“…And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth,
and the top of it reached to heaven:
and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”
Gen. 28: 12
The Scholar said:
“This is a special Ladder of Consciousness by which one undertakes the mystical ascent. With the 3 principal steps representing Faith, Hope and Charity, the Ladder is keeping the opposite sides in balance and has its deep Cabalistic understanding.”
The Saint said:
“This is a Ladder of Spiritual Ascending and it has 30 steps. Taking one step in a year we can reach the level of understanding the Mystery of Christianity. The steps are: Surrender of worldly life, Objectivity, True Pilgrimage, Blessed and alert obedience, Real penance and the inner cloister, Remembering of Death, Happy sorrow, Non-aggression, Removing rancor, Avoiding calumny and slander, Loquacity and silence, Rejecting lies, Avoiding faintheartedness and laziness, Understanding kindness and cunning, Immortal purity, Denying money-madness, Non-attachment, Detachment, Mastering of sleep and the power of prayer, Vigil, Eliminating fear, Uprooting narcissism, Destroying pride, Kindness, Humility, Virtues, Holy silence of the soul and body, Holy and blissful prayer, Understanding Earth and Sky, Unity of the three virtues.”
The Master said:
“The Ladder is our life. We are building the horizontal steps of Balance between the vertical lines of the opposite forces. Any time when we reach the Harmony of the balance between our mind, body and soul – we are building a new step and approaching a new level. How many steps we will build, depend of our self-control, striving for Knowledge and Enlightenment, and connection with the Universal source of the Life. There is not a reason to hurry and there is not a time for rest in this journey.”
Part from Chapter 9 “The Ladder of Spirit” from “Masonic Unity – a Bridge to the Light” by Dimitar Mavrov
“Brother Henri de Claire,
What a night we had at the Monastery?!
I could hardly fall asleep after the talk of the Abbot, grandfather Pahomii, about the ladder of spiritual ascending. That is why, I decided to dedicate the night to using pen and paper to describe it. And serendipitously there is a Full Moon in July, and it wasnot by chance that it was called “the full moon of the teachers”. Because by this spetial light you can truly be taught.
I have just listened previously to legends about the white-headed Saint John of the Ladder, who at the age of 77 transformed his Divine Inspiration and visions into a unique system of 30 steps of human perfection and guidance for the young monks and seekers of Enlightenment.
This unique hieratic consistency of this early Christian Saint, I think, will astonish even the analytical minds around you on the West.
I again dreamed of St. John of Rila, who told me that during my stay in the Monastery I have to write down the most important postulates of the spiritual ladder, and to go, after the completion of the Church, to Constantinople to open a school there to teach the both types of construction, in the physical and in the spiritual worlds.
“This will be my payment for your work”, the Saint said. “If the Masters accept and realize the lessons of Spiritual Initiation they will live in unity with all their Brothers on Earth; in unity with all people and the whole of Nature. Only then they will be able to reach unity with enlightenment!
Let God save and guide you on this noble Path!”
Because of this, I wrote down the words of grandfather Pahomii with great earnestness, and so here are the orders of the Steps of the Ladder or the Steps of Spiritual Ascending”:
1) Step of the Surrender of worldly life;
- For all creatures, being gifted with free will, God is simultaneously life, and Nevertheless they remain faithful or unfaithful, righteous or sinners, pious or impious, sages or fools, strong or feeble, each in his own balance, be they monks or laity. All of them take advantage of the unending Enlightenment, the Sun, sunshine and the motion of the Air; carrying within the God-likeness.
- Everybody who has given up the worldly realm with no doubts, has done it in the name of the future kingdom of Perhaps, becoming aware of their numerous sins they turn to the Love of God more strongly. But if none of these reasons is present, the same surrendering becomes an act of recklessness and madness.
- The secret of inner monkhood comprises the three conditions of the spiritual endeavor: selfless solitude and seclusion; practicing in silence with a spiritual Brother; joining a Brotherhood with spiritual aspirations.
- The Lesson of this Step is that anyone who has stepped in it can never turn back.
2) The Step of Objectivity;
- Listen to what God has said to the young man fulfilling his every wish: You cannot reach unity without doing Charity, and giving to the poor.
- The narrow path we have to follow will reveal itself to us in several ways: through keeping vigil at night, through moderately drinking water, through not being hostile to kind reproaches for our offenses, and following the chosen path without anger and bad feelings towards the other Brothers.
- Nobody can reach the Heavenly Kingdom without performing three surrenders: of things, of desires, of striving for glory.
- The Lesson of the Step is: to avoid attachments.
3) The Step of True Pilgrimage;
- Wandering on a true spiritual pilgrimage is the constant leaving of everything. It is like an inborn wisdom, or unexplainable knowledge.
- More strange is the man who stays always within his own mind, even amongst people of different languages and cultures. Parting with one’s own native and close people-and-places is not stimulated by hatred for them, but by a reasonable avoiding of the damage caused by attachment, and death as a result of unconscious habits.
- A good temperament is built up with lots of trial and error for many years, but can be lost in a minute if integrity is lost.
- The Lesson of the Step is: The initiated one should remain open to new, integral experiences which teach, in a different way the meaning of life and the path.
4) Step of blessed and alert obedience;
- Obedience is found only in putting aside one’s bodily and mental passions in order to achieve a more vibrant and spiritual state of mind. Obedience is action with no resistance, a voluntary death of desires, a life with no vain curiosity; letting-go of the outrage over one’s share of life’s disasters, and the dreams which show us the meaning of our fate.. Obedience is a voluntary death, and resurrection in humility.
- You should share Faith and Love of Truth only completely with God.
- The sharing of every weakness and temptation with the spiritual Teacher shows the extent of real trust in him. Only then each of us can realize what Fraternal Love is, and compassionate appreciation of our brothers’ mistakes and their successes and gifts!
- The Lesson of the Step is: Go ahead with no fear!
5) Step of real penance and the inner cloister;
- Penance is restoration of baptism. It is like a covenant with God to improve life. Penance is the daughter of Hope, and denial of desperation.
- Penance is a cleaning of conscience.
- The Lesson of the step: Cleaning our five senses frees us of the pains due to unconscious suffering.
6) The Step of the remembering of Death;
- The memory of death is an everyday death; and remembering the moment of separation is hourly atonement.
- The fear of Death is a natural human quality.
- The memory of death makes people work, and gives them Nobility. By the way, all virtues are daughters of the Memory of Death.
- Only the person who has lost himself to the outside world can find real life in the remembrance of death.
- The Lesson of the Step: Only the truly initiated one, by remembering death, turns away from wrong actions.
7) The Step of happy sorrow;
- Crying before God is tuning of the soul; such a disposition of a humbled heart which is passionately seeking its real essence.
- Compassion is permanent communication with consciousness which cools the raging heart-fire of the interior confession to God.
- Brothers, we will never be reproached at the time of our death for not working miracles, for not having visions of God’s glory. However, we will have to make an account to God if we have failed to cry with repentance for our errors.
- Lesson of the step: Look for the help of the Brothers who have already achieved enlightened freedom from the errors of one’s epoch.
8) The Step of non-aggression;
- Non-Aggression is a victory over our lowly nature, and being slow to enthuse or anger over successes or failures in life.
- The beginning of non-aggression is suppressing hasty words when the heart is torn; the middle stage is virtuous hiding of the refined processes of one’s soul ; the last stage is keeping the unshakeable silence before the winds of fate.
- Lesson of the Step: Only after acquiring the crown of non-aggression by trying hard, can one defeat the eight passions.
9) The Step of removing rancor;
- The holy virtues are like James’ ladder, and the useless passions, like Peter’s chains. Virtues, being related between each other, lead you the Heavens.
- Rancor means filling-up with anger, hiding one’s sins, alienation and hatred, jealousy and malice. He who has achieved love and recognised the power of the Brothers has left hostility behind.
- The banquet of love destroys hatred; and sincere gifts soften the soul.
- Lesson of the Step: to teach the searcher to ask God to destroy his sins.
10) The Step of avoiding calumny and slander;
- Calumny is a product of hatred, and it feeds on the vital powers of man. It desecrates the heart, and destroys purity.
- Like the good vine-grower, who selects the good grapes and removes the bad ones; in the same way, the reasonable man thoroughly notices his Brother’s virtues, while the wayward one searches for only vices and defects with the others.
- The Lesson of the Step: the initiated one is truly a searcher of love whose very life becomes a reason for tears and sorrow if love is negated.
11) Step of loquacity and silence;
- Loquacity is the throne of the arrogant and self-affected man. It is a sign of unreasonableness, and the door of Precursor of spiritual torpor and lack of attention, mental derangement and the dying-away of spiritual warmth. Loquacity is the lack of understanding of true integrity.
- Reasonable silence is the mother of prayer, and deliverance from mental captivity, a guard of the Divine Fire and creator of insight, the Path of innermost spiritual ascent.
- Only in silence we can speak to God.
- Lesson of the Step: In being of few words we acquire the key to destroy the evil Tower of Babel.
12) The Step of rejecting lies;
- When struck, the iron and stone produce fire; thus, loquacity and humor can create the spark of many lies. It destroys Fraternal Love and mutual respect. It is a tool to deny God.
- The Lesson of the Step: to strengthen the roots of virtues.
13) The Step of avoiding faintheartedness and laziness;
- Faintheartedness is a failing of the soul, and a breakdown of the mind. Laziness and indolence are at its root.
- It causes fever, stomach and headaches, and spiritual
Lesson of the Step: The one who overcomes faintheartedness will strive to perfection in everything.
14) The Step of understanding kindness and cunning;
- Cunning is a product of gluttony. It makes men say: “It’s not enough” no matter how much they are satisfied.
- Gluttony creates the need for spicy thrills, and is the source of passions. If you destroy one of its tentacles, then two will grow in the place of the old one.
- The one who caresses the lion often calms it down; however, the one who pampers the lion’s body, only stimulates the lion’s ferocity.
- Fasting is the only way to tame the passions, to get rid of insane Fasting is the light for the soul. It is the reason of silence, and it destroys all sins.
- The Lesson of the Step: achieving true self-apprehansion.
15) The Step of immortal purity;
- Purity is achieving Unity with the spiritual part of the world. It is the earthly home of the heart.
- Chastity is the comprehensive name for all the virtues.
- Really blessed is the man who is immune to any kind of beauty of the material body.
- The Lesson of the Step: to become aware of the reasons for Death and Resurrection.
16) The Step of denying money-madness;
- Money-madness is adoration of idols, and a daughter of faithlessness.
- Money-madness makes a show of giving, and ends with hatred for the brothers.
- The Lesson of the Step: to achieve disinterested Divine love.
17) The Step of non-attachment;
- The non-attached man is a possessor of the world. He does not need to speak to other people about his needs and problems; he just accepts whatever comes as a gift from God’s hands.
- The non-attached man prays with pure mind, and with no expectations for payment from others.
- The Bible sage Job was just as happy when he had everything, as when he had nothing.
- The Lesson of the Step: to acquire a feeling of easiness of with winds of fate.
18) The Step of detachment;
- Detachment, both physical and spiritual, is the release from the prison of feeling after a long ailment or disaster.
- Detachment is like a divinely mad teacher, beyond petty criticism, but who sees his own faults clearly; and who teaches the others to see.
- The Lesson of the Step: to wake-up the power of spiritual healing.
19) The Step of mastering of sleep and the power of prayer;
- Sleeping is a natural state imitating death with an inertness of feelings. Sleep occurs due to different reasons including one’s diet, inner passions and, sometimes, due to prolonged fasting and abstention.
- Habits of drinking depends on the habits and duration of sleep. Thus, for temperance it is good in the beginning to impose alertness and reduction of sleep.
- Nothing should be done during prayer that might be distracting.
- The Lesson of the Step: to use prayer as the shortest and most direct way to God.
20) The Step of vigil;
- The alert eye purifies the mind, and long sleep hardens the soul;
- Vigil is the suppression of carnal passion, and getting free of dreams.
- The unsleeping man is a searcher of thoughts in the silence of the night.
- The Lesson of the Step: to introduce Light into the middle of the heart.
21) The Step of eliminating fear;
- Timidity is an infantile holdover within an old self-regarding soul. It is a diverting from Faith, as if in a constant premonition of disasters.
- Fear is an anxious feeling of the heart, caused by imaginary disasters and calamities.
- Arrogance is a slave of fear.
- The Lesson of the Step: to penetrate the true reality of the universe with trust and be completely alert at all times.
22) The Step of uprooting narcissism;
- Narcissism is the perversion of morals, and a deformation of naturalness. It is related to wasteful vainglorious work, loss of sweat and lack of spiritual values.
- The narcissist is a slave of his passions and appearance, striving to turn the Brotherhood into an organization, which would serve his own interests and caprices.
- The Lesson of the Step: to avoid pride, which is the real enemy of God.
23) The Step of destroying pride;
- A prideful monk is a man who is attached to virtues as others are attached to passion.
- The true monk is an deep well of humility where all the evil ghosts of pride fall into the abbyss.
- The Lesson of the Step: to recognize how hard the process of acquiring true humility is; even if initiation in it strengthens the power of the spirit considerably.
24) The Step of kindness;
- Kindness is a permanent state of mind that helps a man remain the same in both honor and disgrace.
- Kindness gives one power to refer to the accusers with understanding and to sincerely pray for their salvation.
- Kindness asserts patience, and is the mother of love.
- The Lesson of the Step: to master kindness as a way of salvation.
25) The Step of humility;
- No word could express the real value that a man has. It could be compared to only one thing: a holy humility.
- When a horse is galloping alone it thinks that it is uncatchable, but when it gallops together with other horses and they outruns him it understands how slow it is.
- Humility is like a holy storm that can carry the soul from the abyss of sins to the Heavens.
- The Lesson of the Step: contemplation and humility.
26) The Step of virtues;
- Contemplation in the highest measure is an expression of spiritual consciousness, and a gift of Divine Enlightenment.
- Contemplation is a way of locating one’s soul during its ascent.
- The building blocks of all qualities to be acquired is: obedience, fasting, tears, confession, silence, humility, vigil, bravery, brotherly affection, kindness, trust, simplicity, and impartiality.
- The Lesson of the Step: enlightenment must feel every body part and become the awareness that contemplation is the Light of all divine virtues.
27) The Step of the holy silence of the soul and body;
- A Silent man is one, in whose essence an immaterial nature is prevailing, even though this man continues to live in a material body.
- Lesson of the Step: the power of the King comes from his material wealth and the number of his subjects; the power of the Silent Man is in the wealth of his prayers.
28) The Step of the holy and blissful prayer;
- Prayer in its nature is a state of man’s connection with God.It is a sign of spiritual growth, and a note of higher realms.
- There are different degrees and levels of prayer. It allows some people to address God as a close friend, and others, as a Master. Yet others address God as a Source of spiritual wealth and glory.
- Be brave in all degrees, and God will reveal to you how to address Him in your prayers.
- The Lesson of the Step: that when you make the first step to God and become aware of your inner readiness to pray, God will approach you and give you the right words.
29) The Step of earth and sky;
- Stars are the jewels of the Universe, and the jewels of impassivity are the virtues.
- After proper spiritual practice, the body becomes immortal, the mind ascends beyond the limits of manifested elements and the soul faces God.
- Imagine that objectivity is the heavenly palace of the Heavenly King.
- The Lesson of the Step: The mind travels from the earth to the sky and transforms into an angel’s consciousness by means of objectivity.
30) The Step of unity of the three virtues;
- Everything is contained by the unity of three virtues: Faith, Hope and Love, although Love is considered to be the supreme one, and often it denominates God Himself.
- We can compare Faith to a sunbeam, Hope to light, and Love to the Solar Disk. However, the Sun itself unites all of them.
- The power of Love is in Hope as it enriches the invisible plentitude and contains the treasure even before its manifestation.
- Hope is the pledge for future prosperity.
- The Lesson of the Step: to accept life in its unity, and to see the correlation between, and the connections of, every element of
This is, then, briefly, the essence of spiritual ascent in degrees. After the rituals of Orphism, I finally have encountered, for the first time, such a perfect system of revelation and true guidance, where the searcher’s characteristics are modified with love and tenderness, step by step, year after year, to allow a man to ascend to his Godlike nature.
I would be happy if this guidance could be as useful for you and the Brotherhood’s life within the Guild as, I think, it will be, like priceless support and help of mine, in our future School, here.
With Fraternal Love and appreciation!