In a previous post about St. Teresa of Avila and Socrates, I wrote about not having clear thoughts on the link between the two. Tonight I read more of Fr. Sophrony’s book, St. Silouan. (pgs 111-113) Providentially, St. Silouan provided some clarity!
St. Silouan said, “Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life, and all the Startez’ conversations and writing are witness to this life.”
Christ did not answer Pilate’s question “What is truth?” Pilate, “convinced that there could be no answer…” turned away from Christ and went to the Jews. Blessed Fr. Sophrony continues, “Pilate was right. There is no answer to the question WHAT is truth? if we have in mind the ultimate truth at the root of the whole existence fo the world.”
“But if Pilate, meaning Primal or Axiomatic Truth, had phrased his question as it should have been phrased – if he had asked WHO is truth? he would have received the answer…”
“Science and philosophy set themselves the question, WHAT is truth?, whereas Christian religious perception always considers truth as ‘WHO’.”
“Truth is not some abstract formula, some abstract idea, but life itself.”
“…man lives, intoxicated as it were, so that not only ‘positive’ science and philosophy,…pose the question, ‘WHAT is truth?’ but even in the religious life of mankind we find the same great delusion, with people continually seeking truth as ‘WHAT’. Truth as ‘WHO’ is never arrived at through reason. God as ‘WHO’ can be known only through communion in being – that is, only by the Holy Spirit. Startetz Silouan constantly emphasised this.”
“Orthodox contemplation of God is not abstract contemplation of Good, Love and the like. Nor is it a simple withdrawal of the mind from all empirical forms and conceptions. True contemplation is given by God through His coming into the soul. Imagination plays no part in true spiritual life, which is wholly concrete and positive.”
What is so wonderful is to see how Socrates was seeking God. He knew the pagan gods were wrong. He was seeking the right because God bestowed this on him like St. Teresa wrote. Thousands of years before Christ!
Our professor asked what indications of Socrates leaning towards monothesim did we find in our reading. My response was Socrates’ death scene, which I found very moving. Socrates was found guilty of corruption and heresy. Waiting for one month, he remained peaceful. To the utter confusion of his friends, he told them that death was a blessing. How else could he believe this in the face of pagan gods who argued and fought over what virtue was the best and highest? If the gods didn’t have unity and peace among them, how could someone find peace with them after death? They couldn’t.
Yet Socrates faced death with peace. Therein is the most profound sign of Socrates’ monotheism. Where else does one find peace? Only in the Truth.