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The religious philosophy first effectively promulgated by Miguel de Molinos (1628-1696), a Spanish Roman Catholic priest. His Spiritual Guide, published in 1675, gained much popularity and the teaching contained in it was at first endorsed by his church, but some of the priesthood feared that it would undermine their authority and it appears that his liberal sexual behavior laid him open to attack and he was eventually arrested, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1685, by the order of Innocent X. Molinos’ teaching was declared heretical.

It is likely that the basic principles of Quietism were in existence long before Molinos, since passive contemplation is the central theme of spiritual practices found in BUDDHISM, GNOSTICISM, HINDUISM and the yogas. In the extreme form taught by Molinos, what he called “the passive soul” accepts all that happens to the individual, be it good or ill, and even accepts what was described as evilness, regardless of the consequences.

Essentially, Quietism is a doctrine of Christian perfection which, by way of inner contemplation, divine assistance may be attained. It calls for total negation of desire, desire of attainment, desire to avoid good or evil. All that happens is said to be by divine will and therefore only divine will should rule.


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