August 6, 2017

Elder Paisios in the Light of the Transfiguration

By Dionysios Farasiotis

One day, when I was leaving Elder Paisios’s cell, I recalled something that was troubling me and I mentioned it to him: “Elder, that yogi, Niranjan, was able to produce a light.” “What kind of light?” he asked. “Once, when we were all sitting around him, his body suddenly started to give off a golden-yellowish light in the form of a continually expanding sphere, which eventually engulfed us all. I wasn’t the same afterwards – it altered my way of thinking. What was that light?”

Without saying a word, the elder gently lifted up his hand and placed it on my head. Suddenly, the entire yard was flooded with a light that welled forth from the elder and could be seen in all directions. It was as powerful as a flash of lightning, but it was continuous, showing no sign of passing away. Although it was intense, it didn’t hurt my eyes. On the contrary, I couldn’t get my fill of looking at this sweet, immaterial, noetic light. And, although the light was supernatural and rare – not like a white light, but more like glass, or water – there was still something so very natural about it that it didn’t startle me, but instead granted me a profound sense of joy. This light was all-embracing and intoxicating, yet it left my movements peaceful and my mind extremely lucid. Although I was absorbed by the vision of this light, I continued to see my natural surroundings. My five senses continued to function normally, while alongside of them another sense, a spiritual kind of vision, had begun to function as well. Although it was around noon and the sun was shining brightly, when the immaterial light began to emanate from Father Paisios, the sun’s light seemed weak by comparison, like that of the late-afternoon sun.

I didn’t say a word, but I understood many things. Afterwards, when I reached the Monastery of Koutloumousiou, the monks could see that I was deeply changed and asked me, “You’re coming from Father Paisios, aren’t you?” I nodded my head. This experience left a mark on my soul that I can still feel twenty years later, even though the intensity of my feelings waned within a few days. It left my soul with a sweet peace, which deeply changed me in a mystical, hidden way.

Truly, if I had remained ignorant of the light that came forth from the elder, I would have remained impressed by the enchanting light of the yogi – which was, in fact, truly remarkable. But after my experience, I naturally made the comparison between the light of Niranjan and the light of the elder. These two lights were as vastly different as an old piece of tin differs form a bar of solid gold, as falsehood differs from truth, and as man differs from God. The elder’s invincible light not only surpassed the light of the yogi, but it utterly prevailed over it. … words just weren’t sufficient to grant me true understanding, so he had granted me this spiritual gift so that I could understand the difference by experience.

Once, when I was speaking with the elder about the lights that one sees during meditation, he told me, “We don’t want to see those kinds of lights, so we turn away from them. When I was at the hermitage of Saint Epistimi in the Sinai desert, I would leave my cave at night and go to pray at a neighboring peak … One night, when I had walked a few steps from the cave, there appeared a light as bright as a spotlight that illuminated the whole region as though it were day. I realized that it was from the evil one and said to myself, ‘I don’t want to see that kind of light,’ and I returned back to the cave."

The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios, by Dionysios Farasiotis (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 2008, pp. 258-260).