Τρίτη, 2 Μαρτίου 2010

THE LIFE OF BLESSED HIEROMONK SERAPHIM ROSE

Father Seraphim was born into a typical white middle class Protestant family in San Diego in 1934. While growing up, he was the proverbial dutiful child and academic achiever. After high school, however, he began to passionately seek the answer to the question "Why?"--and, not finding it in the society in which he had been raised, he began to rebel. He refused to accept the accepted answers. This was at the very beginning of the modern counterculture, the early 1950's. Father Seraphim became a student of one of the counterculture's first pioneers, Alan Watts (whom he realized later was totally pseudo) and became a Buddhist Bohemian in San Francisco. He learned ancient Chinese in order to study the Tao Teh Ching and other ancient Eastern texts in their original language, hoping thereby to tap into the heart of their wisdom. By this time he had wholly rejected the Protestant Christianity of his formative years, which he regarded as worldly, weak, and fake; he mocked its concept of God and that that it "put God in a box." He Read Nietzsche until the Prophets words began to resonate in his soul with an electric, infernal power.

All this time, he had been seeking the Truth with his mind, but the Truth had eluded him. He fell into a state of despair which he described years later as a living hell. He felt he did not fit in the modern world, even his family, who did not understand him. It was as if he had somehow been born out of place, out of time. He loved to roam under the stars, but he felt that there was nothing our there to take him in--no God, nothing. The Buddhist "nothingness" left him empty, just as it did the founder of the Beat movement, Jack Kerouac; and, like Kerouac, Father Seraphim turned to drink. He would drink wine voraciously and then would pound on the floor, screaming to God to leave him alone. Once while drunk, he raised his fist to heaven from a mountaintop and cursed God, daring Him to damn him to Hell. In his despair, it seemed worth being damned forever by God's wrath, if only he could empirically know that God exists--rather than remain in a stagnant state of indifference. If God did damn him to hell, at lest then he would, for that blissful instant, feel God's touch and know for sure He was reachable



"Atheism," Father Seraphim wrote in later years, "true 'existential' atheism, burning with hatred of a seemingly unjust or unmerciful God is a spiritual state; it is a real attempt to grapple with the true God Whose ways are so inexplicable even to the most believing of men, and it has more than once been known to end in a blinding vision of Him Whom the real atheist truly seeks. It is Christ Who works in these souls. The Antichrist is not to be found in the deniers, but in the small affirmers, whose Christ is only on the lips. Nietzsche, in calling himself Antichrist, proved thereby his intense hunger for Christ..."

In searching through various ancient religions and traditions, Father Seraphim once went to visit a Russian Orthodox Church. Later he wrote of his experience.

"For years in my studies I was satisfied with being 'above all traditions' but somehow faithful to them... When I visited an Orthodox Church, it was only in order to view another 'tradition'. However, when I entered an Orthodox Church for the first time (a Russian Church in San Francisco) something happened to me that I had not experienced in any Buddhist or other Eastern temple; something in my heart said this was 'home,' that all my search was over. I didn't really know what this meant, because the service was quite strange to me and in a foreign language. I began to attend Orthodox services more frequently, gradually learning its language and customs... With my exposure to orthodoxy and Orthodox people, a new idea began to enter my awareness: that Truth was not just an abstract idea, sought and known by the mind, but was something personal--even a Person--sought and loved by the heart. And that is how I met Christ."

On becoming Orthodox Father Seraphim continued to despise modern world and hoped for nothing from it; he wanted only to escape it. He felt no less, if not more, estranged from the Christianity he had been raised in, for while that Christianity was at home in the world, his was radically otherworldly. He had finally found the designation of man's existence, and it was this: man is meant for another world.

Father Seraphim's was an ascetic Faith. He wanted a Christianity that emphasized not earthly consolation and beliefs, but rather heavenly redemption through suffering on this earth. No other kind rang true to him who had suffered much. Only a God Who allowed His children to be perfected for heaven through suffering, and Who Himself set the example by coming to a life of suffering--only such a God was capable of drawing the afflicted world to Himself and was worthy to be worshiped by the highest spiritual faculties of man.


In his journal, Father Seraphim wrote: "Let us not, who would be Christians, expect anything else from it than to be crucified. For to be a Christian is to be crucified, in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example--and warning--to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for through crucifixion is the only path to resurrection. If we would rise with Christ, we must first be humbled with Him--even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world.

"And we must be crucified outwardly, in the eyes of the world; for Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, and the world cannot bear it, even in a single representation of it, even for a single moment. The world can only accept Antichrist, now or at anytime.

"No wonder, then, that it is so hard to be Christian--it is not hard it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, leads more surely to one's own destruction. And that is way we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds. We must ultimately choose--our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both.

"God give is the strength to pursue the path of crucifixion; there is not other way to be Christian."

Before he had found the truth, Father Seraphim had suffered for the lack of it. Now, having found it, he suffered for the sake of it. He devoted the rest of his life to living that truth, and killing himself to give it to others. Together with a young Russian man, named Gleb Podmosphnesky, he formed a Brotherhood which practiced the "Do it yourself" philosophy. They opened a bookstore in San Francisco and began printing a small magazine called the Orthodox Word by hand on a small letterpress, translating Ancient Christian texts and bringing Orthodox Literature to America. Later, to avoid the emptiness of the city, they moved their printing operation to the wilderness of Northern California, where they began to live like the ancient desert dwellers, of ancient times. There was not running water on their forested mountain, no telephone, no electric lines. They built their buildings themselves out of old lumber taken from pioneer dwellings and hauled water on their backs up the mountain. They lived with deer, rabbits, bear, foxes, squirrels, bats, mountain lions, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.

In 1970 the became monks, thus dying forever to the world. In the wilderness Father Seraphim's spirit began to soar "The city," he once said, "is for those who are empty, and it pushes away those who are filled and allows them to thrive."

Working by candlelight in his tiny cabin, Father Seraphim created a great number of original writings and translations of ancient ascetic texts. In America his writings have so far reached only select circles but in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain they have had and incalculable impact on human lives. During the communist era, Father Seraphim's writings were secretly translated into Russian and distributed in the underground press (samizdat) in the form of typewritten manuscripts. By the time the fall of Communist power in 1991, Father Seraphim was known all over Russia. Today his books are on sale everywhere in Russia, including book tables in the Metro (subway) and on the street. The reason that he has made a much greater mark on Russia that on his homeland is because in Russia people knew how to suffer. Father Seraphim's message of underground Christianity, of suffering and persecution in this world for the sake of truth, touches a responsive chord in people who have already been crucified. In America people would rather hear the "nice" messages of preachers like Rev. Robert Schuler (who, by the way, broadcasts his show in Russia, where people can hardly believe how stupid it is). I met Father Seraphim a year and a half before his death in 1982. Like him, I had been seeking reality through Eastern religions, etc., by seeking to escape pseudo-reality through a Zen-like breakdown of logical thought processes. Finally, reduced to despair, I listened to Sid Barrett's two schizophrenic-withdrawal, childhood-regression solo albums over and over, until I had memorized all his word salads. One day Father Seraphim came to the campus where I was going to school. He drove up in an old beat up pick-up truck and emerged in his worn out black robe, his long hair, and his exceedingly long grey beard which had become matted. I was the image of absolute poverty. Next thing I remember I was walking with Father Seraphim through the college. Dinner had just ended and students were milling and hanging around the outside cafeteria. Everyone was staring at Father Seraphim, but he walked through them as naturally as if he had been at home. I the middle of a progressive American college, he seemed like someone who had just stepped out of the 4th century Egyptian desert.

Father Seraphim went to a lecture room and delivered a talk called "Signs of the Coming of the End of the World." He had happened to be sick at the same time and sniffled throughout his lecture. Obviously exhausted, he yet remained clear-headed, cheerful, and ready to answer questions at length. I could see that he was at least as learned and far more wise than any of my professors, and yet he was clearly a man of the wilderness, more at home in the forest than in a classroom.

What struck me most about Father Seraphim was that here was a man who was totally sacrificing himself for God, for the truth. He was not a university Professor receiving a comfortable salary for being a disseminator of knowledge, nor was he a religious leader who hankered after power, influence, or even a bowl of fruit to be placed at his feet, as did the "spiritual masters" who had followings in that area. He was not "into religion" for what could he get out of it; he was not looking for a crutch to "enjoy spiritual life." He was just a simple monk who sought the Truth above all else. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would die for that Truth, for I could see he was dying for it already.

-Monk Damascene
Source: http://www.deathtotheworld.com/seraphimrose/index.html



Simplicity - Chapter 87 from Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works

by Hieromonk Damascene


Be humble, and you will remain whole.
Be bent, and you will remain straight.…
Appear plainly, and hold to simplicity.
—Lao Tzu [1]
In 1979, during an informal talk after the St. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, Fr. Seraphim spoke to his brothers and sisters in Christ on the theme of simplicity. Even before his conversion he had encountered this virtue in the writings of the pre-Christian Chinese sages, who by observing and contemplating the created order had understood simplicity and humility to be the “Way of heaven.” In the God-man Jesus Christ he had found this “Way” incarnated, and had heard the call: Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 18:3).
“A pagan philosopher in China named Lao Tzu,” Fr. Seraphim told the brothers and sisters, “taught that the weakest things conquer the strongest things. There is an example of this here at our monastery. The oak trees, which are very hard and unbending, are always falling down, and their limbs are always breaking off and falling; while the pine trees, which are more supple, fall down much less often before they are actually dead.
“That is, if you bend, it is a sign of strength. We can see the same thing in human life. The person who believes in something to such an extent that he’s going to stand up and ‘cut your head off’ if you don’t agree with him—he shows his weakness, because he’s so unsure of himself that he has to convert you to make sure that he himself believes.”
Fr. Seraphim said that in order for us to “bend” like the pine trees, our hearts must be transformed. “The way,” he said, “is to soften the heart, to make the heart more supple.”
“In the Protestant world, we have many examples of people with soft hearts, who, for the love of Christ, are kind to other people. That is basic Christianity. We should not, in living an Orthodox life, think that we can be cold and hard and correct and still be Christians. Being correct is the external side of Christianity. It’s important, but not of first importance. Of primary importance is the heart. The heart must be soft, the heart must be warm. If we do not have this warm heart, we have to ask God to give it, and we have to try ourselves to do those things by which we can acquire it. Most of all, we have to see that we have not got it—that we are cold. Therefore, we will not trust our reason and the conclusions of our logical minds, with regard to which we must be somewhat ‘loose.’ If we do this, entering into the sacramental life of the Church and receiving the grace of God, then God Himself will begin to illumine us.…
“The one thing that can save us is simplicity. It can be ours if in our hearts we pray to God to make us simple; if we just do not think ourselves so wise; if, when it comes to a question like, ‘Can we paint an icon of God the Father?’ we do not come up with a quick answer and say, ‘Oh, of course it’s this way—it says so in such and such Sobor [Council], number so and so.’ Either we, knowing that we are right, have to excommunicate everyone, in which case we will go off the deep end, or else we have to stop and think, ‘Well, I guess I don’t know too much.’ The more we have this second attitude, the more we will be protected from spiritual dangers.
“Accept simply the Faith you receive from your fathers. If there is a very simple Russian priest you happen to be in connection with, give thanks to God that you have someone like that. You can learn a great deal from him: because you’re so complex, intellectual, and moody, these simple priests can give something very good to you.…
“As soon as you begin to hear or think to yourself critical statements [about people in the Church], you have to stop and warn yourself that, even if it’s true—because often those statements are true to some degree—this critical attitude is a very negative thing. It will not get you anywhere. In the end it may get you right outside the whole Church. Therefore, you have to stop at that point and remember not to judge, not to think you’re so wise that you know better. On the contrary, try to learn, perhaps without words, from some of those people whom you might be critical of.…
“If we follow the simple path—distrusting our own wisdom, doing the best we can with our mind, yet realizing that our mind, without warmth of heart, is a very weak tool—then an Orthodox philosophy of life will begin to be formed in us.” [2]

As Fr. Seraphim taught simplicity, so also he lived it. Many people remember how this brilliant man, whose intellectual abilities far surpassed their own, provided them with a constant example of how to be simple. In the words of the biographer of St. John Climacus, Fr. Seraphim had renounced the “conceit of human wisdom.” [3] Here is the account of a pilgrim to the St. Herman Monastery named John:
“When I first met Fr. Seraphim, I had almost finished my freshman year in college. Already I considered myself somewhat of a deep thinker, one who did battle with ‘ultimate questions’ on the path of Truth. I noticed that most of the people around me were not interested in this: either they were too old, tired, and jaded to take up such battles, or, if they were young, they were more interested in having fun or making money in business or computers….
“Seeing in Fr. Seraphim a kindred philosopher, I longed to have deep discussions with him about those ultimate questions. He always listened patiently as I expounded all my ‘profound’ ideas, but he didn’t expound himself: usually he only made simple, succinct comments. I was a bit puzzled by this at the time, but now it makes sense. Now, nearly a decade later, it seems that almost all of those simple comments have remained imbedded in my memory forever.
“I first became interested in Orthodoxy by studying its most exalted teachings. The first Orthodox books I read were Mystical Theology by St. Dionysius the Areopagite, and The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky. I was attracted to ineffable concepts such as the ‘Divine Darkness’ of apophatic theology.
“Fr. Seraphim, however, was always bringing me down to earth. After I was made a catechumen at the monastery, I was expected to learn about the Faith in preparation for baptism. I thought I already knew a lot, dealing as I was with such lofty metaphysics. But when I went to Fr. Seraphim’s cell to talk to him, one of the first questions he asked me was: ‘Do you know about the fasts of the Church?’
“‘I think so,’ I replied. ‘There’s Lent, and another fast before Christmas …’
“‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Do you know about the Apostles Peter and Paul Fast?’
“I was ashamed to say I did not recall hearing that such a thing existed.
“‘This is a very important fast of the Church,’ he said, and went on to describe what it was and why it was done. ‘Someone calculated,’ he said at last, ‘and it turns out that there are more fast days in the Church Calendar than there are non-fast days.’
“This rather surprised me. I believe Fr. Seraphim was trying to tell me that being baptized did not mean feeling important with exalted theology and philosophy, but taking on a life of struggle, of labor and sacrifice for Jesus Christ. In his own unobtrusive way, he was leading me out of the ‘Divine Darkness’ and to the foot of the Cross, the vehicle of our salvation.
“During the year of my catechumenate, I took a university course on the Philosophy of Religion, for which I wrote two highly rated papers I was rather proud of. The first paper was called ‘Reflections on Kant’s “Purely Rational Religion.”’ I gave this to Fr. Seraphim for him to read. I suppose I was anticipating a little praise. Later, I asked him if he had looked at it, and he said he had.
“‘What did you think of it?’ I asked.
“‘It was a little over my head,’ he answered.
“This left me speechless. Later I discovered, much as I suspected, that Fr. Seraphim had made a thorough study, not only of Kant, but of many philosophers I had never even heard of, and that he had a much more penetrating understanding of Western philosophy than my university professors. Why, then, did he say that my eleven-page sophomore paper was ‘over his head’? Clearly, to teach me simplicity and its sister-virtue, humility.
“My other paper was on Søren Kierkegaard, whose philosophy was so full of paradox and intellectual challenge that one could spend days talking about it.
“‘What do you think of Kierkegaard?’ I asked Fr. Seraphim.
“‘I always felt sorry for him.’ Those were the only words Fr. Seraphim had to say to me on the subject. His statement had to do, not with the mind, but with the heart. In thinking more about Kierkegaard—his struggle to maintain Christian zeal amidst the general lukewarmness of his Church, to uphold Christian faith against a barrage of Hegelian philosophy, and to overcome the contradictions in his own personality—I realized later that nothing more precise could be said of him than those few words of Fr. Seraphim.” [4]

Another pilgrim, Paul, recalls his futile attempts to enter into intellectual debates with Fr. Seraphim. As a pastor of a Protestant church, Paul was convicted in his heart by the spiritual depth of Orthodoxy. In order to prove that Orthodoxy was not the true way after all, he wanted to win an argument with Fr. Seraphim. Fr. Seraphim would ask if he had questions, but Paul would try to start arguments instead. As he later confessed, “I came to Fr. Seraphim not with questions but with opinions.”
At one point Paul worked out an elaborate polemic against Orthodoxy based on the fact that pogroms against Jews had occurred in pre-Revolutionary Russia. When he approached Fr. Seraphim and began setting forth his points about the pogroms, the latter replied, “I don’t have to defend something that is obviously not Christian.” As Paul recalled later, “That reply shred all my pre-planned arguments to pieces!”
On another occasion, when Paul challenged Fr. Seraphim with the question of whether he, a Protestant, would go to heaven or hell, Fr. Seraphim replied, “Who am I to say whether you’re going to heaven or hell?”
“Fr. Seraphim would just not enter the Protestant dialectic,” Paul later observed. “He would just say, ‘The Holy Fathers said …’”
At other times, when Paul would speak to Fr. Seraphim in a contentious tone, trying to provoke him to debate, Fr. Seraphim would say nothing at all, but would simply stand up and walk away. “This taught me a profound lesson,” Paul now says. “From his silentness and his unwillingness to argue, Fr. Seraphim taught me that faith is something you receive not otherwise than as a little child.” [5]
After Fr. Seraphim’s repose, Paul regretted that his competitive approach robbed him of precious opportunities to receive wisdom from someone he remembered as a true man of God. He was eventually baptized as an Orthodox Christian, and today he is an active and dedicated member of the Church.

A young monk who joined the hermitage from another monastery remembers well his first meeting with Fr. Seraphim. Unlike the pilgrims in the above accounts, this monk did not regard himself as an intellectual. He felt somewhat intimidated about meeting Fr. Seraphim, whom he already knew to be a profound and “intense” Orthodox writer.
When told by Fr. Herman to go talk to Fr. Seraphim in his cell, the monk did so nervously. Fr. Seraphim invited him in and he sat down, wondering what in the world a “simpleton” like himself was going to say to this wise and deep man with a long gray beard and penetrating eyes.
Suddenly Fr. Seraphim asked him: “Do you know anything about picking mushrooms?”
“No …” the new brother answered.
A veteran mushroom picker, Fr. Seraphim was able to tell, with openhearted enthusiasm, about all the edible mushrooms found in the area. The brother felt instantly more at ease. It was just what he needed: to hear about the simple joys of monastic life.

In seeking simplicity, Fr. Seraphim fled from what he called “spiritual pretense and affectation.” [6] He had none of the “pride of monastic life” that makes some love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces (Mark 12:38). One woman convert to Orthodoxy recalls:
“I was still a Protestant when I met Fr. Seraphim. Icons, relics, monasteries, the idea of ongoing repentance—all this was still foreign to me.
“While visiting an Orthodox friend, I was told that Fr. Seraphim would be coming. I tried to mentally prepare myself. When he walked in, he looked so different, with his long beard, long hair, and long robe. I told myself that this was not really him, but just an external appearance, and that I had to see beyond it. I tried to separate the person from the outward impression, since with so many people the latter has very little to do with the former. But with Fr. Seraphim I just couldn’t do it. I found that what I saw was Fr. Seraphim; that is, his Orthodox Faith, his monasticism, the black he wore as a symbol of repentance—this was part of what he really was inside. They were inextricably bound together.” [7]
Fr. Seraphim also fled from praise and glory as from a flame. Once, during a question-and-answer session after one of his Summer Pilgrimage lectures, a man raised his hand and began praising Fr. Seraphim as a “holy man of prayer.” Fr. Seraphim cut the man off sharply. “Get to the point,” he said. “What’s your question?”
At the same pilgrimage Fr. Seraphim was approached by a young spiritual seeker who worshipped the very ground he walked on. Not yet knowing Orthodox “etiquette,” the young man spontaneously crossed himself and bowed before Fr. Seraphim when asking for a blessing. “You’re supposed to cross yourself before icons,” Fr. Seraphim told him, “not people.”

Taking example from Bishop Nektary and, through him, from the Optina Elders, Fr. Seraphim sometimes used humor as a pastoral tool. We have seen that he did not like too much levity in the monastery, how he disliked to see brothers standing around giggling. At the same time, he knew that too much seriousness would not be good for weak Americans, especially young ones. As a spiritual father, he had to take into consideration how the boys and young men at the monastery had been raised. These young people needed a little consolation, a little joke now and then to lighten the atmosphere. Otherwise, they would begin to take themselves too seriously, thereby becoming the criterion by which everything else is judged; or else they would sink into a pit of despondency out of which it would be very difficult to emerge.
Those who knew Fr. Seraphim recall that he had a wonderful sense of humor, though one which, like everything else about his personality, was understated. One story has been told by the same young monk whom Fr. Seraphim had talked to about mushrooms:
Once in the refectory, Fr. Herman was expatiating on the futility of modern technological civilization. “They build skyscrapers high into the air,” he was saying. “They compete to see who can build them higher. And they keep on building, building, building. When will it all end? They can only build so high—and then what?”
“Why then,” Fr. Seraphim said, “King Kong comes.”
Fr. Alexey Young notes that “Fr. Seraphim had a fondness for practical jokes which, unless you had been there, would have seemed very out of character. Nothing low-minded or cruel, mind you, but once in a rare while he would play a modest little practical joke on someone.” [8]
One of Fr. Seraphim’s spiritual daughters provides an example: “Sollie [Solomonia] once told me a story which reflects Fr. Seraphim’s humor. It was at the monastery after a rain and there were puddles around, and he told Sollie to come and look at the duck that was in one of the puddles. He told her to be very quiet so she wouldn’t scare it, so she was. Then he began to chuckle softly, and she realized that it was a fake duck … a decoy!”
Another woman pilgrim, who had been introduced to the monastery only a year before Fr. Seraphim’s death, remembers being surprised at seeing Fr. Seraphim engaged in a snowball fight with the boys at the monastery. At first she thought that this looked out of place; but then, as she entered more deeply into Orthodox life, she realized that yes, it did fit here.
Fr. Herman has said: “When I first met Fr. Seraphim, he never would have lowered his dignity enough to start a snowball fight.” It was only in his later years, when he had become a pastor and had to care for the needs of American boys, that he could be seen doing this. Fr. Seraphim also played catch with the boys.

Another virtue of Fr. Seraphim, bound up with simplicity and humility, was patience. “If I possess any patience at all now,” Fr. Herman says, “I learned it from Fr. Seraphim. I think that’s the main thing he taught me.”
In his counsels to his spiritual children, Fr. Seraphim often said that their spiritual survival depended on having patience amidst trials. “The devil is walking about like a lion in our midst,” he said, “but by our patience and endurance of trials we can get the best of him, with God’s help.” [9] Once, when Fr. Alexey Young wrote that he was beset with various difficulties, Fr. Seraphim replied that the “chief answer to your questions” was contained in the words of the Epistle of St. James: Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing (James 1:2–4). [10] In another letter to Fr. Alexey, Fr. Seraphim noted that “It is much better to learn patience and humility than it is to get everything as one wants and then discover … that inside one is empty. May God grant us to trust Him as He guides our daily lives better than we could.” [11]
For Fr. Seraphim, patience was an indispensable virtue not only because it kept one on the path to salvation in the midst of trials and temptations, but also because it kept one from leaping off that path out of misdirected spiritual zeal. “By taking one small step at a time,” he once said, “and by not thinking that in one big leap we are going to get any place, we can walk straight to the Kingdom of Heaven—and there is no reason for any of us to fall away from that. Amen.” [12]

Endnotes

The following abbreviations have been used in these Notes:
ER—Eugene Rose
FSR—Fr. Seraphim Rose
LER—Letter of Eugene Rose
LFSR—Letter of Fr. Seraphim Rose
JER—Philosophical Journal of Eugene Rose, 196062
OWThe Orthodox Word
SHB—St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California
CSHB—Chronicle of the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, written by Eugene/Fr. Seraphim Rose
Letter, Journal and Chronicle dates are according to the civil calendar, except where a Church feast day is indicated, in which case both the Church (Julian or "Old" Calendar) and civil (Gregorian or "New" Calendar) dates are given.
Most of the letters of Fr. Seraphim cited in this book were preserved in carbon copy by Fr. Seraphim himself; some were sent by their recipients to the author for publication in this book. In some of the references to letters the names of the recipients have been abbreviated, and in others the names have been omitted altogether in order to protect the privacy of living persons.
The book Letters from Fr. Seraphim by Fr. Alexey Young includes many letters that were not preserved by Fr. Seraphim in carbon copy. When we have quoted these letters directly from this book, references to the book have been given.
1. Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, chapters 22, 19, trans. Ch'u Ta-kao (London, 1937), pp. 32, 29.
2. Informal talk by FSR during the New Valaam Theological Academy, which followed the St. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, August 1979. Published in part in FSR, "Raising the Mind, Warming the Heart," pp. 3233.
3. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), p. xxxv.
4. Reminiscences of the author.
5. Informal talk at the St. Herman Monastery on the 20th anniversary of Fr. Seraphim's repose (Sept. 2, 2002).
6. Manuscript of a short history of the St. Herman Brotherhood, written by Fr. Seraphim ca. 1975.
7. Reminiscences of Agafia Prince.
8. Interview of Fr. Alexey Young by Russkiy Pastyr', March 9, 1999.
9. LFSR to Fr. Mark, July 7, 1976.
10. LFSR to Alexey Young, Oct. 31, 1972.
11. Ibid., Jan. 20, 1975.
12. FSR, "Raising the Mind, Warming the Heart," p. 34.
From Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (Platina, CA: St. Herman Press), pp. 834-841. Copyright 2003 by the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California. 

Hear interviews with Hieromonk Damascene and Abbot Gerasim about the life of Fr. Seraphim on a special edition of "The Illumined Heart" on Ancient Faith Radio on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Fr. Seraphim's repose:
(These are MP3 files for download):
 Source: http://strannik.com/watchful_gate/node/9

Tradition and Truth As A Person


A Letter Of Hieromonk Seraphim Rose To A Spiritual Seeker
Fr. Seraphim wrote the following letter toward the end of his
life. He was addressing a young man whom he had never met, but
whom he had heard was interested in the writings of the French
metaphysician Rene Guenon. As stated earlier, it was Guenon who
had first taught Fr. Seraphim the necessity of orthodoxy and of
tradition. This understanding had led him to value the Chinese
tradition with its strong sense of orthodoxy, and Gi-ming Shien
as an authentic transmitter of that tradition; and had finally led
him to embrace the traditional expression of Christ's revelation in
Orthodoxy. In an unusual turn of ideas, Fr. Seraphim shows in this
letter how his path to tradition and orthodoxy enabled him to find
Truth that is ultimately not a tradition at all. He acknowledges
his identity as a Westerner and affirms the Christian roots of the
West, then explains that the path of Christ is not specifically
Western or culture-bound.

In this letter it will be seen how Fr. Seraphim falls into neither
"fundamentalism" nor syncretism. Religious fundamentalism (believing
that anything from a tradition outside one's own must be wrong) is
intellectually satisfying to narrow minds, while religious syncretism
(believing that all traditions are equal) is satisfying to broad
minds. In avoiding both extremes, Fr. Seraphim followed a path that
was not intellectually satisfying at all, for such is the path of
Truth. As he himself wrote. "When I became a Christian I voluntarily
crucified my mind, and all the crosses that I bear have only been
a source of joy for me. I have lost nothing and gained everything."

Dear Ken,
Solomonia (Rhonda) has shared with me your recent letter to her
and in reading it I sense in you a kindred spirit to whom a word
from me might not be in vain.
It so happens that Rene Guenon was the chief influence in the
formation of my own intellectual outlook (quite apart from the
question of Orthodox Christianity). I read and studied with eagerness
all his books that I could get hold of; through his influence I
studied the ancient Chinese language and resolved to do for the
Chinese spiritual tradition what he had done for the Hindu; I was
even able to meet and study with a genuine representative of the
Chinese tradition [Gi-ming Shien] and understood full well what he
[Guenon] means by the difference between such authentic teachers
and the mere "professors" who teach in the universities.
It was Rene Guenon who taught me to seek and love the Truth above
all else and to be unsatisfied with anything else; this is what
finally brought me to the Orthodox Church. Perhaps a word of my
experience will be of help for you to know.
For years in my studies I was satisfied with being "above all
traditions" but somehow faithful to them; I only went deeper
into the Chinese tradition because no one had presented it in the
West from the fully traditional point of view. When I visited an
Orthodox Church, it was only to view another "tradition"--knowing
that Guenon (or one of his disciples) had described Orthodoxy as
the most authentic of the Christian traditions.
However, when I entered an Orthodox Church for the first time (a
Russian Church in San Francisco), something happened to me that
I had not experienced in any Buddhist or other Eastern temple;
something in my heart said that this was "home," that all my search
was over. I didn't really know what this meant because the service
was quite strange to me, and in a foreign language. I began to attend
Orthodox services more frequently, gradually learning the language
and customs, but still keeping all my basic Guenonian ideas about
all the authentic spiritual traditions.
With my exposure to Orthodoxy and to Orthodox people, however,
an new idea began to ender my awareness: that truth was not just
an abstract idea sought and known by the mind, but was something
personal--even a Person--sought and loved by the heart. And that is
how I met Christ. I am now grateful that my approach to Orthodoxy
took several years and had nothing of emotional excitement about
it--that was Guenon's influence again and it helped me to go deeper
into Orthodoxy without the ups and downs that some converts encounter
when they are not too ready for something as deep as Orthodoxy. My
entrance into the Orthodox Church occurred at the very time I left
the academic world and gave up the attempt to communicate the Chinese
tradition to the Western world. My Chinese teacher also left San
Francisco shortly before this--my only real contact with the Chinese
tradition--and in Guenonian fashion he disappeared utterly, leaving
no address. I remember him fondly, but after becoming Orthodox I
saw how limited was his teaching: the Chinese spiritual teaching,
he said, would disappear if communism endures in China. So fragile
was this tradition--but the Orthodox Christianity I had found would
survive everything and endure to the end of the world--because it
was not merely handed down from generation to generation, as all
traditions are; but was at the same time given from God to man.
I look back fondly now on Rene Guenon as my first real instructor in
Truth, and I only pray that you will take what is good from him and
not let his limitations chain you. Even psychologically, "Eastern
wisdom" is not for us who are flesh and blood of the West; Orthodox
Christianity is clearly the tradition that was given us--and it can
be clearly seen in the Western Europe of the first ten centuries,
before the falling away of Rome from Orthodoxy. But it also happens
that Orthodoxy is not merely a "tradition" like any other, a "handing
down" of spiritual wisdom from the past; it is God's Truth here
and now--it gives us immediate contact with God such as no other
tradition can do. There are not many truths in the other traditions,
both those handed down from a past when men were closer to God,
and those discovered by gifted men in the reaches of the mind; but
the full Truth is only in Christianity, God's revelation of Himself
to mankind. I will take only one example: there are teachings on
spiritual deception in other traditions, but none so thoroughly
refined as those taught by the Orthodox Holy Fathers; and more
importantly, these deceptions of the evil one and our fallen nature
are so omnipresent and so thorough that no one could escape them
unless the loving God revealed by Christianity were close enough to
deliver us from them. Similarly: Hindu tradition teaches many true
things about the end of the "Kali Yuga"; but one who merely "knows"
these truths in the mind will be helpless to resist the temptations
of those times, and many who recognize the Antichrist (Chalmakubi)
when he comes will nonetheless worship him--only the power of Christ
given to the heart will have the strength to resist him.
It is my prayer for you that God will open your heart, and you
yourself will do what you can to meet Him. You will find there
happiness you never dreamed possible before; your heart will join
your head in recognizing the true God, and no real truth you have
ever known will be lost. May God grant it!
Feel free to write whatever is in your mind or heart.
With love, Fr. Seraphim

Source:http://strannik.com/watchful_gate/node/24

Fr. Seraphim Rose: Christianity is the Religion of Love




"God's revelation is given to something called a loving heart. We know from the Scriptures that God is love; Christianity is the Religion of Love. (You may look at the failures, see people who call themselves Christians and are not, and say there is no love there; but Christianity is indeed the religion of love when it is successful and practiced in the right way.) Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says that it is above all by their love that His true disciples are to be distinguished."

- Fr. Seraphim Rose 
 
Source: http://orthodoxchristian-postmodern.blogspot.com/2010/01/fr-seraphim-rose-christianity-is.html