Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet who was the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of "Theologian.” "Theologian" was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study; the title was designed only to recognize someone who spoke from personal experience of the vision of God.
One of his principal teachings was that humans could and should experience theoria (literally "contemplation," or direct experience of God).
How Ignorance Obscures
the Sense of Christ
by St. Symeon the New Theologian
But he who imagines that he knows, even though he knows nothing, were he even to see an angel from heaven (Gal. 1:8) coming down to him, yet he would send him away as though he were an evil demon. Even if it were an apostle or a prophet of God, he would turn him away like another Simon Magus. What utter obtuseness that a blind man should consider the seeing man to be blind, and that he who talks nonsense should think that the words of the sensible man are nonsense! The blind man disbelieves those who tell him at night that the sun is not shining, and in his disbelief thinks that there is light, or at night that it is dark, and in his doubt sends his informants packing. So those who sit in the darkness of passions and whose minds are blinded by ignorance, or, rather, those who have not acquired “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), think that he who has the mind of Christ is foolish, and that he who has it not is sensible. Of these the prophet David rightly states, “The ignorant and foolish perish together” (Ps. 49:11). Therefore such men twist the whole of Scripture according to their own desires (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3, 16) and corrupt themselves in their own passions. But it is not divine Scripture that suffers from this, but those who disfigure it!
You, then, who have a right judgment of things, tell me how will the blind on their own rightly discern the thoughts of the light if they by their presumption refuse to be taught? He who is blind in his eyes, how will he read the letters that are in the light when he does not see the light? He who is blind in his mind and has not the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) in himself, how can he consider the thoughts that are stored up in the light of Christ? Even though he reads their visible record thousands of times with his physical eyes, the record that has been committed to writing, yet I do not think that such a person will ever be able to contemplate things that are spiritual, immaterial, and full of light in a place that is material and in darkness.
The following passage comes from Symeon’s Hymns of Divine Love:
And I lamented and sorrowed and burned in my core and lived like one removed in spirit. But he came at his own will and, descending like a bright cloud of mist, seemed to surround my head entirely, so that I cried out in consternation. But he, flying off again, left me alone. And when I laboriously sought him I suddenly came to know that he was in myself, and in the center of my heart he appeared like the light of a sun, round as a circle. When he had revealed himself thus, and I had recognized and received him, he put the whirlwind of demons to flight, repulsed my cowardly dread, put strength into me, stripped my soul of earthly thoughts and reclothed me with the thoughts of the spirit. From the things that are seen he severed me, and with those that are not seen he connected me. He permitted me to see the uncreated and to rejoice that I have been sundered from the created, from the visible, from that which swiftly passes away, and am united with the uncreated, the immortal, which has no beginning and cannot be seen by anyone. Such is mercy.