This unpretentious little book - now revised and expanded - has long been recognized as a trusty guide for those wishing to explore the Orthodox ascetical and mystical tradition. As the introduction observes, the book is neither a scholarly history of Orthodox spirituality, nor a far-reaching treatise on ascetical and mystical graces, nor a description of the psychological state of Orthodox mystics. It is intended as a short and very simply introduction to the first principles of the spirituality of the Orthodox Church. At the same time, Orthodox Spirituality is a remarkably thorough introduction to Orthodox doctrine, for Orthodox spirituality cannot be properly understood apart from the theological teaching on which it rests: that the aim of man's life is union with God and deification in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
After a survey of the historical development of Orthodox spirituality, the book turns to "the essentials," to those elements of doctrine and piety which are common to the Orthodox spiritual tradition in all ages and in all places. Then it explores the Christocentric nature of Orthodox spirituality in three remarkable chapters: "The Baptizing Christ," Christ the Sender of the Holy Spirit," and "Christ our Passover." Thus Orthodox spirituality is seen not as the cultivation of certain techniques of prayer of the systematic investigation of an abstract idea, but as new life in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God.