Posted by: lostperception | 08/02/2011

Unconditional Love – Dionysios Farasiotis

“Persistently and insistently, I strove to understand this pain and to find its cause. I couldn’t tell whether it was from a lack of love or an absence of truth.”

In this world, I hadn’t found any genuine love, or anyone who really loved me for who I was. Everyone had a motive for loving me. Girls would love men for an attractive face, a handsome body, and beautiful eyes. But if I had been in an accident resulting in the loss of a limb, or the disfigurement of my face, no woman would have cared to stay at my side, even though I would still have been the same person. No woman really loved me, loved or was even interested in the deeper core of my being; rather they were concerned only with the external apparition of our reality. And the guys who were my friends loved me for my mind, my ideas, my knowledge, and my wit; but if I hadn’t been educated, I would still have been the same person. Were I to have suffered a wound to the head and become a little slower on the uptake, the deeper core of my being, my soul, would still have been the same, yet no one would have still loved me. Even the natural love of my parents was not free from utilitarian motives. It was colored by certain expectations and desires for compensation in the future. They loved me because I was intelligent, because I was a good student , and because I would take care of them in their old age. No one loved me without guile, without self-interest, or without the expectation of something in return. My real self existed beneath the surface, apart from my being smart or stupid, handsome or ugly, good or bad. I longed for this core of my being to be loved without any reason or societal justification, but just because I existed.

To see how people would react, I began to cast off those existential attributes that enhanced my appearance. I began with the way I dressed, starting to wear clothes that were unattractive and in bad taste. Soon people became irritated. In fact, quite a few people became angry about this change and kept me at a distance. I was shocked to discover how false and superficial my relations with others were.  Although some of my closest friends were fed up with me, I was determined to persevere until I had cast off everything false and superficial and had completely stripped and freed myself from things external. It was the only way to know who really understood me deeply- whoever would remain by my side to the end would do so elusively for who I was.

In the end, no one remained by my side. I found the core of my being, but I was uttely forsaken and completedly alone. It would have been easy to return again to the life of superficiality. After all, I had been good at acting out different roles since childhood. I could again start playing the roles of lover, friend, and son, but I didn’t want to anymore. I wanted to explore and get to know my real self.

During this period of time, I suffered a greatly in the depths of my being from a deep, bone-crushing pain. My soul was in a state of mute horror, and I felt as though my mind would be shattered into a thousand small pieces. I could barely think rationally. I was unable to sleep. I was afraid to sleep. As soon as I would start to grow drowsy, and my reason would begin to relax its control over my emotions, my soul would suddenly become like a sore oozing with river of pain that threatened to destroy my existence. I would awaken in a state of alarm, trying to put a stop to that terrible agony. My ability to reason, that fine thread holding my mind together, was ready to snap at any moment. I was afraid I would lose my mind because of my inability to withstand the pain.

Persistently and insistently, I strove to understand this pain and to find its cause. I couldn’t tell whether it was from a lack of love or an absence of truth. Perhaps it was because my life seemed purposeless. I yearned greatly for an answer and struggled to find one, but I began to wonder if the search for genuine love in this world was an impossible quest. With this in mind, I went to see elder Paisios and opened up my heart to him. I impatiently waited for a response. He became serious and said, “Man is worthy of being loved just because he’s in the image of God. It doesn’t matter at all if he’s good or bad, moral or sinful. Man is worthy of being loved for what he is. Christ loved and sacrificed Himself for sinful corrupt people. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. We should be the same way: we should love everyone without making any distinctions. Just like the sun rises on everyone, intelligent and unintelligent, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, our love should be like the love of God – love that’s like the sun and shines on His whole creation without making distinctions.” As Saint Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who is given unto us. At last, I felt consoled. There was someone who agreed with me and understood me, and it was Father Paisios.

Nevertheless, when I returned home, the pain remained. At times, it was more than I could bear. During the night, I would wake up weeping and unable to speak. From the utter depths of  my being I would silently cry out, “My God, my God.” I would strike my head against my pillow in repentance, thinking about how I had gone so far ashtray and done so much that was wrong. “My God, my God” – during those dread nights I would struggle with despair over my entire life. (83)

Then, on one of those evenings, when I was praying alone in my apartment, I felt something approaching me. It was so present although it was invisible. It was immaterial but it was mighty. It was so unapproachable and intangible, although it was so near. It touched me, but not just on the surface. It touched the innermost depth of my being, uniting itself with me. I was intoxicated by this presence and felt I was becoming like fire. I wanted to be completely open towards this presence, without a single corner of my soul remaining hidden, no matter how ugly or filthy I was.I longed for every corer of my soul to be visited by this vast infinite Love coming from all directions and filling all things. As Saint Simeon the New Theologian cried, “O Deifying Love that is God!” This love holds the universe together, connecting every part of it, giving it the strength to exist, and being the very cause of of its continued existence…

At the same time, however, I felt so unworthy and so unfit to be with It that I fell to the ground with my face to the flood, in order to sink into the very concrete if I could. I was so full of vice, so unworthy to exist and to experience this unity that I wished I could stop living. I remained motionless, but this Love drew near to me, this Love that welled forth from the One Whose gaze is directed towards all things and Who pervades all things, the One Who has always existed. (84)

Because God loved me, He allowed me to approach Him, and He purified me and healed me, thoroughly and deeply, of all my pains and sores. He drew me gently, steadily, and safely from darkness to light, from filth to purity, from non-being into being. He granted me a more intense, true and vital existence, not because He had need of me, but because He is Love.

I do not know how long this experience lasted. It began and ended in a single night. I do know, however, that it healed my pain, brought stability to my thoughts, put an end to my danger, and answered my questions. I learned far more than I asked. This Love granted me sure and certain knowledge: even today, I can feel its effects. Due to  my careless living I slowly started to become more alienated from this presence yet the effects of its grace have helped me tremendously until today.

Now I know that, as human beings in synergy with God, we all have the potential to give birth in our hearts to such a love, that will ontologically transform us and deify us. Few of us give birth to this love, however, and we bear responsibility for not doing so on account of our slothfulness, fear, and involvement with trivialities. This love is the spiritual love that the Holy Spirit begets within the human soul, making human beings into partakers of the divine nature. It is far superior to any human love – even the love of a mother is insignificant when compared to it. This all-powerful love vanquishes death, overcomes the laws of nature, and is the source of order though the universe, for it is the very mystery of the universe. For God is love. This love has helped me so much through my life, it has sustained me, and I will return to it for support until my very last breath. (85)

From The Gurus, the young man, and elder Paisios – Dionysios Farasiotis

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