“In the Law and the prophets reference is made to the Sabbath, Sabbaths, and Sabbaths of Sabbaths; and to circumcision and circumcision of circumcision. …
“The Sabbath signifies the dispassion of the dieform soul that through practice of the virtues has utterly cast off the marks of sin.
“Sabbaths signify the freedom of the dieform soul that through the spiritual contemplation of created nature has quelled even the natural activity of sense-perception.
“Sabbaths of Sabbaths signify the spiritual calm of the dieform soul that has withdrawn the intellect even from contemplation f all the divine principles in created beings, that through an ecstasy of love has clothed it entirely in God alone, and that through mystical theology has brought it altogether to rest in God.
“Circumcision signifies the quelling of the soul’s impassioned predilection for things subject to generation.
“Circumcision of circumcision signifies the complete discarding and stripping away also of even the soul’s natural feelings for things subject to generation.” ~The Philokalia
Sabbath and Circumcision
Most people think “Sabbath” means the day of the week devoted to God or attending religious services. So Jews think it is Saturday, while Christians think it is Sunday. It is more accurate to say it means the last day of the week. It is the day of rest after God labored for six days to create the world. More accurately, however, it is derived from the Hebrew verb sabat meaning to stop, cease or keep. This is quite different from the definition found in the Philokalia.
The use of the word circumcision is also unconventional. It does not, according to the quote, involve physical mutilation of sex organs at all! There is evidence in the Bible itself that circumcision doesn’t always refer to physical mutilation. In it, there are references to a “circumcision of the heart,” which is obviously not a physical thing at all.
It is simple logic that if you want to make the physical body stronger or healthier, you do things on the physical level(mostly). If you want to become more spiritual, however, you must do things on the spiritual level. That included following the Sabbath and circumcision.
Another way to word what the Philokalia is saying is that the Sabbath is all about the spiritual journey of the soul. The Sabbath could be considered to be that initial awakening of the soul. The Sabbaths would be the continued growth of that awakened soul until it achieves Gnosis. The Sabbaths of Sabbaths would be when the soul reached the highest level of consciousness possible and joins in permanent oneness with God. Few, if any,achieve that during their physical life on Earth, but the quest continues on the spiritual side.
Sabbath,therefore, would not be something limited to a specific day of the week. The quest for spiritual awakening and development should be done daily. It doesn’t have to be for hours. If you know what you’re doing, a few minutes each day is enough.
As a man myself, I find the gross misunderstanding of the ancients rule of circumcision resulting in the mutilation of millions of male babies to be a very sad affair. We laugh at a primitive tribe that turns an airplane into a god after seeing one fly over for the first time. We are supposed to be civilized and educated people, yet we allow this barbaric practice to continue. In some parts of Africa, females are also mutilated. That is probably even worse, but all forms of mutilation of our babies is wrong.
As the Philokalia correctly notes, real circumcision, spiritual circumcision is not about physical mutilation. Spiritual circumcision is similar to what the Hindu’s call detachment. It is not cutting skin from male children, but cutting attachments to things in the physical world.
We need to be circumcised of out attachments to places. Every time there is a natural disaster approaching, there are always a few people who refuse to evacuate. They usually say it because they must protect their property from vandals, or they have lived there forever and they are not abandoning it now. It is kind of a “the captain must go down with the ship” mentality. But your real ship is your soul, not your house, not your car, not your shares of stock.
Releasing ourselves of such attachments is not easy. We must do it a little at a time. But we must remember when doing so that attachments are like anchors that hold us down when we try to rise to higher spiritual levels of being and consciousness. The more anchors we have, the harder it is to soar. So work diligently on removing the anchors. Live the spiritual sabbath and be spiritually circumcised of all attachments.