From Textus Receptus
Liturgy and worship
Hesychasm (ἡσυχασμός, hesychasmos, from ἡσυχία, hesychia, "stillness, rest, quiet, silence") is an eremitic tradition of prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, such as the Byzantine Rite, practised (Gk: ἡσυχάζω, hesychazo: "to keep stillness") by the Hesychast (Gr. Ἡσυχαστής, hesychastes).
Based on Christ's injunction in the Gospel of Matthew to "go into your closet to pray", Matthew 6:5-6 (King James Version) hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God (see theoria).
Meanings of the term
Kallistos Ware distinguishes five distinct meanings of the term "hesychasm":
- "solitary life", a sense, equivalent to "eremitical life", in which the term is used since the 4th century;
- "the practice of inner prayer, aiming at union with God on a level beyond images, concepts and language", a sense in which the term is found in Evagrius Ponticus (345-399), Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662), and Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022);
- "the quest for such union through the Jesus Prayer", the earliest reference to which is in Diadochos of Photiki (c. 450);
- "a particular psychosomatic technique in combination with the Jesus Prayer", use of which technique can be traced back at least to the 13th century;
- "the theology of St. Gregory Palamas", on which see Palamism.