Saint Antony on Self-knowledge

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Saint Antony the Great, in his Letters from the desert, teaches that he who knows himself, in the Holy Spirit, knows God (Chitty, Letter 4 SLG  p 12), for to know oneself without confusion is to know God without division.  We are all members, one of another, in the Spirit, praying ‘Abba, Father,’ in Christ, because the Spirit proceeds from the Father to abide in the Son, deifying those who turn and see.  To know one’s true name is to know the Name of Truth (Letter 3 p 9).  Christ is the wise physician who heals the great wound by imparting the fire of self-knowledge, raising the heart from deadly worldliness to the living remembrance of God.  Desert Hesychasm received this saving word from Saint Antony and transmitted it as catalytic prophecy, through prayer of the Spirit in the heart.  We are all of one spirit with one another in the Holy Spirit, for to love God and to love our neighbour is one mystery, one grace and one joy.  Saint Antony has always been a pre-eminent witness to this wisdom in the desert, but remains so now as he always was, just as God is now as He always was.

Since no-one beholds the Father but the Son, the Spirit opens the Son to all, so that God’s wisdom may be shared with all, for all, by all.  There is no way but God’s way of revealing God through God, unveiled from prophets to apostles, handed on by elders to saints.  True self-knowledge is knowledge of God because the Spirit is the guarantee of this, being herself that knowledge, knowing God through God.  The self whose self-knowledge  knows God is not the conditioned self but God himself, whose self-knowledge is knowledge of God.  This is the wisdom of Saint Antony, which passed into a well-known Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad,  ‘He who knows himself knows his Lord,’ and from there to wisdom’s witness wherever wisdom is to be found.  Whenever wisdom turns and sees, she turns the light of awareness round, seeing light through light, unveiling glory through glory.  Wisdom reverses dissipation, timeless in her golden radiance.  There is no end to the openness of enlightening wisdom, no limit to the turning that uncreated light enacts, no boundary to the seeing that seeing sees or the glory that glory reveals.

Saint Antony bears witness that knowing knows as it is known, knowing God in God, knowing God through God, and the desert bears witness that this knowing deepens, as shallow narrows naturally deepen, when centering awareness matures and flourishes.  Heavens open and the earth is blessed, just as they are.  Recollected insight no longer turns to see but is turning that sees in every moment, knowing ineffably, therefore, living ineffably.  Uncreated light just sees; that is all there is.  Turning is seeing and seeing is turning; this single-minded practice stands under the whole-hearted love of wisdom.  No proof is needed although proofs generously prove themselves without deliberation.  Awareness breathes, the Spirit inspires, ensuring self-awareness is knowledge of God.  Saint Antony no longer spells it out, but breathes it in, encouraging us to do the same.  With every breath, awareness turns and seeing sees, centering on the vision of God.  ‘I AM’ says it all, once wisdom is hallowing the Name. ‘Ful wys is he that kan himselve know.’  Geoffrey Chaucer.