The two sorts of hesychast ethics
This article presents a systematic reconstruction of the original ethics created by the tradition of Orthodox hesychasm. Analysis reveals that the tradition has developed two very different kinds of ethics. At the formative stage of hesychast practice, an ascetic needs to concentrate entirely on his innermost self—hence “the ethics of the Flight,” of complete severance of ties with the outside world, individualistic ethics that rejects the common norms and principles of social life. At the later stage of mature hesychasm, however, addressing the world in order to offer it spiritual help and instruction becomes an important concern—thus emerges the distinctly altruistic “ethics of the Return.” Its prime example—the ethics of Russian eldership, starchestvo¹1. The ancient monastic tradition of “eldership,” the spiritual guidance of a beginner by an experienced ascetic called the elder (geron, in Greek; starets, in Russian), took in Russia in the nineteenth century a new form, the Russian eldership.View all notes based on the principles of Christ’s overabundant and supra-normative love—is given a detailed description. In the comparative aspect, the work discusses the relationship between hesychast ethics, the ethics of Stoicism, and the ethical theory of Emmanuel Levinas.