God and human
Movable by the Holy Spirit, N.Fedorov revives a precept of Saint Sergius Radonezhsky: "Beholding the unity of Holy Trinity, to overcome the hateful disunity of this world". This precept is inseparably linked by Fedorov with victory over death which should be achieved in spirit of synergism – by joint action of human and Divine will.
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Everyone who remembers his children's meditations about birth and death, remembers also the basic, as though self-evident, conclusion: it cannot be that I sometime shall not be, just as cannot be that I at one time did not exist. The idea about immortality, as well as thought of preexistence, causes the liveliest response also in the adult man.
If we see an essence of Fedorov teaching only in objectifying of this elementary experience, then lawful questions inevitably arise. What for one more doctrine about revival if all religions in one way or another already promise eternal existence? On the other hand, if it is a question of continuation or restoration of our corporal life it causes still more bewilderment, and even disgust and horror; after all in this terrestrial life all of us are deeply unhappy and miserable, even if someone tries to convince himself of the opposite. The problem is that besides a corporal infirmity and lost of social defence, the main reason of misfortune is natural human egoism: the pleasure of someone constantly turns as a grief for someone another. But egoism overcoming seems impossible without elimination of the human person. If in human being fully disappears the "I", nobody will remain to reviving, and there is already nobody who may be happy or miserable.
But Fedorov thought, if even it sometimes seems deliberate naive in its form, is far of naivety in essence; in particular, he by no means dreams of a kingdom of immortal egoists.
Century experience of discussions of the doctrine of N.Fedorov shows that his texts, as a rule, are read inattentively, missing the main thing, very valuable in moral and religious sense. At times frankly spiteful critical look is fixed on obvious weaknesses and the errors frequently caused by specificity of epoch mentality. Therefore we consider that first of all it is necessary to expose Fedorov key thoughts which may manifest the Trinitarian essence of his doctrine.
The basic ideas of the project in Fedorov formulations
N.Fedorov speaks about a false alternative in spiritual searches of mankind: individualistic disunity of the West or despotic unity of the East. The exit from this deadlock,
on his belief, is possible only by transition to a new kind of existence of the human being. Not destruction of the person for the sake of impersonal unity, and not renunciation of own egoism for the sake of egoism of another, but «life with all and for all», – here is his ethical formula. Having considered on this position the basic religious doctrines, he comes to conclusion: the unique ideal of true existence discovered by mankind is an image of Christian Triune God.
N.Fedorov does never speak about egoistical motive of overcoming of death; always and everywhere he speaks only about revival of others – of all chain of ancestors, up to forefather Adam. In impossibility to be reconciled with their death, in the deepest moral requirement to return them to life he sees the basis of human consciousness. This human essence contradicts and counteracts a natural order of the nature: to aspiration of all live beings to continue itself in descendants. N.Fedorov assumes it is necessary to turn back this powerful energy of a continuation of the kin. Without solving a question whence in general arose in mankind such antinatural aspiration, he proves its constant presence at all human history. N.Fedorov asserts that feeling of a filial debt – the basic sign distinguishing the human being from any animal, even «clever and skilful». Without wishing to push away from "common task" of ancestors revival those who has no conscious belief in God as Person, he does not insist on the Bible doctrine about creation of the man, but logically admits an origin of the man as a result of nature self-development.
As if in counterbalance to the future Freudian concept about the beginning of mankind from the act of father murder, N.Fedorov sees this beginning in the primary act of worship of the father:
«In feeling of grief of the first human son, his regret about loss of the father the world sorrow has arisen about perishability of everything, about general death regime, in which son the nature at first time has achieved to consciousness of imperfection and with origin of this the beginning was marked of world renovation, the beginning of human epoch in which the world should be recreated by forces of the man. And without this filial virtue, without the patriarchal way of life we never could understand the doctrine about Triune God, doctrine amazing, in its greatness hardly accessible for the highest minds, but in heart warmth felt in it accessible even to children's understanding» (P. 93)
In spite of the fact that N.Fedorov often spoke about the nature as the independent and or element, he rejected vigorously any «idolatry of nature». He accused of this both the newest evolutionary materialism, and already fashionable during its time Hinduism, sharply opposing them a Christian position:
«Natural is absolutely opposite to the Christian or even to the human; natural is a devouring, Christian … a creative process, the reconstruction
of the organism replacing a nourishment; to natural reproduction in Christianity corresponds … general revival, i.e. reproduction formerly generations. It is possible to tell that between natural and Christian the same relation, i.e. the same contrast as between Christian Trinity and Indian Trimurti to which opening were so delighted the opponents of Christianity , finding in it amazing similarity to Christian Trinity, and is valid, similarity amazing – there three and here again three …» (Works. 281, italics of N.F.)
Let's notice that presently idea of identity of the Trinity and Trimurti is proclamed by the devotees of Holysm and Superecumenism. They solve a painful problem of relations between different religions as simply, so irresponsibly: all religions seem to them be only different sides of the same Truth. As though the irony of Fedorov about «amazing similarity»: «there three and here again three» is directed to them. At such superficial view not only a substantial kernel of each religions is depreciated, is lost any sense, but also concept of Truth itself.
This jealousy about Truth is exposed in N.Fedorov's passionate polemic with Islam:
«The imaginary unity of Islam consists in unconditional submission of oneself to the blind force of the nature in which Islam sees the will of Allah (fatalism), … positively – in the holy war, in a duty to be tools of destruction for the unity establishment; and negatively - to be the victims of destruction, not to counteract, but to accept passively the illness and death, not to counteract that natural passions which exposes itself in polygamy – so bestial thing, as well as extermination. And how indeed differs this Monotheistic religion from those religions which worship the creative force as well as the destructive one?! … It is necessary to confess the paganism and Judeo-Mohhamedism are various only in thought, in representation, in a doctrine, and are identical in precepts» (With. 86-87).
Being agreed with N.Fedorov in his appraisals, so important for today, we should soften categorical tone of his statements. In particular, Islam has a great providential meaning for present «warm-cold» Christianity: its ardent zealousy about God impels us to deepen anew into primary bases of our faith.
Besides, N.Fedorov is obviously bias toward moral essence of simple monotheism. Though lonely, «sonless» (on expression of N.F.) God really could be understood as the ruthless Absolute, however in real religious experience of Judaism and Islam the Creator is represented, as a rule, quite in another kind: Yahwe – as One Who forgives the sins, «listening to wail of human»; Allah – merciful and beneficent. However these names of the Most High, which were opened through prophets, are not supported by image of God as Triune; God is loving, but God not is Love. It is necessary to note also the essential difference between Judaism and Islam: if the Old Testament is full with
hints and presentiments of the Trinity it is impossible to say this about Koran, which is frankly anti-trinitarian.
Strictly consistent Monotheism forbids at all to assert something (and even to ask a question) concerning the essence and image of the Most High. But if it is impossible to tell anything about God, it means that Monotheist cannot also insist on simple unity of God. He also should not reject the possibility of that Yahwe (or Allah) will reveal Himself as the same Triune God in whom Christians believe.
N.Fedorov recognizes with bitterness, that even for Christians the Trinity is «the dead dogma which does not have any meaning for live». Feodorov is right and he also is not right: namely the gap between the ideal and reality has huge stimulating meaning. Deep experience of this rupture generates aspiration to change radically the existing mode of being. In this Christian maximalism is a pledge and prospect of that future in which possibility very few people now believe, but the all long for it. The creative impulse of Fedorov arises from this aspiration to carry out the ideal in reality:
«Until in life, in reality the independence of persons will be expressed in discord and the unity – in enslavement, so the multiunity as similarity of Triunity will be only mental, only ideal. But if we do not allow the separation of action from thought, Triunity will be for us not the ideal only, but the project, i.e. not the hope only, but the precept. Only by doing, by carrying out in practice, it is possible to understand» (With. 90, italics of N.F.)
Unlike the majority of modern orthodox theologians, the bishop Dioklijsky Kallist (Óýð) highly appreciates N.Fedorov conception. In the report at the International theology-philosophical conference on a theme « The Most Holy Trinity» (Danilovsky monastery, June, 6-9th 2001) he spoke:
«The faith in God as Trinity which is far far from being speculative and theoretical, has direct, transforming meaning for our everyday life. Nikolay Fedorov is absolutely right as saying that our Christian social program is the doctrine of Trinity… The Insistent requirement which the doctrine of Trinity puts forward, realizing according to paradigm of mutual love is demand concerning life and activity of each of us. Out and besides the Trinity no one of us cannot be the person in full sense… If we have truly ventured to be the «copies» of Trinity, we could turn over the heaven and the earth». (16)
The flagrant thing contradicting the Trinitarian ideal is the death. Therefore N.Fedorov considers overcoming of death as the main precept of Triune God, the primary goal and the task of common affair of all mankind:
«The divine Being which in Himself has shown the absolute sample of a society, the Being Which is the unity of independent, immortal persons, in all completeness feeling and realizing their unity which is not breaking off by the death, which exclude the death
– such is Christian idea about God, i.e. it means that in the Divine Being the same is opening that is necessary for mankind to became immortal. The Trinity is a Church of immortal ones and the likeness to Trinity on the human's part can be only the Church of revived ones. In the Trinity there are no causes of death and are the all conditions of immortality» (P. 90).
The phrase underlined by us, partly throws light on the discussion often arising in a circle of followers of N.Fedorov: whether the mankind will come to belief in the Trinity through teamwork against death, or this work is a consequence of such belief? N.Fedorov tries to remove this alternative, by assuming the inseparable connection of genuine love with idea of the Trinity; therefore he confirms: «General resurrection is result of general love» (W. 285). Bishop Kallist so develops this theme:
«The doctrine of the Trinity concerns all of us because directly mentions a matter of life and death – eternal life and eternal death. During each Divine liturgy we hear words: “Let's love each other, let's confess one common Faith: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity unseparable and One in essence”. Or we love on an image of the Holy Trinity or finally we are waited by loss of any joy and any sense. Therefore father Pavel Florensky rightfully warned: “There is no another choice between Trinity and hell”. In this sense the doctrine of Trinity has revolutionary consequences for our understanding of the person and society».
Let's to wonder: whence N.Fedorov derives the will and inspiration for his lifelong, so heavy service - to be «the voice of one crying in wilderness»? Whether he had experience of direct communication with God? Nikolay Fedorovich has preferred to leave this in secret not to inspire some idea that only the few are called for participation in common affair – those to whom such experience is granted. Therefore he bases his project mainly on patrimonial traditions, religious precepts and moral consciousness; accessible to everyone, they implicitly keep in themselves an image of Triune God. Having passed through thickness of centuries, patrimonial memory gradually loses the distinctness, but is enriched with completeness of live historical experience.
The riches of historical, household, psychological arguments give N.Fedorov sermons the quality of common availability, but simultaneously do it vulnerable for criticism. The bared sincerity, vulnerability, absence of aspiration to faultlessness of style and systematical thought – all it distinguishes him almost from all other figures of Russian religious revival. We will not argue is this the advantages or the shortcomings, but while true meaning of each of participants of this great movement come to light, becomes more and more obvious a unique role of teaching and person of Nicolay Fedorov. His influence is huge, though frequently it remains hidden or indirect.
And the most important thing – it continues to increase. However time of full understanding has not come yet, can be because some important events in the life had not yet happened.
Theological aspect of the project
Unlike the majority of theologians, who first of all are striving to underline non-Orthodox aspects of Fedorov teaching we will try to prove that his teaching has deep roots in theological church tradition.
Participants of the first Ecumenical councils by incredible efforts of mind and heart had worked out the Trinitarian Dogma, which in its seeming simplicity «surpasses any human essence and understanding». All the might and richness of Hellenic wisdom had met here the spiritual fire of early Christianity. From this meeting the Dogma was born, i.e. the mystical knowledge about God expressed in human words.
When the image of the Holy Trinity is slightly revealed to man in spiritual experience, his natural mind becomes silent, grows dumb in the powerlessness to comprehend and conceive this experience. Then the mind invokes to God: make me capable to cognize Thou! And this appealing does not remain without the answer: the principally new, Trinitarian type of thought was born. All texts of an Orthodox liturgy display this new mentality, they all are filled with intellectual delight before the opened mystery of the Triune Deity.
Thanks to liturgy Dogmas of Ecumenical councils have been for ever kept by Church. However only once the Dogma of Trinity has been proclamed not only as truth of faith, but also as precept for practical execution. The matter is of course about an appeal of St. Sergius of Radonezh: «Beholding the unity of Holy Trinity, to overcome the hated separation of this world». As N.Fedorov notes, this appeal had sounded in the critical moment of Russian history when the people was put anew before situation of faith choice. It was time when the khan Uzbek who was commemorated on a liturgy (as the Tsar of Golden Horde the vassal of which was Russia), after long fluctuations between Orthodoxy and Islam, has definitively selected Moslem faith.
And in the same time from the West through Novgorod and Pskov the antitrinitarian heresies start to penetrate into Russia. The convincing and effective testimony about God as Trinity was demanded in the face of such threats to Orthodoxy. Hesyhastic spirituality of Palamite Byzantium, presented in Russia by school of St. Sergius, had prepared the necessary conditions for perception of new, more profound revelation about the Trinity. And such revelation of God about Himself had been given: through St. Sergius – to the Russian people, and in the long term – to all mankind.
If the epoch of Ecumenical councils was the time of the maximum blossoming of philosophical mind, so the same blooming had place in Russia of ÕIV century in church art. St. Sergius could not express in words the received revelations
about the Trinity: the believing people, and he too, had not the necessary concepts for this. But the iconography – «theology in paints» – was unique and unsurpassed. The most important, it was «a growth point» of Russian culture at that time. Therefore a new spiritual knowledge St.Sergius has transferred through his spiritual pupils to a brotherhood of icon-painters (Andrey Rublev – only one of them, though the most known). Revelation about Holy Trinity, inexpressible by words, they have made accessible to visual contemplation of all believing people. However the ability to get into spiritual sense of icons of such high level demanded not smaller preparation and efforts, than comprehension of Dogmas in their verbal form. Russian people to that time had already centuries-old experience of prayerful contemplation of icons. We now have almost lost this ability though still something responds in our soul when we behold Roublev icon Trinity.
We will notice that today certainly the science is such «a growth point» in spiritual development of mankind. Science can and should become a conductor of new divine revelations without which any exit from the world spiritual crisis is impossible. Contemporary man is not better and is not worse than medieval man; he is qualitatively other (as the adult is other in relation to the child).
Century after Sergius is named by "the Golden Age of Russian sainthood». At this time deep expectations and aspirations of Russian national soul have found the expression, however they could not yet be embodied in real life. To this purpose gracious children's holiness is not enough; only mature soul can carry out the grandiose work: Trinitarian transformation of egoistical animalistic root of man. Even the most great achievements of Christian holiness had been doomed till now to historical failure. In particular, the tradition of Sergius has been interrupted by crushing defeat of Non-Possessors movement and seemed definitively forgotten in epoch after Peter I. The gradual, with breaks and retreats, the returning to this tradition begins only in the XIX-th century - in spiritual school of St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
N.Fedorov clearly understood his roots, though in his time the historical knowledge about St. Sergius epoch have been very limited (and now this knowledge is quite not full). It is enough to tell that N.Fedorov had no possibility to see Roublev Trinity which has been cleared for the first time only in two years after his death. Nevertheless, his teaching is direct continuation and development of St. Sergius Trinitarian precept.
Such words of N.Fedorov testify this in particular:
«Only through great, heavy, long work we will be cleared of debt, will achieve resurrection, will enter into communication with Triune, remaining like Him independent, immortal persons, in all completeness feeling and understanding our unity. And only then we will have the definitive proof of
God existence, will see Him by face to face …» (W. 125).
Trinitarian project of N.Fedorov assumes interaction of two active beginnings: Triune God, on the one hand, and on another hand the real man with all his not opened potentialities. The further development of the project demands the deeper understanding of each of these sides: both human nature and an image of the Holy Trinity.
In consciousness of the majority of Christians in all confessions the image of Holy Trinity is rather indistinct, and doctrinal statements are inconsistent. As a rule, nobody attempts to change formulations of Trinitarian Dogma, accepted by ecumenical councils. Disputes go only concerning interpretations which are vital. All authors of statements on this theme, divided by time and space, become as though participants of common (soborny) discussion which far is not finished yet.
According to our conviction, the mistake of N.Fedorov, as well as many other expositors of Trinitarian Dogma, consists in non-distinguishing between Holy Spirit as Divine Energy and Holy Spirit as Third Hypostasis (Person) of Holy Trinity. The similar error is done also by those who directly, without necessary deepening, identifies Divine Logos with the Second Hypostasis (Person) of Holy Trinity. Many ambiguities remain also in statements concerning the First Hypostasis (Person). Set of these mistakes and ambiguities generates bewilderment and mess; many people are coming to conclusion that anything intelligible concerning the Holy Trinity is impossible to tell. If they are right, we do not know in essence, in what God we believe. And the image of Holy Trinity starts to seem absolutely unreal as the project which should be realized in life.
Joining discussion of this main point of our faith, we will dare to offer the next theologumen (theological hypothesis).
In real mystical communication with God under a name of the Father is experienced the God in all His completeness, i.e. in His Tri-unity. Only according to patristic principle of "transferring of names», the name of the Father is conferred the First Hypostasis (Person) of Holy Trinity, incomprehensible and inexpressible in Essence.
Similarly Jesus Christ in His Divine nature is cognized as the Heavenly Man Who is the eternal embodiment of Triune God in completeness of Divine Energies. The Christological Dogma affirms the unity of His Person in two natures – divine and human. Therefore about Him as Man it is told: «For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily» (Col. 2:9). And only by the same principle of names transferring, His name the Son is conferred to the Second Hypostasis (Person) of Holy Trinity.
In experience of perception of charismatic gifts of Holy Spirit man receives the Divine Energy which according to St. Gregory Palamas, is outpouring, procession of incomprehensible Divine essence. Each of varied Divine Energies is the Energy of all Trinity, one
of aspects of revelation of inner Trinitarian relations. And according to the same principle of name transferring, the Third Person of Trinity is called as Holy Spirit, Who is inaccessible to contemplation and perception as well as any of three Persons.
Many misunderstanding arise because of insufficient assimilation and understanding of the doctrine about Divine Energies. It is so important for spiritual life, as difficult for comprehension; it was not casual that up to modern time this doctrine was absolutely unacceptable for the western Christian thought. Gregory Palamas doctrine developed in sharp doctrinal polemic and political struggle with his very educated and influential opponents. The essence of this doctrine, as usual for that times, has been expressed in anathematismes of the Constantinople Council of 1352. Here is one of them:
«The anathema to them who accepts that God has no natural energy, but only the essence and that there is no distinction between Divine essence and energy, to them who does not want to think that as connection Divine essence and energy is unmerged, and distinction is unchangeable». Encyclopaedic dictionary "Christianity". Ì. 1955. Ñ.276.
Except non-distinction of concepts of God and His Energies, a source of misunderstanding in our days is habitual word usage when the concept "energy" loses its aspects of structure, of form, of logos. Meanwhile, the Greek term "energy" (in Russian: "action") has three aspects: energy has the substance, the form (logos) and the dynamics (i.e. «energy» in the narrow sense of the word). The constant error in interpretation of Dogma of Holy Trinity is that each of these three aspects of Divine Action is imagined as specific quality of one of Divine Hypostasis. It is necessary to refuse completely of representation that each of Persons of Trinity exists independently and only «enters into relations» with other Persons. By such understanding the Divine Persons existence is wrongly thought as something ontologically primary, but the relations between them – as something secondary; then the council of Divine Persons is converted to "collective of divine Monads". But any shade of Monad is unthinkable and unimaginable in Holy Trinity. Each of Persons of the Trinity does not exist without relations with Others; Fullness of relations with Others is the essence of each Person. This fullness of inner life of Trinity (i.e. of inner Trinity relations), is eternally effusing «around the Godhead» in the form of Divine Energies. By creation of world these Energies become the prototypes and projects of all existing things and alive beings. Drawing a general conclusion from patristic teaching about the man, archimandrite Cyprian (Kern) writes:
«We find one more explanation of biblical words “after the image and likeness”. This is the understanding of God likeness not as image of one of Persons of the Holy
Trinity, but all the Life-giving Trinity. So were teaching: St. Gregory of Nissa, St. Cyril of Aleksandria, Bl. Theodorite, Basil of Selevkia, St. Anastasius the Sinaite, St. John Damascene and St. Patr. Photius». Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern). Anthropology of St. Gregory Palamas . Ì. 1996. P. 355.
Cyprian (Kern) finds the same thought at St. Gregory Palamas:
«Palamas dwells with particular attention on the idea, that God-likeness is symbolic-realistic reflection in our spirituality of all the inner-trinity life». Ib. P.734.
In the process of creation the man passes through a Monadic stage of existence – it cannot be differently: only becoming independent and separate, the person acquires possibility to have dialogue with his Creator and to become the conscious co-worker of God in the further creation of himself. However the spiritual experience of mankind leads us to comprehension of impossibility to remain always on this stage. All attempts to limit oneself with frameworks of Monadic paradigm lead the person sooner or later onto the road of self-destruction. Having thought this idea out, the Buddhist comes to unshakable resolve to stop the existence, to vanish from life. The Buddhist does not have choice because he does not know the Trinity. But we have the choice – we can with the same unshakable resolve begin transition on qualitatively new, Trinitarian stage of being. Fr. Pavel Florensky – such a flaming admirer of Holy Trinity as N.Fedorov was, has expressed all it in extremely short and vigorous formula: «Trinity – or destruction!».
The next in importance (and in difficulty) is the question about divine arhetype of male and female element. With sharp polemic with the authoritative theological tradition which is absolutely not recognising that the female element has divine archetype at all, N.Fedorov writes:
«If in the teaching of Trinity the Spirit is not presented by the sample of the daughter, the Trinity will change as lifeless, monastic or Platonic. <…> the Deity is … the Son and the Daughter, who have boundless love to the Father» (P. 95).
According to all what had been told above about Trinitarian Dogma, we will try to formulate this problem more correctly. The patristic theology considers the Logos as structural aspect of Divine Energy, as the image of eternal Son of God (in our understanding – as Heavenly Man). Then dynamic aspect of Divine Energy can be considered as impersonal archetype of female element. However any theological personification of female element in God is inadmissible.
In connection with attempt to lead into the Holy Trinity the image of Daughter, N.Fedorov criticises the exaggerated people cult of the mother element in the Theotokos. Explaining this cult by influence of constant military danger, he writes:
«Archistratig Michael and the Most Holy Virgin – Theotokos have partly eclipsed for a while the worship of Holy Trinity, because
from Arhistratig they waited the victories, and from Theotokos – the consolation in losses, inevitable also after victories» (P.118).
With such estimation we can not agree in any way: the cult of Theotokos and of Archangel Michael has not eclipsed, but has entered constitutionally the tradition of HolyTrinity veneration created by St. Sergius. The role of Theotokos in service of the Holy Trinity was most brightly highlighted by Gregory Palamas. After Her resurrection theTheotokos becomes "the chosen vessel" containing all the completeness of trinitarian divine energies – «the partaker of Divine mysteries» and the Heavenly Queen.
As to Archistratig Michael, in Sergius traditions His connection with the Trinity is absolutely specific – but remains inmost till time. On the first posthumous icon of Sergius he is represented in a prayerful pose before the Theotokos and Michael. Epiphanius, hagiographer of Sergius, names him as «beholder of mysteries of Holy Trinity» and informs that Archangel Michael in the sight of "the fiery man» has regularly co-serviced to Sergius at liturgy. We will dare to assume that exactly at these visitations Michael had announced to St. Sergius the new profound knowledge of the Holy Trinity and of his (Michael) mission by the future Trinitarian ministry.
It is possible to hear sometimes in church that dogmatic reasonings are dangerous philosophising, is attempt to adapt God image to requirements of our natural (sinful and narrow) mind. Meanwhile, the matter is exactly opposite. To think about God - it means to transform the mind under the influence of Divine revelation. Such influence is not necessarily connected with some extreme ecstatic states of person. Even the slight touch of Trinitarian Divine energies can become the stimulus for unceasing and laborious work on radical self-change of the person, on mind and heart transformation. Many sincerely believing men has experienced experience of such kind , but only the very few ones understand that these invaluable Divine gifts of grace are not only spiritual pleasure, but also an appeal to active action, first of all internal. If such response does not arise in believing man, these grace touches ceases gradually. Then the man plunges into hopeless pessimism, justifying himself by means of sophisticated reasonings on global power of world evil, and that the Holy Spirit has ostensibly abandoned finally our guilty earth. Such views were absolutely alien to N.Fedorov.
Anthropological aspect of the project
The Christianity appeals the human to universal love and promises him the bodily resurrection. What can be farther from the reality of our life? The man cannot escape from a dungeon of his egoism, and any life comes to end with death. Is there some the deep, organic connection between egoism and death? So Nikolay Fedorov has posited the question.
If, after him, realistically and seriously to ponder the essence of Christian faith, it becomes obvious: the Divine intention about the man is paradoxical and incomprehensible for ordinary consciousness. The natural individualism which should be subjected to unconditional overcoming, at the same time is the base of him as the free person. Only on this basis the person could find the self-standing in front of God, the possibility to believe or not to believe in Him, the ability to consent and to object, come to decisions and incur responsibility for his deeds. The very thirst of life, both individual and patrimonial, roots in our natural essence. And only through tormenting experience of all human history we start to understand that the only way to immortality can be achieved through almost impossible thing: the deep transformation of animal basis of our psyche, in its conscious and under-conscious aspects. Only then can be overcome the main contradiction of human existence – between instinctive animal egoism and sublime aspiration for fraternal love. N.Fedorov so speaks about it:
«In case of an unfeasibility of full reciprocity we are doomed to such loneliness, to such estrangement that … we can not be convinced even in mutual existence of each other. One choice remains for us: either a hopeless solitary confinement or universal resurrection, in which is also full mutual-knowledge. Otherwise: or no God, no world, no people, or all this in perfect completeness and fullness!»
At first sight the teaching of N.Fedorov seems absolutely alien to the spirit of modern Christianity which by tradition repeats the words about resurrection from the dead, but already for a long time does not take these words seriously. The present Christianity at the best prepares the person for posthumous bodiless existence and imagines the resurrection as a certain blissful posthumous estate in some sort of thin, ethereal, in a word, not the real body.
Authoritative, it is possible to tell, "the model of theologian" of modern Orthodoxy George Florovsky, accuses Nikolay Fedorov in «humanistic activism», and also in «magical and technical naturalism». Such degree of misunderstanding exposes how much far the academic theology had wandered from the early Christian traditions. In tragically lonely prophet – the Moscow librarian – after many centuries of oblivion the flaming spirit of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, the first of great Fathers of Church as though has returned to life. In a counterbalance to spiritualistic heresies of that time, St. Irenaeus preached necessity of bodily resurrection on this our earth! Receiving the first impulse from N.Fedorov, so-called «Russian religious revival» has failed because had plunged in the waves of spiritualism. In this way Origen, who had inculcated this kind of thought in church tradition, has won one more victory over Irenaeus: the human again acknowledges ostensibly secondariness
and deficiency of the terrestrial world in comparison with the world of the bodiless spirits, secondariness of body in relation to soul.
Probably some tendency of N.Fedorov to «naturalism and activism» can be explained by his understanding of huge danger of "mysticism"; therefore he tried to avoid any mention of posthumous existence of soul (though he never denied this). He suffered deeply affliction when even V.S.Soloviev and F.M.Dostoevsky, at first so inspired by Fedorov ideas became "renegades". Dostoevsky has been convinced that bodily nature of man hinders him to feel the «the touch on other worlds». He considered that for execution of precept about the love to neighbours, the person should «change physiologically». Excited with Fedorov appeal to common task of ancestors reviving Dostoevsky however did not consider this as a real problem of time, and together with Soloviev believed that «resurrection will be after 25 thousand years». The similar train of thought caused indignation of Fedorov which branded it as «resistance against will of God». In his opinion, those Christians are bad who hope that «the all will be made without participation of man, without participation of his mind, feeling, will; his all abilities and he self become unnecessary, all this is gifted to the man for nothing».
Fedorov bitter irony does not at all mean that from his point of view, God cannot revive the dead without the help of people living on the earth, the matter is that God does not want to manage without this help. God created the man by on a long way of natural evolution and painful historical process, only for that to make him a passive object of His almighty influence!
The idea about creative participation of the man in his own resurrection gradually gets realness thanks to achievements of a modern science: cytology, genetics, molecular biology etc. Now the huge complexity, richness and beauty of internal structure of body have started to open. We will try to comprehend this new knowledge in context of Christian teaching about resurrection and in particular in connection with N.Fedorov project.
First of all, if to accept idea of bodily resurrection, there arise at once a question on where and how the extensive information about the body of died person remains, how the self-identity of resurrected body is provided? Fedorov view about «collecting of all scattered particles which were the parts of given body», amazes with the naivety and becomes a constant target for the spiteful criticism. It is possible to agree with his hypothesis (by the way, completely borrowed from Gregory Nissky) that each molecule somehow keeps a remembrance about body into which structure it was included. However it does not solve a problem because the body is not the sum of separate molecules, but set of complicated structured molecular streams. During the human life large quantity of molecules passed through the body, exceeding
in thousand times their amount in body at present moment. Besides, each molecule during mankind existence has time to visit multitude of various bodies – to which of them it should belong after resurrection? The idea about «collecting of particles» can become more realistic if understand "particles" as «information elements» of bodies, i.e. genes. Outstripping the time, N.Fedorov writes:
«The mankind should reproduce itself from the elementary elements... through all individualities, which had passed these elements through».
Some religious confessions (in particular, Jehovists) put forward such idea: after death of person all the fullness of information about him, necessary for his resurrection, remains only in God memory. But it would mean something like «divine cloning»: in the act of resurrection from hands of Creator would emerge not my father, but only his exact or even improved copy. Our filial feeling protests vigorously against such substitution of my father by his double. The problem can not be resolved by replacement of "Divine memory» by something like «a space databank» or «the akasha-chronicle of the thin world»: in this case not this man but the other person is restored, in other even if in a similar body.
The single way of preservation of self-identity of created persons is in the uninterruptedness of their existence. Till the death is not overcome, this continuity can be provided only by human soul. Concentrating attention on the material world and its potentialities, we as also N.Fedorov do not deny existence of the "thin world" and numerous spirits occupying it. The main thing here – hierarchy of values. Contrary to widespread opinion, we are deeply convinced that for the Creator «the thin world», as well as angelic hosts occupying it is something preliminary, intermediate and auxiliary, whereas the supreme value and the creation purpose is the human. The main difference between human and angels – in his corporality. However the idea of soul is unsafe: as soon as person get to believe in soul existence, he begins to consider the body as something secondary and even negative. Quite often arises the image of a body as ostensibly "dungeons" from which soul would exempted by means of death; thus the terrestrial human is exposed as some kind of «the angel-prisoner».
Sometimes they begin to consider the body as a source of evil and vice. So, Lev Tolstoi almost maniacally repeats: «spirit is the good, flesh is the evil». By the way, the curious biographic fact was found out: L.Tolstoi known for the improbable self-conceit, strenuously and unsuccessfully strived for to get affinity of N.Fedorov who treated him slightingly as "muddle man" and "hypocrite"!
The cause of negative attitude to body is the wrong view that body ostensibly is an source of morally denounced instincts – domination
and submission, sexual lust, proprietary instinct, etc. From this point of view unreasonable hope arises that all these instincts "will disappear" together with "emancipation" of the soul from the body.
Here the terminological muddle takes place which leads to the extremely defective, inadequate conception of body. Really the body as complicated, improbably rich and finely molecular-cellular structure is out of sight of narrow-minded, unscientific consciousness. They usually comprehend in the body only insignificant part of its content: external forms and physiological functions.
In religious-mystical doctrines as a rule even it is not comprehended: the concept of "body" (or, more often, of "flesh") is identified with lowest, vital layers of psyche. Speaking about "body", they actually mean a part of soul: feeling, sensation, reacting, subconsciousness.
With the same ignoring of body in its essence the representatives of elite culture of "silver age" Dmitriy Merezhkovsky and Viacheslav Ivanov contrary to Lev Tolstoy dreamt to find the way to «holy flesh». In their risky erotic experiments the egoistical and lusting to pleasures the human soul abused its natural power over body, forcing it to serve to emotional whims and imaginations. But contrary hierarchy was designed by God: not the body should be the tool of soul in its lusts, but the soul as careful gardener, should "keep and cultivate" the body and moreover to build and create the body which is intended to become the temple of Holy Trinity.
In connection with N.Fedorov project it is necessary to rethink conceptions not only of body, but also of soul. First of all according to Holy Fathers, anyone of two usually suggested variants is unacceptable: 1) the soul is «the God spark in body»; 2) the soul was created by God as separate essence and then put, installed or settled into body. In both cases inadmissible rupture and counterposing of body and soul takes place. Already Justin the Philosopher spoke about this subject:
«Who is the man, if not the reasonable, animal, consisting of soul and body? Perhaps the soul self is the man? No, it is the soul of the man. And the body perhaps can be named the man? No – it is called the body of man... If God has called the man into life and resurrection, He has called not a part of man, but soul and body». St. Justin the Philosopher and the Martyr. Ì. 1995. P. 546.
After him Ireneaus of Lyons insists on inseparable connection of soul with body:
«Soul not before body in its essence, the body in its formation is not before soul, but both occur simultaneously». St. Ireneaus of Lyons. Creations. Ì. 1996. P. 546.
The man is not assembled from two, but by force of birth at once occurs the soul and the body... All is made by force hidden in
a seed; as well the soul is in the seed, but imperceptibly... We recognize it impossible that the soul would adapt to itself the alien dwellings». G.V.Florovsky. East fathers of IV century. Ì. 1992. P. 161.
St. Maximus the Confessor takes up this thought in such formulation:
«The man never was bodiless... The man is not the soul, which is contained in body, is not assembled from soul and body. The soul arises and is born together with body». G.V.Florovsky. The byzantian fathers V - VIII centuries. Ì. 1992. P. 208.
St. Gregory of Palamas asserted that the man by the nature (owing to the corporality) is similar to God in greater degree, than angels:
«Our soul has dominating and operating part and another – subordinating and obeying part: desire, aspiration, sensation and all another, standing below mind. All this God has subordinated to mind; and when we are inclined to sin, we not only rebel against God - Pantocrator (the All Ruler), but also against Autocrator, inherent to us by the nature (self-control). Owing to this beginning of the power inside us the God has given us the domination over all earth. Angels has no body connected with spirit and the subordinated to spirit; therefore they do not dominate, but only execute the will of God». B.P.Vysheslavtsev. Ethics of the transfigured Eros. Ì. 1994. P. 288.
Now we will try to express these deep ideas of Holy Fathers in the modern science language. However it cannot be made without overcoming of the methodological precipice between sciences about body and knowledges about soul. Unprecedented intellectual breaking through which was made by modern science in explanation of the physical phenomena, allows to expect that the decision can be found through expansion of scientific concept of "the matter".
We consider as the most perspective idea (though insufficiently developed) the conception of latent vacuum ur-matter. The visible world is the set of certain excitations of this ur-matter which is the general initial basis both physical and psychic phenomena. According to our hypothesis, ur-matter is structured like crystal lattice of solid. Today thanks to opening of the phenomena of superfluidity and superconductivity in solids, the old objection against idea of "a world aether», which fills empty space may be withdraw. Now it is possible to understand, why «the crystal aether» does not offer any resistance to bodies moving through empty space, for example, to planets.
All excitations of "vacuum crystal» are grouped in two basic classes which can be identified as physical and psychic matter. Connection between these two types of matter is so weak that there is a huge area of the physical phenomena where influence of psychic matter practically is not perceptibly. Only by this area the modern "exact sciences" are engaged.
assumption is that each excitation of physical type is inevitably accompanied by excitation of psychic type. Together with each physical atom always emerges the "psy-atom", and both atoms occupy approximately the same volume of space. Any physical body, including a live organism, generates «a psychical body», basically repeating physical nuclear structure. Further, using concepts "psyche" or "soul", we will mean this psychic body. The higher is the organism on evolution ladder (in process of «cephalisation», according to Teiar-de-Sharden), the more independently and steady is its psyche, more strong its reverse influence on physical body. At certain level of development the soul aspires to take ruling, dominate over the body: the worst of it is that soul quite often forces the body to act contrary to its true own needs. The healthy and reasonable soul counteracts destructive processes in body – the ageing and illnesses; the sick and ignorant soul contributes in these processes.
After death of the person his body is gradually demolished (except such cases as relics of saints) whereas the soul temporally passes to independent existence. The soul keeps information memory not only of all structures of physical body, but also of all processes which proceeded in it from conception to death: the self-identity of the body is defined not only by its genetic structure, but also by all its vital history. This «soul memory» creates possibility of future reconstruction of body and restoration of integrity of the person – through reunion of soul with the body.
We realize that similar view on the human being if to ponder in it, can cause some ontological fear: if the soul is not indestructible monad, our life becomes fragile, unreliable. And such experience is quite justified: we really are only halfway from a non-existence to existence – process of our creation is not finished. A guarantee of my life is not in me, but in God intention about me. This design gives absolute value to person and unlimited prospect of his increase. Our incompleteness gives us the hope to achieve the deep structural changes of the person in the image of God as the Trinity. After all the Gospel begins with a word «metanoeite» – change (Matf. 3:2), and all Gospel, all New Testament is only disclosing of this word.
The offered conception, in our opinion, can give to the Fedorov project the more realness. The main thing that each of us can start "common affair" already here and now. If we will learn to open the potentialities of our body we can take the first step to victory over death. Transformation of the subconsciousness according to Trinitarian image should lead to some subtle but decisive change (at cellular level) of those mechanisms of vital functions which now lead to ageing of organism.
Leaning against the data of embryology, on the one hand, and of depth psychology – with another, we can understand
sources of "monadness" of our soul. The soul becomes a monad because it grows together with body from fertilized egg-cell (zygotes), – the given concrete person starts to exist since that moment when the merge of genetic material of parents occurs in egg-cell .
Structure of egg-cell and processes in it are printed in the deepest layers of soul. The soul arises for the first time, is formed as something whole and isolated as a result of these first impressions of individual life. To be a monad means to feel itself from within as complete microcosm, separated by a membrane from world around. This monad is arranged so that all its energy, all reactions are directed to one goal – to survive, by all means to survive! But there are many monads – and one for another becomes either means or obstacle for survival and growth. Coexistence of monads is possible only by means of the restrictions reducing intensity of life of each of them to harmless level. The morality demanding to consider interests of others, radically contradicts ours monadic nature.
How to overcome "monadness" and preserve the self-identity of the person? It could seem in principle impossible without one tremendous fact: there is a man in whom such overcoming was fulfilled – «the man Christ Jesus» (1 Tim. 2:5). It was made because His conception was of another kind not as conception of us all. In the act of "seedless conception of God" mother egg-cell has received an impulse to fission, has started to convert into an embryo not under the influence of a man's seed, but as result of outpouring of Trinitarian Divine Energy. (In this act one of mother X-chromosome has been changed in the Y-chromosome – so was conceived the male-child). It is possible to assume that such way of conceiving generates the new type of intercellular interaction bearing some Trinitarian image. We do not yet know what it means, but we hope that the science will answer this question in due course. Now we are witnesses of important break-through in studying of the causes of human body ageing. There is no doubt about the possibility of prolongation of life by only medical methods, however for achievement of genuine immortality – and, especially, of resurrection of ancestors – it is absolutely necessary, that these methods were combined with Trinitarian transformation of person.
But already now much is possible for us thanks to Jesus Who has not become isolated from us in the inaccessible majesty, but according the Gospel word «has given us Himself as food». If we have learned to "partake of the holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ" by all our being, with clear comprehension of this Sacrament, our psychophysical nature would start to be transformed gradually as His image and likeness. Together with Jesus we could experience all history of our formation anew. It means to become as though «anew conceived» – by the same way how Jesus has been conceived. Certainly,
such meditation would be impossible without the picture of ontogenesis which gives us modern embryology. Thereby the science, contrary to traditional opinions gets soteriological value – together with faith. After all to "be saved" is to execute the persistent requirements of the New Testament «be born anew», «be born from above», «be born from Spirit».
Who to whom helps in this action – man assists God or God assist man – we will not argue; it is only important that it is joint action, "synergy" of God and man. In this connection any charges are inappropriate in adress of N.Fedorov who ostensibly belittles the God, deprives God of His exclusive prerogative in affair of "resurrection of the dead". The true majesty of God – not that He does Himself the all, but that He created those who can do. The live testimony was shown for the first time in history by Jesus Christ that the human person in principle can be Trinitarian,
But what is characteristic to Him by the nature, is for us a task and goal. Church sacraments are necessary, but they are insufficient for the execution of this task. Inspired by the image of Jesus, the Saints have passed through the considerable part of way to this goal. Why they have not passed through this way to the end, to actual overcoming of death? And why we consider possible to continue their work at a new stage? Are we possessing something that they had not? Yes, we have. For last centuries the man's mind had become not only the auxiliary tool but ruling force of our soul. Certainly, the most difficult is not yet made – the mind yet has not subdued our subconsciousness. Nevertheless we obviously came to qualitatively new stage of development of the person, have entered into new historical age. The main forthcoming action in creative evolution of the man directed by God will be the union of intellect with sainthood. Let's to express this with metaphor: the Divine promises will be executed, when academicians will become holy Elders ("startzi"), and startzi will become academicians. N.Fedorov – one of the most striking and deepest harbingers and initiators of this synthesis.
The quoted sources:
Here and further by citing pages of basic work are specified: N.F.Feodorov. A question of brotherhood or kinship, of the reasons not-brotherly, un-family, i.e. un-peaceful condition of world and about means to kinship restoration (the Notes from uneducated to scientific, spiritual and secular one's, to believers and non-believers). N.F.Feodorov. The Works In 4 vol. Ì: "Progress", 1995. Ò.I