Paul Evdokimov [Павел Евдокимов]

The mystery of the human person

translated by: Jelisaveta Vujković

pages: 232-243


An individual means an indivisible reality, he is an atom in the Democritean sense. That is a natural and biological category. On the contrary, the person is a spiritual category above nature and biology. According to Berdyaev,, the individual is an integral part of a given species, as well as of society and cosmos but the species and cosmos are a part of the person. The Socratic dictum »Know thyself« has received a deeper meaning in the Christian ascetical life and so St. Isak of Syria could say: »Man who has seen himself is greater than the one who has seen the angels«. Deeper than his body, his soul or even his spirit, is to be found the unique ego, his noumenal heart, which is called selfhood, Selbst, autos, ipseitas. To realize his unique personhood is the final goal of men, and according to Jung, this realization can be achieved only by those who have received, the grace of God.

The selfhood, as well as the freedom and creativity transcends the order of this world because its sources. are not from this world and therefore that spiritual altitude is unreachable for the classical psychology. The anthropology of the Holy Fathers is explicitly personalistic.

The personhood, according to St. Macarius of Egypt, through its frecd~~p is similar to God. The primacy of the spiritual,, the thirst for the Infinite and Absolute characterizes the awaken human person. The biblical mysticism of the heart has played a greater role in the Orthodox spirituality. According to the hesychast tradition, one should put his own mind into his own heart and therein unite with God. By entering one's own heart, man will find God, angels and the Kingdom of Heaven there.

On the treshold of the ineffable each analytical method becomes impotent and only the intuition is capable of approaching the mystery there.

The Holy Fathers describe the mystery of human person in the light of the dogma of the Holy Trinity. St. Basil the Great says that man is a creature to whom it ‘ has ben ordered to become God, to become a deified person, which means to become a created hypostasis.

Man can acquire the »resemblance« with God and that means to be a »hypostasis« of one deified man, but some stop on the half-way and even become completely unsimilar to God, which means to remain an individual or a prosopon of a merely natural non-transfigured creature.

When we encounter a real saint, we feel through him that God is close to us.





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