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Bulgakov. Divine Motherhood Category: Theosis …between created and uncreated…

God. Trinity. Absolute Subject
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

The Absolute and Transcendent is a Mystery

There is no adequasy between the absoluteness of the Absolute in relation to the relative, as well as between the transcendence of the Transcendent in relation to the immanent. The Absolute and Transcendent is a Mystery, for which the relative and immanent is a revelation, while in relation to the Absolute itself the relative is a self-revelation.

The category of mystery and revelation has a much more general and fundamental significance than the category of cause and effect.

But the Absolute is never thought, never known, never exists in its abstract absoluteness, solely as the icy night of nonbeing. Such an Absolute is truly a non-sens of abstraction. Even abstracting thought must have something from which it might be reflected and thus acquire content; and the Transcendent never remains only in its transcendence, but has a trans, which not only conceals but also defines it. In other words, the Absolute itself is relative in its absoluteness, just as the Transcendent is immanent in its transcendence if it truly exists and has significance (gilt), if it does not turn into a zero for thought and being, into a void for both the one and the other. Even the NO of apophatic theology is necessarily connected with a certain kataphatic YES; the former is a dialectical moment of the latter and signifies a mystical perception of reality [See my book «Die Tragodie der Philasophie»]. The absoluteness of the Absolute in relation to the relative, just as the transcendence of the Transcendent in relation to the immanent, signifies only that between them there does not exist any equality or adequacy. The Absolute and Transcendent is more profound and full of content than the relative and immanent, and it is therefore the source of the latter.

The Absolute and Transcendent is a Mystery, for which the relative and immanent is a revelation, while in relation to the Absolute itself the relative is a self-revelation. The category of mystery and revelation has a much more general and fundamental significance than the category of cause and effect.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter
Epilogue: The Father, p.359

Self-consciousness of the Absolute Subject

Three hypostases is the original given, which is realized, concretized in the Holy Trinity.
Three hypostases is rooted in the very nature of the absolute subject and therefore does not need any specific justification.

… three hypostases of the Absolute Subject, or trinity, logically precedes the definitions of individual hypostases in their specific relationship, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This trinity is the original given, which is realized, concretized in the Holy Trinity. … three hypostases is rooted in the very nature of the absolute subject and therefore does not need any specific justification. The dogma of the Holy Trinity says that one God exists in three hypostases, having an inseparable single being, and all of them are of equal honor, and each of them is the one true God, and the Most Holy Trinity is the one true God …

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Главы о Троичности
Сверхразумность Догмата о Святой Троице

The non-self-sufficiency of the subject makes it relative.

The Absolute Subject in itself contains those conditions that the relative subject has outside of itself.
The Absolute Subject itself is everything necessary for its existence.
The Absolute Subject is the Trinity Subject, one and many in its trinity, realizing personal self-consciousness in the depths of the divine life of the One Subject in all its images.

What conditions does the Absolute Subject meet, by virtue of which He can, in fact, be the beginning and foundation for relative subjects? It must contain in Itself those conditions that the relative subject has outside of itself. I don't exist without you and him; it is revealed only in we and you. It is conciliar in its consciousness, being singular in existence. Therefore, it needs to get out of itself and seeks its justification outside of itself. But this lack of self-sufficiency is precisely what makes it relative. In the Absolute Subject, this lack of self-sufficiency and this relativity must be overcome. He himself must be everything necessary for his existence. The Absolute I must be in itself and for itself and the Absolute You and the Absolute He, it must be in itself and for itself the absolute We and You. … Revelation teaches about the Absolute Subject as a Trinitarian God, and this teaching is exactly the same; which corresponds to the postulates that are revealed in our self-consciousness I. The doctrine of St. Trinity, exceeding the boundaries of being known to us and comprehended by the mind, fully responds to these postulates of personal self-consciousness. The Absolute Subject is the Trinity Subject, one and many in its three hypostases, realizing personal self-consciousness in the depths of the divine life of the One Subject in all its images.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Главы о Троичности
Свойства Абсолютного Субъекта

Trinitarian axiom

The absolute subject, the conciliar, trinitarian I, already has in itself a kind of absolute correlation in the absolute. It cannot but be trinitarian.

One can formulate the trinitarian axiom:
all hypostases are equally hypostatic and indifferent in this equal hypostaticedness of their own, and hypostatic attributes in this hypostatic self-determination do not play a decisive role.

The absolute subject, the conciliar, trinitarian I, already has in itself a kind of absolute correlation in the absolute. It cannot but be trinitarian, before and apart from all attributes. And it has a certain self-existence, even when abstracted from these attributes (it goes without saying that this abstraction can only be produced in the thought of επινοία). The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in addition to fatherhood, sonship and sanctification, are three completely equivalent and similar I, the true hypostatic faces of a single trihypostatic absolute subject, each of which speaks of Itself: I, and of the other: You, and We. And this I, as such, does not even depend on the hypostatic image of being, the very ὔπαρξις does not depend on τρόpos τῆς ὑπάpξεως, it logically and ontologically (certainly not chronologically) precedes it. And the attributes themselves do not determine hypostases, but only express their concrete relationship in the unity of trihypostatic being. If we take them in pure hypostaticedness, then there will be no hypostatic difference between them, each hypostasis is equivalent in its hypostaticedness, there is I for myself, you and he for other hypostases, and we together with them, and through this trinity each hypostasis separately, like the three hypostases in unity, is the hypostatic face of the Absolute Subject. In this sense, it is possible to express the trinitarian axiom: all hypostases are equally hypostatic and indifferent in this equal hypostaticedness of their own, and hypostatic attributes in this hypostatic self-determination do not play a decisive role. Three suns united in one sun: each sun is the same sun as the other, does not exist separately from the others, and yet expresses the trinitarian sun.

Sergius Bulgakov
Учение об ипостаси и сущности
в восточном и западном богословии

The subject (and subjects) of the relationship exists before this relationship, it is relied upon by them, and not vice versa.

The Absolute Spirit is trinitarian, having a single essence. The divine hypostatic I in each of the hypostases and in their trihypostatic unity must be understood in its own absoluteness, in self-positing, and not in the relativity of emergence. The subject (and subjects) of the relationship exists before this relationship, it is relied upon by them, and not vice versa. And without this primordial presence of hypostases, they cannot arise in any relationship…

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Учение об ипостаси и сущности
в восточном и западном богословии

The doctrine of St. Trinity should come from the fact of trinity, as catholicity I in an absolute self-sufficient subject, and not deduce hypostases from attributes or intradivine relations.

Hypostases exist not because there are hypostatic properties, but these properties appear as an expression of the being of self-existing hypostases. In other words, there is no supra-hypostatic or non-hypostatic being in which hypostases arise together with distinctive properties, and they are supposedly the essence of these same properties or relationships, as scholastic theology directly teaches. The doctrine of St. Trinity should come from the fact of trinity, as catholicity I in an absolute self-sufficient subject, and not deduce hypostases from attributes or intradivine relations, as Eastern theology has also taken this path in the face of the Cappadocians and the Western in the face of the Blessed Augustine, followed by scholasticism. It cannot but be trinitarian, before and apart from all attributes.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Учение об ипостаси и сущности
в восточном и западном богословии

Trihypostaseity

The life of the trihypostatic God is a pre-eternally realizing Fulness. By trihypostaseity the solitude of the Absolute subject, his aloneness, is overcome. The Trihypostatic God is one in His triunity, but not alone…

With the victory of Orthodoxy, homoousianism, faith in the trihypostatic God, over the doctrine of the monoadic monohypostaciety of the Godhead, the whole formulation of the question about the relations of God anf the world is changed. It is now impossible to say about the trihypostatic God that which inescapably has to be said about the monohypostatic monad that needs the world: the life of the trihypostatic Godhead as Love, as preeternal mutuality and self-revelation is absolutely self-sufficient and complete, it needs no one and nothing and cannot have any supplementing. The trihypostatic God lives in Himself, i.e., in the Holy Trinity, and this Life is a pre-eternally realizing Fulness. Hence the world is not necessary for God himself and it is powerless to add any supplementing to the Fullness. The world is entirely a creation of the generous and magnanimous love of God, a love which gives and which receives nothing. God is necessary for the world as its foundation and goal, but not the reverse. By trihypostaseity the solitude of the Absolute subject, his aloneness, is overcome, and thanks to this victory the monohypostatic God is compelled as it were to create the world. The Trihypostatic God is one in His triunity, but not alone…

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
The Doctrine of the Wisdom of God
in St. Athanasius the Great and Other Church Fathers

In order to clarify this question it is necessary to distinguish (of course, in the abstract) the immanent Trinity from the economic Trinity, the supra-eternal life of the Holy Trinity in Itself from Its trihypostatic revelation in creation. Let us first investigate trinitarity in its immanent aspect. Here, Revelation gives us the fact of the divine triunity of the Father, Son, and Spirit: Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, the one Name, the one God the Holy Trinity. Not three in unity, but triunity; and not one, but unifiedness in Trinity. This is the divine number, which does not exist in the natural world, but which is a super-number for the latter: the three in one. This super-number refers not to things, which can be counted in their separateness and juxtaposition, but to the Divine Person or Persons, Who has or have one unified, but not common, natural life.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter
Trinitarity and the Third Hypostasis, p.53

Relationships of mutual revelation

Hypostases are connected with each other by mutual revelation.
The hypostasis of the Father is self-revealing, and the Son and the Holy Spirit are revealing.

…the hypostasis of the Father is self-revealing, and the Son and the Holy Spirit are revealing. Hypostases are connected with each other not by relations of origin, as the dominant doctrine teaches, but by mutual revelation. In the relationship of the hypostases, the threefold, and not its dual nature, must also be sustained, for in the latter case the Trinity would be split into two dualities. In this sense, the «taxis» or the order of hypostases in the Holy Trinity is also explained.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter. About Godmanhood. Part II
(Автореферат) Журнал "Путь" №50

…both hypostases [Word and Spirit] “indivisibly and inseparably” reveal the Father both in eternal life, in Divine Sophia, and in creation, created Sophia. God the Father reveals himself for Himself in Sophia, which is one, but there are two Sophian hypostases: the Word of all words, as the ideal content, and the Spirit, which manifests it in Beauty: in Sophia, “ideality is real, and reality is ideal”, and the adequacy of the relationship of both opening hypostases does not eliminate their separateness, despite their inseparability. Therefore, it is wrong to correlate the Divine Sophia with only one hypostasis, the Logos or the Holy Spirit, no, both of them open it only in Their indivisibility.

This duality is also expressed in the fact that the fullness of the image of God in man is realized in two principles of the spirit - male and female, which only in their union, but together and in their separate personality, show the image of eternal Humanity in St. Sophia. This analogy also leads us to the understanding of the fact that in God-manhood the incarnated Logos assumes a masculine nature for himself, while the Holy Spirit chooses the Virgin Mary as the Spirit-bearer, so that the fullness of God-manhood is expressed only by this pair: Jesus-Mary.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter. About Godmanhood. Part II
(Автореферат) Журнал "Путь" №50

The Father is revealed in the God-manhood of the Son and the Holy Spirit; in this sense, He is Himself God-manhood.

The ancestral hypostasis, as transcendent in the Holy Trinity itself, and therefore in creation, however, is immanently revealed in the revealing hypostases. And this idea of a transcendent-immanent Beginning provides the only possible way out of the philosophical aporia, the correlation of the transcendent and the immanent. The Father, revealing himself through the dyad of the Son and the Spirit, thereby reveals Himself in Sophia and in this sense, the self-revelation of the Father and He himself is Sophia (although not vice versa). The Father, who is in the eternal Sophia, is also the Father in the created Sophia, for a person adopted by God through the incarnation of the Logos from the Spirit of adoption. The image of the Father is inscribed in heaven and on earth, in eternity and in creation. At the same time, attention is drawn to the fact that the Father in the Word of God is predominantly and even almost exclusively called God and is in this sense God (ho theos, auto theos) par excellence. Such is He in the Holy Trinity, in pre-eternal Humanity, the Divine Sophia, such is He in earthly humanity, the created Sophia, — God-manhood. The Father is revealed in the God-manhood of the Son and the Holy Spirit; in this sense, He is Himself God-manhood. And to Him, the heavenly God and Father, heaven and earth pray: Our Father, who art in heaven! Abba Father!

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter. About Godmanhood. Part II
(Автореферат) Журнал "Путь" №50

The Nature of Spirit

Personal consciousness of self is proper to the nature of spirit: “I am that I am,” Jehovah, says the Lord. Spirit is, above all, personality as personal consciousness of self, as “I.” An impersonal (“unconscious”) spirit is a contradiction. But this I is not an abstract self-consciousness that is not connected with anything and empty for itself (even the dreaming I of Hinduism at least has its dream and lives in it). It is a living I (“I am that I am”), the subject of a certain objectivity, the subject of a certain predicate, the receptacle of a certain content. The living I has its own life. It is the source of this life and its fullness, its beginning and end. The personal spirit thus has in itself its own nature, in which it lives, ceaselessly realizing itself for itself through this nature, defining itself and revealing itself to itself. This indissoluble unity of the personal self-consciousness, of I and its nature, grounding the life of the personal spirit, is the spirit's limiting intuition of itself and also the initial ontological axiom. … God possesses personality and nature, hupostasis, phusis, or ousia. As a result, God is a hypostasis that has its own nature, and precisely in this sense He is a living personal spirit. Such a definition of personal spirit is applicable to any spirit, divine, angelic, or human. The distinctive property of the Divine Spirit is that this Spirit is not only a personal but also a trihypostatic spirit, a trihypostatic personality, which, however, has one nature and, accordingly, one life (not a life in common, but precisely one life), just as every unihypostatic spirit has one nature and one life.

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