Written by an anonymous priest-monk living in asceticism on the Holy Mountain of Athos, The Watchful Mind is the fruit of a life of deep prayer. The unknown writer was a hesychast—a practitioner of stillness and the Jesus Prayer—and in these pages he shares with readers his hidden life, a life filled with spiritual struggles, ecstatic experiences, and mystical revelations. Moved by a burning love for Christ, the author does not give us a neatly composed reflection on the spiritual life, but rather an account of his own passionate search. This work is a deeply personal account of one holy man’s unique journey in the life of contemplation. It touches on many aspects of the spiritual and ascetic life, particularly the hesychastic themes of watchfulness, spiritual warfare, and prayer of the heart.
About the Translator: The Rev. Dr. George Dokos received his doctorate in theology from the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. He has published several works of St Nikodemos the Hagiorite and currently serves the parish of Sts Peter & Paul in Boulder, CO.
Nepsis or “watchfulness”—attentiveness through vigilance and stillness—is the heart of spiritual prayer and comprises the essence of the message of the Philokalia. This little known text by an unknown author demonstrates that, beyond the recent revival of monasticism on Mount Athos, the prayer of the heart never abated there through the centuries. Indeed, the “method” of contemplation (theoria) has always remained vibrant in the lives of numerous unseen and unheard hermits.
This profound book written in 1851 and preserved in the library of our Sacred Monastery of Saint Xenophon represents the fruit of holy and spiritual revelations, painful struggles, and divine experiences and ascents of this humble, unknown ascetic of the Holy Mountain.