The Divine life
In the works of
Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The trinitarian self-revelation in Divine life
The trinitarian self-revelation in Divine life, or Sophia, contains two inseparable acts: self-depletion, which is the kenosis in birth;
and self-inspiration, which is the glory of the procession. In other words, it contains dying and resurrection, self-depleting ideality and self-accomplishing reality. These are the two forms of Love: its sacrifice and its triumph,
"perfect joy": the Father Who has depleted Himself by engendering and the Son, immersed in ideality, Who has depleted Himself by being engendered;
and in this and above this there is the life-giving Spirit, the
of Divine love in its fullness, in its triumph. By the Holy Spirit the Father loves the Son not as being engendered but as already born. The first movement of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father is toward the Son, upon the Son, in relation to the Son, as the Father's hypostatic love. And the reverse movement of the Holy Spirit is from the Son, through the Son toward the Father, as the Son's hypostatic love for the Father, completing the circular movement of the Spirit from the Father
or, to put it differently, from the Father
the Son. But in this circular movement of the Holy Spirit, besides the hypostatic movement toward the Son from the Father and toward the Father from the Son, besides the Father's love (for the Son)
and the Son's love (for the Father), there is also the very movement of love, which is precisely the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit. This hypostasis entirely dissolves in trihypostatic love. For the Father loves not only the Son but also the Holy Spirit, and He loves Them by the ecstatic love of
and the Son loves not only the Father but also the Holy Spirit;
and He loves Them by a triumphantly ardent love ("I and my Father are one"
[John 10:30]). The Father loves Himself in the Son while the Son loves Himself in the Father, but Both love hypostatic Love itself. The Father
into this Love, and the Son
in It, embracing and receiving It as His own being in the Father. And this hypostatic Love, in turn, loves the Father and the Son, Whose hypostatic unity It is, the hypostasis of Love. The human understanding is given the capacity to know these aspects of the being of the Spirit only discursively, by successively passing from one definition to another, for it knows love only as a state or attribute of a hypostasis, not as a hypostasis in itself.
This transcendence of Love as a
principle expresses a special mystery of the Third hypostasis, its inaccessible and unrevealed character. Love in us is the definitive overcoming of the selfhood with which, for us, even hypostatic being itself is connected. That is why we consider love to be nonhypostatic, only a
of a hypostasis or, more precisely, of hypostases (at least two, if not more). But the Third hypostasis is
Love, although deprived of all selfhood. Like the first two hypostases, the Third hypostasis has, in its
hypostatic life, its own kenosis, which consists precisely in hypostatic
as it were: By its procession from the Father upon the Son, the Third hypostasis loses itself, as it were, becomes only a
the living bridge of love between the Father and the Son, the hypostatic
But in this kenosis the Third hypostasis finds itself as the Life of the other hypostases, as the Love of the Others and as the Comfort of the Others, which then becomes for it too its own Comfort, its self-comfort. In a word, just as birth has both a passive and an active side, so does procession: it is spiration and procession, hypostatic depletion and self-acquisition, kenosis and glorification. The character of the Third hypostasis, of Love, is expressed in this
being, with the inclusion in it of the hypostases who love and who are loved. That is why its hypostatizedness is, as it were, a non-hypostatizedness, a complete transparence for the other hypostases, a non-selfhood. In this sense, Love is
Before this special
of the Third hypostasis, the first two hypostases appear as personalities with selfhood, as it were, as subject and object, or subject and predicate, for which the Third hypostasis is only a copula and is deprived, as it were, of its own content. To be sure, one cannot speak of
in the limited creaturely sense with reference to the Divine hypostases, since each of them has its own kenosis of love. It is possible, however, to distinguish different
of this love and, in particular, to see that, in the Third hypostasis, the kenosis is expressed in a special self-abolition of its personality.3)
The latter disappears, as it were, while becoming perfectly transparent for the other hypostases, but in this it acquires the perfection of Divine life: Glory.
In the creaturely world, this self-abolition has an analogy in the self-determination of the Spirit-bearing Mother of God:
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it unto me according to thy word"
The Holy Spirit is Life triumphant over the kenotic sacrifice, resurrection from the death of kenosis, the triumph of life-giving Love.
The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is the triumphant love of the accomplished sacrificial self-revelation. In the Third hypostasis, in its self-revelation, the Word
sounds and is spoken.
The Father recognizes the Word, raised from the sacrifice of silence, born and begotten;
and the Son recognizes Himself as the Father's Word. The Holy Spirit is Life triumphant over the kenotic sacrifice, resurrection from the death of kenosis, the triumph of life-giving Love.
The Holy Spirit reposes upon the Logos, and the Logos abides in His bosom. The Holy Spirit is life, and love, and the reality of the Word, even as the Logos is, for Him, the determining content, word-thought and feeling, Truth and being in Truth — as the Beauty of self-revealed Truth. …
The Third hypostasis is
the hypostatic revelation not concerning itself.
At the same time, it is also not the
the latter remains
of revelation, as the subject of revelation. The Third hypostasis is contained
the revelation of the Father, as a kind of sacred mystery of this revelation;
it is a
about itself. It is revealed in the other hypostases by its action, as the
spirit of God,
but not in itself, as the hypostatic Holy Spirit. Hypostatic Love is submerged in love and shows itself, testifying
about itself but about Another:
shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you"
That is why, in speaking about the sending down of the Comforter, the Son also speaks about it in this manner:
"A little while, and ye shall not see me;
and again, a little while, and ye shall see me"
in the Holy Spirit, Who manifests not Himself, but the Son and the Father in the Son ("All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you"
[16:15]). The Spirit Himself does not have anything that He can call
so that it is as if He does not exist, although it is precisely in this
that the mode of His existence is manifested — in His inseparability and inconfusibility with the Son.
… the Spirit is His very being as the Son. The Son
the Son by the Holy Spirit, and the proper
of the Holy Spirit is the being of the Son: without separation and without confusion. The Spirit is the transparence of the revelation, while the Son is that which is in this transparence, its content. The Spirit is Life;
the Son is the One Who lives by this Life. Logos becomes an abstract idea if it does not acquire real concreteness in the Spirit;
but without the Word that it contains this concreteness would be a formless void. Sophia is the revelation of the Son and the Holy Spirit, without separation and without confusion.
By the Spirit the Father inspires Himself in His own Word, and this self-inspiration is divine life, Beauty.
The Holy Spirit is this very inspiration.
The Son Himself becomes, both for Himself and for the Father, the revelation of Divinity.
By the Spirit the Father inspires Himself in His own Word, and this self-inspiration is divine life, Beauty. Inspiration is not objectless and empty;
it creatively reveals the
"deep things of God."
Divine life is an act of divine self-inspiration, and in this
a cognitively creative act, in the Word through the Holy Spirit. To be sure, here one must not think of creative activity in the creaturely sense, which is marked by partiality, limitedness, becoming, imperfection. In God, all things are actual and actualized in the Holy Spirit. But inspiration and creative activity have a
and this divine theme is God's own Word, accomplished by the Holy Spirit and inspiring, so to speak, God Himself to creatively posit Himself: the Father as Spirator
the Holy Spirit upon the Son, that is, He is inspired by His own divine theme. The Son Himself becomes, both for Himself and for the Father, the revelation of Divinity, while the Holy Spirit is this very inspiration.