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Bulgakov. Absolute Subject Category: Theosis …between created and uncreated…

God. Creator. Anima Mundi
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

The world soul is the creaturely Sophia

Creatureliness is the loss of the Divine Sophia's "integrity" through her submergence in the multiplicity, temporality, and relativity of particular being.

The world is a creaturely multi-unity, and the world soul is the creaturely Sophia. This must first be understood on the basis of the general definition of creatureliness. In relation to the Divine Sophia, creatureliness is diminution and limitation, kenosis. The world's autonomous being, its creation "out of nothing," is purchased only at the price of such limitation. Creatureliness is the loss of the Divine Sophia's "integrity" through her submergence in the multiplicity, temporality, and relativity of particular being. Because of this, the world's sophianicity loses the clarity and self-evidentness of its manifestation; the chaotic element, raised by cosmic storms, its waves thrashing furiously, is unleashed. … But the world exists, as a positive unity to which all these species of being belong. … And this unifying force, this cosmourgic potency, is nothing else but the creaturely Sophia herself, who is the image of divine being, the force of "integrity." She is, in this sense, the world's soul and entelechy, who is being actualized, or becoming, in the world. She is the life of the world.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
4. The World Soul and Its Hypostases, pp.79-80

The soul is not hypostatic, whereas the spirit is. The soul corresponds to the spirit's nature. The soul lives and is hypostatized by the spirit.

The world soul is the creaturely Sophia.

We are speaking about the soul of the world, not its spirit. The difference between soul and spirit consists in the fact that the soul is not hypostatic, whereas the spirit is. Sophia is not a hypostasis; and neither is the world soul. The soul corresponds to the spirit's nature. The soul lives and is hypostatized by the spirit (and, in this sense, the soul is not the spirit's hypostasis but its hypostatizedness, or more precisely, its hypostatizability). In this sense, although the world is not spirit, it is correlative to spirit as its life, as the source and content of this life. In this respect, the world soul is a connected, organic multi-unity. It is not only a content (= multi) but also a connection (= unity). The world soul is the creaturely Sophia.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
4. The World Soul and Its Hypostases, p.80

The world soul is … the life-giving principle. It is life given by the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit. This significance of the world soul is noted in the Old Testament interpretation of blood, about which it is said that it is the soul of animals, not excluding man. "For the soul of every body is its blood" (Lev. 17:14) [This is a literal translation from the Russian Bible. - Trans.]. From this comes the Old Testament symbolism of sacrificial blood and the whole meaning of the New Testament Blood, which poured into the world, giving life to it, as its new soul, its "New Testament" soul [See my articles "The Eucharistic Dogma" and "The Holy Grail."].

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
4. The World Soul and Its Hypostases, p.81

Hypostatization of the creaturely Sophia

As for creaturely being in itself, its ability to become hypostatized comes from its character as the creaturely Sophia. The Divine Sophia is hypostatized from all eternity by the Holy Trinity in its hypostases. Hypostatic being is an attribute of the Divine Sophia; she presupposes it in herself. But having been taken out of the Holy Trinity and having lost the hypostatization that she had in the Holy Trinity, how can she regain or in some sense restore this hypostatization? The creation of a hypostasis or hypostases, as such, is not yet included in the creation of the natural world. The creation of hypostases is therefore a special, additional or parallel act, alongside the creation of the world. Revelation gives us a direct indication of this duality or parallelism in the Genesis reference to the council held within the Holy Trinity concerning the creation of man "in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26), in contradistinction or in addition to the general creation that took place over the Six Days or just on the Sixth Day, which includes the creation of man. There is a further indication in the story of Genesis 2:7: "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul."

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
4. The World Soul and Its Hypostases, p.83

Through his spirit, man communes with the Divine essence and is capable of being "deified."

In his nature, as the soul of the world, as "flesh" (i.e., through his animate body), man unites in himself the entire world, which in this sense is his humanity.

The human hypostatic spirit, which lives in man and which fundamentally distinguishes him from the animal world, has a divine, uncreated origin from "God's breath." This spirit is a spark of Divinity that is endowed by God with a creaturely-hypostatic face in the image of the Logos and, through Him, in the image of the entire Holy Trinity, insofar as the trihypostatic Face can be reflected in the creaturely consciousness of self. Through his spirit, man communes with the Divine essence and is capable of being "deified." Being united with and living by the divine nature, man is not only man but also potentially — by predestination, by his formal structure — a god-man. At the same time, in his nature, as the soul of the world, as "flesh" (i.e., through his animate body), man unites in himself the entire world, which in this sense is his humanity. Man consists of an uncreated, divine spirit, hypostatized by a creaturely I, and of a created soul and body. This humanity of his has, in its cosmic being, the image of the creaturely Sophia; and he himself therefore contains the creaturely Sophia, who is hypostatized in him. As a result, he is the sophianic hypostasis of the world.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Lamb of God
III. 3. The Divine-Humanity

The created hypostasis is only the hypostasizing center of self-existing nature, which it is called upon to reveal, or contain, in its consciousness and creativity.

Ultimately, the whole creation has a human hypostasis, while it itself has only hypostatizedness, the ability and desire to hypostasize in the many-unity of hypostases. All creation is permeated with Sophian rays and bears the seal of the Trinitarian God.

Soul of the world. For the created consciousness, Sophia appears as the essence of the world in the cosmic face, hypostasized in man. God has Sophia in Himself, or in Himself, as its revelation, the creature has her above itself as its foundation, as its highest nature or homeland, as an internal law, or norm of life. Therefore, any created creativity is not absolute, for it is not from itself, it is determined by the Sophianity of its nature. The created hypostasis is only the hypostasizing center of self-existing nature, which it is called upon to reveal, or contain, in its consciousness and creativity. In her life, she joins the Sophian basis of her being, deepening and affirming herself in it not from the outside, but from the inside, by the power of chastity, for like is known by like. In this sense, it is man (according to St. Gregory Palamas) who is the soul of the world, or rather, hypostasizes it. Therefore, the experience of saints as bearers of chastity is qualitatively different from the wisdom of this world, for in it the creature is recognized not from without, but from within, not in the evil infinity of Kant's experience, but with the inner eye in integrity and unity. And in external experience, the overwhelming power of Sophia is revealed as the mind of the world, its inexhaustible richness and beauty of its forms. But to the enlightened eye of the ascetic, the world appears as a living garment of the Divine, as His Word, clothed with the Holy Spirit. And therefore Sophia is wisdom, true, not false gnosis, she is the truth of truths, the beauty of beauties. It is the substance of the world, which alone makes the world a world, not illusory, but justified in itself. The world is in its originality, which overcomes pantheism, which is also acosmism. But the world is led by man. Ultimately, the whole creation has a human hypostasis, while it itself has only hypostatizedness, the ability and desire to hypostasize in the many-unity of hypostases. All creation is permeated with Sophian rays and bears the seal of the Trinitarian God.

The Fall of man

The holy angels act upon the natural world as if from outside, in the capacity of immaterial spirits.

Man is the soul of the world, which unites him inwardly with the angelic world.

Nature is protected, according to the thought of God, by angels of the natural world; but the holy angels act upon the natural world as if from outside, in the capacity of immaterial spirits that do not have inner access to it. Only man is the soul of the world, which unites him inwardly with the angelic world; conversely, by his fall, he has distanced nature from the angelic world.

Man is called to be nature's master, to humanize it, to become its spiritual center.

Man turned out to be unworthy of this high calling and as a result of this "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now … even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:22-23).

The Fall had a determining significance not only for man but also for nature. Man is called to be nature's master, to humanize it, to become its spiritual center. For, in itself, nature ("the world soul") is not spiritual but only psychic in character, insofar as it is a living entity; by this life nature can, in and through man, participate in the life of the spirit, becoming a "spiritual" body (in contrast to the "natural" or "psychic" body that is inherent in it). … But since man turned out to be unworthy of this high calling, and since he himself became subject to nature instead of becoming its conqueror and liberator, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:22). Creation has become an accursed land instead of being God's paradise, the body and dwelling of deified man. Creation nevertheless retains the hope of "apocatastasis," the hope that "the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21), the hope that it will undergo a transfiguration to be accomplished at the end of the world, when there will be a "new heaven and a new earth." And this restoration of the dignity of nature is also the restoration of man, according to the words of the Apostle: "And not only [nature] but … even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23).

Spiritualization of the psychic

… "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven" (Matt. 24:29-30). The Lord's eschatological discourse establishes a direct relationship ("immediately … then") between the cosmic catastrophe and the parousia, which relationship signifies the inner unity of this event — the end of the aeon. Clearly, the symbolic language of the images that describe this event cannot be interpreted literally. In general, it conforms to the language of the apocalypses of this period. It expresses the fundamental idea that the world will undergo a catastrophic transcensus: on the one hand, it will perish in a cosmic fire; on the other hand, it will be transformed inwardly. The world becomes new, a "new heaven and a new earth" (this contrast is particularly drastic in 2 Pet. 3:7-13).

The first aspect of this event, the cosmic catastrophe, fills hearts with an ineffable natural terror (terror antiquus), for it is the gates of death, not only personal but also cosmic, through which all of creation, the "world soul," passes. By contrast, the second aspect fills hearts with the joyous hope of resurrection.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
III. 4. The Transfiguration of the World

… "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul [Gen. 2:7]; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:44-46). This spiritualization of the psychic (or natural) corresponds to what the same apostle says about the world soul: namely, that "the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). While preserving its reality and its identity, the world soul will stop being closed to the spirit. It will even stop having a certain dominion over the spirit, but instead will become obedient to it, transparent to it. It will conform to the spirit.

But the world cannot accomplish this passage from the psychic to the spiritual by its own powers. This passage presupposes a new creative act of God, not a new creation though, but a re-creation, a transformation by the Holy Spirit of what already exists.

This new creation is connected with man as the bearer of the world soul and the master of the world. The new creation is in conformity with man, and in this sense it has a human character.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
III. 4. The Transfiguration of the World, p.417

The resurrection of the dead is accomplished by an action of God precisely in the world soul, or the whole of "groaning" creation, which is quickened in the victory over death.

It is important to understand that this body is formed not by the human spirit, which is incapable of this kind of "objectification," but by the soul, which is obedient to the will of God ("the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" [John 5:25]). In resurrection, there is therefore no place for human freedom, which is proper to the spirit. Rather, a kind of natural necessity operates here, with the soul finding itself in a passive state. Here, the soul does not receive a new power but only has restored to it the power that had been proper to it before death, when the human being lived bodily.

One can also say that this passive and, in this sense, feminine, substance is, with reference to the universal human multi-unity, the world soul. In other words, the resurrection of the dead is accomplished by an action of God precisely in the world soul, or the whole of "groaning" creation, which is quickened in the victory over death. This action of God is applied not only to every individual human soul but also to the integral Adam, and even to the whole of creation, in which, together with transfiguration, the universal resurrection is triumphant. For resurrection to occur singly for individuals, without that inner connection that unifies the entire human race, would contradict the multi-unity of the latter, in both the Old and the New Adam.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Bride of the Lamb
III. 5. The Universal Resurrection, p.440

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