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After reading about Hesychasm and the related topics such as Jesus' Prayer, Philokalia and palamism I'm stuck with a question. In Hesychasm, the main objective is to arrive to Hesychia, which is stillness or quietness.

My question is straightforward: without living as a hermit and without being orthodox, are there any chances to practice Hesychasm successfully?

If the answer is positive, how may this be?
If the answer is negative, why is it impossible?

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2 Answers

According to what I read from saints, you don't have to be a monk to get some gifts like prayer of heart or the seeing of uncreated light. The man from The Way of a Pilgrim wasn't a monk. Also I read about one of Optina Elders teaching a prayer of heart some sheperd girl.

However the idea of achieving these gifts while not being orthodox is strange. And how can you achieve them if you don't believe in them?

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Thank you for your answer. But you don't have to be orthodox to actually believe in them. –  deps_stats Apr 30 '12 at 18:37
    
I've read about Tomáš Špidlík that he gave lectures about prayer of heart in the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola to Eastern Orthodox audience. The audience was surprised but admitted that Ignatius really practiced and taught the prayer of heart, though he didn't call it so. –  Pavel Nov 23 '12 at 15:20
    
@Pavel - if one thing can be certain, it is that ignatian spirituality is incompatible with orthodoxy. The philokalian fathers forbade strictly creating images in one's mind, which is the basis of ignatian meditation. I don't know how this RC bishop reconciled it, but he certainly needed to bend over backwards. –  zefciu Nov 26 '12 at 9:52
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I suppose the answer depends entirely on how you define success. To be an authentic Hesychast monk, you would really need to move to Mt. Athos.

But there's no reason you couldn't successfully integrate some Hesychast methods into your current life. In particular, contemplation, meditation and recital of the Jesus Prayer seems entirely within the reach of all believers and captures the core of the tradition as I understand it. Being an outsider myself, I can't say if it's possible to reach the sort of peace the tradition sets as the end state, however.

As a word of caution: like other sorts of spiritual gifts and experiences, it seems to me we go off course if we begin to pursue them for their own sake. As Paul warns:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.—1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

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I love your word of caution. Thank you. –  AJ. Nov 24 '11 at 13:10
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