THE PHILOSOPHER SAINTS
On the Web, or (eventually) in print, this document introduces the offerings of Praxis through the work of Robin Amis, Director of Praxis Research Institute Inc.
When he was younger, Robin spent two decades seeking a place where Christianity remained virtually unchanged, which might provide an alternative way of restoring the European churches to full spiritual life. Finally, he discovered the Greek 'Holy Mountain,' known as Mount Athos, where there still lives - in the full sense of the term - the last remnant of the original monasticism of the saints, known as the 'early fathers' of the Church and begun in Europe by the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and has since spent more than a quarter of a century investigating that spiritual tradition with its great number of those who can only be regarded as philosopher-saints, who, as teachers and martyrs, in their words, and in their living influence, left us so many clues to the reality of a Christian transformation that they knew so well but which, in its full form, has become so rare today.
The teachings of these 'early fathers' today serve both as the living source of the ancient Christian tradition, which we might describe in modern terms as a form of 'noetic psychotherapy', and as a way of understanding the interior realities of our two thousand-year-old Christian spiritual tradition, now beginning its third millennium.
This early spirituality survives today primarily as a monastic teaching - psychological, richly mystical, and partly unwritten - that may be discovered hidden within the Eastern Church. It has an inner model of salvation that can be supported by its own kind of evidence, which is not sensory but produces results more consistently than any other form of Christian teaching known to us.
This teaching includes explanations to help individuals recover the true meaning of their faith, as well as providing the noetic prayer techniques by which anyone could obtain direct experiential knowledge of their spiritual nature. Using these tools, the tradition helped people - through their own efforts aided by grace - to become Christian in fact.
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." [Matthew 7:18-20]
This early form of Christian 'psychological method', which brought into being the 'time of saints' in the early centuries of Constantine's Church, still survives in certain areas in the Eastern Mediterranean, and continues almost unchanged in the monasteries of Mount Athos whose Christianity remains almost unchanged from those long-ago days. Praxis Institute's work is now beginning to reveal the historical realities of that tradition as the first and most successful path of Christian spirituality to emerge in Europe.
First, we have sought to translate, understand in a practical way, and explain the words of those remarkable men and women, including one of their most recent successors Elder Paisious, whose message heads this document.