (Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian pp 254-6).

St Isaac also tells us that human knowledge is perfected by faith and that faith is higher than human knowledge. It is the heart’s understanding and vision which offers communion with God.
St Isaac explains that the kind of knowledge we possess indicates our spiritual state and spiritual progress. “One whose soul is unhealthy has bodily knowledge, while one who is being healed has soul knowledge, and one who has been healed has spiritual knowledge.”

Knowledge of God

“By faith” says St Isaac “knowledge is abolished, works come to an end, and the employment of the senses becomes superfluous.” (pp. 264) This is achieved by those who have been granted true spiritual knowledge and healing. Those who rise from bodily knowledge, to the soul’s knowledge and from there to spiritual knowledge possess knowledge of God. According to St Gregory Palamas knowledge of God is not like human knowledge for it is not intellectual. It is marked by the fact that one’s whole being is filled with the knowledge of God. This state cannot be achieved unless our heart is purified. In His sermon on the mount, our Lord said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Knit Together in Love

Is it any wonder therefore, that as the world pre-occupies itself with the so called ‘Information Age’, and as the world gets smaller and smaller, it becomes increasingly more and more self-serving and isolating. The irony is that though the information age promotes unity through improved communication, the opposite is occurring in that it is increasingly difficult to find some rest, silence, peace, time to reflect, to contemplate, to acknowledge our heart, our soul, to say a brief prayer, to come to some communion with God. How is it that we talk of information and knowledge that is said to promote unity when its fruit shows that it works against the very union which is vital to our life, and that is union and communion with God.

We must therefore find the way to God who gives us the means by which to guard and protect our soul. The Church offers us knowledge of God. It teaches us true prayer, meditation, cleansing and healing. It offers us a safe place where there is peace and rest; away from all the evils, turmoil and corruption of the world. The Church offers us hope, stillness, true justice and reward, righteousness, forgiveness, a place of belonging and love. Saint Paul encourages us to (Colossians 2:2-3) “knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Fr Emmanuel Stamatiou

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