I agree that “not even the addict is equally attached to all things”, but our attachments to the odd numbers can’t help but color our perception of the even numbers. I would certainly beware of supposing myself “safely able to contemplate” anything, without risk of attachment, until and unless I had reached a much broader and deeper apatheia in relation to creatures in general.

The Philokalic Fathers, as you know, distinguish several stages in the process of temptation, ranging from “provocation”—as when a person sees a billboard with a Big Mac during a fast period—through “coupling” and “assent”, and thence to a final stage of “prepossession”, where giving in to the temptation has become so habitual that, for all intents and purposes, he is no longer free not to eat hamburgers.

But obviously gluttony vis-à-vis hamburgers doesn’t exist in isolation from gluttony as such, nor—and here’s the point—does gluttony exist in isolation from the other sicknesses of the soul.

A “consuming” relation to a single thing, no matter how seemingly trivial it may be, has a way of growing like a cancer and consuming all the other aspects of our psychic life. It’s a very short step indeed before “I” become indistinguishable from my desires and aversions. Seeing God in creatures—really seeing Him, and not just entertaining some sort of theory about theophanic vision—is at that point all but impossible.

What practical conclusion is to be drawn? Our efforts should be focused at the level of catharsis; best to leave photisis, let alone theosis, to God.