Is there any "secret" knowledge in Christ's teaching?
Countless contemporary religious teachers promoting the so-called "universal systems of salvation" are all ready to claim their unity with or kinship to Christianity. Unfortunately, their lie is eagerly accepted by those ignorant of the undistorted teaching of Christ kept in the Holy Orthodox Church. They are ready to regard as having the same nature the miracles, healing in particular, that Christ and His disciples had performed on earth, and the actions of modern healers and psychics of different kinds. They fail to see that there is a striking divergence in methods and, what is even more important, a principal difference in the nature of "supernatural effects" described in the Gospels or having place in the life of Christ's saints, on the one hand, and of those offered by the most variegated conglomeration of modern occultism adepts, on the other hand.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the world's Creator and the Son of God, has the power to govern the laws of nature as their maker and giver. Both before His incarnation and after it, He acts in the world with His uncreated energies - either directly or through His saints, members of His mystical "Body", the Church, and the "vessels of grace". Contrasted to these, sorcerers, arcane doctors and the like, rejecting His commandments and sacraments and thus living outside His Church, have no part in His divine grace. The energies they act with come from a principally alien source and have a perfectly different nature. This book has the aim to show that these "supernatural energies", manifest in various abnormal phenomena, poltergeist, UFO, arcane healing, clairvoyance, etc., come from the rational creatures of parallel world. Where do they take it from and why should they act like that in this visible world, is going to be summed up in the concluding part. It is of really vital importance to realise clearly that the Creator and the rebellious creatures of parallel world have diametrically opposed goals regarding this world, and no compromise is possible between His and their energies.
As there are some superficially similar traits in Christ's and his saints' actions and in those of the miscellaneous occult teachers and their followers, who always try to imitate Christianity and are specially fond of expatiating on "Christian" topics, it is absolutely necessary to know the opinion of the Church on all the subjects in question. But the Church's opinion should be learnt not from newspaper accounts (as mass communication media have too long a tradition of distorting the Orthodoxy and discrediting the Church), but from ecclesiastical sources, from inside.
The true teaching of Christ, carefully preserved by the patristic tradition, insists on the paramount importance of the inner work to gain the purity of heart or its freedom from passions. The uncreated grace of the Holy Spirit, received in the Church sacraments, first purifies a man from passions (understood as distortions of the soul's faculties), as he strives for Christ's commandments, and then sanctifies soul and body, making a Christian a god by grace through participation in Christ. This life-long process, known in the patristic literature as deification in Christ, gradually transforms a man into a living member of Christ's mystical body, participating in the life of the Most-Holy Trinity by the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is called participation in the Kingdom of God, of which Christ has taught us that it is "within" (Lk. 17: 21) and "cometh not with observation" (Lk. 17: 20). It means that the renewed, deified state of our psychosomatic structure should not be sought before the purity of heart, and possessing powers and signs - before the freedom from passions. Participation in the life of the Holy Spirit, the gradual, life-long acquisition of the divine grace - this is which constitutes the desired abiding of God in man and the longed-for residing of man in God, which Christ had called the Kingdom of God which is within man, who is made by its presence a "partaker of the divine nature" (2 Peter, 1: 4).
On the contrary, living not in accordance with Christ's commandments, according to one's passions, leads to the loss of the grace of God. Its return is achieved through repentance (it is no accident that Christ's sermon began with the word "Repent…") and conscious Christian life that requires great personal effort, daily struggle against sin. It must be stressed, that the Kingdom of God is at one and the same time a gift (as given by grace and not achieved by merely human efforts) and a fruit of an ascetic struggle against passions, especially the pride. Christ was always stressing it: "… the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth unto it" (Lk. 16: 16); or in Matthew: "… the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Mt. 11: 12). And St. Paul compares this forcing oneself with crucifixion: "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5: 24). He follows here the "Prince of life" Jesus (Acts 3: 15) who deliberately went to Golgotha so as to teach us the only salubrious way in this postlapsarian world: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mt. 16: 24).
These New-Testament "violence", i>"cross" and "striving against sin" (Heb. 12: 4) undertaken with the aim to gain freedom from passions and Christian perfection in accordance with Christ's commandments, have nothing to do with the understanding of self-perfection in various occult doctrines. The latter offer bodily and mental exercises that all presuppose a man's self-centredness, his full autonomy and dependence on his own efforts. A Christian remembers his Lord's words: "I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (Jn. 15: 5).
A yogi or reiki system adept follows the path of self-perfection cherishing the sensation of his own significance and proudly reaches his goal - which is in its essence a destruction of God's protection and opening for a contact with a creature of parallel world, one of the fallen spirits. A Christian resists sin "unto blood" (Heb. 12: 4) always bearing in mind that "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5: 5).
An occultist covets supernatural gifts as a reward for his imaginary deserts - it seems unnecessary to explain who is his "benefactor" when he finally gets what he wishes. A Christian is thirsty for Christ Himself, and repentance is step by step bringing him closer to his Saviour.
So, Christian self-perfection goes hand in hand with the measure of humility (for there are different degrees of overcoming the pride), as a man grows in understanding that his efforts are nothing without God, grows in knowing himself and knowing Christ. He comes to know how it is, that God saves him Himself by His own grace, but the latter does not come unless he makes his best resisting sin and working over his heart. Such simultaneous action of God and man in a man's salvation is called in patristic language sunerg…a (sunerge…a) - a co-action, collaboration. It was dogmatically formulated in "The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith", the main document of the 1672 Jerusalem Council.
If God Himself dwells in man, has He not the power to give him everything he really needs? When the faith is firm, bodily health shifts to the back rear: a Christian knows that the more he cares about the divine grace, the more God provides him with everything necessary. When the love of God multiplies in man, he does not care much for himself: he knows well that an illness may sometimes prove much more advantageous for his spiritual state than perfect bodily health, and learns to be grateful for both.
No, there had never been any "secret knowledge" in the teaching of Christ, neither on the healing practice, nor on anything else. The message of the whole Gospel is the great mystery of Theoanthropos, God Incarnate, the mystery preached unto gentiles - that is, opened to everyone who wishes to know. The main consequence of this great mystery is the mystery of deification of man in Christ, performed by the divine grace of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the purpose of Christian life is viewed as uniting with the divine grace - a life-long task open to everyone and necessary to be fulfilled here, in this our earthly existence (cf. the Parable of the ten maidens, where the "oil" is unanimously understood by the holy fathers as the divine grace).
Speaking of the gift of healing, sometimes received by Christian saints, we should bear in mind that it is in fact God Himself who acts through His saints, and that He acts when He finds it useful. Likewise He heals many people through the holy sacraments of the Church, these divine channels that communicate His grace to people. Each Orthodox priest, I think, sees many such cases, sometimes really wondrous, every year. In fact, thousands are being healed from both bodily illnesses and passions when they come with sincere faith to the Confession, followed by the sacrament of the holy oil and by the Holy Communion, but priests do not talk of it much. First, is may give their inexperienced and spiritually naive flock an occasion to ascribe such cases to the priest's personal qualities. And that may, secondly, spoil the priest himself, for pride is irrational and makes its way even when mind speaks against it. There were great men who fell through this most dangerous passion. That is why many true miracles are wisely covered with silence.