we are incompletely embodied spirits

Our problem, if this reading of the Philokalia is correct, is not that we are embodied spirits, but that we are incompletely embodied spirits — that is, that we are as yet unable to live in this material and mutable world without clinging to our impressions, distorting our impressions, or compulsively marking out our territory. The things of the world — and our human neighbours in the world — appear either as food or as threat to the ego. Unless we become able to receive the truth of what is before us as it stands in relation to God, not to us, we are failing to be embodied in the sense of being properly part of creation: we are caught in an implicit idolatry, the effort to separate ourselves from the order of which we are a part.

…Very much at the centre of the philokalic vision is the conviction that the ideal and purposed state of being for the human intelligence, its ‘natural’ life, is a welcoming receptivity to the other, without the violence that seeks either to possess or exclude. To quote Schmemann once more, for the baptized person in Christ, ‘The world is again his life, not his death, for he knows what to do with it’;everything is now ‘given to us as full of meaning and beauty’. It is as we think through the implications of this as the natural, God-reflecting state of human intelligence that we may begin to see how this entire picture requires in turn a particular understanding of the divine nature and persons.

From Looking East in Winter by Rowan Williams.

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