Posted by: samandal | November 26, 2010

Zikr’u’lláh, VIII: Hésychia

Day of the Covenant

A hesychast is someone who seeks communion with God through hésychia (internal stillness or silence of the heart); this interior freedom from images and concepts is to be achieved by inner recollection and the repetition of a prayer or mantra. Hésychia is fullness in the midst of emptiness, presence in the midst of a void; in reference to the life of Holy Máryám, it has been called the spirituality of the handmaid. In principle, hésychia is a general term for inner prayer; the hesychast does not attempt to empty his mind of what is evil but rather to fill it with what is good. Ultimately, the hesychast takes refuge in the power and grace that act through the Divine Name, much as the Buddhist monk takes refuge in the Buddhá.

The course of the hesychast carves its hidden path in the souls of those who seek union with God through the practice of silence and the prayer of the heart. For the hesychast Bahá’í who follows the path of the Súfí, the constituents of the path are relatively few (but deceptively simple): rábita, zikr, namáz, du‘á’, mutála‘ah, and muhásaba.

These devotional observances comprise the fundamental practices of the Súfí path followed by the hesychast Bahá’í, always provided they are embraced as exercises of divine vocation rather than as mere religious prescriptions or blind formalities. True hésychia, in the Bahá’í sense, is marked by an active love for Bahá’u’lláh and a warm devotion toward the Holy Maiden.

Rábita: The bond between the shaykh and the disciple.

Zikr: The recollection of the mind and heart upon God.

Namáz: The formal prayer (between dawn and dusk).

Du‘á’: The informal prayer of supplication and praise.

Mutála‘ah: The contemplation of the sacred scriptures.

Muhásaba: The awareness and mindfulness of the self.