Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meaning of Metanoia

“Metanoia comes from the Greek 'metanoiein', to transform one's mind; from 'meta' + 'noein', to think from mind ('nous'), especially as regards awakening one's consciousness to broader dimensions of spiritual realty and meaningful existence.”

The idea of metanoia, of the possibility of such a change, was as far as I know first reintroduced to the West in the 1930's by Maurice Nicoll. The meaning and specific methods, were described in a fragmentary way in the Philokalia translations, among other places, but metanoia -- repentance -- is the essence. This one word is not understood until we realize that it distils the underlying principle, the practical objective, of a complete discipline, one that reaches its goal through a myriad of variations and alternative methods.

Metanoia is the lost essence of Christian spirituality. The first thing we have to understand is that it is possible for Christians to change their character in a fundamental way. Although today metanoia still forms the objective of the practical spirituality of the monks and nuns of the Eastern church, few even of the more important methods of approaching it are understood in the West, and the basic principles, in the form of a complete Christian world view - based on faith, but not on blind belief - seem to have been almost entirely forgotten.

As pointed out in the very beginning of this article, Metanoia is a process of transformation of the consciousness and the translation in scripture to a meaning of ‘repentance’ completely misrepresents the intended meaning.
The purpose of Christ’s life was to show the way as to how each one of our consciousness can be elevated from its current entrapment to a higher level of consciousness through which our true nature can be understood. When we say that Christ died on the cross for our sins, its true meaning is not a process of collective salvation in action but a dedication of an entire life in which every element pointed to the WAY through which the absolute TRUTH can be attained thus making it possible for each one of us to have eternal LIFE. True salvation is in the breaking of recurring cycle of birth and death and attaining the unification with the Divine which is symbolized by the attainment of eternal life.

If we understood and accepted, this process, and the commandments or rules that accompany them, form the foundation of the whole process. They lead -- although normally not without a struggle, not without a strong resistance from past habits -- to a true reversal of direction in the reader, bringing the catechumen to the threshold, the point of entry, of the path of transformation, the path of metanoia. But to enter the path of metanoia is to seek to pass through the strait gate of the gospel, and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” …… (Matthew 19:24.)

Maurice Nicole writes: “All sacred writings contain an outer and an inner meaning. Behind the literal words lies another range of meaning, another form of knowledge. According to an old-age tradition, Man once was in touch with this inner knowledge and inner meaning. There are many stories in the Old Testament that convey knowledge with a meaning quite different from the literal sense of the words. The story of the Ark, the story of Pharaoh's butler and baker, the story of the Tower of Babel, the story of Jacob and Esau and the mess of pottage, and many others, contain an inner psychological meaning far removed from their literal level of meaning.”

Just as there are frequencies of sound and light that man is incapable of perceiving (due to the limits of human hearing and sight) so too there seem to be realms, or "frequencies" constantly radiating "from above," from the spiritual realm, that are inaccessible to our perception until we come upon a more objective understanding of our "condition" and a more faithful interpretation of scripture and the parables. The path that Christ showed is rooted in reality of day to day human existence. A life of constant communion with the Divine Father, through prayer and contemplation, and a life of unconditional love for all creation. This is the ‘Metanoia’ that transforms the human soul in to the seat of the Kingdom of God.

Love to you all


  1. Excellent concept. Going on a tangent, I feel realizing the simple truths of daily life is often like peering at an autostereogram - it's difficult to see the hidden message/picture, but once you see it, you wonder how you blind to it all this time.

  2. Thank you Anand for your insightful observation. We seem to have some telepathic insights. I was pleasantly surprised that you mentioned 'autostereogram' because in one of my previous posts I had mentioned it. Please check out the following link.