“All of man’s life is a search for happiness; the goal of life is to be happy, to feel sensations of joy. The thirst for happiness takes root in man with the first signs of consciousness. But even if everyone agrees on this truth, still many arguments always and everywhere have aroused and will arouse the question of what pleasure consists, what brings happiness and what brings unhappiness, what makes a person happy and what makes him unhappy.” – M.V. Lodyzhenskii
Despite all the attractions and distractions of our technological age, the basic human need to be happy is rarely addressed. Undisturbed by all our external busyness there remains a fundamental yearning to be rooted in something greater than ourselves and to know a joy and peace which are enduring, whatever circumstances life may throw at us.
In this classic early twentieth century text a little known Russian philosopher and theologian addresses these questions and offers answers rooted in the tradition of the Orthodox Christian East and the lives of its sainted Christian men and women. Christian philosophy and its difference from other philosophical systems is discussed as well as the divine mysticism of Seraphim of Sarov, Francis of Assisi, and Simeon the New Theologian. The book includes reflections on the writings of Leo Tolstoy and conversations between him and the author, as well as martyrdom in the epoch of the first two Ecumenical Councils. This is not an easy text and it will confront the reader with a choice which cannot be compromised: Am I willing to turn from the conventional wisdom of this world in order to know true happiness through an encounter with the Light of the Eternal God, a power which can conquer even that of physical death?
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Preface to the English Language Edition ix
1. Light in the Darkness 1
2. Seraphim of Sarov 20
3. Francis of Assisi 43
4. The Mysticism of St Seraphim and St Francis 65
5. Mysticism of the East and Mysticism of the West 82
6. Striking Features from the Lives of the Saints 103
7. The Aspiration for Happiness 124
8. On a Good Death 145
9. Manifesting the Light Invisible 171
Appendix 1 Terminology of the Christian Ascetics Relating to the Understanding of Higher Reason and Lower Reason 195
Appendix 2 A Short Biography of M. V. Lodyzhenskii 198
Mitrofan Vasil’evich Lodyzhenskii (1852-1917) graduated from the Agricultural Institute in St. Petersburg in 1873, after which he worked as a senior forester in the Vologda province. He served as sheriff in the Tula province, and was chief of the Forestry Department, as well as the vice-governor of Semipalatinsk, and later Stavropol, and Mogilev. He was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, of St. Stanislav, and St. Anna, all of these being civil decorations awarded by the Russian Empire.
He spent time in both India and Japan. After retirement, Lodyzhenskii turned his attention to literary work, focusing on the relationship of esoteric philosophy with Christianity. Before his return to traditional Orthodox Christianity, Lodyzhenskii interests touched on Hindu philosophy, yoga, Theosophy, hypnotism, and science. He was in contact with Tolstoy, A. L. Volynskii ,and the occultist P. D. Uspenskii, His book Light Invisible is a witness to his return to Orthodox faith and life.