Recently, Jay Dyer hosted an Orthodox priest on his YouTube channel to distinguish between a "true mysticism" and "false mysticism." Dyer and his guest take the stance that false mysticism is monistic. My purpose in this write-up is not to take issue with Dyer's rejection of monistic mysticism, but to show how the essence of the Orthodox mystical method is not exclusive to orthodoxy and did not originate with orthodoxy.
The Orthodox variety of mystic practice is called hesychasm, which in Greek comes from the word ἥσῠχος, or hḗsukhos which translates as "quiet," "still" or "calm."
Hesychast, ἡσυχαστής, or hēsukhastḗs can be translated to "quietist." Note the definition from Wiktionary referring to a hesychast as "a member of a school of quietist monks..."
A standard definition for hesychasm is "the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God (see Theoria)."
Compare to quietism:
The doctrine of Molinos may be summed up in the following terms :-“That man is prohibited from operating actively, and ought to abandon himself entirely to God, and present himself to Him in the most abject attitude, like a body without a soul—since to God alone it belongs to operate, and since this annihilation of man is a return to his origin, and the only way in which we can freely leave it to God to work upon us. That we ought never to think of punishment or of reward, hell or heaven, death or eternity. That the soul ought to preserve no recollection of itself or of God, or of anything, because in the inner life all reflection is prohibited, even on human actions or on the thinker's own imperfections;
A History of Political and Religious Persecutions, by F. Garrido, CB Cayley. Volume II, page 493
Between quiestism and hesychasm, the common motivation of apophatic transcendence is undeniable, consisting of deprivation of the senses and of supression of the distracting conscious activity of the mind in order to be truly acquainted with God. Most Eastern Christians who are honest will admit quietism shares this fundamental characteristic with hesychasm. Granted the quiestism of Molinos catered more towards antinomianism, to drive a wedge between the two is to make a distinction without a difference in regard to purpose (transcendnce) and base method (apophaticism).
The roots of quietism in the Western christian mystical movements owe origin by-and-large to Meister Eckhart (born 1260) which was shown in part two of my documentary Freemasonry Demystified.
Eckhart taught the same kind of apophatic mysticism:
Eckhart's account of God and the universe depended not only on theology and metaphysical speculation but also on his interpretation of mystical experience. Thus, he distinguished between Deus or God, as found in the three Persons of the Trinity, and Deitas or the Godhead, which is the Ground of God but is indescribable. The Godhead, through an eternal process, manifests itself as the Persons. In the same way, Eckhart distinguished between faculties of the soul, such as memory, and the Grund or "ground" of the soul (also called the Fünklein, scintilla or "spark"). By contemplation it is possible to attain to this Grund, leaving aside the discursive and imaginative activities that normally characterize conscious life. In doing this, one gains unity with the Godhead. Although Eckhart gave some sort of explanation for the ineffability of the Godhead (namely, that it is a pure unity and thus not describable), the main motive for his doctrine lay in a feature of mystical experience—that it involves a mental state not describable in terms of thoughts or images.
Recall in particular that Eckhart scholar Richard Woods has made known how the Alumbrados obtained their doctrines and practices from the Rhineland mystics, of whom Eckhart was chief. Quietism, undoubtedly as a result, "officially" arose from these Rhineland/Eckhart-influenced Alumbrados. Gerald Del Campo writes as such in his introduction to The Spiritual Guide of Miguel Molinos.
So although Miguel de Molinos is held to be the central figure of quietism, quietism predated Molinos who mostly just served to popularize it.
Given this background, it is unsurprising how Vladimir Lossky, arguably the most prominent modern Orthodox theologian, acquired a passionate and lasting interest in Meister Eckhart while developing his theology in Paris, during which time he wrote his doctoral thesis on Eckhart's apophatic mysticism.
This is devastating to the position that only Orthodox use this form of mysticism. There is clearly an affinity embedded in the Orthodox christian tradition with the strand of Western christian mystical tradition which blossomed out of the medieval period giving rise to various sects of quietists. Another instance of this is shown from Eastern Orthodox theologian Thomas John Hopko's embrace of the French quietist Francois Fenelon.
Additionally, it is not only Christians who practice quietism/hesychasm. The esoterics are into it as well. High-level occultist Gerald Del Campo published the Spiritual Guide of Molinos giving an introductory commentary on the usefullness of quietist teachings. In part two of Freemasonry Demystified I go through all of the Western illuminist movements and how they were continuing the tradition of Eckhart. In the same part of the documentary, it was also shown how the enlightenment philosopher Dennis Diderot was a quietist. Eastern religionists like Hindus, Taoists and Buddists have also been into quietism well before Gregory Palamas (born 1296).
The Roman Catholics who have dealt with this issue agree with my assessments:
In the past, Roman Catholic theologians generally expressed a negative view of Hesychasm. The doctrine of Gregory Palamas won almost no following in the West, and the distrustful attitude of Barlaam in its regard prevailed among Western theologians, surviving into the early 20th century, as shown in Adrian Fortescue's article on hesychasm in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia. Fortescue translated the Greek words ἥσυχος and ἡσυχαστής as "quiet" and "quietist".
In the same period, Edward Pace's article on quietism indicated that, while in the strictest sense quietism is a 17th-century doctrine proposed by Miguel de Molinos, the term is also used more broadly to cover both Indian religions and what Edward Pace called "the vagaries of Hesychasm", thus betraying the same prejudices as Fortescue with regard to hesychasm; and, again in the same period, Siméon Vailhé described some aspects of the teaching of Palamas as "monstrous errors", "heresies" and "a resurrection of polytheism", and called the hesychast method for arriving at perfect contemplation "no more than a crude form of auto-suggestion".