January 21, 2011
Nepsis, or nipsis, is a Greek word which means to be watchful, alert, and vigilant, and to keep on your guard for illusions and fear, with a clear, sober mind. Parallels could likely be made between Nepsis and the concepts of mindfulness in Buddhism, dhikr in Islam, and devekut in Judism. In spiritual literature, Nepsis is the natural state of an awaken soul: one that is both connected with the Divine and is self-aware of this connection.
Nepsis is an interesting and important sacred concept, because it is a major requirement for those that practice the teachings of any spiritual path. Nepsis is also an early Christian precept as it was considered as a requirement or virtue that was avidly expected for the seeker to develop during their lifetime. The Essenians and the Fathers of the Desert, thought that evil thoughts were thoughts brought in by demons. These thoughts darken the mind; they bring in doubt, and fear. Nepsis was a way to intentionally “close the gate” to other non Godly thoughts.
Nepsis, the art of being watchful, can be taught and learned as a means to overcome various spiritual sicknesses. Specific to this process is the watchfulness of the human heart. The ancient traditions thought that Nepsis was the proper way to address and resolve the conflicts of the human nous: the conflicts between the heart and mind.
Stillness within one individual can affect society beyond measure.
To be involved in Nepsis is to be exercising watchfulness and alertness. It does not mean to be simply guarding our thoughts against the evils of illusions and fears, but also means to guard our thoughts closely: once we have aligned ourselves with Christ-consciousness, we enter a new level of manifestation, and with this gift comes much responsibility.
“Words can be worth silver, but silence is worth gold.”
The cultivation of this “virtue” through the practice of stilling or silencing chatty thoughts, peacefulness of movements and speech ,and internal quietness can turn the mind, the eyes of the soul, and the heart, the source of all our power, into fertile grounds for further spiritual practices, such as deep meditation, contemplation even the applications of Theurgy. With the development of Nepsis, and our attention, comes a charismatic spiritual gift: discernment.