Abstract

abstract:

In Kephalaia Gnostika, the third part of his great trilogy on the ascetic and contemplative life, the early Christian desert monk Evagrios of Pontus made a statement that resonates with the story told by the Buddha in the Aggañña Sutta. Evagrios declared that there had been a time when evil did not exist, and from this premise, he extrapolated that there will come a time when evil will not exist anymore. Both Evagrios and the Buddha, it seems, were essentially optimistic in their teaching, convinced that despite being subject to a "fall," human beings have agency and can work toward establishing virtue in their lives and experiencing the fruits of this labor. In order to do this, a sophisticated understanding of how the mind works is key, and the two teachers, within the lineaments of the thought worlds of their respective backgrounds, explore what contemplation and meditation offer to this end. They also discuss other qualities that contribute to the development of a "gentle warrior," a character recognizable in both traditions and notable for the level to which they have erased subjectivity and their dedication to the achievement of good outcomes. Evidence can be found in both Buddhist and Christian writings of the recognition of correlations between the structure of the cosmos and spiritual or religious experience.

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