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

God. Trinity. Ousia and Hypostases
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

Personalism of the doctrine of God

In the Word of God and in the Church tradition, the personal nature of the Divine is firmly established.

In the Word of God and in the Church tradition, the personal nature of the Divine is firmly established. God the Father speaks of Himself: I, God the Son speaks of Himself: I, and of the Comforter Spirit: He. The whole Holy Trinity in Unity speaks of itself: I and We. This personalism of the revealed doctrine of God, which is pre-emptive of the impersonal conception, is the basis of the patristic teaching on the Holy Trinity, which attempts to express the dogma in the language of religious philosophy, in metaphysical terms, to formulate a logical concept.

Прот. Сергий Булгаков
Учение об ипостаси и сущности
в восточном и западном богословии

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.

God is a Spirit (Jhn 4:24). The nature of any spirit consists in the inseparable combination of self-consciousness and originality, or self-foundation, hypostasis (ύπόστασις, persona) and nature (φὐσις, natura).

In the interrelationship between the I and the nature of the I, the life of the spirit is realized as self-consciousness grounded in itself.

Every spiritual being is conscious of itself as I, is I. From this primary immediacy, the indefinability of the I also emerges.

I exist in an absolute way, bearing in this respect the image and seal of the Absolute Spirit.

The nature of the spirit. God is a Spirit (Jhn 4:24). The nature of any spirit consists in the inseparable combination of self-consciousness and originality, or self-foundation, hypostasis (ύπόστασις, persona) and nature (φὐσις, natura). Outside of self-consciousness, the spirit does not exist, every spiritual being is conscious of itself as I, is I (from this primary immediacy, the indefinability of the I is also clear). This I, uniting in a mysterious and indescribable way with its basis, is the image of being, the revelation of this nature or that which, not itself being a hypostasis, is hypostasized in the I, becomes a living soul. The I has its own depth into which it casts its light, and in this relationship between the I and the nature of the I, the life of the spirit is realized as a self-founded, self-founded self-consciousness. It (I) exists in an absolute way, having on itself in this respect the image and seal of the Absolute Spirit.

The I is indefinable, for it is absolute, everything exists in it.

Self-consciousness of the I is therefore unprovable, but only demonstrable, indicated by a verbal gesture (pronoun).

The I is insoluble, but it is also indefinable. Any attempts to define or describe the I (as aseitas or perseitas, integritas, independentia) concern certain aspects of the special experience of the I, personal self-consciousness, which can only be named, indicated by a verbal gesture (pronoun). The I is indefinable, because it is absolute, everything exists in it, in the rays of its sun, which is the source of light and shadows, shapes and colors, but therefore cannot be determined by them. Self-consciousness of the I is therefore unprovable, but only demonstrable. I am I, and nothing else, it looks into itself, defines itself. It is not subject to time, because above time, it knows neither origin nor death, it remains eternally. Every human I is, in a certain sense, supremely peaceful and absolutely: it is the eye of eternity, through which only one can see time, in it there is an eternal day and no immersion in nirvana. (And the states of sleep and unconsciousness interrupt the empirical self-consciousness, but do not introduce any break in the self-identity of the I.) I have everything in myself and for myself (if not available, then in the possibility).

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Главы о Троичности
1. B. Божество, как абсолютный субъект

The created spirit bears the stamp of non-absoluteness, having its own boundary. The limitation of the created spirit is its monohypostasis. The escape of the created I into other I only multiplies absolute mono-hypostatic centers, leaving their limitations.

Only the non-mono-hypostatic spirit, going into another I does not go beyond its own being.

According to Christian revelation, God is a trinitarian spirit, having three faces and one being, the One in the Trinity and the Trinity in the One.

The nature of the spirit. … It (I) exists in an absolute way, having on itself in this respect the image and seal of the Absolute Spirit. But it also bears the stamp of its non-absoluteness, or creatureliness, having its own border, and this border is the monohypostatizedness of the spirit. Any I is limited, because it inevitably turns into you or we, i.e. to other I [ … ], and cannot be unaware of the possibility, and, consequently, the inevitability of such a way out. The attempt of the I to lock itself in Luciferically, loving oneself with absolute love, makes him only a victim of this limitation of his, affirmed as absoluteness (Fichteanism). The boundary I is vitally removed in love, where I is preserved, destroying itself, going beyond its limits to another I, and then it becomes the image of the Absolute Spirit in relation to his hypostatic existence. The absoluteness of the hypostasis is resolutely opposed by the limitedness of I, taken in the singular, it requires going beyond this line. But in the created nature, this limitedness is only reaffirmed by this exit, for here, next to one I, other I are placed, absolute centers multiply, and this multiplicity testifies to their relativity. This could be absent only in that one case, if the exit to another I is not an exit beyond the limits of its being, but remains inside it, therefore, it will take place not in the single-hypostatic, but in the not-single-hypostatic spirit. According to Christian revelation, God is a trinitarian spirit, having three faces and one being, the One in the Trinity and the Trinity in the One: “The One, moving from the beginning to the two, stopped at the Trinity” (St. Gregory of Nazianzus). The absolute mono-hypostatic, having itself and everything in an unconditional way, would be not only a contradictio in adjecto, but also an expression of metaphysical egoism, absolute limitation, Satanism. But if the postulate of the not-mono-hypostatizedness of the Absolute Spirit is also accessible to the limited spirit, then the secret of this non-mono-hypostatizedness of the Absolute Spirit cannot be revealed by him in the implementation, it becomes the subject of a frank teaching about the Holy Trinity, which, to a degree accessible to the created consciousness, brings it closer to its comprehension.

Hypostasis, person, I, exists, having its own nature, i.e., its revelation, which is constantly said and never completely uttered, which it realizes as its own being (in its various shades or modalities).

At the basis of self-consciousness, as well as any act of thought that captures it, lies the trinity of moments, the trinity, which is expressed in a simple proposition: I am A. Generalizing this in logical-grammatical terms: subject, predicate and connective, one can say, that the basis of self-consciousness is the sentence. The spirit is a living, unceasingly self-realizing sentence. … Each sentence can be reduced to the type of connection of the I with its predicate, it can even be said that, having a true subject of the I, it is, in its entirety, the predicate of this I, because in relation to the I, everything, the whole meaning is a predicate. And each assertion is a new and new self-determination of the I, if not in form, then in essence. Each assertion is ontologically brought to the general relation of subject and object, which are nothing but I, hypostasis, and its nature, revealing its content, its predicate, it is also brought into connection with the subject connective of being. … I, self-closed, located on an inaccessible island, to which no thinking or being reaches, finds in itself a certain image of being, expresses itself in the "predicate" and cognizes this image as its own creation, self-disclosure, which is the connective. In this sense, our whole life, and therefore all our thinking, is a continuously realized sentence, it is a sentence consisting of a subject, a predicate and a connective. …

… Hypostasis, person, I, exists, having its own nature, i.e., its revelation, which is constantly said and never completely uttered, which it realizes as its own being (in its various shades or modalities). …

The hypostatic I is indefinable in its very essence. Being I, the hypostasis, everyone knows what is this about, although it is inexpressible (but only utterable). It is the very essence of hypostasis that it is indefinable, indescribable, stands outside the word and concept, and therefore cannot be expressed in them, although it is constantly revealed in them. Before the face of the Hypostasis, silence is appropriate, only a mute mystical gesture is possible, which is not called by a secondary, reflective act, but “instead of a name” is denoted by a “pronoun”, I [Булгаков С.Н., Философия имени]. … For the I, the hypostasis, is truly a thing-in-itself, a noumenon, and it, that is, the spirit itself, forever remains transcendent to thought in its nature, position, and relation to it. But the transcendent is always and inextricably linked with the immanent, immanentized; the subject, the hypostasis, is always revealed, expressed in the predicate. It goes without saying that the hypostasis in this sense is not a psychological I, psychological subjectivity, which is already a determination of the hypostasis, a predicate, not a subject: the spirit is not psychological, and the hypostasis is in no sense psychologism. … For hypostasis there is no rise and fall, no beginning or end. Timeless, at the same time it is supertemporal, eternity belongs to it, it is eternal in the same way and in the same sense as God is eternal, who Himself breathed His Spirit out of Himself into man at his creation. Man is the son of God and the created god, and the image of eternity is inherent in him inalienably and inseparably. Therefore, a person can neither conceive nor wish for his own destruction, i.e., the quenching of I. (and all suicide attempts are a kind of philosophical misunderstanding and do not refer to the I itself, but only to the mode of its existence, not to the subject, but to the predicate). The hypostatic I is the Subject, Subject to all predicates, its life is this predicate, infinite in both breadth and depth.

Прот. Сергий Булгаков
Трагедия философии
О природе мысли

Trinitarian axiom

Trinitarian axiom:
The Holy Trinity is a divine triunity which is exhaustive and perfect in Its fullness, which is trine and integral in all Its definitions.

… it is necessary to set forth the following trinitarian axiom: The Holy Trinity is a divine triunity which is exhaustive and perfect in Its fullness, a triunity of interrelations which is trine and integral in all Its definitions, without any disjunctive or conjunctive "and" connecting the separate hypostases. Every hypostasis in separation, as well as their triunity, must be understood in trine connection and in trine self-definition, which form the Whole, the Holy Trinity.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter
Ch. 1. The Place of the Third Hypostasis in the Holy Trinity

General thesis, which is a kind of axiom concerning the Holy Trinity:
the three hypostases, in their character, are not single and not double, but trine.

But besides this there is also the triune nature of the consubstantial Trinity, which is substantially identical with the nature of each of the individual hypostases, while differing from this nature modally, as it were, according to the mode of its hypostatic possession. This difference refers, of course, not to its ousian essence but to the mode of its possession by the Holy Trinity in the triunity and by each individual hypostasis.

The Holy Trinity is the trinitarian act of the self-definition of the hypostases; and each of the elements of this trinitarity, despite the aseity and equi-divinity of the three hyposcases, is correlative to the other two hypostases and in this sense is conditioned by them. The fullness of natural being, as self-revelation, is given only in the trinitarity of the hypostatic self-definitions. Naturally too, the Holy Trinity exists only trinely, «consubstantially and indivisibly», which is why each of the individual hypostatic modes of natural being does not simply exist, but coexists in its indivisibility with the others. Therefore, in general, none of the hypostases in its separate personal being can be understood except in trinitarian conjugacy. This leads to a general thesis, which is a kind of axiom concerning the Holy Trinity: the three hypostases, in their character, are not single and not double, but trine. They must be understood not on the basis of themselves alone, but on the basis of their trinitarian union; they are defined and shine noc only wich their own lighc, but also with the light reflected from the other hypostases. It follows that all three hypostases must be understood in a distinctly personal as well as trinitarian manner; and any doctrine that transforms the Holy Trinity into a system of originations and dyads is fundamentally deficient.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter
Ch. 2. The Procession of the Holy Spirit

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
Ch. 1. I. Trinitarity and the Third Hypostasis

Self-definition of Hypostases

The interrelation of the hypostases, as the interrelation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, should be understood not on the basis of their origination but on the basis of their concrete self-definition.

The Father is called Unengendered in relation to the Son, but this is only a negative definition. The Father is called principle, source, cause, initial hypostasis, for from Him the Son is engendered and the Holy Spirit proceeds. But this does not signify that the Father is the cause of Their origination (auto to einai), for the hypostases do not originate. They exist eternally. The interrelation of the hypostases, as the interrelation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, should be understood not on the basis of their origination but on the basis of their concrete self-definition. The Trinity of hypostases is already given in its being in the very interior of the absolute hypostatic (i.e., trihypostatic) subject by the manifestation of the absolute I as I, Thou, He, We, You. … it should be affirmed that the three hypostatic centers of the triune Subject are already given apart from their hypostatic qualification as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The entire problematic of originations, particularly with reference to the Holy Spirit, is connected with the impersonalistic presupposition of the primacy of the divine nature with respect to the hypostases, and the latter must therefore originate in the nature. On the contrary, existence as subjects, i.e., independently of the nature, is proper to the three hypostases, although, to be sure, such an opposition or distinction is possible only in abstracto, not in re.

The generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit cannot be generalized and counted as two «originations». Rather, these are two images of God in these two images of love. The Father is the Subject of this self-revelation, the Principle, the «Cause»; whereas the Son is the One Who gives Himself for this revelation of the Father. He is the One Who reveals the Father, the One Who Speaks, the Word. Generation here should by no means be understood in the anthropomorphic sense of origination or production, for this aspect of generation belongs only to temporal being, to being that has an origin. It must be understood as a spiritual image of the love of the Engendering One and the Engendered One, but by no means as the image of the originating one and the originated one.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Comforter
Ch. 2. The Procession of the Holy Spirit

Nature in the Godhead is His eternal life, self-determination, self-positing, actus purissimus. The Divine Person is Himself the only source of His ousia or life.

In the Divine there is a complete unity of self-consciousness and essence, act and fact, self-positing and self-determination, self-consciousness and self-knowledge or self-revelation.

Nature here is completely transparent to self-consciousness and is realized by it in an absolutely exhaustive way. In the Divine, all life is hypostatic through and through, and hypostaticity lives, life and self-consciousness are inseparable.

7. Hypostasis and Ousia, the Person and Being of God. The nature of the created, absolutely relative spirit, which is incomprehensible from itself, becomes understandable only from the absolute spirit, which impresses itself in the relative spirit with the postulates of absoluteness. The distinction between hypostasis and ousia in itself has nothing in itself that would not correspond to the absoluteness of the being of God, and, according to Revelation, God is a Personal Being who has infinite life in himself. Deu XXXII, 40: «For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever». Correlation, inseparability of hypostasis and ousia we have learned in the nature of the created, relative spirit. However, in it we came across insurmountable difficulties and contradictions, which, obviously, cannot relate to the Absolute Spirit. The definition of life as an origin, formation, process is inapplicable to the Absolute Being. The life of the Divine is eternal life, in which nothing changes or is added, but everything is contained in a single, eternal act, and there is absolutely no place for temporality and emergence. With God there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1, 17). “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Ps 102:25-27). “For Thou art God, unspeakable, ignorant, incomprehensible, everlasting, likewise” (from the Eucharistic Prayer of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). Eternal life means that everything inherent in the Deity is inalienably inherent in Him, is inextricably linked with His personal self-consciousness. Eternity is imprinted in the personal self-consciousness of even the created spirit, I has self-consciousness as non-arising and supertemporal. In the Absolute Spirit, in his personal self-consciousness, His vital self-determination is also juxtaposed as eternal life. But this also means that life, inseparably merged with personal self-positing and included in it, has in itself nothing emerging, incomplete and imperfect, no potentiality, nothing meonal. Therefore, it is not for the Absolute Spirit in any degree and in any sense a given, as inherent in it and its determining nature or necessity. No, it is entirely, to the end and through arise an act, in which there is no fact, given, product. Nature in the Godhead is His eternal life, self-determination, self-positing, actus purissimus. The Divine Person is Himself the only source of His ousia or life. Divine life is hypostatically transparent, and absolute self-consciousness does not meet any boundaries for itself in any given. Hypostatic self-positing and voluntary, essential, vital self-determination here is a single identical act, and there is nothing in the life of the Divine that would not be completely actual. Hypostasis and nature, so perceptibly distinguishable in the created spirit, are united in the Divine in a single identical act of absolute self-positing: I am, Yahweh, I am, which I am.

But if so, what does the patristic distinction between hypostasis and ousia mean in the Divinity? This distinction, of course, does not in any way presuppose their separation or even a certain opposition, as is the case to a certain extent in the created spirit, which recognizes its own nature and recognizes itself in its nature, in which it turns out to be a given for itself, and in a known degree and assignment. Such a distinction and in such sense cannot be in the Divine, in which there is no this opposition, but there is a complete unity of self-consciousness and essence, act and fact, self-positing and self-determination, self-consciousness and self-knowledge or self-revelation. The divinity in this sense is on the other side of the opposition of hypostasis and ousia, personality and nature, self-positing and givenness, or, what is the same, freedom and necessity, act and fact. This distinction itself is a matter of abstraction, human imagination (ἐπίνοια), without which a person cannot bring Divine Life closer to his understanding, realize his own thought about it. The positive concept of ousia, in contrast to the hypostasis, is the vital self-revelation of the individual, which is not only naked self-consciousness: I is I is I…, but concrete, living, self-saturated and self-opening being: I am who I am, Jehovah, I am the Existing, Living God.

From this follow some further dogmatic definitions. Nature (φύσις) in the Godhead differs from His hypostasis, but it can neither be separated from, nor, all the more so, opposed to this latter. There is no nature without hypostatic or non-hypostatic (ἀνυποστατος), and on the contrary, the whole life of the Godhead is hypostatic (ἐνυπόστατος). Any dogmatic construction that does not distinguish between hypostasis and nature in the Godhead, just like one that secretly or openly separates and opposes them, is fraught with error.

Thus, in contrast to the created spirit, which in its own nature has a given that is completely unknown to itself, in the Divine there is no place for anything unknown to darkness (or the βύθος of the Gnostics), no givenness, and no corresponding predeterminedness. Nature here is completely transparent to self-consciousness and is realized by it in an absolutely exhaustive way. If we apply Aristotelian concepts here, we will have to say that in the divine entelechy δύναμις and εντελέχεια coincide completely, and there is nothing possible that is not real, and in everything and over everything the all-seeing eye of Personal Self-Consciousness sees. There is no place here for any it, anything subconscious, no object opposed to the subject. Such a fusion of hypostasis and nature is inaccessible to the created spirit, because in itself it finds them only in their opposition. However, for him, too, life consists precisely in the constant overcoming of this opposition, in the identification of the act and the fact, in self-creation. This creative and self-creative element of his spirit, as the main one, is recognized by a person in himself. He overcomes the opposition I and not-I in the creation of life, and this is the image of the Absolute Spirit in a created being, the breath of life that the Creator Himself breathed into His creation (Gen 11, 7). Life is self-revelation and self-creation for the created spirit, however, not in a single eternal act, but in a temporary becoming, which becomes understandable only from its supertemporal foundation. The life of the created spirit is a ray from the single source of Life, the Living God. In the Divine, all life is hypostatic through and through, and hypostaticity lives, life and self-consciousness are inseparable.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
Главы о Троичности
7. Ипостась и Усия, Личность и Существо Божие

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