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In Kyriacos C. Markides’s newest book, Eastern Orthodox mysticism meets Western Christianity as the internationally renowned author takes readers on a deep journey back in time to unveil the very roots of authentic spirituality. In his previous book The Mountain of Silence, Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively c In Kyriacos C. Markides’s newest book, Eastern Orthodox mysticism meets Western Christianity as the internationally renowned author takes readers on a deep journey back in time to unveil the very roots of authentic spirituality. In his previous book The Mountain of Silence, Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively conversations with Father Maximos, the widely revered charismatic Orthodox bishop and former abbot of the isolated monastery on Mount Athos. In Gifts of the Desert, Markides continues his examination of Easter Orthodox mystical teachings and practices and captures its living expression through visits to monasteries and hermitages in Greece and America and interviews with contemporary charismatic elders, both male and female. Markides’s pursuit of a deeper understanding of Orthodoxy takes him to the deserts of Arizona and a stay at a new monastery in Sedona; to the island of Cyprus and a reunion with Father Maximos; on a pilgrimage to holy shrines aboard a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea; and finally to the legendary Mount Athos, home to more than two thousand Orthodox monks. Markides relates his journey and reflections in a captivating style while providing important background material and information on historical events to give readers a highly accessible, in-depth portrait of a tradition little known in the West. Gifts of the Desert will appeal to a wide range of people, from Christians seeking insights into their religion and its various expressions to scholars interested in learning more about the mystical way of life and wisdom that have been preserved on Mount Athos since the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Schism that separated the Eastern and Western Churches. Perhaps most important, however, is the bridge it offers contemporary readers to a Christian life that is balanced between the worldly and the spiritual.


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In Kyriacos C. Markides’s newest book, Eastern Orthodox mysticism meets Western Christianity as the internationally renowned author takes readers on a deep journey back in time to unveil the very roots of authentic spirituality. In his previous book The Mountain of Silence, Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively c In Kyriacos C. Markides’s newest book, Eastern Orthodox mysticism meets Western Christianity as the internationally renowned author takes readers on a deep journey back in time to unveil the very roots of authentic spirituality. In his previous book The Mountain of Silence, Markides introduced us to the essential spiritual nature of Eastern Orthodoxy in a series of lively conversations with Father Maximos, the widely revered charismatic Orthodox bishop and former abbot of the isolated monastery on Mount Athos. In Gifts of the Desert, Markides continues his examination of Easter Orthodox mystical teachings and practices and captures its living expression through visits to monasteries and hermitages in Greece and America and interviews with contemporary charismatic elders, both male and female. Markides’s pursuit of a deeper understanding of Orthodoxy takes him to the deserts of Arizona and a stay at a new monastery in Sedona; to the island of Cyprus and a reunion with Father Maximos; on a pilgrimage to holy shrines aboard a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea; and finally to the legendary Mount Athos, home to more than two thousand Orthodox monks. Markides relates his journey and reflections in a captivating style while providing important background material and information on historical events to give readers a highly accessible, in-depth portrait of a tradition little known in the West. Gifts of the Desert will appeal to a wide range of people, from Christians seeking insights into their religion and its various expressions to scholars interested in learning more about the mystical way of life and wisdom that have been preserved on Mount Athos since the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Schism that separated the Eastern and Western Churches. Perhaps most important, however, is the bridge it offers contemporary readers to a Christian life that is balanced between the worldly and the spiritual.

30 review for Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    An interesting story of Kyriacos C. Markides and Dr. Stylianos Atteshlis aka Daskalos posted by Paul Skorpen (A student of Daskalos' Inner Circle) who lives in Germany > A Mystic Mistaken for a Magus - It was Kyriacos C. Markides’ unquenchable thirst for discovery that brought him to Daskalos’ doorstep. Daskalos welcomed his fellow countryman as an observer and reporter of the Teachings, but under one condition: “‘You can write about the teachings if you wish, assuming that I do not get the cred An interesting story of Kyriacos C. Markides and Dr. Stylianos Atteshlis aka Daskalos posted by Paul Skorpen (A student of Daskalos' Inner Circle) who lives in Germany > A Mystic Mistaken for a Magus - It was Kyriacos C. Markides’ unquenchable thirst for discovery that brought him to Daskalos’ doorstep. Daskalos welcomed his fellow countryman as an observer and reporter of the Teachings, but under one condition: “‘You can write about the teachings if you wish, assuming that I do not get the credit,’ he said quietly.” Kyriacos’ enthusiasm for the new found and far-flung fields, of mysticism was contagious. He moved through Daskalos’ world like a kid-in-a-candy-shop, sharing with us all the splendors and the delights he could pull off the shelves. Markides’ books were well received by an audience hungry for a rich Western spiritual path. The Magus is valued by many as a classic of mystical literature. Through the lively and accurate account many of us were assured, if not awakened, by Daskalos’ immense grace and guidance. Yet Markides had swiftly lost the trust of Daskalos: Kyriacos went well beyond the boundaries he was given, and wrote extensively about Daskalos powers, feats, and personal life. He had been instructed to limit his writings to the Magus, and when I asked him why he ignored Daskalos’ wish, he stated; ‘People wanted more after The Magus; they wanted to learn more about the Teachings and about Daskalos.’ He was right enough, but in betraying and portraying Daskalos in this matter ? as an object of admiration and fascination; he began to distance himself from the teacher and the deeper message that comes with patience and perseverance. For himself, Daskalos was determined not to be honored at the expense of the message. He had no need for genuflection or subservience. He guarded against engaging in ritual and form that threatened to displace the work and the spirit. Daskalos was so humbled by the enormity of the truth, that pride had little power to make him complacent. For Markides (and most of us) it is another matter. It is said that a messenger who brings foreboding news is often slain, while a heralder of promising news is celebrated. In either case the messenger is confused with the message. Markides was recognized as the next Ouspensky or Castaneda, wined and dined by esoteric circles, and understandably intoxicated by the attention. By nature Kyriacos is a good hearted and well intentioned man - (receiving fame and fortune), and as the attention began to overwhelm Daskalos’ private life (with scores from the world-over knocking at his door day and night), Markides conjured up an organization designed to protect the Teacher. Erevna (a Greek word for research) was to orchestrate the Teachings and the teachers. Daskalos, who at first approved of the scheme, became uneasy with what was unfolding before his eyes. As a student of esoteric-systems-turned-spiritual-organizations gone awry (‘And they all do sooner or later’, warned Daskalos), Daskalos lent his blessing to Erevna, but decided to continue to work independently. Erevna, which had imagined Daskalos as the head of the system, with Kostas (a student of Daskalos’ for 20 years) as a successor, and with Markides serving as a president ? had suffered a great blow. Feelings were hurt, and the tide began to shift. Markides had fashioned himself as an innocent participant observer with no personal ambitions nor designs. But his books began to take a very different tone. Kostas, who had been first described as ‘light-years behind Daskalos’ in ability and development, had suddenly become an ‘equal’ by the time Fire in the Heart was published. (I hold Kostas in a certain esteem, having attended his lessons for over a year during my stay in Cyprus ? but find his style and message to be of a whole other brand than Daskalos’.) Hurt and confused, Markides and Kostas began to slur Daskalos: accusing the teacher of everything from black-magic to sexual misadventures (ready-made charges that Daskalos faced his entire life from vindictive and insecure figures in the Orthodox church). It befuddled many to see such seemingly human behavior coming from such elevated men. I have been many times asked, ‘Why has a separation occurred? Why so much ill-will?’ Knowing all the parties involved, I propose that there are two possible explanations; one earthly and one spiritual. The earthly: With the advent of Markides’ books came a whole slew of earthly temptations (e.g. fame, fortune and power), that enticed various members of a previously esoteric society. There are people who succumb to temptation, still less who resist, and far fewer who stand beyond the fray. Daskalos, I contend, could be neither flatter nor funded. The spiritual: Kostas (pseudo-name in Markides books) is Kikis L. Christofides – Chairman of the Famagusta Association of Greek Cypriot Refugees, Cyprus ) studied with Daskalos for over twenty years, and Daskalos was not the sort of teacher to push his students away to become teachers. Therefore, the separation between Daskalos and Kostas needed to be dramatic, even traumatic to be decisive. After the separation Daskalos would teach for another 6 years ? a half dozen more years that Kostas would have lingered in Daskalos’ shadow. Daskalos was indeed proud that Kostas had begun to teach on his own (if not also saddened that a separation occurred in the process). Markides published a tract in Riding with the Lion, in which he promises to take the reader into the riches of Orthodox mysticism, but instead spends endless pages seeking to discredit Daskalos with obfuscate, opaque and suggestive charges. It is difficult to bring to mind a single esoteric or exoteric spiritual tradition that fails to warn us against engaging in gossip and slander. Markides encourages his readers to use their imaginations to speculate about a master’s supposed transgression. We live in cultures that are relieved to hear of ‘fallen masters’ (so as to excuse our own spiritual sluggishness). Markides, who once told me, ‘I created Daskalos; without me he would be nothing,’ was now intent on bringing down the messenger. A self-fancied king maker, Markides turned into a king breaker We had cheerfully followed Markides as the kid-in-a candy-shop, and now he was moving about like a bull-in-a-china-shop, as he ran rampant through the great traditions East and West. Markides is known to say that Daskalos teachings are not unique, that they are simply patterned on the universal truth. This implies that anyone can recite the Buddha’s eight fold path or Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and become a great spiritual teacher. But teaching is far more a matter of presence and persuasion than it is of recitations. Daskalos was a sage and a seer; hardly a sophist. He was a powerful teacher, a true messenger, because he modeled his life on that of Jesus Christ. Daskalos taught and healed with a blend of power, wisdom and love that is rare for this world. Markides played an instrumental role in bringing the message of Daskalos to the world, a message clearly illustrating that we have in Christianity a rich and full path to truth. But Markides packaged Daskalos as a ‘Magus’, focused on his psychic gifts, and failed, I believe, to see the great depths of a timeless Christian mystic. Those who had the good fortune to see Daskalos teach in person, had first to shed the image of Daskalos that Markides created. Only then could they behold a very rare and beautiful man. Markides went out looking for fame and fortune after arriving in the US. His hometown of Varosha, Famagusta now a ghost town since the Turkish invasion in July 1974. Along with Kikis L Kristofides they formed the Researchers of Truth group to protect Daskalos from the influx of visitors seeking out the next John of God to heal them with mystical powers Markides detailed in his books. Markides gained worldwide fame and fortune from the writings of Daskalos mystical powers. He and Kikis L. Christofides made a small fortune from books and teachings of Daskalos. Other inner circle members of the Researchers of Truth, Paul Skorpen - Theosis Institute of Mysticism and Healing also separated from the Cyprus groups to do the same.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Franklin

    This is my second time trying to get through Gifts of the Desert. Who am I, but I think that it could have been much shorter, i.e., edited better. I've ground to a halt again at about the same place as last time. That is not to say that there is not good content and very encouraging stuff in here, but it might be one of those books that has to hit you at the right time. I will push through to the end soon. Read Mountain of Silence. That is a wonderful book, dare I say, a classic read on Eastern C This is my second time trying to get through Gifts of the Desert. Who am I, but I think that it could have been much shorter, i.e., edited better. I've ground to a halt again at about the same place as last time. That is not to say that there is not good content and very encouraging stuff in here, but it might be one of those books that has to hit you at the right time. I will push through to the end soon. Read Mountain of Silence. That is a wonderful book, dare I say, a classic read on Eastern Christian Spirituality. It is very genuine and Markides isn't afraid to voice his doubts and to push back in his discussions with Fr Maximos.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Markides's 'The Mountain of Silence' came at the perfect time in my life. It was what 'sealed the deal' in my heart for Orthodoxy. 'Gifts of the Desert' was just as pivotal but in a different way. While reading, it seemed to say, "Well, you're here now, and this is how it's done." I absolutely loved this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Luaba

    I read this book after reading the Magus of Strovolos and very much like the former, this book is does a great job to bridge Eastern philosophy to Christianity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adonis Giordano

    A part of my life is there in Markides 3 Books (The Magus of Strovolos,Homage to the Sun, and Fire in the Heart) he wrote of Daskalos' Life. Many of the things that Markides described in these 3 books I witnessed it myself and in reality MUCH MORE ! Markides was just a researcher just like a journalist who put together certain events in a form of a book. He was never a real disciple and also FEW knew Daskalos really in depth ! And those few they DONT try to present themselves as "most close" dis A part of my life is there in Markides 3 Books (The Magus of Strovolos,Homage to the Sun, and Fire in the Heart) he wrote of Daskalos' Life. Many of the things that Markides described in these 3 books I witnessed it myself and in reality MUCH MORE ! Markides was just a researcher just like a journalist who put together certain events in a form of a book. He was never a real disciple and also FEW knew Daskalos really in depth ! And those few they DONT try to present themselves as "most close" disciples and make money out of his name and work. - Adonis As a Man truly evolves, he is guided more and more by Intelligence and Consciousness. Although some of Daskalos' disciples still believe they evolved through their own egotistic actions. If a man does not know what he is in the very essence of his human beingness, he does not really know what he is talking about. Always remember, It is our Heart that guides us Home. It is through our Heart, that we are restored to the wholeness that we are.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    A follow on The Mountain of Silence, but with more emphasis of Maximos and his direct teachings. These two books make me want to be in the room with the author and Maximos, but be sure to start with The Mountain of Silence.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    A friend of mine from college ended up joining one of the many monasteries mentioned in this book several years ago so I was curious to read it to find out a little bit about where he lives these days, though telling the story of an individual monastery isn't really the point of the book. Besides that, it had some interesting stuff to say about the philosophy/theology of monasticism and Eastern Christianity.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A really wonderful book about the spiritual life with recorded conversations with "Father Maximos" (Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, Cyprus) and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware -- conversations about the passions, repentance, prayer, the soul at death, several anecdotes of Saint Paisios and other holy monks on Athos... The book is marred only by some of the author's personal reflections, which rather spoil the edifying pages of conversation with the bishops.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Thaddeus Wert

    Not quite as good as "The Mountain of Silence" (Markides didn't have as much access to Fr. Maximos for this one), but still very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the story behind the Orthodox Christian monastery that is in the Arizona desert.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The third book I have read by Markides, and it was as great as Inner River and Mountain of Silence.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Luke

    Mountain of Silence is better, but I still enjoyed this outing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Good to read, but not as worthwhile as "The Mountain of Silence."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mario Zacharatos

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maki

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Mendez

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bishal

  20. 4 out of 5

    דרש

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tod Jones

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Desmond

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  25. 4 out of 5

    Juan Nieves

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steven Boman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Giovanni iam

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Recommended to me by Julie Kaye

  29. 4 out of 5

    Astoria

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Weis

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