07 January 2007

Kenosis

(copy of a letter)

As I was saying when I met you, there seems to be a very great resistance in ‘normal’ psychology to the idea of a higher level as a possible psychological development, as well as to the most salient features of pre-higher level psychology and to the process of getting it.

As I was starting to say when the taxi came, if somebody associated with early Christianity got a higher level, the question arises of the psychological process which led up to it. Any suggestion that a higher level would be preceded by certain psychological developments has been completely eliminated from Christianity, even from Vladimir Lossky’s The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, which has the clearest indications that there might be some underlying or previous tradition of reminiscences of some introspective psychology.

Lossky’s account of the psychology of Christ (Ch. 7: The Economy of the Son) does not appear to include any psychological development. Whatever he was, he is depicted as being throughout. His human psychology is supposed to have been in a ‘deified’ (i.e. higher level) state from the incarnation onwards.

However, the Eastern Church apparently had a concept of kenosis (self-emptying) which might arise from some tradition of a post-higher-level state. In the post-higher-level state one does not have the advantages of a higher level, although there is in a sense no reason why one should not, as one cannot have the psychological resistances which prevented one from getting it in the first place. In fact it is only the adverse circumstances with which a hostile society is able to provide me that keeps me still on far too low an energy level, and working towards a more adequate institutional environment to permit intellectual productivity is the best, in fact the only, way I can see of getting back to a higher level.

The Mystical Theology, however, represents the kenotic state as one of deliberate rejection by Christ of the advantages which he might have been enjoying, and as having been constant throughout, i.e. involving no psychological development.

His human will unceasingly renounced what naturally belonged to it, and accepted what was contrary to incorruptible and deified humanity: hunger, thirst, weariness, grief, sufferings, and finally, death on the cross. Thus, one could say that the person of Christ .. before the Resurrection, possessed in His humanity as it were two different poles – the incorruptibility and impassibility proper to a perfect and deified nature, as well as the corruptibility and passibility voluntarily assumed, under which conditions His kenotic person submitted and continued to submit His sin-free humanity. (The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 148)