The purpose of this paper is to offer a comparative exploration of the imiaslavie movement ("the worship of the name") that developed on Mount Athos in the years preceding World War I, and the kind of visualization practices that are common in some currents of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the Nyingma school. The first part of this paper will situate the imiaslavie movement within the broader context of Athonite practice, mapping the continuity of this peculiar phenomenon with earlier practices in Eastern Christian monasticism such as Evagrian "noetic" spirituality, the Christocentric emphasis of the theology of deification, and the emergence of the Jesus prayer. This exploration of the movement's historical background will then foreground its extraordinary character, as well as the uniqueness of its theological claims and of its understanding of mental prayer in the context of the transformation of the individual. The second part of this paper will explore the theology of the Buddha-nature that undergirds different visualization practices developed and systematized by Nyingma practitioners within Tibetan Buddhism; particular attention will be given to Jamgön Kongtrul's brief nineteenth-century treatise Creation and Completion, a work mapping one's inner journey toward identification with different deities and tantric figures who are eventually revealed to be manifestations of awakening. The last part of this paper will underscore the points of contact, but also the conceptual and practical differences between these two different approaches, underscoring their distinctive assumptions about soteriology, anthropology, and the nature of ultimate reality.


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pp. 245-260
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