Eastern Orthodox texts preserved

The Philokalia Volume 4B

Nikitas Stithatos

 

On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

126:5) If you search out the Lord and patiently wait for Him until the firstlings of His righteousness grow in you,

you will reap a rich crop of divine knowledge. The light of wisdom will illuminate you and you will become a lamp

of eternal light illuminating all men. You will not be grudging towards yourself or your fellow beings, hiding under

the cloak of envy the light of wisdom given to you (cf Matt. 5:15): but in the assembly of the faithful you will utter

good words for the edification of many, explaining things hidden since the beginning of the world - all that you have

heard from above, prompted by the divine Spirit, all that you have come to understand through the contemplation of

the inner nature of created beings, and all that your fathers have told you (cf. Ps. 78:2-3. LXX).

 

55. The practice of God's commandments will lead the spiritual contestant to such heights that on the day when

he becomes perfect in virtue he will be filled with quiet delight and will reign with a pure mind in Zion. The

mountains - the spiritual principles of the virtues - will flow with milk, nourishing him as he reposes in the sanctuary

of dispassion, and all the stream-beds of Judah - his faith and spiritual knowledge - will flow with water, with

doctrines, parables and the arcane symbols of things divine. As from the house of God a fountain of ineffable

wisdom will flow from his heart and will water the valley of dry reeds - all those, that is to say, who have been

withered by the aridity and heat of the passions (cf. Joel 3:18. LXX). Then he will experience in himself the true

fulfillment of the Lord's words, 'Rivers of living water will flow from the heart of him who believes in Me' (John

7:38).

 

56. For those who fear Me, says God, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. They will go

forth from the prison-house of the passions and, loosed from the bonds of sin, they will leap like calves. On the day

when God restores them they will tread the wicked and the demons under their feet like ashes; for they will be

exalted by all the virtues and because of their wisdom and spiritual knowledge they will be made perfect through

communion in the Spirit (cf Mai. 4:2-3).

 

57. If on the mountain above the plain of this world and within the Church of Christ you raise the standard of new

spiritual knowledge and cry aloud, as the prophet says (cf. Isa. 13:2), with the wisdom given to you by God,

exhorting and teaching your brethren - opening their mind to the divine Scriptures so that they understand the

 

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Nikitas Stithatos

 

On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

wonderful gifts of God, and encouraging them to practice His commandments - do not fear those who envy you the

power of your words and distort every text of divine Scripture; for they are people swept empty and ready to be

 

 

 

occupied by the demons (cf Matt. 12:44). God will write what you say in the book of the living (cf. Rev. 3:5) and

no harm will befall you from such men, just as no harm befell Peter from Simon Magus (cf. Acts 8:9-24). On the

contrary, when you see such people trying to put obstacles in your way, you should say with the prophet: 'Behold,

my God is my salvation and 1 will trust in Him; 1 will be saved by Him and will not be afraid; for the Lord is my

glory and my praise, and He has become my salvation; and I shall not cease proclaiming His glorious deeds

throughout the world' (cf Isa. 12:2,4. LXX).

 

58. When you perceive that the passions are no longer active within you, and when because of your humility tears

of compunction flow from your eyes, then you must know that the kingdom of God has come upon you and that you

have become pregnant with the Holy Spirit. And when you perceive the Spirit moving and speaking in your heart,

inciting you to proclaim in the great congregation the saving power and truth of God (cf. Ps. 40:10), do not keep

your lips sealed for fear of provoking the envy of bigoted men; but as Isaiah counsels (cf. Isa. 30:8), sit and write on

a tablet, what the Spirit says to you, so that it may endure in times to come and for ever. For the envious are a

rebellious people, lying sons who cannot be trusted (cf. Isa. 30:9). They do not want to be told that the Gospel is still

effective and makes us friends of God and prophets. On the contrary, they say to the prophets and teachers of the

Church: 'Do not proclaim God's wisdom to us'; and to the visionaries who perceive the spiritual essences of things,

they say, 'Do not tell us about that, but speak and proclaim to us another deceit such as the world loves, and free us

from the prophecy of Israel' (cf. Isa. 30: 10). Pay no attention to their malice and their words; for even the deaf will

eventually hear your message, divinely inspired as it is for the profit of many, and those blinded by life's opacity and

the fog of sin will see the light of your words. The poor in spirit will exult in them, and those in despair will be filled

with gladness; through your words those spiritually astray will attain understanding, those who revile you will learn

obedience to the utterances of the Spirit, and inarticulate tongues will be taught to speak of peace (cf. Isa. 29:18-19,

24. LXX).

 

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Nikitas Stithatos

 

On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

59. Blessed is he, says Isaiah, who sows the seeds of his teaching in Zion - that is, in the Church of God - and

who begets spiritual children in the heavenly Jerusalem of the firstborn (cf Isa. 31:9. LXX). For according to

Scripture such a man may conceal his words for a while, and may himself be hidden as if by flowing water; but in

the end he will be revealed in Zion - in the Church of the faithful - as a glorious river flowing in a land thirsty for the

waters of his wisdom. Then those beguiled by the envious will listen to his words, the heart of those spiritually weak

will give heed, and no longer will the servants of envy enjoin silence when in his devotion he gives good counsel,

instead of declaiming the inanities of the wise fools of this world. For his heart has not been occupied with empty

thoughts, with ways of doing evil and telling lies in God's sight, thus misleading hungry souls and leaving the souls

of the thirsty unsatisfied (cf. Isa. 32:2-6. LXX). For this reason his words will endure and many will profit from

them, even though the spiteful and malicious do not believe this to be so.

 

60. He who dwells in a cave high up on a great rock will be sated with the bread of spiritual knowledge and made

 

 

 

drunk with the cup of wisdom, and hence his counsel wiU be trustworthy. He wiU see a king arrayed in glory and he

will gaze on a distant land. His soul will meditate on wisdom and he will proclaim to all men the eternal abode that

embraces all and everything.

 

6 1 . The Lord's teaching is heard by all who fear Him; He gives them an ear with which to hear, and an instructed

tongue so that they know when they too must speak (cf. Isa. 50:4-5. LXX). Who but He sets at naught the prudent

and the wise of this world and shows their wisdom to be folly, yet confirms the words of His servants (cf Isa. 44:25-

26. LXX)? He it is that in His glory does new and astonishing things: He makes a highway of humility and

gentleness in the barren and arid heart, and opens rivers of ineffable wisdom in the parched and desiccated mind,

giving water to the chosen people that He made His own, so that they may declare His virtues (cf. Isa. 43: 20-21.

LXX). He marches at the head of those who love and fear Him, razes the mountains of the passions, shatters the

brazen gates of ignorance, and opens the doors of the knowledge of God, revealing to them its obscure, secret and

invisible treasures, so that they may know that He is the Lord their God, who calls them by their name, 'Israel' (cf.

Isa. 45:1-3. LXX).

 

62. Who is this that strikes terror into the sea of the passions and

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Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

quells its waves? It is the Lord of hosts, who delivers those that love Him from the danger of sin and pacifies the

turbulence of their thoughts, who puts His words into their mouth (cf. Jer. 1:9) and protects them under the shadow

of His hands - the shadow within which He established the heaven and made firm the earth. He it is who gives to

those who fear Him an instructed tongue (cf. Isa. 50:4) and an understanding ear, so that they may hear His voice

and proclaim His commandments to the house of Jacob, to the Church of the faithful. Those who lack eyes to see the

rays of the Sun of righteousness, and ears to hear of God's glory, are sunk in the darkness of total ignorance, of

empty hope and vain words. Not one of them speaks justly or judges truly; for they have put their trust in vanities

and their words are vacuous. They conceive envy and beget spite and malice (cf. Isa. 59:4. LXX), for their ears are

obdurate and deaf. On account of this they revile the word of God's knowledge and refuse to listen to it.

 

63. What wisdom is there in those filled with pangs of envy against their fellow beings? By what right do the

malicious claim, in the words of Jeremiah, that 'we are wise and the law of the Lord is with us' (Jer. 8:8), when they

are consumed with jealousy against those who have received the grace of the Spirit in the form of wisdom and

divine knowledge? But the false knowledge of the scribes and the wise men of this world - of those who have lost

the path of trae knowledge - is altogether valueless. For this reason the worldly-wise, void of the wisdom of the

Paraclete, founder in confusion: they see the sons of fishermen rich in the wisdom of God and they quail at the

power of their words; but at the same time they are entangled in the nets of their own concepts and reasoning, for

they have rejected true wisdom and truly divine knowledge.

 

64. Why are these creatures of malice consumed with jealousy against those rich in the grace of the Spirit, against

 

 

 

those blessed with a tongue of fire hke the pen of a ready scribe (of. Ps. 45: 1)? Have they not spumed the source of

divine wisdom? Had they walked in the way of God, they would have dwelt in the peace of dispassion for ever.

They would have learnt where they could find sound understanding, strength, clear judgment, spiritual knowledge of

created beings, length of days, life, light for the eyes and wisdom yoked with peace. They would have learnt who

finds the dwelling-place of Wisdom and who enters into her storehouses (cf Bar. 3:13-15), and how God issues a

command through the prophet to those initiated into His

 

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On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

teaching, and says, 'Let the prophet to whom things have been revealed in sleep declare his vision, and having heard

My teaching let him proclaim it faithfully' (cf. Jer. 23:28); as He also says, 'Write in a book all the words I have

spoken to you' (Jer. 37:2. LXX). Had they themselves chosen this path, they would not be consumed with jealousy

against those who do choose it.

 

65. Yet if the Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard his spots (cf. Jer. 13:23), these same bantlings of

malice can also speak and devise what seems good, well versed as they are in evil. With the heel they trip up their

fellow men, their ways being ways of treachery and deception, even with regard to their friends. They lie because

lying and quackery are what they are trained in (cf. Jer. 9:4-5. LXX). So if on account of your intelligence and

spiritual knowledge you become a butt for their jealousy and deceit, you must be wary: appeal to God in the words

of Jeremiah, saying, '0 Lord, remember me and visit me and free me from those who persecute me with their malice.

Although it is Thy will to test me for a long time, in Thy forbearance do not reject me. See how those who repudiate

Thy sacred knowledge have derided me. Consume them in their jealousy, and Thy teaching will be a joy to me and

the delight of my heart. I have not sat in the company of those who spurn Thy knowledge, but have feared the

presence of Thy hand, and sat alone because I was filled with bitterness by their envy.' When you say this you will

hear the response:' "This I know well. But if you set him who has gone astray on his right path, 1 will re-establish

you among My friends; you will stand before Me; and if you extract what is precious from what is vile, you will be

as My mouth. I will deliver you from these malicious people who plague you", says the Lord God of Israel' (cf. Jer.

15:15-21. LXX).

 

66. Let these malicious sages hear the conclusion of the whole matter (cf. Eccles. 12:13). By their labors were

God's Nazintes cleansed cleaner than snow; their lives were whiter than milk, their wisdom was more lambent than

the sapphire (cf. Lam. 4:7. LXX), their words purer than a pearl. Those who delight in worldly knowledge have been

utterly destroyed by the departure of the Spirit. Those nourished on profane wisdom are swathed in the dung of

ignorance (cf. Lam. 4:5. LXX): they are shackled in fetters, their tongue is pinioned to their larynx and they are

mute. For they have rejected the true wisdom and knowledge of the Holy Spirit, not wanting to attain it through

ascetic labor.

 

 

 

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Nikitas Stithatos

 

On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

67. God who fells the lofty tree and raises the lowly tree, who desiccates green wood and make dry wood burgeon

(cf. Ezek. 17:24), is also the God who opens the mouth of His servants in the midst of a great assembly (cf. Ezek.

29:21. LXX), and enables them to proclaim the Gospel with full power (cf. Ps. 68:12. LXX). For wisdom,

understanding and strength are His; and just as He changes times and seasons, so He gives to souls that seek Him

and desire Him sovereignty over the passions; He converts them from one life to another, bestowing wisdom on the

wise in spirit and sound understanding on those endowed with intelligence. He reveals deep hidden things to those

who explore His depths and initiates them into the meaning concealed in obscure symbolism. For the light of

wisdom and spiritual knowledge dwells in Him and He gives it to whom He wishes (cf. Dan. 2:21-22).

 

68. If you patiently cany out the commandments in accordance with your outer and your inner self, and look only

to the glory of God, you will be given the honor of heavenly knowledge, peace of soul and incorruptibility; for you

carry out, and do not simply hear, the law of grace (cf. Jas. 1 :25). God will not condemn your knowledge, since your

actions will bear witness to it. On the contrary. He will glorify it through the words of knowledge spoken by those

who by virtue of His wisdom shine as beacons in the Church of the faithful; for God is 'impartial' (Rom. 2:11). If on

the other hand your endeavors are prompted by selfish ambition and you reject the teachings of those inspired by the

Holy Spirit, trusting in your own understanding and in the deceptive words of those clad merely in the outward

forms of piety and incited by a vainglorious and hedonistic spirit, then you will be filled with affliction and anguish,

with envy, anger and animosity (cf. Rom. 2:8-9). Such will be the immediate reward for your delusion, and such at

your death - when God judges the secrets of men and renders to each according to his actions (cf Rom. 2:6) - will be

the sentence for your mutually self-accusing, self-defending thoughts.

 

69. 'He is not a real Jew who is one outwardly,' says St Paul, 'nor is true circumcision something external and

physical; he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal'

(Rom. 2:28-29). Similarly, you are not perfect in wisdom and spiritual knowledge because you give an outward and

voluble appearance of being so; and you are proficient in virtue, not

 

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On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

because you adopt extreme forms of bodily and outward ascetic practice, but because you dedicate yourself to

hidden spiritual work. You are wise and perfect in knowledge when you speak from a pure unsullied heart through

the Spirit of God, not when you repeat things according to the letter. Then 'you will receive praise not from men but

 

 

 

from God' (Rom. 2:29), since you will be unknown to men or else envied by them, and beloved and known only by

God and those inspired by God's Spirit.

 

70. If carrying out the law does not make you pure in the sight of God (cf. Gal. 2:16), then neither will ascetic

struggle and labor alone perfect you in God's sight. We do indeed receive our grounding in virtue and check the

activity of the passions through ascetic practice; but we are not initiated into the fullness of Christ through that

alone. What, then, brings us to perfection? An ingrained faith in God, the 'faith that makes real the things for which

we hope' (Heb. 11:1), the faith whereby Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain and was commended as

righteous (cf. Heb. 1 1 :4), and whereby Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out and sojourn in the promised

land (cf. Heb. 1 1:8). It is such faith that fills those assiduous in the search for truth with great aspiration for the

exalted gifts of God, and leads them to the spiritual knowledge of created beings; and it pours into their hearts the

inexhaustible treasures of the Spirit, enabling them to bring thence new and old mysteries of God (cf. Matt. 13:52)

and to reveal them to the needy. He who is blessed with such faith is initiated by love into the knowledge of God,

and has entered into God's rest, having ceased from all his labors as God did from His (cf. Heb. 4:10).

 

71. If God once swore to non-believers that they would never enter into His rest - and it was on account of their

lack of faith that they could not do so (cf. Heb. 3:18-19) - how can mere bodily discipline, in the absence of faith,

enable us to enter the rest of dispassion and the perfection of spiritual knowledge? We do in fact see many who

because of this are unable to enter and to rest from their labors. We must therefore be wary lest we possess an evil,

unbelieving heart (cf. Heb. 3:12), and because of this are thwarted of rest and perfection, in spite of our great: labors.

Otherwise we will be ceaselessly involved in the toils of the ascetic life and will always eat the bread of sorrow (cf .

Ps. 127 : 2). If a sabbath rest awaits us - the rest of dispassion and of perfect gnosis - let us through faith strive to

enter into it, and not fall

 

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On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

short of it because of our unbelief in the same way as those mentioned in the Bible (cf Heb. 4:9-1 1).

 

72. Since we are endowed with senses, intelligence and intellection, we too ought to offer a tithe from ourselves

to God (cf. Heb. 7:2). As beings endowed with senses we ought to perceive sensory things in the right way, through

their beauty elevating ourselves to the Creator and referring back to Him our true knowledge of them. As intelligent

beings we ought to speak correctly about divine and human matters. As noetic beings we ought unerringly to

apprehend what pertains to God and eternal life, to the kingdom of heaven and the mysteries of the Spirit hidden

within it. In this way how we perceive, speak and apprehend will conform to God, and will be genuinely trae and

divine, constituting a sacred offering to God.

 

75. The tithe that we offer to God is in the tme sense the soul's Passover - its passing beyond, that is to say, every

passion-embroiled state and all mindless sense-perception. In this Passover the Logos is offered up in the

contemplation of the spiritual essences of created beings; He is eaten in the bread of spiritual knowledge; and His

 

 

 

precious blood is drunk in the chalice of ineffable wisdom. Thus he who has fed upon and celebrated this Passover

makes a sacred offering within himself of the Lamb who effaces the world's sin (cf John 1:29); and he will no

longer die but, in the Lord's words, 'will live eternally' (John 6:58).

 

74. If you have been raised above dead actions you are resurrected with Christ. And if you are resurrected with

Christ through spiritual knowledge, and Christ no longer dies, then you will not be overcome by the death of

ignorance. For the death which you have now died to sin, prompted by an impulse in accordance with nature, you

have died once for all; but the life you now live you live in God through the freedom of the Holy Spirit, who has

raised you above the dead actions of sin (cf Rom. 6:9-11). Thus you will no longer live according to the flesh, in a

fallen worldly state, for you will have died to the mortal members of your body and to worldly matters. On the

contrary, Christ will live in you (cf. Gal. 2:20), for you will be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, not enslaved

to the law of your outer unregenerate self; and your members will be weapons of righteousness consecrated to God

theFather(cf Rom. 6:13).

 

75. He who has freed his members from servitude to the passions, and has consecrated them to the service of

righteousness

 

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Nikitas Stithatos

 

On Spiritual Knowledge,

Love and the Perfection of Living:

 

One Hundred Texts

 

(cf. Rom. 6:19), has risen above the law of his fallen self and has begun to share in the sanctification of the Holy

Spirit. Sin will no longer dominate him, since he is free in the freedom and the law of the Spirit. Serving

righteousness has an effect altogether different from that of servitude to sin. The latter inevitably leads to the

destruction of the soul's noetic power, while the former leads to the eternal life hidden in Christ Jesus our Lord (cf.

Col. 3:3).

 

76. So long as you live according to your fallen impulses you are dominated by your fallen mortal self. But once

you die to the world, you are set free from this domination (cf. Rom. 7:2). We cannot die to the world unless we die

to the mortal aspects of ourselves. We die to these when we become participants in the Holy Spirit. We know

ourselves to be participants in the Holy Spirit when we offer to God fruits worthy of the Spirit: love for God with all

our soul and genuine love for our fellow beings; joy of heart issuing from a clear conscience; peace of soul as a

result of dispassion and humility; generosity in our thoughts, long-suffering in affliction and times of trial, kindness

and restraint in our behavior, deep-rooted unwavering faith in God, gentleness springing from humble-mmdedness

and compunction, and complete control of the senses. When we bear such truits for God, we escape from the

domination of our mortal self; and there is no law condemning and punishing us for the death-purveying fruits we

produced while still living in an unregenerate state. Once we have risen with Christ above dead actions the freedom

of the Spirit releases us from the law of our fallen self (cf. Rom. 7:4-6).

 

77. Those who, having passed through the 'washing of regeneration' (Tit. 3:4), possess the firstfruits of the Spirit,

and who preserve them unimpaired, are deeply afflicted by the burden of their fallen self; and they long for their

 

 

 

adoption as sons through the full gift of the Paraclete, so that their body may be freed from servitude to corruption

(cf. Rom. 8:23). Indeed, the Spirit helps them in their natural weaknesses and intercedes for them 'with sighs too

deep for words' (Rom. 8:26); for they have conformed their will to God and are filled with the hope of experiencing

in their mortal flesh the 'revelation of the sons of God' (Rom. 8:19), the life-quickening death of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor.

4:10). In this way they too will be called sons of God, for they will be guided by the Holy Spirit, will be freed from

servitude to the fallen self, and will attain 'the glorious liberty of the children of God' (Rom. 8:21), for

 

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whom, since they love God, 'all things work together for their good' (Rom. 8:28).

 

78. Divine Scripture is to be interpreted spiritually and the treasures it contains are revealed only through the

Holy Spirit to the spiritual. Hence the unspiritual man cannot receive the revelation of these treasures (cf 1 Cor.

2:14). The ceaseless flow of his own thoughts makes it impossible for him to understand or listen to anything said by

someone else. For he lacks the Spirit of God, that searches the depths of God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10) and knows the things

of God. He possesses only the material spirit of the world, full of jealousy and envy, of strife and discord; and for

this reason he thinks it foolish to enquire into the sense and meaning of the written word. Unable to understand that

everything in divine Scripture concerning things divine and human is to be interpreted spiritually, he mocks those

who do interpret it in this way. Calling such people not 'spiritual', or 'guided by the Spirit', but 'anagogical', he twists

and distorts their words and their divine intellections as much as he can, like the notorious Demas (cf. 2 Tim. 4:10).

The spiritual man does not behave in this manner; on the contrary, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he discerns all things,

but he himself cannot be called to account by anyone. For he has the intellect of Christ, and that no one can teach

(cf 1 Cor. 2:15-16).

 

79. Since the day of judgment will be one of fire, what each of us has done, as St Paul says, will be tested by fire

(cf . 1 Cor. 3:13). Thus, if what we have built up is of an incorruptible nature, it will not be destroyed by fire; and not

only will it not be consumed, but it will be made radiant, totally purified of whatever small amount of filth may

adhere to it. But if the work with which we have burdened ourselves consists of corruptible matter, it will be

consumed and burnt up and we will be left destitute in the midst of the fire (cf 1 Cor. 3:13-15). Incorruptible and

imperishable actions are the following: tears of repentance, acts of charity, compassion, prayer, humility, faith, hope,

love and whatever else is done in a spirit of devotion. Even while we are still alive such actions help to build us up

into a holy temple of God (cf. Eph. 2:21-22), while when we die they accompany us and remain incorruptibly with

us for ever. The actions which are consumed by the fire are well known to all: self-indulgence, vainglory, avarice,

hatred, envy, theft, drunkenness, abusiveness, censoriousness, and anything else of a base nature to which our

appetites or mcensive

 

 

 

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power prompts us to give bodily expression. Such actions pollute us even while we are still living and consumed by

the fire of desire; and when we are wrenched away from the body, they accompany us but do not survive. On the

contrary, they are destroyed and leave their perpetrator in the midst of the fire, to be punished immortally for all

eternity.

 

80. If through humility and prayer you have been initiated into the spiritual knowledge of God, this means that

you are known by God and enriched by Him with an authentic knowledge of His supernatural mysteries. If you are

tainted with conceit, you have not been so initiated, but are governed by the spirit of this material world. Thus, even

if you imagine that you know something, in fact you know nothing about things divine in the way you ought to (cf 1

Cor. 8:2). If, however, you love God and regard nothing as more precious than love for God and for your fellow

being, you will also know the depths of God and the mysteries of His kingdom in the way that someone inspired by

the Holy Spirit must know them. And you are known by God (cf. 1 Cor. 8:3), for you are a true worker in the

paradise of His Church, out of love doing God's will - that is to say, converting others, making the unworthy worthy

through the understanding given you by the Holy Spirit, and keeping your actions inviolate through humility and

compunction.

 

81. All of us were baptized into Christ through water and the Holy Spirit, and we all eat the same spiritual food

and drink the same spiritual drink; yet, though this food and drink are Christ Himself, God finds no delight in most

of us (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4-5). For many of those faithful and diligent in ascetic practice and bodily discipline have

mortified and emaciated their bodies; but because they lacked the compunction that comes from a contrite and

virtuous state of mind, and the compassion that springs from love for their fellow beings as well as for themselves,

they have remained bereft of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, remote from the spiritual knowledge of God. Their

mind's womb is sterile and their intelligence without salt or illumination.

 

82. What the Logos seeks from the Nazintes is not simply to ascend Mount Sinai through ascetic practice or to be

purified before ascending and to wash their clothes and to abstain from intercourse with a woman (cf. Exod. 19:14-

1 5). It is also to see, not the rearward parts of God (cf. Exod. 33 :23), but God Himself in His glory rejoicing in them,

bestowing on them the tables of spiritual

 

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knowledge, and sending them out to instiTict His people (cf. Exod. 32:1 5).

 

 

 

83. The Logos does not take all His servants and disciples with Him when He reveals His hidden and greater

mysteries; He takes only those to whom an ear has been given and whose eye has been opened and in whom a new

tongue has been trained to speak clearly. Taking such people with Him and separating them from the others - even

though the latter are likewise His disciples - He ascends Mount Tabor, the mountain of contemplation, and is

transfigured before them (cf. Matt. 17:2). He does not yet initiate them into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,

but shows them the glory and resplendence of the Divinity. And through the light that He gives He makes their life

and intelligence shine like the sun in the midst of the Church of the faithful. He transforms their intellections into the

whiteness and purity of the brightest light, and puts in them His own intellect, and sends them out to proclaim things

new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52) for the edification of His Church.

 

84. Many have cultivated their own fields with great diligence and have sown pure seed in them, cutting away the

thorn-bushes and burning the thistles on the fire of repentance; but because God did not water these fields with the

compunction-bom rain of the Holy Spirit, they did not yield anything. Parched as they were they did not bring forth

the rich grain of the knowledge of God. Thus even if they did not perish through a total dearth of the divine Logos,

they certainly died poor in the knowledge of God and with hands empty, having provided themselves with but scant

nourishment for the divine banquet.

 

85. When someone says something that edifies his fellow beings, he speaks out of the goodness stored up in his

heart, since he himself is good, as the Lord confirms (cf. Luke 6:45). No one can devote himself to theology and

speak about what pertains to God unless so empowered by the Holy Spirit; and no one when inspired by the Spirit of

God says anything contrary to faith in Christ (cf. ICor. 12:3). But he says only what is edifying, only what leads

others to God and His kingdom and restores them to their original nobility, bringing them to salvation and uniting

them to God. And if 'the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each to the degree that is profitable' (1 Cor. 12:7), this

means that anyone enriched with the wisdom of God and blessed with spiritual knowledge is inspired by the divine

Spirit and is a storehouse of the inexhaustible treasures of God.

 

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86. No one baptized into Christ and believing in Him is left without a share in the grace of the Spirit, so long as

he has not succumbed to any diabolic influence and defiled his faith with evil actions, or does not live slothfuUy and

dissolutely. Provided he has preserved unextmguished the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, which he received from holy

baptism, or, if he has extinguished them, has rekindled them through acts of righteousness, he cannot but receive

from God the fullness of this grace. He may after worthily engaging in spiritual combat be blessed through the

plenitude of the Spirit with the consciousness of God's wisdom and so become a teacher in the Church; or he may

through the same Spirit be given knowledge of God's mysteries and so come to understand the mysteries of the

kingdom of heaven; or from the same Spirit he may acquire deep-rooted faith in God's promises, as Abraham did

(cf Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3). He may receive the gift of healing, so that he can cure diseases; or of spiritual power, so

that he can expel demons and perform miracles; or of prophecy, so that he can foresee and predict things of the

 

 

 

future; or of the ability to distinguish between spirits, so that he can discern who is speaking in the Spirit of God and

who is not; or of the interpretation of various tongues, or of helping the weary, or of governing God's flocks and His

people, or of love for all men and the gifts of grace that go with it, long-suffering, kindness and the rest (cf. 1 Cor.

12:8-10, 28). If you are bereft of all these qualities, there is no way in which I can call you a believer or number you

among those who have 'clothed themselves in Christ' through divine baptism (cf. Gal. 3:27).

 

87. If you possess love, you feel no jealousy or envy. You are not boastful, carried away by reckless pride. Nor do

you put on airs with anyone. Nor do you act shamefully towards your fellow beings. You seek, not simply what is to

your own advantage, but what also benefits your fellow beings. You are not quickly provoked by those who are

angry with you. You are not resentful if wrong is done to you, nor do you rejoice if your friends act unjustly, though

you do rejoice with them over the truth of their righteousness. You put up with disagreeable eventualities. You

believe all things in simplicity and innocence, and hope to receive everything promised to us by God. You patiently

endure all trials, never rendering evil for evil. And, laborer of love that you are, you never waver in your love for

your fellow beings (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-8).

 

88. Of those granted the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of various gifts, some are still immature and

imperfect with regard to

 

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these gifts, while others are mature and perfect, enjoying them in their fullness. The first, by increasing their efforts

to practice the divine commandments, augment the spiritual gifts they have received so that they are filled with yet

greater gifts, leaving those of immaturity behind. The mature and the perfect, having attained the summit of God's

love and knowledge, cease from exercising partial gifts, whether of prophecy, or of distinguishing between spirits,

or of helping, or of governing, and so on (cf 1 Cor. 12:28). Once you have entered the palace of love you no longer

know in part the God who is love (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9) but, conversing with Him face to face, you understand Him fully

even as you yourself are fully understood by Him (cf . 1 Cor. 13:12).

 

89. If in your aspiration for spiritual gifts you have pursued and laid hold of love, you cannot content yourself

with praying and reading solely for your own edification. If when you pray and psalmodize you speak to God in

private you edify yourself, as St Paul says. But once you have laid hold of love you feel impelled to prophesy for the

edification of God's Church (cf. 1 Cor. 14:2-4), that is, to teach your fellow men how to practice the commandments

of God and how they must endeavor to conform to God's will. For of what benefit can it be to others if, while

charged with their guidance, you always converse with yourself and God alone through prayer and psalmody, and do

not also speak to those in your charge, whether through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, or out of knowledge of the

mysteries of God, or by exercising the prophetic gift of foresight, or by teaching the wisdom of God (cf 1 Cor.

14:6)? For which of your disciples will prepare for battle against the passions and the demons (cf. 1 Cor. 14:8) if he

does not receive clear instructions from you either in writing or by word of mouth? Truly, if it is not in order to edify

his flock that the shepherd seeks to be richly endowed with the grace of teaching and the knowledge of the Spirit, he

 

 

 

lacks fervor in his quest for God's gifts. By merely praying and psalmodizing inwardly with your tongue - that is, by

praying in the soul - you edify yourself, but your intellect is unproductive (cf. 1 Cor. 14:14), for you do not prophesy

with the language of sacred teaching or edify God's Church. If Paul, who of all men was the most closely united

with God through prayer, would have rather spoken from his fertile intellect five words in church for the instruction

of others than ten thousand words of psalmody in private (cf . 1 Cor. 14:19), surely those who have responsibility for

others

 

 

 

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have strayed from the path of love if they limit the shepherd's ministry solely to psalmody and reading.

 

90. He who has given us being by miraculously uniting and sustaining the two contrary aspects of our nature,

material substratum and spiritual essence, has also given us the capacity for well-being, which we can realize by

means of His wisdom and spiritual knowledge. Thus through spiritual knowledge we may perceive the hidden

treasures of the kingdom of heaven that He discloses to us, and through wisdom we may make known to our fellow-

men the riches of His supernal goodness and the blessings of eternal life which He has prepared for the joy of those

who love Him (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9).

 

91. He who has risen above the threats and promises of the three laws and has entered into the life which is not

subject to law has himself become the law of the Church and is not ruled by law. The life that is free is not subject to

law, and therefore transcends all physical necessity and change. He who has attained such a life is as if liberated

from his fallen unregenerate self, and through his participation in the Spirit he becomes incandescent. Purged of all

within him that is imperfect (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9-10), he is united wholly with Christ, who transcends all nature.

 

92. If you embrace the knowledge of the primordial Intellect, who is the origin and consummation of all things,

infinite in Himself, and existing both within all things and outside them, then you will know how to live as a solitary

either by yourself or with other solitaries. For you will suffer no loss of perfection through being on your own, and

no loss of solitude through being with others. On the contrary, you will be the same everywhere and alone among

all. You will initiate in others their movement towards a life of solitude and will embody the highest perfection of

virtue that they set before themselves.

 

93. The unconfused union and conjunction of soul and body constitutes, when maintained in harmony, a single

reality, whether on the visible level or in their inner being. When not harmonious, there is civil war in which each

side desires victory. But when the intelligence takes control, it at once puts an end to the jealousy and establishes

concord, conforming the entire soul-body reality to its inner being and the Spirit.

 

94. Of the three main aspects of our being, the first rules the others and is not ruled by them, the second both rules

and is ruled, the third does not rule but is ruled. Thus when the ruling aspect falls under the

 

 

 

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domination of either of those aspects which are ruled, that which is by nature free becomes the servant of what are

by nature servants; it loses its rightful pre-eminence and nature, and this provokes great discord among the three

leading powers of the soul. So long as there is this discord among them, all things are not yet made subject to the

divine Logos (cf. Heb. 2:8). But when the ruling aspect governs the others and brings them under its own direction

and control, then the discordant elements, united into one and becoming concordant, are led peacefully to God. And

when all is subjected to the Logos, He delivers the kingdom to God the Father (cf 1 Cor. 15: 24).

 

95. When the five senses are subject to the four principal virtues and maintain their obedience, they enable the

body, composed of the four elements, tranquilly to fulfill the round of life. When the body is thus disposed, the

soul's powers are not in a state of discord; the passible aspect of the appetitive and mcensive powers is united with

the power of the intelligence, and the intellect assumes its natural sovereignty. It makes the four principal virtues its

chariot and the five subservient senses its seat. And once it has subdued the imperious and unregenerate self, the

intellect is seized and borne heavenward in its four-horsed chariot and, led before the King of the ages, is crowned

with the crow n of victory and rests from its long endeavor.

 

96. For those who with the support of the Spirit have entered the fullness of contemplation, a chalice of wine is

made ready, and bread from a royal banquet is set before them. A throne is prepared for their repose and silver for

their wealth. Close at hand is a treasure-house of pearls and precious stones, and untold riches are bestowed upon

them. Because of the promptness with which they act, their ascetic life renders them visionary and prepares them to

be brought into the presence, not of sluggards, but of the King.

 

97. Is the kingdom of heaven already given in this life to all those advanced on the spiritual way, or is it given to

them after the dissolution of the body? If in this life, our victory is unassailable, our joy inexpressible, and our path

to paradise unimpeded: we are directly present in the divine East (cf. Gen. 2:8). But if it is given only after death and

dissolution, we should ask that our departure from this life may take place without fear; we should learn what the

kingdom of heaven is, what the kingdom of God is, and what paradise is, and how the one differs from the other;

also what the nature of time is in each of them, and whether we enter all three, and how and when and after

 

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how much time. If you enter the first while you are still alive and in the flesh you will not fail to enter the other two.

 

 

 

98. The world above is as yet incomplete, and awaits its fulfillment from the first-bom of Israel - from those who

see God; for it receives its completion from those who attain the knowledge of God. Once it is complete, and has

brought to an end the lower world of believers and unbelievers, it constitutes a single congregation, allocating to

each member his appointed place, and separating out what cannot be reconciled. It draws to itself the origins and

ends of all other worlds and, itself unlimited, it sets bounds to them. It is not affected or limited by any other

principle, as something that is under constraint. For it is ever-active, in such a way that it is never self -confined or

extended beyond its own limits. It is the sabbath rest of other worlds and of every other principle and activity.

 

99. The nine heavenly powers sing hymns of praise that have a threefold structure, as they stand in threefold rank

before the Trinity, in awe celebrating their liturgy and glorifying God. Those who come first - immediately below

Him who is the Source and Cause of all things and from whom they take their origin - are the initiators of the hymns

and are named thrones. Cherubim and Seraphim. They are characterized by a fiery wisdom and a knowledge of

heavenly things, and their supreme accomplishment is the godly hymn of El, as the Divinity is called in Hebrew.

Those in the middle rank, encircling God between the first triad and the last, are the authorities, dominions and

powers. They are characterized by their ordering of great events, their performance of wondrous deeds and working

of miracles, and their supreme accomplishment is the Trisagion: Holy, Holy, Holy (cf Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8). Those

nearest to us, superior to us but below the more exalted ranks, are the principalities, archangels and angels. They are

characterized by their ministrative function, and their supreme accomplishment is the sacred hymn Alleluia (cf. Rev.

19:1). When our intelligence is perfected through the practice of the virtues and is elevated through the knowledge

and wisdom of the Spirit and by the divine fire, it is assimilated to these heavenly powers through the gifts of God,

as by virtue of its purity it draws towards itself the particular characteristic of each of them. We are assimilated to

the third rank through the ministration and performance of God's commandments.

 

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We are assimilated to the second rank through our compassion and solidarity with our fellow-men, as well as

through our ordering of matters great and divine, and through the activities of the Spirit. We are assimilated to the

first rank through the fiery wisdom of the Logos and through knowledge of divine and human affairs. Perfected in

this way, and rewarded with the gifts that belong by nature to the heavenly powers, our intelligence is united

through them with the God of the Decad, for it offers to Him from its own being the finest of all the offerings that

can be made by the tenth rank.

 

100. God is both Monad and Triad; He begins with the Monad and, as Decad, He completes Himself through a

cyclic movement. Thus

 

 

 

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He contains within Himself the origins and ends of all things. He is outside everything, since He transcends all

things. To be within Him you must embrace the inner essences and possess a spiritual knowledge of created beings.

Then while standing outside all things you will dwell within all things and know their origins and ends; for you will

have attained a spiritual union with the Father through the Logos and will have been perfected in the Spirit. May the

sovereignty of this all-perfect, indivisible and coessential Trinity, worshipped in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and

glorified in one nature, kingdom and power of Divinity, prevail throughout the ages. Amen.

 

 

 

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Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

 

(c. 1250-1322)

(Volume 4, pp. 175-191)

 

Introductory Note

 

In the past the full significance of Theoliptos in the development of fourfeenth-century Orthodox theology has

been underestimated, largely because most of his writings remain still unpublished.^ The texts included in The

Philokalia represent no more than a small part of his total output. Bom at Nicaea around 1250, Theoliptos was at

first married, but at an early age he separated from his wife and became a monk. He suffered imprisonment

because of his firm opposition to the union between the Orfhodox Church and the Church Of Rome, promulgated

at the Council of Lyons (1274) and upheld by the Emperor Michael Vlll Palaiologos. Following Michael's death,

Theoliptos was elevated to the see of Philadelphia in 1284, and held the position of metropolitan there for nearly

forfy years. He led the heroic defence of the city against Turkish attack in 1310, and died in 1322. He was widely

respected as a spiritual father, and his work in this sphere is known to us above all through his letters of direction

to the nun Irene -Evlogia Choumnaina, abbess of the double monastery of Christ Philanthropos Sotir in

Constantinople. St Gregory Palamas, who in his early years was a disciple of Theoliptos, in the Triads singles him

out for mention as one of the leading teachers of hesy chasm who lived 'in our

 

' For a good survey ofTheoliptos' life and writings, with full references to the earlier studies by S. Salaville and V. Laurent, see Marie-Helene

Congourdeau, in Dictionnaire de Spiritualite xv (1990), cols 446-59. On his spirituality, see Antonio Rigo. 'Nota sulla dottrina ascetico-

spirituale di Teolepto Metropolita di Filadelfia (1250/51-1322)', Rmsto di Stiidi Bizantini e Neoellemci, n.s. xxiv (1987), pp. 165-200. In

English, consult Demetrios J. Constantelos, 'Mysticism and Social Involvement in the Later Byzantine Church: Theoleptos of Philadelphia - a

Case Study', Byzantine StudieslEtudes Byzantines vi (1979), pp. 83-94; Robert E. Sinkewicz, 'Church and Society in Asia Minor in the late

Thirteenth Centuiy: the Case of Theoleptos of Philadelphia', in M. Gervers and R.J. Bikhazi (eds). Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous

Christian Communities in Islamic Lands, Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries (Toronto, 1989). Critical editions of Theoliptos' works are being

prepared by R.E. Sinkewicz and Angela Hero.

 

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Introductory Note

 

own day', and describes him as 'an authentic theologian and a trustworthy visionary of the truth of God's

mysteries'.'

 

The main text included here. On Inner Work in Christ and the Monastic Profession, was addressed by Theoliptos

to Irene -Evlogia, but in the manuscript used by St Makarios and St Nikodimos all the expressions originally in the

feminine have been changed to the masculine. In our translation we have taken account of alternative readings

supplied by Fr Severien Salaville." On Inner Work in Christ is a brief but comprehensive survey of the monastic

vocation, offering practical advice on the outward ordering of daily life - on behaviour in church and the refectory,

on conversations within the community and with outside persons, on psalmody, spiritual reading, work and sleep -

but dealing above all with inner prayer. Theoliptos draws a close parallel between monastic life and the sacrament

of baptism.^ He is apophatic in his approach, emphasizing the need to lay aside 'all representational images',

thereby attaining 'an ignorance surpassing all knowledge'.'' He refers several times to the invocation of the name of

Jesus, and briefly mentions illumination by the divine light. ^^ Here, drawing on earlier tradition, he anticipates the

themes taken up by Palamas later in the fourteenth century.

 

' Triads 1, ii, 12: see below, p. 341.

 

^ Formes ou methodes de priere d'apres un byzantin du 14° siecle, Theolepte de Philadelphie', Echos d'Orient xxxix (1940), pp. 1-25.

 

'Seep. 178.

 

*Seep. 181.

 

'See pp. 182, 184, 189.

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Inner Work in Christ

 

and the Monastic Profession VOLUME 4: Page 177

Texts 188

 

 

 

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On Inner Work in Christ

And the Monastic Profession

 

The monastic profession is a lofty and fruitful tree whose root is detachment from all corporeal things, whose

branches are freedom from passionate craving and total alienation from what you have renounced, and whose fruit is

the acquisition of virtue, a deifying love, and the uninterrupted joy mat results from these two things; for, as St Paul

says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace and the other things he mentions (cf Gal. 5:22).

 

Flight from the world is rewarded by refuge in Christ. By 'world I mean here attachment to sensory things and to

worldly proclivities. If you detach yourself from such things through knowledge of the truth you are assimilated to

Christ, acquiring a love for Him that allows you to put aside all worldly matters and to purchase the precious pearl,

that is to say, Christ Himself (cf Matt 13:46).

 

You put on Christ through the baptism of salvation (cf. Gal. 3:27), being thus washed clean, illumined with

spiritual grace and restored to your original nobility. But what happened then as a result of your weakness of will?

Through over-attachment to the world you subverted your likeness to God, through coddling the flesh you rendered

the divine image within you powerless, and with passion-embroiled thoughts you beclouded your soul's mirror so

 

 

 

that Christ, the spiritual Sun, can no longer manifest Himself in it.

 

Now, however, you have transfixed your soul with the fear of God. You have recognized the world's benighted

abnormity and the mental dissipation and vain distraction which it generates, and you have been wounded by a

longing for stillness. Obedient to the precepts 'Seek peace and pursue it' (Ps. 34:14) and "Return to your rest, O my

soul' (Ps. 1 16:7), you have sought to bring peace to your thoughts. You have therefore resolved to regain the nobility

that you received

 

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through grace at baptism, but jettisoned by your own free choice through your self-indulgence in the world; and

accordingly you have entered this sacred school and set to work, donning the venerable habit of repentance and

vowing courageously to remain in the monastery until death.

 

This is now the second covenant you have made with God. The first you made when you originally entered into

this life; the second, as you swiftly approach its dose. Then through the profession of the trae faith you were

numbered among Christ's flock; now you are united to Him through repentance. Then you found grace; now you

have contracted an obligation. Then, still a little child, you were not aware of the honor conferred on you, although

later, as you grew up, you began to appreciate the greatness of the gift and restrained your tongue accordingly. Now,

having reached complete understanding, you fully recognize the significance of the vow you are taking. Beware lest

you fail to fulfill this promise as well, and are cast, like some shattered pot, into the outer darkness where there is

weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf . Matt. 8:12). No path other than that of repentance leads to salvation.

 

Listen to what David promises you: 'You have made the Most High your refuge' (Ps. 91:9) and, if on the model of

Christ you choose a life of tribulation, 'no plague will come near you' (Ps. 91:10) - no evil, that is to say, will be

inflicted on you because of your worldly life. Now that you have chosen to repent, you will not be shadowed by

avidity, self-indulgence, self-glorification, self-display or sensual dissipation. Distraction of the mind, captivity of

the intellect, the levity of successive thoughts, and every other kind of deliberate prevarication and confusion - from

all such aberrations you will be set free. Nor will you be constrained by the love of parents, brothers and sisters,

relatives, friends and acquaintances, and you will not waste time in pointless meetings and talks with them

 

If you thus give yourself soul and body to the religious life, no scourge of anguish will afflict you (cf. Ps. 91:10),

nor will distress pierce your heart or darken your countenance. Distress is muted in those who have renounced the

life of pleasure and are free from attachment to the things that 1 have mentioned, for Christ reveals Himself to the

striving soul and bestows ineffable joy on the heart. No worldly delight or suffering can take away this spiritual joy,

for holy meditation, the mindfulness of God that brings salvation, divine

 

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And the Monastic Profession

 

thoughts and words of wisdom nourish and protect everyone engaged m spiritual warfare. That is why such a

person treads upon aU mindless desire and headstrong anger as upon an asp or basilisk, quelling pleasure as though

it were a snake and wrath as though it were a lion (cf Ps. 91:13. LXX). This is because he has transferred all his

hope from men and from worldly things to God, has been enriched with divine knowledge and always calls

spiritually upon God to come to his aid. As the Psalmist writes, 'Because he has set his hope on Me, I will deliver

him; I will protect him, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: not only will

I deliver him from those who afflict him, but I will also glorify him' (cf. Ps. 91:15-16).

 

Do you see the struggles of those who lead a godly ascetic life, and the rewards granted them? Then put your

calling into action without more ado. Just as you have secluded yourself bodily, rejecting worldly things, so likewise

seclude yourself in soul by subjecting also the thoughts of all such things. You have changed your outward clothing;

make your monastic profession into a reality. You have separated yourself from crowds of strangers; distance

yourself also from the few who are related to you by birth. If you do not put an end to delusions prompted by

external things, you will not overcome those that ambush you from within. If you do not triumph over those who

fight against you with visible means, you will not repulse your invisible enemies. But when you have quelled both

external and inner distraction, your intellect will rise to spiritual labor and spiritual discourse. In the place of

conventional dealings with relatives and friends you will follow the ways of virtue; and instead of filling your soul

with vain words bom of worldly contacts, you will illumine and fill it with understanding through meditating upon

the meaning of Holy Scripture.

 

To give free rein to the senses is to shackle the soul, to shackle the senses is to liberate it. When the sun sets, night

comes; when Christ leaves the soul, the darkness of the passions envelops it and incorporeal predators tear it

asunder. When the visible sun rises, animals retreat into their lairs; when Christ rises in the heaven of the praying

mind, worldly preoccupations and proclivities abscond, and the intellect goes forth to its labor - that is, to meditate

on the divine - until the evening (cf. Ps. 104:19-23). Not that the intellect limits its fulfillment of the spiritual law to

any period of time or performs it according to some measure; on the contrary, it continues to fulfill it

 

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until it reaches the term of this present life and the soul departs from the body. That is what is meant in the

Psalms when it is said, 'How 1 have loved Thy law, Lord; it is my meditation all the day long' (Ps. 1 19:97) - where

'day' means the whole course of one's present life.

 

Suspend, then, your gossip with the outer world and fight against the thoughts within until you find the abode of

pure prayer and Christ's dwelling-place. Thus you will be illumined and mellowed by His knowledge and His

presence, enabled to experience tribulation for His sake as joy and to shun worldly pleasure as you would bitter

poison.

 

Winds rouse the Sea's waves, and until they drop the waves will not subside and the sea will not grow calm.

 

 

 

Similarly, if you are not careful evil spirits will rouse in your soul memories of parents, brothers and sisters,

relatives, acquaintances, banquets, celebrations, theatres and various other images of pleasure; and they will incite

you to seek for happiness in visual, vocal and corporeal things, so that you waste not only the present moment but

also the time that you sit alone in your cell, in bringing to mind what you have seen and spoken about. Preoccupied

in this way with memories of his worldly activities, the monk's life passes profitlessly: he is like a man who retreads

his own footsteps in the snow.

 

If we continue to nourish the demons, when will we slay them? If we let our mind dwell on actions and thoughts

related to meaningless friendships and habits, when will we mortify the will of the flesh? When will we live the

Christ-like life to which we have committed ourselves? The foot's imprint in the snow dissolves when the sun shines

or when it begins to rain. Mind-embedded memories of self-indulgence whether in thought or act are effaced when

as the result of prayer and tears of compunction Christ rises in the heart. But when will the monk who does not

practice what he has professed expunge passion-imbued memories from his mind?

 

Moral virtues pertaining to the body are effectuated when you give up commerce with the world. Holy images and

thoughts are imprinted on the soul when you efface memories of previous actions by frequent prayer and fervent

compunction. Heartfelt contrition and the illumination that comes from constant mmdfulness of God excise evil

memories like a razor.

 

Copy the wisdom of the bees; when they become aware of an encircling swarm of wasps, they remain inside their

hive and so escape

 

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the attacks with which they are threatened. Wasps signify commerce with the world: avoid such commerce at all

costs, stay in your cell, and there try to re-enter the innermost citadel of the soul, the dwelling-place of Christ, where

you will truly find the peace, joy and serenity of Christ the spiritual Sun - gifts that He irradiates and with which He

rewards the soul that receives Him with faith and devotion.

 

Sitting in your cell, then, be mindful of God, raising your intellect above all things and prostrating it wordlessly

before Him, exposing your heart's state to Him, and cleaving to Him in love. For mindfulness of God is the

contemplation of God, who draws to Himself the mtellect's vision and aspiration, and illumines the intellect with His

own light. When the intellect turns toward God and stills all representational images of created things, it perceives in

an imageless way, and through an ignorance surpassing all knowledge its vision is illumined by God's

unapproachable glory. Although not knowing, because what it perceives is beyond all knowledge, nevertheless the

intellect does know through the truth of Him who truly is and who alone transcends all being. Nourishing its love on

the wealth of goodness that pours forth from God, and fulfilling thereby its own nature, it is granted blessed and

eternal repose.

 

Such are the characteristics of true mindfulness of God. Prayer is the mind's dialogue with God, in which words of

petition are uttered with the intellect riveted wholly on God. For when the mind unceasingly repeats the name of the

Lord and the intellect gives its full attention to the invocation of the divine name, the light of the knowledge of God

 

 

 

overshadows the entire soul hke a luminous cloud.

 

Concentrated mindfulness of God is followed by love and joy: 'I remembered God, and I rejoiced', writes the

Psalmist (Ps. 77:3. LXX). Pure prayer is followed by divine knowledge and compunction; again the Psalmist writes,

'On whatever day I call upon Thee, behold, I shall know that Thou art my God' (Ps. 56:9. LXX); and. The offering

acceptable to God is a contrite spirit' (Ps. 51:17). When intellect and mind stand attentive before God in fervent

supplication, compunction of the soul will ensue. When intellect, intelligence and spirit prostrate themselves before

God, the first through attentiveness, the second through invocation, and the third through Compunction and love, the

whole of your inner self serves God; for 'You shall love your God with all your heart' (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37).

 

You should take particular notice of this lest, though you thmk you

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are praying, you wander far from prayer, and accomplish nothing. This is what happens during the chanting of

psalms when the tongue utters the words of the verses while the intellect is carried away elsewhere and is dispersed

among passion-charged thoughts and other things, with the result that comprehension of the psalms goes by the

board. The same thing also happens where we mind is concerned. Time and again, when the mind repeats the words

of the prayer the intellect does not keep it company and does not fix its attention on God, to whom our words of

prayer are being addressed; imperceptibly it is turned aside by one thought or another. The mind says the words as

usual, but the intellect lapses from the knowledge of God. As a result, the soul is devoid of understanding and

devotion, since the intellect is fragmented by fantasies, distracted by what has enticed it away or by what it has

deliberately chosen.

 

When there is no conscious understanding of prayer and when the suppliant does not put himself in the presence

of Him whom he invokes, how can the soul be gladdened? How can a heart find joy when it only pretends to pray

but lacks true prayer? "The hearts of those who seek the Lord will rejoice' (cf Ps. 105:3). To seek the Lord is to

prostrate yourself with your whole mind and with great fervor before God and to expel every worldly thought with

the knowledge and love of God that spring from pure and unremitting prayer.

 

In order to clarify the nature of the vision bom in the intellect as a result of the mindfulness of God and the status

of the mind during pure prayer, I shall use the analogy of the bodily eye and tongue. What the pupil is to the eye and

utterance is to the tongue, mindfulness is to the intellect and prayer is to the mind. Just as the eye, when it receives

the visual impression of an object, makes no sound, but acquires knowledge of what is seen through the experience

of sight, so it is with the intellect: when through its mindfulness of God it is lovingly assimilated to Him, cleaving to

Him exponentially and in the silence of direct and unalloyed intellection, it is illumined by divine light and receives

a pledge of the radiance in store for it. Or again, as the tongue when it speaks reveals to the hearer the hidden

disposition of the intellect, so the mind, when it repeats frequently and ardently the brief words of the prayer, reveals

the soul's petition to the all-knowing God. Persistence in prayer and unceasing contrition of heart enkindle God's

compassion for man and call down the riches of salvation; for 'God will not despise a broken and a contrite heart'(Ps.

51:17).

 

 

 

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Another illustration which may lead you to an understanding of pure prayer is that of the earthly king. When you

approach a king, you stand before him bodily, entreat him orally, and fix your eyes upon him, thus drawing to

yourself his royal favor. Act in the same manner, whether in church or in the solitude of your cell. When in God's

name you gather together with the brethren, present yourself bodily to God and offer Him psalms chanted orally;

and likewise keep your intellect attentive to the words and to God Himself, aware of who it is that your intellect

addresses and entreats. For when the mind devotes itself to prayer actively and with purity, the heart is granted

inexpressible peace and a joy which cannot be taken away. Again, when you sit alone in your cell, cleave to this

mental prayer with watchful intellect and contrite spirit. Then on account of your watchfulness the grace of

contemplation will descend upon you, knowledge will dwell in you by virtue of your prayer, and wisdom will repose

in you because of your compunction, banishing mindless pleasure and replacing it with divine love.

 

Believe me, 1 tell the tmth. If in all your activity you cleave inseparably to the mother of blessings, prayer, then

prayer itself will not rest until it has shown you the bridal chamber and has led you within, filling you with ineffable

glory and joy. By removing every impediment, prayer smoothes the path of virtue and renders it easy for those who

pursue it.

 

Consider now the effects of mental prayer. Dialogue with God destroys passion-imbued thoughts, while the

intellect's concentration on God dispels worldly preoccupations. Compunction of soul repels affection for the flesh,

and the prayer bom from ceaseless invocation of the divine name reveals itself as the concordance and union of

intellect, intelligence and soul; for 'where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am in the midst of them'

(Matt. 18:20). Thus by recollecting the powers of the soul dispersed by the passions, and by uniting them to one

another and to itself, prayer assimilates the tripartite soul to the one God in three hypostases.

 

By first removing the ugliness of sin from the soul through the practice of virtue, and then through sacred

knowledge renewing the divine beauty imprinted upon it, prayer presents the soul to God. At once the soul

recognizes its Creator, for 'on whatever day 1 call upon Thee, behold, 1 shall know that Thou art my God' (Ps. 56:9.

LXX); and in turn it is known by God, for "the Lord knows those that are His'

 

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(2 Tim. 2:19). It knows God because of the purity of His image within it, for every image leads one back to its

original; and it is known by God because its likeness to God has been restored through the practice of the virtues.

Thus it is by means of the virtues that the soul knows God and is known by God.

 

 

 

The person who courts the favor of a king does so in one of three ways. He either entreats his possible benefactor

with words, or stands silently before him, or throws himself at his feet Pure prayer, uniting to itself intellect,

intelligence and spirit, invokes the divine name with the intelligence; with the intellect it concentrates its unwavering

attention on God whom it invokes; and with the spirit it manifests compunction, humility, and love. In this way it

entreats the unonginate Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - the one God.

 

Just as variety in food stimulates the appetite, so the varied forms of virtue awaken the activity of the intellect.

Thus while you travel the path of the mind, repeat again and again the words of the prayer, hold converse with the

Lord, cry out ceaselessly, and do not give up, praying frequently and imitating the boldness of the widow who

managed to prevail upon the inexorable judge (cf Luke 18:1-5). Then you will walk in the path of the Spirit,

impervious to sensual desires, the flow of your prayer unbroken by worldly thoughts, and you will become a temple

of God, praising Him undistractedly. If you pray in the mind in this way you will be granted the privilege of

attaining mmdfulness of God and will penetrate the innermost sanctuary of the intellect, mystically contemplating

the Invisible and alone celebrating in solitude God alone in the unity of divine knowledge and in outpourings of

love.

 

When you see yourself, therefore, growing sluggish in prayer, take up a book and by paying careful attention to

what you read absorb its meaning. Do not read through the words in a cursory fashion, but examine them with depth

of understanding and treasure their meaning. Then meditate on what you have read, so that your mind in

comprehending it is mellowed and it remains unforgotten. Thus will your ardor for reflection on things divine be

kindled, for 'a fire shall be kindled during my meditation' (Ps. 39:3. LXX). just as you have to chew food before you

can savor its taste, so you have to ruminate in your soul on holy texts before they enrich and gladden the mind: as

the Psalmist says, 'How sweet Thy words are in my throat' (Ps. 119:103). Learn by heart the words of the Gospels

and me sayings of

 

 

 

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the blessed fathers, and study their lives diligently, so that you may meditate on these things during the night. In

this way when your mind grows listless in prayer you can refresh it by reading and meditating on sacred texts and

rekindle its appetite for prayer.

 

When chanting psalms, do this in a low voice, with your intellect fully attentive: do not allow any phrase to go

uncomprehended. Should anything escape your understanding, begin the verse again, and repeat this as many times

as necessary, until your intellect grasps what is being said. For the intellect can attend to the chanting and

simultaneously can recollect God. You may learn this from everyday experience: you can meet and speak with

someone and also focus your eyes on him. Similarly, you can chant psalms and focus on God through

recollectedness.

 

Do not neglect prostration. It provides an image of man's fall into sin and expresses the confession of our

sinfulness. Getting up, on the other hand, signifies repentance and the promise to lead a life of virtue. Let each

 

 

 

prostration be accompanied by a noetic invocation of Christ, so that by faUing before the Lord in soul and body you

may gain the grace of the God of souls and bodies.

 

To dispel sleep and indolence while practicing mental prayer you may occupy your hands with some quiet task,

for this, too, contributes to the ascetic struggle. All such tasks when accompanied by prayer quicken the intellect,

banish listlessness, give youthful vigor to the soul, and render the intellect more prompt and eager to devote itself to

mental work.

 

When the wooden sounding-board is struck, leave your cell, your eyes lowered and your mind anchored in

mindfulness of God. When you have entered the church and taken your place in the choir, do not indulge in idle talk

with the monk next to you or let your intellect be distracted by vain droughts. Secure your tongue with the chanting

of psalms and your mind with prayer. After the dismissal, go back to your cell and begin the tasks prescribed for you

by your rule.

 

When you enter the refectory, do not look round to see how much food your brethren are eating and so fragment

your soul with ugly suspicions. Look only at what lies before you; with your mouth eat

 

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your food, with your ears listen to what is being read, and with your soul pray. Nourishing body and spirit in this

way, with your whole being you may truly praise Him who 'satisfies your desire with blessings' (Ps. 103:5. LXX).

Then rise and enter your cell with dignity and silence, and like an industrious bee make virtue your labor of love.

When you work with the brethren, let your hands do the work while your lips keep silence, and let your intellect be

mindful of God. Should someone be prompted to speak idle words, to restore order rise and make a prostration.

 

Repulse evil thoughts and do not let than penetrate the heart and settle there; for when passion-imbued thoughts

persist they bring the passions themselves to life and are the death of the intellect. As soon as you sense that they are

attacking you, try to destroy them with the arrow of prayer. If they go on importuning you to be let in, confusing

your mind, now withdrawing, now assailing you again, you may be sure that a prevement desire for them on your

part is giving them strength. Because the soul's free will has been overcome in this way, they now have a lawful

claim against it, and so they perturb and pester it. Hence you should expose them through confession, for evil

thoughts take to flight as soon as they are denounced. Just as darkness recedes when light shines, so the light of

confession dispels the darkness of impassioned thoughts. The vanity and self-indulgence that provided an opening

for such thoughts are destroyed by the shame felt in confessing them and by the hardship of the penance imposed.

Evil thoughts See in confusion when they find the mind already free from passions as a result of continuous, truly

contrite prayer.

 

When a spiritual athlete tries by means of prayer to cut off the thoughts that agitate him, he is successful for a

while and, wrestling and fighting, controls his mental distraction. But he is not delivered completely, because he is

still attached to the things that cause these disturbing thoughts - to bodily comfort, that is to say, and to worldly

ambition. It is for this reason, indeed, that he is reluctant to confess his thoughts. Thus he is not at peace, for he

himself keeps hold of what properly belongs to his enemies. If you retain someone else's goods, will not the rightful

 

 

 

owner claim them back from you? And if you do not surrender what you wrongfully possess, how can you escape

from your adversary? But when the spiritual athlete, strengthened by mindfulness of God, willingly humiliates and

ill-treats his mortal self, and confesses his thoughts without shame, the enemy withdraws at

 

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once, and the mind - now free - enjoys ceaseless prayer and unintermpted meditation on things divine.

 

Reject completely every suspicion about someone else that rises in your heart, because it destroys love and peace.

But accept with courage any calamity that comes from without, since it provides an opportunity for exercising the

patience that leads to salvation, the patience that bestows an abiding-place and repose in heaven.

 

If you pass your days in this manner, you will spend this present-life in good heart, glad in the expectation of

blessedness; and at death you will leave this world with confidence and be translated to the place of repose that the

Lord has prepared for you, granting you as a reward for your present labors the privilege of reigning with Him in

His kingdom. To Him be all glory, honor and worship, as also to His unorigmate Father, and to His all-holy, blessed

and life-quickening Spirit, now, for ever, and through all the ages. Amen.

 

 

 

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Texts

 

1 . When the intellect turns away from external things and concentrates on what is within, it is restored to itself; it

is united, that is to say, to the principle of its own consciousness, and through this principle naturally inherent in its

own substance it devotes itself entirely to prayer. By means of prayer it ascends with all its loving power and

affection to the knowledge of God. Then sensual desire vanishes, every pleasure-inciting sense becomes inert, and

the delectable things of earth cease to have any attraction. For once the soul has put behind it all that pertains and is

endemic to the body, it pursues the beauty of Christ, engaging in works of devotion and of mental purity. It sings

aloud, 'The virgins that follow Him shall be brought to the King' (cf Ps. 45:14. LXX). With Christ's image ever

before it, it exclaims, 'I have set the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand' (Ps. 16:8). It cleaves to

Christ with love and cries, 'Lord, all my desire is before Thee' (Ps. 38:9). It continually contemplates Christ, uttering

the words, 'My eyes are ever towards the Lord' (Ps. 25:15). Discoursing with Christ in pure prayer it is filled with

delight and joy, in accordance with the Psalmist's words, 'My discourse with Him will be full of delight, I will

rejoice in the Lord' (Ps. 104 : 34). For God welcomes the discourse bom of prayer, and when He is lovingly invoked

and called to our aid. He bestows inexpressible joy on the beseeching soul. For when the soul brings God to mind in

the discourse of prayer, it is gladdened by the Lord: again as the Psalmist says, 'I remembered God and was

gladdened' (Ps. 77:4. LXX).

 

 

 

2. Spurn the senses and you will quell sensual pleasure. Spurn mental fantasies of delectation and you will quell

self-indulgent thoughts. For when the intellect remains free from fantasy and image, not permitting itself to be

shaped or stamped either by the taints of sensual pleasure or by thoughts full of desire, then it is in a state of

 

 

 

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simplicity; and transcending all sensory and intelligible realities, it concentrates its vision on God. Its sole activity

is to invoke the Lord's name in the depth of itself with continuous recollectedness, as a child repeats the name of his

father: as it is said in the Scriptures, 'I will invoke the name of the Lord before you' (Exod. 33:19). And as Adam,

molded by God's hand from dust, became through divine inspiration a living soul, so the intellect molded by the

virtues and repeatedly invoking the Lord with a pure mind and an ardent spirit, is divinely transformed, quickened

and deified through knowing and loving God.

 

3. If through sincere, continual prayer you stand aloof from desire for earthly things, if you repose not with sleep

but through abandoning concern with everything except God, being steadfastly rooted solely in mindfulness of God,

you will establish in yourself, like another helpmate, love for God. For the cry of the prayer that rises from within

you releases divine love; and divine love awakens the intellect, revealing to it what is hidden. Then the intellect,

united with love, gives birth to wisdom, and through wisdom proclaims the esoteric meaning of things. For the

divine Logos, invoked in the cry of the prayer that rises from within you, lays hold of the noetic power of the

intellect as though it were Adam's rib and fills it with divine knowledge; and in its place, bringing to perfection your

inner state. He confers the gift of virtue. Next He vivifies light-generating love and brings it to the enraptured

intellect as it sleeps a sleep free from all desire for. anything earthly. Love appears as another helpmate to the

intellect liberated from mindless attachment to sensory things; it is because of this that it awakens the intellect, now

in a state of purity that permits it to embrace the words of wisdom. Then the intellect, gazing on love and filled with

delight, speaks at length to others, disclosing to them the hidden dimensions of virtue and the unseen operations of

divine knowledge (cf Gen. 2:18, 21-23).

 

4. Stand aloof from all things sensory, abjuring the law of your unregenerate self, and the spiritual law will be

engraved on your mind. As, according to St Paul, the spiritually awakened do not implement the desire of the flesh

(cf. Gal. 5:16), so he who stands aloof from the senses and from sensory things - stands aloof, that is to say, from the

world and the flesh - is energized by the Spirit and meditates on the things of the Spirit. One can learn of this from

God's relationship with Adam prior to the fall.

 

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5. If you struggle to keep the commandments, persisting in the paradise of prayer and cleaving to God through

continuous recollection of Him, then God will release you from the self-indulgent proclivities of the flesh, from all

 

 

 

sensory impulsion and from all forms engraved upon your thought; and rendering you dead to the passions and to sin

He will make you a participant in divine life. A sleeping person looks like one dead so far as his bodily activity is

concerned, and yet he is alive thanks to the co-operation of his soul. Similarly if you abide in the Spirit you are dead

to the world and the flesh, but you live according to the spontaneity of the Spirit.

 

6. If you grasp the meaning of what you chant you will acquire knowledge. From such knowledge you will attain

understanding. From understanding springs the practice of what you know. From practice you will reap abiding

spiritual knowledge. Experiential spiritual knowledge gives rise to true contemplation. From true contemplation is

bom wisdom, filling the firmament of the mind with refulgent words of grace and elucidating what is hidden to the

uninitiated.

 

7. First the intellect seeks and finds, and then it is united to what it has found. The searching is effectuated by

means of the intelligence, the union by means of love. The search by means of the intelligence is undertaken for the

sake of truth, the union by means of love is consummated for the sake of sanctity.

 

8. If you transcend the flow of temporal things and detach yourself from desire for what is transient, you will not

notice mundane objects or crave for the delectable things of earth. On the contrary. Supernal visions will be

disclosed to you and you will contemplate celestial beauty and the blessedness of unfading realities. To the person

who hankers after material things and who steeps himself in sensual pleasure, the heavens are dosed, since his

spiritual eyes are shrouded; but he who scorns material things and who repudiates them exalts his intellect and

perceives the glory of eternal realities and the luminosity of the saints. Such a person is filled with divine love and

becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit; he aspires to do God's will and is guided by the Spirit of God, being granted

divine sonship, blessed by God and conforming to Him. 'For all who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of

God' (Rom. 8:14).

 

9. For as long as you live do not abandon prayer even for a single day on the excuse of illness. Heed St Paul, who

says, 'When I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Cor. 12:10). If you act in this spirit, your profit

 

 

 

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will be greater, and the prayer - grace assisting - will soon make you well. Wherever the Spirit brings solace,

illness and listlessness are short-lived.

 

 

 

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Nikiphoros the Monk

 

(13th century)

 

(Volume 4, pp. 192-206)

 

Introductory Note

 

 

 

Nikiphoros the Monk, often known as Nikiphoros the Hesychast or the Athonite, lived in the second hah" of the

thirteenth century. He was bom in Italy, so St Gregory Palamas tells us,^ and was originally a Roman Catholic. But,

rejecting what Palamas terms the 'kakodoxy' of the Latin West, he travelled to the Byzantine Empire, where he

embraced the Orthodox faith, becoming a monk on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Here he dwelt in 'quietness and

stillness', according to Palamas - presumably this means that he lived in a small hermitage, not in a fully -organized

cenobium - and eventually he withdrew to the 'most isolated parts' of the mountain. Like Theoliptos of

Philadelphia, he was fiercely opposed to the unionist policy of Michael VIII, ~ and he has himself left an account of

the imprisonment and exile that he suffered in consequence during 1276-7.^ Probably he died before 1300.

 

The present work. On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart, is mentioned by Palamas, who writes:

'Seeing that many beginners were incapable of controlling the instability of their intellect, even to a limited degree,

Nikiphoros proposed a method whereby they could restrain to some extent the wanderings of the fantasy. '"* The

'method' in question is closely similar to the psychosomatic technique recommended in The Three Methods of

Prayer, attributed to St Symeon the New Theologian.^ Nikiphoros is sometimes styled the 'inventor' of this bodily

'method', but Palamas does not actually assert this. It is more

 

' See Triads, I, ii, 12 (cf below, p. 341); II, ii, 2-3. Compare Daniel Stiemon, in Dictwnnaire de Spiiitualite xi (1981), cols 198-203; Antonio

Rigo, 'Niceforo I'Esicasta (XIII sec.): alcune considerazioni sulla vita e sull'opera', in Olivier Raquez (ed.), Amore del Bella: Studi sulla Filocalia

(Magnano. 1991), pp. 81-119.

 

^ See above, p. 175.

 

'Edited by V. Laurent and J. Darrouzes, Dossier grec de I'union de Lyon (1 273-1277) (Archives de I'Orient Chretien 16: Paris, 1976), pp. 486-

507; cf. pp. 82-8.

 

" Triads II, ii, 2.

 

' See above, pp. 72-3.

 

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probable that the 'method' had long been traditional on the Holy Mountain and elsewhere, handed down orally

from teacher to disciple, and that Nikiphoros - along with the author of The Three Methods - did no more than

provide the first written descriptions of this technique.

 

The main theme of the work On Watchfulness is the need to return into oneself, to descend with the intellect

into the depths of the heart, and to seek there the hidden treasure of the inner kingdom. After a short anthology of

texts, underlining the importance of keeping guard over the intellect, Nikiphoros concludes by suggesting the

physical 'method' as a practical way of 'entering the heart' and so achieving this state of spiritual watchfulness. As

in The Three Methods, the psychosomatic technique, so it seems, is to be practiced before actually commencing

the Jesus Prayer. Nikiphoros insists that it is highly desirable to have personal direction from an 'unerring guide',

but then recommends the 'method' for those who cannot find such a spiritual director. Most modem Orthodox

writers adopt a different view, and consider it dangerous to use this technique except under the immediate

instruction of an experienced teacher.

 

St Gregory Palamas concedes that Nikiphoros has written 'in a simple and unsophisticated manner'.' Statements

about making the intellect descend into the heart, Palamas insists, are not to be interpreted literally, for our mental

faculties are not located spatially inside the physical heart 'as in a container'." But there is none the less the genuine

correlation - what has sometimes been termed a relationship of 'analogy-participation' - between our physical

modalities and our mental or spiritual state: 'After the fall our inner being naturally adapts itself to outward

forms. '^ Nikiphoros was therefore correct, Palamas concludes, in suggesting specific ways whereby our bodily

energies can be harnessed to the work of prayer.

 

' Triads, II, ii, 3.

 

^ Triads I, ii, 2 (see p. 334).

 

 

 

' Triads I, ii, 8 (see p. 338). For the phrase 'analogy-participation' see J. -A. Cuttat, The Encounter of Religions.- A Dialogue between the West

and the Orient, with an Essay on the Prayer of Jesus (New York/Toumai, 1960), pp. 92-3.

 

Contents

 

On Watchfulness and

 

the Guarding of the Heart VOLUME 4: Page 194

 

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If you ardently long to attain the wondrous divine illumination of our Savior Jesus Christ; to experience in your

heart the supracelestial fire and to be consciously reconciled with God; to dispossess yourself of worldly things in

order to find and possess the treasure hidden in the field of your heart (cf Matt. 13:44); to enkindle here and now

your soul's flame and to renounce all that is only here and now; and spiritually to know and experience the kingdom

of heaven within you (cf. Luke 17:21): then I will impart to you the science of eternal or heavenly life or, rather, a

method that will lead you, if you apply it, painlessly and without toil to the harbor of dispassion, without the danger

of being deceived or terrified by the demons. Terror of this kind we experience only when through disobedience we

estrange ourselves from the life I am about to describe. This was the fate of Adam when he violated God's

commandments: associating with the serpent and trusting him, he was sated by him with the fruits of deceit (cf. Gen.

3 : 1 -6), and thus wretchedly plunged himself and all those who came after him into the pit of death, darkness and

corruption.

 

You should, then, return; or - to put it more truly - let us return, brethren, to ourselves, rejecting once and for all

with disgust the serpent's counsel and our deflection to what is base. For we cannot be reconciled with God and

assimilated to Him unless we first return or, rather, enter into ourselves, in so far as this lies within our power. For

the miracle consists in tearing ourselves away from the distraction and vain concerns of the world and in this way

relentlessly seizing hold of the kingdom of heaven within us.

 

That is why the monastic life has been called the art of arts and the science of sciences. For this holy discipline

does not procure us what is corruptible, so that we divert our intellect from higher to lower things

 

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and completely stifle it. On the contrary it offers us strange, indescribable blessings, that 'the eye has not seen,

and the ear has not heard, and man's heart has not grasped' (1 Cor. 2:9). Henceforward 'we wrestle not against flesh

and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world' (Eph. 6:12). If,

then, this present age is one of darkness, let us flee from it. Let us flee from it in our thoughts so that we may have

nothing in common with the enemy of God. For if you choose to be a friend of this present age you are an enemy of

 

 

 

God (cf. Jas. 4:4). And who can help an enemy of God?

 

Let us therefore imitate our fathers and like them let us seek the treasure within our hearts. And when we have

found it let us hold fast to it with all our might, both cultivating and guarding it (cf. Gen. 2:15); for this is what we

were commanded to do from the beginning. And if another Nikodimos should appear and begin to argue, saying,

'How can anyone enter into his own heart and work or dwell in it?' - as the original Nikodimos, doubting the Savior,

said, 'How can someone who is old enter the second time into his mother's womb and be bom?' (John 3:4) - let him

in his turn hear the words, 'The Spirit blows where He wants to' (John 3:8). If we are full of disbelief and doubt

about the practice of the ascetic life, how shall we enjoy the fruits of contemplation? For it is practice that initiates

us into contemplation.

 

Doubters of this kind cannot be convinced without written evidence. Hence for the benefit of many I will include

in this discourse passages from the lives of the saints and from their writings: reading them should dispel all doubt. I

will begin at the beginning with St Antony the Great, and then continue with his successors, selecting and setting

forth their words and actions as best I can, so as to confirm what I have been saying.

 

 

 

From the Life of Our Holy Father Antony

 

 

 

Once two brothers were on their way to visit St Antony, but on the journey their water gave out and one of them

died and the other was near to dying. Unable to go any further, he too lay down on the ground

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From the Life of Our Holy Father Antony

 

and awaited death. But Antony, seated on the mountain, called two monks who happened to be with him and said

to them urgently, 'Take a jar of water and go as fast as you can along the road leading to Egypt: two men were on

their way here, but one has just died and the other will also die if you don't hurry. This was revealed to me as I was

praying.' The monks set off; and finding the one man dead they buried him, while they revived the other with water

and brought him to the elder. It was about a day's journey off. Should you ask why Antony did not speak before the

first man died, I would say that the question is inapt: the decision about death rested not with Antony but with God,

and He allowed the first man to die and sent a revelation to St Antony about the second. The miracle happened to St

Antony, and to him alone, because while seated on the mountain he kept his heart watchful, and so the Lord showed

him what was happening a long way off

 

Do you see how through watchfulness of heart St Antony was able to perceive God and to acquire the power of

clairvoyance? For it is in the heart that God manifests Himself to the intellect, first - according to St John Klmiakos -

as fire that purifies the lover and then as light that illumines the intellect and renders it godlike.

 

 

 

From the Life of St Theodosios the Cenobiarch

 

 

 

St Theodosios was so deeply wounded by the sweet arrow of love, and was held so fast in love's fetters, that he

fulfilled in actual practice the exalted commandment, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and

with all your soul, and with all your mind' (Matt. 22:37). Such a state can be attained only by so concentrating the

soul's natural powers that they aspire to nothing other than the Creator alone. So great were these spiritual energies

in his soul that when exhorting someone he often inspired awe; yet when giving

 

 

 

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From the Life of St Theodosios the Cenobiarch

 

rebukes he was always gentle and tender. Who else could talk with so many people and be of such service to

them, or could so concentrate their senses and turn them inwards that in the midst of tumult they lived with greater

serenity than did those in the desert'? Who else could remain just the same whether among crowds or dwelling

alone? It was by thus concentrating the senses and turning them inwards that the great Theodosios came to be

wounded by love for the Creator.

 

From the Life of St Arsenios

 

St Arsenios made it a rule never to discuss things in writing and never to send letters. This was not out of

weakness or incapacity - how could it have been, seeing that he could speak eloquently with as much ease as others

displayed when speaking in a normal way? But it was due to his long habit of silence and his dislike of self-display.

For the same reason he took great care when in church or at any other gathering not to look at other people or to be

seen by them; he would stand behind a column or some other obstruction and hide himself from view, remaining

unseen and not mixing with others. This holy man and earthly angel acted like this because he too wanted to keep a

strict watch on himself and to concentrate his intellect inwardly so that he could raise himself towards God without

impediment.

 

From the Life of St Paul of Mount Latros

 

Although the divine Paul always lived in the mountains and in desert places, and shared his solitude and his food

with wild animals, there were nevertheless times when he went down to the Lavra in order to visit the brethren. He

counseled them, exhorting them not to be fainthearted and not to neglect the assiduous practice of the virtues.

 

 

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

 

 

From the Life of St Paul of Mount Latros

 

but to persevere with all attentiveness and discrimination in their efforts to live according to the Gospels and in

their courageous fight against the spirits of evil. He also taught them a method by which they could expunge

ingrained passion-imbued dispositions as well as counteract new seeds of passion.

 

You see how this holy father teaches his uninitiated disciples a method through which they could ward off the

attacks of the passions? This method was none other than the art of keeping watch over the intellect, for it is only by

keeping such watch that we can ward off the passions.

 

 

 

From the Life of St Savvas

 

When St Savvas saw that a monk had thoroughly mastered the rules of monastic conduct, and was already able to

keep watch over his intellect and fight off demonic thoughts - had indeed banished from his mind all memory of

worldly things - then, if this monk was physically weak and ill, St Savvas allowed him to have a cell in the Lavra.

But if such a monk was vigorous and in good health, he told him to build his own cell.

 

Do you see how the divine Sawas, too, required his disciples to keep watch over the intellect and only then

permitted them to dwell by themselves in their own cells? What are we doing who idly sit in our cells without even

knowing whether there is such an art as keeping watch over the intellect?

 

 

 

From the Life of Abba Agathon

 

One of the brethren asked Abba Agathon which is the better, bodily asceticism or the guarding of our inner state.

The elder replied: 'Man is

 

 

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From the Life of Abba Agathon

 

like a tree: bodily asceticism is the leaves, the guarding of our inner state the fruit. Since, according to the

Scriptures, "every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 3:10), it is clear

that all our efforts should be devoted to producing the fruit, that is, to keeping watch over our intellect. But we also

need the shelter and canopy of the leaves - bodily asceticism.'

 

How astonishing it is that this saint denounced those who fail to learn how to keep watch over the intellect and

who boast only of their bodily asceticism: every tree, he said, which does not produce fruit - by which is meant

keeping watch over the intellect - but only has leaves, that is, bodily asceticism, is cut down and thrown into the fire.

How terrible, father, is your verdict.

 

 

 

From Abba Mark's Letter to Nicolas

 

If, my son, you wish to acquire within yourseh" your own lamp of noetic light and spiritual knowledge, so as to

walk without stumbling in the dark night of this age; and if you wish your steps to be ordered by the Lord, delighting

in the way of the Gospel - that is, desiring with ardent faith, with zeal and prayer, to practice the commandments of

the Gospel - then I will show you a wonderful spiritual method to help you achieve this. It does not call for bodily

exertion, but requires spiritual effort, control of the intellect, and an attentive understanding, assisted by fear and

love of God. Through this method you can easily put to flight the cohorts of the enemy. If, then, you wish to triumph

over the passions, enter within yourself through prayer and with the help of God. Descend into the depths of the

heart, and search out the three powerful giants - forgetfulness, sloth and ignorance - which enable the rest of the evil

passions to infiltrate into the self-indulgent soul, and to live, energize and flourish there. Then through strict

attentiveness and control of the intellect, together with help from above, you will track down these evil giants, about

which most people are ignorant; and so you will be able to free yourself from them by means of strict attentiveness

and prayer. For when, through the action

 

 

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From Abba Mark's Letter to Nicolas

 

of grace, zeal for true knowledge, for mindfulness of God's words and for genuine concord is diligently planted

and cultivated in the heart, then the last traces of forgetfulness, ignorance and sloth are expunged from it.

 

Observe how admirably different spiritual teachings concur, and how clearly they explain the meaning of prayer.

 

From St John Klimakos

 

A hesychast is one who strives to enshrine what is bodiless within the temple of the body, paradoxical though this

may sound. A hesychast is one who says, T sleep but my heart is watchful' (Song of Songs 5:2). Close the door of

your cell to the body, the door of your tongue to speech, and your inner gate to evil spirits. Ascend into a

watchtower - if you know how to - and observe how and when and whence, and in what numbers and what form, the

robbers try to break in and steal your grapes. When the watchman grows weary he stands up and prays; then he sits

down again and manfully resumes the same task. Guarding against evil thoughts is one thing, keeping watch over

the intellect is another. The latter differs from the former as much as east from west, and is far more difficult to

attain. Where thieves see royal weapons at the ready they do not attack the place lightly. Similarly, spiritual robbers

do not lightly try to plunder the person who has enshrined prayer within his heart.

 

Do you see how these words reveal the wonderful inner work of this great father? We, on the other hand, walk in

darkness and as though in some midnight brawl tread these soul-saving words of the Spirit underfoot, spuming them

as though willfully deaf But now in the passages that follow see what the fathers set down for us as guidance in the

 

 

 

attaining of watchfulness.

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From St Isaiah the SoHtary

 

When a man severs himself from evil, he gains an exact understanding of all the sins he has committed against

God; for he does not see his sins unless he severs himself from them with a feeling of revulsion. Those who have

reached this level pray to God with tears, and are filled with shame when they recall their evil love of the passions.

Let us therefore pursue the spiritual way with all our strength, and God in His great mercy will help us. And if we

have not guarded our hearts as our fathers guarded theirs, at least in obedience to God let us do all we can to keep

our bodies sinless, trusting that at this time of spiritual dearth He will grant mercy to us together with His saints.

 

Here then this great father encourages those who are very weak, saying that, even if we have not guarded our

hearts as the fathers have done, let us at least keep our bodies free from sin, as God demands, and He will be

merciful to us. Great is the compassion and sympathy of such a father.

 

From St Makarios the Great

 

The most important task for an ascetic is to enter into his heart, to wage war against Satan, to hate him, and to

battle with him by wrestling against the thoughts he provokes. If you keep your body outwardly chaste and pure, but

inwardly are adulterous where God is concerned and profligate in your thoughts, then you gain nothing from

keeping your body chaste. For it is written, 'Whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery

with her in his heart' (Matt. 5:28). In other words, you can fornicate through the body, and you also fornicate when

your soul communes with Satan.

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From St Makarios the Great

 

This great father seems to contradict the words of St Isaiah quoted above. Yet this is not the case, for St Makarios

exhorts us also to guard our body in the way that God requires. But he asks us to keep pure not only our body but

our spirit as well. Thus he too enjoins what the Gospel commandments stipulate.

 

 

 

From St Diadochos

 

He who dwells continually within his own heart is detached from the attractions of this world, for he lives in the

Spirit and cannot know the desires of the flesh. Such a man henceforward patrols the fortress of the virtues, posting

them as watchmen at all the gates. The assaults of the demons are now ineffective against him.

 

Rightly does the saint say that the assaults of the demons are now ineffective - ineffective, that is, when we dwell

in the depth of our own hearts, and the more so the longer we dwell there. But I lack time to cite here extracts from

all the fathers, so I will add one or two more and bring this work to a close.

 

 

 

From St Isaac the Syrian

 

Strive to enter the shrine within you and you will see the shrine of heaven, for the one is the same as the other, and

a single entrance permits you to contemplate both. The ladder leading to that kingdom is hidden within you, that is,

within your soul: cleanse yourself from sin and there you will find the steps by which to ascend.

 

 

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From St John of Karpathos

 

A great effort and much toil are needed in prayer before we can reach a state in which our mind is no longer

troubled, and so attain the inward heaven of the heart where Christ dwells. As St Paul says, 'Do you not realize that

Christ dwells within you, unless you are worthless?' (cf 2 Cor. 13:5).

 

From St Symeon the New Theologian

 

After the devil and his demons had brought about man's exile from paradise and from God by making him

transgress, they found they could inwardly derange - to a greater or lesser extent - anyone's reason whenever they

wanted to. The only defense against this is the ceaseless mmdfulness of God, for if such mmdfulness is stamped on

the heart through the power of the cross it will render our thought steadfast and unshakeable. This is a state to which

the spiritual contest of every Christian who enters the arena of Christ's faith should lead, if he is not to struggle in

vain. For it is to achieve this state that God's athlete embraces all the various forms of ascetic practice. He embraces

them so as to call down God's mercy upon him, that Christ may restore him to his original status and may be set as a

seal on his mind. This accords with St Paul's words, 'My little children, for you I again bear the pangs of birth, until

Christ is formed in you' (Gal. 4:19).

 

Have you grasped, brethren, that there is a spiritual art or method swiftly leading whoever pursues it to dispassion

and the vision of God? Are you convinced that every external form of asceticism is regarded by God as the foliage

 

 

 

of a fruitless tree and will be of no benefit to the

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From St Symeon the New Theologian

 

soul that is not capable of guarding the intellect? Let us then strive not to die fruitless, and thereafter repent to no

purpose.

 

Question: From what has been said we have learned not only of the practice of those who live in accordance with

God's will but also that there is a certain fonn of action that speedily frees the soul from passions and unites it to

love for God, and that everyone who engage in spiritual warfare must adopt this form. About these things we have

no doubt and are quite convinced. But we are anxious to know what exactly attentiveness is and how we may

acquire it, for of this we are altogether ignorant.

 

Response: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who said 'Without Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5), having

invoked His help and assistance, I will do my best to show you what attentiveness is and how, if God wills, it may

be attained.

 

 

 

From Nikiphoros Himself

 

Some of the saints have called attentiveness the guarding of the intellect others have called it custody of the heart,

or watchfulness, or noetic stillness, and others something else. All these expressions indicate one and the same thing,

just as 'bread' and 'a round' or 'a slice' do; and you should read them in this sense. As to what attentiveness itself is

and what its characteristics are, this you can now learn in more detail.

 

Attentiveness is the sign of true repentance. It is the soul's restoration, hatred of the world, and return to God. It is

rejection of sin and recovery of virtue. It is the unreserved assurance that our sins are forgiven. It is the beginning of

contemplation or, rather, its presupposition, for through it God, descrying its presence in us reveals Himself to the

intellect. It is serenity of intellect or, rather, the repose bestowed on the soul through God's mercy. It is the

subjection of our thoughts, the palace of the mmdfulness of God, the stronghold that enables us patiently to accept

all that befalls. It is the ground of faith, hope and love. For if you do not have faith you cannot endure the outward

afflictions that assail you; and if you do not bear them gladly you cannot say to the Lord, 'Thou art my helper and

my refuge' (Ps 91:2).

 

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Nikiphoros the Monk

 

 

 

On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

 

 

From Nikiphoros Himself

 

And if the Most High is not your refuge you wiU not lay up His love in your heart.

 

Most if not all of those who attain this greatest of gifts do so chiefly through being taught. To be sure, a few

without being taught receive it directly from God through the ardor of their endeavor and the fervor of their faith;

but what is rare does not constitute the norm. That is why we should search for an unerring guide, so that under his

instruction we may learn how to deal with the shortcomings and exaggerations suggested to us by the devil

whenever we deviate left or right from the axis of attentiveness. Since such a guide will himself have been tested

through what he has suffered, he will be able to make these things clear to us and will unambiguously disclose the

spiritual path to us so that we can follow it easily. If you have no such guide you must diligently search for one. If,

however, no guide is to be found, you must renounce worldly attachments, call on God with a contrite spirit and

with tears, and do what I tell you.

 

You know that what we breathe is air. When we exhale it, it is for the heart's sake, for the heart is the source of

life and warmth for the body. The heart draws towards itself the air inhaled when breathing, so that by discharging

some of its heat when the air is exhaled it may maintain an even temperature. The cause of this process or, rather, its

agent, are the lungs. The Creator has made these capable of expanding and contracting, like bellows, so that they can

easily draw in and expel their contents. Thus, by taking in coolness and expelling heat through breathing, the heart

performs unobstructed the function for which it was created, that of maintaining life.

 

Seat yourself, then, concentrate your intellect, and lead it into the respiratory passage through which your breath

passes into your heart. Put pressure on your intellect and compel it to descend with your inhaled breath into your

heart. Once it has entered there, what follows will be neither dismal nor glum. Just as a man, after being far away

from home, on his return is overjoyed at being with his wife and children again, so the intellect, once it is united

with the soul, is filled with indescribable delight.

 

Therefore, brother, train your intellect not to leave your heart quickly, for at first it is strongly disinclined to

remain constrained and circumscribed in this way. But once it becomes accustomed to remaining there, it can no

longer bear to be outside the heart. For the kingdom of heaven is within us (cf Luke 17:21); and when the

 

 

 

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On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

 

From Nikiphoros Himself

 

intellect concentrates its attention in the heart and through pure prayer searches there for the kingdom of heaven,

all external things become abominable and hateful to it. If, then, after your first attempts you enter through your

intellect into the abode of the heart in the way that I have explained, give thanks and glory to God, and exult in Him.

Continually persevere in this practice and it will teach you what you do not know.

 

Moreover, when your intellect is firmly established in your heart, it must not remain there silent and idle; it should

constantly repeat and meditate on the prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me', and should never

stop doing this. For this prayer protects the intellect from distraction, renders it impregnable to diabolic attacks, and

 

 

 

every day increases its love and desire for God.

 

If, however, in spite of all your efforts you are not able to enter the realms of the heart in the way I have enjoined,

do what I now tell you and with God's help you will find what you seek. You know that everyone's discursive

faculty is centered in his breast; for when our lips are silent we speak and deliberate and formulate prayers, psalms

and other things in our breast. Banish, then, all thoughts from this faculty - and you can do this if you want to - and

in their place put the prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me', and compel it to repeat this prayer

ceaselessly. If you continue to do this for some time, it will assuredly open for you the entrance to your heart in the

way we have explained, and as we ourselves know from experience.

 

Then, along with the attentiveness you have so wished for, the whole choir of the virtues - love, joy, peace and the

others (cf Gal. 5:22) - will come to you. Through the virtues all your petitions will be answered in Christ Jesus our

Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, honor and worship now and always and

throughout the ages. Amen.

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

 

(c. 1265-1346)

 

(Volume 4, pp. 207-286)

 

Introductory Note

 

Orthodox mystical theology in the mid-fourteenth century possesses as its crowning glory the two Gregories: St

Gregory of Sinai and St Gregory Palamas.^ Although they were on the Holy Mountain of Athos at the same time, it

is uncertain how far they were in personal contact.' Gregory of Sinai was bom, probably around 1265 (but the date

is uncertain), near Klazomenai, on the western shores of Asia Minor. Taken prisoner as a young man in a Turkish

raid, after being ransomed he went to Cyprus, where he entered the first grade of the monastic life, becoming a

rasophore. Next he travelled to Sinai, where he received full monastic profession. From here he went to Crete,

where - according to his disciple and biographer Patriarch Kallistos I - he learned from a monk called Arsenios

about the 'guarding of the intellect, true watchfulness and pure prayer': in other words, he was initiated into that

tradition of inner prayer - including the Jesus Prayer - to which the writings in The Philokalia bear witness.

 

After this St Gregory moved to Mount Athos, perhaps around the turn of the century, where he remained for the

next twenty-five years. Like Nikiphoros the Monk,^ he chose to live not in one of the large cenobia but in a

secluded hermitage, settling in the skete of Magoula, not far from the monastery of Philotheou. Turkish incursions

forced him to leave Athos around 1325-8, although he returned there briefly during the 1330's. He played no

direct part in the hesychast dispute which broke out around 1335, and in which his namesake St Gregory Palamas

was deeply involved; probably it was by deliberate choice that

 

' On St Gregory of Sinai, see Kallistos Ware, 'The Jesus Prayer in St Gregory of Sinai', Eastern Churches Review 4 : 1 (1972), pp. 3-22; David

Balfour, Saint Gregory the Sinaite: Discourse on the Transfiguration (offprint from the periodical Theologia: Athens, 1983).

 

' See David Balfour, 'Was St Gregory Palamas St Gregory the Sinafte's Pupil?', St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly xxviii (1984), pp. 1 15-30.

Balfour answers this question with an emphatic 'yes', but many of his ai'guments remain speculative.

 

'Seep. 192.

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

 

 

 

Introductory Note

 

he avoided controversy and polemics. But there can be no doubt that his own theological standpoint, although

less explicitly developed, agrees fundamentally with that of Palamas on all essential points. This is confirmed by

the Discourse on the Transfiguration, recently edited by David Balfour, in which the Sinaite clearly speaks of the

light of Tabor as divine and uncreated. The last years of his life were spent in the remote wilderness of Paroria, in

the Strandzha Mountains on the border between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria, where he enjoyed the

patronage of John Alexander, Tsar of Bulgaria. Here he gathered round him a large group of disciples, both Greeks

and Slavs, and here he died on 27 November 1346.''

 

St Makarios and St Nikodimos have included five works by the Sinaite in The Philokalia. Since their titles vary

widely in the manuscripts and they are cited in different ways by modem writers, it will be helpful to list them

here, giving first the titles used in our translation, and then the Latin titles used in Migne:

 

(I) On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions and Virtues, and also on

Stillness and Prayer: One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Texts; Migne: Capita vaide utilia per acrostichidem (P.G. cl,

1240-1300). In the Greek original, the initial letters of each text form an acrostic, spelling out the title of the work.

The subject matter, as the title indicates, is extremely varied; the work is concerned mainly with ascetic practice

rather than inner prayer.

 

(II) Further Texts; Migne: Alia Capita (P.G. cl, 130a— 4). Seven texts, forming a short supplement to (I).

 

(III) On the Signs of Grace and Delusion, Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts; Migne: De quiete et

 

oratione (P.G. cl, 1304-12). In this and the two following works, St Gregory discusses more particularly inner

prayer, especially the Jesus Prayer, as well as indicating how to distinguish between experiences that come from

God and those emanating from the demons or the fallen self. Nothing is known about the Longinos to whom this

third treatise is addressed, but he was presumably one of Gregory's monastic colleagues or disciples. Gregory terms

him ar]fiEio(p6pog, which means literally

 

' For the decisive influence of Gregory of Sinai's disciples upon the Slav world, see Dimitri Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern

Europe, 500-1453 (London, 1971), pp. 301-8, 336-43; Anthony-Emil N. Tachiaos, 'Gregory Sinaites' legacy to the Slavs: Preliminary Remarks',

Cyrillomethodianum vii (1983), pp. 1 13-65.

 

 

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

 

Introductory Note

 

'standard-bearer', 'ensign'; in Christian authors, it can signify a confessor for the faith or a miracle -worker.

Perhaps Longinos, like Theoliptos of Philadelphia and Nikiphoros the Monk, suffered for the Orthodox faith under

the unionist Emperor Michael VIII.

 

(IV) On Stillness: Fifteen Texts; Migne: De quietudine et duobis orationis modis (P.G. cl, 1313-29). This work

contains a lengthy section on psalmody (§§ 5-9). The manuscripts disagree concerning the recipient, who is

variously named 'Joachim the Vigilant', 'Niphon the Hesychast', 'brother Philotheos of the same mountain of Sinai'.

It is extremely unlikely that Gregory wrote this work while still at Sinai, before being initiated into inner prayer by

the monk Arsenios; but it is of course possible that, while on Athos or at Paroria, he continued to maintain contact

with monks whom he had met at Sinai. All three of these persons are otherwise unknown to us, but clearly they are

monks.

 

(V) On Prayer: Seven Texts; Migne: Quomodo oporteat sedere hesychastam ad orationem nee cito assurgere

(P.G. cl, 1329-45). This includes a section on food (§ 6). No name of any addressee is mentioned in the

manuscripts. The work has a warm and friendly tone and was obviously intended for a real individual, who is said

 

 

 

to be advanced in years (§ 6). Gregory is forthright in his demands, but speaks to the recipient in respectful and

encouraging terms. ^

 

None of these works contains any indication of date or place, and so it is impossible to say at what point in St

Gregory's career they were composed; but from their tone it seems likely that they were written towards the end of

his life, either during his last years on Athos or at Paroria. Clearly he had a monastic audience in mind, and was

writing for hesychasts dwelling alone or in hermitages rather than for cenobites in large, fully organized

communities.

 

Patriarch Kallistos, in his Life of St Gregory, emphasizes the Sinaite's austerity in his earlier years and his radiant

joy and loving kindness at the end of his life. Both of these characteristics are evident in the texts that follow. The

daily programme that Gregory proposes for the

 

' In our translation of works (I) and (II) we have used the Greek text printed in The Philokalia, which is reproduced without change in Migne.

For works (III)-(V) we have been able to consult a preliminary draft of the forthcoming critical edition of Gregory of Sinai, in course of

preparation by Dr Hans-Veit Beyer of the Kommission fur Byzantinistik attached to the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. We look

foiTvai'd eagerly to its eventual publication.

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

Introductory Note

 

hesychast is daunting in its severity (I, 99, 101),^ and he is strict and uncompromising in his analysis of delusion

(I, 131-2, 135; III, 10; V, 7), in his warnings about the coming judgment (I, 34-40), his strictures upon the passions

(I, 62-5, 70-9, 110), and his demand for total humility (I, 115, 117). But he speaks also about the 'warmth of heart'

which marks 'the beginning of prayer' (IV, 10), and about the exultation, rapture and ecstasy to which, by God's

grace, the inner pilgrimage of the hesychast eventually leads (I, 58-9, 113, 118; III, 3, 5, 9). True to the apophatic

tradition of inner prayer, the Sinaite requires a resolute 'shedding' of images and thoughts (I, 118; III, 3; IV, 9; V,

7),' yet he allows an important place to feelings - although without any trace of sentimental emotionalism. Although

he is deliberately reticent when referring to the transfiguring vision of the divine light (I, 23, 116, 118), and is

careful to warn the reader against the ever- present danger of delusion by false visions of light (III, 3; IV, 10),'' it is

evident that he stands in the same spiritual tradition as St Symeon the New Theologian and St Gregory Palamas.

 

In his teaching upon inner prayer, the Sinaite assigns a central place to the invocation of the name of Jesus. This

is to be practised 'under spiritual guidance' (III, 3; cf IV, 15), that is to say, under the immediate direction of an

experienced spiritual father. Gregory recommends the psychosomatic technique, but provides no detailed

instructions; probably he considered that these were best supplied orally and on a personal basis by each spiritual

guide to his immediate disciples. Whereas Nikiphoros and The Three Methods seem to regard the technique as a

preliminary exercise, preceding the actual invocation, Gregory's language suggests that the control of the breathing

is to be simultaneous with the recitation of the Prayer, although he does not explain exactly how the two are to be

coordinated (IV, 2; V, 1). Although endorsing the use of the bodily technique, he sees it as limited in value (V, 3, 7).

He allows a certain flexibility as regards the precise formula of prayer that is to be employed, but he discourages the

hesychast from making constant changes in the wording: 'For

 

' In references to Gregory's writings, the number of the work is given first in Roman numerals, followed by the number of the section in Arabic

figures. Thus I, 99 signifies On Commandments and Doctrines, text 99.

 

" On prayer as 'the shedding of thoughts', see Evagrios, On Prover 71; E.T., The Philokalia, vol. i, p. 64

' Cf. St Diadochos of Photiki, On Spiitual Knowledge 36; E.T., The Philokalia, vol. i, p. 263.

 

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Introductory Note

 

 

 

plants which are frequently transplanted do not put down roots' (IV, 2; Cf V, 2).'

 

Of particular interest is the way in which St Gregory connects the Jesus Prayer with the sacrament of baptism.

Prayer, he states, is 'baptism made manifest' (I, 113; cf I, 129). The aim of the Jesus Prayer, as of all prayer, is to

reveal in a conscious and dynamically active way 'the energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically

received in baptism' (III, 3). Through the invocation of the Holy Name, we are enabled to pass from the stage when

baptismal grace is present in our hearts merely in a hidden and unconscious manner, to the point of full awareness

at which we experience the activity of this grace directly and consciously. While emphasizing the indwelling

presence of Christ through baptism, Gregory does not make any explicit connection between the Jesus Prayer and

the eucharist, as we might have expected him to do. But in other contexts he does employ eucharistic imagery,

speaking of prayer as an inner liturgy celebrated in the sanctuary of the heart, and likening the soul to a 'noetic altar'

on which the Lamb of God is offered in mystical sacrifice (I, 112; Cf, I, 43)."

 

' In the manuscripts of Gregory's works there are many minor variations in the formulae given for the Jesus Prayer, and it is impossible to be

sure exactly what words Gregory recommended. Scribes naturally substituted the forms with which they were personally familiar.

^ See Michel van Parys, 'La Liturgic du Coeur selon saint Gregoii'e le Sinaite', Iremkon li (1973), pp. 312-37.

 

 

 

Contents

 

On Commandments and Doctrines,

 

Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts,

 

Passions and Virtues, and also

 

On Stillness and Prayer- 137 Texts VOLUME 4: Page 212

 

Further Texts 253

 

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

 

Written for the Confessor Longinos - Ten Texts 257

 

On Stillness - Fifteen Texts 263

 

On Prayer - Seven Texts 275

 

 

 

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1 . You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre -fallen state unless

you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated

mmdlessness, and our original incorruption by the corruption of the flesh.

 

2. Only those who through their purity have become saints are spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to

man in his pre-fallen state. Mere skill in reasoning does not make a person's intelligence pure, for since the fall our

intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts. The materialistic and wordy spirit of the wisdom of this world may

lead us to speak about ever wider spheres of knowledge, but it renders our thoughts increasingly crude and uncouth.

This combination of well-informed talk and crude thought falls far short of real wisdom and contemplation, as well

 

 

 

as of undivided and unified knowledge.

 

3. By knowledge of truth understand above all apprehension of tmth through grace. Other kinds of knowledge

should be regarded as images of intellections or the rational demonstration of facts.

 

4. If you fail to receive grace it is because of your lack of faith and your negligence; if you find it again it is

because of your faith and your diligence. For faith and diligence always conduce to progress, while their opposites

do the reverse.

 

5. To be utterly senseless is like being dead, and to be blind in intellect is like not seeing physically. To be utterly

senseless is to be deprived of life-giving energizing power; to be blind in intellect is to be

 

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deprived of the divine light by which a man can see and be seen by God.

 

6. Few men receive both power and wisdom from God. Through power we partake of divine blessings; through

wisdom we manifest them. This participation and this communication to others is a truly divine gift, beyond man's

unaided capacity.

 

7. A true sanctuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and energized by the

Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our

other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant

of the Spirit.

 

8. Man is created incorruptible, without bodily humors, and thus he will be when resurrected. Yet he is not created

either immutable or mutable, since he possesses the power to choose at will whether to be subject to change or not

But the will cannot confer total immutability of nature upon him. Such immutability is bestowed only when he has

attained the state of changeless deification.

 

9. Corruption is generated by the flesh. To feed, to excrete, to stride about and to sleep are the natural

characteristics of beasts and wild animals; acquiring these characteristics through the fall, we have become beast-

like, losing the natural blessings bestowed on us by God. We have become brutal instead of spiritually intelligent,

ferine instead of godlike.

 

10. Paradise is twofold - sensible and spiritual: there is the paradise of Eden and the paradise of grace. The

paradise of Eden is so exalted that it is said to extend to the third heaven. It has been planted by God with every kind

of sweet-scented plant. It is neither entirely free from comiption nor altogether subject to it. Created between

corruption and mcorruption, it is always rich in fruits, ripe and unripe, and continually full of flowers. When trees

and ripe fruit rot and fall to the ground they turn into sweet-scented soil, free from the smell of decay exuded by the

vegetable-matter of this world. That is because of the great richness and holiness of the grace ever abounding there.

The river Ocean, appointed always to irrigate paradise with its waters, flows through the middle of it. On leaving

paradise, it divides into four other rivers, and flowing down to the Indians and Ethiopians brings them soil and fallen

 

 

 

leaves. Their fields are flooded by the united rivers of Pison and Gihon until these

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divide again, the one watering Libya and the other the land of Egypt (rf. Gen. 2:8-14).

 

11. It is said that when the world was first created it was not subject to flux and corruption. According to Scripture

it was only later corrupted and 'made subject to vanity' - that is, to man - not by its own choice but by the will of

Him to whom it is subject, the expectation being that Adam, who had fallen into corruption, would be restored to his

original state (cf Rom. 8:20-21). For by renewing man and sanctifying him, even though in this transient life he

bears a corruptible body. God also renewed creation, although creation is not yet freed from the process of

corruption. This deliverance from corruption is said by some to be a translation to a better state, by others to require

a complete transmutation of everything sensory. Scripture generally makes simple and straightforward statements

about matters that are still obscure.

 

12. People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort

the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within

them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether. A

passion- and sin-loving soul, shorn of grace and divorced from God, is the haunt of passions - not to say of demons -

in this world and the next.

 

13. Nothing so converts anger into joy and gentleness as courage and mercy. Like a siege-engine, courage shatters

enemies attacking the soul from without, mercy those attacking it from within.

 

14. Many who practice the commandments think they are following the spiritual path. But they have not yet

reached the city, and in fact remain outside it. For they travel foolishly, deviating unawares from the straight

highway into side-roads, not realizing how close the vices are to the path of virtue. For the trae fulfillment of the

commandments demands that we do neither too little nor too much but simply pursue a course acceptable to God

and in accordance with His will. Otherwise we labor in vain and do not make straight the paths of the Lord (cf. Isa.

40:3). For in everything we do we must be clear about the goal we are pursuing.

 

15. To be on the spiritual path means seeking the Lord in your heart through fulfilling the commandments. For

when you listen to John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord,

 

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make His paths straight' (Matt. 3:3), you must understand that he is referring to the commandments and their

fulfillment both in the heart and in actions. It is impossible to 'make straight' the path of the commandments and to

act rightly unless your heart too is straight and upright.

 

16. When Scripture speaks of rod and staff (cf. Ps. 23:4), you should take these to signify in the prophetic sense

judgment and providence, and in the moral sense psalmody and prayer. For when we are chastened by the Lord with

me rod of correction (cf 1 Cor. 1 1 :32), this is so that we may learn how to mend our ways. And when we chasten

our assailants with the rod of dauntless psalmody, we become established in prayer. Since we thus wield the rod and

the staff of spiritual action, let us not cease to chasten and be chastened until we are wholly in the hands of

providence and escape judgment both now and hereafter.

 

17. The essence of the commandments is always to give precedence to the one that embraces them all:

mindfulness of God, as stipulated in the phrase, 'Always be mindful of the Lord your God' (cf. Deut. 8:18). Our

failure or success in keeping the commandments depends on such mindfulness, for it is this that forgetfulness first

destroys when it shrouds the commandments in darkness and strips us of every blessing.

 

18. Those engaged in spiritual warfare regain their original state by practicing two commandments - obedience

and fasting; for evil has infiltrated our human condition by means of their opposites. Those who keep the

commandments out of obedience return to God more quickly. Others who keep them by means of fasting and prayer

return more slowly. Obedience befits beginners, fasting those in the middle way, who have attained a state of

spiritual enlightenment and self-mastery. To observe genuine obedience to God when practicing the commandments

is something only very few can do, and proves difficult even for those who have attained a state of self -mastery.

 

19. According to St Paul, it is characteristic of the Spirit of life to act and speak in the heart, while a literal,

outwardly correct observance of things characterizes the Men unregenerate person (cf Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:6). The

Spirit of life frees the intellect from sin and death, whereas a literal, outwardly correct observance imperceptibly

turns us into Pharisees, since we then act only in an external bodily

 

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sense and practice the commandments merely in order to be seen doing so (cf Matt. 23:5).

 

20. The whole complex of the commandments united and knit together m the Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:16) has its

analogue in man, whether his state is perfect or imperfect. The commandments are the body. The virtues -

established inner qualities - are the bones. Grace is the soul that lives and vivifies, energizing me vital power of the

commandments just as the soul animates the body. The degree of negligence or diligence with which a man tries to

attain to Christ's stature reveals what stage he has reached. Alike in this world and in the next, it indicates whether

he is in his spiritual infancy or has achieved maturity.

 

21. If you want the body of me commandments to nourish, you must zealously desire the pure spiritual milk of

maternal grace (cf. 1 Pet. 2:2); for it is on this milk of grace that you must suckle yourself if you wish to increase

 

 

 

your stature in Christ. Wisdom yields fervor from her breasts as milk that helps you to grow; but to nourish the

perfect she gives them the honey other purifying joy. 'Honey and milk are under your tongue' (Song of Songs 4:11):

by 'milk' Solomon means the Spirit's nurturing and maturing power, while by 'honey' he means the Spirit's

purificatory power. St Paul likewise refers to the differing functions of these powers when he says, 'I have fed you as

little children with milk, and not with meat' (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2).

 

22. To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in

accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the tmth

that you can share in the meaning of truth. If you search for the meaning without participating in the truth and

without having been initiated into it, you will find only a besotted kind of wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1:20). You will be

among those whom St Jude categorized as 'psychic' or worldly because they lack the Spirit (cf Jude 1 9), boast as

they may of their knowledge of the truth.

 

23. The physical eye perceives the outward or literal sense of things and from it derives sensory images. The

intellect, once purified and reestablished in its pristine state, perceives God and from Him derives divine images.

Instead of a book the intellect has the Spirit; instead of a pen, mind and tongue - 'my tongue is a pen', says me

Psalmist (cf. Ps. 45:1); and instead of ink, light. So plunging the mind into the light that it becomes light, the

intellect, guided by the Spirit, inscribes the

 

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inner meaning of things in the pure hearts of those who listen. Then it grasps the significance of the statement that

the faithful 'shall be taught by God' (cf. Isa. 54:13; John 6:45), and that through the Spirit God 'teaches man

knowledge' (Ps. 94:10).

 

24. The efficacy of the commandments depends on faith working directly in the heart. Through faith each

commandment kindles and activates the soul's illumination. The fruits of a true and effective faith are self-control

and love, its consummation God-given humility, the source and support of love.

 

25. A right view of created things depends upon a truly spiritual knowledge of visible and invisible realities.

Visible realities are objects perceived by the senses, while invisible realities are noetic, intelligent, intelligible and

divine.

 

25. Orthodoxy may be defined as the clear perception and grasp of the two dogmas of the faith, namely, the

Trinity and the Duality. It is to know and contemplate the three Persons of the Trinity as distinctively and mdivisibly

constituting the one God, and the divine and human natures of Christ as united in His single Person - that is to say,

to know and profess that the single Son, both prior and subsequent to the Incarnation, is to be glorified in two

natures, divine and human, and in two wills, divme and human, the one distinct from the other.

 

27. Three unaltering and changeless properties typify the Holy Trinity: unbegottenness, begottenness and

procession. The Father is unbegotten and unonginate; the Son is begotten and also unoriginate; the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

proceeds from the Father through the Son, as St John of Damaskos says, and is equaUy coetemal.

 

28. Grace-imbued faith energized by the Spirit through our keeping of the commandments, alone suffices for

salvation, provided we sustain it and do not opt for a dead and ineffectual faith rather than for a living effective faith

in Christ. To embody and give life to an effective faith in Christ all we need to do as believers. But nowadays we

who call ourselves orthodox believers have in our ignorance imbibed not the faith imbued with grace but a faith that

is merely a matter of words, dead and unfeeling.

 

29. The Trinity is simple unity, unqualified and uncompounded. It is three-in-one, for God is three-personed, each

person wholly

 

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interpenetrating the others without any loss of distinct personal identity.

 

30. God reveals and manifests Himself in all things in a threefold manner. In Himself He is undetermined; but

through the Son in the Holy Spirit He sustains and watches over all things. And wherever He expresses Himself,

none of the three Persons is manifest or to be perceived apart from or without the other two.

 

31. In man there is intellect, consciousness and spirit. There is neither intellect without consciousness nor

consciousness without spirit: each subsists in the others and in itself. Intellect expresses itself through consciousness

and consciousness is manifested through the spirit In this way man is a dim image of the ineffable and archetypal

Trinity, disclosing even now the divine image in which he is created.

 

32. When the divine fathers expound the doctrine of the supra-essential, holy and supernatural Trinity, they

illustrate it by saying that the Father truly corresponds to the intellect, the Son to consciousness and the Holy Spirit

to the spirit. Thus they bequeath to us the dogma of one God in three Persons as the hallmark of the true faith and

the anchor of hope. For, according to Scripture, to apprehend the one God is the root of immortality, and to know the

majesty of the three-personed Monad is complete righteousness (cf Wisd. 15:3). Again, we should read what is said

in the Gospel in the same way: eternal life is to know Thee the only true God in three Persons, and Him whom Thou

hast sent, Jesus Christ, in two natures and two wills (cf John 17:3).

 

33. Chastisements differ, as do the rewards of the righteous. Chastisements are inflicted in hell, in what Scripture

describes as 'a dark and gloomy land, a land of eternal darkness' (Job 10:21-22. LXX), where sinners dwell before

the judgment and whither they return after judgment is given. For can the phrases, 'Let sinners be returned to hell'

(Ps. 9:17. LXX), and 'death will rule over them' (Ps. 49:14. LXX), refer to anything other than the final judgment

visited upon sinners, and their eternal condemnation?

 

34. Fire, darkness, the worm and the nether world correspond to ubiquitous self-indulgence, total tenebrific

ignorance, all-pervasive, lecherous titivation, and the tearfulness and foul stench of sin. Already even now they can

be seen to be active, as foretastes and first fruits of hell's torments, in sinners in whose soul they have taken root.

 

 

 

35. Passion-embroiled states are foretastes of hell's torments, just

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as the activity of the virtues is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. We must realize that the commandments are

activities producing effects, and that virtues are states, just as vices that have taken root are also states.

 

36. Requitals correspond to our deserts, even if many people think they do not. To some, divine justice gives

eternal life; to others, eternal chastisement. Each will be requited according to his actions -according to whether he

has passed through this present life in a virtuous or in a sinful manner. The degree or quality of the requital will

accord with the state induced in each by either the passions or the virtues, and the differing effects these have had.

 

37. Lakes of fire (cf. Rev. 19:20) signify self-indulgent souls. In these lakes the stench of the passions, like fetid

bogs, nourishes the sleepless worm of dissipation - the unbridled lusts of the flesh - as it also nourishes the snakes,

frogs and leeches of evil desire, the loathsome and poisonous thoughts and demons. A soul in such a state already in

this life receives a foretaste of the chastisement to come.

 

38. As the firsttruits of future chastisement are secretly present in the souls of sinners, so the foretaste of future

blessings is present and experienced in the hearts of the righteous through the activity of the Spirit. For a life lived

virtuously is the kingdom of heaven, just as a passion-embroiled state is hell.

 

39. The coming night of which Christ speaks (cf John 9:4) is the complete inertia of hell's darkness. Or,

interpreted differently, it is antichrist, who is, and is called, both night and darkness. Or alternatively, according to

the moral sense, it is our daily negligence which, like a dark night, deadens the soul in insensate sleep. For just as

the night makes all men sleep and is the image of the lifelessness of death, so the night of hell's darkness deadens

and stupefies sinners with the sottishness of pain.

 

40. Judgment upon this world (cf. John 12:31) is synonymous with ungodly lack of faith; for 'he who lacks faith is

already judged' (John 3:18). It is also a providential visitation restraining us or turning us back from sm, and

likewise a way of testing whether by inner disposition we incline towards good or evil actions; for according to the

Psalmist, 'The wicked are estranged from the womb' (Ps. 58:3). Thus God manifests His judgment either because of

our lack of faith, or to discipline us. or to test which way our actions gravitate. Some He chastens, to others He is

merciful; on some He bestows

 

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crowns of glory, others He visits with the torments of hell. Those whom He chastens are the utterly godless.

Those to whom He shows mercy possess faith, but at the same time they are negligent, and it is for this reason that

they are compassionately chastised. Those consummate either in virtue or in wickedness receive their rewards

accordingly.

 

41 . If our human nature is not kept pure or else restored to its original purity by the Holy Spirit, it cannot become

one body and one spirit in Christ, either in this life or in the harmonious order of the life to come. For the all-

embracing and unifying power of the Spirit does not complete the new garment of grace by sewing on to it a patch

taken from the old garment of the passions (cf. Matt. 9:16).

 

42. Every person who has been renewed in the Spirit and has preserved this gift will be transformed and embodied

in Christ, experiencing ineffably the supernatural state of deification. But he will not hereafter be one with Christ or

be engrafted into His body unless in this life he has come to share in divine grace and has embodied spiritual

knowledge and truth.

 

43. The kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a

pattern (cf. Exod. 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary. Into the first will enter all who are priests of

grace. But into the second - which is noetic - will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness

of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that

Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines

them ever more richly with His own splendor.

 

44. By 'many dwelling-places' (John 14:2) the Savior meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of

development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it.

That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their

knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. 'For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory

of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in

 

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glory' (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

 

45. You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed

your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the

help of the Logos have made your flesh - your natural human form of clay - a resplendent and fiery image of divine

beauty. For bodies become incorruptible when rid of their natural humors and their material density.

 

46. The body in its incorruptible state will be earthy, but it will be without humors or material density,

indescribably transmuted from an unspintual body into a spiritual body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44), so that it will be in its

godlike refinement and subtleness both earthy and heavenly. Its state when it is resurrected will be the same as that

in which it was originally created - one in which it conforms to the image of the Son of Man (cf. Rom. 8:29; Phil.

 

 

 

3:21) through fuU participation in His divinity.

 

47. The land of the gentle (of. Ps. 37: 1 1) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandnc state of the Son,

which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the

new life of the resurrection. Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or, it may be, the

land purified according to the measure of those dwelling in it. Or, according to another interpretation, it is the land

granted as an inheritance (cf. Numb. 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the

peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) - the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

 

48. The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5).

 

49. The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy

Spirit.

 

50. If we do not know what we are like when God makes us, we shall not realize what sin has turned us into.

 

5 1 . All who have received the fullness of the perfection of Christ in this life are of equal spiritual stature.

 

52. Rewards correspond to labors. But their quantity or quality -that is to say, their measure - will be shown by the

position and state in heaven of those who receive them.

 

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53. According to Scripture the saints, the sons of Christ's resurrection, through incorruption and deification will

become intellects, that is to say, equal to the angels (cf Luke 20:36).

 

54. It is said that in the life to come the angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their

longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life.

 

55. A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come he receives the grace to assimilate himself

to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification.

 

56. If by passing through the different stages of spiritual growth you become perfect in virtue during this life, you

will attain a state of deification in the life hereafter equal to that of your peers.

 

57. It is said that true belief is knowledge or contemplation of the Holy Spirit. It is also said that scrupulous

discernment in matters of dogma constitutes full knowledge of the true faith.

 

58. Rapture means the total elevation of the soul's powers towards the majesty of divine glory, disclosed as an

undivided unity. Or again rapture is a pure and all-embracing ascent towards the limitless power that dwells in light.

Ecstasy is not only the heavenward ravishing of the soul's powers; it is also complete transcendence of the sense-

world itself. Intense longing for God - there are two forms of it - is a spiritual intoxication that arouses our desire.

 

59. As just remarked, there are two main forms of ecstatic longing for God: one within the heart and the other an

enravishment taking one beyond oneself. The first pertains to those who are still in the process of achieving

 

 

 

illumination, the second to those perfected in love. Both, acting on the intellect, transport it beyond the sense-world.

Such longing for the divine is truly a spiritual intoxication, impelling natural thoughts towards higher states and

detaching the senses from their involvement with visible things.

 

60. The source and ground of our distractive thoughts is the fragmented state of our memory. The memory was

originally simple and one-pointed, but as a result of the fall its natural powers have been perverted: it has lost its

recollectedness in God and has become compound instead of simple, diversified instead of one-pointed.

 

6 1 . We recover the original state of our memory by restoring it to

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its primal simplicity, when it will no longer act as a source of evil and destructive thoughts. For Adam's

disobedience has not only deformed into a weapon of evil the soul's simple memory of what is good; it has also

corrupted all its powers and quenched its natural appetite for virtue. The memory is restored above all by constant

mindfulness of God consolidated through prayer, for this spiritually elevates the memory from a natural to a

supernatural state.

 

62. Sinful acts provoke passions, the passions provoke distractive thoughts, and distractive thoughts provoke

fantasies. The fragmented memory begets a multiplicity of ideas, forgetfulness causes the fragmentation of the

memory, ignorance leads to forgetfulness, and laziness to ignorance. Laziness is spawned by lustful appetites,

appetites are aroused by misdirected emotions, and misdirected emotions by committing sinful acts. A sinful act is

provoked by a mindless desire for evil and a strong attachment to the senses and to sensory things.

 

63. Distractive thoughts arise and are activated in the soul's intelligent faculty, violent passions in the incensive

faculty, the memory of bestial appetites in the desiring faculty, imaginary forms in the mind, and ideas in the

conceptualizing faculty.

 

64. The irruption of evil thoughts is like the current of a river. We are provoked to sin by such thoughts, and when

as a result of this we give our assent to sin our heart is overwhelmed as though by a turbulent flood.

 

65. By the 'deep mire' (Ps. 69:2) understand slimy sensual pleasure, or the sludge of lechery, or the burden of

material things. Weighed down by all this the impassioned intellect casts itself into the depths of despair.

 

66. Scripture often calls thoughts motives for actions, just as it also calls these motives mental images and,

conversely, calls mental images motives. This is because the point of departure for such actions, although in itself

immaterial, is embodied through them and changed into a particular visible form. Thus the sin that is provoked is

identified and named according to its external manifestation.

 

67. Distractive thoughts are the promptings of the demons and precursors of the passions, just as such promptings

and mental images are also the precursors of particular actions. There can be no action, either for good or evil, that is

not initially provoked by the particular thought of that action; for thought is the impulse.

 

 

 

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non-visible in form, that provokes us to act at all, whatever the action may be.

 

68. The raw material of actions generates neutral thoughts, while demonic provocation begets evil thoughts. Thus

when they are compared it is clear that there is a difference between motives and thoughts that accord with nature

and those which are either Contrary to nature or supernatural.

 

69. Thoughts in different classes of people are equally prone to change, thoughts that accord with nature

becoming either thoughts contrary to nature or, alternatively, becoming thoughts that transcend nature. Occasions

for these changes are provided, in the case of evil-minded people, by thoughts suggested by material things; whereas

in the case of those who are materially -minded they are provided by demonic provocation. Similarly, in the case of

saints, it is thoughts that accord with nature that provide the occasion for this change, such thoughts generating

thoughts that transcend nature. For the motivating occasions and grounds for these changes of the various types of

thought into their congenerate types are fourfold: material, demonic, natural and supernatural.

 

70. Occasions give rise to distractive thoughts, thoughts to fantasies, fantasies to the passions, and the passions

give entry to the demons. It is as if there were a certain cunningly devised sequence and order among the disordered

spirits, one thing following and derived from another. But no one thing in the sequence is self-operative: each is

prompted and activated by the demons. Fantasy is not wrought into an image, passion is not energized, without

unperceived hidden demonic impulsion. For even though Satan has fallen and is shattered, he is still stronger than

we are and exults over us because of our sloth.

 

71. The demons fill our minds with images; or, rather, they clothe themselves in images that correspond to the

character of the most dominant and active passion in our soul, and in this way they provoke us to give our assent to

that passion. For the demons use the state of passion as an occasion for stirring up images. Thus, whether we are

awake or asleep, they visit us with varied and diverse imaginings. The demons of desire turn themselves sometimes

into pigs, sometimes into donkeys, sometimes into fiery stallions avid for copulation, and sometimes - particularly

the demons of licentiousness - into Israelites. The demons of wrath turn themselves sometimes into gentiles and

sometimes into lions. The demons of cowardice take on the form

 

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of Ishmaelites, those of licentiousness the form of Idumaeans, and those of drunkenness and dissipation the form

of Hagarenes. The demons of greed appear sometimes as wolves and sometimes as leopards, those of malice assume

 

 

 

the form sometimes of snakes, sometimes of vipers, and sometimes of foxes, those of shamelessness the form of

dogs and those of listlessness the form of cats. FinaUy there are the demons of lechery, that turn sometimes into

snakes and sometimes into crows and jackdaws. Carnal-minded demons, particularly those dwelling in the air,

transform themselves into birds. Our fantasy transmutes the images of the demons in a threefold manner

corresponding to the tripartite nature of the soul: into birds, wild animals and domestic animals, that correspond

respectively to the desiring, mcensive and intelligent aspect of the soul. For the three princes of the passions are

always ready to wage war on these three powers of the soul. Whatever the passion that dominates the soul, they

assume a form that corresponds to it and thus they insinuate themselves into us.

 

72. The demons of sensual pleasure often attack us in the form of fire and coals. For the spirits of self-indulgence

kindle the soul's desiring faculty, while they also confuse the intelligence and plunge it into darkness. The chief

cause of lustful burning and mental confusion and beclouding lies in the sensuality of the passions.

 

73. The night of the passions is the darkness of ignorance. Or alternatively the night is the state which begets the

passions, where the prince of darkness rules, and where the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the creeping

things of the earth have their dwelling, these being allegorical terms for the roving spirits that seek to lay hold of us

in order to devour us (cf Ps. 104:20).

 

74. Some distractive thoughts precede the activity of the passions and others follow it. Such thoughts precede

fantasies, while passions are sequent to fantasies. The passions precede demons, while demons follow the passions.

 

75. The cause and origin of the passions is the misuse of things. Such misuse results from perversion of our

character. Perversion expresses the bias of the will, and the state of our will is tested by demonic provocation. The

demons thus are permitted by divine providence to demonstrate to us the specific state of our will.

 

76. The lethal poison of the sting of sin is the soul's passion-charged state. For if by your own free choice you

allow yourself to be

 

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dominated by the passions you will develop a firm and unchanging propensity to sin.

 

77. The passions are variously named. They are divided into those pertaining to the body and those pertaining to

the soul. The bodily passions are subdivided into those that involve suffering and those that are sinful. The passions

that induce suffering are further subdivided into those connected with disease and those connected with corrective

discipline. The passions pertaining to the soul are divided according to whether they affect the incensive, appetitive

or intelligent aspect of the soul. Those connected with the intelligence are subdivided into those affecting the

imagination and those affecting the understanding. Of these some are the result of the deliberate misuse of things;

others we suffer against our will, out of necessity, and for these we are not culpable. The fathers have also called

them concomitants and natural idiosyncrasies.

 

78. The passions that pertain to the body differ from those that pertain to the soul; those affecting the appetitive

 

 

 

faculty differ from those affecting the incensive faculty; and those of the intelligence differ from those of the

intellect and the reason. But all intercommunicate, and all collaborate, the bodily passions with those of the

appetitive faculty, passions of the soul with those of the incensive faculty, passions of the intelligence with those of

the intellect, and passions of the intellect with those of the reason and of the memory.

 

79. The passions of the incensive faculty are anger, animosity, shouting, bad temper, self-assertion, conceit,

boastfulness, and so on. The passions of the appetitive faculty are greed, licentiousness, dissipation, insatiateness,

self-indulgence, avarice and self-love, which is the worst of all. The passions of the flesh are unchastity, adultery,

uncleanliness, profligacy, injustice, gluttony, listlessness, ostentation, self-adornment, cowardice and so on. The

passions of the intelligence are lack of faith, blasphemy, malice, cunning, mquisitiveness, duplicity, abuse,

backbiting, censonousness, vilification, frivolous talk, hypocrisy, lying, foul talk, foolish chatter, deceitfulness,

sarcasm, self-display, love of popularity, day-dreaming, perjury, gossiping and so on. The passions of the intellect

are self-conceit, pomposity, arrogance, quarrelsomeness, envy, self-satisfaction, contentiousness, inattentiveness,

fantasy, fabrication, swaggering, vainglory and pride, the beginning and end of all the vices. The passions of the

reason are dithering, distraction, captivation, obfuscation, blindness, abduction,

 

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provocation, connivance in sin, bias, perversion, instability of mind and similar things. In short, all the unnatural

vices commingle with the three faculties of the soul, just as all the virtues naturally coexist within them.

 

80. How eloquent is David when he speaks to God in ecstasy, saying, 'Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me; I

cannot attain to it' (cf. Ps. 139:6), for it exceeds my feeble knowledge and my powers. How incomprehensible,

indeed, is even this flesh in the way it has been constituted: it too is triadic in every detail, and yet a single harmony

embraces its limbs and parts; in addition it is graced by the numbers seven and two which, according to

mathematicians, signify time and creation. Thus it, too, when perceived according to the laws at work in creation, is

to be seen as an organ of God's glory manifesting His triadic magnificence.

 

8 1 . The laws of creation are the qualities inventing wholes compounded of energized parts - qualities also known

as generic differences, since they invest many different composites constituted from identical properties. Or again

the natural law is the potential power to energize inherent in each species and in each part. As God does with respect

to the whole of creation, so does the soul with respect to the body: it energizes and impels each member of the body

in accordance with the energy intrinsic to that member. At this point it must be asked why the holy fathers

sometimes say that anger and desire are powers pertaining to the body and sometimes that they are powers

pertaining to the soul. Assuredly, the words of the saints never disagree if they are carefully examined. In this case,

both statements are true, if correctly understood in context. For indescribably body and soul are brought into being

in such a way that they coexist. The soul is in a state of perfection from the start, but the body is imperfect since it

has to grow through taking nourishment. The soul by virtue of its creation as a deifonn and intellective entity

possesses an intrinsic power of desire and an intrinsic mcensive power, and these lead it to manifest both courage

 

 

 

and divine love. For senseless anger and mindless desire were not created along with the soul. Nor originally did

they pertain to the body. On the contrary, when the body was created it was free from corruption and without the

humors from which such desire and uncontrollable rage arise. But after the fall anger and desire were necessarily

generated within it, for then it became subject to the corruption and gross materiality of the instinct-driven

 

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animals. That is why when the body has the upper hand it opposes the will of the soul through anger and desire.

But when what is mortal is made subject to the intelligence it assists the soul in doing what is good. For when

characteristics that do not originally pertain to the body but have subsequently infiltrated into it become entangled

with the soul, man becomes like an animal (cf Ps. 49:20), since he is now necessarily subject to the law of sin. He

ceases to be an intelligent human being and becomes beast-like.

 

82. When God through His life-giving breath created the soul deiform and intellective. He did not implant in it

anger and desire that are animal-like. But He did endow it with a power of longing and aspiration, as well as with a

courage responsive to divine love. Similarly when God formed the body He did not originally implant in it

instinctual anger and desire. It was only afterwards, through the fall, that it was invested with these characteristics

that have rendered it mortal, corruptible and animal-like. For the body, even though susceptive of corruption, was

created, as theologians will tell us, free from corruption, and that is how it will be resurrected. In the same way the

soul when originally created was dispassionate. But soul and body have both been denied, commingled as they are

through the natural law of mutual mterpenetration and exchange. The soul has acquired the qualities of the passions

or, rather, of the demons; and the body, passing under the sway of corruption because of its fallen state, has become

akin to instinct-driven animals. The powers of body and soul have merged together and have produced a single

animal, driven impulsively and mindlessly by anger and desire. That is how man has sunk to the level of animals, as

Scripture testifies, and has become like them in every respect (cf. Ps. 49:20).

 

83. The principle and source of the virtues is a good disposition of the will, that is to say, an aspiration for

goodness and beauty. God is the source and ground of all supernal goodness. Thus the principle of goodness and

beauty is faith or, rather, it is Christ, the rock of faith, who is principle and foundation of all the virtues. On this rock

we stand and on this foundation we build every good thing (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11). Christ is the capstone (cf Eph. 2:20)

uniting us with Himself. He is the pearl of great price (c£ Matt. 13:46): it is this for which the monk seeks when he

plunges into the depths of stillness and it is this for which he sells all his own desires through obedience to the

commandments, so that he may acquire it even in this life.

 

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84. The virtues are all equal and together reduce themselves to one, thus constituting a single principle and form

of virtue. But some virtues - such as divine love, humility and divine patience - are greater than others, embracing

and comprising as they do a large number or even all of the rest. With regard to patience the Lord says, 'You will

gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21:19). He did not say 'through your fasting' or

'through your vigils'. I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of

courageous actions. It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity amid distress, and a steadfast base for those who

acquire it. Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not

even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx of hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm.

 

85. The virtues, though they beget each other, yet have their origin in the three powers of the soul - all except

those virtues that are divine. For the ground and principle of the four cardinal virtues, both natural and divine -

sound understanding, courage, self-restraint and justice, the progenitors of all the other virtues - is the divine

Wisdom that inspires those who have attained a state of mystical prayer. This Wisdom operates in a fourfold manner

in the intellect. It activates not all the four virtues simultaneously, but each one individually, as is appropriate and as

it determines. It activates sound understanding in the form of light, courage as clear-sighted power and ever-moving

inspiration, self-restraint as a power of sanctification and purification, and justice as the dew of purity, joy-inducing

and cooling the arid heat of the passions. In every one who has attained the state of perfection it activates each virtue

fully, in the appropriate form.

 

86. The pursuit of the virtues through one's own efforts does not confer complete strength on the soul unless grace

transforms them into an essential inner disposition. Each virtue is endowed with its own specific gift of grace, its

own particular energy, and thus possesses the capacity to produce such a disposition and blessed state in those who

attain it even when they have not consciously sought for any such state. Once a virtue has been bestowed on us it

remains unchanged and unfailing. For just as a living soul activates the body's members, so the grace of the Holy

Spirit activates the virtues. Without such grace the whole bevy of the virtues is moribund; and m those who appear

to have attained them, or to be in the way of attaining them, solely through

 

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their own efforts they are but shadows and prefigurations of beauty, not the reality itself.

 

87. The cardinal virtues are four: courage, sound understanding, self-restraint and justice. There are eight other

moral qualities, that either go beyond or fall short of these virtues. These we regard as vices, and so we call them;

but non-spiritual people regard them as virtues and that is what they call them. Exceeding or falling short of courage

are audacity and cowardice, of sound understanding are cunning and ignorance; of self-restraint are licentiousness

and obtuseness; of justice are excess and injustice, or taking less than one's due. In between, and superior to, what

 

 

 

goes beyond or what falls short of them, lie not only the cardinal and natural virtues, but also the practical virtues.

These are consolidated by resolution combined with probity of character; the others by perversion and self-conceit.

That the virtues lie along the midpoint or axis of rectitude is testified to by the proverb, 'You will attain every well-

founded axis' (Prov. 2:9. LXX). Thus when they are all established in the soul's three faculties in which they are

begotten and built up, they have as their foundation the four cardinal virtues or, rather, Christ Himself. In this way

the natural virtues are purified through the practical virtues, while the divine and supra-natural virtues are conferred

through the bounty of the Holy Spirit.

 

88. Among the virtues some are practical, others are natural, and others are divine and conferred by the Holy

Spirit. The practical virtues are the products of our resolution, the natural virtues are built into us when we are

created, the divine virtues are the fruits of grace.

 

89. Just as the virtues are begotten in the soul, so are the passions. But the virtues are begotten in accordance with

nature, the passions in a mode contrary to nature. For what produces good or evil in the soul is the will's bias: it is

like the joint of a pair of compasses or the pivot of a pair of scales: whichever way it inclines, so it will determine

the consequences. For our inner disposition is capable of operating in one way or another, since it bears within itself

both virtue and vice, the first as its natural birthright, the second as the result of the self-incurred proclivity of our

moral will.

 

90. Scripture calls the virtues 'maidens' (cf Song of Songs 1:3) because through their close union with the soul

they become one with it in spirit and body. In the same way as a girl's beauty is emblematic of her love, the presence

of these holy virtues expresses our inner purity and saintliness. Grace habitually gives to divine things an outward

form

 

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that accords with their inner nature, at the same time unerringly molding those receptive to it in a way that

corresponds to this nature.

 

91. There are eight ruling passions: gluttony, avarice and self-esteem - the three principal passions; and

unchastity, anger, dejection, listlessness and arrogance - the five subordinate passions. In the same way, among the

virtues opposed to these there are three that are all-embracing, namely, total shedding of possessions, self-control

and humility, and five deriving from them, namely, purity, gentleness, joy, courage, and self-belittlement - and then

come all the other virtues. To study and recognize the power, action and special flavor of each virtue and vice is not

within the competence of everyone who wishes to do so; it is the prerogative of those who practice and experience

the virtues actively and consciously and who receive from the Holy Spirit the gifts of cognitive insight and

discrimination.

 

92. Virtues either energize in us or are energized by us. They energize in us by being present in us when it is

appropriate, when they will, for as long as they will and in whatever manner they will. We energize them ourselves

 

 

 

according to our resolve and the moral state of our capabilities. But they energize in us by virtue of their own

essence, whereas we energize them merely in an imitative way, by modeling our moral conduct upon them. For all

our actions are but typifications of the divine archetypes; and few indeed are those who participate concretely in

noetic realities before they enjoy the eternal blessings of the life to come. In this life we mainly activate and make

our own not the virtues themselves but their reflections and the ascetic toil they require.

 

93. According to St Paul (cf Rom. 15:16), you 'minister' the Gospel only when, having yourself participated in

the light of Christ, you can pass it on actively to others. Then you sow the Logos like a divine seed in the fields of

your listeners' souls. 'Let your speech be always filled with grace', says St Paul (Col. 4:6), 'seasoned' with divine

goodness. Then it will impart grace to those who listen to you with faith. Elsewhere St Paul, calling the teachers

tillers and their pupils the fields they till (cf 2 Tim. 2:6), wisely presents the former as plowers and sowers of the

divine Logos and the latter as the fertile soil, yielding a rich crop of virtues. True ministry is not simply a celebration

of sacred rites; it also involves participation in divine blessings and the communication of these blessings to others.

 

94. Oral teaching for the guidance of others has many forms,

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varying in accordance with the diverse ways in which it is put together from different sources. These sources are

four in number: instruction, reading, ascetic practice, and grace. For just as water, while essentially the same,

changes and acquires a distinctive quality according to the composition of the soil under it, so that it tastes bitter, or

sweet, or brackish, or acidic, so oral teaching, colored as it is by the moral state of the teacher, varies accordingly in

the way it operates and in the benefits it confers.

 

95. Oral teaching is something to be enjoyed by all intelligent beings. But just as there are many different kinds of

food, so the recipient of this teaching experiences its pleasure in a variety of ways. Instruction moulds the moral

character; teaching by reading is like 'still waters' that nourish and restore the soul (cf Ps. 23:2); teaching through

ascetic practice is like 'green pastures', strengthening it (cf. Ps. 23:2); while teaching imparted through grace is like a

cup that intoxicates it (cf. Ps. 23:5. LXX), filling it with unspeakable joy, or else it is like oil that exhilarates the face

and makes it radiant (cf. Ps. 104: 15).

 

96. Strictly speaking the soul possesses these various forms of teachings within itself as part of its own life; but

when it learns about them through listening to others it becomes conscious of them, provided it listens with faith and

provided the teacher teaches with love, speaking of the virtues without vanity or self-esteem. Then the soul is

disciplined by instruction, nourished by reading, graciously escorted to her wedding by the deeply -rooted teaching

that derives from ascetic practice, and receives the illuminative teaching of the Holy Spirit as a bridegroom who

unites her to Himself and fills her with delight. 'Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God' (Matt. 4:4)

denotes the words that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, issue from the mouths of the saints - an inspiration granted not to

all but only to those who are worthy. For although all intelligent beings take pleasure in knowledge, very few are

those in this world who are consciously filled with joy by the wisdom of the Spirit; most of us only know and

 

 

 

participate through the power of memory in the images and reflections of spiritual wisdom, for we do not yet with

full awareness partake of the Logos of God, the true celestial bread. But in the life to come this bread is the sole food

of me saints, proffered in such abundance that it is never exhausted, depleted, or immolated anew.

 

97. Without spiritual perception you cannot consciously

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experience the delight of divine things. If you dull your physical senses you make them insensible to sensory

things, and you neither see, hear nor smell, but are paralyzed or, rather, half-dead; similarly, if through the passions

you deaden the natural powers of your soul you make them insensible to the activity of the mysteries of the Spirit

and you cannot participate in them. If you are spiritually blind, deaf and insensible you are as dead: Christ does not

live in you, and you do not live and act in Christ.

 

98. The physical senses and the soul's powers have an equal and similar, not to say identical, mode of operation,

especially when they are in a healthy state: far then the soul's powers live and act through the senses, and the life-

giving Spirit sustains them both. A man is truly ill when he succumbs to the generic malady of the passions and

spends his whole time in the sickroom of inertia. When there is no satanic battle between them, making them reject

the rule of the intellect and of the Spirit, the senses clearly perceive sensory things, the soul's powers mtelligible

things; for when they are united through the Spirit and constitute a single whole, they know directly and essentially

the nature of divine and human things. They contemplate with clarity the logoi, or inward essences of these things,

and distinctly perceive, so far as is possible, the single source of all things, the Holy Trinity.

 

99. He who practices hesychasm must acquire the following five virtues, as a foundation on which to build:

silence, self-control, vigilance, humility and patience. Then there are three practices blessed by God: psalmody,

prayer and reading - and handiwork for those weak in body. These virtues which we have listed not only embrace all

the rest but also consolidate each other. From early morning the hesychast must devote himself to the remembrance

of God through prayer and stillness of heart, praying diligently in the first hour, reading in the second, chanting

psalms in the third, praying in the fourth, reading in the fifth, chanting psalms in the sixth, praying in the seventh,

reading in the eighth, chanting psalms in the ninth, eating in the tenth, sleeping in the eleventh, if need be, and

reciting vespers in the twelfth hour. Thus fruitfully spending the course of the day he gains God's blessings.

 

100. Like a bee one should extract from each of the virtues what is most profitable. In this way, by taking a small

amount from all of them, one builds up from the practice of the virtues a great honeycomb overflowing with the

soul-delighting honey of wisdom.

 

101. Now hear, if you will, how it is best to spend the night. For the

 

 

 

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night vigil there are three programs: for beginners, for those midway on the path, and for the perfect. The first

program is as follows: to sleep half the night and to keep vigil for the other half, either from evening till midnight or

from midnight till dawn. The second is to keep vigil after nightfall for one or two hours, then to sleep for four hours,

then to rise for matins and to chant psalms and pray for six hours until daybreak, then to chant the first hour, and

after that to sit down and practice stillness, in the way already described. Then one can either follow the program of

spiritual work given for the daylight hours, or else continue in unbroken prayer, which gives a greater inner stability.

The third program is to stand and keep vigil uninterruptedly throughout the night.

 

102. Now let us say something about food. A pound of bread is sufficient for anyone aspiring to attain the state of

inner stillness. You may drink two cups of undiluted wine and three of water. Your food should consist of whatever

is at hand - not whatever your natural craving seeks, but what providence provides, to be eaten sparingly. The best

and shortest guiding rule for those who wish to live as they should is to maintain the threefold all-embracing

practices of fasting, vigilance and prayer, for these provide a most powerful support for all the other virtues.

 

103. Stillness requires above all faith, patience, love with all one's heart and strength and might (cf. Deut. 6:5),

and hope. For if you have faith, even though because of negligence or some other fault you fail to attain what you

seek in this life, you will on leaving this life most certainly be vouchsafed the fruit of faith and spiritual struggle and

will behold your liberation, which is Jesus Christ, the redemption and salvation of souls, the Logos who is both God

and man. But if you lack faith, you will certainly be condemned on leaving this world. In fact, as the Lord says, you

are condemned already (cf . John 3:18). For if you are a slave to sensual pleasure, and want to be honored by other

people rather than by God (cf. John 5:44.), you lack faith, even though you may profess faith verbally; and you

deceive yourself without realizing it. And you will incur the rebuke: 'Because you did not receive Me in your heart

but cast Me out behind your back, I too will reject you' (ef Ezek. 5: 1 1). If you possess faith you should have hope,

and believe in God's truth to which the whole of Scripture bears witness, and confess your own weakness; otherwise

you will inescapably receive double condemnation.

 

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104. Nothing so fills the heart with contrition and humbles the soul as solitude embraced with self-awareness, and

utter silence. And nothing so destroys the state of inner stillness and takes away the divine power that comes from it

as the following six universal passions: insolence, gluttony, talkativeness, distraction, pretentiousness and the

mistress of the passions, self-conceit. Whoever commits himself to these passions plunges himself progressively into

 

 

 

darkness until he becomes completely insensate. But if he comes to himself again and with faith and ardor makes a

fresh start, he will once more attain what he seeks, especially if he seeks it with humility. Yet if through his

negligence even one of the passions that we have mentioned gets a hold on him once more, then the whole host of

evils, including pernicious lack of faith, moves in and attacks him, devastating his soul till it becomes like another

city of Babylon, full of diabolical turmoil and confusion (cf. Isa. 13:21). Then the last state of the person to whom

this happens is worse than his first (cf. Matt. 12:45), and he turns into a violent enemy and defamer of those

pursuing the path of hesy chasm, always whetting his tongue against them like a sharp double-edged sword.

 

105. Once the waters of the passions, like a turbid and chaotic sea, have flooded the soul's state of stillness, there

is no way of crossing over them except in the light swift- winged barque of self-control and total poverty. For when

because of our dissipation and enslavement to materiality the torrents of the passions inundate the soil of the heart,

they deposit there all the filth and sludge of evil thoughts, befouling the intellect, muddying the reason, clogging the

body, and slackening, darkening and deadening soul and heart, depriving them of their natural stability and

responsiveness.

 

106. Nothing so makes the soul of those striving to advance on the spiritual path sluggish, apathetic and mindless

as self-love, that pimp of the passions. For whenever it induces us to choose bodily ease rather than virtue-

promoting hardship, or to regard it as positive good sense not willingly to burden ourselves with ascetic labor,

especially with respect to the light exertions involved in practicing the commandments, then it causes the soul to

relax its efforts to attain a state of stillness, and produces in it a strong, irresistible sense of indolence and slackness.

 

107. If you are feeble in practicing the commandments yet want to expel your inner murkiness, the best and most

efficient physic is

 

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trustful unhesitating obedience in all things. This remedy, distilled 'from many virtues, restores vitality and acts as a

knife which at a single stroke cuts away festering sores. If, then, in total trust and simplicity you choose this remedy

out of all alternatives you excise every passion at once. Not only will you reach the state of stillness but also through

your obedience you will fully enter into it, having found Christ and become His imitator and servitor in name and

act.

 

108. Unless your life and actions are accompanied by a sense of inner grief you cannot endure the incandescence

of stillness. If with this sense of grief you meditate - before they come to pass - on the many terrors that await us

prior to and after death you will achieve both patience and humility, the twin foundations of stillness. Without them

your efforts to attain stillness will always be accompanied by apathy and self-conceit. From these will arise a host of

distractions and day-dreams, all inducing sluggishness. In their wake comes dissipation, daughter of indolence,

making the body sluggish and slack and the intellect benighted and callous. Then Jesus is hidden, concealed by the

throng of thoughts and images that crowd the mind (cf. John 5:13).

 

 

 

109. The torments of conscience in this life or the life to come are experienced with full awareness not by

everyone but only by those who in this world or the next are deprived of divine glory and love. Such torment is like

a fearful torturer punishing the guilty in various ways, or like a sharp sword striking with pitiless indignation and

reproach. Once our conscience is active, what some call righteous indignation and others natural wrath is roused in

three ways - against the demons, against our nature and against our own soul; for such indignation or wrath impels

us to sharpen our conscience like a keen-bladed sword against our enemies. If this righteous indignation triumphs

and subjects sin and our unregenerate self to the soul, then it is transmuted into the loftiest courage and leads us to

God. But if the soul enslaves itself to sin and our unregenerate self, then this righteous indignation turns against it

and torments it mercilessly, for it has enslaved itself to its enemies by its own free will. Thus enslaved, the soul

commits terrible crimes, for its state of virtue is lost and it has alienated itself from God.

 

110. Of all the passions, lechery and listlessness are especially harsh and burdensome, for they oppress and

debilitate the unhappy soul. And as they are inter-related and intertwined they are difficult to fight against and to

overcome - in fact by our own efforts alone we cannot

 

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defeat them. Lechery burgeons in the soul's appetitive aspect and by nature embraces indiscriminately both soul

and body, since the total pleasure it generates spreads through all our members. Listlessness, once it has laid hold of

our intellect and like bindweed has enlaced our soul and body, makes us slothful, enfeebled and indolent. Even

before we have attained the blessed state of dispassion these two passions are expelled, though not finally defeated,

whenever through prayer our soul receives from the Holy Spirit a power that releases it from tension, producing

strength and profound peace in the heart, and solacing us with stillness. Lechery is the pleasure that includes all

other forms of sensual indulgence, their source, mistress and queen; and its crony, sloth, is the invincible chariot

bearing Pharaoh's captains (cf. Exod. 14:7). Through these two - lechery and sloth - the seeds of the passions are

sown in our unhappy lives.

 

111. Noetic prayer is an activity initiated by the cleansing power of the Spirit and the mystical rites celebrated by

the intellect. Similarly, stillness is initiated by attentive waiting upon God, its intermediate stage is characterized by

illuminative power and contemplation, and its final goal is ecstasy and the enraptured flight of the intellect towards

God.

 

1 12. Prior to the enjoyment of the blessings that transcend the intellect, and as a foretaste of that enjoyment, the

noetic activity of the intellect mystically offers up the Lamb of God upon the altar of the soul and partakes of Him in

communion. To eat the Lamb of God upon the soul's noetic altar is not simply to apprehend Him spiritually or to

participate in Him; it is also to become an image of the Lamb as He is in the age to come. Now we experience the

manifest expression of the mysteries; hereafter we hope to enjoy their very substance.

 

113. For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect it is like a vigorous sweet-

scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, an action of faith or, rather, faith itself, 'that makes

 

 

 

real for us the things for which we hope' (Heb. 11:1), active love, angelic impulse, the power of the bodiless spirits,

their work and delight, the Gospel of God, the heart's assurance, hope of salvation, a sign of purity, a token of

holiness, knowledge of God, baptism made manifest, purification in the water of regeneration, a pledge of the Holy

Spirit, the exultation of Jesus, the soul's delight, God's mercy, a sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of the

noetic sun, the heart's dawn-star, the confirmation of the Christian

 

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faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God's grace, God's wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and

absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, and

expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone (cf 1 Cor.

12:6), for there is a single action of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.

 

114. Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (cf. Exod.

7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer,

will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it.

 

115. Those who say or do anything without humility are like people who build in winter or without bricks and

mortar. Very few acquire humility and know it through experience; and those who try to talk about it are like people

measuring a bottomless pit. And I who in my blindness have formed a faint image of this great light am rash enough

to say this about it: tme humility does not consist in speaking humbly, or in looking humble. The humble person

does not have to force himself to think humbly, nor does he keep finding fault with himself. Such conduct may

provide us with an occasion for humility or constitute its outward form, but humility itself is a grace and a divine

gift. The holy fathers teach that there are two kinds of humility: to regard oneself as lower than everyone else, and to

ascribe all one's achievement to God. The first is the beginning, the second the consummation.

 

Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that

they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable

than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know

what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance

you and I, my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as

more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I,

owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature. Truly animals are more pure than I, sinner that I am;

on account of this I am the lowest of all, since even before my death I have made my bed in

 

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hell. Who is not fully aware that the person who sins is worse than the demons, since he is their thrall and their

slave, even in this life sharing their murk-mantled prison? If I am mastered by the demons I must be inferior to them.

Therefore my lot will be with them in the abyss of hell, pitiful that I am. You on earth who even before your death

dwell in that abyss, how do you dare delude yourself, calling yourself righteous, when through the evil you have

done you have defiled yourself and made yourself a sinner and a demon? Woe to your self-deception and your

delusion, squalid cur that you are, consigned to fire and darkness for these offences.

 

1 16. According to theologians, noetic, pure, angelic prayer is in its power wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. A

sign that you have attained such prayer is that the intellect's vision when praying is completely free from form and

that the intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary, it is often drawn away even

from its own senses by the light acting within it; for it now grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance,

becoming through ineffable union a single spirit with God (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 17).

 

1 17. We are led and guided towards God-given humility by seven different qualities, each of which generates and

complements the others: silence, humbleness in thought, in speech, in appearance, self-reproach, contrition and

looking on oneself as the least of men. Silence consciously espoused gives birth to humbleness in thought. Humble-

ness in thought produces three further modes of humility, namely, humbleness in speech, bearing oneself in a simple

and humble way, and constant self-belittlement. These three modes give birth to contrition; this arises within us

when God allows us to suffer temptations - when, that is, we are disciplined by providence and humbled by the

demons. Contrition readily induces the soul to feel the lowest and least of all, and the servant of all. Contrition and

looking on oneself as the least of all bring about the perfect humility that is the gift of God, a power rightly regarded

as the perfection of all the virtues. It is a state in which one ascribes all one's achievements to God. Thus the first

factor leading to humility is silence, from which humbleness of thought is bom. This gives birth to the three further

modes of humility. These three generate the single quality of contrition. The quality of contrition gives birth to the

seventh mode, the primal humility of regarding oneself as the least of men, which is also' called providential

humility. Providential humility confers the true and God-given humility that is

 

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perfect and indescribable. Primal humility comes thus: when you are abandoned, overcome, enslaved and

dominated by every passion, distractive thought and evil spirit, and can find no help in doing good works, or in God,

or in anything at all, so that you are ready to fall into despair, then you are humbled in everything, are filled with

contrition and regard yourself as the lowest and least of all things, the slave of all, and worse even than the demons,

since you are dominated and vanquished by them. This is providential humility. Once acquired, through it God

bestows the ultimate humility. This is a divine power that activates and accomplishes all things. With its aid a man

 

 

 

always sees himself as an instrument of divine power, and through it he accomplishes the miraculous works of God.

 

1 18. Because we are now mastered by the passions and succumb to a host of temptations we cannot in our age

attain those states that characterize sanctity - 1 mean real spiritual contemplation of the divine light, an intellect free

from fantasy and distraction, the true energy of prayer ceaselessly flowing from the depths of the heart, the soul's

resurrection and ascension, divine rapture, the soaring beyond the limits of this world, the mind's ecstasy in spirit

above all things sensory, the ravishment of the intellect above even its own powers, the angelic flight of the soul

impelled by God towards what is infinite and utterly sublime. The intellect - especially in the more superficial

among us - tends to picture these states prematurely to itself, and in this way it loses even the slight stability God has

given it and becomes altogether moribund. Hence we must exercise great discrimination and not try to pre-empt

things that come in their own good time, or reject what we already possess and dream of something else. For by

nature the intellect readily invents fantasies and illusions about the high spiritual states it has not yet attained, and

thus there is no small danger that we may lose what has already been given to us and destroy our mind through

repeated self-deception, becoming a day-dreamer and not a hesychast.

 

119. Faith, like active prayer, is a grace. For prayer, when activated by love through the power of the Spirit,

renders true faith manifest - the faith that reveals the life of Jesus. If, then, you are aware that such faith is not at

work within you, that means your faith is dead and lifeless. In fact you should not even speak of yourself as one of

the 'faithful' if your faith is merely theoretical and is not actualized by the practice of the commandments or by the

Spirit. Thus faith must be

 

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evidenced by progress in keeping the commandments, or it must be actualized and translucent in what we do.

This is confirmed by St James when he says, 'Show me your faith through your works and I will show you the works

that I do through my faith' (cf Jas. 2:18). In saying this he makes it clear that grace-inspired faith is evidenced by

the keeping of the commandments, just as the commandments are actualized and made translucent by grace-inspired

faith. Faith is the root of the commandments or, rather, it is the spring that feeds their growth. It has two aspects -

that of confession and that of grace - though it is essentially one and indivisible.

 

120. The short ladder of spiritual progress - which is at the same time both small and great - has five rangs leading

to perfection. The first is renunciation, the second submission to a religious way of life, the third obedience to

spiritual direction, the fourth humility, and the fifth God-imbued love. Renunciation raises the prisoner from hell and

sets him free from enslavement to material things. Submission is the discovery of Christ and the decision to serve

Him. As Christ Himself said, 'He who serves Me, follows Me; and where I am he who serves Me will also be' (cf.

John 12:26). And where is Christ? In heaven, enthroned at the right hand of the Father. Thus he who serves Christ

must be in heaven as well, his foot placed ready to climb up; indeed, before he even begins to ascend by his own

efforts he is already raised up and ascending with Christ. Obedience, put into action through the practice of the

commandments, builds a ladder out of various virtues and places them in the soul as rungs by which to ascend (cf.

 

 

 

Ps. 84:5. LXX). Thence the spiritual aspirant is embraced by humihty, the great exaher, and is borne heavenwards

and dehvered over to love, the queen of the virtues. By love he is led to Christ and brought into His presence. Thus

by this short ladder he who is truly obedient swiftly ascends to heaven.

 

121. The quickest way to ascend to the kingdom of heaven by the short ladder of the virtues is through effacing

the five passions hostile to obedience, namely, disobedience, contentiousness, self-gratification, self -justification

and pernicious self-conceit. For these are the limbs and organs of the recalcitrant demon that devours those who

offer false obedience and consigns them to the dragon of the abyss. Disobedience is the mouth of hell;

contentiousness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification its sharp teeth; self-justification its gullet; and

self-conceit, that sends one to hell, is the vent that evacuates its

 

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all-devouring belly. If through obedience you overcome the first of these - disobedience - you cut off all the rest

at a stroke, and with a single swift stride attain heaven. This is the truly ineffable and inconceivable miracle wrought

by our compassionate Lord: that through a single virtue or, rather, a single commandment, we can ascend

straightway to heaven, just as through a single act of disobedience we have descended and continue to descend into

hell.

 

122. Man is like another or second world - a new world, as he is called by St Paul when he states, 'Whoever is in

Christ is a new creation' (2 Cor. 5:17). For through virtue man becomes a heaven and an earth and everything that a

world is. Every quality and mystery exists for man's sake, as St Gregory of Nazianzos says. Moreover, if, as St Paul

affirms, our struggle is not against creatures of flesh and blood, but against the potentates and rulers of the darkness

of this world, against the spirits of evil in the celestial realms of the prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2; 6: 12), it follows

that those who secretly fight against us inhabit the world of our psychic powers, which is like another great world of

nature. For the three princes that oppose us in our struggle attack the three powers of the soul; and it is precisely

where we have made progress, and in areas that we have labored to develop, that they launch their assault.

 

Thus the dragon, the prince of the abyss, whose strength is manifest in the loins and the belly - organs of our

soul's appetitive power - sallies forth against those who strive to keep their attention in their hearts; and through the

lust-loving giant of forgetfulness he hurls at them the whole battery of his fiery darts (cf. Eph. 6:16). Desire being

for him like another sea and abyss, he plunges into it, coils his way through it, and stirs it up, making it foam and

boil. In this way he inflames it with sexual longing and inundates it with sensual pleasure; but this does not slake it,

for it is insatiable.

 

The prince of this world (cf. John 12:31), who campaigns against the soul's incensive power, attacks those striving

to attain practical virtue. With the help of the giant of sloth, he continually ranges his forces against us and engages

us in a spiritual contest with every trick of passion he can devise. As though in the theatre or stadium of some other

world, he wrestles with all who stand up against him with

 

 

 

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courage and endurance; sometimes he wins, sometimes he is defeated, and so he either disgraces us or gains us

crowns of glory in the sight of the angels.

 

The prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2) attacks those whose minds are absorbed in contemplation, deluding them with

fantasies; for supported by the evil spirits of the air he attacks the soul's intellectual and spiritual power. Through the

giant of ignorance he clouds the aspiring mind as though it were an intellectual heaven, disrupting its composure,

craftily insinuating into it vague fantastic images of evil spirits and their metamorphoses, and producing fear-

inspiring similitudes of thunder and lightning, tempests and alarums. These three princes, assisted by the three

giants, attack the three powers of our soul, each waging war against the particular power that corresponds to him.

 

123. These demons were once celestial intelligences; but, having fallen from their original state of immateriality

and refinement, each of them has acquired a certain material grossness, assuming a bodily form corresponding to the

kind of action allotted to it. For like human beings they have lost the delights of the angels and have been deprived

of divine bliss, and so they too, like us, now find pleasure in earthly things, becoming to a certain extent material

because of the disposition to material passions which they have acquired. We should not be surprised at this, for our

own soul, created intellectual and spiritual in the image of God, has become bestial, insensate and virtually mindless

through losing the knowledge of God and finding pleasure in material things. Inner disposition changes outward

nature, and acts of moral choice alter the way that nature functions. Some evil spirits are material, gross,

uncontrollable, passionate and vindictive. They hunger for material pleasure and indulgence as carnivores for flesh.

Like savage dogs and like those possessed they devour and relish rotten food; and their delight and habitation are

coarse, fleshy bodies. Others are licentious and slimy. They creep about in the pool of desire like leeches, frogs and

snakes. Sometimes they assume the form of fish, delighting in their brackish lubricity. Slippery and flaccid, they

swim in the sea of drunkenness, rejoicing in the humectation of mindless pleasures. In this manner they constantly

stir up waves of impure thoughts, and storms and tempests in the soul. Others are light and subtle, since they are

aerial spirits, and agitate the soul's contemplative power, provoking strong winds and fantasies. They deceive the

soul by

 

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appearing sometimes in the form of birds or angels. They fill one's memory with the forms of people one knows.

 

 

 

They pervert and deform the contemplative vision of those pursuing the path of hohness who have not yet attained

the state of purity and inner discrimination; for there is nothing spiritual but that they can secretly transform

themselves into it in the imagination. They too arm themselves according to our spiritual state and degree of

progress, and substituting illusion for truth and fantasy for contemplation they take up their abode within us. It is to

these evil spirits that Scripture refers when it speaks of beasts of the field, birds of the air and things that creep on

the ground (cf. Hos. 2:18).

 

124. There are five ways in which the passions may be aroused in us and our fallen self may wage war against our

soul. Sometimes our fallen self misuses things. Sometimes it seeks to do what is unnatural as though it were natural.

Sometimes it forms warm friendship with the demons and they provide it with arms against the soul. Sometimes

under the influence of the passions it falls into a state of civil war, divided against itself. Finally, if the demons have

failed to achieve their purpose in any of the ways just mentioned. God may permit them in their malice to wage war

against us in order to teach us greater humility.

 

125. The main causes of warfare - arising in us through every kind of object or situation - are three: our inner

disposition, the misuse of created things and, by God's leave, the malice and onslaught of the demons. As the fallen

self rises in protest against the soul, and the soul against the fallen self (cf Gal. 5:17), so in the same way our inner

disposition and our mode of acting make the passions of the fallen self war against the soul, and the valiant powers

of the soul wage war against the fallen self. And sometimes our enemy, shameless as he is, has the audacity to fight

against us in his own person, without cause or warning. Thus, my friend, do not let this blood-loving leech bleed

your arteries, and then spit out the blood he has sucked from you. Do not glut the snake and the dragon, and then

you will easily trample on the insolence of the lion and the dragon (cf Ps. 91:13). Lament until you have stripped

off the passions and clothed yourself in your heavenly dwelling-place (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2), and are refashioned according

to the likeness of Jesus Christ, who made you in His image (cf. Col. 3:10).

 

126. Those completely given over to the pursuits of the flesh and

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full of self-love are always slaves to sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy, too, is rooted in them. Consumed by

malice and embittered by their neighbor's blessings, they calumniate good as bad, calling it the fruit of deceit. They

do not accept things of the Spirit or believe in them; and because of their lack of faith they cannot see or know God.

Such people, due to this same blindness and lack of faith, on the last day will justly hear spoken to them the words, T

know you not' (Matt. 25: 12). For the questing believer must either believe when he hears what he does not know, or

come to know what he believes; and he must teach to others what he has come to know and abundantly multiply the

talent entrusted to him. But if he disbelieves what he does not know, and vilifies what he does not understand, and

teaches what he has not learnt, envying those who teach things from practical experience, his lot will surely be to

suffer punishment with those consumed by 'the gall of bitterness' (Acts 8:23).

 

127. According to the wise, a true teacher is he who through his all-embracing cognitive insight comprehends

 

 

 

created things concisely, as if they constituted a single body, establishing distinctions and connections between them

according to their generic difference and identity, so as to indicate which possess similar qualities. Or he may be

described as one who can truly demonstrate things apodictically. Or again, a true spiritual teacher is he who

distinguishes and relates the general and universal qualities of created things - classified as five in number, but

compounded in the incarnate Logos - in accordance with a particular formulation that embraces everything. But his

apodictic skill is not a matter of mere verbal dexterity, like that of profane philosophers, for he is able to enlighten

others through the contemplative vision of created things manifested to him by the Holy Spirit.

 

A true philosopher is one who perceives in created things their spiritual Cause, or who knows created things

through knowing their Cause, having attained a union with God that transcends the intellect and a direct, unmediated

faith: He does not simply learn about divine things, but actually experiences them. Or again, a true philosopher is

one whose intellect is conversant equally with ascetic practice and contemplative wisdom. Thus the perfect

philosopher or lover of wisdom is one whose intellect has attained - alike on the moral, natural and theological

levels - love of wisdom or, rather, love of God. That is to say, he has learnt from God the principles of ascetic

practice (moral philosophy), an insight into the spiritual causes of created things

 

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(natural philosophy), and a precise contemplative understanding of doctrinal principles (theology).

 

Or again, a teacher initiated into things divine is one who distinguishes principial beings from participative beings

or beings that have no autonomous self-subsistent reality; he adduces the essences of principial beings from beings

that exist through participating in them, and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he perceives the essences of principial

beings embodied in participative beings. In other words, he interprets what is intelligible and invisible in terms of

what is sensible and visible, and the visible sense -world in terms of the invisible and supersensory world, conscious

that what is visible is an image of what is invisible, and that what is invisible is the archetype of what is visible. He

knows that things possessing form and figure are brought into being by what is formless and without figure, and that

each manifests the other spiritually; and he clearly perceives each in the other and conveys this perception in his

teaching of the truth. His knowledge of the truth, with all its sun-like radiance, is not expressed in anagogical or

allegorical form; on the contrary, he elucidates the true underlying principles of both worlds with spiritual insight

and power, and expounds them forcibly and vividly. In this way the visible world becomes our teacher and the

invisible world is shown to be an eternal divine dwelling-place manifestly brought into being for our sake.

 

A divine philosopher is he who through ascetic purification and noetic contemplation has achieved a direct union

with God, and is a true friend of God, in that he esteems and loves the supreme, creative and true wisdom above

every other love, wisdom and knowledge. A student of spiritual knowledge, though not properly speaking a

philosopher (even though reflected wisdom has unnoticed appropriated the name of philosophy, as St Gregory of

Nazianzos points out) is he who esteems and studies God's wisdom mirrored in His creation, down to the least

vestige of it; but he does this without any self-display or any hankering after human praise and glory, for he wishes

 

 

 

to be a lover of God's wisdom in creation and not a lover of materialism.

 

An interpreter of sacred texts adept in the mysteries of the kingdom of God is everyone who after practicing the

ascetic life devotes himself to the contemplation of God and cleaves to stillness. Out of the treasury of his heart he

brings forth things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52), that is, things from the Gospel of Christ and the Prophets, or from

the New and Old Testaments, or doctrinal teachings and rules of

 

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ascetic practice, or themes from the Apostles and from the Law. These are the mysteries new and old that the

skilled interpreter brings forth when he has been schooled in the life of holiness.

 

An interpreter is one proficient in the practice of the ascetic life and still actively engaged in scriptural exegesis.

A divine teacher is one who mediates, in accordance with the laws governing the natural world, the spiritual

knowledge and inner meanings of created things and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elucidates all things with the

analytic power of his intelligence. A true philosopher is one who has attained, consciously and directly, a

supernatural union with God.

 

128. Those who write and speak and who wish to build up the Church, while lacking the inspiration of the Holy

Spirit, are 'psychic' or worldly people void of the Spirit, as St Jude observes (cf . Jude 1 9). Such people come under

the curse which says, 'Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and esteem themselves as possessors of

knowledge' (Isa. 5:21); for they speak from themselves and it is not the Spirit of God that speaks in them (cf Matt.

10:20). For those who speak what are simply their own thoughts before they have attained purity are deluded by the

spirit of self-conceit. It is to them that Solomon refers when he says, 'I knew a man who regarded himself as wise;

there is more hope for a fool than for him' (Prov. 26: 12. LXX); and again, 'Do not be wise in your own sight' (Prov.

3:7). St Paul himself, filled with the Spirit, endorses this when he says, 'We are not qualified to form any judgment

on our own account; our qualification comes from God' (2 Cor. 3:5), and, 'As men sent from God, we speak before

God in the grace of Christ' (2 Cor. 2:17). What people say when they speak on their own account is repellent and

murksome, for their words do not come from the living spring of the Spirit, but are spawned from the morass of their

own heart, a bog infested with the leeches, snakes and frogs of desire, delusion and dissipation; the water of their

knowledge is evil-smelling, turbid and torpid, sickening to those who drink it and filling them with nausea and

disgust.

 

129. 'We are the body of Christ', says St Paul, 'and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27). And

elsewhere he says, 'You are one body and one spirit, even as you have been called' (Eph. 4:4). For 'as the body

without the spirit is dead' (Jas. 2:26) and insensate, so if you have been deadened by the passions through neglecting

the commandments after your baptism the Holy Spirit and the grace of

 

 

 

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Christ cease to operate in you and to enlighten you; for though you possess the Spirit, since you have faith and

have been regenerated through baptism, yet the Spirit is quiescent and inactive within you because of the deadness

of your soul.

 

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and

movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become

as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the

Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in

all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do

not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in

adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert

and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of

Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of

participating positively in the life of grace.

 

130. The principal forms of contemplation are eight in number. The first is contemplation of the formless,

unongmate and uncreated God, source of all things - that is, contemplation of the one Triadic Deity that transcends

all being. The second is contemplation of the hierarchy and order of the spiritual powers. The third is contemplation

of the structure of created beings. The fourth is contemplation of God's descent through the incarnation of the Logos.

The fifth is contemplation of the universal resurrection. The sixth is contemplation of the dread second coming of

Christ. The seventh is contemplation of age-long punishment. The eighth is contemplation of the kingdom of

heaven. The first four pertain to what has already been manifested and realized. The second four pertain to what is in

store and has not yet been manifested; but they are clearly contemplated by and disclosed to those who through

grace have attained great purity of intellect. Whoever without such grace attempts to descry them should realize that

far from attaining spiritual vision he will merely become the prey of fantasies, deceived by and forming illusions in

obedience to the spirit of delusion.

 

131. Here something must be said about delusion, so far as this is

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possible; for, because of its deviousness and the number of ways in which it can ensnare us, few recognize it

clearly and for most it is almost inscrutable. Delusion manifests itself or, rather, attacks and invades us in two ways -

 

 

 

in the form of mental images and fantasies or in the form of diabohc influence - though its sole cause and origin is

always arrogance. The first form is the origin of the second and the second is the origin of a third form - mental

derangement. The first form, illusory visions, is caused by self-conceit; for this leads us to invest the divine with

some illusory shape, thus deceiving us through mental images and fantasies. This deception in its turn produces

blasphemy as well as the fear induced by monstrous apparitions, occurring both when awake and when asleep - a

state described as the terror and perturbation of the soul. Thus arrogance is followed by delusion, delusion by

blasphemy, blasphemy by fear, fear by terror, and terror by a derangement of the natural state of the mind. This is

the first form of delusion, that induced by mental images and fantasies.

 

The second form, induced by diabolic influence, is as follows. It has its origin in self-indulgence, which in its turn

results from so-called natural desire. Self-indulgence begets licentiousness in all its forms of indescribable impurity.

By inflaming man's whole nature and clouding his intelligence as a result of its intercourse with spurious images,

licentiousness deranges the intellect, searing it into a state of delirium and impelling its victim to utter false

prophecies, interpreting the visions and discourses of certain supposed saints, which he claims arc revealed to him

when he is intoxicated and befuddled with passion, his whole character perverted and corrupted by demons. Those

ignorant of spiritual matters, beguiled by delusion, call such men 'little souls'. These 'little souls' are to be found

sitting near the shrines of saints, by whose spirit they claim to be inspired and tested, and whose purported message

they proclaim to others. But in truth they should be called possessed by the demons, deceived and enslaved by

delusion, and not prophets foretelling what is to happen now and in the future. For the demon of licentiousness

himself darkens and deranges their minds, inflaming them with the fire of spiritual lust, conjuring up before them

the illusory appearance of saints, and making them hear conversations and see visions. Sometimes the demons

themselves appear to them and convulse them with fear. For having harnessed them to the yoke of Belial, the demon

of licentiousness drives them on

 

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to practice their deceits, so that he may keep them captive and enslaved until death, when he will consign them to

hell.

 

132. Delusion arises in us from three principal sources: arrogance, the envy of demons, and the divine will that

allows us to be tried and corrected. Arrogance arises from superficiality, demonic envy is provoked by our spiritual

progress, and the need for correction is the consequence of our sinful way of life. The delusion arising solely from

envy and self-conceit is swiftly healed, especially when we humble ourselves. On the other hand, the delusion

allowed by God for our correction, when we are handed over to Satan because of our smfulness, God often permits

to continue until our death, if this is needed to efface our sins. Sometimes God hands over even the guiltless to the

torment of demons for the sake of their salvation. One should also know that the demon of self-conceit himself

prophesies in those who are not scrupulously attentive to their hearts.

 

133. All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism.

 

 

 

just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the

truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us. For our kingship and

priesthood is not of the same form or character as theirs, even though the symbolic actions are the same. Nor does

our anointing recognize any distinction in nature, grace or calling, in such a way that those anointed essentially

differ one from the other: we have but one and the same calling, faith and ritual. The true significance of this is that

he who is anointed is pure, dispassionate and wholly consecrated to God now and for ever.

 

134. If your speech is full of wisdom and you meditate on understanding in your heart (cf Ps. 49:3), you will

disclose in created things the presence of the divine Logos, the substantive Wisdom of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor.

1:24); for in created things you will perceive the outward expression of the archetypes that characterize them, and

thus through your active living intelligence you will speak wisdom that derives from the divine Wisdom. And

because your heart will be illuminated by the power of the transfiguring understanding on which you meditate in

your spirit, you will be able through this understanding to instruct and illuminate those who listen with faith.

 

135. Today's great enemy of truth, drawing men to perdition, is

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delusion. As a result of this delusion, tenebrous ignorance rules the souls of all those sunk in lethargy and

alienates them from God. Such people are as if unaware that there exists a God who gives us rebirth and

illumination, or they assume that we can believe in Him and know Him only in a theoretical way and not through

our actions, or else they imagine that He has revealed Himself only to the people of former times and not to us also;

and they pretend that the scriptural texts about God are applicable only to the original authors, or to others, but not to

themselves. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God, since they repudiate true knowledge inspired by devotion

to God, and read the Scriptures only in a literal, not to say Judaic, manner; denying the possibility that man even in

this life can be resurrected through the resurrection of his soul, they choose to remain in the grave of ignorance.

Delusion consists of three passions: lack of faith, guile and sloth. These generate and support each other: lack of

faith sharpens the wits of guile, and guile goes hand in hand with sloth, which expresses itself outwardly in laziness.

Or conversely, sloth may beget guile - did not the Lord say, 'You cunning and lazy servant' (Matt. 25:26)? - and

guile mothers lack of faith. For if you are full of guile you lack faith, and if you lack faith you stand in no awe of

God. From such lack of faith comes sloth, which begets contempt; and when you are full of contempt you scorn all

goodness and practice every kind of wickedness.

 

136. Complete dogmatic orthodoxy consists in a true doctrine about God and an unerring spiritual knowledge of

created things. If you are orthodox in this way you should glorify God thus: Glory to Thee, Christ our God, glory to

Thee, because for our sake Thou, the divine Logos who transcends all things, becamest man. Great is the mystery

of Thine incarnation. Savior: glory to Thee.

 

137. According to St Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and

censure: to assist one's memory, to help others, or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual

 

 

 

writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual

matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says (cf Matt. 6:5, 16), and

will not profit

 

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from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting

popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.

 

 

 

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Further Texts

 

1. Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in

baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and leam how to

accomplish such progression. To Christ's conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to His

nativity the actual experience of joyousness, to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit, to His

transfiguration the contemplation of divine light, to His crucifixion the dying to all things, to His burial the

indwelling of divine love in the heart, to His resurrection the soul's life-quickening resurrection, and to His

ascension divine ecstasy and I the transport of the intellect into God. He who fails to pass consciously through these

stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the

practice of virtue.

 

2. Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing

what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf Rom. 8:17). But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly

lethal death. Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify cracifixion and to put death to death.

 

3. To suffer for Christ's sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us. For the envy which the innocent

provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord's schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens

our ears when we are guilty. That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner

(cf. Jas. 1:12). Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

 

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Further Texts

 

 

 

On Passion-Imbued Change

 

4. Listlessness - a most difficult passion to overcome - makes the body sluggish. And when the body is sluggish,

the soul also grows sluggish. When both have become thoroughly lax, self-indulgence induces a change in the

body's temperament. Self-indulgence incites the appetite, appetite gives rise to pernicious desire, desire to the spirit

of revolt, revolt to dormant recollections, recollection to imaginings, imagining to mental provocation, provocation

to coupling with the thought provoked, and coupling to assent. Such assent to a diabolic provocation leads to actual

sinning, either through the body or in various other ways. Thus we are defeated and thus we lapse.

 

 

 

On Beneficent Change

 

5. In whatever work we engage patience gives birth to courage, courage to commitment, commitment to

perseverance, and perseverance to an increase in the work done. Such additional labor quells the body's dissolute

impulses and checks the desire for sensual indulgence. Thus checked, desire gives rise to spiritual longing, longing

to love, love to aspiration, aspiration to ardor, ardor to self-galvanizing, self-galvanizing to assiduousness,

assiduousness to prayer, and prayer to stillness. Stillness gives birth to contemplation, contemplation to spiritual

knowledge, and knowledge to the apprehension of the mysteries. The consummation of the mysteries is theology,

the fruit of theology is perfect love, of love humility, of humility dispassion, and of dispassion foresight, prophecy

and foreknowledge. No one possesses the virtues perfectly in this life, nor does he cut off evil all at once. On the

contrary, by small increases of virtue evil gradually ceases to exist.

 

 

 

On Morbid Defluxions

 

Question: In how many ways do morbid defluxions take place, whether sinful or sinless?

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Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

 

6. Answer: Sinful defluxions take place in three ways: through fornication, through self-abuse, and through

consent to pernicious thoughts. Sinless defluxions take place in seven ways: through the urine, through eating solid

or stimulating foods, through drinking too much chill water, through the sluggishness of the body, through excessive

tiredness, and through all kinds of demonic fantasy. In veterans in the ascetic life they generally take place through

the first five of the ways we have just mentioned. In those who have attained the state of dispassion, the fluid only

issues mixed with urine, because on account of their ascetic labors their inner ducts have in some way become

porous and they have been given the grace of a divine energy, purificatory and sanctifying - the grace of continence.

The last form of defluxion - that prompted by demonic fantasy during sleep - pertains both to those still under the

domination of the passions and to those suffering from weakness. But since this is involuntary it is free from sin, as

the holy fathers tell us.

 

 

 

By divine dispensation the person who has attained the state of dispassion experiences from time to time a sinless

propulsion, while the remaining fluid is consumed by divine fire. The person still engaged in the ascetic life and so

under various forms of constraint experiences a discharge that is innocuous. The person still under the sway of the

passions experiences a natural discharge and an unnatural discharge, the first prompted by diabolic fantasy during

sleep and the second by diabolic fantasy to which assent has been given while he is awake. The first is innocuous,

the second is sinful and liable to penance.

 

In those who have attained the state of dispassion the propulsion and the bodily discharge constitute a single

action through which by divine dispensation surplus fluid is expelled through the urine while the rest is consumed

by divine fire, as already stated. In those midway along the ascetic path there are said to be six general ways of

innocuous defluxion through which the body is cleansed and freed from the corruptive fluid formed naturally and

unavoidably in it. These are prompted by solid or stimulating foods, by drinking cold water, by sluggishness of the

body, by torpor resulting from excessive labor, and finally by the malice of demons. In the weak and those newly

engaged in the ascetic life there are similarly six ways, all embroiled with the passions. They are prompted by

gluttony, by back-biting, by censoriousness, by self-esteem, by demonic fantasy during sleep and

 

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Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

 

assent to it while awake, and finally by the aggressive malice of demons. Yet even these have in God's providence

a double purpose: first, they cleanse human nature from corruption, from the surplus matter it has absorbed, and

from impulse-driven appetites; and, second, they train the person engaged in the spiritual struggle to be humble and

attentive, and to restrain himself in all things and from all things.

 

7. He who dwells in solitude and depends on charity for his food must accept alms in seven ways. First, he must

ask only for what is needful. Secondly, he must take only what is needful. Thirdly, he must receive whatever is

offered to him as if from God. Fourthly, he must trust in God and believe that He will recompense the giver. Fifthly,

he must apply himself to keeping the commandments. Sixthly, he must not misuse what is given to him. Seventhly,

he must not be stingy but must give to others and be compassionate. He who conducts himself thus in these matters

experiences the joy of having his needs supplied not by man but by God.

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

1 . As the great teacher St John Chrysostom states, we should be in a position to say that we need no help from the

Scriptures, no assistance from other people, but are instructed by God; for 'all will be taught by God' (Isa. 54:13;

John 6:45), in such a way that we learn from Him and through Him what we ought to know. And this applies not

 

 

 

only to those of us who are monks but to each and every one of the faithful: we are all of us called to carry the law

of the Spirit written on the tablets of our hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 3:3), and to attain like the Cherubim the supreme privilege

of conversing through pure prayer in the heart directly with Jesus. But because we are infants at the time of our

renewal through baptism we do not understand the grace and the new life conferred upon us. Unaware of the

surpassing grandeur of the honor and glory in which we share, we fail to realize that we ought to grow in soul and

spirit through the keeping of the commandments and so perceive noetically what we have received. On account of

this most of us fall through indifference and servitude to the passions into a state of benighted obduracy. We do not

know whether God exists, or who we are, or what we have become, although through baptism we have been made

sons of God, sons of light, and children and members of Christ. If we are baptized when grown up, we feel that we

have been baptized only in water and not by the Spirit. And even though we have been renewed in the Spirit, we

believe only in a formal, lifeless and ineffectual sense, and we say we are full of doubts.

 

Hence because we are in fact non-spiritual we live and behave in a non-spiritual manner. Should we repent, we

understand and practice

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

the commandments only in a bodily way and not spiritually. And if after many labors a revelation of grace is in

God's compassion granted to us, we take it for a delusion. Or if we hear from others how grace acts, we are

persuaded by our envy to regard that also as a delusion. Thus we remain corpses until death, failing to live in Christ

and to be inspired by Him. According to Scripture, even that which we possess will be taken away from us at the

time of our death or our judgment because of our lack of faith and our despair (cf. Matt. 25:29). We do not

understand that the children must be like the father, that is to say, we are to be made gods by God and spiritual by

the Holy Spirit; for 'that which is bom of the Spirit is spirit' (John 3:6). But we are unregenerate, even though we

have become members of the faith and heavenly, and so the Spirit of God does not dwell within us (cf Gen. 6:3).

Because of this the Lord has handed us over to strange afflictions and captivity, and slaughter flourishes, perhaps

because He wishes to correct evil, or cut it off, or heal it by more powerful remedies.

 

2. With the help of God, then, who inspires those who declare good tidings (cf. Ps. 68:11. LXX), we must first

examine how one finds Christ or, rather, how one is found by Him, since we already possess and have received Him

through baptism in the Spirit: as St Paul says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you?' (2 Cor. 13:5).

Then we must ask how to advance or, simply, how to retain what we have discovered. The best and shortest course

is for us to give a brief summary of the whole spiritual journey from start to finish, long though it is. Many, indeed,

have been so exhausted by their efforts to discover what they were looking for that, on finding the starting-point,

they have remained content with this, and have not tried to advance farther. Encountering obstacles and turning

aside unawares from the true path, they think that they are on the right track when actually they are veering

profitlessly off course. Others, on reaching the halfway point of illumination, have then grown slack, wilting before

reaching the end; or they have reverted through their slipshod way of life, and have become beginners again. Yet

others, on the point of attaining perfection, have grown inattentive and self-conceited, relapsing to the state of those

in the middle way or even of beginners. Beginners, those in the middle way and the perfect have each their

 

 

 

distinctive characteristic: for the first it is activity, for the second illumination, for the third purification and

resurrection of the soul.

 

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Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

3. The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realized in two ways.

First - to generalize - this gift is revealed, as St Mark tells us, through arduous and protracted practice of the

commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments its radiance is increasingly

manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of

the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God. In the first way, it is

revealed more slowly, in the second more rapidly, if one diligently and persistently learns how to dig the ground and

locate the gold. Thus if we want to realize and know the truth and not to be led astray, let us seek to possess only the

heart-engrafted energy in a way that is totally without shape or form, not trying to contemplate in our imagination

what we take to be the figure or similitude of things holy or to see any colors or lights. For in the nature of things the

spirit of delusion deceives the intellect through such spurious fantasies, especially at the early stages, in those who

are still inexperienced. On the contrary, let our aim be to make the energy of prayer alone active in our hearts, for it

brings warmth and joy to the intellect, and sets the heart alight with an ineffable love for God and man. It is on

account of this that humility and contrition flow richly from prayer. For prayer in beginners is the unceasing noetic

activity of the Holy Spirit. To start with it rises like a fire of joy from the heart; in the end it is like light made

fragrant by divine energy.

 

4. There are several signs that the energy of the Holy Spirit is beginning to be active in those who genuinely

aspire for this to happen and are not just putting God to the test - for, according to the Wisdom of Solomon, Tt is

found by those who do not put it to the test, and manifests itself to those who do not distrust it' (cf. Wisd. 1 :2). In

some it appears as awe arising in the heart, in others as a tremulous sense of jubilation, in others as joy, in others as

joy mingled with awe, or as tremulousness mingled with joy, and sometimes it manifests itself

 

 

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

 

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

as tears and awe. For the soul is joyous at God's visitation and mercy, but at the same time is in awe and

trepidation at His presence because it is guilty of so many sins. Again, in some the soul at the outset experiences an

unutterable sense of contrition and an indescribable pain, like the woman in Scripture who labors to give birth (cf.

Rev. 12:2). For the living and active Logos - that is to say, Jesus - penetrates, as the apostle says, to the point at

which soul separates from body, joints from marrow (cf. Heb. 4: 12), so as to expel by force every trace of passion

from both soul and body. In others it is manifest as an unconquerable love and peace, shown towards all, or as a

joyousness that the fathers have often called exultation - a spiritual force and an impulsion of the living heart that is

also described as a vibration and sighing of the Spirit who makes wordless intercession for us to God (cf. Rom.

8:26). Isaiah has also called this the 'waves' of God's righteousness (cf. Isa. 48:18), while the great Ephrem calls it

'spurring'. The Lord Himself describes it as 'a spring of water welling up for eternal life' (John 4:14) - He refers to

the Spirit as water - a source that leaps up in the heart and erupts through the ebullience of its power.

 

5. You should know that there are two kinds of exultation or joyousness: the calm variety (called a vibration or

sighing or intercession of the Spirit), and the great exultation of the heart - a leap, bound or jump, the soaring flight

of the living heart towards the sphere of the divine. For when the soul has been raised on the wings of divine love by

the Holy Spirit and has been freed from the bonds of the passions, it strives to fly to that higher realm even before

death, seeking to separate itself from its burden. This is also known as a stirring of the spirit - that is to say, an

eruption or impulsion - as in the text, 'Jesus was stirred in spirit and, deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid

him?'" (cf. John 11:34). David the Psalmist indicates the difference between the greater and the lesser exultation

when he declares that the mountains leap like rams and the little hills like lambs (cf. Ps. 114: 6). He is referring of

course to those who are perfect and to beginners, for physical mountains and hills, lacking animal life, do not

actually leap about.

 

6. Divine awe has nothing to do with trepidation - by which I mean, not the tremulousness induced by joy, but the

trepidation induced by wrath or chastisement or the feeling of desertion by God. On the contrary, divine awe is

accompanied by a tremulous sense of

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

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On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

jubilation arising from the prayer of fire that we offer when filled with awe. This awe is not the fear provoked by

wrath or punishment, but it is inspired by wisdom, and is also deserted as 'the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10).

Awe may be divided into three kinds, even though the fathers speak only of two: the awe of beginners, that of the

perfect, and that provoked by wrath, which should properly be called trepidation, agitation or contrition.

 

7. There are several kinds of trembling. That of wrath is one, that of joy is another, and that of the soul's incensive

power, when the heart's blood is over-heated, is another, that of old age is another, that of sin or delusion is another,

and that of the curse which was laid on the human race because of Cain is another (cf. Gen. 4:1 1-15). In the early

 

 

 

stages of spiritual warfare, however, it sometimes but not always happens that the trembling induced by joy and that

induced by sin contend with one another. The first is the tremulous sense of jubilation, when grace refreshes the soul

with great joyfulness accompanied by tears; the second is characterized by a disordered fervor, stupor and obduracy

that consume the soul, inflame the sexual organs, and impel one to assent through the imagination to erotic physical

obscenities.

 

 

 

On the Different Kinds of Energy

 

8. In every beginner two forms of energy are at work, each affecting the heart in a distinct way. The first comes

from grace, the second from delusion. St Mark the Ascetic corroborates this when he says that there is a spiritual

energy and a satanic energy, and that the beginner cannot distinguish between them. These energies in their turn

generate three kinds of fervor, the first prompted by grace, the second by delusion or sin, and the third by an excess

of blood. This last relates to what St Thalassios the Libyan calls the body's temperament, the balance and concord of

which can be achieved by appropriate self-control.

 

 

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On Divine Energy

 

9. The energy of grace is the power of spiritual fire that fills the heart with joy and gladness, stabilizes, warms and

purifies the soul, temporarily stills our provocative thoughts, and for a time suspends the body's impulsions. The

signs and fruits that testify to its authenticity are tears, contrition, humility, self-control, silence, patience, self-

effacement and similar qualities, all of which constitute undeniable evidence of its presence.

 

 

 

On Delusion

 

10. The energy of delusion is the passion for sin, inflaming the soul with thoughts of sensual pleasure and

arousing phrenetic desire in the body for intercourse with other bodies. According to St Diadochos it is entirely

amorphous and disordered, inducing a mindless joy, presumption and confusion, accompanied by a mood of ill-

defined sterile levity, and fomenting above all the soul's appetitive power with its sensuality. It nourishes itself on

pleasure, aided and abetted by the insatiable belly; for through the belly it not only impregnates and enkindles our

whole bodily temperament but also acts upon and inflames the soul, drawing it to itself so that little by little the

disposition to self-indulgence expels all grace from the person thus possessed.

 

 

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

 

Two Ways of Prayer

 

There are two modes of union or, rather, two ways of entering into the noetic prayer that the Spirit activates

in the heart. For either the intellect, cleaving to the Lord (cf 1 Cor. 6:17), is present in the heart prior to the

action of the prayer; or the prayer itself, progressively quickened in the fire of spiritual joy, draws the

intellect along with it or welds it to the invocation of the Lord Jesus and to union with Him. For since the

Spirit works in each person as He wishes (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11), one of these two ways we have mentioned will

take precedence in some people, the other in others. Sometimes, as the passions subside through the ceaseless

invocation of Jesus Christ, a divine energy wells up in the heart, and a divine warmth is kindled; for Scripture

says that our God is a fire that consumes the passions (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). At other times the Spirit

draws the intellect to Himself, confining it to the depths of the heart and restraining it from its usual

distractions. Then it will no longer be led captive from Jerusalem to the Assyrians, but a change for the better

brings it back from Babylon to Zion, so that it says with the Psalmist, Tt is right to praise Thee, God, in

Zion, and to Thee shall our vows be rendered in Jerusalem' (Ps. 65:1. LXX), and 'When the Lord brought

back the prisoners to Zion' (Ps. 126:1), and 'Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad' (Ps. 53:6). The names

Jacob and Israel refer respectively to the ascetically active and to the contemplative intellect which through

ascetic labor and with God's help overcomes the passions and through contemplation sees God, so far as is

possible. Then the intellect, as if invited to a rich banquet and replete with divine joy, will sing, 'Thou hast

prepared a table before me in the face of the demons and passions that afflict me' (cf. Ps. 23:5).

 

 

 

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2. 'In the morning sow your seed', says Solomon - and by 'seed' is to be understood the seed of prayer - 'and in the

evening do not withhold your hand', so that there may be no break in the continuity of your prayer, no moment when

through lack of attention you cease to pray; 'for you do not know which will flourish, this or that' (Eccles. 1 1:6).

Sitting from dawn on a seat about nine inches high, compel your intellect to descend from your head into your heart,

and retain it there. Keeping your head forcibly bent downwards, and suffering acute pain in your chest, shoulders

and neck, persevere in repeating noetically or in your soul 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy'. Then, since that may

become constrictive and wearisome, and even galling because of the constant repetition - though this is not because

you are constantly eating the one food of the threefold name, for 'those who eat Me', says Scripture, 'will still be

hungry' (Eccles. 24:21) - let your intellect concentrate on the second half of the prayer and repeat the words 'Son of

God, have mercy'. You must say this half over and over again and not out of laziness constantly change the words.

For plants which are frequently transplanted do not put down roots. Restrain your breathing, so as not to breathe

unimpededly; for when you exhale, the air, rising from the heart, beclouds the intellect and ruffles your thinking,

keeping the intellect away from the heart. Then the intellect is either enslaved by forgetfulness or induced to give its

 

 

 

attention to all manner of things, insensibly becoming preoccupied with what it should ignore. If you see impure evil

thoughts rising up and assuming various forms m your intellect, do not be startled. Even if images of good things

appear to you, pay no attention to them. But restraining your breathing as much as possible and enclosing your

intellect in your heart, invoke the Lord Jesus continuously and diligently and you will swiftly consume and subdue

them, flaying them invisibly with the divine name. For St John Klimakos says, 'With the name of Jesus lash your

enemies, for there is no more powerful weapon in heaven or on earth.'

 

3. Isaiah the Solitary is one of many who affirm that when praying

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you have to restrain your breath. Another author says that you have to control your uncontrollable intellect,

impelled and dispersed as it is by the satanic power which seizes hold of your lax soul because of your negligence

after baptism, bringing with it other spirits even more evil than itself and thus making your soul's state worse than it

was originally (cf Matt. 12:45). Another writer says that in a monk mindfulness of God ought to take the place of

breathing, while another declares that the love of God acts as a brake on his out-breathing. St Symeon the New

Theologian tells us, 'Restrain the drawing-in of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily': St John

Klimakos says, 'Let mindfulness of Jesus be united to your breathing, and then you will know the blessings of

stillness.' St Paul affirms that it is not he who lives but Christ in him (cf. Gal. 2:20), activating him and inspiring him

with divine life. And the Lord, taking as an example the blowing of the physical wind, says, 'The Spirit blows where

He wishes' (John 3:8). For when we were cleansed through baptism we received in seed-like form the foretaste of

the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22) and what St James calls the 'implanted Logos' (Jas. 1:21), embedded and as it were

consolidated in us through an unparticipable participation; and, while keeping Himself inviolate and undmimished.

He deifies us in His superabundant bounty. But then we neglected the commandments, the guardians of grace, and

through this negligence we again fell into the clutches of the passions, filled with the afflatus of the evil spirits

instead of the breath of the Holy Spirit. That is why, as the holy fathers explain, we are subject to lassitude and

continually enervated. For had we laid hold of the Spirit and been purified by Him we would have been enkindled

by Him and inspired with divine life, and would speak and think and act in the manner that the Lord indicates when

He says, 'For it is not you that speak but the Spirit of My Father that speaks in you' (cf. Matt. 10:20). Conversely, if

we embrace the devil and are mastered by him, we speak and act in the opposite manner.

 

4. 'When the watchman grows weary,' says St John Klimakos, 'he stands up and prays; then he sits down again

and courageously resumes the same task.' Although St John is here referring to the intellect and

 

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is saying that it should behave in this manner when it has learnt how to guard the heart, yet what he says can

apply equally to psalmody. For it is said that when the great Varsanuphios was asked about how one should

psalmodize, he replied, 'The Hours and the liturgical Odes are church traditions, rightly given so that concord is

maintained when there are many praying together. But the monks of Sketis do not recite the Hours, nor do they sing

Odes. On their own they practice manual labor, meditation and a little prayer. When you stand in prayer, you should

repeat the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer. You should also ask God to deliver you from your fallen selfhood. Do

not grow slack in doing this; your mind should be concentrated in prayer all day long.' What St Varsanuphios

wanted to make clear is that private meditation is the prayer of the heart, and that to practice 'a little prayer' means to

stand and psalmodize. Moreover, St John Khmakos explicitly says that to attain the state of stillness entails first total

detachment, secondly resolute prayer - this means standing and psalmodizmg - and thirdly, unbroken labor of the

heart, that is to say, sitting down to pray in stillness.

 

 

 

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

 

5. Why do some teach that we should psalmodize a lot, others a little, and others that we should not psalmodize at

all but should devote ourselves only to prayer and to physical exertion such as manual labor, prostrations or some

other strenuous activity? The explanation is as follows. Those who have found grace through long, arduous practice

of the ascetic life teach others to find it in the same way. They do not believe that there are some who through

cognitive insight and fervent faith have by the mercy of God attained the state of grace in a short time, as St Isaac,

for instance, recognizes. Led astray by ignorance and self-conceit they disparage such people, claiming that anything

different from their own experience is delusion and not the operation of grace. They do not know that 'it is easy for

God to enrich

 

 

 

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a poor man suddenly' (Eccles. 11:21), and that 'wisdom is the principal thing; therefore acquire wisdom', as

Proverbs says, referring to grace (4:7). Similarly St Paul is rebuking the disciples of his time who were ignorant of

grace when he says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you, unless you are worthless?' (cf 2 Cor.

13:5) - unless, that is to say, you make no progress because of your negligence. Thus in their disbelief and arrogance

they do not acknowledge the exceptional qualities of prayer activated in some people by the Spirit in a special way.

 

6. Objection: Tell me, if a person fasts, practices self-control, keeps vigils, stands, makes prostrations, grieves

inwardly and lives in poverty, is this not active asceticism? How then do you advocate simply the singing of psalms,

yet say that without ascetic labor it is impossible to succeed in prayer? Do not the activities I mention constitute

ascetic labor?

 

Answer. If you pray with your lips but your mind wanders, how do you benefit? 'When one builds and another

tears down, what do they gain but toil?' (Eccles. 34:23). As you labor with your body, so you must labor with your

 

 

 

intellect, lest you appear righteous in the body while your heart is filled with every form of injustice and impurity. St

Paul confirms this when he says that if he prays with his tongue - that is, with his lips - his spirit or his voice prays,

but his intellect is unproductive: 'I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my intellect' (cf. 1 Cor. 14:14-

15). And he adds, 'I would rather speak five words with my intellect than ten thousand with my tongue' (cf. 1 Cor.

14:19). St John Klimakos, too, indicates that St Paul is speaking here about prayer when he says in his chapter on

prayer, 'The great practitioner of sublime and perfect prayer says, "I would rather speak five words with my

intellect. " ' There are many other forms of spiritual work, yet not one in itself is all-sufficient; but prayer of the heart,

according to St John Klimakos, is pre-eminent and all-embracing, the source of the virtues and catalyst of all

goodness. 'There is nothing more fearful than the thought of death,' says St Maxmios, 'or more wonderful than

mmdfulness of God,' indicating

 

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the supremacy of this activity. But some do not even wish to know that we can attain a state of active grace in this

present life, so blinded and weak in faith are they because of their ignorance and obduracy.

 

7. In my opinion, those who do not psaknodize much act rightly, for it means that they esteem moderation - and

according to the sages moderation is best in all things. In this way they do not expend all the energy of their soul in

ascetic labor, thus making the intellect negligent and slack where prayer is concerned. On the contrary, by devoting

but little time to psalmodizing, they can give most of their time to prayer. On the other hand, when the intellect is

exhausted by continuous noetic invocation and intense concentration, it can be given some rest by releasing it from

the straitness of silent prayer and allowing it to relax in the amplitude of psalmody. This is an excellent rule, taught

by the wisest men.

 

8. Those who do not psalmodize at all also act rightly, provided they are well advanced on the spiritual path. Such

people have no need to recite psalms; if they have attained the state of illumination, they should cultivate silence,

uninterrupted prayer and contemplation. They are united with God and have no need to tear their intellect away from

Him and so to throw it into confusion. As St John Klimakos says, 'One under monastic obedience falls when he

follows his own will, while the hesychast falls when he is interrupted in his prayer.' For the hesychast commits

adultery in his intellect when he sunders it from its mindfulness of God: it is as if he were being unfaithful to his true

spouse and philandering with trivial matters.

 

To impart this discipline to others is not always possible. But it can be taught to simple uneducated people who

are under obedience to a spiritual father, for such obedience, thanks to the humility that goes with it, can partake of

every virtue. Those, however, who are not under this kind of obedience should not be taught it, regardless of

whether they are unlearned people or educated: they may easily be deluded, because people who are a law unto

themselves cannot avoid being conceited, and the natural result of conceit is delusion, as St Isaac says. Yet some

people, unaware of the harm which will result, counsel anybody they happen to meet to practice this discipline

alone, so that their intellect may grow accustomed to being mindful of God and may come to love it. But this is not

possible, especially for those not under

 

 

 

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obedience. For, because of their negligence and arrogance, their intellect is still impure and has not first been

cleansed by tears; and so, instead of concentrating on prayer, they are filled with images of shameful thoughts, while

the unclean spirits in their heart, panic-struck by the invocation of the dread name of the Lord Jesus, howl for the

destruction of the person who scourges them. Thus if you hear about or are taught this discipline, and want to

practice it, but are not under spiritual direction you will experience one of two things: you will either force yourself

to persist, in which case you fall into delusion and will fail to attain healing; or you will grow negligent, in which

case you will never make any progress during your whole life.

 

9. I will add this from my own small experience. When you sit in stillness, by day or by night, free from random

thoughts and continuously praying to God in humility, you may find that your intellect becomes exhausted through

calling upon God and that your body and heart begin to feel pain because of the intense concentration with which

you unceasingly invoke the name of Jesus, with the result that you no longer experience the warmth and joy that

engender ardor and patience in the spiritual aspirant. If this is the case, stand up and psalmodize, either by yourself

or with a disciple who lives with you, or occupy yourself with meditation on some scriptural passage or with the

remembrance of death, or with manual labor or with some other thing, or give your attention to reading, preferably

standing up so as to involve your body in the task as well.

 

When you stand and psalmodize by yourself, recite the Trisagion and then pray in your soul or your intellect,

making your intellect pay attention to your heart; and recite two or three psalms and a few penitential troparia but

without chanting them: as St John Klimakos confirms, people at this stage of spiritual development do not chant. For

'the suffering of the heart endured in a spirit of devotion', as St Mark puts it, is sufficient to produce joy in them, and

the warmth of the Spirit is given to them as a source of grace and exultation. After each psalm again pray in your

intellect or soul, keeping your thoughts from wandering, and repeat the Alleluia. This is the order established

 

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by the holy fathers Varsanuphios, Diadochos and others. And as St Basil the Great says, one should vary the

psalms daily to enkindle one's fervor and to prevent the intellect from getting bored with having to recite always the

same things. The intellect should be given freedom and then its fervor will be quickened.' If you stand and

psalmodize with a trusted disciple, let him recite the psalms while you guard yourself, secretly watching your heart

and praying. With the help of prayer ignore all images, whether sensory or conceptual, that rise up from the heart.

For stillness means the shedding of all thoughts for a time, even those which are divine and engendered by the

Spirit; otherwise through giving them our attention because they are good we will lose what is better.

 

10. So, lover of God, attend with care and intelligence. If while engaged in spiritual work you see a light or a fire

 

 

 

outside you, or a form supposedly of Christ or of an angel or of someone else, reject it lest you suffer harm. And do

not pay court to images, lest you allow them to stamp themselves on your intellect. For all these things that

externally and inopportunely assume various guises do so in order to delude your soul. The true beginning of prayer

is the warmth of heart that scorifies the passions, fills the soul with joy and delight, and establishes the heart in

unwavering love and unhesitating surety. The holy fathers teach that if the heart is in doubt about whether to accept

something either sensory or conceptual that enters the soul, then that thing is not from God but has been sent by the

devil. Moreover, if you become aware that your intellect is being enticed by some invisible power either from the

outside or from above, do not trust in that power or let your intellect be so enticed, but immediately force it to

continue its work. Unceasingly cry out: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', and do not allow yourself to

retain any concept, object, thought or form that is supposedly divine, or any sequence of argument or any color, but

concentrate solely on the pure, simple, formless remembrance of Jesus. Then God, seeing your intellect so strict in

guarding itself in every way against the enemy, will Himself bestow pure and unerring vision upon it and will make

it participate in God and share in all other blessings.

 

What is of God, says St Isaac, comes of itself, without you knowing when it will come. Our natural enemy - the

demon who operates in the seat of our desiring power - gives the spirit-forces various guises in

 

 

 

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our imagination. In this way he substitutes his own unraly heat for spiritual warmth, so that the soul is oppressed

by this deceit. For spiritual delight he substitutes mindless joy and a muggy sense of pleasure, inducing self-

satisfaction and vanity. Thus he tries to conceal himself from those who lack experience and to persuade them to

take his delusions for manifestations of spiritual joy. But time, experience and perspicacity will reveal him to those

not entirely ignorant of his wiles. As the palate discriminates between different kinds of food (cf. Eccles. 36:18,19),

so the spiritual sense of taste clearly and unerringly reveals everything as it truly is.

 

11. 'Since you are engaged in spiritual warfare,' says St John Klimakos, 'you should read texts concerned with

ascetic practice. Translating such texts into action makes other reading superfluous.' Read works of the fathers

related to stillness and prayer, like those of St John Klimakos, St Isaac, St Maxmios, St Neilos, St Hesychios,

Philotheos of Sinai, St Symeon the New Theologian and his disciple Stithatos, and whatever else exists of writers of

this kind. Leave other books for the time being, not because they are to be rejected, but because they do not

contribute to your present purpose, diverting the intellect from prayer by their narrative character. Read by yourself,

but not in a pompous voice, or with pretentious eloquence or affected enunciation or melodic delectation, or,

insensibly carried away by passion, as if you are wanting to please an audience. Do not read with inordinate avidity,

for in all things moderation is best, nor on the other hand in a rough, sluggish or negligent manner. On the contrary,

read reverently, gently, steadily, with understanding, and at an even pace, your intellect, your soul and your reason

all engaged. When the intellect is invigorated by such reading, it acquires the strength to pray harder. But if you read

in the contrary manner - as I have described it above - you cloud the intellect and make it sluggish and distracted, so

that you develop a headache and grow slack in prayer.

 

12. Continually take careful note of your inner intention: watch carefully which way it inclines, and discover

 

 

 

whether it is for God and for the sake of goodness itseh" and the benefit of your soul that you practice stillness or

psalmodize or read or pray or cultivate some virtue. Otherwise you may unknowingly be ensnared and prove to be

an ascetic in outward appearance alone while in your manner of life and

 

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inner intention you are wanting to impress men, and not to conform to God. For the devil's traps are many, and he

persistently and secretly watches the bias of our intention, without most of us being aware of it, striving

imperceptibly to corrupt our labor so that what we do is not done in accordance with God's will. But even if he

attacks and assaults you relentlessly and shamelessly, and even if he distracts the bias of your will and makes it

waver in spite of your efforts to prevent it, you will not often be caught out by him so long as you keep yourself

steadfastly intent on God. If again in spite of your efforts you are overcome through weakness, you will swiftly be

forgiven and praised by Hun who knows our intentions and our hearts. There is, however, one passion - self-esteem

- that does not permit a monk to grow in virtue, so that though he engages in ascetic labors in the end he remains

barren. For whether you are a beginner, or midway along the spiritual path, or have attained the stage of perfection,

self-esteem always tries to insinuate itself, and it nullifies your efforts to live a holy life, so that you waste your time

in listlessness and day-dreaming.

 

13.1 have also learnt this from experience, that unless a monk cultivates the following virtues he will never make

progress: fasting, self-control, keeping vigil, patient endurance, courage, stillness, prayer, silence, inward grief and

humility. These virtues generate and protect each other. Constant fasting withers lust and begets self-control. Self-

control enables us to keep vigils, vigils beget patient endurance, endurance courage, courage stillness, stillness

prayer, prayer silence, silence inward grief, and grief begets humility. Or, going in the reverse order, you will find

how daughters give birth to mothers - how, that is to say, humility begets inward grief, and so on. In the realm of the

virtues there is nothing more important than this form of mutual generation. The things opposite to these virtues are

obvious to all.

 

14. Here we should specify the toils and hardships of the ascetic life and explain clearly how we should embark

on each task. We must do this lest someone who coasts along without exerting himself, simply relying on what he

has heard, and who consequently remains barren, should blame us or other writers, alleging that things are not as we

have said. For it is only through travail of heart and bodily toil that the work can properly be carried out. Through

them the grace of the Holy Spirit is revealed. This is the grace with which we and all Christians are endowed at

baptism but which through neglect of the commandments

 

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has been stifled by the passions. Now through God's ineffable mercy it awaits our repentance, so that at the end of

 

 

 

our life we may not because of our barrenness hear the words 'Take the talent from him', and 'What he thinks he has

will be taken away from him' (cf. Matt. 25:28-29), and may not be sent to hell to suffer endlessly in Gehenna. No

activity, whether bodily or spiritual, unaccompanied by toil and hardship bears fruit; 'for the kingdom of heaven is

entered forcibly,' says the Lord, 'and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12), where 'forcibly'

and 'force' relate to the body's awareness of exertion in all things.

 

Many for long years may have been preoccupied with the spiritual life without exerting themselves, or may still

be preoccupied with it in this way; but because they do not assiduously embrace hardships with heartfelt fervor and

sense of purpose, and have repudiated the severity of bodily toil, they remain devoid of purity, without a share in the

Holy Spirit. Those who practice the spiritual life, but do so carelessly and lazily, may think that they make

considerable efforts; but they will never reap any harvest because they have not exerted themselves and basically

have never experienced any real tribulation. A witness to this is St John Klnnakos, who says, 'However exalted our

way of life may be, it is worthless and bogus if our heart does not suffer.' Sometimes when we fail to exert ourselves

we are in our listlessness carried away by spurious forms of distraction and plunged into darkness, thinking we can

find rest in them when that is impossible. The truth is that we are then bound invisibly by unloosable cords and

become inert and ineffective in everything we do, for we grow increasingly sluggish, especially if we are beginners.

For those who have reached the stage of perfection everything is profitable in moderation. St Ephrem also testifies to

this when he says, 'Persistently suffer hardships in order to avoid the hardship of vain sufferings. ' For unless, to use

the prophet's phrase, our loins are exhausted by the weakness induced through the exertions of fasting, and unless

like a woman in childbirth we are afflicted with pains arising from the constriction of our heart, we will not conceive

the Spirit of salvation in the earth of our heart (cf. Isa. 21:3; 26:18). Instead, all we will have to boast about is the

many profitless years we have spent in the wilderness, lazily cultivating stillness and imagining that we are

 

 

 

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somebody. At the moment of our death we will all know for certain what is the outcome of our life.

 

15. No one can learn the art of virtue by himself, though some have taken experience as their teacher. For to act

on one's own and not on the advice of those who have gone before us is overweening presumption - or, rather, it

engenders such presumption. If the Son does nothing of His own accord, but does only what the Father has taught

Him (cf John 5:19-20), and the Spirit will not speak of His own accord (cf. John 16:3), who can think he has

attained such heights of virtue that he does not need anyone to initiate him into the mysteries? Such a person is

deluded and out of his mind rather than virtuous. One should therefore listen, to those who have experienced the

hardships involved in cultivating the virtues and should cultivate them as they have - that is to say, by severe fasting,

painful self-control, steadfast vigils, laborious genuflexions, assiduous standing motionless, constant prayer,

unfeigned humility, ceaseless contrition and compunctive sorrow, eloquent silence, as if seasoned with salt (cf. Col.

4:6), and by patience in all things. You must not be always relaxing or pray sitting down, before it is the proper time

to do so, or before age or sickness compels you. For, as Scripture says, 'You will nourish yourself on the hardships

of your practice of the virtues' (cf. Ps. 128:2. LXX); and, 'The kingdom of heaven is entered forcibly' (Matt. 1 1:12).

Hence those who diligently strive day by day to practice the virtues that we have mentioned will with God's help

 

 

 

gather in the harvest at the appropriate time.

 

 

 

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1 . Sometimes - and most often - you should sit on a stool, because it is more arduous; but sometimes, for a break,

you should sit for a while on a mattress. As you sit be patient and assiduous, in accordance with St Paul's precept,

'Cleave patiently to prayer' (Col. 4:2). Do not grow discouraged and quickly rise up again because of the strain and

effort needed to keep your intellect concentrated on its inner invocation. It is as the prophet says: 'The birth-pangs

are upon me, like those of a woman in travail' (Isa. 21:3). You must bend down and gather your intellect into your

heart - provided it has been opened - and call on the Lord Jesus to help you. Should you feel pain in your shoulders

or in your head - as you often will - endure it patiently and fervently, seeking the Lord in your heart. For 'the

kingdom of God is entered forcibly, and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12). With these

words the Lord truly indicated the persistence and labor needed in this task. Patience and endurance in all things

involve hardship in both body and soul.

 

 

 

How to Say the Prayer

 

2. Some of the fathers advise us to say the whole prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', while others

specify that we say it in two parts - 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy', and then 'Son of God, help me' - because this is

easier, given the immaturity and feebleness of our

 

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intellect. For no one on his own account and without the help of the Spirit can mystically invoke the Lord Jesus,

for this can be done with purity and in its fullness only with the help of the Holy Spirit (cf 1 Cor. 12:3). Like

children who can still speak only faltenngly, we are unable by ourselves to articulate the prayer properly. Yet we

must not out of laziness frequently change the words of the invocation, but only do this rarely, so as to ensure

continuity. Again, some fathers teach that the prayer should be said aloud; others, that it should be said silently with

the intellect. On the basis of my personal experience I recommend both ways. For at times the intellect grows listless

and cannot repeat the prayer, while at other times the same thing happens to the voice. Thus we should pray both

vocally and in the intellect. But when we pray vocally we should speak quietly and calmly and not loudly, so that the

 

 

 

voice does not disturb and hinder the intellect's consciousness and concentration. This is always a danger until the

intellect grows accustomed to its work, makes progress and receives power from the Spirit to pray firmly and with

complete attention. Then there will be no need to pray aloud - indeed, it will be impossible, for we shall be content

to cany out the whole work with the intellect alone.

 

 

 

How to Master the Intellect in Prayer

 

3. .No one can master the intellect unless he himself is mastered by the Spirit. For the intellect is uncontrollable,

not because it is by nature ever-active, but because through our continual remissness it has been given over to

distraction and has become used to that. When we violated the commandments of Him who in baptism regenerates

us we separated ourselves from God and lost our conscious awareness of Him and our union with Him. Sundered

from that union and estranged from God, the intellect is led captive everywhere; and it cannot regain its stability

unless it submits to God and is stilled by Him, joyfully uniting with Him through unceasing and diligent prayer and

through noetically confessing all our lapses to Him each day. God immediately forgives everything to those who ask

forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the

 

 

 

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Psalmist says, 'Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name' (cf. Ps. 105: 1). Holding the breath also helps to

stabilize the intellect, but only temporarily, for after a little it lapses into distraction again. But when prayer is

activated, then it really does keep the intellect in its presence, and it gladdens it and frees it from captivity. But it

may sometimes happen that the intellect, rooted in the heart, is praying, yet the mind wanders and gives its attention

to other things; for the mind is brought under control only in those who have been made perfect by the Holy Spirit

and who have attained a state of total concentration upon Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

How to Expel Thoughts

 

4. In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare. God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong

in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by

themselves, but they fight against them with God's assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace. So when thoughts

invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they

cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire. St John Klimakos tells

us, 'Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus', because God is a fire the cauterizes wickedness (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb.

12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him

day and night (cf Luke 18:7). But if prayer is not yet activated in you, you can put these thoughts to flight in another

 

 

 

manner, by imitating Moses (of. Exod. 17:11-12); rise up, lift hands and eyes to heaven, and God will rout them.

Then sit down again and begin to pray resolutely. This is what you should do if you have not yet acquired the power

of prayer. Yet even if prayer is activated in you and you are attacked by the more obdurate and grievous of the

bodily passions - namely, listlessness and lust - you should sometimes rise up and lift your hands for help against

them. But you should do this only seldom, and then sit down again, for

 

 

 

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there is a danger of the enemy deluding you by showing you some illusory form of the truth. For only in those

who are pure and perfect does God keep the intellect steadfast and intact wherever it is, whether above or below, or

in the heart.

 

 

 

How to Psalmodize

 

5. Some say that we should psalmodize seldom, others often, others not at all. You for your part should not

psalmodize often, for that induces unrest, nor yet not at all, for that induces indolence and negligence. Instead you

should follow the example of those who psalmodize from time to time, for moderation in all things is best, as the

ancient Greeks tell us. To psalmodize often is appropriate for novices in the ascetic life, because of the toil it

involves and the spiritual knowledge it confers. It is not appropriate for hesychasts, since they concentrate wholly

upon praying to God with travail of heart, eschewing all conceptual images. For according to St John Klimakos,

'Stillness is the shedding of thoughts', whether of sensible or of intelligible realities. Moreover, if we expend all our

energy in reciting many psalms, our intellect will grow slack and will not be able to pray firmly and resolutely.

Again according to St John Klimakos, 'Devote-most of the night to prayer and only a little of it to psalmody.'

 

You, too, should do the same. If you are seated and you see that prayer is continuously active in your heart, do not

abandon it and get up to psalmodize until in God's good time it leaves you of its own accord. Otherwise, abandoning

the interior presence of God, you will address yourself to Him from without, thus passing from a higher to a lower

state, provoking unrest and disrupting the intellect's serenity. Stillness, in accordance with its name, is maintained by

means of peace and serenity; for God is peace (cf. Eph. 2:14) beyond all unrest and clamor. Our psalmody, too,

should accord with our mode of life, and be angelic, not unspiritual and secular. For to psalmodize with clamor

 

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and a loud voice is a sign of inner turbulence. Psalmody has been given to us because of our grossness and

indolence, so that we may be led back to our true state.

 

As for those not yet initiated into prayer - this prayer which, according to St John Klimakos, is the source of the

virtues' and which waters, as plants, the faculties of the soul - they should psalmodize frequently, without measure,

reciting a great variety of psalms; and they should not desist from such assiduous practice until they have attained

the state of contemplation and find that noetic prayer is activated within them. For the practice of stillness is one

thing and that of community life is another. 'Let each persist in that to which he is called' (1 Cor. 7:24) and he will

be saved. It was on account of this that I hesitated to write to you, for I know that you live among those still weak. If

someone's experience of praying derives from hearsay or reading; he will lose his way, for he lacks a guide.

According to the fathers, once you have tasted grace you should psalmodize sparingly, giving most of your time to

prayer. But if you find yourself growing indolent you should psalmodize or read patristic texts. A ship has no need

of oars when a fair wind swells the sails and drives it lightly across the salt sea of the passions. But when it is

becalmed it has to be propelled by oars or towed by another boat.

 

To gainsay this, some point to the holy fathers, or to certain living persons, saying that they kept all-night watches

psalmodizing the whole time. But, as we learn from Scripture, not all things can be accomplished by everyone, for

some lack diligence and strength. As St John Klimakos says, 'Small things may not always seem so to the great, and

great things may not seem altogether perfect to the small ' Everything is easy for the perfect; and not everyone, either

now or in former times, remains always a probationer, nor does everyone travel along the same road or pursue it to

the end. Many have passed from the life of ascetic labor to the life of contemplation, laying aside outward practices,

keeping the Sabbath according to the spiritual law, and delighting in God alone. They are replete with divine fare,

and the grace that fills them does not permit them to psalmodize or to meditate on anything else; for the time being

they are in a state of ecstasy, having attained, if only in part and as a foretaste, the ultimate

 

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desire of all desires. Others have been saved through pursuing the life of ascetic labor until their death, awaiting

their reward in the life to come. Some have received conscious assurance of salvation at their death, or else after

death they have given off a fragrant odor as testimony to their salvation. Like all other Christians they had received

the grace of baptism, but because of the distraught and ignorant state of their intellects they did not participate in it

mystically while still alive. Others excel in both psalmody and prayer and spend their lives in this manner, richly

endowed with ever-active grace and not impeded by anything. Yet others, being unlettered and restricting

themselves solely to prayer, have persevered in stillness until the end of their lives; and in doing this they have done

well, uniting themselves as single individuals with God alone. To the perfect, as we said, all things are possible

through Christ who is their strength (cf Phil. 4:13).

 

 

 

How to Partake of Food

 

 

 

6. What shall I say about the belly, the queen of the passions? If you can deaden or half-deaden it, do not relent. It

has mastered me, beloved, and I worship it as a slave and vassal, this abettor of the demons and dwelling-place of

the passions. Through it we fall and through it - when it is well-disciplined - we rise again. Through it we have lost

both our original divine status and also our second divine status, that which was bestowed on us when after our

initial corruption we are renewed in Christ through baptism, and from which we have lapsed once more, separating

ourselves from God through our neglect of the commandments, even though in our ignorance we exalt ourselves.

We think that we are with God, but it is only by keeping the commandments that we advance, guarding and

increasing the grace bestowed upon us.

 

As the fathers have pointed out, bodies vary greatly in their need for food. One person needs little, another much

to sustain his physical strength, each according to his capacity and habit. A hesychast, however, should always eat

too little, never too much. For when the stomach is heavy the intellect is clouded, and you cannot pray resolutely and

with purity. On the contrary, made drowsy by the effects of too much food you are soon induced to sleep; and as you

 

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How to Partake of Food

 

sleep the food produces countless fantasies in your mind. Thus in my opinion if you want to attain salvation and

strive for the Lord's sake to lead a life of stillness, you should be satisfied with a pound of bread and three or four

cups of water or wine daily, taking at appropriate times a little from whatever victuals happen to be at hand, but

never eating to satiety. In this way you will avoid growing conceited, and by thanking God for everything you will

show no disdain for the excellent things He has made. This is the counsel of those who are wise in such matters. For

those weak in faith and soul, abstinence from specific types of food is most beneficial; St Paul exhorts them to eat

herbs (cf Rom. 14:2), for they do not believe that God will preserve them.

 

What shall I say? You are old, yet have asked for a rule, and an extremely severe one at that. Younger people

cannot keep to a strict rule by weight and measure, so how will you keep to it? Because you are ill, you should be

entirely free in partaking of food. If you eat too much, repent and try again. Always act like this - lapsing and

recovering again, and always blaming yourself and no one else - and you will be at peace, wisely converting such

lapses into victories, as Scripture says. But do not exceed the limit I set down above, and this will be enough, for no

other food strengthens the body as much as bread and water. That is why the prophet disregarded everything else

and simply said, 'Son of man, by weight you will eat your bread and by measure you will drink water' (cf. Ezek.

4:16).

 

There are three degrees of eating: self-control, sufficiency and satiety. Self-control is to be hungry after having

eaten. Sufficiency is to be neither hungry nor weighed down. Satiety is to be slightly weighed down. To eat again

after reaching the point of satiety is to open the door of gluttony, through which unchastity comes in. Attentive to

these distinctions, choose what is best for you according to your powers, not overstepping the limits. For according

to St Paul only the perfect can be both hungry and full, and at the same time be strong in all things (cf. Phil. 4:12).

 

 

 

On Delusion and Other Subjects

 

7. I wish you to be fully informed about delusion, so that you can guard yourself against it and not do great harm

to yourself through

 

 

 

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ignorance, and lose your soul. For our free will easily veers towards keeping company with the demons,

especially when we are inexperienced and still under their sway. Around beginners and those who rely on their own

counsel the demons spread the nets of destructive thoughts and images, and open pits into which such people fall;

for their city is still in the hands of the workers of iniquity, and in their impetuosity they are easily slain by them. It

is not surprising that they are deceived, or lose their wits, or have been and still are deluded, or heed what is contrary

to trath, or from inexperience and ignorance say things that should not be said. Often some witless person will speak

about truth and will hold forth at length without being aware of what he is saying or in a position to give a correct

account of things. In this way he troubles many who hear him and by his inept behavior he brings abuse and ridicule

on the heads of hesychasts. It is not in the least strange that beginners should be deceived even after making great

efforts, for this has happened to many who have sought God, both now and in the past.

 

Mindfulness of God, or noetic prayer, is superior to all other activities. Indeed, being love for God, it is the chief

virtue. But a person who is brazen and shameless in his approach to God, and who is over-zealous in his efforts to

converse with Him in purity and to possess Him inwardly, is easily destroyed by the demons if they are given

license to attack him; for in rashly and presumptuously striving prematurely to attain what is beyond his present

capacity, he becomes a victim of his own arrogance. The Lord in His compassion often prevents us from

succumbing to temptation when He sees us aspiring over-confidently to attain what is still beyond our powers, for in

this way He gives each of us the opportunity of discovering his own presumption and so of repenting of his own

accord before making himself the butt of demons as well as of other people's ridicule or pity. Especially is this the

case when we try to accomplish this task with patience and contrition; for we stand in need of much sorrow and

lamentation, of solitude, deprivation of all things, hardship and humility, and - most important of all for its

marvelous effects - of guidance and obedience; for otherwise we might unknowingly reap thorns instead of wheat,

gall instead of sweetness, ruin instead of salvation. Only the strong and the perfect can continuously fight alone with

the demons, wielding against them the sword of the Spirit, which is the teaching of God (cf Eph. 6:17). The weak

and beginners

 

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escape death by taking refuge in flight, reverently and with fear withdrawing from the battle rather than risking

their life prematurely.

 

For your part, if you are rightly cultivating stillness and aspiring to be with God, and you see something either

sensory or noetic, within or without, be it even an image of Christ or of an angel or of some saint, or you imagine

you see a light in your intellect and give it a specific form, you should never entertain it. For the intellect itself

naturally possesses an imaginative power and in those who do not keep a strict watch over it it can easily produce, to

its own hurt, whatever forms and images it wants to. In this way the recollection of things good or evil can suddenly

imprint images on the intellect's perceptive faculty and so induce it to entertain fantasies, thus making whoever this

happens to a daydreamer rather than a hesychast.

 

Be careful, therefore, not to entertain and readily give assent to anything even if it be good, before questioning

those with spiritual experience and investigating it thoroughly, so as not to come to any harm. Always be suspicious

of it and keep your intellect free from colors, forms and images. For it has often happened that things sent by God to

test our free will, to see which way it inclines and to act as a spur to our efforts, have in fact had bad consequences.

For when we see something, whether with mind or senses - even if this thing be from God - and then readily

entertain it without consulting those experienced in such matters, we are easily deceived, or will be in the future,

because of our gullibility. A novice should pay close attention solely to the activity of his heart, because this is not

led astray. Everything else he must reject until the passions are quietened. For God does not censure those who out

of fear of being deluded pay strict attention to themselves, even though this means that they refuse to entertain what

He sends them until they have questioned others and made careful enquiry. Indeed, He is more likely to praise their

prudence, even though in some cases He is grieved.

 

Yet you should not question everyone. You should go only to one, to someone who has been entrusted with the

guidance of others as well, who is radiant alike in his life and in his words, and who although poor makes many rich

(cf. 2 Cor. 6:10). For people lacking spiritual experience have often done harm to foolish questioners, and for this

they will be judged after death. Not everyone is qualified to guide others: only those can do so who have been

granted divine discrimination - what St Paul calls the 'discrimination of spirits'

 

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(1 Cor. 12:10) - enabling them to distinguish between bad and good with the sword of God's teaching (cf. Eph.

6:17). Everyone possesses his own private knowledge and discrimination, whether inborn, pragmatic or scientific,

but not all possess spiritual knowledge and discrimination. That is why Sirach said, 'Be at peace with many, but let

your counselors be one in a thousand' (Eccles. 6:6). It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says or thinks is free

from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony

of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain

a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil - especially in

 

 

 

the case of beginners - is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.

 

If, then, you are striving in stillness to attain a state of pure prayer, you must journey with great trepidation and

inward grief, questioning those with spiritual experience, accepting their guidance, always lamenting your sins, and

full of distress and fear lest you should be chastised or should fall away from God and be divorced from Him in this

life or the next. For when the devil sees someone leading a penitent life, he retreats, frightened of the humility that

such inward grief engenders. But if, with a longing that is satanic rather than authentic, you are presumptuous

enough to imagine that you have attained a lofty state, the devil will easily trap you in his nets and make you his

slave. Thus the surest guard against falling from the joy of prayer into a state of conceit is to persevere in prayer and

inward grief, for by embracing a solace-filled grief you keep yourself safe from harm. Authentic prayer - the warmth

that accompanies the Jesus Prayer, for it is Jesus who enkindles fire on the earth of our hearts (cf. Luke 12:49) -

consumes the passions like thorns and fills the soul with delight and joyfulness. Such prayer comes neither from

right or left, nor from above, but wells up in the heart like a spring of water from the life-quickening Spirit. It is this

prayer alone that you should aspire to realize and possess in your heart, always keeping your intellect free from

images, concepts and thoughts. And do not be afraid, for He who says, "Take heart; it is I; be not afraid' (Matt.

14:27), is with us - He whom we seek and who protects us always. When we invoke God we must be neither timid

nor hesitant.

 

If some have gone astray and lost their mental balance, this is

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because they have in arrogance followed their own counsels. For when you seek God in obedience and humility,

and with the guidance of a spiritual master, you will never come to any harm, by the grace of Christ who desires all

to be saved (cf 1 Tim. 2:4). Should temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to spur you on; and God, who has

permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way He sees fit. As the holy fathers assure us, a

person who lives an upright and blameless life, avoiding arrogance and spuming popularity, will come to no harm

even if a whole host of demons provoke him with countless temptations. But if you are presumptuous and follow

your own counsel you will readily fall victim to delusion. That is why a hesychast must always keep to the royal

road. For excess in anything easily leads to conceit, and conceit induces self-delusion. Keep the intellect at rest by

gently pressing your lips together when you pray, but do not impede your nasal breathing, as the ignorant do, in case

you harm yourself by building up inward pressure.

 

There are three virtues connected with stillness which we must guard scrupulously, examining ourselves every

hour to make sure that we possess them, in case through unmmdfulness we are robbed of them and wander far away

from them. These virtues are self-control, silence and self-reproach, which is the same thing as humility. They are

all-embracing and support one another; and from them prayer is bom and through them it burgeons.

 

Grace begins to operate in people during prayer in different ways, for, as the apostle says, the Spirit distributes

Himself as He wills in a variety of modes, and is perceived and known correspondingly (cf. Heb. 2:4). Elijah the

Tishbite serves here as an example for us (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:11-12). In some the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe.

 

 

 

dissolving the mountains of the passions and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is

transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation

or what the fathers more clearly define as a sense of exultation. In others He is manifested inwardly as a fire that is

non-material yet real; for what is unreal and imaginary is also non-existent. Finally, in others - particularly in those

well advanced in prayer - God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the

heart, as St Paul says (cf. Eph. 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is why God said to

Elijah on Mount Horeb that the Lord was not in this or in that -

 

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not in the particular actions He manifests Himself in to beginners - but in the gentle flow of light; for it is in this

that He attests the perfection of our prayer.

 

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries

to seduce us?

 

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly

put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good

and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything.

You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he

cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or

stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of

the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell

from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in

appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the

differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with

its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan.

 

 

 

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(c. 1265-1346)

(Volume 4, pp. 207-286)

 

Contents

 

On Commandments and Doctrines,

 

Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts,

 

Passions and Virtues, and also

 

On Stillness and Prayer- 137 Texts VOLUME 4: Page 212

 

Further Texts 253

 

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

 

Written for the Confessor Longinos - Ten Texts 257

 

On Stillness - Fifteen Texts 263

 

On Prayer - Seven Texts 275

 

 

 

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On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

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1 . You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre -fallen state unless

you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated

mindlessness, and our original mcorruption by the corruption of the flesh.

 

2. Only those who through their purity have become saints are spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to

man in his pre-fallen state. Mere skill in reasoning does not make a person's intelligence pure, for since the fall our

intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts. The materialistic and wordy spirit of the wisdom of this world may

lead us to speak about ever wider spheres of knowledge, but it renders our thoughts increasingly crude and uncouth.

 

 

 

This combination of well-infonned talk and crude thought faUs far short of real wisdom and contemplation, as well

as of undivided and unified knowledge.

 

3. By knowledge of truth understand above all apprehension of truth through grace. Other kinds of knowledge

should be regarded as images of mtellections or the rational demonstration of facts.

 

4. If you fail to receive grace it is because of your lack of faith and your negligence; if you find it again it is

because of your faith and your diligence. For faith and diligence always conduce to progress, while their opposites

do the reverse.

 

5. To be utterly senseless is like being dead, and to be blind in intellect is like not seeing physically. To be utterly

senseless is to be deprived of life-giving energizmg power; to be blind in intellect is to be

 

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deprived of the divine light by which a man can see and be seen by God.

 

6. Few men receive both power and wisdom from God. Through power we partake of divine blessings; through

wisdom we manifest them. This participation and this communication to others is a truly divine gift, beyond man's

unaided capacity.

 

7. A true sanctuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and energized by the

Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our

other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant

of the Spirit.

 

8. Man is created incorruptible, without bodily humors, and thus he will be when resurrected. Yet he is not created

either immutable or mutable, since he possesses the power to choose at will whether to be subject to change or not

But the will cannot confer total immutability of nature upon him. Such immutability is bestowed only when he has

attained the state of changeless deification.

 

9. Corruption is generated by the flesh. To feed, to excrete, to stride about and to sleep are the natural

characteristics of beasts and wild animals; acquiring these characteristics through the fall, we have become beast-

like, losing the natural blessings bestowed on us by God. We have become brutal instead of spiritually intelligent,

ferine instead of godlike.

 

10. Paradise is twofold - sensible and spiritual: there is the paradise of Eden and the paradise of grace. The

paradise of Eden is so exalted that it is said to extend to the third heaven. It has been planted by God with every kind

of sweet-scented plant. It is neither entirely free from comiption nor altogether subject to it. Created between

corruption and mcorruption, it is always rich in fruits, ripe and unripe, and continually full of flowers. When trees

and ripe fruit rot and fall to the ground they turn into sweet-scented soil, free from the smell of decay exuded by the

vegetable-matter of this world. That is because of the great richness and holiness of the grace ever abounding there.

The river Ocean, appointed always to irrigate paradise with its waters, flows through the middle of it. On leaving

paradise, it divides into four other rivers, and flowing down to the Indians and Ethiopians brings them soil and fallen

 

 

 

leaves. Their fields are flooded by the united rivers of Pison and Gihon until these

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Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

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divide again, the one watering Libya and the other the land of Egypt (rf. Gen. 2:8-14).

 

11. It is said that when the world was first created it was not subject to flux and corruption. According to Scripture

it was only later corrupted and 'made subject to vanity' - that is, to man - not by its own choice but by the will of

Him to whom it is subject, the expectation being that Adam, who had fallen into corruption, would be restored to his

original state (cf Rom. 8:20-21). For by renewing man and sanctifying him, even though in this transient life he

bears a corruptible body. God also renewed creation, although creation is not yet freed from the process of

corruption. This deliverance from corruption is said by some to be a translation to a better state, by others to require

a complete transmutation of everything sensory. Scripture generally makes simple and straightforward statements

about matters that are still obscure.

 

12. People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort

the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within

them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether. A

passion- and sin-loving soul, shorn of grace and divorced from God, is the haunt of passions - not to say of demons -

in this world and the next.

 

13. Nothing so converts anger into joy and gentleness as courage and mercy. Like a siege-engine, courage shatters

enemies attacking the soul from without, mercy those attacking it from within.

 

14. Many who practice the commandments think they are following the spiritual path. But they have not yet

reached the city, and in fact remain outside it. For they travel foolishly, deviating unawares from the straight

highway into side-roads, not realizing how close the vices are to the path of virtue. For the trae fulfillment of the

commandments demands that we do neither too little nor too much but simply pursue a course acceptable to God

and in accordance with His will. Otherwise we labor in vain and do not make straight the paths of the Lord (cf. Isa.

40:3). For in everything we do we must be clear about the goal we are pursuing.

 

15. To be on the spiritual path means seeking the Lord in your heart through fulfilling the commandments. For

when you listen to John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord,

 

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make His paths straight' (Matt. 3:3), you must understand that he is referring to the commandments and their

fulfillment both in the heart and in actions. It is impossible to 'make straight' the path of the commandments and to

act rightly unless your heart too is straight and upright.

 

16. When Scripture speaks of rod and staff (cf. Ps. 23:4), you should take these to signify in the prophetic sense

judgment and providence, and in the moral sense psalmody and prayer. For when we are chastened by the Lord with

me rod of correction (cf 1 Cor. 1 1 :32), this is so that we may learn how to mend our ways. And when we chasten

our assailants with the rod of dauntless psalmody, we become established in prayer. Since we thus wield the rod and

the staff of spiritual action, let us not cease to chasten and be chastened until we are wholly in the hands of

providence and escape judgment both now and hereafter.

 

17. The essence of the commandments is always to give precedence to the one that embraces them all:

mindfulness of God, as stipulated in the phrase, 'Always be mindful of the Lord your God' (cf. Deut. 8:18). Our

failure or success in keeping the commandments depends on such mindfulness, for it is this that forgetfulness first

destroys when it shrouds the commandments in darkness and strips us of every blessing.

 

18. Those engaged in spiritual warfare regain their original state by practicing two commandments - obedience

and fasting; for evil has infiltrated our human condition by means of their opposites. Those who keep the

commandments out of obedience return to God more quickly. Others who keep them by means of fasting and prayer

return more slowly. Obedience befits beginners, fasting those in the middle way, who have attained a state of

spiritual enlightenment and self-mastery. To observe genuine obedience to God when practicing the commandments

is something only very few can do, and proves difficult even for those who have attained a state of self -mastery.

 

19. According to St Paul, it is characteristic of the Spirit of life to act and speak in the heart, while a literal,

outwardly correct observance of things characterizes the Men unregenerate person (cf Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:6). The

Spirit of life frees the intellect from sin and death, whereas a literal, outwardly correct observance imperceptibly

turns us into Pharisees, since we then act only in an external bodily

 

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sense and practice the commandments merely in order to be seen doing so (cf Matt. 23:5).

 

20. The whole complex of the commandments united and knit together m the Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:16) has its

analogue in man, whether his state is perfect or imperfect. The commandments are the body. The virtues -

established inner qualities - are the bones. Grace is the soul that lives and vivifies, energizing me vital power of the

commandments just as the soul animates the body. The degree of negligence or diligence with which a man tries to

attain to Christ's stature reveals what stage he has reached. Alike in this world and in the next, it indicates whether

he is in his spiritual infancy or has achieved maturity.

 

21. If you want the body of me commandments to nourish, you must zealously desire the pure spiritual milk of

maternal grace (cf. 1 Pet. 2:2); for it is on this milk of grace that you must suckle yourself if you wish to increase

 

 

 

your stature in Christ. Wisdom yields fervor from her breasts as milk that helps you to grow; but to nourish the

perfect she gives them the honey other purifying joy. 'Honey and milk are under your tongue' (Song of Songs 4:11):

by 'milk' Solomon means the Spirit's nurturing and maturing power, while by 'honey' he means the Spirit's

purificatory power. St Paul likewise refers to the differing functions of these powers when he says, 'I have fed you as

little children with milk, and not with meat' (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2).

 

22. To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in

accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the tmth

that you can share in the meaning of truth. If you search for the meaning without participating in the truth and

without having been initiated into it, you will find only a besotted kind of wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1:20). You will be

among those whom St Jude categorized as 'psychic' or worldly because they lack the Spirit (cf Jude 1 9), boast as

they may of their knowledge of the truth.

 

23. The physical eye perceives the outward or literal sense of things and from it derives sensory images. The

intellect, once purified and reestablished in its pristine state, perceives God and from Him derives divine images.

Instead of a book the intellect has the Spirit; instead of a pen, mind and tongue - 'my tongue is a pen', says me

Psalmist (cf. Ps. 45:1); and instead of ink, light. So plunging the mind into the light that it becomes light, the

intellect, guided by the Spirit, inscribes the

 

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inner meaning of things in the pure hearts of those who listen. Then it grasps the significance of the statement that

the faithful 'shall be taught by God' (cf. Isa. 54:13; John 6:45), and that through the Spirit God 'teaches man

knowledge' (Ps. 94:10).

 

24. The efficacy of the commandments depends on faith working directly in the heart. Through faith each

commandment kindles and activates the soul's illumination. The fruits of a true and effective faith are self-control

and love, its consummation God-given humility, the source and support of love.

 

25. A right view of created things depends upon a truly spiritual knowledge of visible and invisible realities.

Visible realities are objects perceived by the senses, while invisible realities are noetic, intelligent, intelligible and

divine.

 

25. Orthodoxy may be defined as the clear perception and grasp of the two dogmas of the faith, namely, the

Trinity and the Duality. It is to know and contemplate the three Persons of the Trinity as distinctively and mdivisibly

constituting the one God, and the divine and human natures of Christ as united in His single Person - that is to say,

to know and profess that the single Son, both prior and subsequent to the Incarnation, is to be glorified in two

natures, divine and human, and in two wills, divme and human, the one distinct from the other.

 

27. Three unaltering and changeless properties typify the Holy Trinity: unbegottenness, begottenness and

procession. The Father is unbegotten and unonginate; the Son is begotten and also unoriginate; the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

proceeds from the Father through the Son, as St John of Damaskos says, and is equaUy coetemal.

 

28. Grace-imbued faith energized by the Spirit through our keeping of the commandments, alone suffices for

salvation, provided we sustain it and do not opt for a dead and ineffectual faith rather than for a living effective faith

in Christ. To embody and give life to an effective faith in Christ all we need to do as believers. But nowadays we

who call ourselves orthodox believers have in our ignorance imbibed not the faith imbued with grace but a faith that

is merely a matter of words, dead and unfeeling.

 

29. The Trinity is simple unity, unqualified and uncompounded. It is three-in-one, for God is three-personed, each

person wholly

 

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interpenetrating the others without any loss of distinct personal identity.

 

30. God reveals and manifests Himself in all things in a threefold manner. In Himself He is undetermined; but

through the Son in the Holy Spirit He sustains and watches over all things. And wherever He expresses Himself,

none of the three Persons is manifest or to be perceived apart from or without the other two.

 

31. In man there is intellect, consciousness and spirit. There is neither intellect without consciousness nor

consciousness without spirit: each subsists in the others and in itself. Intellect expresses itself through consciousness

and consciousness is manifested through the spirit In this way man is a dim image of the ineffable and archetypal

Trinity, disclosing even now the divine image in which he is created.

 

32. When the divine fathers expound the doctrine of the supra-essential, holy and supernatural Trinity, they

illustrate it by saying that the Father truly corresponds to the intellect, the Son to consciousness and the Holy Spirit

to the spirit. Thus they bequeath to us the dogma of one God in three Persons as the hallmark of the true faith and

the anchor of hope. For, according to Scripture, to apprehend the one God is the root of immortality, and to know the

majesty of the three-personed Monad is complete righteousness (cf Wisd. 15:3). Again, we should read what is said

in the Gospel in the same way: eternal life is to know Thee the only true God in three Persons, and Him whom Thou

hast sent, Jesus Christ, in two natures and two wills (cf John 17:3).

 

33. Chastisements differ, as do the rewards of the righteous. Chastisements are inflicted in hell, in what Scripture

describes as 'a dark and gloomy land, a land of eternal darkness' (Job 10:21-22. LXX), where sinners dwell before

the judgment and whither they return after judgment is given. For can the phrases, 'Let sinners be returned to hell'

(Ps. 9:17. LXX), and 'death will rule over them' (Ps. 49:14. LXX), refer to anything other than the final judgment

visited upon sinners, and their eternal condemnation?

 

34. Fire, darkness, the worm and the nether world correspond to ubiquitous self-indulgence, total tenebrific

ignorance, all-pervasive, lecherous titivation, and the tearfulness and foul stench of sin. Already even now they can

be seen to be active, as foretastes and first fruits of hell's torments, in sinners in whose soul they have taken root.

 

 

 

35. Passion-embroiled states are foretastes of hell's torments, just

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as the activity of the virtues is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. We must realize that the commandments are

activities producing effects, and that virtues are states, just as vices that have taken root are also states.

 

36. Requitals correspond to our deserts, even if many people think they do not. To some, divine justice gives

eternal life; to others, eternal chastisement. Each will be requited according to his actions -according to whether he

has passed through this present life in a virtuous or in a sinful manner. The degree or quality of the requital will

accord with the state induced in each by either the passions or the virtues, and the differing effects these have had.

 

37. Lakes of fire (cf. Rev. 19:20) signify self-indulgent souls. In these lakes the stench of the passions, like fetid

bogs, nourishes the sleepless worm of dissipation - the unbridled lusts of the flesh - as it also nourishes the snakes,

frogs and leeches of evil desire, the loathsome and poisonous thoughts and demons. A soul in such a state already in

this life receives a foretaste of the chastisement to come.

 

38. As the firsttruits of future chastisement are secretly present in the souls of sinners, so the foretaste of future

blessings is present and experienced in the hearts of the righteous through the activity of the Spirit. For a life lived

virtuously is the kingdom of heaven, just as a passion-embroiled state is hell.

 

39. The coming night of which Christ speaks (cf John 9:4) is the complete inertia of hell's darkness. Or,

interpreted differently, it is antichrist, who is, and is called, both night and darkness. Or alternatively, according to

the moral sense, it is our daily negligence which, like a dark night, deadens the soul in insensate sleep. For just as

the night makes all men sleep and is the image of the lifelessness of death, so the night of hell's darkness deadens

and stupefies sinners with the sottishness of pain.

 

40. Judgment upon this world (cf. John 12:31) is synonymous with ungodly lack of faith; for 'he who lacks faith is

already judged' (John 3:18). It is also a providential visitation restraining us or turning us back from sm, and

likewise a way of testing whether by inner disposition we incline towards good or evil actions; for according to the

Psalmist, 'The wicked are estranged from the womb' (Ps. 58:3). Thus God manifests His judgment either because of

our lack of faith, or to discipline us. or to test which way our actions gravitate. Some He chastens, to others He is

merciful; on some He bestows

 

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crowns of glory, others He visits with the torments of hell. Those whom He chastens are the utterly godless.

Those to whom He shows mercy possess faith, but at the same time they are negligent, and it is for this reason that

they are compassionately chastised. Those consummate either in virtue or in wickedness receive their rewards

accordingly.

 

41 . If our human nature is not kept pure or else restored to its original purity by the Holy Spirit, it cannot become

one body and one spirit in Christ, either in this life or in the harmonious order of the life to come. For the all-

embracing and unifying power of the Spirit does not complete the new garment of grace by sewing on to it a patch

taken from the old garment of the passions (cf. Matt. 9:16).

 

42. Every person who has been renewed in the Spirit and has preserved this gift will be transformed and embodied

in Christ, experiencing ineffably the supernatural state of deification. But he will not hereafter be one with Christ or

be engrafted into His body unless in this life he has come to share in divine grace and has embodied spiritual

knowledge and truth.

 

43. The kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a

pattern (cf. Exod. 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary. Into the first will enter all who are priests of

grace. But into the second - which is noetic - will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness

of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that

Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines

them ever more richly with His own splendor.

 

44. By 'many dwelling-places' (John 14:2) the Savior meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of

development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it.

That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their

knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. 'For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory

of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in

 

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glory' (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

 

45. You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed

your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the

help of the Logos have made your flesh - your natural human form of clay - a resplendent and fiery image of divine

beauty. For bodies become incorruptible when rid of their natural humors and their material density.

 

46. The body in its incorruptible state will be earthy, but it will be without humors or material density,

indescribably transmuted from an unspintual body into a spiritual body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44), so that it will be in its

godlike refinement and subtleness both earthy and heavenly. Its state when it is resurrected will be the same as that

in which it was originally created - one in which it conforms to the image of the Son of Man (cf. Rom. 8:29; Phil.

 

 

 

3:21) through fuU participation in His divinity.

 

47. The land of the gentle (of. Ps. 37: 1 1) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandnc state of the Son,

which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the

new life of the resurrection. Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or, it may be, the

land purified according to the measure of those dwelling in it. Or, according to another interpretation, it is the land

granted as an inheritance (cf. Numb. 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the

peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) - the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

 

48. The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5).

 

49. The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy

Spirit.

 

50. If we do not know what we are like when God makes us, we shall not realize what sin has turned us into.

 

5 1 . All who have received the fullness of the perfection of Christ in this life are of equal spiritual stature.

 

52. Rewards correspond to labors. But their quantity or quality -that is to say, their measure - will be shown by the

position and state in heaven of those who receive them.

 

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53. According to Scripture the saints, the sons of Christ's resurrection, through incorruption and deification will

become intellects, that is to say, equal to the angels (cf Luke 20:36).

 

54. It is said that in the life to come the angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their

longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life.

 

55. A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come he receives the grace to assimilate himself

to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification.

 

56. If by passing through the different stages of spiritual growth you become perfect in virtue during this life, you

will attain a state of deification in the life hereafter equal to that of your peers.

 

57. It is said that true belief is knowledge or contemplation of the Holy Spirit. It is also said that scrupulous

discernment in matters of dogma constitutes full knowledge of the true faith.

 

58. Rapture means the total elevation of the soul's powers towards the majesty of divine glory, disclosed as an

undivided unity. Or again rapture is a pure and all-embracing ascent towards the limitless power that dwells in light.

Ecstasy is not only the heavenward ravishing of the soul's powers; it is also complete transcendence of the sense-

world itself. Intense longing for God - there are two forms of it - is a spiritual intoxication that arouses our desire.

 

59. As just remarked, there are two main forms of ecstatic longing for God: one within the heart and the other an

enravishment taking one beyond oneself. The first pertains to those who are still in the process of achieving

 

 

 

illumination, the second to those perfected in love. Both, acting on the intellect, transport it beyond the sense-world.

Such longing for the divine is truly a spiritual intoxication, impelling natural thoughts towards higher states and

detaching the senses from their involvement with visible things.

 

60. The source and ground of our distractive thoughts is the fragmented state of our memory. The memory was

originally simple and one-pointed, but as a result of the fall its natural powers have been perverted: it has lost its

recollectedness in God and has become compound instead of simple, diversified instead of one-pointed.

 

6 1 . We recover the original state of our memory by restoring it to

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its primal simplicity, when it will no longer act as a source of evil and destructive thoughts. For Adam's

disobedience has not only deformed into a weapon of evil the soul's simple memory of what is good; it has also

corrupted all its powers and quenched its natural appetite for virtue. The memory is restored above all by constant

mindfulness of God consolidated through prayer, for this spiritually elevates the memory from a natural to a

supernatural state.

 

62. Sinful acts provoke passions, the passions provoke distractive thoughts, and distractive thoughts provoke

fantasies. The fragmented memory begets a multiplicity of ideas, forgetfulness causes the fragmentation of the

memory, ignorance leads to forgetfulness, and laziness to ignorance. Laziness is spawned by lustful appetites,

appetites are aroused by misdirected emotions, and misdirected emotions by committing sinful acts. A sinful act is

provoked by a mindless desire for evil and a strong attachment to the senses and to sensory things.

 

63. Distractive thoughts arise and are activated in the soul's intelligent faculty, violent passions in the incensive

faculty, the memory of bestial appetites in the desiring faculty, imaginary forms in the mind, and ideas in the

conceptualizing faculty.

 

64. The irruption of evil thoughts is like the current of a river. We are provoked to sin by such thoughts, and when

as a result of this we give our assent to sin our heart is overwhelmed as though by a turbulent flood.

 

65. By the 'deep mire' (Ps. 69:2) understand slimy sensual pleasure, or the sludge of lechery, or the burden of

material things. Weighed down by all this the impassioned intellect casts itself into the depths of despair.

 

66. Scripture often calls thoughts motives for actions, just as it also calls these motives mental images and,

conversely, calls mental images motives. This is because the point of departure for such actions, although in itself

immaterial, is embodied through them and changed into a particular visible form. Thus the sin that is provoked is

identified and named according to its external manifestation.

 

67. Distractive thoughts are the promptings of the demons and precursors of the passions, just as such promptings

and mental images are also the precursors of particular actions. There can be no action, either for good or evil, that is

not initially provoked by the particular thought of that action; for thought is the impulse.

 

 

 

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non-visible in form, that provokes us to act at all, whatever the action may be.

 

68. The raw material of actions generates neutral thoughts, while demonic provocation begets evil thoughts. Thus

when they are compared it is clear that there is a difference between motives and thoughts that accord with nature

and those which are either Contrary to nature or supernatural.

 

69. Thoughts in different classes of people are equally prone to change, thoughts that accord with nature

becoming either thoughts contrary to nature or, alternatively, becoming thoughts that transcend nature. Occasions

for these changes are provided, in the case of evil-minded people, by thoughts suggested by material things; whereas

in the case of those who are materially -minded they are provided by demonic provocation. Similarly, in the case of

saints, it is thoughts that accord with nature that provide the occasion for this change, such thoughts generating

thoughts that transcend nature. For the motivating occasions and grounds for these changes of the various types of

thought into their congenerate types are fourfold: material, demonic, natural and supernatural.

 

70. Occasions give rise to distractive thoughts, thoughts to fantasies, fantasies to the passions, and the passions

give entry to the demons. It is as if there were a certain cunningly devised sequence and order among the disordered

spirits, one thing following and derived from another. But no one thing in the sequence is self-operative: each is

prompted and activated by the demons. Fantasy is not wrought into an image, passion is not energized, without

unperceived hidden demonic impulsion. For even though Satan has fallen and is shattered, he is still stronger than

we are and exults over us because of our sloth.

 

71. The demons fill our minds with images; or, rather, they clothe themselves in images that correspond to the

character of the most dominant and active passion in our soul, and in this way they provoke us to give our assent to

that passion. For the demons use the state of passion as an occasion for stirring up images. Thus, whether we are

awake or asleep, they visit us with varied and diverse imaginings. The demons of desire turn themselves sometimes

into pigs, sometimes into donkeys, sometimes into fiery stallions avid for copulation, and sometimes - particularly

the demons of licentiousness - into Israelites. The demons of wrath turn themselves sometimes into gentiles and

sometimes into lions. The demons of cowardice take on the form

 

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of Ishmaelites, those of licentiousness the form of Idumaeans, and those of drunkenness and dissipation the form

of Hagarenes. The demons of greed appear sometimes as wolves and sometimes as leopards, those of malice assume

 

 

 

the form sometimes of snakes, sometimes of vipers, and sometimes of foxes, those of shamelessness the form of

dogs and those of listlessness the form of cats. FinaUy there are the demons of lechery, that turn sometimes into

snakes and sometimes into crows and jackdaws. Carnal-minded demons, particularly those dwelling in the air,

transform themselves into birds. Our fantasy transmutes the images of the demons in a threefold manner

corresponding to the tripartite nature of the soul: into birds, wild animals and domestic animals, that correspond

respectively to the desiring, mcensive and intelligent aspect of the soul. For the three princes of the passions are

always ready to wage war on these three powers of the soul. Whatever the passion that dominates the soul, they

assume a form that corresponds to it and thus they insinuate themselves into us.

 

72. The demons of sensual pleasure often attack us in the form of fire and coals. For the spirits of self-indulgence

kindle the soul's desiring faculty, while they also confuse the intelligence and plunge it into darkness. The chief

cause of lustful burning and mental confusion and beclouding lies in the sensuality of the passions.

 

73. The night of the passions is the darkness of ignorance. Or alternatively the night is the state which begets the

passions, where the prince of darkness rules, and where the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the creeping

things of the earth have their dwelling, these being allegorical terms for the roving spirits that seek to lay hold of us

in order to devour us (cf Ps. 104:20).

 

74. Some distractive thoughts precede the activity of the passions and others follow it. Such thoughts precede

fantasies, while passions are sequent to fantasies. The passions precede demons, while demons follow the passions.

 

75. The cause and origin of the passions is the misuse of things. Such misuse results from perversion of our

character. Perversion expresses the bias of the will, and the state of our will is tested by demonic provocation. The

demons thus are permitted by divine providence to demonstrate to us the specific state of our will.

 

76. The lethal poison of the sting of sin is the soul's passion-charged state. For if by your own free choice you

allow yourself to be

 

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dominated by the passions you will develop a firm and unchanging propensity to sin.

 

77. The passions are variously named. They are divided into those pertaining to the body and those pertaining to

the soul. The bodily passions are subdivided into those that involve suffering and those that are sinful. The passions

that induce suffering are further subdivided into those connected with disease and those connected with corrective

discipline. The passions pertaining to the soul are divided according to whether they affect the incensive, appetitive

or intelligent aspect of the soul. Those connected with the intelligence are subdivided into those affecting the

imagination and those affecting the understanding. Of these some are the result of the deliberate misuse of things;

others we suffer against our will, out of necessity, and for these we are not culpable. The fathers have also called

them concomitants and natural idiosyncrasies.

 

78. The passions that pertain to the body differ from those that pertain to the soul; those affecting the appetitive

 

 

 

faculty differ from those affecting the incensive faculty; and those of the intelligence differ from those of the

intellect and the reason. But all intercommunicate, and all collaborate, the bodily passions with those of the

appetitive faculty, passions of the soul with those of the incensive faculty, passions of the intelligence with those of

the intellect, and passions of the intellect with those of the reason and of the memory.

 

79. The passions of the incensive faculty are anger, animosity, shouting, bad temper, self-assertion, conceit,

boastfulness, and so on. The passions of the appetitive faculty are greed, licentiousness, dissipation, insatiateness,

self-indulgence, avarice and self-love, which is the worst of all. The passions of the flesh are unchastity, adultery,

uncleanliness, profligacy, injustice, gluttony, listlessness, ostentation, self-adornment, cowardice and so on. The

passions of the intelligence are lack of faith, blasphemy, malice, cunning, mquisitiveness, duplicity, abuse,

backbiting, censonousness, vilification, frivolous talk, hypocrisy, lying, foul talk, foolish chatter, deceitfulness,

sarcasm, self-display, love of popularity, day-dreaming, perjury, gossiping and so on. The passions of the intellect

are self-conceit, pomposity, arrogance, quarrelsomeness, envy, self-satisfaction, contentiousness, inattentiveness,

fantasy, fabrication, swaggering, vainglory and pride, the beginning and end of all the vices. The passions of the

reason are dithering, distraction, captivation, obfuscation, blindness, abduction,

 

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provocation, connivance in sin, bias, perversion, instability of mind and similar things. In short, all the unnatural

vices commingle with the three faculties of the soul, just as all the virtues naturally coexist within them.

 

80. How eloquent is David when he speaks to God in ecstasy, saying, 'Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me; I

cannot attain to it' (cf. Ps. 139:6), for it exceeds my feeble knowledge and my powers. How incomprehensible,

indeed, is even this flesh in the way it has been constituted: it too is triadic in every detail, and yet a single harmony

embraces its limbs and parts; in addition it is graced by the numbers seven and two which, according to

mathematicians, signify time and creation. Thus it, too, when perceived according to the laws at work in creation, is

to be seen as an organ of God's glory manifesting His triadic magnificence.

 

8 1 . The laws of creation are the qualities inventing wholes compounded of energized parts - qualities also known

as generic differences, since they invest many different composites constituted from identical properties. Or again

the natural law is the potential power to energize inherent in each species and in each part. As God does with respect

to the whole of creation, so does the soul with respect to the body: it energizes and impels each member of the body

in accordance with the energy intrinsic to that member. At this point it must be asked why the holy fathers

sometimes say that anger and desire are powers pertaining to the body and sometimes that they are powers

pertaining to the soul. Assuredly, the words of the saints never disagree if they are carefully examined. In this case,

both statements are true, if correctly understood in context. For indescribably body and soul are brought into being

in such a way that they coexist. The soul is in a state of perfection from the start, but the body is imperfect since it

has to grow through taking nourishment. The soul by virtue of its creation as a deifonn and intellective entity

possesses an intrinsic power of desire and an intrinsic mcensive power, and these lead it to manifest both courage

 

 

 

and divine love. For senseless anger and mindless desire were not created along with the soul. Nor originally did

they pertain to the body. On the contrary, when the body was created it was free from corruption and without the

humors from which such desire and uncontrollable rage arise. But after the fall anger and desire were necessarily

generated within it, for then it became subject to the corruption and gross materiality of the instinct-driven

 

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animals. That is why when the body has the upper hand it opposes the will of the soul through anger and desire.

But when what is mortal is made subject to the intelligence it assists the soul in doing what is good. For when

characteristics that do not originally pertain to the body but have subsequently infiltrated into it become entangled

with the soul, man becomes like an animal (cf Ps. 49:20), since he is now necessarily subject to the law of sin. He

ceases to be an intelligent human being and becomes beast-like.

 

82. When God through His life-giving breath created the soul deiform and intellective. He did not implant in it

anger and desire that are animal-like. But He did endow it with a power of longing and aspiration, as well as with a

courage responsive to divine love. Similarly when God formed the body He did not originally implant in it

instinctual anger and desire. It was only afterwards, through the fall, that it was invested with these characteristics

that have rendered it mortal, corruptible and animal-like. For the body, even though susceptive of corruption, was

created, as theologians will tell us, free from corruption, and that is how it will be resurrected. In the same way the

soul when originally created was dispassionate. But soul and body have both been denied, commingled as they are

through the natural law of mutual mterpenetration and exchange. The soul has acquired the qualities of the passions

or, rather, of the demons; and the body, passing under the sway of corruption because of its fallen state, has become

akin to instinct-driven animals. The powers of body and soul have merged together and have produced a single

animal, driven impulsively and mindlessly by anger and desire. That is how man has sunk to the level of animals, as

Scripture testifies, and has become like them in every respect (cf. Ps. 49:20).

 

83. The principle and source of the virtues is a good disposition of the will, that is to say, an aspiration for

goodness and beauty. God is the source and ground of all supernal goodness. Thus the principle of goodness and

beauty is faith or, rather, it is Christ, the rock of faith, who is principle and foundation of all the virtues. On this rock

we stand and on this foundation we build every good thing (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11). Christ is the capstone (cf Eph. 2:20)

uniting us with Himself. He is the pearl of great price (c£ Matt. 13:46): it is this for which the monk seeks when he

plunges into the depths of stillness and it is this for which he sells all his own desires through obedience to the

commandments, so that he may acquire it even in this life.

 

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84. The virtues are all equal and together reduce themselves to one, thus constituting a single principle and form

of virtue. But some virtues - such as divine love, humility and divine patience - are greater than others, embracing

and comprising as they do a large number or even all of the rest. With regard to patience the Lord says, 'You will

gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21:19). He did not say 'through your fasting' or

'through your vigils'. I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of

courageous actions. It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity amid distress, and a steadfast base for those who

acquire it. Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not

even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx of hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm.

 

85. The virtues, though they beget each other, yet have their origin in the three powers of the soul - all except

those virtues that are divine. For the ground and principle of the four cardinal virtues, both natural and divine -

sound understanding, courage, self-restraint and justice, the progenitors of all the other virtues - is the divine

Wisdom that inspires those who have attained a state of mystical prayer. This Wisdom operates in a fourfold manner

in the intellect. It activates not all the four virtues simultaneously, but each one individually, as is appropriate and as

it determines. It activates sound understanding in the form of light, courage as clear-sighted power and ever-moving

inspiration, self-restraint as a power of sanctification and purification, and justice as the dew of purity, joy-inducing

and cooling the arid heat of the passions. In every one who has attained the state of perfection it activates each virtue

fully, in the appropriate form.

 

86. The pursuit of the virtues through one's own efforts does not confer complete strength on the soul unless grace

transforms them into an essential inner disposition. Each virtue is endowed with its own specific gift of grace, its

own particular energy, and thus possesses the capacity to produce such a disposition and blessed state in those who

attain it even when they have not consciously sought for any such state. Once a virtue has been bestowed on us it

remains unchanged and unfailing. For just as a living soul activates the body's members, so the grace of the Holy

Spirit activates the virtues. Without such grace the whole bevy of the virtues is moribund; and m those who appear

to have attained them, or to be in the way of attaining them, solely through

 

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their own efforts they are but shadows and prefigurations of beauty, not the reality itself.

 

87. The cardinal virtues are four: courage, sound understanding, self-restraint and justice. There are eight other

moral qualities, that either go beyond or fall short of these virtues. These we regard as vices, and so we call them;

but non-spiritual people regard them as virtues and that is what they call them. Exceeding or falling short of courage

are audacity and cowardice, of sound understanding are cunning and ignorance; of self-restraint are licentiousness

and obtuseness; of justice are excess and injustice, or taking less than one's due. In between, and superior to, what

 

 

 

goes beyond or what falls short of them, lie not only the cardinal and natural virtues, but also the practical virtues.

These are consolidated by resolution combined with probity of character; the others by perversion and self-conceit.

That the virtues lie along the midpoint or axis of rectitude is testified to by the proverb, 'You will attain every well-

founded axis' (Prov. 2:9. LXX). Thus when they are all established in the soul's three faculties in which they are

begotten and built up, they have as their foundation the four cardinal virtues or, rather, Christ Himself. In this way

the natural virtues are purified through the practical virtues, while the divine and supra-natural virtues are conferred

through the bounty of the Holy Spirit.

 

88. Among the virtues some are practical, others are natural, and others are divine and conferred by the Holy

Spirit. The practical virtues are the products of our resolution, the natural virtues are built into us when we are

created, the divine virtues are the fruits of grace.

 

89. Just as the virtues are begotten in the soul, so are the passions. But the virtues are begotten in accordance with

nature, the passions in a mode contrary to nature. For what produces good or evil in the soul is the will's bias: it is

like the joint of a pair of compasses or the pivot of a pair of scales: whichever way it inclines, so it will determine

the consequences. For our inner disposition is capable of operating in one way or another, since it bears within itself

both virtue and vice, the first as its natural birthright, the second as the result of the self-incurred proclivity of our

moral will.

 

90. Scripture calls the virtues 'maidens' (cf Song of Songs 1:3) because through their close union with the soul

they become one with it in spirit and body. In the same way as a girl's beauty is emblematic of her love, the presence

of these holy virtues expresses our inner purity and saintliness. Grace habitually gives to divine things an outward

form

 

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that accords with their inner nature, at the same time unerringly molding those receptive to it in a way that

corresponds to this nature.

 

91. There are eight ruling passions: gluttony, avarice and self-esteem - the three principal passions; and

unchastity, anger, dejection, listlessness and arrogance - the five subordinate passions. In the same way, among the

virtues opposed to these there are three that are all-embracing, namely, total shedding of possessions, self-control

and humility, and five deriving from them, namely, purity, gentleness, joy, courage, and self-belittlement - and then

come all the other virtues. To study and recognize the power, action and special flavor of each virtue and vice is not

within the competence of everyone who wishes to do so; it is the prerogative of those who practice and experience

the virtues actively and consciously and who receive from the Holy Spirit the gifts of cognitive insight and

discrimination.

 

92. Virtues either energize in us or are energized by us. They energize in us by being present in us when it is

appropriate, when they will, for as long as they will and in whatever manner they will. We energize them ourselves

 

 

 

according to our resolve and the moral state of our capabilities. But they energize in us by virtue of their own

essence, whereas we energize them merely in an imitative way, by modeling our moral conduct upon them. For all

our actions are but typifications of the divine archetypes; and few indeed are those who participate concretely in

noetic realities before they enjoy the eternal blessings of the life to come. In this life we mainly activate and make

our own not the virtues themselves but their reflections and the ascetic toil they require.

 

93. According to St Paul (cf Rom. 15:16), you 'minister' the Gospel only when, having yourself participated in

the light of Christ, you can pass it on actively to others. Then you sow the Logos like a divine seed in the fields of

your listeners' souls. 'Let your speech be always filled with grace', says St Paul (Col. 4:6), 'seasoned' with divine

goodness. Then it will impart grace to those who listen to you with faith. Elsewhere St Paul, calling the teachers

tillers and their pupils the fields they till (cf 2 Tim. 2:6), wisely presents the former as plowers and sowers of the

divine Logos and the latter as the fertile soil, yielding a rich crop of virtues. True ministry is not simply a celebration

of sacred rites; it also involves participation in divine blessings and the communication of these blessings to others.

 

94. Oral teaching for the guidance of others has many forms,

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varying in accordance with the diverse ways in which it is put together from different sources. These sources are

four in number: instruction, reading, ascetic practice, and grace. For just as water, while essentially the same,

changes and acquires a distinctive quality according to the composition of the soil under it, so that it tastes bitter, or

sweet, or brackish, or acidic, so oral teaching, colored as it is by the moral state of the teacher, varies accordingly in

the way it operates and in the benefits it confers.

 

95. Oral teaching is something to be enjoyed by all intelligent beings. But just as there are many different kinds of

food, so the recipient of this teaching experiences its pleasure in a variety of ways. Instruction moulds the moral

character; teaching by reading is like 'still waters' that nourish and restore the soul (cf Ps. 23:2); teaching through

ascetic practice is like 'green pastures', strengthening it (cf. Ps. 23:2); while teaching imparted through grace is like a

cup that intoxicates it (cf. Ps. 23:5. LXX), filling it with unspeakable joy, or else it is like oil that exhilarates the face

and makes it radiant (cf. Ps. 104: 15).

 

96. Strictly speaking the soul possesses these various forms of teachings within itself as part of its own life; but

when it learns about them through listening to others it becomes conscious of them, provided it listens with faith and

provided the teacher teaches with love, speaking of the virtues without vanity or self-esteem. Then the soul is

disciplined by instruction, nourished by reading, graciously escorted to her wedding by the deeply -rooted teaching

that derives from ascetic practice, and receives the illuminative teaching of the Holy Spirit as a bridegroom who

unites her to Himself and fills her with delight. 'Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God' (Matt. 4:4)

denotes the words that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, issue from the mouths of the saints - an inspiration granted not to

all but only to those who are worthy. For although all intelligent beings take pleasure in knowledge, very few are

those in this world who are consciously filled with joy by the wisdom of the Spirit; most of us only know and

 

 

 

participate through the power of memory in die images and reflections of spiritual wisdom, for we do not yet with

full awareness partake of the Logos of God, the true celestial bread. But in the life to come this bread is the sole food

of me saints, proffered in such abundance that it is never exhausted, depleted, or immolated anew.

 

97. Without spiritual perception you cannot consciously

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experience the delight of divine things. If you dull your physical senses you make them insensible to sensory

things, and you neither see, hear nor smell, but are paralyzed or, rather, half-dead; similarly, if through the passions

you deaden the natural powers of your soul you make them insensible to the activity of the mysteries of the Spirit

and you cannot participate in them. If you are spiritually blind, deaf and insensible you are as dead: Christ does not

live in you, and you do not live and act in Christ.

 

98. The physical senses and the soul's powers have an equal and similar, not to say identical, mode of operation,

especially when they are in a healthy state: far then the soul's powers live and act through the senses, and the life-

giving Spirit sustains them both. A man is truly ill when he succumbs to the generic malady of the passions and

spends his whole time in the sickroom of inertia. When there is no satanic battle between them, making them reject

the rule of the intellect and of the Spirit, the senses clearly perceive sensory things, the soul's powers mtelligible

things; for when they are united through the Spirit and constitute a single whole, they know directly and essentially

the nature of divine and human things. They contemplate with clarity the logoi, or inward essences of these things,

and distinctly perceive, so far as is possible, the single source of all things, the Holy Trinity.

 

99. He who practices hesychasm must acquire the following five virtues, as a foundation on which to build:

silence, self-control, vigilance, humility and patience. Then there are three practices blessed by God: psalmody,

prayer and reading - and handiwork for those weak in body. These virtues which we have listed not only embrace all

the rest but also consolidate each other. From early morning the hesychast must devote himself to the remembrance

of God through prayer and stillness of heart, praying diligently in the first hour, reading in the second, chanting

psalms in the third, praying in the fourth, reading in the fifth, chanting psalms in the sixth, praying in the seventh,

reading in the eighth, chanting psalms in the ninth, eating in the tenth, sleeping in the eleventh, if need be, and

reciting vespers in the twelfth hour. Thus fruitfully spending the course of the day he gains God's blessings.

 

100. Like a bee one should extract from each of the virtues what is most profitable. In this way, by taking a small

amount from all of them, one builds up from the practice of the virtues a great honeycomb overflowing with the

soul-delighting honey of wisdom.

 

101. Now hear, if you will, how it is best to spend the night. For the

 

 

 

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night vigil there are three programs: for beginners, for those midway on the path, and for the perfect. The first

program is as follows: to sleep half the night and to keep vigil for the other half, either from evening till midnight or

from midnight till dawn. The second is to keep vigil after nightfall for one or two hours, then to sleep for four hours,

then to rise for matins and to chant psalms and pray for six hours until daybreak, then to chant the first hour, and

after that to sit down and practice stillness, in the way already described. Then one can either follow the program of

spiritual work given for the daylight hours, or else continue in unbroken prayer, which gives a greater inner stability.

The third program is to stand and keep vigil uninterruptedly throughout the night.

 

102. Now let us say something about food. A pound of bread is sufficient for anyone aspiring to attain the state of

inner stillness. You may drink two cups of undiluted wine and three of water. Your food should consist of whatever

is at hand - not whatever your natural craving seeks, but what providence provides, to be eaten sparingly. The best

and shortest guiding rule for those who wish to live as they should is to maintain the threefold all-embracing

practices of fasting, vigilance and prayer, for these provide a most powerful support for all the other virtues.

 

103. Stillness requires above all faith, patience, love with all one's heart and strength and might (cf. Deut. 6:5),

and hope. For if you have faith, even though because of negligence or some other fault you fail to attain what you

seek in this life, you will on leaving this life most certainly be vouchsafed the fruit of faith and spiritual struggle and

will behold your liberation, which is Jesus Christ, the redemption and salvation of souls, the Logos who is both God

and man. But if you lack faith, you will certainly be condemned on leaving this world. In fact, as the Lord says, you

are condemned already (cf . John 3:18). For if you are a slave to sensual pleasure, and want to be honored by other

people rather than by God (cf. John 5:44.), you lack faith, even though you may profess faith verbally; and you

deceive yourself without realizing it. And you will incur the rebuke: 'Because you did not receive Me in your heart

but cast Me out behind your back, I too will reject you' (ef Ezek. 5: 1 1). If you possess faith you should have hope,

and believe in God's truth to which the whole of Scripture bears witness, and confess your own weakness; otherwise

you will inescapably receive double condemnation.

 

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104. Nothing so fills the heart with contrition and humbles the soul as solitude embraced with self-awareness, and

utter silence. And nothing so destroys the state of inner stillness and takes away the divine power that comes from it

as the following six universal passions: insolence, gluttony, talkativeness, distraction, pretentiousness and the

mistress of the passions, self-conceit. Whoever commits himself to these passions plunges himself progressively into

 

 

 

darkness until he becomes completely insensate. But if he comes to himself again and with faith and ardor makes a

fresh start, he will once more attain what he seeks, especially if he seeks it with humility. Yet if through his

negligence even one of the passions that we have mentioned gets a hold on him once more, then the whole host of

evils, including pernicious lack of faith, moves in and attacks him, devastating his soul till it becomes like another

city of Babylon, full of diabolical turmoil and confusion (cf. Isa. 13:21). Then the last state of the person to whom

this happens is worse than his first (cf. Matt. 12:45), and he turns into a violent enemy and defamer of those

pursuing the path of hesy chasm, always whetting his tongue against them like a sharp double-edged sword.

 

105. Once the waters of the passions, like a turbid and chaotic sea, have flooded the soul's state of stillness, there

is no way of crossing over them except in the light swift- winged barque of self-control and total poverty. For when

because of our dissipation and enslavement to materiality the torrents of the passions inundate the soil of the heart,

they deposit there all the filth and sludge of evil thoughts, befouling the intellect, muddying the reason, clogging the

body, and slackening, darkening and deadening soul and heart, depriving them of their natural stability and

responsiveness.

 

106. Nothing so makes the soul of those striving to advance on the spiritual path sluggish, apathetic and mindless

as self-love, that pimp of the passions. For whenever it induces us to choose bodily ease rather than virtue-

promoting hardship, or to regard it as positive good sense not willingly to burden ourselves with ascetic labor,

especially with respect to the light exertions involved in practicing the commandments, then it causes the soul to

relax its efforts to attain a state of stillness, and produces in it a strong, irresistible sense of indolence and slackness.

 

107. If you are feeble in practicing the commandments yet want to expel your inner murkiness, the best and most

efficient physic is

 

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Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

 

trustful unhesitating obedience in all things. This remedy, distilled 'from many virtues, restores vitality and acts as a

knife which at a single stroke cuts away festering sores. If, then, in total trust and simplicity you choose this remedy

out of all alternatives you excise every passion at once. Not only will you reach the state of stillness but also through

your obedience you will fully enter into it, having found Christ and become His imitator and servitor in name and

act.

 

108. Unless your life and actions are accompanied by a sense of inner grief you cannot endure the incandescence

of stillness. If with this sense of grief you meditate - before they come to pass - on the many terrors that await us

prior to and after death you will achieve both patience and humility, the twin foundations of stillness. Without them

your efforts to attain stillness will always be accompanied by apathy and self-conceit. From these will arise a host of

distractions and day-dreams, all inducing sluggishness. In their wake comes dissipation, daughter of indolence,

making the body sluggish and slack and the intellect benighted and callous. Then Jesus is hidden, concealed by the

throng of thoughts and images that crowd the mind (cf. John 5:13).

 

 

 

109. The torments of conscience in this life or the life to come are experienced with full awareness not by

everyone but only by those who in this world or the next are deprived of divine glory and love. Such torment is like

a fearful torturer punishing the guilty in various ways, or like a sharp sword striking with pitiless indignation and

reproach. Once our conscience is active, what some call righteous indignation and others natural wrath is roused in

three ways - against the demons, against our nature and against our own soul; for such indignation or wrath impels

us to sharpen our conscience like a keen-bladed sword against our enemies. If this righteous indignation triumphs

and subjects sin and our unregenerate self to the soul, then it is transmuted into the loftiest courage and leads us to

God. But if the soul enslaves itself to sin and our unregenerate self, then this righteous indignation turns against it

and torments it mercilessly, for it has enslaved itself to its enemies by its own free will. Thus enslaved, the soul

commits terrible crimes, for its state of virtue is lost and it has alienated itself from God.

 

110. Of all the passions, lechery and listlessness are especially harsh and burdensome, for they oppress and

debilitate the unhappy soul. And as they are inter-related and intertwined they are difficult to fight against and to

overcome - in fact by our own efforts alone we cannot

 

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defeat them. Lechery burgeons in the soul's appetitive aspect and by nature embraces indiscriminately both soul

and body, since the total pleasure it generates spreads through all our members. Listlessness, once it has laid hold of

our intellect and like bindweed has enlaced our soul and body, makes us slothful, enfeebled and indolent. Even

before we have attained the blessed state of dispassion these two passions are expelled, though not finally defeated,

whenever through prayer our soul receives from the Holy Spirit a power that releases it from tension, producing

strength and profound peace in the heart, and solacing us with stillness. Lechery is the pleasure that includes all

other forms of sensual indulgence, their source, mistress and queen; and its crony, sloth, is the invincible chariot

bearing Pharaoh's captains (cf. Exod. 14:7). Through these two - lechery and sloth - the seeds of the passions are

sown in our unhappy lives.

 

111. Noetic prayer is an activity initiated by the cleansing power of the Spirit and the mystical rites celebrated by

the intellect. Similarly, stillness is initiated by attentive waiting upon God, its intermediate stage is characterized by

illuminative power and contemplation, and its final goal is ecstasy and the enraptured flight of the intellect towards

God.

 

1 12. Prior to the enjoyment of the blessings that transcend the intellect, and as a foretaste of that enjoyment, the

noetic activity of the intellect mystically offers up the Lamb of God upon the altar of the soul and partakes of Him in

communion. To eat the Lamb of God upon the soul's noetic altar is not simply to apprehend Him spiritually or to

participate in Him; it is also to become an image of the Lamb as He is in the age to come. Now we experience the

manifest expression of the mysteries; hereafter we hope to enjoy their very substance.

 

113. For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect it is like a vigorous sweet-

scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, an action of faith or, rather, faith itself, 'that makes

 

 

 

real for us the things for which we hope' (Heb. 11:1), active love, angelic impulse, the power of the bodiless spirits,

their work and delight, the Gospel of God, the heart's assurance, hope of salvation, a sign of purity, a token of

holiness, knowledge of God, baptism made manifest, purification in the water of regeneration, a pledge of the Holy

Spirit, the exultation of Jesus, the soul's delight, God's mercy, a sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of the

noetic sun, the heart's dawn-star, the confirmation of the Christian

 

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faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God's grace, God's wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and

absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, and

expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone (cf 1 Cor.

12:6), for there is a single action of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.

 

114. Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (cf. Exod.

7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer,

will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it.

 

115. Those who say or do anything without humility are like people who build in winter or without bricks and

mortar. Very few acquire humility and know it through experience; and those who try to talk about it are like people

measuring a bottomless pit. And I who in my blindness have formed a faint image of this great light am rash enough

to say this about it: tme humility does not consist in speaking humbly, or in looking humble. The humble person

does not have to force himself to think humbly, nor does he keep finding fault with himself. Such conduct may

provide us with an occasion for humility or constitute its outward form, but humility itself is a grace and a divine

gift. The holy fathers teach that there are two kinds of humility: to regard oneself as lower than everyone else, and to

ascribe all one's achievement to God. The first is the beginning, the second the consummation.

 

Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that

they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable

than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know

what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance

you and I, my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as

more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I,

owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature. Truly animals are more pure than I, sinner that I am;

on account of this I am the lowest of all, since even before my death I have made my bed in

 

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hell. Who is not fully aware that the person who sins is worse than the demons, since he is their thrall and their

slave, even in this life sharing their murk-mantled prison? If I am mastered by the demons I must be inferior to them.

Therefore my lot will be with them in the abyss of hell, pitiful that I am. You on earth who even before your death

dwell in that abyss, how do you dare delude yourself, calling yourself righteous, when through the evil you have

done you have defiled yourself and made yourself a sinner and a demon? Woe to your self-deception and your

delusion, squalid cur that you are, consigned to fire and darkness for these offences.

 

1 16. According to theologians, noetic, pure, angelic prayer is in its power wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. A

sign that you have attained such prayer is that the intellect's vision when praying is completely free from form and

that the intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary, it is often drawn away even

from its own senses by the light acting within it; for it now grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance,

becoming through ineffable union a single spirit with God (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 17).

 

1 17. We are led and guided towards God-given humility by seven different qualities, each of which generates and

complements the others: silence, humbleness in thought, in speech, in appearance, self-reproach, contrition and

looking on oneself as the least of men. Silence consciously espoused gives birth to humbleness in thought. Humble-

ness in thought produces three further modes of humility, namely, humbleness in speech, bearing oneself in a simple

and humble way, and constant self-belittlement. These three modes give birth to contrition; this arises within us

when God allows us to suffer temptations - when, that is, we are disciplined by providence and humbled by the

demons. Contrition readily induces the soul to feel the lowest and least of all, and the servant of all. Contrition and

looking on oneself as the least of all bring about the perfect humility that is the gift of God, a power rightly regarded

as the perfection of all the virtues. It is a state in which one ascribes all one's achievements to God. Thus the first

factor leading to humility is silence, from which humbleness of thought is bom. This gives birth to the three further

modes of humility. These three generate the single quality of contrition. The quality of contrition gives birth to the

seventh mode, the primal humility of regarding oneself as the least of men, which is also' called providential

humility. Providential humility confers the true and God-given humility that is

 

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perfect and indescribable. Primal humility comes thus: when you are abandoned, overcome, enslaved and

dominated by every passion, distractive thought and evil spirit, and can find no help in doing good works, or in God,

or in anything at all, so that you are ready to fall into despair, then you are humbled in everything, are filled with

contrition and regard yourself as the lowest and least of all things, the slave of all, and worse even than the demons,

since you are dominated and vanquished by them. This is providential humility. Once acquired, through it God

bestows the ultimate humility. This is a divine power that activates and accomplishes all things. With its aid a man

 

 

 

always sees himself as an instrument of divine power, and through it he accomplishes the miraculous works of God.

 

1 18. Because we are now mastered by the passions and succumb to a host of temptations we cannot in our age

attain those states that characterize sanctity - 1 mean real spiritual contemplation of the divine light, an intellect free

from fantasy and distraction, the true energy of prayer ceaselessly flowing from the depths of the heart, the soul's

resurrection and ascension, divine rapture, the soaring beyond the limits of this world, the mind's ecstasy in spirit

above all things sensory, the ravishment of the intellect above even its own powers, the angelic flight of the soul

impelled by God towards what is infinite and utterly sublime. The intellect - especially in the more superficial

among us - tends to picture these states prematurely to itself, and in this way it loses even the slight stability God has

given it and becomes altogether moribund. Hence we must exercise great discrimination and not try to pre-empt

things that come in their own good time, or reject what we already possess and dream of something else. For by

nature the intellect readily invents fantasies and illusions about the high spiritual states it has not yet attained, and

thus there is no small danger that we may lose what has already been given to us and destroy our mind through

repeated self-deception, becoming a day-dreamer and not a hesychast.

 

119. Faith, like active prayer, is a grace. For prayer, when activated by love through the power of the Spirit,

renders true faith manifest - the faith that reveals the life of Jesus. If, then, you are aware that such faith is not at

work within you, that means your faith is dead and lifeless. In fact you should not even speak of yourself as one of

the 'faithful' if your faith is merely theoretical and is not actualized by the practice of the commandments or by the

Spirit. Thus faith must be

 

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evidenced by progress in keeping the commandments, or it must be actualized and translucent in what we do.

This is confirmed by St James when he says, 'Show me your faith through your works and I will show you the works

that I do through my faith' (cf Jas. 2:18). In saying this he makes it clear that grace-inspired faith is evidenced by

the keeping of the commandments, just as the commandments are actualized and made translucent by grace-inspired

faith. Faith is the root of the commandments or, rather, it is the spring that feeds their growth. It has two aspects -

that of confession and that of grace - though it is essentially one and indivisible.

 

120. The short ladder of spiritual progress - which is at the same time both small and great - has five rangs leading

to perfection. The first is renunciation, the second submission to a religious way of life, the third obedience to

spiritual direction, the fourth humility, and the fifth God-imbued love. Renunciation raises the prisoner from hell and

sets him free from enslavement to material things. Submission is the discovery of Christ and the decision to serve

Him. As Christ Himself said, 'He who serves Me, follows Me; and where I am he who serves Me will also be' (cf.

John 12:26). And where is Christ? In heaven, enthroned at the right hand of the Father. Thus he who serves Christ

must be in heaven as well, his foot placed ready to climb up; indeed, before he even begins to ascend by his own

efforts he is already raised up and ascending with Christ. Obedience, put into action through the practice of the

commandments, builds a ladder out of various virtues and places them in the soul as rungs by which to ascend (cf.

 

 

 

Ps. 84:5. LXX). Thence the spiritual aspirant is embraced by humihty, the great exaher, and is borne heavenwards

and dehvered over to love, the queen of the virtues. By love he is led to Christ and brought into His presence. Thus

by this short ladder he who is truly obedient swiftly ascends to heaven.

 

121. The quickest way to ascend to the kingdom of heaven by the short ladder of the virtues is through effacing

the five passions hostile to obedience, namely, disobedience, contentiousness, self-gratification, self -justification

and pernicious self-conceit. For these are the limbs and organs of the recalcitrant demon that devours those who

offer false obedience and consigns them to the dragon of the abyss. Disobedience is the mouth of hell;

contentiousness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification its sharp teeth; self-justification its gullet; and

self-conceit, that sends one to hell, is the vent that evacuates its

 

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all-devouring belly. If through obedience you overcome the first of these - disobedience - you cut off all the rest

at a stroke, and with a single swift stride attain heaven. This is the truly ineffable and inconceivable miracle wrought

by our compassionate Lord: that through a single virtue or, rather, a single commandment, we can ascend

straightway to heaven, just as through a single act of disobedience we have descended and continue to descend into

hell.

 

122. Man is like another or second world - a new world, as he is called by St Paul when he states, 'Whoever is in

Christ is a new creation' (2 Cor. 5:17). For through virtue man becomes a heaven and an earth and everything that a

world is. Every quality and mystery exists for man's sake, as St Gregory of Nazianzos says. Moreover, if, as St Paul

affirms, our struggle is not against creatures of flesh and blood, but against the potentates and rulers of the darkness

of this world, against the spirits of evil in the celestial realms of the prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2; 6: 12), it follows

that those who secretly fight against us inhabit the world of our psychic powers, which is like another great world of

nature. For the three princes that oppose us in our struggle attack the three powers of the soul; and it is precisely

where we have made progress, and in areas that we have labored to develop, that they launch their assault.

 

Thus the dragon, the prince of the abyss, whose strength is manifest in the loins and the belly - organs of our

soul's appetitive power - sallies forth against those who strive to keep their attention in their hearts; and through the

lust-loving giant of forgetfulness he hurls at them the whole battery of his fiery darts (cf. Eph. 6:16). Desire being

for him like another sea and abyss, he plunges into it, coils his way through it, and stirs it up, making it foam and

boil. In this way he inflames it with sexual longing and inundates it with sensual pleasure; but this does not slake it,

for it is insatiable.

 

The prince of this world (cf. John 12:31), who campaigns against the soul's incensive power, attacks those striving

to attain practical virtue. With the help of the giant of sloth, he continually ranges his forces against us and engages

us in a spiritual contest with every trick of passion he can devise. As though in the theatre or stadium of some other

world, he wrestles with all who stand up against him with

 

 

 

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courage and endurance; sometimes he wins, sometimes he is defeated, and so he either disgraces us or gains us

crowns of glory in the sight of the angels.

 

The prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2) attacks those whose minds are absorbed in contemplation, deluding them with

fantasies; for supported by the evil spirits of the air he attacks the soul's intellectual and spiritual power. Through the

giant of ignorance he clouds the aspiring mind as though it were an intellectual heaven, disrupting its composure,

craftily insinuating into it vague fantastic images of evil spirits and their metamorphoses, and producing fear-

inspiring similitudes of thunder and lightning, tempests and alarums. These three princes, assisted by the three

giants, attack the three powers of our soul, each waging war against the particular power that corresponds to him.

 

123. These demons were once celestial intelligences; but, having fallen from their original state of immateriality

and refinement, each of them has acquired a certain material grossness, assuming a bodily form corresponding to the

kind of action allotted to it. For like human beings they have lost the delights of the angels and have been deprived

of divine bliss, and so they too, like us, now find pleasure in earthly things, becoming to a certain extent material

because of the disposition to material passions which they have acquired. We should not be surprised at this, for our

own soul, created intellectual and spiritual in the image of God, has become bestial, insensate and virtually mindless

through losing the knowledge of God and finding pleasure in material things. Inner disposition changes outward

nature, and acts of moral choice alter the way that nature functions. Some evil spirits are material, gross,

uncontrollable, passionate and vindictive. They hunger for material pleasure and indulgence as carnivores for flesh.

Like savage dogs and like those possessed they devour and relish rotten food; and their delight and habitation are

coarse, fleshy bodies. Others are licentious and slimy. They creep about in the pool of desire like leeches, frogs and

snakes. Sometimes they assume the form of fish, delighting in their brackish lubricity. Slippery and flaccid, they

swim in the sea of drunkenness, rejoicing in the humectation of mindless pleasures. In this manner they constantly

stir up waves of impure thoughts, and storms and tempests in the soul. Others are light and subtle, since they are

aerial spirits, and agitate the soul's contemplative power, provoking strong winds and fantasies. They deceive the

soul by

 

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appearing sometimes in the form of birds or angels. They fill one's memory with the forms of people one knows.

 

 

 

They pervert and deform the contemplative vision of those pursuing the path of hohness who have not yet attained

the state of purity and inner discrimination; for there is nothing spiritual but that they can secretly transform

themselves into it in the imagination. They too arm themselves according to our spiritual state and degree of

progress, and substituting illusion for truth and fantasy for contemplation they take up their abode within us. It is to

these evil spirits that Scripture refers when it speaks of beasts of the field, birds of the air and things that creep on

the ground (cf. Hos. 2:18).

 

124. There are five ways in which the passions may be aroused in us and our fallen self may wage war against our

soul. Sometimes our fallen self misuses things. Sometimes it seeks to do what is unnatural as though it were natural.

Sometimes it forms warm friendship with the demons and they provide it with arms against the soul. Sometimes

under the influence of the passions it falls into a state of civil war, divided against itself. Finally, if the demons have

failed to achieve their purpose in any of the ways just mentioned. God may permit them in their malice to wage war

against us in order to teach us greater humility.

 

125. The main causes of warfare - arising in us through every kind of object or situation - are three: our inner

disposition, the misuse of created things and, by God's leave, the malice and onslaught of the demons. As the fallen

self rises in protest against the soul, and the soul against the fallen self (cf Gal. 5:17), so in the same way our inner

disposition and our mode of acting make the passions of the fallen self war against the soul, and the valiant powers

of the soul wage war against the fallen self. And sometimes our enemy, shameless as he is, has the audacity to fight

against us in his own person, without cause or warning. Thus, my friend, do not let this blood-loving leech bleed

your arteries, and then spit out the blood he has sucked from you. Do not glut the snake and the dragon, and then

you will easily trample on the insolence of the lion and the dragon (cf Ps. 91:13). Lament until you have stripped

off the passions and clothed yourself in your heavenly dwelling-place (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2), and are refashioned according

to the likeness of Jesus Christ, who made you in His image (cf. Col. 3:10).

 

126. Those completely given over to the pursuits of the flesh and

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full of self-love are always slaves to sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy, too, is rooted in them. Consumed by

malice and embittered by their neighbor's blessings, they calumniate good as bad, calling it the fruit of deceit. They

do not accept things of the Spirit or believe in them; and because of their lack of faith they cannot see or know God.

Such people, due to this same blindness and lack of faith, on the last day will justly hear spoken to them the words, T

know you not' (Matt. 25: 12). For the questing believer must either believe when he hears what he does not know, or

come to know what he believes; and he must teach to others what he has come to know and abundantly multiply the

talent entrusted to him. But if he disbelieves what he does not know, and vilifies what he does not understand, and

teaches what he has not learnt, envying those who teach things from practical experience, his lot will surely be to

suffer punishment with those consumed by 'the gall of bitterness' (Acts 8:23).

 

127. According to the wise, a true teacher is he who through his all-embracing cognitive insight comprehends

 

 

 

created things concisely, as if they constituted a single body, establishing distinctions and connections between them

according to their generic difference and identity, so as to indicate which possess similar qualities. Or he may be

described as one who can truly demonstrate things apodictically. Or again, a true spiritual teacher is he who

distinguishes and relates the general and universal qualities of created things - classified as five in number, but

compounded in the incarnate Logos - in accordance with a particular formulation that embraces everything. But his

apodictic skill is not a matter of mere verbal dexterity, like that of profane philosophers, for he is able to enlighten

others through the contemplative vision of created things manifested to him by the Holy Spirit.

 

A true philosopher is one who perceives in created things their spiritual Cause, or who knows created things

through knowing their Cause, having attained a union with God that transcends the intellect and a direct, unmediated

faith: He does not simply learn about divine things, but actually experiences them. Or again, a true philosopher is

one whose intellect is conversant equally with ascetic practice and contemplative wisdom. Thus the perfect

philosopher or lover of wisdom is one whose intellect has attained - alike on the moral, natural and theological

levels - love of wisdom or, rather, love of God. That is to say, he has learnt from God the principles of ascetic

practice (moral philosophy), an insight into the spiritual causes of created things

 

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(natural philosophy), and a precise contemplative understanding of doctrinal principles (theology).

 

Or again, a teacher initiated into things divine is one who distinguishes principial beings from participative beings

or beings that have no autonomous self-subsistent reality; he adduces the essences of principial beings from beings

that exist through participating in them, and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he perceives the essences of principial

beings embodied in participative beings. In other words, he interprets what is intelligible and invisible in terms of

what is sensible and visible, and the visible sense -world in terms of the invisible and supersensory world, conscious

that what is visible is an image of what is invisible, and that what is invisible is the archetype of what is visible. He

knows that things possessing form and figure are brought into being by what is formless and without figure, and that

each manifests the other spiritually; and he clearly perceives each in the other and conveys this perception in his

teaching of the truth. His knowledge of the truth, with all its sun-like radiance, is not expressed in anagogical or

allegorical form; on the contrary, he elucidates the true underlying principles of both worlds with spiritual insight

and power, and expounds them forcibly and vividly. In this way the visible world becomes our teacher and the

invisible world is shown to be an eternal divine dwelling-place manifestly brought into being for our sake.

 

A divine philosopher is he who through ascetic purification and noetic contemplation has achieved a direct union

with God, and is a true friend of God, in that he esteems and loves the supreme, creative and true wisdom above

every other love, wisdom and knowledge. A student of spiritual knowledge, though not properly speaking a

philosopher (even though reflected wisdom has unnoticed appropriated the name of philosophy, as St Gregory of

Nazianzos points out) is he who esteems and studies God's wisdom mirrored in His creation, down to the least

vestige of it; but he does this without any self-display or any hankering after human praise and glory, for he wishes

 

 

 

to be a lover of God's wisdom in creation and not a lover of materialism.

 

An interpreter of sacred texts adept in the mysteries of the kingdom of God is everyone who after practicing the

ascetic life devotes himself to the contemplation of God and cleaves to stillness. Out of the treasury of his heart he

brings forth things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52), that is, things from the Gospel of Christ and the Prophets, or from

the New and Old Testaments, or doctrinal teachings and rules of

 

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ascetic practice, or themes from the Apostles and from the Law. These are the mysteries new and old that the

skilled interpreter brings forth when he has been schooled in the life of holiness.

 

An interpreter is one proficient in the practice of the ascetic life and still actively engaged in scriptural exegesis.

A divine teacher is one who mediates, in accordance with the laws governing the natural world, the spiritual

knowledge and inner meanings of created things and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elucidates all things with the

analytic power of his intelligence. A true philosopher is one who has attained, consciously and directly, a

supernatural union with God.

 

128. Those who write and speak and who wish to build up the Church, while lacking the inspiration of the Holy

Spirit, are 'psychic' or worldly people void of the Spirit, as St Jude observes (cf . Jude 1 9). Such people come under

the curse which says, 'Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and esteem themselves as possessors of

knowledge' (Isa. 5:21); for they speak from themselves and it is not the Spirit of God that speaks in them (cf Matt.

10:20). For those who speak what are simply their own thoughts before they have attained purity are deluded by the

spirit of self-conceit. It is to them that Solomon refers when he says, 'I knew a man who regarded himself as wise;

there is more hope for a fool than for him' (Prov. 26: 12. LXX); and again, 'Do not be wise in your own sight' (Prov.

3:7). St Paul himself, filled with the Spirit, endorses this when he says, 'We are not qualified to form any judgment

on our own account; our qualification comes from God' (2 Cor. 3:5), and, 'As men sent from God, we speak before

God in the grace of Christ' (2 Cor. 2:17). What people say when they speak on their own account is repellent and

murksome, for their words do not come from the living spring of the Spirit, but are spawned from the morass of their

own heart, a bog infested with the leeches, snakes and frogs of desire, delusion and dissipation; the water of their

knowledge is evil-smelling, turbid and torpid, sickening to those who drink it and filling them with nausea and

disgust.

 

129. 'We are the body of Christ', says St Paul, 'and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27). And

elsewhere he says, 'You are one body and one spirit, even as you have been called' (Eph. 4:4). For 'as the body

without the spirit is dead' (Jas. 2:26) and insensate, so if you have been deadened by the passions through neglecting

the commandments after your baptism the Holy Spirit and the grace of

 

 

 

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Christ cease to operate in you and to enlighten you; for though you possess the Spirit, since you have faith and

have been regenerated through baptism, yet the Spirit is quiescent and inactive within you because of the deadness

of your soul.

 

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and

movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become

as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the

Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in

all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do

not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in

adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert

and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of

Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of

participating positively in the life of grace.

 

130. The principal forms of contemplation are eight in number. The first is contemplation of the formless,

unongmate and uncreated God, source of all things - that is, contemplation of the one Triadic Deity that transcends

all being. The second is contemplation of the hierarchy and order of the spiritual powers. The third is contemplation

of the structure of created beings. The fourth is contemplation of God's descent through the incarnation of the Logos.

The fifth is contemplation of the universal resurrection. The sixth is contemplation of the dread second coming of

Christ. The seventh is contemplation of age-long punishment. The eighth is contemplation of the kingdom of

heaven. The first four pertain to what has already been manifested and realized. The second four pertain to what is in

store and has not yet been manifested; but they are clearly contemplated by and disclosed to those who through

grace have attained great purity of intellect. Whoever without such grace attempts to descry them should realize that

far from attaining spiritual vision he will merely become the prey of fantasies, deceived by and forming illusions in

obedience to the spirit of delusion.

 

131. Here something must be said about delusion, so far as this is

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One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

 

possible; for, because of its deviousness and the number of ways in which it can ensnare us, few recognize it

clearly and for most it is almost inscrutable. Delusion manifests itself or, rather, attacks and invades us in two ways -

 

 

 

in the form of mental images and fantasies or in the form of diabohc influence - though its sole cause and origin is

always arrogance. The first form is the origin of the second and the second is the origin of a third form - mental

derangement. The first form, illusory visions, is caused by self-conceit; for this leads us to invest the divine with

some illusory shape, thus deceiving us through mental images and fantasies. This deception in its turn produces

blasphemy as well as the fear induced by monstrous apparitions, occurring both when awake and when asleep - a

state described as the terror and perturbation of the soul. Thus arrogance is followed by delusion, delusion by

blasphemy, blasphemy by fear, fear by terror, and terror by a derangement of the natural state of the mind. This is

the first form of delusion, that induced by mental images and fantasies.

 

The second form, induced by diabolic influence, is as follows. It has its origin in self-indulgence, which in its turn

results from so-called natural desire. Self-indulgence begets licentiousness in all its forms of indescribable impurity.

By inflaming man's whole nature and clouding his intelligence as a result of its intercourse with spurious images,

licentiousness deranges the intellect, searing it into a state of delirium and impelling its victim to utter false

prophecies, interpreting the visions and discourses of certain supposed saints, which he claims arc revealed to him

when he is intoxicated and befuddled with passion, his whole character perverted and corrupted by demons. Those

ignorant of spiritual matters, beguiled by delusion, call such men 'little souls'. These 'little souls' are to be found

sitting near the shrines of saints, by whose spirit they claim to be inspired and tested, and whose purported message

they proclaim to others. But in truth they should be called possessed by the demons, deceived and enslaved by

delusion, and not prophets foretelling what is to happen now and in the future. For the demon of licentiousness

himself darkens and deranges their minds, inflaming them with the fire of spiritual lust, conjuring up before them

the illusory appearance of saints, and making them hear conversations and see visions. Sometimes the demons

themselves appear to them and convulse them with fear. For having harnessed them to the yoke of Belial, the demon

of licentiousness drives them on

 

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Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

 

to practice their deceits, so that he may keep them captive and enslaved until death, when he will consign them to

hell.

 

132. Delusion arises in us from three principal sources: arrogance, the envy of demons, and the divine will that

allows us to be tried and corrected. Arrogance arises from superficiality, demonic envy is provoked by our spiritual

progress, and the need for correction is the consequence of our sinful way of life. The delusion arising solely from

envy and self-conceit is swiftly healed, especially when we humble ourselves. On the other hand, the delusion

allowed by God for our correction, when we are handed over to Satan because of our smfulness, God often permits

to continue until our death, if this is needed to efface our sins. Sometimes God hands over even the guiltless to the

torment of demons for the sake of their salvation. One should also know that the demon of self-conceit himself

prophesies in those who are not scrupulously attentive to their hearts.

 

133. All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism.

 

 

 

just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the

truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us. For our kingship and

priesthood is not of the same form or character as theirs, even though the symbolic actions are the same. Nor does

our anointing recognize any distinction in nature, grace or calling, in such a way that those anointed essentially

differ one from the other: we have but one and the same calling, faith and ritual. The true significance of this is that

he who is anointed is pure, dispassionate and wholly consecrated to God now and for ever.

 

134. If your speech is full of wisdom and you meditate on understanding in your heart (cf Ps. 49:3), you will

disclose in created things the presence of the divine Logos, the substantive Wisdom of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor.

1:24); for in created things you will perceive the outward expression of the archetypes that characterize them, and

thus through your active living intelligence you will speak wisdom that derives from the divine Wisdom. And

because your heart will be illuminated by the power of the transfiguring understanding on which you meditate in

your spirit, you will be able through this understanding to instruct and illuminate those who listen with faith.

 

135. Today's great enemy of truth, drawing men to perdition, is

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One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

 

delusion. As a result of this delusion, tenebrous ignorance rules the souls of all those sunk in lethargy and

alienates them from God. Such people are as if unaware that there exists a God who gives us rebirth and

illumination, or they assume that we can believe in Him and know Him only in a theoretical way and not through

our actions, or else they imagine that He has revealed Himself only to the people of former times and not to us also;

and they pretend that the scriptural texts about God are applicable only to the original authors, or to others, but not to

themselves. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God, since they repudiate true knowledge inspired by devotion

to God, and read the Scriptures only in a literal, not to say Judaic, manner; denying the possibility that man even in

this life can be resurrected through the resurrection of his soul, they choose to remain in the grave of ignorance.

Delusion consists of three passions: lack of faith, guile and sloth. These generate and support each other: lack of

faith sharpens the wits of guile, and guile goes hand in hand with sloth, which expresses itself outwardly in laziness.

Or conversely, sloth may beget guile - did not the Lord say, 'You cunning and lazy servant' (Matt. 25:26)? - and

guile mothers lack of faith. For if you are full of guile you lack faith, and if you lack faith you stand in no awe of

God. From such lack of faith comes sloth, which begets contempt; and when you are full of contempt you scorn all

goodness and practice every kind of wickedness.

 

136. Complete dogmatic orthodoxy consists in a true doctrine about God and an unerring spiritual knowledge of

created things. If you are orthodox in this way you should glorify God thus: Glory to Thee, Christ our God, glory to

Thee, because for our sake Thou, the divine Logos who transcends all things, becamest man. Great is the mystery

of Thine incarnation. Savior: glory to Thee.

 

137. According to St Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and

censure: to assist one's memory, to help others, or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual

 

 

 

writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual

matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says (cf Matt. 6:5, 16), and

will not profit

 

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One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

 

from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting

popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.

 

 

 

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Further Texts

 

1. Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in

baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and leam how to

accomplish such progression. To Christ's conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to His

nativity the actual experience of joyousness, to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit, to His

transfiguration the contemplation of divine light, to His crucifixion the dying to all things, to His burial the

indwelling of divine love in the heart, to His resurrection the soul's life-quickening resurrection, and to His

ascension divine ecstasy and I the transport of the intellect into God. He who fails to pass consciously through these

stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the

practice of virtue.

 

2. Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing

what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf Rom. 8:17). But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly

lethal death. Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify cracifixion and to put death to death.

 

3. To suffer for Christ's sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us. For the envy which the innocent

provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord's schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens

our ears when we are guilty. That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner

(cf. Jas. 1:12). Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

 

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Further Texts

 

 

 

On Passion-Imbued Change

 

4. Listlessness - a most difficult passion to overcome - makes the body sluggish. And when the body is sluggish,

the soul also grows sluggish. When both have become thoroughly lax, self-indulgence induces a change in the

body's temperament. Self-indulgence incites the appetite, appetite gives rise to pernicious desire, desire to the spirit

of revolt, revolt to dormant recollections, recollection to imaginings, imagining to mental provocation, provocation

to coupling with the thought provoked, and coupling to assent. Such assent to a diabolic provocation leads to actual

sinning, either through the body or in various other ways. Thus we are defeated and thus we lapse.

 

 

 

On Beneficent Change

 

5. In whatever work we engage patience gives birth to courage, courage to commitment, commitment to

perseverance, and perseverance to an increase in the work done. Such additional labor quells the body's dissolute

impulses and checks the desire for sensual indulgence. Thus checked, desire gives rise to spiritual longing, longing

to love, love to aspiration, aspiration to ardor, ardor to self-galvanizing, self-galvanizing to assiduousness,

assiduousness to prayer, and prayer to stillness. Stillness gives birth to contemplation, contemplation to spiritual

knowledge, and knowledge to the apprehension of the mysteries. The consummation of the mysteries is theology,

the fruit of theology is perfect love, of love humility, of humility dispassion, and of dispassion foresight, prophecy

and foreknowledge. No one possesses the virtues perfectly in this life, nor does he cut off evil all at once. On the

contrary, by small increases of virtue evil gradually ceases to exist.

 

 

 

On Morbid Defluxions

 

Question: In how many ways do morbid defluxions take place, whether sinful or sinless?

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Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

 

6. Answer: Sinful defluxions take place in three ways: through fornication, through self-abuse, and through

consent to pernicious thoughts. Sinless defluxions take place in seven ways: through the urine, through eating solid

or stimulating foods, through drinking too much chill water, through the sluggishness of the body, through excessive

tiredness, and through all kinds of demonic fantasy. In veterans in the ascetic life they generally take place through

the first five of the ways we have just mentioned. In those who have attained the state of dispassion, the fluid only

issues mixed with urine, because on account of their ascetic labors their inner ducts have in some way become

porous and they have been given the grace of a divine energy, purificatory and sanctifying - the grace of continence.

The last form of defluxion - that prompted by demonic fantasy during sleep - pertains both to those still under the

domination of the passions and to those suffering from weakness. But since this is involuntary it is free from sin, as

the holy fathers tell us.

 

 

 

By divine dispensation the person who has attained the state of dispassion experiences from time to time a sinless

propulsion, while the remaining fluid is consumed by divine fire. The person still engaged in the ascetic life and so

under various forms of constraint experiences a discharge that is innocuous. The person still under the sway of the

passions experiences a natural discharge and an unnatural discharge, the first prompted by diabolic fantasy during

sleep and the second by diabolic fantasy to which assent has been given while he is awake. The first is innocuous,

the second is sinful and liable to penance.

 

In those who have attained the state of dispassion the propulsion and the bodily discharge constitute a single

action through which by divine dispensation surplus fluid is expelled through the urine while the rest is consumed

by divine fire, as already stated. In those midway along the ascetic path there are said to be six general ways of

innocuous defluxion through which the body is cleansed and freed from the corruptive fluid formed naturally and

unavoidably in it. These are prompted by solid or stimulating foods, by drinking cold water, by sluggishness of the

body, by torpor resulting from excessive labor, and finally by the malice of demons. In the weak and those newly

engaged in the ascetic life there are similarly six ways, all embroiled with the passions. They are prompted by

gluttony, by back-biting, by censoriousness, by self-esteem, by demonic fantasy during sleep and

 

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Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

 

assent to it while awake, and finally by the aggressive malice of demons. Yet even these have in God's providence

a double purpose: first, they cleanse human nature from corruption, from the surplus matter it has absorbed, and

from impulse-driven appetites; and, second, they train the person engaged in the spiritual struggle to be humble and

attentive, and to restrain himself in all things and from all things.

 

7. He who dwells in solitude and depends on charity for his food must accept alms in seven ways. First, he must

ask only for what is needful. Secondly, he must take only what is needful. Thirdly, he must receive whatever is

offered to him as if from God. Fourthly, he must trust in God and believe that He will recompense the giver. Fifthly,

he must apply himself to keeping the commandments. Sixthly, he must not misuse what is given to him. Seventhly,

he must not be stingy but must give to others and be compassionate. He who conducts himself thus in these matters

experiences the joy of having his needs supplied not by man but by God.

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

1 . As the great teacher St John Chrysostom states, we should be in a position to say that we need no help from the

Scriptures, no assistance from other people, but are instructed by God; for 'all will be taught by God' (Isa. 54:13;

John 6:45), in such a way that we learn from Him and through Him what we ought to know. And this applies not

 

 

 

only to those of us who are monks but to each and every one of the faithful: we are all of us called to carry the law

of the Spirit written on the tablets of our hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 3:3), and to attain like the Cherubim the supreme privilege

of conversing through pure prayer in the heart directly with Jesus. But because we are infants at the time of our

renewal through baptism we do not understand the grace and the new life conferred upon us. Unaware of the

surpassing grandeur of the honor and glory in which we share, we fail to realize that we ought to grow in soul and

spirit through the keeping of the commandments and so perceive noetically what we have received. On account of

this most of us fall through indifference and servitude to the passions into a state of benighted obduracy. We do not

know whether God exists, or who we are, or what we have become, although through baptism we have been made

sons of God, sons of light, and children and members of Christ. If we are baptized when grown up, we feel that we

have been baptized only in water and not by the Spirit. And even though we have been renewed in the Spirit, we

believe only in a formal, lifeless and ineffectual sense, and we say we are full of doubts.

 

Hence because we are in fact non-spiritual we live and behave in a non-spiritual manner. Should we repent, we

understand and practice

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

the commandments only in a bodily way and not spiritually. And if after many labors a revelation of grace is in

God's compassion granted to us, we take it for a delusion. Or if we hear from others how grace acts, we are

persuaded by our envy to regard that also as a delusion. Thus we remain corpses until death, failing to live in Christ

and to be inspired by Him. According to Scripture, even that which we possess will be taken away from us at the

time of our death or our judgment because of our lack of faith and our despair (cf. Matt. 25:29). We do not

understand that the children must be like the father, that is to say, we are to be made gods by God and spiritual by

the Holy Spirit; for 'that which is bom of the Spirit is spirit' (John 3:6). But we are unregenerate, even though we

have become members of the faith and heavenly, and so the Spirit of God does not dwell within us (cf Gen. 6:3).

Because of this the Lord has handed us over to strange afflictions and captivity, and slaughter flourishes, perhaps

because He wishes to correct evil, or cut it off, or heal it by more powerful remedies.

 

2. With the help of God, then, who inspires those who declare good tidings (cf. Ps. 68:11. LXX), we must first

examine how one finds Christ or, rather, how one is found by Him, since we already possess and have received Him

through baptism in the Spirit: as St Paul says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you?' (2 Cor. 13:5).

Then we must ask how to advance or, simply, how to retain what we have discovered. The best and shortest course

is for us to give a brief summary of the whole spiritual journey from start to finish, long though it is. Many, indeed,

have been so exhausted by their efforts to discover what they were looking for that, on finding the starting-point,

they have remained content with this, and have not tried to advance farther. Encountering obstacles and turning

aside unawares from the true path, they think that they are on the right track when actually they are veering

profitlessly off course. Others, on reaching the halfway point of illumination, have then grown slack, wilting before

reaching the end; or they have reverted through their slipshod way of life, and have become beginners again. Yet

others, on the point of attaining perfection, have grown inattentive and self-conceited, relapsing to the state of those

in the middle way or even of beginners. Beginners, those in the middle way and the perfect have each their

 

 

 

distinctive characteristic: for the first it is activity, for the second illumination, for the third purification and

resurrection of the soul.

 

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Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

3. The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realized in two ways.

First - to generalize - this gift is revealed, as St Mark tells us, through arduous and protracted practice of the

commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments its radiance is increasingly

manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of

the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God. In the first way, it is

revealed more slowly, in the second more rapidly, if one diligently and persistently learns how to dig the ground and

locate the gold. Thus if we want to realize and know the truth and not to be led astray, let us seek to possess only the

heart-engrafted energy in a way that is totally without shape or form, not trying to contemplate in our imagination

what we take to be the figure or similitude of things holy or to see any colors or lights. For in the nature of things the

spirit of delusion deceives the intellect through such spurious fantasies, especially at the early stages, in those who

are still inexperienced. On the contrary, let our aim be to make the energy of prayer alone active in our hearts, for it

brings warmth and joy to the intellect, and sets the heart alight with an ineffable love for God and man. It is on

account of this that humility and contrition flow richly from prayer. For prayer in beginners is the unceasing noetic

activity of the Holy Spirit. To start with it rises like a fire of joy from the heart; in the end it is like light made

fragrant by divine energy.

 

4. There are several signs that the energy of the Holy Spirit is beginning to be active in those who genuinely

aspire for this to happen and are not just putting God to the test - for, according to the Wisdom of Solomon, Tt is

found by those who do not put it to the test, and manifests itself to those who do not distrust it' (cf. Wisd. 1 :2). In

some it appears as awe arising in the heart, in others as a tremulous sense of jubilation, in others as joy, in others as

joy mingled with awe, or as tremulousness mingled with joy, and sometimes it manifests itself

 

 

 

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Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

 

 

as tears and awe. For the soul is joyous at God's visitation and mercy, but at the same time is in awe and

trepidation at His presence because it is guilty of so many sins. Again, in some the soul at the outset experiences an

unutterable sense of contrition and an indescribable pain, like the woman in Scripture who labors to give birth (cf.

Rev. 12:2). For the living and active Logos - that is to say, Jesus - penetrates, as the apostle says, to the point at

which soul separates from body, joints from marrow (cf. Heb. 4: 12), so as to expel by force every trace of passion

from both soul and body. In others it is manifest as an unconquerable love and peace, shown towards all, or as a

joyousness that the fathers have often called exultation - a spiritual force and an impulsion of the living heart that is

also described as a vibration and sighing of the Spirit who makes wordless intercession for us to God (cf. Rom.

8:26). Isaiah has also called this the 'waves' of God's righteousness (cf. Isa. 48:18), while the great Ephrem calls it

'spurring'. The Lord Himself describes it as 'a spring of water welling up for eternal life' (John 4:14) - He refers to

the Spirit as water - a source that leaps up in the heart and erupts through the ebullience of its power.

 

5. You should know that there are two kinds of exultation or joyousness: the calm variety (called a vibration or

sighing or intercession of the Spirit), and the great exultation of the heart - a leap, bound or jump, the soaring flight

of the living heart towards the sphere of the divine. For when the soul has been raised on the wings of divine love by

the Holy Spirit and has been freed from the bonds of the passions, it strives to fly to that higher realm even before

death, seeking to separate itself from its burden. This is also known as a stirring of the spirit - that is to say, an

eruption or impulsion - as in the text, 'Jesus was stirred in spirit and, deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid

him?'" (cf. John 11:34). David the Psalmist indicates the difference between the greater and the lesser exultation

when he declares that the mountains leap like rams and the little hills like lambs (cf. Ps. 114: 6). He is referring of

course to those who are perfect and to beginners, for physical mountains and hills, lacking animal life, do not

actually leap about.

 

6. Divine awe has nothing to do with trepidation - by which I mean, not the tremulousness induced by joy, but the

trepidation induced by wrath or chastisement or the feeling of desertion by God. On the contrary, divine awe is

accompanied by a tremulous sense of

 

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On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

 

jubilation arising from the prayer of fire that we offer when filled with awe. This awe is not the fear provoked by

wrath or punishment, but it is inspired by wisdom, and is also deserted as 'the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10).

Awe may be divided into three kinds, even though the fathers speak only of two: the awe of beginners, that of the

perfect, and that provoked by wrath, which should properly be called trepidation, agitation or contrition.

 

7. There are several kinds of trembling. That of wrath is one, that of joy is another, and that of the soul's incensive

power, when the heart's blood is over-heated, is another, that of old age is another, that of sin or delusion is another,

and that of the curse which was laid on the human race because of Cain is another (cf. Gen. 4:1 1-15). In the early

 

 

 

stages of spiritual warfare, however, it sometimes but not always happens that the trembling induced by joy and that

induced by sin contend with one another. The first is the tremulous sense of jubilation, when grace refreshes the soul

with great joyfulness accompanied by tears; the second is characterized by a disordered fervor, stupor and obduracy

that consume the soul, inflame the sexual organs, and impel one to assent through the imagination to erotic physical

obscenities.

 

 

 

On the Different Kinds of Energy

 

8. In every beginner two forms of energy are at work, each affecting the heart in a distinct way. The first comes

from grace, the second from delusion. St Mark the Ascetic corroborates this when he says that there is a spiritual

energy and a satanic energy, and that the beginner cannot distinguish between them. These energies in their turn

generate three kinds of fervor, the first prompted by grace, the second by delusion or sin, and the third by an excess

of blood. This last relates to what St Thalassios the Libyan calls the body's temperament, the balance and concord of

which can be achieved by appropriate self-control.

 

 

 

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On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

 

On Divine Energy

 

9. The energy of grace is the power of spiritual fire that fills the heart with joy and gladness, stabilizes, warms and

purifies the soul, temporarily stills our provocative thoughts, and for a time suspends the body's impulsions. The

signs and fruits that testify to its authenticity are tears, contrition, humility, self-control, silence, patience, self-

effacement and similar qualities, all of which constitute undeniable evidence of its presence.

 

 

 

On Delusion

 

10. The energy of delusion is the passion for sin, inflaming the soul with thoughts of sensual pleasure and

arousing phrenetic desire in the body for intercourse with other bodies. According to St Diadochos it is entirely

amorphous and disordered, inducing a mindless joy, presumption and confusion, accompanied by a mood of ill-

defined sterile levity, and fomenting above all the soul's appetitive power with its sensuality. It nourishes itself on

pleasure, aided and abetted by the insatiable belly; for through the belly it not only impregnates and enkindles our

whole bodily temperament but also acts upon and inflames the soul, drawing it to itself so that little by little the

disposition to self-indulgence expels all grace from the person thus possessed.

 

 

 

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St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

 

Two Ways of Prayer

 

There are two modes of union or, rather, two ways of entering into the noetic prayer that the Spirit activates

in the heart. For either the intellect, cleaving to the Lord (cf 1 Cor. 6:17), is present in the heart prior to the

action of the prayer; or the prayer itself, progressively quickened in the fire of spiritual joy, draws the

intellect along with it or welds it to the invocation of the Lord Jesus and to union with Him. For since the

Spirit works in each person as He wishes (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11), one of these two ways we have mentioned will

take precedence in some people, the other in others. Sometimes, as the passions subside through the ceaseless

invocation of Jesus Christ, a divine energy wells up in the heart, and a divine warmth is kindled; for Scripture

says that our God is a fire that consumes the passions (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). At other times the Spirit

draws the intellect to Himself, confining it to the depths of the heart and restraining it from its usual

distractions. Then it will no longer be led captive from Jerusalem to the Assyrians, but a change for the better

brings it back from Babylon to Zion, so that it says with the Psalmist, Tt is right to praise Thee, God, in

Zion, and to Thee shall our vows be rendered in Jerusalem' (Ps. 65:1. LXX), and 'When the Lord brought

back the prisoners to Zion' (Ps. 126:1), and 'Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad' (Ps. 53:6). The names

Jacob and Israel refer respectively to the ascetically active and to the contemplative intellect which through

ascetic labor and with God's help overcomes the passions and through contemplation sees God, so far as is

possible. Then the intellect, as if invited to a rich banquet and replete with divine joy, will sing, 'Thou hast

prepared a table before me in the face of the demons and passions that afflict me' (cf. Ps. 23:5).

 

 

 

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2. 'In the morning sow your seed', says Solomon - and by 'seed' is to be understood the seed of prayer - 'and in the

evening do not withhold your hand', so that there may be no break in the continuity of your prayer, no moment when

through lack of attention you cease to pray; 'for you do not know which will flourish, this or that' (Eccles. 1 1:6).

Sitting from dawn on a seat about nine inches high, compel your intellect to descend from your head into your heart,

and retain it there. Keeping your head forcibly bent downwards, and suffering acute pain in your chest, shoulders

and neck, persevere in repeating noetically or in your soul 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy'. Then, since that may

become constrictive and wearisome, and even galling because of the constant repetition - though this is not because

you are constantly eating the one food of the threefold name, for 'those who eat Me', says Scripture, 'will still be

hungry' (Eccles. 24:21) - let your intellect concentrate on the second half of the prayer and repeat the words 'Son of

God, have mercy'. You must say this half over and over again and not out of laziness constantly change the words.

For plants which are frequently transplanted do not put down roots. Restrain your breathing, so as not to breathe

unimpededly; for when you exhale, the air, rising from the heart, beclouds the intellect and ruffles your thinking,

keeping the intellect away from the heart. Then the intellect is either enslaved by forgetfulness or induced to give its

 

 

 

attention to all manner of things, insensibly becoming preoccupied with what it should ignore. If you see impure evil

thoughts rising up and assuming various forms m your intellect, do not be startled. Even if images of good things

appear to you, pay no attention to them. But restraining your breathing as much as possible and enclosing your

intellect in your heart, invoke the Lord Jesus continuously and diligently and you will swiftly consume and subdue

them, flaying them invisibly with the divine name. For St John Klimakos says, 'With the name of Jesus lash your

enemies, for there is no more powerful weapon in heaven or on earth.'

 

3. Isaiah the Solitary is one of many who affirm that when praying

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you have to restrain your breath. Another author says that you have to control your uncontrollable intellect,

impelled and dispersed as it is by the satanic power which seizes hold of your lax soul because of your negligence

after baptism, bringing with it other spirits even more evil than itself and thus making your soul's state worse than it

was originally (cf Matt. 12:45). Another writer says that in a monk mindfulness of God ought to take the place of

breathing, while another declares that the love of God acts as a brake on his out-breathing. St Symeon the New

Theologian tells us, 'Restrain the drawing-m of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily': St John

Klimakos says, 'Let mindfulness of Jesus be united to your breathing, and then you will know the blessings of

stillness.' St Paul affirms that it is not he who lives but Christ in him (cf. Gal. 2:20), activating him and inspiring him

with divine life. And the Lord, taking as an example the blowing of the physical wind, says, 'The Spirit blows where

He wishes' (John 3:8). For when we were cleansed through baptism we received in seed-like form the foretaste of

the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22) and what St James calls the 'implanted Logos' (Jas. 1:21), embedded and as it were

consolidated in us through an unparticipable participation; and, while keeping Himself inviolate and undimmished.

He deifies us in His superabundant bounty. But then we neglected the commandments, the guardians of grace, and

through this negligence we again fell into the clutches of the passions, filled with the afflatus of the evil spirits

instead of the breath of the Holy Spirit. That is why, as the holy fathers explain, we are subject to lassitude and

continually enervated. For had we laid hold of the Spirit and been purified by Him we would have been enkindled

by Him and inspired with divine life, and would speak and think and act in the manner that the Lord indicates when

He says, 'For it is not you that speak but the Spirit of My Father that speaks in you' (cf. Matt. 10:20). Conversely, if

we embrace the devil and are mastered by him, we speak and act in the opposite manner.

 

4. 'When the watchman grows weary,' says St John Klimakos, 'he stands up and prays; then he sits down again

and courageously resumes the same task.' Although St John is here referring to the intellect and

 

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is saying that it should behave in this manner when it has learnt how to guard the heart, yet what he says can

 

 

 

apply equally to psalmody. For it is said that when the great Varsanuphios was asked about how one should

psalmodize, he replied, 'The Hours and the liturgical Odes are church traditions, rightly given so that concord is

maintained when there are many praying together. But the monks of Sketis do not recite the Hours, nor do they sing

Odes. On their own they practice manual labor, meditation and a little prayer. When you stand in prayer, you should

repeat the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer. You should also ask God to deliver you from your fallen selfhood. Do

not grow slack in doing this; your mind should be concentrated in prayer all day long.' What St Varsanuphios

wanted to make clear is that private meditation is the prayer of the heart, and that to practice 'a little prayer' means to

stand and psalmodize. Moreover, St John Khmakos explicitly says that to attain the state of stillness entails first total

detachment, secondly resolute prayer - this means standing and psalmodizmg - and thirdly, unbroken labor of the

heart, that is to say, sitting down to pray in stillness.

 

 

 

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

 

5. Why do some teach that we should psalmodize a lot, others a little, and others that we should not psalmodize at

all but should devote ourselves only to prayer and to physical exertion such as manual labor, prostrations or some

other strenuous activity? The explanation is as follows. Those who have found grace through long, arduous practice

of the ascetic life teach others to find it in the same way. They do not believe that there are some who through

cognitive insight and fervent faith have by the mercy of God attained the state of grace in a short time, as St Isaac,

for instance, recognizes. Led astray by ignorance and self-conceit they disparage such people, claiming that anything

different from their own experience is delusion and not the operation of grace. They do not know that 'it is easy for

God to enrich

 

 

 

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a poor man suddenly' (Eccles. 11:21), and that 'wisdom is the principal thing; therefore acquire wisdom', as

Proverbs says, referring to grace (4:7). Similarly St Paul is rebuking the disciples of his time who were ignorant of

grace when he says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you, unless you are worthless?' (cf 2 Cor.

13:5) - unless, that is to say, you make no progress because of your negligence. Thus in their disbelief and arrogance

they do not acknowledge the exceptional qualities of prayer activated in some people by the Spirit in a special way.

 

6. Objection: Tell me, if a person fasts, practices self-control, keeps vigils, stands, makes prostrations, grieves

inwardly and lives in poverty, is this not active asceticism? How then do you advocate simply the singing of psalms,

yet say that without ascetic labor it is impossible to succeed in prayer? Do not the activities I mention constitute

ascetic labor?

 

Answer. If you pray with your lips but your mind wanders, how do you benefit? 'When one builds and another

tears down, what do they gain but toil?' (Eccles. 34:23). As you labor with your body, so you must labor with your

intellect, lest you appear righteous in the body while your heart is filled with every form of injustice and impurity. St

 

 

 

Paul confirms this when he says that if he prays with his tongue - that is, with his hps - his spirit or his voice prays,

but his inteUect is unproductive: 'I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my intellect' (cf. 1 Cor. 14:14-

15). And he adds, 'I would rather speak five words with my intellect than ten thousand with my tongue' (cf. 1 Cor.

14:19). St John Khmakos, too, indicates that St Paul is speaking here about prayer when he says in his chapter on

prayer, 'The great practitioner of sublime and perfect prayer says, "I would rather speak five words with my

intellect. " ' There are many other forms of spiritual work, yet not one in itself is all-sufficient; but prayer of the heart,

according to St John Klimakos, is pre-eminent and all-embracing, the source of the virtues and catalyst of all

goodness. 'There is nothing more fearful than the thought of death,' says St Maxnnos, 'or more wonderful than

mindfulness of God,' indicating

 

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the supremacy of this activity. But some do not even wish to know that we can attain a state of active grace in this

present life, so blinded and weak in faith are they because of their ignorance and obduracy.

 

7. In my opinion, those who do not psalmodize much act rightly, for it means that they esteem moderation - and

according to the sages moderation is best in all things. In this way they do not expend all the energy of their soul in

ascetic labour, thus making the intellect negligent and slack where prayer is concerned. On the contrary, by devoting

but little time to psalmodizmg, they can give most of their time to prayer. On the other hand, when the intellect is

exhausted by continuous noetic invocation and intense concentration, it can be given some rest by releasing it from

the straitness of silent prayer and allowing it to relax in the amplitude of psalmody. This is an excellent rule, taught

by the wisest men.

 

8. Those who do not psalmodize at all also act rightly, provided they are well advanced on the spiritual path. Such

people have no need to recite psalms; if they have attained the state of illumination, they should cultivate silence,

uninterrupted prayer and contemplation. They are united with God and have no need to tear their intellect away from

Him and so to throw it into confusion. As St John Klmiakos says, 'One under monastic obedience falls when he

follows his own will, while the hesychast falls when he is interrupted in his prayer.' For the hesychast commits

adultery in his intellect when he sunders it from its mmdfulness of God: it is as if he were being unfaithful to his true

spouse and philandering with trivial matters.

 

To impart this discipline to others is not always possible. But it can be taught to simple uneducated people who

are under obedience to a spiritual father, for such obedience, thanks to the humility that goes with it, can partake of

every virtue. Those, however, who are not under this kind of obedience should not be taught it, regardless of

whether they are unlearned people or educated: they may easily be deluded, because people who are a law unto

themselves cannot avoid being conceited, and the natural result of conceit is delusion, as St Isaac says. Yet some

people, unaware of the harm which will result, counsel anybody they happen to meet to practice this discipline

alone, so that their intellect may grow accustomed to being mindful of God and may come to love it. But this is not

possible, especially for those not under

 

 

 

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obedience. For, because of their negligence and arrogance, their intellect is still impure and has not first been

cleansed by tears; and so, instead of concentrating on prayer, they are filled with images of shameful thoughts, while

the unclean spirits in their heart, panic-struck by the invocation of the dread name of the Lord Jesus, howl for the

destruction of the person who scourges them. Thus if you hear about or are taught this discipline, and want to

practice it, but are not under spiritual direction you will experience one of two things: you will either force yourself

to persist, in which case you fall into delusion and will fail to attain healing; or you will grow negligent, in which

case you will never make any progress during your whole life.

 

9. I will add this from my own small experience. When you sit in stillness, by day or by night, free from random

thoughts and continuously praying to God in humility, you may find that your intellect becomes exhausted through

calling upon God and that your body and heart begin to feel pain because of the intense concentration with which

you unceasingly invoke the name of Jesus, with the result that you no longer experience the warmth and joy that

engender ardor and patience in the spiritual aspirant. If this is the case, stand up and psalmodize, either by yourself

or with a disciple who lives with you, or occupy yourself with meditation on some scriptural passage or with the

remembrance of death, or with manual labor or with some other thing, or give your attention to reading, preferably

standing up so as to involve your body in the task as well.

 

When you stand and psalmodize by yourself, recite the Trisagion and then pray in your soul or your intellect,

making your intellect pay attention to your heart; and recite two or three psalms and a few penitential troparia but

without chanting them: as St John Klimakos confirms, people at this stage of spiritual development do not chant. For

'the suffering of the heart endured in a spirit of devotion', as St Mark puts it, is sufficient to produce joy in them, and

the warmth of the Spirit is given to them as a source of grace and exultation. After each psalm again pray in your

intellect or soul, keeping your thoughts from wandering, and repeat the Alleluia. This is the order established

 

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by the holy fathers Varsanuphios, Diadochos and others. And as St Basil the Great says, one should vary the

psalms daily to enkindle one's fervor and to prevent the intellect from getting bored with having to recite always the

same things. The intellect should be given freedom and then its fervor will be quickened.' If you stand and

psalmodize with a trusted disciple, let him recite the psalms while you guard yourself, secretly watching your heart

and praying. With the help of prayer ignore all images, whether sensory or conceptual, that rise up from the heart.

For stillness means the shedding of all thoughts for a time, even those which are divine and engendered by the

Spirit; otherwise through giving them our attention because they are good we will lose what is better.

 

10. So, lover of God, attend with care and intelligence. If while engaged in spiritual work you see a light or a fire

outside you, or a form supposedly of Christ or of an angel or of someone else, reject it lest you suffer harm. And do

 

 

 

not pay court to images, lest you allow them to stamp themselves on your intellect. For all these things that

externally and inopportunely assume various guises do so in order to delude your soul. The true beginning of prayer

is the warmth of heart that scorifies the passions, fills the soul with joy and delight, and establishes the heart in

unwavering love and unhesitating surety. The holy fathers teach that if the heart is in doubt about whether to accept

something either sensory or conceptual that enters the soul, then that thing is not from God but has been sent by the

devil. Moreover, if you become aware that your intellect is being enticed by some invisible power either from the

outside or from above, do not trust in that power or let your intellect be so enticed, but immediately force it to

continue its work. Unceasingly cry out: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', and do not allow yourself to

retain any concept, object, thought or form that is supposedly divine, or any sequence of argument or any color, but

concentrate solely on the pure, simple, formless remembrance of Jesus. Then God, seeing your intellect so strict in

guarding itself in every way against the enemy, will Himself bestow pure and unerring vision upon it and will make

it participate in God and share in all other blessings.

 

What is of God, says St Isaac, comes of itself, without you knowing when it will come. Our natural enemy - the

demon who operates in the seat of our desiring power - gives the spirit-forces various guises in

 

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our imagination. In this way he substitutes his own unruly heat for spiritual warmth, so that the soul is oppressed

by this deceit. For spiritual delight he substitutes mindless joy and a muggy sense of pleasure, inducing self-

satisfaction and vanity. Thus he tries to conceal himself from those who lack experience and to persuade them to

take his delusions for manifestations of spiritual joy. But time, experience and perspicacity will reveal him to those

not entirely ignorant of his wiles. As the palate discriminates between different kinds of food (cf. Eccles. 36:18,19),

so the spiritual sense of taste clearly and unerringly reveals everything as it truly is.

 

11. 'Since you are engaged in spiritual warfare,' says St John Klimakos, 'you should read texts concerned with

ascetic practice. Translating such texts into action makes other reading superfluous.' Read works of the fathers

related to stillness and prayer, like those of St John Klimakos, St Isaac, St Maxmios, St Neilos, St Hesychios,

Philotheos of Sinai, St Symeon the New Theologian and his disciple Stithatos, and whatever else exists of writers of

this kind. Leave other books for the time being, not because they are to be rejected, but because they do not

contribute to your present purpose, diverting the intellect from prayer by their narrative character. Read by yourself,

but not in a pompous voice, or with pretentious eloquence or affected enunciation or melodic delectation, or,

insensibly carried away by passion, as if you are wanting to please an audience. Do not read with inordinate avidity,

for in all things moderation is best, nor on the other hand in a rough, sluggish or negligent manner. On the contrary,

read reverently, gently, steadily, with understanding, and at an even pace, your intellect, your soul and your reason

all engaged. When the intellect is invigorated by such reading, it acquires the strength to pray harder. But if you read

in the contrary manner - as I have described it above - you cloud the intellect and make it sluggish and distracted, so

that you develop a headache and grow slack in prayer.

 

12. Continually take careful note of your inner intention: watch carefully which way it inclines, and discover

whether it is for God and for the sake of goodness itself and the benefit of your soul that you practice stillness or

 

 

 

psalmodize or read or pray or cultivate some virtue. Otherwise you may unknowingly be ensnared and prove to be

an ascetic in outward appearance alone while in your manner of life and

 

 

 

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inner intention you are wanting to impress men, and not to conform to God. For the devil's traps are many, and he

persistently and secretly watches the bias of our intention, without most of us being aware of it, striving

imperceptibly to corrupt our labor so that what we do is not done in accordance with God's will. But even if he

attacks and assaults you relentlessly and shamelessly, and even if he distracts the bias of your will and makes it

waver in spite of your efforts to prevent it, you will not often be caught out by him so long as you keep yourself

steadfastly intent on God. If again in spite of your efforts you are overcome through weakness, you will swiftly be

forgiven and praised by Hun who knows our intentions and our hearts. There is, however, one passion - self-esteem

- that does not permit a monk to grow in virtue, so that though he engages in ascetic labors in the end he remains

barren. For whether you are a beginner, or midway along the spiritual path, or have attained the stage of perfection,

self-esteem always tries to insinuate itself, and it nullifies your efforts to live a holy life, so that you waste your time

in listlessness and day-dreaming.

 

13.1 have also learnt this from experience, that unless a monk cultivates the following virtues he will never make

progress: fasting, self-control, keeping vigil, patient endurance, courage, stillness, prayer, silence, inward grief and

humility. These virtues generate and protect each other. Constant fasting withers lust and begets self-control. Self-

control enables us to keep vigils, vigils beget patient endurance, endurance courage, courage stillness, stillness

prayer, prayer silence, silence inward grief, and grief begets humility. Or, going in the reverse order, you will find

how daughters give birth to mothers - how, that is to say, humility begets inward grief, and so on. In the realm of the

virtues there is nothing more important than this form of mutual generation. The things opposite to these virtues are

obvious to all.

 

14. Here we should specify the toils and hardships of the ascetic life and explain clearly how we should embark

on each task. We must do this lest someone who coasts along without exerting himself, simply relying on what he

has heard, and who consequently remains barren, should blame us or other writers, alleging that things are not as we

have said. For it is only through travail of heart and bodily toil that the work can properly be carried out. Through

them the grace of the Holy Spirit is revealed. This is the grace with which we and all Christians are endowed at

baptism but which through neglect of the commandments

 

 

 

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has been stifled by the passions. Now through God's ineffable mercy it awaits our repentance, so that at the end of

our life we may not because of our barrenness hear the words 'Take the talent from him', and 'What he thinks he has

 

 

 

will be taken away from him' (of. Matt. 25:28-29), and may not be sent to hell to suffer endlessly in Gehenna. No

activity, whether bodily or spiritual, unaccompanied by toil and hardship bears fruit; 'for the kingdom of heaven is

entered forcibly,' says the Lord, 'and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12), where 'forcibly'

and 'force' relate to the body's awareness of exertion in all things.

 

Many for long years may have been preoccupied with the spiritual life without exerting themselves, or may still

be preoccupied with it m this way; but because they do not assiduously embrace hardships with heartfelt fervor and

sense of purpose, and have repudiated the severity of bodily toil, they remain devoid of purity, without a share in the

Holy Spirit. Those who practice the spiritual life, but do so carelessly and lazily, may think that they make

considerable efforts; but they will never reap any harvest because they have not exerted themselves and basically

have never experienced any real tribulation. A witness to this is St John Klimakos, who says, 'However exalted our

way of life may be, it is worthless and bogus if our heart does not suffer.' Sometimes when we fail to exert ourselves

we are in our listlessness carried away by spurious forms of distraction and plunged into darkness, thinking we can

find rest in them when that is impossible. The truth is that we are then bound invisibly by unloosable cords and

become inert and ineffective in everything we do, for we grow increasingly sluggish, especially if we are beginners.

For those who have reached the stage of perfection everything is profitable in moderation. St Ephrem also testifies to

this when he says, 'Persistently suffer hardships in order to avoid the hardship of vain sufferings. ' For unless, to use

the prophet's phrase, our loins are exhausted by the weakness induced through the exertions of fasting, and unless

like a woman in childbirth we are afflicted with pains arising from the constriction of our heart, we will not conceive

the Spirit of salvation in the earth of our heart (cf. Isa. 21:3; 26:18). Instead, all we will have to boast about is the

many profitless years we have spent in the wilderness, lazily cultivating stillness and imagining that we are

 

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somebody. At the moment of our death we will all know for certain what is the outcome of our life.

 

15. No one can learn the art of virtue by himself, though some have taken experience as their teacher. For to act

on one's own and not on the advice of those who have gone before us is overweening presumption - or, rather, it

engenders such presumption. If the Son does nothing of His own accord, but does only what the Father has taught

Him (cf John 5:19-20), and the Spirit will not speak of His own accord (cf. John 16:3), who can think he has

attained such heights of virtue that he does not need anyone to initiate him into the mysteries? Such a person is

deluded and out of his mind rather than virtuous. One should therefore listen, to those who have experienced the

hardships involved in cultivating the virtues and should cultivate them as they have - that is to say, by severe fasting,

painful self-control, steadfast vigils, laborious genuflexions, assiduous standing motionless, constant prayer,

unfeigned humility, ceaseless contrition and compunctive sorrow, eloquent silence, as if seasoned with salt (cf. Col.

4:6), and by patience in all things. You must not be always relaxing or pray sitting down, before it is the proper time

to do so, or before age or sickness compels you. For, as Scripture says, 'You will nourish yourself on the hardships

of your practice of the virtues' (cf. Ps. 128:2. LXX); and, 'The kingdom of heaven is entered forcibly' (Matt. 1 1:12).

Hence those who diligently strive day by day to practice the virtues that we have mentioned will with God's help

gather in the harvest at the appropriate time.

 

 

 

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How the Hesychast Should Sit for Prayer and Not Rise Again Too Quickly

 

1 . Sometimes - and most often - you should sit on a stool, because it is more arduous; but sometimes, for a break,

you should sit for a while on a mattress. As you sit be patient and assiduous, in accordance with St Paul's precept,

'Cleave patiently to prayer' (Col. 4:2). Do not grow discouraged and quickly rise up again because of the strain and

effort needed to keep your intellect concentrated on its inner invocation. It is as the prophet says: 'The birth-pangs

are upon me, like those of a woman in travail' (Isa. 21:3). You must bend down and gather your intellect into your

heart - provided it has been opened - and call on the Lord Jesus to help you. Should you feel pain in your shoulders

or in your head - as you often will - endure it patiently and fervently, seeking the Lord in your heart. For 'the

kingdom of God is entered forcibly, and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12). With these

words the Lord truly indicated the persistence and labor needed in this task. Patience and endurance in all things

involve hardship in both body and soul.

 

 

 

How to Say the Prayer

 

2. Some of the fathers advise us to say the whole prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', while others

specify that we say it in two parts - 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy', and then 'Son of God, help me' - because this is

easier, given the immaturity and feebleness of our

 

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How to Say the Prayer

 

intellect. For no one on his own account and without the help of the Spirit can mystically invoke the Lord Jesus,

for this can be done with purity and in its fullness only with the help of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). Like

children who can still speak only falteringly, we are unable by ourselves to articulate the prayer properly. Yet we

must not out of laziness frequently change the words of the invocation, but only do this rarely, so as to ensure

continuity. Again, some fathers teach that the prayer should be said aloud; others, that it should be said silently with

the intellect. On the basis of my personal experience I recommend both ways. For at times the intellect grows listless

and cannot repeat the prayer, while at other times the same thing happens to the voice. Thus we should pray both

vocally and in the intellect. But when we pray vocally we should speak quietly and calmly and not loudly, so that the

voice does not disturb and hinder the intellect's consciousness and concentration. This is always a danger until the

 

 

 

intellect grows accustomed to its work, makes progress and receives power from the Spirit to pray firmly and with

complete attention. Then there will be no need to pray aloud - indeed, it will be impossible, for we shall be content

to carry out the whole work with the intellect alone.

 

 

 

How to Master the Intellect in Prayer

 

3. .No one can master the intellect unless he himself is mastered by the Spirit. For the intellect is uncontrollable,

not because it is by nature ever-active, but because through our continual remissness it has been given over to

distraction and has become used to that. When we violated the commandments of Him who in baptism regenerates

us we separated ourselves from God and lost our conscious awareness of Him and our union with Him. Sundered

from that union and estranged from God, the intellect is led captive everywhere; and it cannot regain its stability

unless it submits to God and is stilled by Him, joyfully uniting with Him through unceasing and diligent prayer and

through noetrcally confessing all our lapses to Him each day. God immediately forgives everything to those who ask

forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the

 

 

 

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Psalmist says, 'Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name' (cf Ps. 105: 1). Holding the breath also helps to

stabilize the intellect, but only temporarily, for after a little it lapses into distraction again. But when prayer is

activated, then it really does keep the intellect in its presence, and it gladdens it and frees it from captivity. But it

may sometimes happen that the intellect, rooted in the heart, is praying, yet the mind wanders and gives its attention

to other things; for the mind is brought under control only in those who have been made perfect by the Holy Spirit

and who have attained a state of total concentration upon Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

How to Expel Thoughts

 

4. In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare. God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong

in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by

themselves, but they fight against them with God's assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace. So when thoughts

invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they

cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire. St John Klimakos tells

us, 'Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus', because God is a fire the cauterizes wickedness (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb.

12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him

day and night (cf Luke 18:7). But if prayer is not yet activated in you, you can put these thoughts to flrght in another

manner, by imitating Moses (cf. Exod. 17:11-12); rise up, lift hands and eyes to heaven, and God will rout them.

 

 

 

Then sit down again and begin to pray resolutely. This is what you should do if you have not yet acquired the power

of prayer. Yet even if prayer is activated in you and you are attacked by the more obdurate and grievous of the

bodily passions - namely, listlessness and lust - you should sometimes rise up and lift your hands for help against

them. But you should do this only seldom, and then sit down again, for

 

 

 

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there is a danger of the enemy deluding you by showing you some illusory form of the truth. For only in those

who are pure and perfect does God keep the intellect steadfast and intact wherever it is, whether above or below, or

in the heart.

 

 

 

How to Psalmodize

 

5. Some say that we should psalmodize seldom, others often, others not at all. You for your part should not

psalmodize often, for that induces unrest, nor yet not at all, for that induces indolence and negligence. Instead you

should follow the example of those who psalmodize from time to time, for moderation in all things is best, as the

ancient Greeks tell us. To psalmodize often is appropriate for novices in the ascetic life, because of the toil it

involves and the spiritual knowledge it confers. It is not appropriate for hesychasts, since they concentrate wholly

upon praying to God with travail of heart, eschewing all conceptual images. For according to St John Klimakos,

'Stillness is the shedding of thoughts', whether of sensible or of intelligible realities. Moreover, if we expend all our

energy in reciting many psalms, our intellect will grow slack and will not be able to pray firmly and resolutely.

Again according to St John Klimakos, 'Devote-most of the night to prayer and only a little of it to psalmody.'

 

You, too, should do the same. If you are seated and you see that prayer is continuously active in your heart, do not

abandon it and get up to psalmodize until in God's good time it leaves you of its own accord. Otherwise, abandoning

the interior presence of God, you will address yourself to Him from without, thus passing from a higher to a lower

state, provoking unrest and disrupting the intellect's serenity. Stillness, in accordance with its name, is maintained by

means of peace and serenity; for God is peace (cf. Eph. 2:14) beyond all unrest and clamor. Our psalmody, too,

should accord with our mode of life, and be angelic, not unspiritual and secular. For to psalmodize with clamor

 

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How to Psahnodize

 

and a loud voice is a sign of inner turbulence. Psalmody has been given to us because of our grossness and

 

 

 

indolence, so that we may be led back to our true state.

 

As for those not yet initiated into prayer - this prayer which, according to St John Klimakos, is the source of the

virtues' and which waters, as plants, the faculties of the soul - they should psalmodize frequently, without measure,

reciting a great variety of psalms; and they should not desist from such assiduous practice until they have attained

the state of contemplation and find that noetic prayer is activated within them. For the practice of stillness is one

thing and that of community life is another. 'Let each persist in that to which he is called' (1 Cor. 7:24) and he will

be saved. It was on account of this that I hesitated to write to you, for I know that you live among those still weak. If

someone's experience of praying derives from hearsay or reading; he will lose his way, for he lacks a guide.

According to the fathers, once you have tasted grace you should psalmodize sparingly, giving most of your time to

prayer. But if you find yourself growing indolent you should psalmodize or read patristic texts. A ship has no need

of oars when a fair wind swells the sails and drives it lightly across the salt sea of the passions. But when it is

becalmed it has to be propelled by oars or towed by another boat.

 

To gainsay this, some point to the holy fathers, or to certain living persons, saying that they kept all-night watches

psalmodizmg the whole time. But, as we learn from Scripture, not all things can be accomplished by everyone, for

some lack diligence and strength. As St John Klimakos says, 'Small things may not always seem so to the great, and

great things may not seem altogether perfect to the small ' Everything is easy for the perfect; and not everyone, either

now or in former times, remains always a probationer, nor does everyone travel along the same road or pursue it to

the end. Many have passed from the life of ascetic labor to the life of contemplation, laying aside outward practices,

keeping the Sabbath according to the spiritual law, and delighting in God alone. They are replete with divine fare,

and the grace that fills them does not permit them to psalmodize or to meditate on anything else; for the time being

they are in a state of ecstasy, having attained, if only in part and as a foretaste, the ultimate

 

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desire of all desires. Others have been saved through pursuing the life of ascetic labor until their death, awaiting

their reward in the life to come. Some have received conscious assurance of salvation at their death, or else after

death they have given off a fragrant odor as testimony to their salvation. Like all other Christians they had received

the grace of baptism, but because of the distraught and ignorant state of their intellects they did not participate in it

mystically while still alive. Others excel in both psalmody and prayer and spend their lives in this manner, richly

endowed with ever-active grace and not impeded by anything. Yet others, being unlettered and restricting

themselves solely to prayer, have persevered in stillness until the end of their lives; and in doing this they have done

well, uniting themselves as single individuals with God alone. To the perfect, as we said, all things are possible

through Christ who is their strength (cf. Phil. 4:13).

 

How to Partake of Food

 

6. What shall I say about the belly, the queen of the passions? If you can deaden or half-deaden it, do not relent. It

 

 

 

has mastered me, beloved, and I worship it as a slave and vassal, this abettor of the demons and dwelling-place of

the passions. Through it we fall and through it - when it is well-disciplined - we rise again. Through it we have lost

both our original divine status and also our second divine status, that which was bestowed on us when after our

initial corruption we are renewed in Christ through baptism, and from which we have lapsed once more, separating

ourselves from God through our neglect of the commandments, even though in our ignorance we exalt ourselves.

We think that we are with God, but it is only by keeping the commandments that we advance, guarding and

increasing the grace bestowed upon us.

 

As the fathers have pointed out, bodies vary greatly in their need for food. One person needs little, another much

to sustain his physical strength, each according to his capacity and habit. A hesychast, however, should always eat

too little, never too much. For when the stomach is heavy the intellect is clouded, and you cannot pray resolutely and

with purity. On the contrary, made drowsy by the effects of too much food you are soon induced to sleep; and as you

 

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How to Partake of Food

 

sleep the food produces countless fantasies in your mind. Thus in my opinion if you want to attain salvation and

strive for the Lord's sake to lead a life of stillness, you should be satisfied with a pound of bread and three or four

cups of water or wine daily, taking at appropriate times a little from whatever victuals happen to be at hand, but

never eating to satiety. In this way you will avoid growing conceited, and by thanking God for everything you will

show no disdain for the excellent things He has made. This is the counsel of those who are wise in such matters. For

those weak in faith and soul, abstinence from specific types of food is most beneficial; St Paul exhorts them to eat

herbs (cf Rom. 14:2), for they do not believe that God will preserve them.

 

What shall I say? You are old, yet have asked for a rule, and an extremely severe one at that. Younger people

cannot keep to a strict rule by weight and measure, so how will you keep to it? Because you are ill, you should be

entirely free in partaking of food. If you eat too much, repent and try again. Always act like this - lapsing and

recovering again, and always blaming yourself and no one else - and you will be at peace, wisely converting such

lapses into victories, as Scripture says. But do not exceed the limit I set down above, and this will be enough, for no

other food strengthens the body as much as bread and water. That is why the prophet disregarded everything else

and simply said, 'Son of man, by weight you will eat your bread and by measure you will drink water' (cf. Ezek.

4:16).

 

There are three degrees of eating: self-control, sufficiency and satiety. Self-control is to be hungry after having

eaten. Sufficiency is to be neither hungry nor weighed down. Satiety is to be slightly weighed down. To eat again

after reaching the point of satiety is to open the door of gluttony, through which unchastity comes in. Attentive to

these distinctions, choose what is best for you according to your powers, not overstepping the limits. For according

to St Paul only the perfect can be both hungry and full, and at the same time be strong in all things (cf. Phil. 4:12).

 

 

 

On Delusion and Other Subjects

 

 

 

7. I wish you to be fully informed about delusion, so that you can guard yourself against it and not do great harm

to yourself through

 

 

 

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ignorance, and lose your soul. For our free will easily veers towards keeping company with the demons,

especially when we are inexperienced and still under their sway. Around beginners and those who rely on their own

counsel the demons spread the nets of destructive thoughts and images, and open pits into which such people fall;

for their city is still in the hands of the workers of iniquity, and in their impetuosity they are easily slain by them. It

is not surprising that they are deceived, or lose their wits, or have been and still are deluded, or heed what is contrary

to truth, or from inexperience and ignorance say things that should not be said. Often some witless person will speak

about truth and will hold forth at length without being aware of what he is saying or in a position to give a correct

account of things. In this way he troubles many who hear him and by his inept behavior he brings abuse and ridicule

on the heads of hesychasts. It is not in the least strange that beginners should be deceived even after making great

efforts, for this has happened to many who have sought God, both now and in the past.

 

Mindfulness of God, or noetic prayer, is superior to all other activities. Indeed, being love for God, it is the chief

virtue. But a person who is brazen and shameless in his approach to God, and who is over-zealous in his efforts to

converse with Him in purity and to possess Him inwardly, is easily destroyed by the demons if they are given

license to attack him; for in rashly and presumptuously striving prematurely to attain what is beyond his present

capacity, he becomes a victim of his own arrogance. The Lord in His compassion often prevents us from

succumbing to temptation when He sees us aspiring over-confidently to attain what is still beyond our powers, for in

this way He gives each of us the opportunity of discovering his own presumption and so of repenting of his own

accord before making himself the butt of demons as well as of other people's ridicule or pity. Especially is this the

case when we try to accomplish this task with patience and contrition; for we stand in need of much sorrow and

lamentation, of solitude, deprivation of all things, hardship and humility, and - most important of all for its

marvelous effects - of guidance and obedience; for otherwise we might unknowingly reap thorns instead of wheat,

gall instead of sweetness, ruin instead of salvation. Only the strong and the perfect can continuously fight alone with

the demons, wielding against them the sword of the Spirit, which is the teaching of God (cf Eph. 6:17). The weak

and beginners

 

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escape death by taking refuge in flight, reverently and with fear withdrawing from the battle rather than risking

 

 

 

their life prematurely.

 

For your part, if you are rightly cultivating stillness and aspiring to be with God, and you see something either

sensory or noetic, within or without, be it even an image of Christ or of an angel or of some saint, or you imagine

you see a light in your intellect and give it a specific form, you should never entertain it. For the intellect itself

naturally possesses an imaginative power and in those who do not keep a strict watch over it it can easily produce, to

its own hurt, whatever forms and images it wants to. In this way the recollection of things good or evil can suddenly

imprint images on the intellect's perceptive faculty and so induce it to entertain fantasies, thus making whoever this

happens to a daydreamer rather than a hesychast.

 

Be careful, therefore, not to entertain and readily give assent to anything even if it be good, before questioning

those with spiritual experience and investigating it thoroughly, so as not to come to any harm. Always be suspicious

of it and keep your intellect free from colors, forms and images. For it has often happened that things sent by God to

test our free will, to see which way it inclines and to act as a spur to our efforts, have in fact had bad consequences.

For when we see something, whether with mind or senses - even if this thing be from God - and then readily

entertain it without consulting those experienced in such matters, we are easily deceived, or will be in the future,

because of our gullibility. A novice should pay close attention solely to the activity of his heart, because this is not

led astray. Everything else he must reject until the passions are quietened. For God does not censure those who out

of fear of being deluded pay strict attention to themselves, even though this means that they refuse to entertain what

He sends them until they have questioned others and made careful enquiry. Indeed, He is more likely to praise their

prudence, even though in some cases He is grieved.

 

Yet you should not question everyone. You should go only to one, to someone who has been entrusted with the

guidance of others as well, who is radiant alike in his life and in his words, and who although poor makes many rich

(cf. 2 Cor. 6:10). For people lacking spiritual experience have often done harm to foolish questioners, and for this

they will be judged after death. Not everyone is qualified to guide others: only those can do so who have been

granted divine discrimination - what St Paul calls the 'discrimination of spirits'

 

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(1 Cor. 12:10) - enabling them to distinguish between bad and good with the sword of God's teaching (cf Eph.

6:17). Everyone possesses his own private knowledge and discrimination, whether inborn, pragmatic or scientific,

but not all possess spiritual knowledge and discrimination. That is why Sirach said, 'Be at peace with many, but let

your counselors be one in a thousand' (Eccles. 6:6). It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says or thinks is free

from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony

of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain

a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil - especially in

the case of beginners - is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.

 

If, then, you are striving in stillness to attain a state of pure prayer, you must journey with great trepidation and

inward grief, questioning those with spiritual experience, accepting their guidance, always lamenting your sins, and

 

 

 

full of distress and fear lest you should be chastised or should fall away from God and be divorced from Him in this

life or the next. For when the devil sees someone leading a penitent life, he retreats, frightened of the humility that

such inward grief engenders. But if, with a longing that is satanic rather than authentic, you are presumptuous

enough to imagine that you have attained a lofty state, the devil will easily trap you in his nets and make you his

slave. Thus the surest guard against falling from the joy of prayer into a state of conceit is to persevere in prayer and

inward grief, for by embracing a solace-filled grief you keep yourself safe from harm. Authentic prayer - the warmth

that accompanies the Jesus Prayer, for it is Jesus who enkindles fire on the earth of our hearts (cf. Luke 12:49) -

consumes the passions like thorns and fills the soul with delight and joyfulness. Such prayer comes neither from

right or left, nor from above, but wells up in the heart like a spring of water from the life-quickening Spirit. It is this

prayer alone that you should aspire to realize and possess in your heart, always keeping your intellect free from

images, concepts and thoughts. And do not be afraid, for He who says, "Take heart; it is I; be not afraid' (Matt.

14:27), is with us - He whom we seek and who protects us always. When we invoke God we must be neither timid

nor hesitant.

 

If some have gone astray and lost their mental balance, this is

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because they have in arrogance followed their own counsels. For when you seek God in obedience and humility,

and with the guidance of a spiritual master, you will never come to any harm, by the grace of Christ who desires all

to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Should temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to spur you on; and God, who has

permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way He sees fit. As the holy fathers assure us, a

person who lives an upright and blameless life, avoiding arrogance and spuming popularity, will come to no harm

even if a whole host of demons provoke him with countless temptations. But if you are presumptuous and follow

your own counsel you will readily fall victim to delusion. That is why a hesychast must always keep to the royal

road. For excess in anything easily leads to conceit, and conceit induces self-delusion. Keep the intellect at rest by

gently pressing your lips together when you pray, but do not impede your nasal breathing, as the ignorant do, in case

you harm yourself by building up inward pressure.

 

There are three virtues connected with stillness which we must guard scrupulously, examining ourselves every

hour to make sure that we possess them, in case through unmmdfulness we are robbed of them and wander far away

from them. These virtues are self-control, silence and self-reproach, which is the same thing as humility. They are

all-embracing and support one another; and from them prayer is bom and through them it burgeons.

 

Grace begins to operate in people during prayer in different ways, for, as the apostle says, the Spirit distributes

Himself as He wills in a variety of modes, and is perceived and known correspondingly (cf. Heb. 2:4). Elijah the

Tishbite serves here as an example for us (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:11-12). In some the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe,

dissolving the mountains of the passions and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is

transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation

or what the fathers more clearly define as a sense of exultation. In others He is manifested inwardly as a fire that is

 

 

 

non-material yet real; for what is unreal and imaginary is also non-existent. Finally, in others - particularly in those

well advanced in prayer - God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the

heart, as St Paul says (cf. Eph. 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is why God said to

Elijah on Mount Horeb that the Lord was not in this or in that -

 

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not in the particular actions He manifests Himself in to beginners - but in the gentle flow of light; for it is in this

that He attests the perfection of our prayer.

 

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries

to seduce us?

 

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly

put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good

and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything.

You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he

cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or

stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of

the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell

from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in

appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the

differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with

its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan.

 

 

 

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St Gregory Palamas

 

(1296- 1359)

 

(Volume 4, pp. 287-425)

 

Introductory Note

 

In the Calendar of the Orthodox Church, St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359)^ - 'St Gregory of Thessaloniki', as he

is usually termed in Orthodox texts - enjoys a particular prominence, since his memory is celebrated not only on

the day of his death (14 November) but also on the second Sunday in Lent. The first Sunday in Lent,

commemorating the definitive restoration of the holy ikons in 843 at the end of the

 

 

 

iconoclast controversy, is known as 'the Sunday of Orthodoxy' or 'the Triumph of Orthodoxy'. If St Gregory's

feast was assigned to the foUowing Sunday, this means that his successful defence of the divine and uncreated

character of the light of Tabor and his victory over the heretics of his time - Barlaam, Akindynos, Gregoras and

others - were seen as a direct continuation of the preceding celebration, as nothing less than a renewed Triumph of

Orthodoxy.

 

Bom and brought up in Constantinople, St Gregory Palamas came from a distinguished family, closely linked

with the imperial house; his father was a personal friend of the Emperor Andronikos II and tutor to the future

Emperor Andronikos III. In his youth Gregory enjoyed for a time the spiritual guidance of Theoliptos of

Philadelphia. After his father's death he gave up a promising secular career and around 1316, at the age of twenty,

he traveled to Mount Athos with two of his brothers; at the same time his mother, with two of his sisters and many

of their servants, entered convents in Thessaloniki. The next twenty years were passed by Gregory in monastic

seclusion on the Holy Mountain, except for a six -year period when he left Athos because of

 

' On the life and theology of Palamas, the fundamental work remains the book of John Meyendorff, A Study ofGregoiy Polamas (London,

1964). MeyendorTs more popular study, St Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality (Crestwood, 1974), places Palamas in the broader

context of Orthodox mystical theology from the fourth century onwards. For more recent bibliography, see the same author's article in

Dictionnaire de Spiritualite xii (1983), cols 81-107. For selections from the Triads of Palamas, see Nicholas Gendle (tr.), Gregory Palamas: The

Triads (The Classics of Western Spihtiiality: New York, 1983).

 

 

 

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the danger of Turkish attacks and settled in a cave near Veroia. Apart from a relatively short time spent in

cenobia, he chose - like St Gregory of Sinai - to follow the hesychast way of life in various small hermitages.

Palamas' normal programme was to spend five days of each week in total solitude, joining his brethren for the

Liturgy and other services on Saturday and Sunday. Such was the preparation for his future work as defender of

the faith.

 

Around 1335-6 a new era commenced in St Gregory's life. For the next fourteen years he became involved in

what is often termed the hesychast controversy. Initially his main opponent was a learned Greek from southern

Italy, Barlaam the Calabrian, who maintained that the light seen by the hesychasts in prayer was not the uncreated

light of the Godhead but simply a created and physical radiance. He also ridiculed the psychosomatic technique

used by some of the monks, referring to them as omphalopsychoi, 'navel-psychics', people who locate the soul in

the navel. Although, so far as his personal wishes were concerned Gregory would doubtless have preferred to

remain in the stillness of his hermitage, he felt obliged to come to the defence of the spiritual tradition of the Holy

Mountain and to act as spokesman for the monks. This forced him to leave Athos and to settle in the imperial

capital. Gregory's standpoint was vindicated at the Council of Constantinople in 1341, and Barlaam now withdrew

to the west. Unfortunately this did not mean the end of the controversy, which continued for another six years

(1341-7), chiefly because the theological points at issue became entangled in politics. Gregory's main opponents

during this second period of the dispute were his former friend Gregory Akindynos and the humanist scholar and

statesman Nikiphoros Gregoras. The doctrinal position upheld by Gregory was eventually reaffirmed at two

further councils held in Constantinople in 1347 and 1351, and since then it has remained the official teaching of

the Orthodox Church.

 

The final period in St Gregory's career began in 1347, when he was consecrated Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, the

second city of the Byzantine Empire. Because of the unstable political situation, he could not take possession of his

see until 1350. As bishop he made strenuous efforts to reconcile the members of his flock to each other, deeply

divided as they still were by the social and political conflicts of the 1340's. In his sermons he insisted upon the

urgent need for social righteousness, consistently supporting the poor and oppressed. His

 

 

 

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preaching was also firmly sacramental: whereas the writings of Palamas to be found in The Philokalia make but

few references to baptism and the eucharist, the balance is redressed by his pastoral homilies to the faithful of

Thessaloniki. In 1354, while traveling by sea to Constantinople, he was taken captive by the Turks and spent a year

as a prisoner in Asia Minor, where he took part in doctrinal discussions with the local Muslims. Following his death

in 1359, a popular veneration for him sprang up almost immediately in Thessaloniki, in Constantinople and on the

Holy Mountain, and only nine years later, in 1368, he was formally glorified as a saint.

 

The writings of St Gregory Palamas are extremely voluminous. A six-volume critical edition is in course of

publication, prepared by Professor Panagiotis K. Christou, assisted by other scholars; five volumes have so far

appeared (Thessaloniki, 1962-92). St Makarios and St Nikodimos included six works by Palamas in The PhilokaUa:

 

(i) To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia (Greek text, ed. P.K. Christou, vol. v, pp. 193-230). This was written around

1342-6, at a time when Palamas was suffering sharp persecution from his opponents, and he makes several allusions

to his difficulties (§§ 3, 5, 6, 57). The work itself, however, is not an answer to his theological critics, but a

statement of the traditional Orthodox teaching concerning the ascetic life, written at Xenia's request. It is the most

substantial of Palamas's ascetic writings, and offers a general overview of his teaching about human nature, about

death and the future life, about the passions and the virtues, and in particular about virginity and inward grief. Little

is said concerning the higher stages of the spiritual way, but he refers briefly to the vision of divine light (§ 59) and

to the uncreated character of the grace dwelling within the saints (§ 70). Nothing is known about the nun Xenia

except that she had under her charge the daughters of 'the Great King', by which is probably meant the daughters of

the late Emperor Andronikos III, who had died in 1341 (§ 7).

 

(2) A New Testament Decalogue (Greek text, ed. P.K. Christou, vol. v, pp. 251-60).^ This was probably

composed by St Gregory Palamas towards the end of his life, during his episcopate, perhaps in the autumn of 1355.

It is a brief summary of Christian moral teaching,

 

^ There is a previous English translation by S.A. Mousalimas in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review XXV

(1980), pp. 297-305.

 

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indicating how the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law are transformed within the life of the Church because

of the incarnation. Addressed to the laity, it exemplifies St Gregory's pastoral concerns. Among other things he

refers to the Orthodox teaching on ikons (§ 2), on spiritual fatherhood (§ 5), and on virginity and marriage (§ 6), but

he does not discuss the specifically hesychast teaching concerning inner prayer.

 

(3) In Defence of Those who Devoutly Practise a Life of Stillness (= Triads I, ii: Greek text, ed. J. Meyendorff,

Defense des saints hesychastes [Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense 30-31: Louvain, 1959], vol. i, pp. 75-101). This is

a section of a much larger work, written by Palamas in defence of the hesychast tradition of prayer during 1337-9,

chiefly in answer to the attacks of Barlaam the Calabrian. In the portion included in The Philokalia, Palamas' main

concern is to uphold the legitimacy of the psychosomatic technique. The crouching posture adopted by the

hesychast assists him in establishing a 'circular' movement within himself, so that his concentration is turned inward

(§§ 5, 8). Slowing down the rhythm of the breathing also helps to hold in check the volatile and easily distracted

intellect; but this control of the breathing is an exercise appropriate chiefly for 'beginners ... recently embarked on

the spiritual path', who may abandon it once they have advanced 'to a higher stage' (§ 7). Yet, while attaching only

limited importance to the physical method, Gregory Palamas recognizes that it reflects a genuinely Christian

 

 

 

doctrine of the human person, with the heart regarded symbolically as man's spiritual centre (§ 3). The body is

God's creation, and we are to take full advantage of its Spirit-bearing potentialities; St Paul condemned, not the

body itself, but only 'the body of this death' (§ 1).

 

(4) Three Texts on Prayer and Purity of Heart (Greek text, ed. P.K. Christou, vol. v, pp. 157-9). Here again St

Gregory emphasizes the centrality of the heart (§5). In this brief work there is no specific reference to the concerns

of the hesychast controversy, and it was perhaps written in the early 1330's, before the outbreak of the dispute.

 

(5) Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life: One Hundred and Fifty Texts

(Greek text, ed. Robert E. Sinkewicz [Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Studies and Texts 83: Toronto,

1988]). This important but difficult work has been variously dated: some place it at the end of St Gregory's life,

others assign it to the years 1344-7, but most probably it was composed in

 

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1349-50. It provides a comprehensive picture of his theology, constituting what Fr Meyendorff calls 'a sort of

systematic siimma'. It falls into two distinct parts:

 

(a) §§ 1-63: a general survey of the divine economy of creation and salvation:^

 

(i) The non-etemity of the cosmos: the world had an origin, and it will have a consummation (§§ 1-2).

 

(2) The celestial realm (§§ 3-7).

 

(3) The terrestrial realm (§§ 8-14).

 

(4) The natural human faculties: sense perception, the imaginative faculty, the intellect (§§ 15-20).

 

(5) Spiritual knowledge, and its superiority to Hellenic philosophy (§§ 21-29).

 

(6) Human nature, compared with that of the angels and the animals; the soul and its immortality (§§ 30-33).

 

(7) God the Holy Trinity and the Triadic image of God in the human person (§§ 3,V-40).

 

(8) The fallen state of man (§§ 41—63). Here St Gregory emphasizes that man is more perfectly in God's image

than the angels (§§ 62-63; but cf § 78).

 

(b) §§ 64-150: a refutation of false teachings concerning the divine light of Tabor and the uncreated energies of

God. This is directed primarily against Akindynos rather than Barlaam, who at the time of writing had already

withdrawn from the dispute and returned to Italy. St Gregory Palamas, supporting his argument with frequent

quotations from the fathers, maintains that there is a distinction-in-unity between God's essence and His energies.

The divine essence signifies God's absolute transcendence, and we humans will never participate in it, either in this

life or in the age to come. The divine energies, on the other hand, permeate the entire creation, and we humans

participate in them by grace (§§ 65, 78). Thus deification (theosis) and union with God signify union with God's

energies, not His essence (§ 75). That which the energies effect and produce is created, but the divine energies

themselves are supernatural, eternal and uncreated (§§ 72-73). The energies are Trinitarian, proceeding from all

three persons at

 

' It has to be said that the cosmological aspects of this survey reflect very largely Palamas' own personal views and must not be taken to

represent Christian cosmology as such. It should also be noted that Palamas' account of the thought of 'the Greek sages' makes it clear that

he was not closely familiar with their works.

 

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once (§§ 72, 112). They are not to be identified with the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit (§ 74.). The threefold

distinction within God between the one essence, the three hypostases, and the multiplicity of energies in no way

destroys the divine unity, for God 'is indivisibly divided and is united dividedly, and yet in spite of this suffers

neither multiplicity nor compositeness' (§ 81). The light which shone from Christ at the transfiguration on Tabor is

not created, natural or physical, but it is the uncreated energies of God. It is this uncreated glory that the saints

behold in prayer, and that will shine from Christ at the second coming. Thus, even when experienced in this present

life, it is an eschatological glory, the eternal radiance of the age to come (§§ 74, 146-50).

 

(6) The Declaration of the Holy Mountain (also known as 'The Hagioritic Tome': Greek text, ed. P.K. Christou,

vol. ii, pp. 567-78). This short statement of the hesychast standpoint, drafted by St Gregory Palamas in 1340, is of

particular importance because it bears the signatures of leading Athonite monks and also of the local hierarch, the

Bishop of Hierissos in Chalkidiki. This makes it clear that Palamas is expressing, not merely his own personal

opinion, but the accepted teaching of the Holy Mountain. Palamas emphasizes the eschatological character of the

divine light, which is a foretaste and anticipation of the glory of the age to come. The monks who bear witness to

the uncreated light fulfill a prophetic role within the Church: just as the Old Testament prophets foretold Christ's

first coming at the incarnation, so the monks as the prophets of the new covenant point forward to His second

coming (Prologue). Here as elsewhere Palamas expresses a holistic vision of the human person: the body is

glorified along with the soul (§ 4.). Our theosis is in no sense merely symbolical or metaphorical: it is a genuine

and specific reality, a pure gift of grace experienced even in this present life (§ 2).

 

 

 

Contents

 

To the Most Reverend Nun Xema VOLUME 4: Page 293

 

A New Testament Decalogue 323

 

In Defense of Those Who Devoutly

 

Practice a Life of Stillness 331

 

Three Texts On Prayer and Purity of Heart 343

 

Topics of Natural and Theological Science

 

And on the Moral and Ascetic Life - 150 Texts 346

 

The Declaration of the Holy Mountain

 

In Defense of Those Who Devoutly

 

Practice a Life of Stillness 418

 

 

 

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1 . Those who truly desire to live a monastic life find all talk troublesome, whether it is with people at large or

with those living in the same way as themselves. For it breaks the continuity of their joyful intercourse with God and

 

 

 

sunders, and sometimes shatters, that one -pointed concentration of the intellect which constitutes the inward and true

monk. For this reason one of the fathers, when asked why he avoided people, answered that he could not be with

God while associating with men. Another father, speaking of these things from experience, affirms that not only talk

with others but even the sight of them can destroy the steady quietude of mind possessed by those who practice

stillness.

 

2. If you observe carefully you will find that even the thought of someone's approach, and the expectation of a

visit and of having to talk, disrupt your mental tranquility. If you write you burden your intellect with even more

demanding worries. For if you are among those who are well advanced on the spiritual path and who through their

soul's good health have attained God's love, then though this love will be active within you while you write, it will

be so only indirectly and not unalloyed. But if you are one who still falls into many maladies and passions of the

soul - and such in truth am I - and must continually cry out to God, 'Heal me, for I have sinned against Thee' (cf. Ps.

41 :4), then it is unwise for you to leave off prayer before being healed and of your own accord to occupy yourself

with something else. In addition, through your writings you converse also with those who are not present, and often

what you write falls into the hands of others, sometimes of those whom you would not wish to read it, since writings

usually survive the death of their author.

 

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3. For this reason many of the fathers who practiced extreme stillness could not bear to write anything at all,

although they were in a position to set forth great and profitable things. It is true that I myseh", who totally lack the

strict observance of the fathers, have the habit of writing, although only when some great need compels me to do so.

Now, however, those who look upon certain of my writings with malicious eyes and seek to find in them grounds to

do me wrong have made me more reluctant to write. Such people, according to St Dionysios, are passionately

attached to the component parts of letters, to meaningless penstrokes, to unfamiliar syllables and words - things that

do not touch their power of noetic understanding. It is indeed witless, perverse and entirely inappropriate to want to

understand divine things and yet to pay attention, not to the purpose of what is said, but to the words alone.

 

4. Yet I know that I have been justly censured, not because what I have written conflicts with the fathers - for by

the grace of Christ I have been kept from doing this - but because I have written on things whereof I am unworthy,

perhaps, like another Uzzah, trying through words to prevent the chariot of truth from overturning (cf. 2 Sam. 6:6-7).

Yet my punishment was not a matter of divine wrath, but a fit measure of instruction. On account of this my

adversaries were not permitted to get the better of me. Yet this, too, may have been due to my unworthiness, for, it

seems, I was not worthy, or capable, of suffering anything on behalf of the truth, and so sharing joyfully in the

sufferings of the saints.

 

5. Indeed, was not St John Chrysostom, who while yet clothed with the body was united to the Church of the

firstborn in the heavens, and who as no other truthfully, clearly and fluently wrote about holiness - was not he cut off

from the Church and condemned to exile on the charge of holding and expounding the doctrines of Origen? And St

Peter, the chief of the foremost choir of the Lord's disciples, says that unlearned and unstable people in his days

distorted difficult passages in St Paul's epistles and brought destruction upon themselves as a result (cf 2 Pet. 3:16).

 

 

 

6. I myself had intended to give up writing altogether because of the somewhat trivial attacks made upon me, even

though those who attacked me have been synodically condemned. But now you, most reverend mother, through your

constant requests in letters and

 

 

 

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messages, have persuaded me once again to write words of counsel, though indeed you have no great need of

counsel. For by the grace of Christ you have gained, together with old age, a venerable understanding, and for many

years you have studied and applied the ordinances of the divine commandments, dividing your life in due measure

between obedience and stillness. In this way you have wiped clean the tablet of your soul, so that it is capable of

receiving and preserving whatever God writes on it. But the soul completely dominated by its desire for spiritual

instruction is never sated.

 

7. It is because of this that Wisdom says of herself, 'Those who eat Me will still be hungry' (Eccles. 24:21); while

the Lord, who has instilled this divine desire in the soul, says of Mary who chose 'what is best' that it will not be

taken away from her (cf. Luke 10:42). But you perhaps may be in need of such words of instruction for the sake of

the daughters of the Emperor who live under your guidance, and especially for the sake of the nun Synesis, who is of

your own family and whom you have longed to espouse to Christ, the bestower of mcorruption. And, indeed, you

imitate Him in that, just as He truly assumed our form for our sakes, so you have now assumed the role of a novice

who is in need of instruction. Therefore, although I am not rich in words, and particularly in such words as these, I

shall repay the debt of Christian love from what I now possess, showing thus my good will as well as my obedience

and my readiness to keep the commandment, 'Give to him that asks' (Matt. 5:42).

 

8. You must know, then, reverend mother - or rather, let the maidens who have chosen to live a godly life learn

through you - that there is a death of the soul, though by nature the soul is immortal. This is made clear by the

beloved disciple, St John the Theologian, when he says, 'There is sin that leads to death' and 'There is sin that does

not lead to death' (1 John 5:16, 17). By death he certainly means here the death of the soul. And St Paul says,

'Worldly sorrowfulness produces death' (2 Cor. 7:10) - death, certainly, of the soul. Again, St Paul says, 'Awake, you

who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light' (Eph. 5:14). From which 'dead' is one enjoined to

arise? Clearly, from those who have been killed by 'sinful desires that wage war against the soul' (1 Pet. 2:11).

Hence the Lord also described those who live in this vain world as 'dead', for when one of His disciples asked to be

allowed to go and bury his father. He refused permission, and told him to follow Him, leaving the dead to

 

 

 

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bury their dead (cf Matt. 8 : 22). Here, then, the Lord clearly calls those living people 'dead', in the sense that

they are dead in soul.

 

9. As the separation of the soul from the body is the death of the body, so the separation of God from the soul is

 

 

 

the death of the soul. And this death of the soul is the true death. This is made clear by the commandment given in

paradise, when God said to Adam, 'On whatever day you eat from the forbidden tree you will certainly die' (cf. Gen.

2:17). And it was indeed Adam's soul that died by becoming through his transgression separated from God; for

bodily he continued to live after that time, even for nine hundred and thirty years (cf. Gen. 5:5).

 

10. The death, however, that befell the soul because of the transgression not only crippled the soul and made man

accursed; it also rendered the body itself subject to fatigue, suffering and corruptibility, and finally handed it over to

death. For it was after the dying of his inner self brought about by the transgression that the earthly Adam heard the

words, 'Earth will be cursed because of what you do, it will produce thorns and thistles for you; through the sweat of

your brow you will eat your bread until you return to the earth from which you were taken: for you are earth, and to

earth you will return' (Gen. 3:17-19).

 

1 1 . Even though at the regeneration to come, in the resurrection of the righteous, the bodies of the godless and

sinners will also be raised up, yet they will be given over to the second death, age-long chastisement, the unsleeping

worm (cf. Mark 9:44), the gnashing of teeth, the outer, tangible darkness (cf. Matt. 8:12), the murky and

unquenchable fire of Gehenna (cf. Matt. 5:22), in which, as the prophet says, the godless and sinners 'will be burned

up together and there will be none to quench the flame' (Isa. 1:31). For this is the second death, as St John has taught

us in the Revelation (cf. Rev. 20:14). Hark, too, to the words of St Paul, 'If you live in accordance with your fallen

self, you will die, but if through the Spirit you extirpate the evil actions of your fallen self, you will live' (Rom.

8:13). Here he speaks of life and death in the age to be: life is the enjoyment of the everlasting kingdom, death age-

long chastisement.

 

12. Thus the violation of God's commandment is the cause of all types of death, both of soul and body, whether in

the present life or in that endless chastisement. And death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed

from divine grace and to be yoked to sin. This death, for those who have their wits, is truly dreadful and something

to

 

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be avoided. This, for those who think aright, is more terrible than the chastisement of Gehenna. From this let us

also flee with all our might. Let us cast away, let us reject all things, bid farewell to all things: to all relationships,

actions and intentions that drag us downward, separate us from God and produce such a death. He who is frightened

of this death and has preserved himself from it will not be alarmed by the oncoming death of the body, for in him the

true life dwells, and bodily death, so far from taking true life away, renders it inalienable.

 

13. As the death of the soul is authentic death, so the life of the soul is authentic life. Life of the soul is union with

God, as life of the body is its union with the soul. As the soul was separated from God and died in consequence of

the violation of the commandment, so by obedience to the commandment it is again united to God and is quickened.

This is why the Lord says in the Gospels, 'The words I speak to you are spirit and life' (John 6:63). And having

experienced the truth of this, St Peter said to Him, 'Thy words are the words of eternal life' (John 6:68). But they are

words of eternal life for those who obey them; for those who disobey, this commandment of life results in death (cf.

Rom. 7:10). So it was that the apostles, being Christ's fragrance, were to some the death-inducing odor of death.

 

 

 

while to others they were the hfe -inducing odor of life (of. 2 Cor. 2:16).

 

14. And this life is not only the life of the soul, it is also the life of the body. Through resurrection the body is also

rendered immortal: it is delivered not merely from mortality, but also from that never-abating death of future

chastisement. On it, too, is bestowed everlasting life in Christ, free of pain, sickness and sorrow, and truly immortal.

 

The death of the soul through transgression and sin is, then, followed by the death of the body and by its

dissolution in the earth and its conversion into dust; and this bodily death is followed in its turn by the soul's

banishment to Hades. In the same way the resurrection of the soul - its return to God through obedience to the divine

commandments - is followed by the body's resurrection and its reunion with the soul. And for those who experience

it the consequence of this resurrection will be true mcorruption and eternal life with God: they will become spiritual

instead of non-spiritual, and will dwell in heaven as angels of God (cf. Matt. 22:30).

 

15. As St Paul says, 'We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall be with the

Lord for ever' (1 Thess. 4:17).

 

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The Son of God, who in His compassion became man, died so far as His body was concerned when His soul was

separated from His body; but this body was not separated from His divinity, and so He raised up His body once

more and took it with Him to heaven in glory. Similarly, when those who have lived here in a godly manner are

separated from their bodies, they are not separated from God, and in the resurrection they will take their bodies with

them to God, and in their bodies they will enter with inexpressible joy there where Jesus has preceded us (cf Heb.

6:20) and in their bodies they will enjoy the glory that will be revealed in Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1). Indeed, they will

share not only in resurrection, but also in the Lord's ascension and in all divine life. But this does not apply to those

who live this present life in an unregenerate manner and who at death have no communion with God. For though all

will be resurrected, yet the resurrection of each individual will be in accordance with his own inner state (cf . 1 Cor.

15:23). He who through the power of the Spirit has extirpated his materialistic worldly proclivities in this life will

hereafter live a divine and truly eternal life in communion with Christ. But he who through surrendering to his

materialistic and worldly lusts and passions has in this life deadened his spiritual being will, alas, hereafter be co-

judged with the devil, the agent-provocateur of evil, and will be handed over to unbearable and immeasurable

chastisement, which is the second and final death.

 

16. Where did true death - the death that produces and induces in soul and body both temporal and eternal death -

have its origin? Was it not in the realm of life? Thus was man, alas, at once banished from God's paradise, for he had

imbued his life with death and made it unfit for paradise. Consequently true life - the life that confers immortality

and true life on both soul and body - will have its origin here, in this place of death. If you do not strive here to gain

this life in your soul, do not deceive yourself with vain hopes about receiving it hereafter, or about God then being

compassionate towards you. For then is the time of requital and retribution, not of sympathy and compassion: the

time for the revealing of God's wrath and anger and just judgment, for the manifestation of the mighty and sublime

power that brings chastisement upon unbelievers. Woe to him who falls into the hands of the living God (cf. Heb.

10:31)! Woe to him who hereafter experiences the Lord's wrath, who has not acquired in this life the fear of God and

 

 

 

so come to know the might of His anger, who

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has not through his actions gained a foretaste of God's compassion! For the time to do aU this is the present hfe.

That is the reason why God has accorded us this present life, giving us a place for repentance. Were this not the case

a person who sinned would at once be deprived of this life. For otherwise of what use would it be to him?

 

17. This is why no one should give way to despair, even though the devil finds various means by which to

insinuate it not only into those who live carelessly but also into those who practice the ascetic life. If, then, the time

of this life is time for repentance, the very fact that a sinner still lives is a pledge that God will accept whoever

desires to return to Him. Free will is always part and parcel of this present life. And it lies within the power of free

will to choose or to reject the road of life or the road of death that we have described above; for it can pursue

whichever it wishes. Where, then, are the grounds for despair, since all of us can at all times lay hold of eternal life

whenever we want to?

 

18. Do you not perceive the grandeur of God's compassion? When we are disobedient He does not immediately

condemn us, but He is longsuffermg and allows us time for conversion. Throughout this period of longsuffermg He

gives us power to gain divine sonship if we so wish. Yet why do I say 'gain sonship'? He gives us power to be united

with Him and to become one spirit with Him (cf. 1 Cor. 6:17).

 

If, however, during this period of longsuffering we pursue the opposite path and choose death rather than true life,

God does not take away the power that He gave us. And not only does He not take it away, but He reminds us of it

again and again. From the dawn till the dusk of this life. He goes round, as in the parable of the vineyard, seeking us

out and inviting us to engage in the works of life (cf. Matt. 20:7-15). And who is it that calls us in this way and

would engage us in His service? It is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of all solace (cf. 2 Cor. 1 :3). And

who is the vineyard into which He calls us to work? The Son of God, who said, 'I am the vine' (cf. John 15:1). For,

indeed, no one can come to Christ, as He Himself said in the Gospels, unless the Father draws him (cf. John 6:44).

Who are the branches? We ourselves are. For directly afterwards Christ says, 'You are the branches. My Father is

the vine-dresser' (cf. John 15:1, 5).

 

19. The Father, therefore, through the Son reconciles us to Himself, not taking into account our offences (cf. 2

Cor. 5:19); and

 

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He calls us, not in so far as we are engaged in unseemly works, but in so far as we are idle; although idleness is

also a sin, since we shall give an account even for an idle word (cf Matt. 12:36). But, as I said. God overlooks

former sins and calls us again and again. And what does He call us to do? To work in the vineyard, that is, to work

 

 

 

on behalf of the branches, on behah" of ourselves. And afterwards - the incomparable grandeur of His compassion!

- He promises and gives us a reward for toiling on our own behalf. 'Come,' He says, 'receive eternal life, which I

bestow abundantly; and as though in your debt I reward you in full for the labor of your journey and even for your

very desire to receive eternal life from Me.'

 

20. Who does not owe the price of redemption to the Redeemer from death? Who will not give thanks to the Giver

of Life? But He even promises to give us a reward as well, an inexpressible reward. 'I am come'. He says, 'so that

they may have life, and have it in all its fullness' (John 10:10). What is meant by 'in all its fullness'? He came not

only to be and to live with us, but to make us His brethren and coheirs. This, it seems, is the reward granted 'in all its

fullness' to those who hasten to the life-giving Vine and establish themselves as branches in it, who labor on behalf

of themselves and who cultivate it on behalf of themselves. And what do they do? First, they cut away everything

that is superfluous and that, instead of promoting, impedes the bearing of fruit worthy of the divine cellars. And

what are these things? Wealth, soft living, vain honors, all things that are transitory and fleeting, every sly and

abominable passion of soul and body, all the litter gathered while daydreaming, everything heard, seen and spoken

that can bring injury to the soul. If you do not cut out these things and prune the heart's offshoots with great

assiduity, you will never bear fruit fit for eternal life.

 

21. Married people can also strive for this purity, but only with the greatest difficulty. For this reason all who from

their youth have by God's mercy glimpsed that eternal life with the mind's keen eye, and who have longed for its

blessings, avoid getting married, since likewise in the resurrection, as the Lord said, people neither marry nor are

given in marriage, but are 'as the angels of God' (Matt. 22:30). Therefore those who wish to become 'as the angels of

God' will even in this present life, like the sons of the resurrection, rightly place themselves above bodily

intercourse. Moreover, the occasion for sinning was first provided by the wife. Consequently those who do not

 

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wish ever to give the devil any way of catching hold of them should not marry.

 

22. If this body of ours is hard to harness and hard to lead towards virtue - if, indeed, we carry it about like an

innate opposing force -why should we ever entrust ourselves to it, thereby increasing the difficulty we have in

attaining a state of virtue by binding ourselves to many different bodies? How will the woman, who is tied by

natural bonds to a husband, children and all her blood relations, possess that freedom for which she is enjoined to

strive? How will she, when she has taken upon herself the care of so many, devote herself, free from care, to the

Lord? How will she possess tranquility when entangled with such a multitude?

 

23. For this reason she who is really a virgin - who models herself on Him who is virgin, who was bom of a

Virgin and who is the Bridegroom of the souls that live in true virginity - will shun not merely carnal wedlock but

also worldly companionship, having renounced all kindred, so that like St Peter she can say boldly to Christ, 'We

have left all and followed Thee' (Matt. 19:27). If an earthly bride leaves father and mother for the sake of a mortal

bridegroom and cleaves to him alone, as Scripture says (cf. Gen. 2:24), what is untoward in a woman leaving her

parents for the sake of an immortal Bridegroom and bridal chamber? How can she whose 'citizenship is in heaven'

(Phil. 3:20) have kinship on the earth? How can she who is not an offspring of the flesh but of the Spirit (cf. John

 

 

 

1:13) have a fleshly father or mother or blood relative? How will she who has renounced the carnal life, and so as far

as possible has spumed and continues to spurn her own body, entertain any relationship whatever to bodies that are

not her own? And if, as they say, likeness leads to friendship and everything adheres to what is like itself, how can

the virgin align herself with worldly loves and fall victim once again to the disease of self-adornment? 'Love of the

world is hostility to God' (Jas. 4:4), says the apostle who is our bridal escort into the spiritual bridal chamber. Thus a

virgin who reverts to worldly affections is not only in danger of separating herself from the immortal Bridegroom,

but also of being at enmity with him.

 

Do not be astonished or distressed by the fact that no criticism is made in Scripture of women who live in

wedlock, caring for the things of the world but not for the things of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 7:34), while at the same time

those who have vowed themselves to virginity

 

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are forbidden even to approach worldly things and are never allowed to live in comfort. Yet St Paul also warns

those who live in wedlock: 'The time is short; so let those who have wives live as though they had none and those

involved in worldly affairs as though they were not involved' (1 Cor. 7:29, 31): and this, 1 think, is harder to

accomplish than the keeping of one's virginity. For experience shows that total abstinence is easier than self-control

in food and drink. And one might justly and truly say that if someone is not concerned to save himself, we have

nothing to say to him, but if he is so concerned, then he should know that a life led in virginity is more easily

accomplished and less laborious than married life.

 

24. Yet let us leave these matters and return, virgin, bride of Christ, branch of the Vine of life, to what was said

above. The Lord says, '1 am the vine, you are the branches. . . . My Father is the vine-dresser... He prunes every

branch in Me that bears fruit, so that it may bring forth more fruit' (John 15:1, 2, 5). Reflecting on His careful

concern for yourself, recognize what fruit your virginity should bear and how great is the Bridegroom's affection for

you; and rejoice the more and strive in return to be still more obedient to Him. Gold that has been mixed with brass

is called counterfeit, but brass that has been smelted with gold dust appears brighter and more radiant than its natural

color. Similarly, it is an honorable thing for married women to long for you and the chastity of your way of life, but

for you to yearn for them brings dishonor upon you. For such a yearning returns you to the world, first because

though you have died to the world you still want to have relations with those who live in the world and to share their

life, and second because being in contact with such persons leads you to desire what they desire for themselves and

their kindred, that is, abundance in all things pertaining to this life - wealth, fame, glory, and the delight that these

things bring. In this way you will fall away from your Bridegroom's will, for in the Gospels He clearly disparages

such things, saying, 'Woe to the rich, woe to those who mock, woe to those who stuff themselves, woe to you when

everyone speaks well of you' (cf Luke 6:24-26).

 

25. Why does He deplore such people? Is it not because their souls are dead? What kinship can the bride of life

have with the dead? What communion with those who walk in the opposite direction? Wide and broad is the way

they travel; and unless they restrain themselves by blending some aspects of your life with theirs, they will lapse into

total

 

 

 

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destruction. But you should enter through the strait and narrow gate, the way that leads to life (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).

You cannot pass through this narrow gate and along this way while carrying a load of self-glory, or a cornucopia of

self-indulgence, or the burden of money and possessions.

 

26. But when you hear that other path of life called 'broad', do not suppose it to be free of sorrow, for in fact it is

filled with many oppressive misfortunes. He calls it 'broad' and 'wide' because there are many who pass along it (cf.

Matt. 7:13), each bearing a heavy load of the rubbish of this fleeting material life. But yours is a narrow path,

virgin, not even wide enough for two together. None the less, many at first embroiled in the world have renounced it

on the death of their spouses, emulating your supernatural way of life and choosing to journey along your path so as

to share in its rewards. And St Paul enjoins us to honor such people, for with hope in God they persevere in

supplication and prayer (cf 1 Tim. 5:3, 5). Although the narrow way of life involves affliction, it also brings solace,

confers the kingdom of heaven and fosters salvation. But on the broad path what is pleasant and what is grievous are

both alike. For, as St Paul says, worldly sorrowfulness produces death, while 'godly sorrow produces a saving

repentance that is not to be regretted' (2 Cor. 7:10).

 

27. It is for this reason that the Lord blesses the opposite of what the world calls blessed, saying, 'Blessed are the

poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens' (Matt. 5:3). In saying 'Blessed are the poor', why did He add

'in spirit"? So as to show that He blesses and commends humility of soul. And why did He not say, 'Blessed are those

whose spirit is poor', thus indicating the modesty of their manner of thinking, but 'Blessed are the poor in spirit"? So

as to teach us that poverty of body is also blessed and fosters the kingdom of heaven, but only when it is

accomplished in accordance with the soul's humility, when it is united to it and originates from it. By calling the

poor in spirit blessed He wonderfully demonstrated what is the root, as it were, and mainspring of the outward

poverty of the saints, namely, their humility of spirit. For from our spirit, once it has embraced the grace of the

gospel teaching, flows a wellsprmg of poverty that 'waters the whole face of our ground' (cf. Gen. 2:6), I mean our

outward self, transforming us into a paradise of virtues. Such, then, is the poverty that is called blessed by God.

 

28. 'The Lord has given a concise saying upon the earth', as the

 

 

 

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prophet observes (cf. Isa. 10:23. LXX). Having pointed out and called blessed the root cause of voluntary and

many-sided poverty. He also teaches us in this single short saying about its many effects. For we can choose to shed

possessions, and to be frugal and abstinent, simply in order to be praised by other people. In such a case we are not

'poor in spirit'. Hypocrisy is bom of self-conceit, and self-conceit is contrary to being poor in spirit. But if you

possess a contrite, lowly and humble spirit you cannot but rejoice in outward simplicity and self-abasement, because

 

 

 

you will regard yourself as unworthy of praise, comfort, prosperity and all such things. The poor man deemed

blessed by God is he who considers himself unworthy of these things. It is he who is really poor, being poor in full

measure. It was on this account that St Luke also wrote, 'Blessed are the poor' (6:20), without adding 'in spirit'.

These are they who have hearkened to the Son of God, following Him and assimilating themselves to him; for He

said, 'Learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls' (Matt. 1 1 :29). Hence

'theirs is the kingdom of heaven', for they are 'joint-heirs with Christ' (Rom. 8:17).

 

29. The soul is tripartite and is considered as having three powers: the intelligent, the mcensive, and the

appetitive. Because the soul was ill in all three powers, Christ, the soul's Healer, began His cure with the last, the

appetitive. For desire unsatisfied fuels the incensive power, and when both the appetitive and incensive powers are

sick they produce distraction of mind. Thus the soul's incensive power will never be healthy before the appetitive

power is healed; nor will the intelligence be healthy until the other two powers are first restored to health.

 

30. If you examine things you will find that the first evil offspring of the appetitive power is love of material

possessions. For the desires that help men to live are not blameworthy, as is clear from the fact that they are with us

from a very early age. Love of possessions, however, comes a little later - although still in childhood - and in this

way it is evident that it does not have its ground in nature, but is a matter of individual choice. St Paul rightly termed

it the root of all evils (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10), and the evils that it usually begets are niggardliness, trickery, rapacity,

thievery and, in short, greed in all its forms, which St Paul called a second idolatry (cf. Col. 3:5). Even in the case of

evils that do not spring directly from it, greed nearly always provides the fuel for their sustenance.

 

3 1 . Such evils, begotten of the love for material things, are passions

 

 

 

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of a soul that has no zeal for spiritual work. We can free ourselves more easily from passions that are a matter of

our own volition than from those rooted in nature. It is disbelief in God's providence that makes it difficult for us to

eradicate the passions that arise from our love of possessions, for such disbelief leads us to put our trust in material

riches. 'It is easier', said the Lord, 'for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the

kingdom of God' (Matt. 19:24). But if we trust in material riches, this means nothing to us; we long for worldly,

perishable wealth, not for a kingdom that is heavenly and eternal. And even when we fail to acquire that wealth, the

mere desire for it is extremely pernicious. For, as St Paul says, those who want to be rich fall into the temptations

and snares of the devil (cf 1 Tim. 6:9). Yet when wealth comes, it proves itself to be nothing, since its possessors,

unless they are brought to their senses by experience, still thirst after it as though they lacked it. This love that is no

love does not come from need; rather the need arises from the love. The love itself arises from folly, the same folly

that led Christ, the Master of all, justly to describe as foolish the man who pulled down his bams and built greater

ones (cf Luke 12:18-20).

 

32. How could such a person not be a fool when for the sake of things that cannot profit him - 'For a man's life

does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses' (Luke 12:15) - he gives up what is most profitable

of all? He fails to become a wise merchant, selling even necessities, so far as possible, and in this way adding to the

 

 

 

capital of a truly bountiful and gainful form of commerce or husbandry - a husbandry, indeed, which even before the

harvest time multiplies a hundredfold that which was sown, thus foreshowing that the profit to come and the harvest

shortly to be reaped will be indescribable and unimaginable. And the curious thing is that the smaller the storerooms

the seed comes from the larger will the harvest be.

 

Hence there is no justification in aspiring to become rich even for a good cause. The truth is that people are

frightened of being poor because they have no faith in Him who promised to provide all things needful to those who

seek the kingdom of God (cf. Matt. 6:33). It is this fear that spurs them, even when they are endowed with all things,

and it prevents them from ever freeing themselves from this sickly and baneful desire. They go on amassing wealth,

loading themselves with a worthless burden or, rather, enclosing themselves while still living in a most absurd kind

of tomb.

 

33. Dead men are simply buried in

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the earth, but the intellect of a living pinchpenny is buried in the dust and earth of gold. Further, for those whose

senses are in a healthy state this grave smells worse than the normal one, and the more earth one throws on it, the

stronger the smell grows. For the festering wound of wretched persons buried in this way spreads, and its stench

rises up to heaven, even up to the angels of God and to God Himself. They have become loathsome and repulsive,

stinking on account of their folly, as David puts it (cf Ps. 38:5). Voluntary poverty - not undertaken to impress

others - delivers men from this foul-smelling and deadly passion; and such poverty is precisely the 'poorness in

spirit' that the Lord called blessed.

 

34. Yet a monk who has this passion cannot be obedient. If he persists in serving it diligently, there is a grave risk

of him lapsing also into incurable maladies of the body. Gehazi in the Old Testament and Judas in the New

Testament are sufficient examples of this. The first sprouted leprosy as evidence of his incurable soul (cf. 2 Kgs.

5:27), while the second hanged himself in the field of blood, and falling headlong he burst his belly and his

intestines gushed out (cf. Acts 1:18). If, then, renunciation precedes obedience, how can it be the other way round?

And if renunciation is the initial step in the monastic profession, how can anyone who has not first renounced

material possessions succeed in any of the other struggles of monastic life? Moreover, if a monk is incapable of

practicing obedience, how will he be able to cultivate stillness by himself in a cell, devoting himself to solitude and

persevering in prayer? But as the Lord says, 'Where your treasure is, there will your intellect be also' (Matt. 6:21).

How, then, can you gaze noetically at Him who sits in heaven on the right hand of the divine Majesty (cf. Heb. 1 :3)

while you are still amassing treasure upon the earth? How will you inherit that kingdom which this passion entirely

prevents you even from conceiving in your mind? 'Blessed', therefore, 'are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the

kingdom of heaven.' Do you see how many passions the Lord has cut away with one beatitude?

 

35. Yet this is not all. If love for material things is the first offspring of evil desire, there is a second offspring

which is even more to be shunned, and a third that is no less evil. What is the second? Self-flattery. We encounter

this passion while we are still quite young, as a kind of prelude to the love for worldly things which we encounter

later. Here I am referring to the self -flattery that expresses itself in the

 

 

 

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beautification of the body through expensive clothing and so on. It is what the fathers caU worldly vanity, to

distinguish it from the other kind of vanity, which afflicts those noted for their virtue and is accompanied by self-

conceit and hypocrisy, whereby the devil contrives to plunder and disperse our spiritual riches.

 

36. You can be completely healed from all these things if you become aware of divine glory and long for it while

regarding yourself as unworthy of it, and if you patiently endure people's scorn while thinking you deserve it. In

addition, you should esteem God's glory above your own, in conformity with the Psalmist's words, 'Not unto us,

Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory' (Ps. 1 15:2). And should you feel that you have done something

praiseworthy, you should attribute it to God, proclaiming Him as its cause and gratefully praising Him for it and not

yourself. In your rejoicing you will regard each virtue as a gift, and will not become conceited about it, since it is not

your personal achievement; on the contrary, you will grow more humble, and night and day will fix your mental

eyes on God, as the eyes of the handmaid - to use the Psalmist's words again - are fixed on the hands other mistress

(cf Ps. 123:2). At the same time you will be full of fear lest, becoming separated from Him who alone confers

goodness and preserves us in it, you are pulled down into the pit of evil; for this is what happens when you are

enslaved to conceit and vanity. A great help in healing these passions is withdrawal from the world and living a life

of solitude, keeping yourself to your cell. But you must be deeply aware of the frailty of your will and regard

yourself as not strong enough to mix with other people. Yet what is this but the poverty in spirit that the Lord called

blessed?

 

37. If you recognize the disgrace that such self -flattery brings upon you, you will spurn it with all your might. For

by longing for men's praise you dishonor yourself through the very deeds you do in order to attain it. By caring

about your appearance, by attaching great importance to the fame of your ancestors and to gaudy clothes and so on,

you show that yours is still a puerile mind. For all these things are mere dust, and what is more despicable than dust?

The nun who wears what she wears not simply for covering or warmth, but because it is gossamery and gaudy, not

only proclaims the barrenness of her soul but also displays the indecency of a loose woman. She should listen rather

to Him who says, 'They that wear fine clothing are to be found in royal palaces' (Matt. 1 1 :8). But 'our citizenship is

m heaven' (Phil. 3:20),

 

 

 

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as St Paul says. Let us not be cast out of heaven into the abodes of the 'ruler of the darkness of this world' (cf.

Eph. 6:12) simply for the sake of foolish ostentation in our clothing.

 

38. This same thing happens to those who practice virtue in order to be praised by others. While they are called to

be citizens of heaven, they 'degrade their glory to the dust' (Ps. 7:5), and make their dwelling there, thus drawing

 

 

 

upon themselves the curse of the Psalmist. For their prayer does not rise to heaven, and their every endeavor falls to

the earth, since it is not supported by the wings of divine love that raise aloft the works we do upon the earth. So

although they labor they reap no reward. But why do I speak of reaping no reward? For indeed they bear fruit, only

it is the fruit of shame, instability of thoughts, and distraction and turbulence of mind. For the Lord, as the Psalmist

says, 'has scattered the bones of those who court popularity; they have been put to shame, because God has set them

at naught' (Ps. 53:5. LXX).

 

This passion is the subtlest of all the passions, and for this reason the person who fights against it must not merely

be on guard against coupling with it or avoid assenting to it, but he must regard the very provocation as assent and

must shield himself from it. Only in this way can he narrowly escape speedy defeat. If through inward watchfulness

he manages to do this, the provocation itself will become an occasion for compunction. But if he fails to do it, the

provocation induces pride; and once a person has fallen a victim to pride it is hard, in fact impossible, to cure him,

for such a fall is the same as the devil's. Yet even before this the passion for popularity brings such injury upon those

it masters that it shipwrecks faith itself (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19). Our Lord confirms this when He says, 'How can you have

faith in Me when you receive honor from one another and do not seek for the honor that comes from the only God?'

(cf John 5:44).

 

39. What have you to do with honor accorded by men or, rather, with the empty name of honor? Not only is such

honor no honor at all, but it also deprives you of true honor. And not only this, but among other evils it also

generates envy: envy that is potentially murder and that was the cause of the first murder (cf Gen. 4:1-8) and then of

the slaying of God (cf . Matt. 27 : 1 8). What, in fact, does this passion for human honor contribute to our nature? Does

it sustain or protect it, or in any way restore or heal it when it has gone awry? No one could claim it does anything

like that; and I think that

 

 

 

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this alone is enough to show how baseless are the excuses made for its perversions. Should you examine things

closely you will find that in a treacherous fashion the thirst for glory among men first provokes us to various kinds

of villainy and then denounces us, shamelessly unmasking itself and disgracing even its own lovers. And yet the

champions of profane Greek teachings dare to say that nothing in life can be achieved without it - an absurd

delusion!

 

40. But we Christians have not been taught thus, we who bear the name of Him who lovingly anointed our nature

with His own and who watches over our actions. Turning to Him, we accomplish whatever is most excellent through

Him and because of Him, doing all for the glory of God (cf 1 Cor. 10:31) and having no desire at all to court

popularity. In fact, we are positively displeasing to people, as St Paul, the most intimate initiate of our Lawmaker

and Lawgiver, confirms when he says: 'If I still wanted to be popular I would not be the servant of Christ' (Gal.

1:10).

 

41. Let us now see whether the third offspring of evil desire is likewise destroyed by that poverty which the Lord

called blessed. The third offspring of the desire of a sick soul is gluttony; and from gluttony arises every kind of

 

 

 

carnal impurity. Yet why do we call this the third and last when it is implanted in us from our very birth? For not

only this passion, but also the natural motions related to the begetting of children, can be detected in infants that are

still at the breast. Why, then, do we place the disease of carnal desire at the end of the list? The reason is this: the

passions to which it gives birth belong to us by nature, and natural things are not indictable; for they were created by

God who is good, so that through them we can act in ways that are also good. Hence in themselves they do not

indicate sickness of soul, but they become evidence of such sickness when we misuse them. When we coddle the

flesh in order to foster its desires, then the passion becomes evil and self-indulgence gives rise to the carnal passions

and renders the soul diseased.

 

The first victim of these passions is the intellect. Because the passions initially spring from the mind, the Lord

says that the evil thoughts which defile us proceed from the heart (cf. Matt. 15:18-19). And prior to the Gospel the

Law tells us, 'Be attentive to yourself, lest there arise some secret iniquity in your hearts' (Deut. 15:9. LXX). Yet

though it is the intellect that initiates evil, none the less the images of sensory bodies that entice the intellect towards

these bodies and incite it to misuse them are impressed on it from below, through

 

 

 

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the senses, and above all through the eyes, for the eyes can embrace a defiling object even from a distance. Eve,

our primordial mother, is clear evidence of this: first she saw that the forbidden tree was 'comely to look upon and

beautiful to contemplate', and then, assenting in her heart, she plucked and ate its fruit (cf Gen. 3:6). So we were

right when we said that yielding to the beauty of physical objects precedes and leads us to the degrading passions.

Hence the fathers advise us not to look closely upon another's beauty or to find delectation in our own.

 

42. Before the mind becomes embroiled with them, the passions which are naturally implanted in children

conduce not to sin but to the sustaining of nature. For this reason they are not at that stage evil. It is in the passion-

charged intellect that the carnal passions arise initially, and so healing must begin with the intellect. You cannot

extinguish a raging fire by slashing at it from above; but if you pull away the fuel from below, the fire will die down

immediately. So it is with the passions of impurity. If you do not cut off the inner flow of evil thoughts by means of

prayer and humility, but fight against them merely with the weapons of fasting and bodily hardship, you will labor in

vain. But if through prayer and humility you sanctify the root, as we said, you will attain outward sanctity as well.

This it seems to me is what St Paul counsels when he exhorts us to gird our loins with truth (cf Eph. 6: 14). One of

the fathers has excellently interpreted this as signifying that when the contemplative faculty of the soul tightly girds

the appetitive faculty it also girds the passions manifested through the loins and the genitals. The body, nevertheless,

is in need of hardship and moderate abstention from food, lest it become unruly and more powerful than the

intelligence. Thus all the passions of the flesh are healed solely by bodily hardship and prayer issuing from a humble

heart, which indeed is the poverty in spirit that the Lord called blessed.

 

43. If, then, you yearn to be enriched with holiness - and without holiness no one will see the Lord (cf. Heb.

12:14) - you should abide in your own cell, enduring hardship and praying with humility. For the cell of one rightly

pursuing the monastic life is a haven of self-restraint. But all that lies outside, and especially what is found in market

 

 

 

places and at fairs, constitutes an obscene medley of ugly sounds and sights, drowning the wretched soul of the nun

who exposes herself to them. One might also call this evil world a raging fire that devours those

 

 

 

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who come into contact with it and bums up every virtue they possess. The fire that did not bum was found in the

desert (cf. Exod. 3:2). Instead of in the desert, you should abide in your cell and hide yourself a little until the

tempest of passion has passed over you. When it has passed, spending time outside your cell will do you no harm.

 

44. Then in truth you will be poor in spirit and will gain dominion over the passions and clearly be called blessed

by Him who said, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' How, indeed, can those not be

called blessed who have absolutely no truck with material wealth and place all their trust in Him? Who wish to

please only Him? Who with humility and the other virtues live in His presence? Let us, then, also become poor in

spirit by being humble, by submitting our unregenerate self to hardship and by shedding all possessions, so that the

kingdom of God may be ours, and we may fulfill our blessed aspirations by inheriting the kingdom of heaven.

 

The Lord has left us certain synoptic statements that express in a succinct manner the Gospel of our salvation, and

one of these statements is the beatitude of which we have been speaking. By including so many virtues in that single

phrase and excluding so many vices, the Lord has conferred His blessing on all those who through these virtues and

through repentance prune the aspect of their souls that is vulnerable to passion. But this is not all; for in that phrase

He also includes many other things, analogous not to pruning but rather to the activity of cold, ice, snow, frost and

the violence of the wind - in a word, to the hardship that plants undergo in winter and summer by being exposed to

the cold and heat, yet without which nothing upon earth can ever bear fruit.

 

45. What are these things? The various trials and temptations that afflict us and that we must gladly endure if we

are to yield fruit to the Husbandman of our souls. If we were to feel sorry for earthly plants and build a wall around

them and put a roof over them and not allow them to suffer such hardships, then although we may prune and

otherwise tend them assiduously, they will bear no fruit. On the contrary, we must let them endure everything, for

then, after the winter's hardship, in springtime they will bud, blossom, adorn themselves with leaves and, covered

with this bountiful foliage, they will produce young fruit. This fruit, as the sun's rays grow stronger, will thrive,

mature and become ready for harvesting and eating. Similarly, if we do not courageously bear the burden of trial and

temptation - even though we may practice all the other virtues - we

 

 

 

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will never yield fruit worthy of the divine wine-press and the eternal granaries. For it is through patient endurance

 

 

 

of afflictions deliberately entered into and those that are unsought, whether they come upon us from without or

assault us from within, that we become perfect. What happens naturally to plants as a result of the farmer's care and

the changing seasons happens, if we so choose, to us, Christ's spiritual branches (cf John 15:5), when as creatures

possessing free-will we are obedient to Him, the Husbandman of souls.

 

46. Unless we bear with patience the afflictions that come to us unsought, God will not bless those that we

embrace deliberately. For our love for God is demonstrated above all by the way we endure trials and temptations.

First the soul has to surmount afflictions embraced willingly, thereby learning to spurn sensual pleasure and self-

glory; and this in its turn will permit us readily to bear the afflictions that come unsought. If for the sake of poverty

of spirit you spurn such pleasure and self-glory, and also regard yourself as deserving the more drastic remedy of

repentance, you will be ready to bear any affliction and will accept any temptation as your due, and you will rejoice

when it comes, for you will see it as a cleansing-agent for your soul. In addition, it will spur you to ardent and most

efficacious prayer to God, and you will regard it as the source and protector of the soul's health. Not only will you

forgive those who afflict you, but you will be grateful to them and will pray for them as for your benefactors. Thus

you will not only receive forgiveness for your sins, as the Lord has promised (cf. Matt. 6: 14), but you will also attain

the kingdom of heaven and God's benediction, for you will be blessed by the Lord for enduring with patience and a

spirit of humility till the end.

 

47. Having spoken briefly about spiritual pruning, I will now add something about the productiveness that results

from it. After first calling blessed those who gain imperishable wealth because of their poverty in spirit. God, who

alone is blessed, next makes those who grieve partakers of His own blessedness, saying, 'Blessed are those who

grieve, for they will be consoled' (Matt. 5:4).

 

48. Why did Christ thus join grief to poverty? Because it always coexists with it. But while sorrow over worldly

poverty induces the soul's death, grief over poverty embraced in God's name induces the 'saving repentance that is

not to be regretted' (2 Cor. 7:10). The first kind of poverty, being unsought, is followed by unwished-for grief; the

second, being freely embraced, is followed by grief freely embraced. Because the grief here

 

 

 

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called blessed is linked with the poverty embraced in God's name, necessarily issuing from it and depending on it

as its cause, it too possesses a spiritual and voluntary character.

 

49. Let us see, then, how this blessed poverty begets blessed grief. In this single word 'poverty' four types of

spiritual poverty are represented: poverty in body, poverty in our way of thinking, poverty in worldly goods, and

poverty through trials and temptations that come upon us from without. But because you see me setting down these

four types of poverty separately, do not conclude that they are to be practiced separately. Each of them is to be

implemented along with the others. Hence they are embraced by a single beatitude, which also discloses in a

marvelous way what is, as it were, their root and mainspring, I mean, our spirit. For from our spirit, as has been said,

once it has embraced the grace of the gospel teaching, there flows a wellspring of poverty that 'waters the whole face

of our ground' (cf Gen. 2:6), I mean our outward self, transforming us into a paradise of virtues.

 

 

 

50. There are, then, four types of spiritual poverty, and each gives birth to a corresponding kind of grief, as weU as

to a corresponding form of spiritual solace. In the first place, freely -embraced physical poverty and humility - and

that means hunger, thirst, vigils and in general hardship and tribulation of body, as well as a reasonable restraint of

the senses - begets not only grief, but also tears. For just as insensibility, callousness and hardness of heart develop

as the result of ease, soft living and self-indulgence, so from a way of life marked by self-control and renunciation

come contrition of heart and compunction, expelling all bitterness and generating a gentle gladness. It is said that

without contrition of heart it is impossible to be free from vice; and the heart is rendered contrite by a triple form of

self-control, in sleep, food and bodily ease. When through such contrition the soul is freed from vice and bitterness,

it will certainly receive spiritual delight in their place. This is the solace on account of which the Lord calls those

who grieve blessed. St John Klmiakos, who has constructed for us the ladder of spiritual ascent, says: 'Thirst and

vigil afflict the heart, and when the heart is afflicted, tears spring up. ... He who has found this by experience will

laugh' - he will laugh with that blessed joy ousness which springs from the solace that the Lord promised. Thus

 

 

 

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from bodily poverty embraced out of love for God is bom the grief that brings solace to those who experience it

and fills them with blessing.

 

5 1 . How, in the second place, does grief arise from a fear-dominated state of mind and a godly humility of soul?

Self-reproach always coexists with humility of soul. Initially self-reproach strongly emphasizes the fear of torment,

bringing before our eyes a frightening image in which all the various conflicting forms of hell are combined into

one. Our fear is increased yet more as we reflect that these torments of hell are inexpressible, and so even worse than

they have been painted, and - to add still further to the dismay - that they are unending. Heat, cold, darkness, fire,

movement and immobility, bonds, terrors, and the biting of undying beasts are all brought together into this single

condemnation; but all these things fail properly to convey the true horror of hell which - to use St Paul's words -

'man's mind has not grasped' (1 Cor. 2:9).

 

52. What, then, is this profitless, unconsoling and endless grief experienced in hell? It is the grief stirred up in

those who have sinned against God when they become aware of their offences. There, in hell, convicted of their sins,

stripped of all hope of salvation or of any improvement in their condition, they feel yet greater anguish and grief

because of the unsought reproof of their conscience. And this itself, and the everlasting nature of their grief, gives

rise to yet another form of grief, and to another dreadful darkness, to unbearable heat and a helpless abyss of

despondency. In this life, however, such grief is altogether beneficial, for God hearkens to it compassionately, so

much so that He even came down arid dwelt among us; and He promised consolation to those who grieve in this

way, the consolation being Himself, since He is called, and He is indeed, a Comforter (cf. John 14:16).

 

53. Do you see what grief arises in a humble soul and the consolation that ensues? Indeed, self-reproach on its

own, when lying for a protracted time upon the soul's thoughts like some intellectual weight, crushes and presses

and squeezes out the saving wine that gladdens the heart of man (cf. Ps. 104: 15), that is to say, our inner self. This

wine is compunction (cf. Ps. 60:3. LXX). Together with grief compunction crushes the passions and, having freed

 

 

 

the soul from the weight that oppresses it, fiUs it with blessed joy. That is the reason why Christ says, 'Blessed are

those who grieve, for they will be consoled' (Matt. 5:4).

 

Thirdly, grief also arises from the shedding of possessions, that is to

 

 

 

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say, from poverty in worldly goods and in what we gather around us. This, we said, is to be conjoined with

poverty in spirit, for it is only when all types of poverty are practiced together that they are perfected and pleasing to

God. Now listen attentively so as to learn how from such poverty in worldly goods grief is produced in us along

with the consolation that grief confers. When a person bids farewell to all things, to both money and possessions,

either casting them away or distributing them to the poor according to the commandment (cf Luke 14:33), and

weans his soul from anxiety about such things, he enables it to turn inwards to self-scrutiny, free now from all

external attachments.

 

54. And whenever the intellect withdraws itself from all material things, emerges from the turbulence they

generate, and becomes aware of our inner self, then first of all it sees the ugly mask it has wrought for itself as a

result of its divagations among worldly things, and it strives to wash it away through grief. When it has got rid of

that uncouth guise, and the soul is no longer coarsely distracted by various cares and worries, then the intellect

withdraws untroubled into its true treasure-house and prays to the Father 'in secret' (Matt. 6:6). And the Father first

bestows upon it peace of thoughts, the gift which contains within it all other gifts. Then He makes it perfect in

humility, which is begetter and sustainer of every virtue - not the humility that consists of words and postures easily

taken by anyone who wishes, but that to which the Holy Spirit bears witness and which the Spirit Himself creates

when enshrined in the depths of the soul.

 

55. In such peace and humility, as in the secure enclosure of the noetic paradise, every tree of true virtue

flourishes. At its heart stands the sacred palace of love, and in the forecourt of this palace blossoms the harbinger of

the age to be, ineffable and inalienable joy.

 

The shedding of possessions gives birth to freedom from anxiety, this freedom to attentiveness and prayer, while

attentiveness and prayer induce grief and tears. Grief and tears expunge passion-imbued predispositions. When these

are expunged the path of virtue is made smooth, since the obstacles are removed, and the conscience is no longer

full of reproach. As a consequence joy and the soul's blessed laughter break through.

 

56. Then tears of tribulation are transformed into tears of delight, and the words of God become sweet to the

palate and more sweet than honey to the mouth (cf. Ps. 119: 103). Prayer changes from entreaty to thanksgiving, and

meditation on the divine truths of faith fills the heart with a sense of jubilation and

 

 

 

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unimpeachable hope. This hope is a foretaste of future blessings, of which the soul even now receives direct

experience, and so it comes to know in part the surpassing richness of God's bounty, in accordance with the

Psalmist's words, 'Taste and know that the Lord is bountiful' (Ps. 34:8). For He is the jubilation of the righteous, the

joy of the upright, the gladness of the humble, and the solace of those who grieve because of Him.

 

57. Yet does such solace extend no further than this? Are these the only gifts of the sacred betrothal? Will not the

Bridegroom of such souls manifest Himself still more clearly to those who are perfected and cleansed by blessed

grief, and who through the virtues are arrayed as brides? Undoubtedly He will. We are well aware that at this point

certain people out of malice are ready to censure us, telling us, in effect, 'You are not to speak in the name of the

Lord (cf. Jer. 11:21), and if you do we will repudiate your name as evil (cf Luke 6:22), devising and spreading

slanders and falsehoods about you.' But let us take no notice of these people, and let us now continue with what we

were saying, believing in and affirming the teachings of the holy fathers, directing our attention to them and

convincing others through them. For it is written, 'I believed, and so I have spoken' (Ps. 1 16:10). We also believe,

and so we, too, will speak (cf. 2 Cor. 4 13).

 

58. When every shameful indwelling passion has been expelled and the intellect, as already indicated, has

returned wholly to itself, converting at the same time the other powers of the soul - and when through cultivating the

virtues it sets the soul in good order, ever advancing to a more perfect state, ascending through its active spiritual

progress and with God's help cleansing itself more fully - then it not only expunges all imprints of evil but also rids

itself of every accretion, however good it is or appears to be.

 

59. And when it has transcended intelligible realities and the concepts, not unmixed with images, that pertain to

them, and in a godly and devout manner has rejected all things, then it will stand before God deaf and speechless (cf.

Ps. 38 : 13).

 

It is now that: the intellect becomes simple matter in God's hands and is unresistingly recreated in the most

sublime way, for nothing alien intrudes on it: inner grace translates it to a better state and, in an altogether marvelous

fashion, illumines it with ineffable light, thus perfecting our inner being. And when in this manner 'the day breaks

 

 

 

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and the morning star rises in our hearts' (cf 2 Pet. 1:19), then 'the true man' - the intellect - 'will go out to his true

work' (cf. Ps. 104:23), ascending in the light the road that leads to the eternal mountains. In this light it miraculously

surveys supramundane things, being either still joined to the materiality to which it was originally linked, or else

separated from it - this depending on the level that it has attained. For it does not ascend on the wings of the mind's

fantasy, for the mind always wanders about as though blind, without possessing an accurate and assured

understanding either of sensory things not immediately present to it or of transcendent intelligible realities. Rather it

 

 

 

ascends in very truth, raised by the Spirit's ineffable power, and with spiritual and ineffable apperception it hears

words too sacred to utter (cf. 2 Cor. 12:4) and sees invisible things. And it becomes entirely rapt in the miracle of it,

even when it is no longer there, and it rivals the tireless angelic choir, having become truly another angel of God

upon earth. Through itself it brings every created thing closer to God, for it itself now participates in all things and

even in Him who transcends all, inasmuch as it has faithfully conformed itself to the divine image.

 

60. For this reason St Neilos says, 'The intellect's proper state is a noetic height, somewhat resembling the sky's

hue, which is filled with the light of the Holy Trinity during the time of prayer.' And again: 'If you wish to see the

intellect's proper state, rid yourself of all concepts, and then you will see it like sapphire or the sky's hue. But you

cannot do this unless you have attained a state of dispassion, for God has to cooperate with you and to imbue you

with His co-natural light.' And St Diadochos writes: 'Divine grace confers on us two gifts through the baptism of

regeneration, one being infinitely superior to the other. The first gift is given to us at once, when grace renews us in

the actual waters of baptism and cleanses all the lineaments of our soul, that is, the image of God in us, by washing

away every stain of sin. The second - our likeness to God - requires our co-operation. When the intellect begins to

perceive the Holy Spirit with full consciousness, we should realize that grace is beginning to paint the divine

likeness over the divine image in us. ... Our power of perception shows us that we are being formed into the divine

likeness; but the perfecting of this likeness

 

 

 

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we shall know only by the light of grace. But no one can acquire spiritual love unless he experiences fully and

clearly the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If the intellect does not receive the perfection of the divine likeness

through such illumination, although it may have almost every other virtue, it will still have no share in perfect love.'

 

61. And likewise St Isaac writes that during the time of prayer the intellect that has received grace sees its own

purity to be 'like heaven's hue, which was also called the "place of God" by the council of the elders of Israel, when

it was seen by them in the mountain' (cf. Exod. 24:9-10). Again, he says that 'prayer is purity of the intellect, and it

is consummated when we are illumined in utter amazement by the light of the Holy Trinity'. He also speaks of 'the

purity of the intellect upon and through which the light of the Holy Trinity shines at the time of prayer'.

 

62. The intellect that has been accounted worthy of this light also transmits to the body that is united with it many

clear tokens of the divine beauty, acting as an intermediary between divine grace and the grossness of the flesh and

conferring on the flesh the power to do what lies beyond its power. This gives birth to a godlike, unmatched and

stable state of virtue as well as to a disposition that has no or little inclination to sin. It is then that the intellect is

illumined by the divine Logos who enables it to perceive clearly the inner essences - the logoi - of created things and

on account of its purity reveals to it the mysteries of nature. In this way, through relationships of correspondence the

perceiving and trusting intelligence is raised up to-the apprehension of supernatural realities - an apprehension that

the Father of the Logos communicates through an immaterial union. From this arise various other miraculous

effects, such as visionary insight, the seeing of things future, and the experience of things happening afar off as

though they were occurring before one's very eyes. But what is more important is that those blessed in this manner

 

 

 

do not aspire to attain such powers. Rather it is as though one were to look at a ray of sunlight and at the same time

perceive the small particles in the air, though this was not one's intention. So it is with those who commune directly

with the

 

 

 

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rays of divine light, which by nature reveal all things: according to their degree of purity they truly attain - albeit

as something incidental - a knowledge of what is past, of what is present, and even of what is to come. But their

main concern is the return of the intellect to itself and its concentration on itself. Or, rather, their aim is the

reconvergence of all the soul's powers in the intellect - however strange this may sound - and the attaining of the

state in which both intellect and God work together. In this way they are restored to their original state and

assimilated to their Archetype, grace renewing in them their pristine and inconceivable beauty. To such a

consummation, then, does grief bring those who are humble in heart and poor in spirit.

 

63. Since on account of our innate laziness such a consummation is beyond us, let us return to its foundation and

say a little more about grief itself. Grief also accompanies every kind of unsolicited worldly poverty. For how can a

person in need of money not be sorrowful, or he who hungers against his will or who suffers pain and dishonor?

Such grief, indeed, lacks all consolation, the more so the more acute the poverty becomes, especially when the

sufferer lacks true knowledge. For if you do not keep an intelligent control over sensual pleasures and pains but,

rather, allow yourself to be dominated by them through the misuse of your intelligence, you wrongly and profitlessly

multiply them, even causing yourself great injury. For thereby you give sure and self-accusing evidence that you do

not firmly adhere to God's Gospel and to the prophets who preceded Him, and to those who came after Him and

were His disciples and apostles. For these all teach that inexhaustible riches come through poverty, that ineffable

glory comes through simplicity of life, that painless delight comes through self-control, and that through patiently

enduring the trials and temptations that befall us we are delivered from the eternal tribulation and affliction held in

store for those who choose an easy and soft life in this world instead of entering by the strait and narrow gate (cf.

Matt. 7:14).

 

64. Rightly did St Paul say, 'Worldly sorrowfulness produces death' (2 Cor. 7:10), for from what we have said it is

clear that such sorrow is sin leading to death. If the soul's true life is the divine light conferred, according to the

fathers, through spiritual grief, then the death of the soul is an evil darkness induced in the soul through worldly

sorrowfulness. It is with reference to this darkness that St Basil the Great says, 'Sin, which exists through the

absence of the good.

 

 

 

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takes the form of noetic darkness caused by acts of evil'

 

65. And St 'Mark also says: 'If you are beset by evil thoughts, how can you see the reality of the sin concealed

behind them? This sin wraps the soul in darkness and obscurity, and increases its hold upon us through our evil

thoughts and actions. ... If you fail to perceive this general process of sinning, when will you pray about it and be

cleansed from it? And if you have not been cleansed, how will you find purity of nature? And if you have not found

this, how will you behold the inner dwelling-place of Christ? . . . We should try to find that dwelling-place and

knock with persistent prayer. . . . Not only ought we to ask and receive, but we should also keep safely what is

given; for some people lose what they have received. A theoretical knowledge or chance experience of this may

perhaps be gained by those who have begun to learn late in life or who are still young; but the constant and patient

practice of these things is barely to be acquired even by devout and deeply experienced elders. ' St Makarios,

possessor of divine knowledge, says the same, as do all the saints.

 

66. Just as this darkness derives its existence from all our various sins, so - as you will find if you examine it

closely - worldly sorrowfulness is bom of and dominated by all the passions. Such sorrowfulness is thus an image

and a kind of firstfnut, prelude to and foretaste of the future endless grief that overwhelms those who do not choose

for themselves the grief that the Lord called blessed. This grief not only brings spiritual solace and provides a

foretaste of eternal joy, but it also stabilizes virtue and takes from the soul its disposition to fall into a lower state.

For although you may become poor and humble yourself and strive to live with godlike simplicity, yet if you do not

acquire grief as you advance along the spiritual path you can easily be changed and can readily return in thought to

that which you have abandoned, desiring again what you initially renounced and thus making yourself a transgressor

(cf. Gal. 2:18). But if you persist in your intention to live a life of blessed poverty, and devote your attention to it,

you will give birth to this grief in yourself and will lose all tendency to regress, and will not wrongly want to return

to what

 

 

 

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you have so well abandoned. For, as St Paul says, 'Godly sorrow produces in the soul a saving repentance which

is not to be regretted (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10). Hence one of the fathers has said that 'grief both acts and protects'.

 

67. This is not the only gain that comes of grief, namely, that you virtually lose all disposition towards evil and do

not regress to your former sins; it also makes former sins as though they never existed. For once you begin to grieve

over them. God reckons them as unintentional, and there is no guilt in actions performed unintentionally. A person

who grieves because of his poverty shows that he is not in this state through his own choice, and so - like those who

want to be rich or are already rich - he falls into the snares of the devil (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9); and unless he changes and

strives to escape these snares, he will be sent with the devil into eternal torment. On the other hand, if a person who

has sinned against God continues to grieve over his sins, they will be justly regarded as unintentional, and along

with those who have not sinned he will journey without stumbling on the path leading to eternal life.

 

68. This, then, is the profit of the initial stage of grief, which is painful inasmuch as it is conjoined with the fear of

God. But in later stages it becomes in a wondrous manner wedded to love for God, and once you are conditioned by

 

 

 

it you experience the tender and sacred solace of the Comforter's blessing. But to those who have not experienced

this it is something virtually incomprehensible, since it cannot be described in words. For if one cannot explain the

sweetness of honey to someone who has never tasted it, how can one describe the delight of God's joy and grace to

those who have never experienced it?

 

69. In addition, the initial stage of grief resembles something that appears to be almost unattainable - a kind of

petition for betrothal to God. Thus those who grieve in their longing for the Bridegroom to whom they are not yet

united utter as it were certain words of courtship, smiting themselves and calling upon Him with tears as though He

were not present and perhaps might never be present. But the consummation of grief is pure bridal union with the

Bridegroom. For this reason St Paul, after describing a married couple's union in one flesh as 'a great mystery',

added, 'but I say this with respect to Christ and the Church' (Eph. 5:32). As they are one flesh, so those who are with

God are one spirit, as St Paul clearly testifies elsewhere when he says that he who cleaves to the Lord is one spirit

with Him (cf 1 Cor. 6:17).

 

 

 

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70. What are we to say, then, of those who regard the grace that dwells in God's saints as created? Let them know

that they blaspheme against the Spirit Himself who, in giving His grace, is united to the saints.

 

Let us add another still clearer example of what we are saying. The first stage of grief resembles the return of the

prodigal son. For this reason it fills the mourner with dejection and leads him to employ these very words, 'Father, I

have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son' (Luke 15:21). But the

consummation of grief resembles the moment when the heavenly Father runs out to meet him and embraces him.

And when the son finds himself accepted with such inexpressible compassion and on account of it is filled with

great joy and boldness, he receives the Father's embrace and embraces Him in return. Then, entering into the

Father's house, he shares together in the feast of divine felicity.

 

71. Let us, then, in blessed poverty also fall down and weep before the Lord our God, so that we may wash away

our former sins, make ourselves impervious to evil and, receiving the blessings and solace of the Comforter, may

glorify Him and the unorigmate Father and the Only -begotten Son, now and always and throughout the ages. Amen.

 

 

 

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1. 'The Lord your God is one Lord' (cf. Deut. 6:4), revealed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: in the unbegotten

Father; in the Son, who is begotten eternally, tunelessly and impassibly as the Logos, and who through Himself

anointed that which He assumed from us and so is called Christ; and in the Holy Spirit, who also comes forth from

 

 

 

the Father, not begotten, but proceeding. This alone is God and alone is true God, the one Lord in a Trinity of

hypostases, undivided in nature, will, glory, power, energy, and all the characteristics of divinity.

 

Him alone shall you love and Him alone shall you worship with all your mind and with all your heart and with all

your strength. And His words and His commandments shall be in your heart so that you carry them out and meditate

on them and speak of them both sitting and walking, lying down and standing up (cf Deut. 6:5, 6, 7). And you shall

remember the Lord your God always and fear Him alone (cf Deut. 8:18; 6:13); and you shall not forget Him or His

commandments, for thus shall He give you strength to do His will. For He requires nothing else from you except

that you fear and love Him and walk in all His ways (cf. Deut. 10:12).

 

'He is your boast and He is your God' (cf. Deut. 10:21). When you hear of the impassible and invisible nature of

the supramundane angels and of the wicked nature - wise, acute and extremely crafty in deceit - of him who fell

away from that realm, do not think that any such being is equal with God. Seeing the greatness of the heaven and its

manifold motions, the sun's brilliance, the shining of the moon, the bright twinkle of the stars, the beneficial breezes

of the air, the broad back of sea and land, do not make a god of any of them. For all are servants and creations of the

one God, brought forth from non-being by His Logos. 'For He spake and they came into being; He commanded and

they were created' (Ps. 33:9. LXX). Him alone, therefore, the

 

 

 

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Master and Creator of all, you should glorify as God and through love you should cleave to Him; before Him you

should repent day and night for your deliberate and unintentional lapses. For 'He is compassionate and merciful,

long-suffering and full of mercy' (Ps. 103:8) and eternally bountiful. He has promised and He actually gives a

celestial, unending kingdom, a painless existence, an immortal life and unwanmg light for the delight of those who

revere and worship Him and who love and keep His commandments.

 

Yet God is also a 'jealous God' (Exod. 20:5), a just judge who takes terrible vengeance on those who dishonor

Him, who disobey Him and who scorn His commandments, visiting them with eternal chastisement, unquenchable

fire, unceasing pain, unconsolable affliction, a cloak of lugubrious darkness, an obscure and grievous region, piteous

gnashing of teeth, venomous and sleepless worms - things He prepared for that first evil apostate together with all

those deluded by him who became his followers, rejecting their Creator in their actions, words and thoughts.

 

2. 'You shall not make an image of anything in the heavens above, or in the earth below, or in the sea' (cf Exod.

20:4), in such a way that you worship these things and glorify them as gods. For all are the creations of the one God,

created by Him in the Holy Spirit through His Son and Logos, who as Logos of God in these latter times took flesh

from a virgin's womb, appeared on earth and associated with men (cf Baruch 3:37), and who for the salvation of

men suffered, died and arose again, ascended with His body into the heavens and 'sat down on the right hand of the

Majesty on High' (Heb. 1 :3), and who will come again with His body to judge the living and the dead. Out of love

for Him you should make, therefore, an icon of Him who became man for our sakes, and through His icon you

should bring Him to mind and worship Him, elevating your intellect through it to the venerable body of the Savior,

that is set on the right hand of the Father in heaven.

 

 

 

In like manner you should also make icons of the saints and venerate them, not as gods - for this is forbidden - but

because of the attachment, inner affection and sense of surpassing honor that you feel for the saints when by means

of their icons the intellect is raised up to them. It was in this spirit that Moses made icons of the Cherubim within the

Holy of Holies (cf. Exod. 25:18). The Holy of Holies itself was an image of things supracelestial (cf. Exod. 25:40;

Heb. 8:5),

 

 

 

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while the Holy Place was an image of the entire world. Moses called these things holy, not glorifying what is

created, but thrown it glorifying God the Creator of the world. You must not, then, deiiy the icons of Christ and of

the saints, but through them you should venerate Him who originally created us in His own image, and who

subsequently consented in His ineffable compassion to assume the human image and to be circumscribed by it.

 

You should venerate not only the icon of Christ, but also the similitude of His cross. For the cross is Christ's great

sign and trophy of victory over the devil and all his hostile hosts; for this reason they tremble and flee when they see

the figuration of the cross. This figure, even prior to the crucifixion, was greatly glorified by the prophets and

wrought great wonders; and when He who was hung upon it, our Lord Jesus Christ, comes again to judge the living

and the dead, this His great and terrible sign will precede Him, full of power and glory (cf Matt. 24:30). So glorify

the cross now, so that you may boldly look upon it then and be glorified with it. And you should venerate icons of

the saints, for the saints have been crucified with the Lord; and you should make the sign of the cross upon your

person before doing so, bringing to mind their communion in the sufferings of Christ. In the same way you should

venerate their holy shrines and any relic of their bones; for God's grace is not sundered from these things, even as

the divinity was not sundered from Christ's venerable body at the time of His life-quickening death. By doing this

and by glorifying those who glorified God - for through their actions they showed themselves to be perfect in their

love for God - you too will be glorified together with them by God, and with David you will chant: 'I have held Thy

friends in high honor, Lord' (Ps. 159: 17. LXX).

 

3. 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain' (Exod. 20:7), swearing an oath falsely because of

some worldly thing, or out of human fear, or shame, or for personal gain. For a false oath is a denial of God. For this

reason you should not take an oath at all (cf. Matt. 5:34). Avoid oaths altogether, since through an oath a man

forswears himself, and this estranges him from God and numbers him among the wrongdoers. If you are truthful in

all your words, that will convey the certainty of an oath.' Should you, however, bind yourself with an oath -

something to be deprecated - you must fulfill it as a legal obligation, provided it involves something permitted by

the divine law; but you should hold yourself at fault because you swore at

 

 

 

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all, and by acts of mercy, supplication, grief and bodily hardship you should ask Christ's forgiveness, since He

said you should not swear oaths. If, on the other hand, you take an oath that involves something that is unlawful,

beware lest on account of your oath you do what is wrong and are numbered with Herod, the prophet-slayer (cf.

Matt. 14:7-9). And when you have put that unlawful oath behind you, make it a rule never again to take an oath, and

with tears ask more intensely for God's forgiveness, using the remedies already mentioned.

 

4. One day of the week you should 'keep holy' (Exod. 20:8): that which is called the Lord's day, because it is

consecrated to the Lord, who on that day arose from the dead, disclosing and giving prior assurance of the general

resurrection, when every earthly activity will come to an end. And you must not engage in any worldly activity that

is not essential; and you must allow those who are under your authority and those who live with you to rest, so that

together you may all glorify Him who redeemed us through His death and who arose from the dead and resurrected

our human nature with Himself. You should bring to mind the age to come and meditate upon all the

commandments and statutes of the Lord, and you should examine yourself to see whether you have transgressed or

overlooked any of them, and you should correct yourself in all ways. On this day you should go to the temple of

God and attend the services held there and with sincere faith and a clean conscience you should receive the holy

body and blood of Christ. You should make a beginning of a more perfect life and renew and prepare yourself for

the reception of the eternal blessings to come. For the sake of these same blessings you must not misuse material

things on the other days of the week either; but on the Lord's day, so as to be constantly near to God, abstain from all

activities except those which are absolutely necessary and which you have to perform in order to live. God thus

being your refuge, you will not be distracted, the fire of the passions will not bum you, and you will be free from the

burden of sin. In this way you will sanctify the Sabbath, observing it by doing no evil deeds. To the Lord's day you

should join the days dedicated to the great feasts, doing the same things and abstaining from the same things.

 

5. 'Honour your father and your mother' (Exod. 20: 12), for it is through them that God has brought you into this

life and they, after God, are the causes of your existence. Thus after God you should honor them and love them,

provided that your love for them

 

 

 

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strengthens your love for God. If it does not, flee from them, yet without feelings of hatred. Should they actually

be a hindrance to you - especially with respect to the true and saving faith because they profess some other faith -

you should not merely flee from them, but also hate them, and not them alone but all relatives and everyone else

bound to you by affection or other union, and, indeed, the very limbs of your body and their appetites, and your

body itself and its bond with the passions. For 'if anyone does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children,

and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, and if he does not take up his cross and follow Me. he is not. worthy

of Me', Christ said (cf Luke 14:26-27; Matt. 10:37). Such is the way in which you are to act towards your earthly

 

 

 

parents and your friends and brethren. But if they share your faith and do not hinder you in your quest for salvation,

you should honor and love them.

 

If it is thus with natural fathers, how much more should you honor and love those who are your spiritual fathers.

For they have brought you from a state of mere existence to a state of virtue and spiritual health; they have

transmitted to you the illumination of knowledge, have taught you the revelation of the truth, have given you rebirth

through the water of regeneration and have instilled in you the hope of resurrection and immortality, and of the

eternal kingdom and inheritance. In this way they have converted you from being unworthy to being worthy of

eternal blessings, have transformed you from an earthly into a heavenly being, and have made you eternal instead of

temporal, a son and disciple not of a man, but of the God-man Jesus Christ, who bestowed upon you the Spirit of

adoption, and who told you not to call anyone on earth your father or teacher, because you have only one Father and

Teacher, namely Christ (cf. Matt. 23:9-10). You must, therefore, render all honor and love to your spiritual fathers,

since the honor rendered to them redounds to Christ and the all-holy Spirit, in whom you received adoption, and to

the heavenly Father, 'from whom derives all fatherhood in heaven and on earth' (Eph. 3:15) You should strive to

have a spiritual father throughout your life and to confess to him every sin and every evil thought and to receive

from him healing and remission. For they have been given the power to bind and to unbind souls, and whatever they

bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they unbind on earth will be unbound in heaven (cf. Matt.

18:18). This grace and power they have received from Christ, and so you should obey them and not

 

 

 

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gainsay them, lest you bring destruction upon your soul. For if a person who gainsays his natural parents in

matters not interdicted by the divine law is - according to the law (cf Exod. 21 : 17) - to be put to death, how will he

who contradicts his spiritual fathers not expel the Spirit of God from himself and destroy his soul? For this reason be

counseled by your spiritual fathers and obey them till the end, so that you may save your soul and inherit eternal and

untarnished blessings.

 

6. 'You shall not be unchaste' (Exod. 20:14), lest instead of being united to Christ you become united to a

prostitute (cf. 1 Cor. 6:15), severing yourself from the divine body, forfeiting the divine inheritance and throwing

yourself into hell. According to the law (cf. Lev. 21:9), a daughter of a priest caught whoring is to be burnt, for she

dishonors her father; how much more, then, does the person who defiles the body of Christ deserve endless

chastisement. If you are capable of it, embrace the path of virginity, so that you may become wholly God's and may

cleave to Him with perfect love, all your life devoting yourself undistractedly to the Lord and to what belongs to

Him (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32), and in this way anticipating the life to come and living as an angel of God on earth. For the

angels are characterized by virginity and if you cleave to virginity you emulate them with your body, in so far as this

is possible. Or, rather, prior to them you emulate the Father who in virginity begot the Son before all ages, and also

the virginal Son who in the beginning came forth from the virginal Father by way of generation, and in these latter

times was bom in the flesh of a virginal Mother; you likewise emulate the Holy Spirit who ineffably proceeds from

the Father alone, not by way of generation, but by procession. Hence if you practice true chastity in soul and body

 

 

 

you emulate God and are joined to Him in imperishable wedlock, embellishing every sensation, word and thought

with virginal beauty.

 

If, however, you do not choose to live in virginity and have not promised God that you will do this, God's law

allows you to marry one woman and to live with her alone and to hold her in holiness as your own wife (cf. 1 Thess.

4:4), abstaining entirely from other women. You can totally abstain from them if you shun untimely meetings with

them, do not indulge in lewd words and stories and, as far as you can, avoid looking at them with the eyes of both

body and soul, training yourself not to gaze overmuch upon the beauty of their faces. For 'whoever looks at a woman

with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Matt. 5:28), and in this way he is

 

 

 

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impure before Christ who sees his heart; and the next step is that he commits shameless acts with his body also.

But why do I speak of fornication and adultery and other natural abominations? For by looking overfondly on the

beauty of bodies a person is dragged down unrestrainedly into lascivious acts contrary to all nature. Thus, if you cut

away from yourself the bitter roots, you will not reap the deadly harvest but, on the contrary, you will gather the

fruits of chastity and the holiness which it confers, and without which 'no one will see the Lord' (Heb. 12:14).

 

7. 'You shall not kilF (Exod. 20:15), lest you forfeit the adoption of Him who quickens even the dead, and

because of your actions are adopted instead by the devil, who was 'a murderer from the beginning' (John 8:44). As

murder results from a blow, a blow from an insult, an insult from anger, and we are roused to anger because

someone else injures, hits or insults us, for this reason Christ told us not to stop anyone who took our coat from

taking our shirt also (cf Luke 6:29); and we must not strike back at him who strikes us, or revile him who reviles us.

In this manner we will free from the crime of murder both our self and him who does us wrong. Further, we will be

forgiven our sins, since He says, 'Forgive and you will be forgiven' (cf. Matt. 6:14). But the person who speaks and

acts evilly will be condemned to eternal chastisement. For Christ said, 'Whoever shall say to his brother " You fool"

shall be guilty enough to go to the hell of fire' (Matt. 5:22). If, then, you can eradicate this evil, calling down upon

your soul the benediction of gentleness, then glorify Christ, the teacher and ministrant of every virtue, without

whom, as we have been taught, we can do nothing good (cf. John 15:5). But if you are unable to bridle your temper,

censure yourself whenever you lose it, and repent before God and before anyone to whom you have spoken or have

acted evilly. If you repent at the inception of sin you will not commit the sin itself; but if you feel no pang in

committing minor offences you will through them fall into major transgressions.

 

8. 'You shall not steal' (Exod. 20:15), lest He who knows things secret increases your punishment because you

have set Him at naught. Rather you should secretly give from what you have to those in need, so that you receive

from God, who sees in secret, a hundred times more, as well as life eternal in the age to come (cf. Matt. 6:4; Mark

10:30).

 

9. 'You shall not accuse anyone falsely' (cf. Exod. 20: 16), lest you

 

 

 

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become like the devil, who falsely accused God to Eve and was cursed by God (cf. Gen. 3:14). Rather, you

should conceal your neighbor's offence, unless by so doing others may be injured; and in this way you will imitate

not Ham, but Shem and Japheth, and so like them receive the blessing (cf. Gen. 9:25-7).

 

10. 'You shall not covet anything belonging to your neighbor' (cf. Exod 20:17), neither his land, nor his money,

nor his glory, nor anything that is his. For covetousness, conceived in the soul, produces sin; and sin, when

committed, results in death (cf . Jas. 1:15). Refrain, then, from coveting what belongs to others and, so far as you

can, avoid filching things out of greediness. Rather you should give from what you possess to whoever asks of you,

and you should, as much as you can, be charitable to whoever is in need of charity, and you should not refuse

whoever wants to borrow from you (cf Matt. 5:42). Should you find some lost article, you should keep it for its

owner, even though he is hostilely disposed towards you; for in this way you will change him and will overcome

evil with good, as Christ commands (cf. Rom. 12:21).

 

If you observe these things with all your strength and live in accordance with them, you will store up in your soul

the treasures of holiness, you will please God, you will be rewarded by God and by those who are godly, and you

will inherit eternal blessings. May we all receive such blessings through the grace and compassion of our Lord, God

and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with His unorigmate Father and the all-holy, bountiful and life-quickening Spirit

are due all glory, honor and worship, now and ever and through all the ages. Amen.

 

 

 

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A Question Posed to Him

 

You have done well, father, to quote the words of the saints regarding the subject of my query. For as I heard you

resolve my difficulties, I marveled at the clarity of the truth; but it also entered my mind that since - as you yourself

said - every word fights with another word, there may be grounds for contradicting what you have said. Yet because

I recognize that only by their fruits can we know things unquestionably, and because I have heard the saints saying

exactly the same as you, I am no longer anxious on this score. Indeed, how can a man who is not convinced by the

saints be worthy of credence? And how will such a person not reject also the God of the saints? For it is God who

said with respect to the apostles and, through them, to the saints who succeeded them, 'He who rejects you, rejects

Me' (Luke 10:16), which is to say that he rejects Truth itself. How, then, can the enemy of truth be accepted by

those who seek the truth? Hence I entreat you, father, to listen as I recount each of the other points that I heard from

those who pass their life in the pursuit of profane learning, and I beg you to tell me some of your thoughts on these

matters, adding also what the saints say about them. For they maintain that we are wrong in striving to enclose our

 

 

 

intellect within our body. Rather, they say, we should alienate it by any means possible from the body. They actively

mock some of those among us, writing against us on the grounds that we counsel those newly embarked on the

spiritual path to direct their gaze upon themselves and to draw their intellect into themselves by means of their

breathing. Our critics claim that the intellect is not separate from the soul; and since it is not separate, they say, but

included in the soul, how is it possible to reintroduce it into

 

 

 

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A Question Posed to Him

 

oneself? Further, they report us as saying that we intromit divine grace through the nostrils. As I have never heard

any of those among us say this, I know that we are being misrepresented; and this has made me realize that their

other charges are also malicious. People who fabricate false charges can also deal falsely with realities. Yet, father, I

would ask you to teach me why we devote such care to inducing our intellect to come back into ourselves and do not

think it wrong to enclose it within the body.

 

 

 

Answer

 

That it is not wrong for those who have chosen a hfe of self-attentiveness and stillness to strive to keep their

 

intellect within their body.

 

1 . Brother, do you not recall St Paul's statements, 'Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within us' (cf . 1 Cor.

6:19), and, 'We are the house of God' (cf. Heb. 3:6), as God Himself confirms when He says, 'I will dwell in them

and walk in them, and I will be their God' (Lev. 26:12; 2 Cor. 6:16)? Since, then, the body is God's dwelling-place,

what sane person would object to his intellect dwelling in it? And how was it that God established the intellect in the

body to start with? Did He do so wrongly? These are the things we should say to the heretics, to those who declare

that the body is evil and created by the devil. But we regard it as evil for the intellect to be caught up in material

thoughts, not for it to be in the body, for the body is not evil. Hence everyone who devotes his life to God calls to

Him as David did: 'My soul has thirsted for Thee, how often has my flesh longed for Thee' (Ps. 63:1), and: 'My heart

and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God' (Ps. 84:2. LXX); and he says with Isaiah: 'My belly shall sound as a

harp and my inward parts as a brazen wall that Thou hast restored' (cf. Isa. 16:11. LXX), and: 'Out of awe for Thee,

Lord, we are pregnant with the Spirit of Thy salvation' (Isa. 26:18. LXX). Filled with courage by this Spirit, we

will not fall; but it is those who speak in a materialistic way, and who pretend that celestial words and citizenship are

materialistic, that will fall.

 

Although St Paul called the body 'death' when he said, 'Who will

 

 

 

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deliver me from the body 'of this death?' (Rom. 7 ; 24), this is simply because the materialistic, carnal mentality is

body-like, and so he rightly called it a body when comparing it to the spiritual and divine mind. Further, he did not

say simply 'body' but 'death of the body'. Shortly before this he clarifies his meaning when he says that the flesh is

not at fault, but the sinful impulse that infiltrates into the flesh because of the fall. 'I am sold', he says, 'into slavery

under sin' (Rom. 7:14); but he who is sold is not a slave by nature. And again he says, 'I know that in me - that is, in

my flesh - there dwells nothing good' (Rom. 7:18). Note that he does not say the flesh is evil, but that which dwells

therein. Thus it is evil for this 'law that is in our bodily members, warring against the law of the intellect' (cf. Rom.

7:23) - to dwell in the body, not for the intellect to dwell there.

 

2. That is why we grapple with this 'law of sin' (Rom. 8 : 2) and expel it from our body, establishing in its place

the surveillance of the intellect. Through this surveillance we prescribe what is fitting for every faculty of the soul

and every member of the body. For the senses we prescribe what they should take into account and to what extent

they should do so, and this exercise of the spiritual law is called self-control. To the aspect of the soul that is

accessible to passion we impart the best of all dispositions, that of love; and we also raise the level of the

intelligence by repelling whatever impedes the mind in its ascent towards God: this aspect of the law we call

watchfulness. When through self-control we have purified our body, and when through divine love we have made

our mcensive power and our desire incentives for virtue, and when we offer to God an intellect cleansed by prayer,

then we will possess and see within ourselves the grace promised to the pure in heart (cf. Matt. 5:8). Then, too, we

will be able to affirm with St Paul: 'The God who said, "Out of darkness let light shine", has made this light shine in

our hearts, to give us the illumination of the knowledge of God's glory in the Person of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor. 4:6).

'But we have', he says, 'this treasure in earthen vessels' (2 Cor. 4:7). Since, therefore, we carry as in earthen vessels -

that is to say, in our bodies - the Father's Light in the Person of Jesus Christ, and so can experience the glory of the

Holy Spirit, are we doing anything unworthy of the intellect's nobility if we retain it within our body? What person

of spiritual insight - and, indeed, what person endowed with human intelligence, even though bereft of divine grace -

would say such a thing?

 

 

 

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Answer

 

3. Since our soul is a single entity possessing many powers, it utilizes as an organ the body that by nature lives in

conjunction with it. What organs, then, does the power of the soul that we call 'intellect' make use of when it is

 

 

 

active? No one has ever supposed that the mind resides in the finger-nails or the eye-lashes, the nostrils or the lips.

But we all agree that it resides within us, even though we may not all agree as to which of our inner organs it chiefly

makes use of. For some locate it in the head, as though in a sort of acropolis; others consider that its vehicle is the

centemiost part of the heart, that aspect of the heart that has been purified from natural life. We know very well that

our intelligence is neither within us as in a container - for it is incorporeal - nor yet outside us, for it is united to us;

but it is located in the heart as in its own organ. And we-know this because we are taught it not by men but by the

Creator of man Himself when He says, 'It is not that which goes into man's mouth that defiles him, but what comes

out of it' (Matt. 15:11), adding, 'for thoughts come out of the heart' (Matt. 15:19). St Makarios the Great says the

same: 'The heart rules over the whole human organism, and when grace takes possession of the pastures of the heart,

it reigns over all a man's thoughts and members. For the intellect and all the thoughts of the soul are located there.'

 

Our heart is, therefore, the shrine of the intelligence and the chief intellectual organ of the body. When, therefore,

we strive to scrutinize and to amend our intelligence through rigorous watchfulness, how could we do this if we did

not collect our intellect, outwardly dispersed through the senses, and bring it back within ourselves - back to the

heart itself, the shrine of the thoughts? It is for this reason that St Makarios - rightly called blessed - directly after

what he says above, adds: 'So it is there that we must look to see whether grace has inscribed the laws of the Spirit.'

Where? In the ruling organ, in the throne of grace, where the intellect and all the thoughts of the soul reside, that is

to say, in the heart. Do you see, then, how greatly necessary it is for those who have chosen a life of self-

attentiveness and stillness to bring their intellect back and to enclose it within their body, and particularly within that

innermost body within the body that we call the heart?

 

 

 

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Answer

 

4. If, as the Psalmist says, 'AH the glory of the king's daughter is within' (Ps. 45: 13. LXX), how shall we seek it

somewhere without? And if, as St Paul says, 'God has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts, crying: "Abba Father" '

(cf. Gal. 4:6). how shall we not pray in union with the Spirit that is in our hearts? And if, as the Lord of the prophets

and the apostles says, 'The kingdom of heaven is within us' (cf. Luke 17:21), how shall we not find ourselves outside

the kingdom of heaven if we strive to alienate our intellect from what lies within us? 'An upright heart', says

Solomon, 'seeks conscious awareness' (cf. Prov. 27:21. LXX), the awareness or perception which he elsewhere calls

noetic and divine (cf. Prov. 2:5. LXX). It is to such awareness that the fathers urge all of us when they say: 'A noetic

intellect assuredly acquires noetic awareness. Let us never cease from seeking for this, which is both in us and not in

us." Do you not see that whether we wish to withstand sin, or to acquire virtue, or to gain the reward of the contest

for virtue or, rather, the noetic awareness which is the pledge of the reward for virtue, we have to bring our intellect

back into our body and into ourselves? On the other hand, to extract the intellect not from a materialistic manner of

thought but from the body itself, in the hope that there, outside the body, it may attain noetic visions, is the worst of

profane delusions, the root and source of every heresy, an invention of demons, a doctrine engendering folly and

itself the result of dementedness. It is for this reason that those who speak by the inspiration of the demons are out of

 

 

 

their wits and do not even comprehend what they say. But we, on the contrary, install our intellect not only within

the body and the heart, but also within itself.

 

5. Those who claim that the intellect is never separate from the soul, but is always within it, assert consequently

that it is not possible to reinstall it in this way. They are ignorant, it seems, that the essence of the intellect is one

thing and its energy is another. Or, rather, although they know this, they deliberately side with the deceivers, making

play with verbal equivocations. 'By not accepting the simplicity of spiritual teaching,' says St Basil the Great, 'these

people whose wits are sharpened for disputation by dialectic pervert the power of the truth with the counter-

arguments of spurious knowledge (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20)

 

 

 

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and with sophistic plausibilities. ' Such inevitably is the character of those who, without being spiritual, think

themselves competent to judge and give instruction in spiritual matters (cf 1 Cor. 2:14-15). It should not have

escaped them that the intellect is not like the eye which sees other visible things but does not see itself. On the

contrary the intellect functions, first, by observing things other than itself, so far as this is necessary; and this is what

St Dionysios the Great calls the intellect's 'direct movement'. Secondly, it returns to itself and operates within itself,

and so beholds itself; and this is called by St Dionysios the intellect's 'circular movement'. This is the intellect's

highest and most befitting activity and, through it, it even transcends itself and is united with God. 'For the intellect,'

writes St Basil, 'when not dispersed outwardly' - note that it does go out from itself; and so, having gone out, it must

find a way to return inwards - 'returns to itself, and through itself ascends to God' in a way that is free from delusion.

St Dionysios, the unerring beholder of noetic things, also says that this circular movement of the intellect is not

subject to delusion.

 

6. The father of error, ever desirous of seducing man from this ascent and of leading him to that form of action

which permits the devil to insinuate his delusions, has not found until now, so far as we know, a helper who with

fair-sounding words would aid and abet him in achieving this. But now, if what you tell me is correct, it seems that

he has discovered collaborators who write treatises which lead to this very thing and who endeavor to persuade

people, including those who have embraced the sublime life of stillness, that during prayer it is better to keep the

intellect outside the body. They do not respect even the definitive and unambiguous statement of St John Klimakos,

who with his words constructed the ladder leading to heaven: 'A hesychast is one who tries to enshrine what is

bodiless within his body.' And our spiritual fathers have rightly taught us things in harmony with this. For if the

hesychast does not enclose his intellect within his body, how can he possess within himself the One who is invested

with the body and who as its natural form penetrates all structurally organized

 

 

 

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Answer

 

matter? The determined exterior aspect of this matter - the material body - cannot enshrine the essence of the

intellect until the material body itself truly lives by adopting a form of life appropriate to union with the intellect.

 

7. Do you see, brother, how St John has shown, not simply from the spiritual but even from a human point of

view, how vital it is /or those who seek to be true masters of themselves, and to be monks according to their inner

self, to install or possess the intellect within the body? Nor is it out of place to teach beginners in particular to look

within themselves and to bring their mtellect within themselves by means of their breathing. For no one of sound

judgment would prevent a person who has not yet achieved a true knowledge of himself from concentrating his

intellect within himself with the aid of certain methods. Since the intellect of those recently embarked on the

spiritual path continually darts away again as soon as it has been concentrated, they must continually bring it back

once more; for in their inexperience they are unaware that of all things it is the most difficult to observe and the

most mobile. That is why some teachers recommend them to pay attention to the exhalation and inhalation of their

breath, and to restrain it a little, so that while they are watching it the intellect, too, may be held in check. This they

should do until they advance with God's help to a higher stage and are able to prevent their intellect from going out

to external things, to keep it uncompounded, and to gather it into what St Dionysios calls a state of 'unified

concentration'. This control of the breathing may, indeed, be regarded as a spontaneous consequence', of paying

attention to the intellect; for the breath is always quietly inhaled and exhaled at moments of intense concentration,

especially in the case of those who practice stillness both bodily and mentally. Such people keep the Sabbath in a

spiritual fashion and, so far as is possible, they rest from all personal activities; they strip their soul's powers free

from every transient, fleeting and compound form of [knowledge, from every type of sense -perception and, in

general, from every bodily act that is under our sway, and, so far as they can, even from those not entirely under our

sway, such as breathing.

 

8. In those who have made progress in stillness all these things

 

 

 

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Answer

 

come to pass without toil awl anxious care, few of necessity they spontaneously follow upon the soul's perfect

entry into itself. But where beginners are concerned none of them can be achieved without effort. Patient endurance

is the fruit of love, for 'love patiently accepts all things' (1 Cor. 13:7), and teaches us to achieve such endurance by

forcing ourselves so that through patience we may attain love; and this is a case in point. But what need is there to

say anything more about this? Everyone possessing experience can but laugh when contradicted by those who lack

 

 

 

experience; for such a person is taught not by argument but by the exertions he makes and the experience that comes

from these exertions. It is from experience that we reap what is profitable, and it is experience that refutes the

fruitless arguments of contentious braggarts.

 

A great teacher has said that after the fall our inner being naturally adapts itself to outward forms. When, then,

someone is striving to concentrate his intellect in himself so that it functions, not according to the direct form of

movement but according to the circular, delusion-free form, how could he not gain mimensely if. instead of letting

his gaze flit hither and thither, he fixes it upon his chest or his navel as upon a point of support? Outwardly curling

himself- so far as is possible - into the form of a circle, in conformity with the mode of action that he tries to

establish in his intellect, he also, through this same position of his body, sends into his heart the power of the

intellect that is dispersed outwardly when his gaze is turned outward. If the power of the noetic demon resides in the

navel of the belly, since there the law of sin exercises its dominion and provides him with fodder, why should we not

establish there also the law of the intellect that, armed with prayer, contends against that dominion (cf. Rom. 7:23)?

Then the evil spirit expelled through our baptism - 'the water of regeneration' (Tit. 3:5) - will not return with seven

other spirits more wicked than himself and again take up residence in us, so that 'the last state is worse than the first'

(Luke 11:26).

 

9. 'Be attentive to yourself,' says Moses (Deut. 15:9. LXX) - that is, to the whole of yourself, not to a few things

that pertain to you, neglecting the rest. By what means? With the intellect assuredly, for nothing else can pay

attention to the whole of yourself. Set this guard, therefore, over your soul and body, for thereby you will readily

free yourself from the evil passions of body and soul. Take yourself in hand, then, be attentive to yourself, scrutinize

yourself; or, rather, guard.

 

 

 

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Answer

 

watch over and test yourself, for in this manner you will subdue your rebellious unregenerate self to the Spirit and

there will never again be 'some secret iniquity in your heart' (Deut. 15:9). If, says, the Preacher, the spirit that-rules

over the evil demons and passions rises up against you, do not desert your place (cf, Eccles. 10:4) - that is to say, do

not leave any part of your soul or body unwatched. In this way you will master the evil spirits that assail you and

you will boldly present yourself to Him who examines hearts and minds (cf. Ps. 7:9); and He will not scrutinize you,

for you will have already scrutinized yourself. As St Paul says, 'If we judged ourselves we would not be judged' (1

Cor. 11:31).

 

Then you will experience the blessing that David experienced, and you will say to God, 'Darkness will not be

darkness with Thee and night shall be bright as day for me, for Thou hast taken possession of my mind' (cf. Ps.

139:12-13). It is as if David were saying that not only has God become the sole object of his soul's desire, but also

that any spark of this desire in his body has returned to the soul that produced it, and through the soul has risen to

God, hangs upon Him and cleaves to Him. For just as those who cleave to the perishable pleasures of the senses

 

 

 

expend all the soul's desire in satisfying their fleshly proclivities and become so entirely materialistic that the Spirit

of God cannot abide in them (cf. Gen. 6:3), so in the case of those who have elevated their intellect to God, and who

through divine longing have attached their soul to Him, the flesh is also transformed, is exalted with the soul,

communes together with the soul in the Divine, and itself likewise becomes the possession and dwellmg-place of

God, no longer harboring any enmity towards Him or any desires that are contrary to the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5: 17).

 

10. Which is the place - the flesh or the intellect - most expedient for the spirit of evil that rises up against us from

below? Is it not the flesh, in which St Paul says that there is nothing good (cf. Rom. 7:18) until the law of life makes

its habitation there? It is on account of this especially that the flesh must never escape our attention. How can it

become our own? How can we avoid abandoning it? How can we repulse the devil's assault upon it - especially we

who do not yet know how to contend spiritually with the spiritual forces of wickedness - unless we train ourselves to

pay attention to ourselves also with respect to the outward positioning of the body? But why do I speak of those

newly engaged in spiritual warfare when there are more perfect

 

 

 

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people, not only after Christ's incarnation but also before it, who during prayer have adopted this outward

positioning of the body and to whom the Deity readily hearkened? Elijah himself, pre-eminent among spiritual

visionaries, leaned his head upon his knees, and having in this manner assiduously gathered his intellect into itself

and into God he put an end to the drought that had lasted many years (cf. 1 Kgs. 18:42-45). But it seems to me,

brother, that these men from whom you say you heard such slanders suffer from the illness of the Pharisees: they

refuse to examine and cleanse the inside of the cup - that is to say, their heart - and not being grounded in the

traditions of the fathers they try to assume precedence over everyone, as new teachers of the law (Matt. 23:25-26).

They disdain the form of prayer that God vindicated in the case of the publican, and they exhort others who pray not

to adopt it. For the Lord says in the Gospel that the publican 'would not even lift his eyes to heaven' (Luke 18:13).

Those who when praying turn their gaze on themselves are trying to imitate the publican; yet their critics call them

'navel-psychics', with the clear intention of slandering them. For who among the people who pray in this way has

ever said that the soul is located in the navel?

 

1 1 . These critics, then, are evident calumniators; indeed, so far from healing those in error, they revile those who

should be praised. They write not for the sake of truth and the life of stillness, but out of self -flattery ; not in order to

lead men towards spiritual watchfulness, but in order to draw them away from it. For they do all they can to discredit

both the practice of hesychasm and those who engage in it in the appropriate manner. They would readily describe

as belly-psychics those who said: 'The law of God is in the centre of my belly' (cf. Ps. 40:8. LXX), and: 'My belly

shall sound as a harp and my inward parts as a brazen wall that Thou hast restored' (cf. Isa. 16:1 1. LXX). In general

they slander all those who use corporeal symbols to represent, name and search out things noetic, divine and

spiritual. Yet in spite of this they will inflict no injury on those whom they misrepresent or, rather, because of their

attacks the saints will receive more blessings and still greater rewards in heaven, while then" opponents will remain

 

 

 

outside the sacred veils, unable to gaze upon even the shadows of the truth. It is, indeed, greatly to be feared that

they will be punished eternally, for not only have they separated themselves from the saints, but they have also

inveighed against them by their words.

 

 

 

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12. You know the life of Symeon the New Theologian, and how it was all virtually a miracle, glorified by God

through supernatural miracles. You know also his writings, which without exaggeration one can call writings of life.

In addition, you know of St Nikiphoros, how he passed many years in quietness and stillness and how he

subsequently withdrew into the most isolated parts of the Holy Mountain of Athos and devoted himself to gathering

texts of the holy fathers concerned with the practice of watchfulness, thus passing this practice on to us. These two

saints clearly teach those who have chosen this way of life the practices which, you report, are now under attack. But

why do I refer to saints of past times? For shortly before our own day men of attested sanctity, recognized as

endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, have transmitted these things to us by their own mouths. You have heard

of Theoliptos, whose name signifies 'inspired by God' and who is recognized in our days as an authentic theologian

and a trustworthy visionary of the truth of God's mysteries - the bishop of Philadelphia or, rather, he who from

Philadelphia as from a lampstand illumined the world. You have heard also of Athanasios, who for not a few years

adorned the patriarchal throne and whose tomb God has honored: and of Neilos of Italy, the emulator of the great

Neilos; of Seliotis and Ilias, who were in no wise inferior to Neilos; and of Gabriel and Athanasios, who were

endowed with the gift of prophecy. You have certainly heard of all these men and of many others who lived before

them, with them and after them, all of whom exhort and encourage those wishing to embrace this tradition - this

tradition which the new doctors of hesychia, who have no idea of the life of stillness and who instruct not from

experience but through spurious argument, try to repudiate, deform and disparage, all to no

 

 

 

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profit for their hearers. We, however, have spoken in person with some of these saints and they have been our

teachers. Are we, then, to count as nothing these people who have been taught by experience and grace, and to

submit ourselves to those who assume the role of teachers out of conceit and in a spirit of contention? This we will

never, never do. And you, too, should turn away from them, wisely repeating to yourself the words of David, 'Bless

 

 

 

the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name' (Ps. 103;1). Guided by the fathers, take note how

they urge us always to bring our intellect back into ourselves.

 

 

 

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1. Because the Deity is goodness itself, true mercy and an abyss of loving bounty - or, rather. He is that which

embraces and contains this abyss, since He transcends every name that is named (cf Eph. 1:21) and everything we

can conceive - we can receive mercy only by union with Him. We unite ourselves to Him, in so far as this is

possible, by participating in the godlike virtues and by entering into communion with Him through prayer and

praise. Because the virtues are similitudes of God, to participate in them puts us in a fit state to receive the Deity, yet

it does not actually unite us to Him. But prayer through its sacral and hieratic power actualizes our ascent to and

union with the Deity, for it is a bond between noetic creatures and their Creator. Or at least this happens when our

prayer, through its fervent compunction, transcends the passions and conceptual thoughts; for the intellect, while

still passion-dominated, cannot be united to God. Thus so long as the intellect when praying remains in a passion-

charged state, it will not obtain mercy; but to the extent that it can dispel distractive thoughts it will experience

inward grief, and in so far as it experiences such grief it will partake of God's mercy. And if with humility it

continues to savor this mercy it will transform entirely the aspect of the soul that is accessible to passion.

 

2. When the intellect's oneness becomes threefold, yet remains single, then it is united with the divine Triadic

Unity, and it closes the door to every form of delusion and is raised above the flesh, the world and the prince of the

world. As the intellect thus escapes the grip of these enemies, it finds itself in itself and in God; and for as long as it

abides in this state it delights in the sense of spiritual jubilation that springs up within it. The intellect's oneness

becomes threefold, yet remains single, when it reverts to itself and through itself ascends to God. The intellect's

return to itself is its own self-guarding, while its

 

 

 

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ascent to God is initiated through prayer, prayer that is succinct, although at times it may be more lengthy in

form, which requires more effort. If you persist in concentrating your intellect in this way and in raising it up

towards the Deity, and in forcibly restraining the mind's propensity to stray hither and thither, you will draw

noetically close to God. will reap things ineffable, taste the age to come, and by noetic perception will know that the

Lord is fall of bounty, in accordance with the Psalmist's words, 'Taste and know that the Lord is bountiful' (Ps.

34:8). It is, perhaps, not very difficult for the intellect to find itself in the threefold state - for it itself to be, that is to

 

 

 

say, both the guard, that which is guarded, and that which prays while it is keeping guard; but it is extremely

difficult to persevere for a long time in this state that gives birth to things ineffable, for the effort involved in

acquiring every other virtue is slight and altogether easy to sustain when compared with this. Hence many, unable to

endure the self-constraint needed for acquiring the virtue of prayer, do not attain a plenitude of divine gifts; but

those who do persist are rewarded with greater manifestations of divine aid, which sustain, support and joyfully

carry them forward. Then what is difficult to accomplish is easily achieved, for they are invested with what one

might call an angelic capacity, which empowers our human nature to commune with what lies beyond it. This

accords with the words of the prophet, that those who persist will grow wings and will gain new strength (cf Isa.

40:31).

 

3. The intellectual activity consisting of thought and intuition is called intellect, and the power that activates

thought and intuition is likewise the intellect; and this power Scripture also calls the heart. It is because the intellect

is pre-eminent among our inner powers that our soul is deiform. In those devoted to prayer, and especially to the

single-phrased Jesus Prayer, the intellect's noetic activity is easily ordered and purified; but the power that produces

this activity cannot be purified unless all the soul's other powers are also purified. For the soul is a single entity

possessing many powers. Thus if one of its powers is vitiated the whole of it is denied; for since the soul is single,

the evil in one of its powers is communicated to alt the rest Now since each of the soul's powers produces a different

energy, it is possible that with diligence one of these energies might be temporarily purified; but the power in

question will not therefore be pure, since it communes with all the rest and so it remains impure rather than pure.

Suppose, then.

 

 

 

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that a person has purified his intellectual energy through diligence in prayer, and has been to a certain extent

enlightened either by the light of knowledge or in addition by noetic illumination: if he considers himself for this

reason to be pure he deceives himself and is utterly mistaken, and through his presumption he throws wide open a

door into himself for the devil, who always strives to delude us human beings. But if he recognizes his heart's

impurity, and is not filled with pride because of the partial degree of purity he has attained, but uses it as an aid, then

he will see more clearly the impurity of the other powers of his soul and will progress in humility, his inward grief

will grow and he will find suitable ways of healing each of his soul's powers. He will cleanse its moral aspect with

the right kind of ascetic practice, its power of spiritual apperception with spiritual knowledge, its power of

contemplation with prayer, and in this way he will attain perfect, true and enduring purity of heart and intellect - a

purity that no one can ever experience except through perfection in the ascetic life, persistent practice,

contemplation and contemplative prayer.

 

 

 

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1. That the world has an origin nature teaches and history confirms, while the discoveries of the arts, the

institution of laws and the constitution of states also clearly affirm it. We know who are the founders of nearly all

the arts, the lawgivers and those who established states, and indeed we know what has been written about the origin

of everything. Yet we see that none of this surpasses the account of the genesis of the world and of time as narrated

by Moses. And Moses, who wrote about the genesis of the world, has so irrefutably substantiated the tnith of what

he writes through such extraordinary actions and words that he has convinced virtually the whole human race and

has persuaded them to deride those who sophistically teach the contrary. Since the nature of this world is such that

everything in it requires a specific cause in each instance, and since without such a cause nothing can exist at all, the

very nature of things demonstrates that there must be a first principle which is self-existent and does not derive from

any other principle.

 

2. That the world not only has an origin but also will have a consummation is affirmed by the fact that all things

in it are contingent, and indeed it is partially coming to an end all the time. Moreover, sure and irrefutable assurance

of this is furnished by the prophecy both of those inspired by God and of Christ Himself, the God of all; and not

only the pious but also the impious must believe that what they say is true, since everyone can see that what they

predicted about other things has proved correct. From them we leam that the world will not lapse entirely into non-

being but, like our bodies and in a manner analogous to what will happen to us, it will be changed by the

 

 

 

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power of the Holy Spirit, being dissolved and transformed into something more divine.

 

3. The ancient Greek sages say that the heavens revolve in accordance with the nature of the world soul, and that

they teach justice and reason. What sort of justice? What kind of reason? For if the heavens revolve not by virtue of

their own nature but by virtue of the nature of what they call the world soul, and if this world soul belongs to the

entire world, how is it that the earth and the water and the air do not also revolve? Yet though in their opinion the

soul is ever-moving, none the less the earth is stationary by nature, and so is water, which occupies the lower region,

whereas the heavens, which occupy the upper region, are by nature ever in motion and move in a circle. But what is

the character of this world soul by virtue of whose nature the heavens revolve? Is it endowed with intelligence? If

so, it must be self-determining, and so it would not always move the celestial body in the same way, for what is self-

determining moves differently at different times. And what trace of deifomi soul do we observe in the lowermost

sphere - the sphere of the earth - or in the elements most proximate to it, namely those of water, air, and even fire

itself, for the world soul supposedly pertains to them as well? And again, how in their opinion are some things

animate and others inanimate? And among inanimate things it turns out that not merely a few examples taken at

 

 

 

random but every stone, every piece of metal, all earth, water, air and fire, moves by virtue of its own nature and not

by virtue of a soul; for they admit that this is true even of fire. Yet if the soul is common to all, how is it that only

the heavens move by virtue of the nature of this soul and not by virtue of their own nature? And how in their view

can the soul that moves the celestial body be void of intelligence since according to them it is the source of our

souls? But if it is void of intelligence it must be either sentient or vegetative. We observe, however, that no soul

moves a body without the assistance of organs, and we cannot observe any such organ that specifically serves the

earth, or the heavens, or any of the other element contained within them; for every organ is composed of various

natures, while the elements severally, and above all the heavens, are simple and not composite. The soul is the

actuality of a body possessing organs and having the potentiality for life; but the heavens, since they have no

member or part that can serve as an organ, have no potentiality for life. How, then, can that which is incapable of

life possibly have a soul? But

 

 

 

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those who have become 'vain in their reasonings' have invented 'out of their foolish hearts' (Rom. 1:21) a world

soul that does not exist, never has existed, and never will exist. Yet they claim that this soul is the demiurge and

governor and controller of the entire sensible world and, farther, that it is some sort of root and source of our souls

or, rather, of every soul. Moreover, they say that it is bom from the intellect, and that the intellect is other in

substance than the supreme Intellect which they call God. Such doctrines are taught by those among them most

proficient in wisdom and theology, but they are no better than men who deify wild beasts and stones. In fact their

religiosity is much worse, for beasts, gold, stone and bronze are real things, even though they are among the least of

creatures; but the star-bearing world soul neither exists, nor is it anything real, for it is nothing at all but the

invention of an evil mind.

 

4. Since, they say, the celestial body must be in motion, and there is no place to which it can advance, it turns

about itself and thus its 'advancement' is that of rotation. Well and good. So if there were a place, it would move

upwards, like fire, and more so than fire since it is by nature lighter than fire. Yet this movement is due not to the

nature of a soul but to that of lightness. Thus if the heavens' motion is rotational, and this motion exists by virtue of

their own nature, and not that of the soul, then the celestial body revolves not by virtue of the nature of the soul but

by virtue of its own nature. Hence it does not possess a soul, nor is there any such thing as a celestial or pancosmic

soul. The only soul that possesses intelligence is the human soul, and this is not celestial, but supracelestial, not

because of its location but because of its very nature, for its essence is noetic.

 

5. The celestial body does not move forward or upward. The reason for this is not that there is no place beyond it.

For adjacent to the heavens and enclosed within them is the sphere of ether, and this too does not advance upward,

not because there is no place to which it might proceed - for the breadth of the heavens embraces it - but because

what is above is lighter. Hence, the heavens are by their own nature higher than the sphere of ether. It is not because

there is no place higher that the heavens do not proceed upward, but because there is no body more subtle and light

 

 

 

than they are.

 

6. No body is higher than the celestial body. Yet this is not to say that the region beyond the heavens does not

admit a body, but only that the heavens contain every body and there is no other body

 

 

 

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beyond. But if a body could pass beyond the heavens, which is our pious belief, then the region beyond the

heavens would not be inaccessible. God, who fills all things and extends infinitely beyond the heavens, existed

before the world, filling as He now fills the whole region of the world. Yet this did not prevent a body from existing

in that region. Thus even outside of the heavens there is nothing to prevent the existence of a region, such as that

which surrounds the world or as that which is in the world, in which a body could abide.

 

7. Since there is no such hindrance, how is it, then, that the celestial body does not move upwards, but turning

back upon itself moves in a circular fashion? Because, as it is the lightest of bodies, it rises to the surface of all the

others and is the highest of them all, as well .as being the most mobile. Just as what is most compressed and most

heavy is the lowest and most stationary, so what is more ranfied and lightest is the highest and most mobile. Thus

since the celestial body moves by nature above the level of all other bodies, and since by nature it is impossible for it

to separate itself from those things on the surface of which it is located, and since those things on which it is located

are spherical, it must encircle them unceasingly. And this it does not by virtue of the nature of a soul but by virtue of

its own proper nature as a body, since it passes successively from place to place, which is the movement most

characteristic of the highest bodies, just as a stationary state most characterizes the lowest bodies.

 

8. It may be observed that in the regions close about us the winds, whose nature it is to rise upwards, move about

these regions without separating themselves from them and without proceeding further in an upward direction. This

is not because there is no place for them to rise to, but because what is above the winds is lighter than they are. They

remain on the surface of the regions above which they are situated because by nature they are lighter than those

regions. And they move around those regions by virtue of their own nature and not that of a soul. I think that

Solomon, wise in all things, intended to indicate this partial likeness that the winds bear to the celestial body when

he applied the same kind of language to the winds as is used of it; for he wrote, 'The wind proceeds circle-wise, and

returns on its own circuits' (Eccles. 1 :6). But the nature of the winds round about us diners from the nature of higher

bodies, in that the winds' motion is slower and they are more heavy.

 

9. According to the Greek sages, there are two opposing zones of

 

 

 

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the earth that are temperate and habitable, and each of these is divided into two inhabited regions, thus making

four in all. Therefore they assert that there are also four races of men upon the earth, and that these are unable to

have any contact with one another. There are, according to these philosophers, men living in the temperate zone

lateral to us, who are separated from us by the torrid zone. And there are people who dwell antipodal to these latter,

living from their point of view beneath the temperate zone and its inhabitants. In a similar way there are those who

dwell beneath us. The first they say are opposite to us, while the second are antipodal and reversed. What these

sages did not realize is that only one tenth of the earth's sphere is land, while the rest is almost entirely swallowed up

by the abyss of the waters.

 

10. You should realize that, apart from the region of the earth which we inhabit, there is no other habitable land,

since it is all inundated by the waters of the abyss. You should also bear in mind that (omitting ether) the four

elements out of which the world is fashioned balance one another equally, and that each of the elements has its own

sphere, the size of which is proportionate to its density, as Aristotle also thinks. Tor', he says, 'there are five

elements located in five spherical regions, and the greater spheres always encompass the lesser: water encompasses

earth; air encompasses water; fire, air; and ether, fire. This constitutes the world.'

 

1 1 . Ether is more translucent than fire, which is also called 'combustible matter', and fire is many times greater in

volume than air, and air than water, and water than earth which, as it is the most compressed, is the least in volume

of all the four elements under the heavens. Since the sphere of water is many times greater in size than that of earth,

if the two spheres - that of water and that of earth - had the same centre and the water was poured over the entire

surface of the earth, the water would not have left any part of the earth's surface available for use by terrestrial

animals, since it would have covered all the soil and the earth's surface would have been everywhere at a

considerable depth beneath it. But since the waters do not entirely swallow up earth's surface - for the dry land we

inhabit is not covered by them - the sphere of the waters must of necessity be eccentric to the earth's sphere. Thus

we must try to discover by how much it is

 

 

 

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eccentric and where its centre lies, whether above or beneath us. Yet it cannot be above us, since we see a part of

the water's surface below us. Thus from our point of view the centre of the sphere of water is beneath the earth's

centre. We have still to discover how far this centre is from the centre of the earth.

 

12. You can see how far from our viewpoint the centre of water's sphere lies beneath the centre of earth's sphere if

you take into consideration that the surface of the water visible to us and beneath us - just as the ground we walk

upon is beneath us - coincides almost exactly with the surface of the earth which we inhabit. But the habitable region

of the earth is about one tenth of its circumference, for the earth has five Stones, and we inhabit half of one of those

five. Hence if you want to fit a sphere that encompasses the earth on to one that encompasses this tenth part of its

 

 

 

surface you will find that the diameter of the exterior sphere is nearly twice as great as the diameter of the interior

sphere, while its volume is eight times greater; and its centre will be situated at what is from our viewpoint the

bottom extremity of the sphere of the earth. This is clear from the following diagram.

 

13. Let us represent the earth's sphere with a circle on the inside of which are the letters A, B, C, D; and around

this let us draw another circle representing water's sphere, which touches the first circle at its highest point, and on

the outside of this second circle let us write the letters E, F, G. H. It will be found that, from our point of view, the

centre of the outer circle will lie on the circumference of the inner circle at its bottom extremity. And since the

diameter of the outer circle is twice that of the inner circle, and since it can be demonstrated geometrically that the

sphere whose diameter is twice that of another sphere is eight times the size of the latter, it follows that one eighth of

the sphere of the element of water is contained by and merged with earth's sphere. It is for this reason that many

springs of water gush forth from the earth and abundant, ever-flowing rivers issue from it, and the gulfs of many

seas pour into it, and many lakes spread over it. There is scarcely any place on the earth where, if you dig, you will

not find water flowing beneath.

 

1 4. As the above diagram and logic itself teach us, no region of the earth other than our own is inhabited. For just

as the earth would be totally uninhabitable if both earth and water had the same centre, so, even more truly, if the

water has its centre at what is from our point of

 

 

 

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view the lowest extremity of the earth, all the other parts of the earth, apart from the region where we live which

 

 

 

fits into the upper section of the water's sphere, must be uninhabitable since they are flooded by water. And since it

has already been demonstrated that embodied deiform souls dwell only in the inhabited region of the earth, and that

there is but one such region on the earth - the one in which we live - it follows that land animals not endowed with

intelligence also dwell solely in this region.

 

15. Sight is formed from the manifold impressions of colors and shapes; smell from odors; taste from flavors;

hearing from sounds;

 

and touch from things that are rough or smooth on contact. The impressions that the senses receive come from

bodies but, although corporeal, they are not bodies themselves. For they do not arise directly from bodies, but from

the forms that are associated with

 

 

 

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bodies. Yet they are not themselves these forms, since they are but impressions left by the forms; and so, like

images, they are inseparably separated from these forms. This is particularly evident in the case of sight, especially

when objects are seen in mirrors.

 

16. These sense impressions are in turn appropriated from the senses by the soul's imaginative faculty; and this

faculty totally separates not the senses themselves but what we have called the images that exist within them from

the bodies and their forms. It stores them up like treasures and brings them forward ulteriorly - now one and now

another, each in its own time - for its own use even when there is no corresponding body present. In this way it sets

before itself all manner of things seen, heard, tasted, smelled and touched.

 

17. In creatures endowed with intelligence this imaginative faculty of the soul is an intermediary between the

intellect and the senses. For the intellect beholds and dwells upon the images received in itself from the senses -

images separated from bodies and already bodiless - and it formulates various kinds of thought by means of

distinctions, analysis and inference. This happens in various ways - impassionately or dispassionately or in a state

between the two, both with and without error. From these thoughts are bom most virtues and vices, as well as

opinions, whether right or wrong. Yet not every thought that comes into the intellect has its origin in the images of

things perceived or is connected with them. There are some thoughts that do not come within the scope of the

senses, but are given to the thinking faculty by the intellect itself. As regards our thoughts, then, not every truth or

error, virtue or vice has its origin in the imagination.

 

18. What is remarkable and deserving our attention is how beauty or ugliness, wealth or poverty, glory or ill

repute - and, in short, either the noetic light that bestows eternal life or the noetic darkness of chastisement - enter

the soul, becoming firmly established within it, from merely transitory and sensible things.

 

19. When the intellect enthrones itself on the soul's imaginative faculty and thereby becomes associated with the

senses, it engenders a composite form of knowledge. For suppose you look at the setting sun and then see the moon

follow it, illuminated in the small part turned towards the sun, and in the subsequent days you note that the moon

gradually recedes and is illuminated more brightly until the opposite process sets in; and suppose you then see the

 

 

 

moon draw closer from the other side and its hght wane more and more until it disappears

 

 

 

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altogether at the point at which it first received illumination; suppose you take intellectual note of all this, having

in your imagination the images you have previously received and with the moon itself ever present before your eyes,

you will in this way understand from sense-perception, imagination and intellection that the moon gets its light from

the sun, and that its orbit is much lower than the sun's and closer to the earth.

 

20. As in this way we achieve knowledge of things pertaining to the moon, so in a similar way we can achieve

knowledge of things pertaining to the sun - the solar eclipses and their nodes - as well as of the parallaxes, intervals

and varied configurations involving the planets, and in short of all phenomena concerning the heavens. The same

holds true with regard to the laws of nature, and every method and art, and in brief with regard to all knowledge

acquired from the perception of particulars. Such knowledge we gather from the senses and the imagination by

means of the intellect. Yet no such knowledge can ever be called spiritual, for it is natural, things of the Spirit being

beyond its scope (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14).

 

2 1 . Where can we learn anything certain and true about God, about the world as a whole, and about ourselves? Is

it not from the teaching of the Holy Spirit? For this teaching has taught us that God is the only Being that truly is -

the only eternal and immutable Being - who neither receives being from non-being nor returns to non-being; who is

Tri-hypostatic and Almighty, and who through His Logos brought forth all things from non-being in six days or,

rather, as Moses states. He created them instantaneously. For we have heard him say, 'First of all God created

heaven and earth' (Gen. 1:1). And He did not create them totally, empty or without any intermediary bodies at all.

For the earth was mixed with water, and each was pregnant with air and with the various species of animals and

plants, while the heavens were pregnant with various lights and fires; and so with the heavens and the earth all

things received their existence. Thus first of all God created the heavens and the earth as a kind of all-embracing

material substance with the potentiality of giving birth to all things. In this way He rightly rebuts those who wrongly

think that matter preexisted on its own as an autonomous entity.

 

22. After this initial creation. He who brings forth all things from non-being proceeds as it were to embellish and

adorn the world. In six days He allotted its own proper and appropriate rank to each of

 

 

 

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His creatures that together constitute His world. He differentiates each by command alone, as though bringing

forth from hidden treasuries the things stored within, giving them form, and disposing and composing them

harmoniously, with perfection and aptness, one to the other, each to all and all to each. Establishing the. immovable

earth as the centre He encircled it in the highest vault with the ever-moving heavens and in His great wisdom bound

the two together by means of the intermediary regions. Thus the same world is both at rest and moving. For while

the heavenly bodies encircle the earth in rapid and perpetual motion, the immovable body of the earth necessarily

occupies the central position, its state of rest serving as a counterbalance to the heavens' mobility. In this way the

pancosmic sphere does not change its position as it would if it were cylindrical.

 

23. Thus by assigning such positions to the two bodies that mark the boundaries of the universe - the earth and the

heavens - the Master-craftsman both made fast and set in motion what one might call this entire and orderly world;

and He farther allotted what was fitting to each thing lying between these two limits. Some He placed on high,

enjoining them to move in the upper regions and to revolve for all time round the uttermost boundary of the universe

in a wise and ordered manner. Those are the light and active bodies capable of making bodies that lie beneath them

fit and serviceable. They are most wisely set above the world's middle region so that they can sufficiently dispel the

excessive coldness there and restrain their own excessive heat to its proper level. In some manner they also restrict

the excessive mobility of the world's outermost, bounds, for they have their own opposing movement and they hold

that outermost region in place through their counter-rotation. At the same time they provide us with beneficial yearly

changes of season, whereby we can measure temporal extension; and to those with understanding they supply

knowledge of the God who has created, ordered and adorned the world. Hence He commanded those bodies in the

upper region to dance round it in swift rotation for two reasons: to fill the entire universe with beauty and to furnish

a variety of more specific benefits. He set lower down in the middle region other bodies of a heavy and passive

nature that come into being and undergo change, that decompose and are recompounded, and that suffer alteration

for a useful purpose. He established these bodies and their relationships to one another in an orderly manner

 

 

 

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so that all things together could rightly be called 'cosmos', that is to say, that which is well-ordered.

 

24. In this manner the first of beings was brought forth into creation and after that another was brought forth, and

after that still another, and so on, until last of all man was brought forth. So great was the honor and providential

care which God bestowed upon man that He brought the entire sensible world into being before him and for his

sake. The kingdom of heaven was prepared for him from the foundation of the world (cf Matt. 25:34); God first

took counsel concerning him, and then he was fashioned by God's hand and according to the image of God (cf. Gen.

1 :26-27). God did not form the whole of man from matter and from the elements of this sensible world, as He did

the other animals. He formed only man's body from these materials; but man's soul He took from things

supracelestial or, rather, it came from God Himself when mysteriously He breathed life into man (cf. Gen. 2:7). The

human soul is something great and wondrous, superior to the entire world; it overlooks the universe and has all

 

 

 

things in its care; it is capable of knowing and receiving God, and more than anything else has the capacity of

manifesting the sublime magnificence of the Master-Craftsman. Not only capable of receiving God and His grace

through ascetic struggle, it is also able to be united in Him in a single hypostasis.

 

25. Here and in such things as these lie the true wisdom and the saving knowledge that procure for us the

blessedness of heaven. What Euclid, Marinos or Ptolemy has been able to understand these truths? What

Empedocleans, Socratics, Aristotelians and Platonists with their logical methods and mathematical demonstrations?

Or, rather, what form of sense -perception has grasped such things, what intellect apprehended them? If the wisdom

of the Spirit seemed something lowly to these philosophers of nature and their followers, this fact alone

demonstrates its incomparable superiority. In much the same way as animals not endowed with intelligence are

related to the wisdom of these men - or, if you wish, as children would consider the pastries they hold in their hands

superior to the imperial crown and to all the knowledge of these philosophers - so are these philosophers in relation

to the true and sublime wisdom and teaching of the Spirit.

 

26. To know God truly - in so far as this is possible - is incomparably superior to the philosophy of the Greeks,

and simply to know what place man has in relation to God surpasses all their wisdom. For man

 

 

 

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alone among all terrestrial and celestial beings is created in the image of his Maker, so that he might look to God

and love Him and be an initiate and worshipper of God alone, and so that he might preserve his own beauty by his

faith in God and his devotion and affection towards Him, and might know that whatever is found on earth and in the

heavens is inferior to himself and is completely void of intelligence. This the Greek sages could never conceive of,

and they dishonored our nature and were irreverent towards God. 'They worshipped and served the creature rather

than the Creator' (Rom. 1 :25), attributing to the sense -perceptible yet insensate stars an intelligence in each case

proportionate in power and dignity to its physical size. They wretchedly worshipped these things, called them

greater and lesser gods, and committed the lordship of all things to them. Did they not thus shame their own souls,

dishonoring and impoverishing them, and filling them with a truly noetic and chastising darkness by their

preoccupation with a philosophy based on sense -objects?

 

27. To know that we have been created in God's image prevents us from deifying even the noetic world. 'Image'

here refers not to the body but to the nature of the intellect. Nothing in nature is superior to the intellect, for if there

were then it would constitute the divine image. Since, therefore, the intellect is what is best in us and this, even

though it is in the divine image, is none the less created by God, why, then, is it difficult to understand or, rather,

how is it not self-evident that the Creator of that which is noetic in us is also the Creator of everything noetic? Thus

every noetic being, since it is likewise created in the image of God, is our fellow-servant, even if certain noetic

beings are more honorable than us in that they possess no body and so more closely resemble the utterly bodiless

and uncreated Nature. Or, rather, those noetic beings who have kept their rank and who maintain the purpose for

which they were created deserve our homage and are far superior to us, even though they are fellow-servants. On the

 

 

 

other hand, the noetic beings who did not keep their rank but rebelled and rejected the purpose for which they were

created are totally estranged from those close to God, and they have fallen from honor. And if they attempt to drag

us after them and to make us fall, they are not only worthless and disgraced but are also God's enemies and

destructive and inimical to the human race.

 

28. Yet natural scientists, astronomers and those who boast of possessing universal knowledge are unable to

understand anything of

 

 

 

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what has just been said on the basis of their philosophy. Moreover, they have regarded the ruler of the noetic

darkness and all the rebellious powers under him not only as superior to themselves but even as gods, and they have

honored them with temples, made sacrifices to them and submitted themselves to their niinous oracles. In this way

they were mocked exceedingly by the demons, through unholy sacred objects, through defiling purifications which

only increased their accursed conceit, and through prophets and prophetesses who estranged them totally from the

essential truth.

 

29. For a man to know God, and to know himself and his proper rank - a knowledge now possessed even by

Christians who are thought to be quite unlearned - is a knowledge superior to natural science and astronomy and to

all philosophy concerning such matters. Moreover, for our intellect to know its own infirmity, and to seek healing

for it, is incomparably greater than to know and search out the magnitude of the stars, the principles of nature, the

generation of terrestrial things and the circuits of celestial bodies, their solstices and risings, stations and

retrogressions, separations and conjunctions and, in short, all the multiform relationships which arise from the many

different motions in the heavens. For the intellect that recognizes its own infirmity has discovered where to enter in

order to find salvation and how to approach the light of knowledge and receive the true wisdom that does not pass

away with this present world.

 

30. Every spiritual and noetic nature, whether angelic or human, possesses life as its essence, whereby it continues

immortal in its existence and does not admit dissolution. But the spiritual and noetic nature within us has life not

only as its essence but also as its activity, since it quickens the body united to it. For this reason it is also called the

body's life. And when it is called the life of the body, it is called life with reference to something else and is an

activity of our nature; for when relative to something else it can never be called an essence in itself. The noetic

nature of angels, however, does not possess life as an activity of this sort, because it did not receive an earthy body

from God and was not united to it in such a way as to have a quickening power in regard to it. Yet their nature can

admit opposites, that is, good and evil. This is confirmed by the fact that the wicked angels fell away because of

their pride. Thus the angels are somehow composite, being formed of their essence and one of these contrary

qualities of virtue or vice.

 

 

 

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Hence it is evident that even angels do not have goodness as their

essence.

 

3 1 . The soul of each animal not imbued with intelligence is the life of the body that it animates; it does not

possess life as essence, but as activity, since here life is relative and not something in itself. Indeed, the soul of

animals consists of nothing except that which is actuated by the body. Thus when the body dissolves, the soul

inevitably dissolves as well. Their soul is no less mortal than their body, since everything that it is relates and refers

to what is mortal. So when the body dies the soul also dies.

 

32. The soul of each man is also the life of the body that it animates, and possesses a quickening activity in

relation to something else, namely, to the body that it quickens. Yet the soul has life not only as an activity but also

as its essence, since it is self-existent; for it possesses a spiritual and noetic life that is evidently different from the

body's and from what is actuated by the body. Hence when the body dissolves the human soul does not perish with

it; and not only does it not perish but it continues to exist immortally, since it is not manifest only in relation to

something else, but possesses its own life as its essence.

 

33. The spiritual and noetic soul possesses life as essence, yet it can admit contraries, that is to say, good and evil.

Thus it is evident that it does not have goodness as essence, nor evil either; both are as it were qualities and when

either is present it is because the soul has chosen it. They are present, not with respect to place, but whenever the

noetic soul, having received free will from its Creator, inclines to one or the other and wills to live in accordance

with it. Hence the spiritual and noetic soul is somehow composite, but not on account of the activity mentioned

above; for this activity is related to something else, namely, the body, and so does not by nature produce what is

composite. Rather the soul is composite on account of its own essence and the presence in it of one of the two

contrary qualities - good and evil - of which we have just spoken.

 

34. The supreme Intellect, the uttermost Good, the Nature which transcends life and divinity, being entirely

incapable of admitting opposites in any way, clearly possesses goodness not as a quality but as essence. Hence

everything that we can conceive of as good is to be found in It or, rather, the supreme Intellect both is that good and

surpasses goodness. And everything that we can conceive of as being in the Intellect is good or, rather, is both

goodness and a Goodness that

 

 

 

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transcends goodness. Life, too, is to be found in It or, rather, the Intellect is life; for life is good and the life that is

 

 

 

in the Intellect is goodness. And Wisdom is in It, or, rather, the Intellect is Wisdom; for Wisdom is good and the

Wisdom that is in the Intellect is goodness. It is the same with eternity, blessedness and everything that we can

conceive of as good. There is no distinction between life and wisdom and goodness and so on, for this Goodness

embraces all these things comprehensively, umtively and in utter simplicity, and we conceive of It and call It

Goodness by virtue of Its embracing every form of goodness. Whatever goodness we can conceive of and ascribe to

It is one and true. Yet this Goodness is not only that which is truly conceived of by those who perceive with an

intellect imbued with divine Wisdom and who speak of God with a tongue moved by the Spirit; it is also ineffable

and incomprehensible and transcends these things, and is not inferior to the unitive and supernatural simplicity; for

absolute and transcendent Goodness is one. It is by virtue of this alone - namely, that He is absolute and

transcendent Goodness, possessing goodness as His essence - that the Creator and Lord of Creation is both

intellectually perceived and described; and this solely on the basis of His energies which are directed towards

creation. Hence in no way whatever does God admit what is contrary to goodness, since there is nothing contrary

where essence is concerned.

 

35. This absolute and transcendent Goodness is also the source of goodness; and that which proceeds from It is

likewise good and is supremely good and cannot be lacking in perfect goodness. The transcendently and absolutely

perfect Goodness is Intellect; thus what else could that which proceeds from It as from a source be except

Intelligence-content or Logos? But the divine Logos is not to be understood in the same way as the human thought-

form that we express orally, for that proceeds not from the intellect but from a body activated by the intellect; nor is

it to be understood in the same way as our human inner intelligence-principle, for this, too, is disposed within us in

such a way as to give birth to different forms of sound. Neither is the divine Logos equivalent to the reasoning

power in our mind, even though this is soundless and operates entirely according to impulses that are bodiless. For

the reasoning logos, as a faculty dependent on us, requires for its functioning successive moments of time, since it

emerges gradually, proceeding from an incomplete starting-point to its complete conclusion. Rather, the divine

Logos is similar to the logos

 

 

 

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implanted by nature in our intellect, according to which we are made by the Creator in His own image and which

constitutes the spiritual knowledge coexistent with the intellect. On the plane of the sublime Intellect of the absolute

and transcendently perfect Goodness, wherein there is nothing imperfect, the divine Logos-Gnosis is

indistinguishably whatever that Goodness is, except for the fact that it is derived from It. Thus the supreme Logos is

also the Son, and is so described by us, in order that we may recognize Him to be perfect in a perfect and individual

hypostasis, since He comes from the Father and is in no way inferior to the Father's essence, but is indistinguishably

identical with Him, although not according to hypostasis; for His distinction as hypostasis is manifest in the fact that

the Logos is begotten in a divinely fitting manner from the Father.

 

 

 

36. The Goodness, then, that issues by way of generation from the Source of noetic goodness is Logos. But no

intelhgent person could conceive of a Logos or InteUigence-content that is hfeless and without spirit. Hence the

Logos, God from God, possesses the Holy Spirit that issues together with Himself from the Father. Yet the Holy

Spirit is spirit not in the sense whereby the breath conjoined to the word issuing from our lips is spirit, for this is a

body and is conjoined to our speech through bodily organs; nor is it spirit in the sense whereby that which

accompanies, albeit bodilessly, our innate reasoning process is spirit, for that, too, entails a certain impulse of the

intellect that accompanies our thought-process through successive intervals of time, and progresses from

incompletion to completion. The Spirit of the supreme Logos is a kind of meffable yet intense longing or eros

experienced by the Begetter for the Logos bom ineffably from Him, a longing experienced also by the beloved

Logos and Son of the Father for His Begetter; but the Logos possesses this love by virtue of the fact that it comes

from the Father in the very act through which He comes from the Father, and it resides co-naturally in Him. It is

from the Logos's discourse with us through His incarnation that we have learned what is the name of the Spirit's

distinct mode of coming to be from the Father and that the Spirit belongs not only to the Father but also to the

Logos. For He says 'the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father' (John 15:26), so that we may know that from

the Father comes not solely the Logos - who is begotten from the Father - but also the Spirit who proceeds from the

Father. Yet the Spirit belongs also to the Son, who receives Him from the Father as the Spirit of

 

 

 

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Truth, Wisdom and Logos. For Truth and Wisdom constitute a Logos that befits His Begetter, a Logos that

rejoices with the Father as the Father rejoices in Him. This accords with the words that He spoke through Solomon:

'I was She who rejoiced together with Him' (Prov, 8:30). Solomon did not say simply 'rejoiced' but 'rejoiced together

with'. This pre-etemal rejoicing of the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit who, as I said, is common to both, which

explains why He is sent from both to those who are worthy. Yet the Spirit has His existence from the Father alone,

and hence He proceeds as regards His existence only from the Father.

 

37. Our intellect, because created in God's image, possesses likewise the image of this sublime Eros or intense

longing - an image expressed in the love experienced by the intellect for the spiritual knowledge that originates from

it and continually abides in it. This love is of the intellect and in the intellect and issues forth from it together with its

innermost intelligence or logos. This is shown clearly by the fact that even those who are unable to perceive what

lies deeply within themselves possess an insatiable desire for spiritual knowledge. Yet in the Archetype, in this

absolutely and transcendently perfect Goodness, wherein there is nothing imperfect, the divine Eros is

indistinguishably whatever that Goodness is, except for the fact that it is derived from It. Hence this intense longing

is - and is called - the Holy Spirit and the other Comforter (cf John 14:16), since He accompanies the Logos. Thus

we know Him to be perfect in a perfect and individual hypostasis, in no way inferior to the Father's essence, but

indistinguishably identical with the Son and the Father, although not according to hypostasis; for His distinction as

hypostasis is manifest in the fact that He proceeds from God in a divinely fitting manner. Thus we worship one true

and perfect God in three true and perfect hypostases - not, certainly, a threefold God but one who is simple. For

 

 

 

Goodness is not something threefold, nor a triad of goodnesses. Rather, the most subhme Goodness is a holy, awe-

inspiring and venerable Trinity flowing forth out of Itself into Itself without change and divinely established in Itself

before the ages. The Trinity is without limits and is limited only by Itself; It limits all things, transcends all and

permits no beings to be outside Itself.

 

38. The noetic and intelligent nature of angels also possesses intellect, and the thought-form (logos) that proceeds

from the intellect, and the intense longing (eros) of the intellect for its thought-form.

 

 

 

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This longing is likewise from the intellect and coexists eternally with the thought-form and the intellect, and can

be called spirit since by nature it accompanies the thought-form. But this spirit in the case of angels is not life-

generating, for it has not received from God an earthy body conjoined with it, and so it has not received the power to

generate and sustain life. On the other hand the noetic and intelligent nature of the human soul has received a life-

generating spirit from God since the soul is created together with an earthy body, and so by means of the spirit it

sustains and quickens the body conjoined to it. This makes it clear to those who possess understanding that the spirit

of man 'that quickens the body is noetic longing (eros), a longing that issues from the intellect and its thought-form,

that exists in the thought -form and the intellect, and that possesses in itself both the thought-form and the intellect.

Through the spirit the soul possesses such a natural union of love with its particular body that it never wants to

abandon it, and it would never leave it at all if it was not forced to do so by some grave illness or affliction that

assails it from without.

 

39. Since the noetic and intelligent nature of the human soul alone possesses intellect, thought -form and life-

generating spirit, it alone -more so than the bodiless angels - is created by God in His image. This image the soul

possesses inalienably, even if it does not recognize its own dignity, or think and live in a manner worthy of the

Creator's image within it. After our forefather's transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of

our soul - which is the separation of the soul from God - prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our

divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image. Thus when the soul renounces its attachment to inferior things and

cleaves through love to God and submits itself to Him through acts and modes of virtue, it is illuminated and made

beautiful by God and is raised to a higher level, obeying His counsels and exhortations; and by these means it

regains the truly eternal life. Through this life it makes the body conjoined to it immortal, so that in due time the

body attains the promised resurrection and participates in eternal glory. But if the soul does not repudiate its

attachment and submission to inferior things whereby it shamefully dishonors God's image, it alienates itself from

God and is estranged from the true and truly blessed life of God; for as it has first abandoned God, it is justly

abandoned by Him.

 

40. The triadic nature sequent to the supreme Trinity - that is to say, the human soul - has more than other natures

been made by the

 

 

 

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Trinity noetic, intelligent and spiritual. In this way it is created more than other natures in the image of the

Trinity. Thus it ought to maintain its proper rank, be sequent to God alone, yoked to Him alone, and subject and

obedient to Him alone. It ought to look only to Him and adorn itself with the constant mindfulness and

contemplation of Him, and with most fervent and ardent love for Him. For by these means it is wondrously drawn

back to itself or, rather, it draws to itself the mystical and ineffable glory of God's nature. Then the soul truly

possesses the image and the likeness of God and is thereby made gracious, wise and divine. When this glory is

manifestly present or when it approaches unnoticed, the soul now increasingly learns to love God more than itself

and to love its neighbor as itself. From this it learns to know and preserve its own dignity and rank, and truly to love

itself. On the other hand, 'He who loves injustice hates his own soul' (Ps. 11:5. LXX), and through tearing apart and

crippling the image of God in himself he suffers in a way similar to the mentally deranged who pitifully rend their

own flesh without being aware of it. Such a person unconsciously outrages and most wretchedly mutilates his innate

beauty, mindlessly shattering the soul's triadic, supra-mundane and love -filled world. What can be more wrong-

headed and pernicious than to refuse to remember, to refuse to gaze continually upon and love Him who created and

adorned the soul with His own image, thus conferring the capacity for spiritual knowledge and love, as well as

lavishing indescribable gifts and eternal life upon all who use this capacity aright.

 

4 1 . The noetic serpent, the author of evil, is one of the beings inferior to our soul, as he is also far inferior to other

creatures. He has now become an angel and herald of his own wickedness as a result of his wicked counsel to human

beings. He is so much more base than and inferior to all other beings that he desired in his arrogance to become like

the Creator in authority; and he was justly abandoned by God to the same degree that he himself had first abandoned

God. So total was his defection from God that he became His opponent and adversary and manifest enemy. Thus if

God is living Goodness and the Quickener of living things, clearly the devil is deadly and death-dealing evil. God

possesses goodness as His essence and by nature does not admit of its opposite, that is, evil, so that whoever

partakes of evil of any sort may not so much as draw near Him. How much more will He not drive as far as possible

from Himself the creator and originator of evil and the

 

 

 

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cause of it in others? The evil one possesses not evil but life as his essence, and hence he lives immortally. Yet

his essence was capable of admitting evil since he was honored with free will. Had he voluntarily accepted a

subordinate status and cleaved to the everflowing Well-spring of goodness he would have partaken of true life. But

since he deliberately gave himself over to evil, he was deprived of true life and was justly expelled from it, having

 

 

 

himself abandoned it in the first place. Thus he became a dead spirit, not in essence - since death lacks substantial

reality - but through his rejection of true life. Yet unsated in his pursuit of evil and adding more and more to his

wretchedness, he made himself into a death-generating spirit, eagerly drawing man into communion with his own

state of death.

 

42. The mediator and cause of death, twisted in character and inordinate m craftiness, once insinuated himself into

a twisting serpent in God's paradise. He did not himself become a serpent (nor could he, except in an illusory form;

and this he preferred not to adopt at that time, for fear of being detected); but, not daring an open confrontation, he

chose a deceitful approach, trusting that by this means he would escape detection. Thus, having the. visible aspect of

a friend he could secretly insinuate the most hateful things, and by the extraordinary fact of his talking- for the

visible serpent was not endowed with intelligence, nor did it previously appear capable of speaking - he could

astonish Eve and draw her whole attention entirely to himself and by his devices make her easy to deal with. In this

way he was able immediately to induce her to subject herself to what is inferior and so to enslave herself to things

over which she was appointed to reign worthily, as she alone among visible beings had been honored by God with

intelligence and created in the image of the Creator. God permitted this so that man, seeing the counsel coming from

a creature inferior to himself - and, indeed, how greatly is the serpent his inferior - might realize how completely

worthless this counsel was and might rightly reject with indignation the idea of submitting to what was clearly

inferior to him. In this way he would preserve his own dignity and at the same time, by obeying the divine

commandment, would keep faith with the Creator. Thus he would have won an easy victory over the spirit that had

fallen away from true life, and would have justly received blessed immortality and would abide eternally in life

divine.

 

43. No being is superior to man so as to be in a position to advise

 

 

 

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him and propose opinions and thus discern and provide what is fitting for him. But this is the case only if man

maintains his rank, knows himself and knows, too. Him who alone is superior to him, observing those things which

he learns from God and resolutely accepting God's counsel alone as regards anything proposed to him by others. For

although angels are superior to us in dignity, it is their task obediently to execute God's designs respecting us; for

they are ministers sent to serve 'those who are to be the heirs of salvation' (Heb. 1 : 14) - not all angels, of course, but

only the beneficent angels who have kept their own rank. The angels have received intellect, intelligence and spirit

from God, three co-natural qualities; and like us they should obey the creative Intellect, Intelligence and Spirit.

Although the angels are superior to us in many ways, yet in some respects - as we have said and as we will repeat -

they fall short of us with regard to being in the image of the Creator; for we, rather than they, have been created in

God's image.

 

44. The angels are ordained to serve the Creator effectively and their appointed role is to be ruled by God. But

they are not appointed to rule over beings inferior to themselves unless they are sent to do so by the Sovereign Ruler

of all. Yet Satan presumptuously yearned to rule contrary to the will of the Creator, and when together with his

 

 

 

fellow apostate angels he forsook his proper rank he was rightly abandoned by the true Source of life and

illumination and clothed himself in death and eternal darkness. But because man was appointed not merely to be

ruled by God but also to rule over all creatures upon the earth, the arch-fiend looked upon him with malicious eyes

and made use of every ploy to deprive him of his dominion. Being unable to use constraint, since he is prevented

from doing this by the Sovereign Ruler who created all intelligent nature free and self-determining, he deceitfully

suggested such counsel as would abolish man's dominion. He beguiled him or, rather, persuaded him to disregard,

disdain and reject, and indeed to oppose and to act contrary to the commandment and counsel given him by God. In

this way he induced man to share in his apostasy, and so to share also in his state of eternal darkness and death.

 

45. St Paul has taught us that the soul endowed with intelligence can be as if dead even though it possesses life as

its being; for he writes, 'The self-indulgent widow is dead while still alive' (1 Tim. 5:6). He could not have said

worse than this about the present subject of our

 

 

 

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discourse, namely, the soul endowed with intelligence. For if the soul deprived of the spiritual Bridegroom does

not humble itself and mourn, and does not adopt the strait and grievous life of repentance, but is, on the contrary,

profligate, sunk in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence, it is dead even while it lives and even though it is immortal

in essence. It has the capacity for what is worse, death, and likewise for what is better, life. The apostle says that if a

widow deprived of her earthly bridegroom lives self -indulgently, although alive in her body she is utterly dead in her

soul. He also says elsewhere, 'Even when we were dead because of our sins God quickened us together with Christ'

(Eph. 2:5). As St John says, 'There is sin that leads to death and there is sin that does not lead to death' (1 John 5:16-

17). And the Lord Himself, in commanding a man to 'let the dead bury their own dead' (Matt. 8:22), made it clear

that those involved in the funeral, although alive in body, were utterly dead in soul.

 

46. The ancestors of our race willfully desisted from mindfulness and contemplation of God. They disregarded

His commandment, made themselves of one mind with the dead spirit of Satan and, contrary to the Creator's will,

ate of the forbidden tree. Stripped of their resplendent and life-giving garments of supernal radiance, they became,

alas, dead in spirit like Satan. But since Satan is not merely a dead spirit, but also brings death upon those who draw

near him, and since those who shared in his deadness possessed a body through which the deadly counsel took

effect, they transmitted those dead and death-dealing spirits of death to their own bodies. The human body would

have immediately decomposed and returned to the earth whence it was taken (cf Gen. 3:19), had it not been

preserved by divine providence and power, patiently awaiting the decision of Him who brings about all things

through His word alone. Without this decision nothmg at all is accomplished, and it is always just. As the Psalmist

says, 'The Lord is just and He loves justice' (Ps. 11:7. LXX).

 

47. Scripture tells us, 'God did not create death' (Wisd. 1:13). Rather, He impeded its inception in so far as this

was fitting, and in so far as it was consistent with His justice to obstruct those to whom He Himself had given free

will when He created them. For from the beginning God gave them a counsel that would lead to immortality, and so

 

 

 

that they would be safeguarded as far as possible He made His life-generating counsel a commandment. He clearly

foretold and forewarned that death would be the consequence of rejecting this

 

 

 

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vivifying commandment, so that either through love or knowledge or fear they would protect themselves from the

experience of death. For God loves, knows and has the power to effect what is profitable for every created being. If

God only knew what is profitable but did not love it. He might have left unfinished what He knew to be good.

Again, if He loved what is profitable but did not know it or was unable to accomplish it, perhaps against His will

what He loved and knew would have remained unaccomplished. But since to the highest possible degree He loves,

knows and is able to effect what is profitable for us, everything that comes to us from Him, even though it be

without our wanting it, will certainly prove to be to our profit. On the other hand, it is greatly to be feared that

whatever we engage in on our own initiative, as creatures endowed with free will, will prove to be unprofitable for

us. When, however. God in His providence has plainly forbidden something, whether speaking directly, as He does

in paradise and in the Gospel, or else speaking through the prophets, as He does to the Israelites, or through the

apostles and their successors, as He does in the law of grace, it is clearly most unprofitable and destructive for us to

desire and pursue it. And if someone proffers it to us and induces us to seek it, either by persuasive words or by

enchanting us with apparent friendship, he is manifestly an enemy and hostile to our life.

 

48. Hence - whether out of love for Him who wants us to live (for why would God have created us as living

creatures if He did not especially want us to live?), or because we recognize that He knows what is for our profit

better than we do (and how could He who grants us knowledge and is the Lord of knowledge not know this

incomparably better than we do?), or out of fear for His almighty power - we ought not to have been misled, lured

and persuaded at that time into rejecting God's commandment and counsel; and the same now holds good with

regard to those saving commandments and counsels which we later received, just as now those who do not choose

courageously to resist sin, and who set the divine commandments at nought, end up - if they do not renew their souls

through repentance - by following a path that leads to inner and eternal death, so our two primal ancestors, by not

resisting those who persuaded them to disobey, violated the commandment. Because of this the sentence previously

proclaimed to them by Him who judges justly immediately took effect, so that as soon as they ate of the tree they

died. At this they understood in

 

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practice the meaning of the commandment which they had forgotten -the commandment of truth, love, wisdom

and power -and they hid themselves in shame (cf Gen. 3:7-8), perceiving themselves to be stripped of the glory that

 

 

 

bestows on immortal spirits a more excellent life and without which the life of spiritual beings is believed to be and

is indeed far worse than many deaths.

 

49. That it was not yet to our ancestors' benefit to eat of the tree is made clear by St Gregory of Nazianzos when

he writes: 'The tree, in my vision of things, is divine contemplation, which only those established in a high degree of

perfection can safely approach, while it is not good for those who are still immature and greedy in their desires, just

as solid food is not good for those who are yet tender and have need of milk.' But even if you do not want to refer

that tree and its fruit anagogically to divine contemplation, it is not difficult, I think, to see that eating its fruit was of

no benefit to our ancestors, since they were still immature. In my opinion they saw that the tree was the most

attractive in paradise to look at and to eat from. But the food most pleasant to the senses is not truly and in every

way good, nor is it always good, nor good for everyone. Rather it is good for those who can make use of it without

being mastered by it, and then only when it is necessary and to the extent that it is necessary, and for the glory of

Him who made it; but it is not good for those who are unable to make use of it in such a manner. It is on account of

this, I think, that the tree was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Gen. 2: 17). For only those fully

established in the practice of divine contemplation and virtue can have concourse with things strongly attractive to

the senses without withdrawing their intellect from the contemplation of God and from hymns and prayers to Him.

Only such people can make these things the material and starting-point for raising themselves to God, and through

this noetic movement towards God can totally master sensual pleasure. And even though displeasure may be novel,

and may be greater and more powerful because of its novelty, they will not allow their soul's intelligence to be

overcome by that which is evil, even though at the time it is regarded as good by those totally captured and mastered

by it.

 

50. Consequently our ancestors - who since they dwelt in the

 

 

 

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sacred land of paradise should never have forgotten God - ought first to have acquired more practice and, so to

speak, schooling in simple, genuine goodness and to have gained greater stability in the life of contemplation. Being

still in an imperfect and intermediate state - that is to say, easily influenced, whether for good or evil, by whatever

they made use of - they should not have ventured on the experience of things pleasant to the senses. They ought

especially to have been on their guard against things that by nature greatly allure and dominate the senses and that

seduce the entire intellect and give access to evil passions, thus rendering plausible the originator and creator of

these passions. Now, after the devil, the cause of the passions is the impassioned eating of the most delectable kinds

of foods. For if, as Scripture testifies, simply the sight of the tree was enough to make the serpent an acceptable and

trustworthy counselor, how much more would the taste of the fruit have the same effect? And if this is true for the

taste, how much more is it so for eating to repletion? Thus is it not clear that it was not yet profitable for our

ancestors to eat of that tree through the senses? And because they did eat of it at the wrong time, was it not

necessary for them to be cast out of paradise, to prevent them from making that divine land a council-chamber and

 

 

 

workshop of evil? And should they not have undergone bodily death immediately after their transgression? But the

Lord was long-suffering and patient with them.

 

51. The soul's death sentence, brought into effect by man's transgression, was in accord with the Creator's justice;

for when our forefathers forsook God and chose to do their own will. He abandoned them, not subjecting them to

constraint. And, for the reasons we have stated above. God in His compassion had already forewarned them of this

sentence (cf Gen. 2:17). But in the abyss of His wisdom and the superabundance of His compassion he forbore and

delayed in executing the sentence of death upon the body; and when He did pronounce it He relegated its execution

to the future. He did not say to Adam, 'Return whence you were taken', but 'You are earth, and to earth you will

return' (Gen. 3:19). Those who listen to these words with intelligence can gather from them that God did not make

death (cf. Wisd. 1:13), neither that of the soul nor that of the body. He did not originally give the command, 'Die on

the day you eat of it'; on the contrary. He said simply, 'You will die on the day you eat of it' (Gen. 2:17). Nor did He

say, 'Return now to earth', but 'You will return'

 

 

 

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(Gen. 3:19). This He said as a forewarning, but He then delayed its just execution, without prejudicing the

eventual outcome.

 

52. Death was thus to become the lot of our forefathers, just as it lies in store for us who are now living, and our

body was rendered mortal. Death is thus a kind of protracted process or, rather, there are myriads of deaths, one

death succeeding the next until we reach the one final and long-enduring death. For we are bom into corruption, and

having once come into existence we are in a state of transiency until we cease from this constant passing away and

coming to be. We are never truly the same, although we may appear to be so to those who do not observe us closely.

Just as a flame that catches one end of a slender reed changes continually, and its existence is measured by the

length of the reed, so we likewise are ever changing, and our measure is the length of life appointed to each of us.

 

53. That we should not be entirely ignorant of the superabundance of His compassion for us and the abyss of His

wisdom. God deferred man's death, allowing him to live for a considerably longer time. From the first God shows

that His discipline is merciful or, rather, that He delays a just chastisement so that we do not utterly despair. He also

granted time for repentance and for a new life pleasing to Him, while through the succession of generations He

eased the sorrow produced by death. He increased the human race with descendants so that initially the number of

those being bom would greatly exceed the number of those who died. In the place of one man, Adam, who became

pitiable and impoverished through the sensible beauty of a tree, God brought forth many men who by means of

things perceptible to the senses became blessedly enriched with divine wisdom, with virtue, with knowledge and

divine favor: for example, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedec, Abraham, and those who were their

contemporaries or who lived before them and after them, and who proved to be their equals, or nearly so. But there

was no one among these great men who passed his life utterly free of sin, so that he might retrieve the defeat which

our forefathers had suffered, heal the wound at the root of our race and be sufficient warranty for the sanctification.

 

 

 

blessing and return to life of all who followed. God foreknew this; and during the course of time He chose out

people from among the races and tribes who would produce that celebrated staff from which would blossom the

Flower that was to accomplish the saving economy of our whole race (cf Num. 17:8; Isa. 11:1).

 

 

 

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54. the depth of God's riches, wisdom and compassion (cf. Rom. 1 1:33)! Had there been no death and had our

race not become mortal prior to death - for it is from a mortal root - we should not in fact have been enriched with

the firstfmit of immortality, nor should we have been called into the heavens, nor would our nature have been

enthroned 'above every principality and power' (Eph. 1:21) 'at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens' (Heb.

8:1). Thus God in His wisdom, power and compassion knows how to change for the better the lapses we suffer as a

result of our freely -willed perversion.

 

55. Many may blame Adam for being so easily persuaded by that wicked counselor and for rejecting the divine

commandment, thus becoming the agent of death for us all. Yet to wish to taste a deadly plant before actually doing

so, and to desire to eat of such a plant after having learned by experience that it is deadly, are not the same thing.

The man who drinks poison knowing that it is poison, and so wretchedly causes his own death, is more culpable

than he who takes poison and so kills himself without knowing beforehand that it is poison. Therefore each of us is

more culpable and guilty than Adam. But, you might ask, is that tree really within us? Do we still have a

commandment from God forbidding us to eat from that tree? Perhaps exactly that same tree is not within us, yet the

commandment of God is with us even now. And if we obey it, and try to lead our life in accordance with it, it frees

us from punishment for all our sins, as well as from the ancestral curse and condemnation. But if we now reject it,

and choose instead the provocation and counsel of the evil one, we cannot but fall away from the life and fellowship

of paradise and be cast into the gehenna of everlasting fire with which we were threatened.

 

56. What, then, is the divine commandment now laid upon us? It is repentance, the essence of which is never

again to touch forbidden things. We were expelled from the land of divine delight, we were justly shut out from

God's paradise, and we have fallen into this pit where we are condemned to dwell together with dumb creatures

without hope of returning - in so far as it depends on us - to the paradise we have lost. But He who initially passed a

just sentence of punishment or, rather, justly permitted punishment to come upon us, has now in His great goodness,

compassion and mercy descended for our sake to us. And He became a human being like us in all things except sin

so that by His likeness to us He might teach us anew and rescue us; and He gave us the saving counsel and

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repentance, saying: 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near' (Matt. 3:2). Prior to the incarnation of the

Logos of God the kingdom of heaven was as far from us as the sky is from the earth; but when the King of heaven

came to dwell amongst us and chose to unite Himself with us, the kingdom of heaven drew near to us all.

 

57. Since the Logos of God through His descent to us has brought the kingdom of heaven close to us, let us not

distance ourselves from it by leading an unrepentant life. Let us rather flee the wretchedness of those who sit 'in

darkness and the shadow of death' (Isa. 9:2). Let us acquire the fruits of repentance: a humble disposition,

compunction and spiritual grief, a gentle and merciful heart that loves righteousness and pursues purity, peaceful,

peace-making, patient in toil, glad to endure persecution, loss, outrage, slander and suffering for the sake of truth

and righteousness. For the kingdom of heaven or, rather, the King of heaven - ineffable in His generosity - is within

us (cf Luke 17:21): and to Him we should cleave through acts of repentance and patient endurance, loving as much

as we can Him who so dearly has loved us.

 

58. Absence of passions and the possession of virtue constitute love for God; for hatred of evil, resulting in the

absence of passions, introduces in its place the desire for and acquisition of spiritual blessings. How could the lover

and possessor of such blessings not love God above all, the Master who is Benediction itself, the only provider and

guardian of every good thing? For in a special way such a person is in God, and by means of love he also bears God

within himself, in accordance with the words, 'He who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him' ( 1 John 4: 16).

Thus we can see both that love for God is begotten from the virtues and that the virtues are bom of love. For this

reason the Lord said at one point in the Gospel, 'He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who

loves Me' (John 14:21), and at another point, 'He who loves Me will keep My commandments' (cf. John 14:23). But

without love the works of virtue are not praiseworthy or profitable to the man who practices them, and the same is

true of love without works. St Paul makes this folly clear with reference to works when he writes to the Corinthians,

'If I do this and that, but have no love, it profits me nothing' (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3); and with reference to love the

disciple especially beloved by Christ writes, 'Let us not love in word or tongue but in action and truth' (1 John 3:18).

 

 

 

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59. The sublime and worshipful Father is the Father of Truth itself, that is, of the Only-Begotten Son; and the

Holy Spirit is a spirit of truth, as the Logos of truth proclaimed (cf John 14:17). Those who worship the Father 'in

Spirit and in Truth', and who believe accordingly, are activated by Them. As St Paul says, 'It is through the Spirit

that we worship and pray' (cf. Rom: 8:26), while the Only-Begotten Son of God says, 'No one comes to the Father

except through Me' (John 14:6). Hence those who worship the supreme Father 'in Spirit and in Truth' are the true

worshippers (John 4:23).

 

 

 

60. 'God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth' (John 4:24) - that is to say,

by conceiving the Incorporeal mcorporeaUy. For thus they will truly behold Him everywhere in His spirit and His

truth. Since God is spirit. He is incorporeal. That which is incorporeal is not situated in place, nor is it circumscribed

by spatial boundaries. Thus he who claims that God must be worshipped in certain restricted places within the

plenitude of heaven and earth neither speaks nor worships truly. As incorporeal, God is nowhere; as God, He is

everywhere. For if there were a mountain or place or creature where God is not. He would be circumscribed by

something. He is, therefore, everywhere, since He has no limit. But how can God be everywhere? As encompassed,

not by a part, but by the whole? Assuredly not, for then once again He would be a body. Thus since He sustains and

embraces everything. He is in Himself both everywhere and beyond everything, and is worshipped by His true

worshippers in His Spirit and His Truth (cf. John 4:23).

 

61. Since angels and souls are incorporeal beings, they are not in a particular place, yet neither are they

everywhere. They do not sustain all things, but themselves depend on Him who sustains them. Hence they, too, are

in Him who sustains and embraces all things, and they are appropriately delimited by Him. The soul, since it

sustains the body with which it is created, is everywhere in the body, although not in the sense of being located in a

place or encompassed; but it itself sustains, encompasses and quickens the body, by virtue of the fact that it is in

God's image.

 

62. Man is created more perfectly in God's image than the angels, both because he possesses in himself a

sustaining and quickening power and because he has a capacity for sovereignty. There is within our soul's nature a

governing and ruling faculty, and there is also that which is naturally subservient and obedient, namely, will,

appetite.

 

 

 

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sense-perception, and in general everything that is sequent to the intellect and that was created by God together

with the intellect. And these things may be termed subservient even though, incited by a sin-loving disposition, we

rebel not only against the all-ruling God but also against the ruling power inherent in our nature. God, then, by virtue

of our capacity for sovereignty, has given us lordship over all the earth. But angels do not have a body joined to

them and subject to their intellect. Angels that have fallen have acquired a noetic volition which is perpetually evil,

while the good angels possess one that is perpetually good and has no need of a bridle. The evil one has no dominion

upon earth which he has not stolen, and it is therefore evident that he was not created as ruler of the earth. The Ruler

of All appointed the good angels to be overseers of the earth after our fall and our subsequent loss of rank, even

though, due to God's compassion, the fall was not total. For, as Moses said in his Ode, God established boundaries

for the angels when He divided the nations (cf. Deut. 32:8). This division took place after Cain and Seth, when

Cain's descendants were called men and Seth's descendants were called the sons of God (cf. Gen. 6:2). From that

time, it seems to me, the race from which the Only -begotten Son of God would take His flesh was foretokened by

the differentiation of names.

 

 

 

63. As others have also pointed out, the threefold nature of our knowledge likewise demonstrates that we, to a

greater extent than the angels, are created in God's image. Indeed, this knowledge is not only threefold but also

encompasses every form of knowledge. We alone of all creatures have a faculty of sense -perception in addition to

our noetic and rational faculties. Since this faculty is united to our reason we have invented multifarious arts,

sciences and forms of knowledge. Only to man is it given to farm, to build and to produce from nothing -but not

from absolute non-being, for this pertains only to God. Indeed, even in God's case scarcely anything that He effects

in the world starts from nothing or utterly perishes, but when differently combined together things take a different

form. In addition, by the gift of God it pertains to men alone both to make the invisible thought of the intellect

audible by uniting it with the air and to write it down so that it may be seen with and through the body. God thus

leads us to a steadfast faith in the abiding presence and manifestation of the supreme Logos in the flesh. But angels

have no share whatsoever in any of these things.

 

 

 

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64. Even though we still bear God's image to a greater degree than the angels, yet as regards the likeness of God

we fall far short of them. This is especially true if we compare our present state with that of the good angels.

Leaving aside other matters for the present, I shall simply say that perfection of the divine likeness is accomplished

by means of the divine illumination that issues from God. There is, I think, no one who reads the divinely inspired

Scriptures with diligence and understanding who does not know that the evil angels are deprived of this illumination

and are therefore 'under darkness' (Jude 6), whereas the divine intellects are entirely filled with divine illumination

and for this reason are called 'a secondary light' and 'an emanation of the Primal Light'. As emanations of the First

Light, the good angels also possess knowledge of sensible objects, though they do not apprehend these things by any

physical faculty of perception, but know them by means of a divine power from which nothing present, past or

future can be hidden.

 

65. Whoever partakes of this divine illumination, partakes of it to a certain degree; and to a proportionate degree

he also possesses a spiritual knowledge of created things. All who assiduously study the writings of the divinely

wise theologians know that the angels likewise partake of this illumination, and that it is uncreated but is not the

divine essence. Yet those who hold the views of Barlaam and Akindynos think otherwise and blaspheme this divine

illumination, obstinately affirming either that it is created or that it is the essence of God. And when they affirm it to

be created, they deny that it is the light of the angels. But let the revealer of things divine, St Dionysios the

Areopagite, concisely elucidate these three matters for us. 'The divine intellects,' he writes, 'move in a circular

fashion, uniting themselves with the unoriginate and unending illuminations of the Beautiful and Good.' It is clear to

everyone that by divine intellects he means the good angels. And by referring to these illuminations in the plural, he

distinguishes them from the divine essence, since this is single and is altogether Indivisible; and by calling them

unoriginate and endless, what else could he mean to say except that they are uncreated?

 

66. Through the fall our nature was stripped of this divine illumination and resplendence. But the Logos of God

 

 

 

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our disfigurement and in His compassion He took our nature upon Himself, and on Tabor He manifested it to His

elect disciples clothed once again most brilliantly. As St John Chrysostom says. He shows what we once were and

what we shall become through Him in the age to come, if we choose to live our present life as far as possible in

accordance with His ways.

 

67. Adam, before the fall, also participated in this divine illumination and resplendence, and because he was truly

clothed in a garment of glory he was not naked, nor was he unseemly by reason of his nakedness. He was far more

richly adorned than those who now deck themselves out with diadems of gold and brightly sparkling jewels. St Paul

calls this divine illumination and grace our celestial dwelling when he says, 'For this we sigh, yearning to be clothed

in our heavenly habitation, since thus clothed we will not be found naked' (2 Cor. (5:2). And St Paul himself

received from God the pledge of this divine illumination and of our investiture in it on his way from Jerusalem to

Damaskos (cf Acts 9:3). As St Gregory of Nazianzos, sumamed the Theologian, has written, 'Before he was

cleansed of his persecutions Paul spoke with Him whom he was persecuting or, rather, with a brief irradiation of the

great Light.'

 

68. The divine supraessentiality is never named in the plural. But the divine and uncreated grace and energy of

God is indivisibly divided, like the sun's rays that warm, illumine, quicken and bring increase as they cast their

radiance upon what they enlighten, and shine on the eyes of whoever beholds them. In the manner, then, of this faint

likeness, the divine energy of God is called not only one but also multiple by the theologians. Thus St Basil the

Great declares: 'What are the energies of the Spirit? Their greatness cannot be told and they are numberless. How

can we comprehend what precedes the ages? What were God's energies before the creation of noetic reality?' For

prior to the creation of noetic reality and beyond the ages - for the ages are also noetic creations - no one has ever

spoken or conceived of anything created. Therefore the powers and energies of the divine Spirit - even though they

are said in theology to be multiple

 

 

 

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- are uncreated and are to be indivisibly distinguished from the single and wholly undivided essence of the Spirit.

69. The theologians affirm that the uncreated energy of God is indivisibly divided and multiple, as St Basil the

 

 

 

Great has explained above. And since the divine and deifying iUumination and grace is not the essence but the

energy of God, for this reason it comes forth from God not only in the singular but in multiplicity as well. It is

bestowed proportionately on those who participate in it, and corresponding to the capacity of those who receive it

the deifying resplendence enters them to a greater or lesser degree.

 

70. Isaiah has said that these energies are seven in number, and for the Jews the number seven signifies a

multiplicity. 'There shall come forth', he says, 'a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come from it; and

seven spirits shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, reverence, counsel, strength and

fear' (cf. Isa. 11:1-2). Those who hold the views of Barlaam and Akindynos dementedly maintain that these seven

spirits are created; but this error we have refuted exhaustively in our Refutation of Akindynos. Moreover, referring to

these energies of the Spirit, St Gregory of Nazianzos says, 'Isaiah likes to call the energies of the Spirit spirits.' And

Isaiah himself, the clarion voice of the prophets, not only distinguished them plainly from the divine essence by their

number, but also indicated the uncreated nature of these divine energies by the words 'rest upon Him'. For to 'rest

upon' is the privilege of a superior dignity. How, then, could those spirits that rest upon the humanity the Lord

assumed from us have a created character?

 

71. Our Lord Jesus Christ cast out demons 'with the finger of God', according to Luke (1 1:20); but Matthew says

'by the Spirit of God' (12:28). St Basil explains that the finger of God is one of the Spirit's energies. If one of these

energies is the Holy Spirit, most certainly the others are as well, as St Basil also teaches us. Yet there are not for this

reason many gods or many Spirits. These energies are processions, manifestations and natural operations of the one

Spirit and in each case the operative agent is one. Yet the heterodox make the Spirit of God a created being seven

times over when they assert that these energies are created. But let them be humiliated sevenfold, for

 

 

 

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the prophet Zechariah calls these energies 'the seven eyes of the Lord that look upon all the earth' (4:10). And St

John writes in Revelation, 'Grace be with you, and peace from God and from the seven spirits that are before His

throne, and from Christ' (cf Rev. 1 :4-5), thus making it clear to the faithful that these are the Holy Spirit.

 

72. When God the Father preannounced through the prophet Micah the birth in the flesh of His Only -begotten

Son, and wished to indicate also the unoriginate nature of Christ's divinity. He said: 'And His goings forth have been

from the beginning, even from an eternity of days' (5:2. LXX). The holy fathers explain that these 'goings forth' are

the energies of the Godhead, for the powers and energies are the same for Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet those

who strive to vindicate the views of Barlaam and Akmdynos proclaim these energies to be created. Let them,

however, come to their senses, late though it is, and comprehend who it is that exists from the beginning, and who it

is to whom David says: 'From eternity' - which has the same meaning as 'from an eternity of days' - 'and to eternity

Thou art' (Ps. 89:2). Let them intelligently consider, if they will, that when God said through His prophet that these

goings forth are from the beginning. He did not say that they came into being, or were made or created. And St

Basil, inspired by the Spirit of God, said, not that the energies of the Spirit 'came into being', but that they existed

 

 

 

'prior to the creation of noetic reality' and 'beyond the ages' ' Only God is operative and all-powerful from eternity,

and therefore He possesses pre-etemal operations and powers.

 

73. In obvious opposition to the saints, those who champion the views of Akindynos say that there is only one

thing that is uncreated, namely, the divine nature, and that anything that is in any way distinguished from the divine

nature is created. Hereby they declare the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be created beings, for there is one and the

same energy for the three, and that of which the energy is created cannot itself be uncreated. Thus that which is

created is not God's energy - this is impossible - but what is effected and accomplished by the divine energy. This is

why St John of Damaskos teaches that the energy, although distinct from the divine nature, is

 

 

 

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also an essential, that is to say, a natural activity of that nature.' Since, then, it is the property of the divine energy

to create, as St Cyril has said, how could this energy be something created, unless it was activated by another

energy, and that energy in turn by still another, and so on ad infinitum. In this way we would always be looking for

the uncreated source of the energy.

 

74. Because both the divine essence and the divine energy are everywhere inseparably present. God's energy is

accessible also to us creatures; for, according to the theologians it is indivisibly divided, whereas the divine nature,

they say, remains totally undivided. Thus St John Chrysostom says, 'A drop of grace filled all things with

knowledge; through it miracles were wrought and sins forgiven.' Here, while indicating that this drop of grace is

uncreated, he hastens to make it clear that it is an energy of God but not His essence. Further, in order to show how

the divine energy diners both from the divine essence and from the hypostasis of the Spirit, he adds, 'I mean a part of

the energy, for the Paraclete is not divided.' Therefore God's grace and energy is accessible to each one of us, since it

is divided indivisibly. But since God's essence is in every way indivisible, how could it be accessible to any created

being?

 

75. Three realities pertain to God: essence, energy, and the triad of divine hypostases. As we have seen, those

privileged to be united to God so as to become one spirit with Him - as St Paul said, 'He who cleaves to the Lord is

one spirit with Him' ( 1 Cor. 6: 17) - are not united to God with respect to His essence, since all the theologians testify

that with respect to His essence God suffers no participation. Moreover, the hypostatic union is fulfilled only in the

case of the Logos, the God-man. Thus those privileged to attain union with God are united to Him with respect to

His energy; and the 'spirit', according to which they who cleave to God are one with Him, is and is called the

uncreated energy of the Holy Spirit, but not the essence of God, even though Barlaam and Akindynos may disagree.

Thus God prophesied through His prophet saying, 'I shall pour forth', not 'My Spirit', but 'of My Spirit upon the

faithful' (cf Joel 2:28. LXX).

 

 

 

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76. According to St Maximos, 'Moses and David, and whoever else became vessels of divine energy by laying

aside the properties of then-fallen nature, were inspired by the power of God'; and. 'They became living icons of

Christ, being the same as He is, by grace rather than by assimilation.' He farther says. The purity in Christ and in the

saints is one.' As the divine Psalmist chants, 'May the splendor of our God be upon us' (Ps. 90:17. LXX). For

according to St Basil, 'Spirit-bearing souls, when illumined by the Spirit, both become spiritual themselves and shed

forth grace upon others. From this comes foreknowledge of things future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension

of things hidden, distribution of spiritual gifts, citizenship in heaven, the dance with the angels, unending joy, divine

largesse, likeness to God, and the desire of all desires, to become God.'

 

77. The angels excel men with respect to this grace, resplendence, and union with God. On this account they are

secondary luminaries, ministers of the supreme resplendence. The noetic powers and ministering spirits are

secondary lights and irradiations of the primal Light.' The angels are 'the first luminous nature after the Primal

Being, because they shine forth from It'. 'An angel is a secondary light, an emanation or a communication of the

Primal Light.' The divine intellects move in a circular fashion, uniting themselves with the unonginate and unending

illuminations of the Beautiful and Good', for 'God Himself and naught else is light for eternal beings'. 'What the sun

is for sensory beings. God is for noetic beings. He is the primal and supreme light illumining all intelligent nature.'

As St John Chrysostom says, when you hear the prophet saying, '1 saw the Lord sitting upon a throne' (Isa. 6:1),

understand that he saw not God's essence but His gift of Himself, and this even more obscurely than the supreme

powers behold it.

 

 

 

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78. Every created nature is far removed from and completely foreign to the divine nature. For if God is nature,

other things are not nature; but if every other thing is nature. He is not a nature, just as He is not a being if all other

things are beings. And if He is a being, then all other things are not beings. And if you accept this as true also for

wisdom, goodness, and in general all. things that pertain to God or are ascribed to Him, then your theology will be

correct and in accordance with the saints. God both is and is said to be the nature of all beings, in so far as all

partake of Him and subsist by means of this participation: not, however, by participation in His nature - far from it -

but by participation in His energy. In this sense He is the Being of all beings, the Form that is in all forms as the

Author of form, the Wisdom of the wise and, simply, the All of all things. Moreover, He is not nature, because He

transcends every nature; He is not a being, because He transcends every being; and He is not nor does He possess a

form, because He transcends form. How, then, can we draw near to God? By drawing near to His nature? But not a

 

 

 

single created being has or can have any communication with or proximity to the sublime nature. Thus if anyone has

drawn close to God, he has evidently approached Him by means of His energy. In what way? By natural

participation in that energy? But this is common to all created things. It is not, therefore, by virtue of natural

qualities, but by virtue of what one achieves through free choice that one is close to or distant from God. But free

choice pertains only to beings endowed with intelligence. So among all creatures only those endowed with

intelligence can be far from or close to God, drawing close to Him through virtue or becoming distant through vice.

Thus such beings alone are capable of wretchedness or blessedness. Let us strive to lay hold of blessedness.

 

79. When created beings are compared among themselves, some are said to be naturally akin to God and others

alien. The noetic natures that are apprehended by the intellect alone are, so it is claimed, akin to the Divinity,

whereas all natures subject to sense-perception are in every way alien to It; and those among them that are utterly

bereft of soul and unmoving are the most remote of all. Thus, when compared among themselves, created beings are

said to be naturally either akin or alien to God. Properly speaking, however, all of them in themselves are alien to

Him by nature. Indeed, it is no more possible to say how distant noetic nature is from God than how remote sense-

perception and the things of the realm of the senses are from noetic

 

 

 

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beings. If we are, then, by nature so far removed from God, alas for us if we do not draw close to Him by freely

choosing to act well and to conduct ourselves with probity.

 

80. The inspired and universal tongue of the divine theologians, St John of Damaskos, says in the second of his

theological chapters: 'A man who would speak or hear anything about God should know with all clarity that in what

concerns theology and the divine economy not all things are inexpressible and not all are capable of expression, and

neither are all things unknowable nor are they all knowable. ' We know that those divine realities of which we desire

to speak transcend speech, since such realities exist according to a principle that is transcendent. They are not

outside the realm of speech by reason of some deficiency, but are beyond the conceptual power innate within us and

to which we give utterance when speaking to others. For neither can our speech explain these realities by

interpretation, nor does our innate conceptual power have the capacity to attain them of its own accord through

investigation. Thus we should not permit ourselves to say anything concerning God, but rather we should have

recourse to those who in the Spirit speak of the things of the Spirit, and this is the case even when our adversaries

require some statement from us.

 

81. It is said that on the portals of Plato's academy were inscribed the words, 'Let no man enter who is ignorant of

geometry.' A person incapable of conceiving and discoursing about inseparable things as separate is in every respect

ignorant of geometry. For there cannot be a limit without something limited. But geometry is almost entirely a

science of limits, and it even defines and extends limits on their own account, abstracted from that which they limit,

because the intellect separates the inseparable. How, then, can a person who has never learnt to separate in his

 

 

 

intellect a physical object from its attributes be able to conceive of nature in itselt7 For nature is not merely

inseparable from the natural elements in which it inheres, but it cannot even exist at any time without them. How

can he conceive of universals as universals, since they exist as such in particulars and are distinguished from them

only by the intelligence and reason, being perceived intellectually as prior to the many particulars although in truth

they can in no way exist apart from these many particulars? How shall he

 

 

 

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apprehend intellectual and noetic things? How shall he understand us when we say that each intellect also has

thought and that each of our thoughts is our intellect? How shall he not ridicule us and accuse us of saying that each

man possesses two or many minds?

 

If, then, someone is unable to speak or conceive of things indivisible as distinct, how will he be able to discuss or

be taught anything of this sort concerning God, with respect to whom, according to the theologians, there are and are

said to be many unions and distinctions? But although the unions pertaining to God prevail over and are prior to the

distinctions, they do not abolish them nor are they at all impeded by them. The followers of Akindynos, however,

cannot accept nor can they understand the indivisible distinction that exists in God, even when they hear us speaking

- in harmony with the saints - of a divided union. For to God pertains both incomprehensibility and

comprehensibility, though He Himself is one. The same God is incomprehensible in His essence, but

comprehensible from what He creates according to His divine energies: according, that is, to His pre-etemal will for

us. His pre-etemal providence concerning us. His pre-etemal wisdom with regard to us, and - to use the words of St

Maximos - His infinite power, wisdom and goodness. But when Barlaam and Akindynos and those who follow in

their footsteps hear us saying these things which we are obliged to say, they accuse us of speaking of many gods and

many uncreated realities, and of making God composite. For they are ignorant of the fact that God is indivisibly

divided and is united dividedly, and yet in spite of this suffers neither multiplicity nor compositeness.

 

82. St Paul, the mouth of Christ, the chosen vessel, the glorious chariot of the divine name, says, 'From the

creation of the world the invisible realities of God, namely. His eternal power and divinity, may be perceived in

created things by means of intellection' (Rom. 1 :20). May, then, the essence of God be perceived in created things

by means of intellection? Certainly not. This is the madness of Barlaam and Akindynos and, before them, the

delusion of Eunomios. For, prior to them but in the same manner, Eunomios in his discourses wrote that from

created things we may comprehend nothing less than God's

 

 

 

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essence itself. St Paul, however, is very far from teaching any such thing. For having just stated, 'What can be

known of God is manifest' (Rom. 1:19), and having thus indicated that there exists something else beyond that

which can be known about God and which He Himself has made manifest to all men of intelligence, he then adds:

'For from the creation of the world the invisible realities of God may be perceived in created things by means of

intellection.' You may in this way learn what it is that is knowable about God. The holy fathers explain that what is

unknowable in God is His essence, while what may be known is that which pertains to His essence, namely,

goodness, wisdom, power, divinity and majesty. These St Paul also calls invisible, though they are perceived in

created things by means of intellection. But how could these things, which pertain to God's essence and may be

perceived in things created, be themselves created? Therefore the divine energy, mtellected through created things,

is both uncreated and yet not the essence. For the divine energy is referred to not only in the singular but also in the

plural.

 

83. In refuting Eunomios, who claimed that the essence of God is revealed by created things, St Basil the Great

writes that 'created things manifest wisdom, art and power, but not essence'. Thus the divine energy made manifest

by created things is both uncreated and yet not God's essence; and those who like Barlaam and Akindynos say that

there is no difference between the divine essence and the divine energy are clearly Eunomians.

 

84. Most excellently does St Gregory of Nyssa, St Basil's bodily and spiritual brother, say in his refutation of

Eunomios: 'When we perceive the beauty and grandeur of the wonders of creation, and from these and similar things

derive other intellections concerning the Divinity, we interpret each of the intellections produced in us by its own

distinctive name. "For from the grandeur and beauty of created things the Creator is contemplated by way of

analogy" (Wisd. 13:5). We also call the Creator the Demiurge; Powerful, in that His power is sufficient to make His

will reality; and Just, as the impartial judge. Likewise the term God (Theos) we have taken from His providential

and overseeing activity. In this manner, then, by the term God we have been taught about a certain partial activity of

the divine nature, but we

 

 

 

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have not attained an understanding of God's essence by means of this word. '

 

85. St Dionysios the Areopagite, the most eminent theologian after the divine apostles, having clarified the

distinction of the hypostases in God, says: 'The beneficent procession is a divine distinction, for the divine unity in a

transcendently united manner multiplies and makes itself manifold through goodness.' And a little further on he

says: 'We call divine distinction the beneficial processions of the Thearchy. For m bestowing itself upon all beings

and abundantly pouring forth participation in all good things, it is distinguished in its unity, multiplied in its

 

 

 

oneness, and made manifold without ceasing to be one ' Later he writes: 'These common and united distinctions - or,

rather, these beneficent processions - of the whole Godhead we will try to praise to the best of our ability.'

 

Thus St Dionysios shows clearly that there is also another distinction in God besides the distinction of the

hypostases, and this distinction that is different from that of the hypostases he calls the distinction of the Godhead.

For, indeed, the distinction of the hypostases is not a distinction pertaining to the Godhead. And he says that

according to the divine processions and energies God multiplies Himself and makes Himself manifold, and he states

in this respect that the procession may be spoken of both in the singular and in the plural. In regard to the distinction

of the hypostases, however, the Deity certainly does not multiply Himself, nor as God is He subject to distinction.

For us God is a Trinity, but not triple. St Dionysios also affirms that these processions and energies are uncreated,

since he calls them divine and says that they are distinctions pertaining to the whole Godhead. He likewise says that

the very Thearchy itself multiplies and makes Itself manifold according to these divine processions and energies,

though not certainly by assuming anything external. Furthermore, this most sublime of the divine hymnologists

promises to celebrate these processions; but he adds, 'to the best of our ability', in order to show that they transcend

all celebration.

 

86. Having said that the beneficent procession is a divine

 

 

 

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distinction, this same revealer of things divine adds: 'Yet the unconditioned communications are united with

respect to the divine distinction.' Here he groups together all the processions and energies of God and calls them

communications. He says further that they are unconditioned, lest anyone should suppose that these communications

are created effects such as the individual essence of each thing that exists, or the physical life of animals, or the

reason and intellect inherent in rational and noetic beings. For how could these things be unconditioned in God and

at the same time be created? And how could God's unconditioned processions and communications be created

things, since the unconditioned communication is naturally inherent in the communicator, as we see in the case of

light?

 

87. St Dionysios now goes on to celebrate these processions and energies with other godlike names, calling them

participable principles and essential participable principles. In many places in his writings he shows them to be

superior to existent things, and that they are the paradigms or exemplars of existent things, pre-existing in God by

means of a supra-essential union. How, then, could they be created? He then tells us what these paradigms are,

saying: 'We call paradigms the essence-forming logoi or inner principles of existent things; they unitedly pre-exist in

God, and theology refers to them as the predeterminations and divine and sacred volitions that determine and create

existent things. It is in accordance with them that the Supra-essential both predetermines and brings forth everything

that is.' How could me predeterminations and the divine volitions that create all existent things be themselves

created? Is it not clear that those who maintain that these processions and energies are created degrade God's

providence to the level of something created? For the energy that creates individual essence, life and wisdom, and in

 

 

 

general makes and sustains created beings, is identical with me divine volitions and the divine participable principles

and the gifts of supernal Goodness, the Cause of all.

 

88. The participable principle of absolute Being in no way participates in anything, as the great Dionysios also

says. But the other participable principles, in that they are participable principles of existent things, also participate

in nothing else whatsoever, for

 

 

 

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providence does not participate in providence, nor life in life. But in that they possess being they are said to

participate in absolute Being, since without this they can neither exist nor be participated in, just as there can be no

foreknowledge without knowledge. Thus, as essential participable principles, they are in no way created. Hence,

according to St Maximos, they never began to be and they are seen to pertain to God in an essential manner, and

there was never a time when they were not. But when the followers of Barlaam impiously suppose that because life

itself, goodness itself and so forth, share in the common denomination of existent things they are therefore created,

they do not comprehend that although they are called existent things, they are also superior to existent things, as St

Dionysios says. Those who for this reason place the essential participable principles among created things could

easily regard the Holy Spirit as created, whereas St Basil the Great says that the Spirit shares in names befitting the

Divinity.

 

89. Should someone claim that only absolute Being is a participable principle since it alone does not participate in

anything but is solely participated in, whilst the other participable principles participate in it, he should know that he

does not think aright with regard to the other participable principles. For living things or holy things or good things

are said to live and to become holy and good by participation, not simply because they exist and participate in

absolute Being, but because they partake of absolute life, holiness and goodness. But absolute life - and the same

applies to other such realities - does not become absolute life by participation in some other absolute life. As

absolute life, it is among those realities that are participated in, not among those that participate. How could that

which does not participate in life, but is itself participated in by living things and quickens them, be something

created? And one may say the same with regard to the other participable principles.

 

90. Let St Maximos now lend us his support. He writes in his Scholia that the providence creating existent things

is identical with the processions of God. He says: 'The creative providences and good-nesses' - those that bestow

individual essence, life and wisdom - 'are

 

 

 

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common to the tn -hypostatic differentiated Unity ' By stating that these providences and goodnesses are many

and distinct, he shows that they are not the essence of God, since that is one and ahogether indivisible. But because

they are common to the tri-hypostatic differentiated Unity, he shows us that they are not identical with the Son or the

Holy Spirit, for neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit is an energy common to the three hypostases. Yet by stating that

they are not only providences and goodnesses but are also creative, he shows them to be uncreated. For if this were

not the case, then the creative power would itself be created by another creative power, and that in turn by another,

and so on to the uttermost absurdity, not even stopping at infinity. Thus God's processions and energies are

uncreated, and none of them is either divine essence or hypostasis.

 

91. In the incomparable superabundance of His goodness He who brought forth and adorned the universe

established it as multiform. He willed that some things should simply possess being, while others should possess life

in addition to being. Of these latter He willed that some should possess noetic life, that others should enjoy merely a

sensible life, while others again should possess a life mingled of both. When this last category of beings had

received from Him rational and noetic life. He willed that by the free inclination of their will towards Him they

should achieve union with Him and thus live in a divine and supernatural manner, having been vouchsafed His

deifying grace and energy. For His will is generation for things that exist, whether for those brought forth out of

non-being, or for those being brought to a better state; and this takes place in diverse ways. Because of the diversity

of the divine will with respect to existent things, the one providence and goodness of God - or, in other words. God's

turning towards inferior beings by reason of His goodness - both is, and is thus called by the divinely wise

theologians, many providences and goodnesses, for they are indivisibly divided and differentiated among divisible

things. Thus one is called God's power of foreknowledge, and another His creative and sustaining power. Further,

according to the great Dionysios, some bestow individual essence, some life, and some wisdom. Now each of these

powers is common to Father, Son and

 

 

 

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Holy Spirit, and in each good and divine volition with respect to us it is Father, Son and Holy Spirit that are its

essence-bestowing, life-bestowing and wisdom-bestowing energy and power. These St Dionysios calls

unconditioned and undiminishable communications, elevating them above all created things and teaching us that

they inhere by nature in Him who communicates them.

 

92. Just as the sun without diminution communicates heat and light to those who participate in them, and itself

possesses these qualities as its inherent and essential energies, so the divine communications, since they inhere

without diminution in Him who bestows communion, are His natural and essential energies. Thus they are also

uncreated. When the sun sets beneath the horizon and is no longer visible, not even a trace of its light remains; yet

when it is visible, the eye that receives its light cannot but be mingled with it and united by it to the wellspring of

 

 

 

light. The sun's warmth, however, and its effects which contribute to the generation and growth of sensible things,

and to the manifold diversity of humors and qualities, do hot desert these creatures, even when there is no contact

with the sun through the sun's rays. In the same manner as indicated in this inadequate image taken from sensible

reality, only those who aspire after the supernal and most divine light participate integrally in deifying grace and by

it are united to God. All other beings are effects of the creative energy, brought forth from nothing by grace as a free

gift but not illumined by grace, which is the same as God's resplendence.

 

93. This resplendence and deifying energy of God, that deifies those who participate in it, constitutes divine grace,

but it is not the nature of God. This does not mean that God's nature is distant from those who have received grace -

and this is Akmdynos' ridiculous slander - for God's nature is everywhere; but it means that it is not participable,

since no created thing, as we have already shown, is capable of participating in it. The divine energy and grace of

the Spirit, being everywhere present and remaining inseparable from the Spirit, is imparticipable, as though absent,

for those who on account of their impurity are unfit to participate in it. Just as faces, so it is said, are not reflected by

every material, but only by such materials as possess smoothness and transparency, so the energy of the Spirit is not

found in all souls, but only in those possessing no perversity or deviousness. Again, it is said that the Holy Spirit is

present to all, but He manifests His power only in those who are purified from the passions, and does

 

 

 

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not manifest it in those whose intellect is still confused by the defilement of sin.

 

94. The light of the sun is inseparable from the sun's rays and from the heat which they dispense; yet for those

who receive the rays but have no eyes the light is imparticipable and they sense only the heat coming from the rays.

For those bereft of eyes cannot possibly perceive light. In the same way, but to a greater extent, no one who enjoys

the divine radiance can participate in the essence of the Creator. For there is absolutely no creature that possesses the

capacity to perceive the Creator's nature.

 

95. Here let St John, the Baptist of Christ, as well as St John who was more beloved by Christ than the other

disciples, and St John Chrysostom, now bear witness with us that the participated divine energy is neither created

nor the essence of God. St John the Evangelist does so by what he writes in his Gospel, the Forerunner and Baptist

of Christ when he says: 'It is not by measure that the Spirit is given to Christ by God the Father' (cf. John 3:34). St

John Chrysostom explains this passage when he states: 'Here "Spirit" means the energy of the Spirit. For all of us

receive the energy of the Spirit by measure, but Christ possesses the Spirit's entire energy in full and without

measure. But if His energy is without measure, how much more so is His essence.' By calling the energy 'Spirit' - or,

rather, the very Spirit of God - as the Baptist did, and by saying that the energy is without measure, Chrysostom

showed its uncreated character. Again, by saying that we receive it by measure he indicated the difference between

the uncreated energy and the uncreated essence of God. For no one ever receives the essence of God, not even if all

men are taken collectively, each one receiving in part according to his degree of purity. Chrysostom then goes on to

reveal another difference between the uncreated essence and the uncreated energy, for he says, 'If the energy of the

 

 

 

Spirit is without measure, how much more so is His essence '

 

96. If, according to the absurdities of Akmdynos and those who share his views, the divine energy does not m any

respect differ from the divine essence, then the act of creating, which is something that pertains to the energy, will

not in any respect differ from the act of

 

 

 

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begetting and the act of procession, -which are things that pertain to the essence. But if the act of creating is not

distinct from that of begetting and of procession, then created things will in no way differ from Him who is begotten

and Him who is sent forth. But if this is the case - as according to these men it is - then both the Son of God and the

Holy Spirit will in no way differ from creatures: all created things will be begotten and sent forth by God the Father,

creation will be deified, and God will share His rank with creatures. For this reason St Cyril, affirming the

distinction between God's essence and energy, says, 'The act of generation pertains to the divine nature, whereas the

act of creating pertains to His divine energy.' Then he clearly underscores what he has affirmed by saying, 'Nature

and energy are not identical.'

 

97. If the divine essence does not in any respect differ from the divine energy, then the act of generation and of

procession will in no respect differ from the act of creating. But God the Father creates through the Son in the Holy

Spirit. Thus, in the view of Akmdynos and his adherents. He also begets and sends forth through the Son in the Holy

Spirit.

 

98. If the divine essence does not in any respect differ from the divine energy, then neither does it differ from the

divine will. Thus the Son, who alone is begotten from the Father's essence, is according to these people also created

from the Father's will.

 

99. If the divine essence does not in any respect differ from the divine energy, and if the holy fathers testify that

God has many energies - for, as shown above. He has creative providences and goodnesses - then God also has

many essences. This is a view that no member of the Christian race has ever uttered or entertained.

 

100. If the energies of God do not in any respect differ from the divine essence, then neither will they differ from

one another. Therefore God's will is in no way different from His foreknowledge, and consequently either God does

not foreknow all things - because He does not will all that occurs - or else He wills evil also, since He foreknows all.

This means either that He does not foreknow all things, which is the same as saying that He is not God, or that He is

not good, which is also the same as saying that He is not God. Thus God's

 

 

 

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foreknowledge does differ from His will, and so both differ from the divine essence.

 

101. If the divine energies do not differ from one another, then God's creative power is not distinct from His

foreknowledge. But in that case, since God began to create at a particular moment. He also began to foreknow at a

particular moment. Yet if God did not have foreknowledge of all things before the ages how could He be God?

 

102. If God's creative energy does not differ in any respect from divine foreknowledge, then created things are

concurrent with God's foreknowledge. Thus because God unongmately has foreknowledge and what is foreknown is

unoriginately foreknown, it follows that God creates unoriginately, and therefore that created things will have been

created unoriginately. But how shall He be God if His creatures are in no way subsequent to Him?

 

103. If God's creative energy in no respect differs from His foreknowledge, then the act of creating is not subject

to His will, since His foreknowledge is not so subject. In that case God will create, not by an act of volition, but

simply because it is His nature to create. But how will He be God if He creates without volition?

 

104. God Himself is within Himself, since the three divine hypostases co-naturally and eternally cleave to one

another and unconfusedly interpenetrate each other. Yet God is also in the universe and the universe is within God,

the one sustaining, the other being sustained by Him. Thus all things participate in God's sustaining energy, but not

in His essence. Hence the theologians say that divine omnipresence also constitutes an energy of God.

 

105. If we have conformed ourselves to God and have attained that for which we are created, namely, deification -

for they say that God created us in order to make us partakers of His own divinity (cf 2 Pet. 1 :4) - then we are in

God since we are deified by Him, and God is in us since it is He who deifies us. Thus we, too, participate in the

divine energy - though in a different way from the universe as a whole - but not in the essence of God. Hence the

theologians say that 'divinity" is also an appellation of the divine energy.

 

106. The supra-essential, supra-existential nature that transcends the Godhead and goodness, in that it is more than

God and more than goodness, and so on, can be neither described nor conceived nor in any way contemplated, since

it transcends all thmgs and is surpassingly unknowable, being established by uncircumscribed power beyond the

 

 

 

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supracelestial intelligences, and always utterly ungraspable and ineffable for all. Neither in the present age nor in

the age to come is there any name with which it can be named, nor can the soul form any concept of it or any word

express it; and there can be no contact with or participation in it, whether sensible or noetic, nor any imagining of it

at all. Thus the theologians hold that the closest idea we can have of this nature is that of its perfect

 

 

 

incomprehensibility attained by means of negation, or apophasis, since this nature is transcendentally privative of all

that exists or can be expressed. Hence he who possesses knowledge of the truth beyond all truth, if he is to name it

correctly, cannot legitimately call it either essence or nature. Yet it is the cause of all things and all things pertain to

it and exist on its account; and it is prior to all things and in a simple and undetermined manner it precontains all

things in itself. Thus it can be named loosely and inexactly from all things. Accordingly it can be called both essence

and nature, though property speaking we should name it the creative procession and energy whereby God creates

individual essences; for the great Dionysios says that this is 'the proper theological name for the essence of Him who

truly is'.

 

107. One can find the term 'nature' applied also to natural attributes, both in the case of created beings and in the

case of God. Thus St Gregory of Nazianzos says somewhere in his poems, 'It is the nature of my King to bestow

blessedness.' Now bestowing is not the nature of anything; it is, rather, the natural attribute of one who is beneficent.

Similarly, with regard to fire one can say that its nature is to ascend upwards and to cast light upon those who behold

it. Yet the motion in itself is not the nature of fire, nor is the production of light; rather its nature is the origin of the

motion. Hence natural attributes are also called nature. This is confirmed by the great Dionysios when he says

somewhere, 'It is the nature of the Good to bring forth and to save,' meaning that these acts are attributes of the

divine nature. Thus when you hear the fathers saying that God's essence is imparticipable, you should realize that

they refer to the essence that does not depart from itself and is unmanifest. Again, when they say that it is

participable, you should realize that they refer to the procession, manifestation and energy that are God's natural

attributes.

 

 

 

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When you accept both statements in this sense you will be in agreement with the fathers.

 

108. Even the smallest portion of an essence possesses all that essence's powers. Thus a spark is both brilliant and

illuminating, it melts and bums whatever comes close to it, it is self -moving by nature and rises upwards and, in

brief, it is whatever fire is, of which it is a part. Similarly a drop of water possesses every quality that water has, of

which it is a drop; and a nugget possesses whatever quality is possessed by the metal of which it is a fragment. Thus

if we participate in the unmanifest essence of God, then, whether we participate in the whole of it or a part of it, we

would be all-powerful, and in the same way each existent being would be all-powerful. But all-powerfulness is not a

quality that even all mankind or all creation collectively possesses. St Paul shows this with abundant clarity when

referring to those who share in the deiiying gifts of the Spirit; for he testifies that not all the gifts of the Spirit belong

to each individual. 'To one', he says, 'is given the quality of wisdom, to another the quality of knowledge, to another

some other gift of the same Spirit' (cf 1 Cor. 12:8). And St John Chrysostom clearly thwarts in advance the error of

Barlaam and Akmdynos when he says, 'A man does not possess all the gifts, lest he think that grace is nature.' Yet

no intelligent person would suppose that grace, here distinguished from the divine nature, is created, for obviously

no one would be in any danger of supposing a created thing to be the nature of God. Moreover, the grace of the

 

 

 

Spirit, though differing from the divine nature, is not separated from it; rather, it draws those privileged to receive it

towards union with the Holy Spirit.

 

109. An essence has as many hypostases as there are partakers of it. We make as many hypostases of fire as the

number of lamps we light from a single lamp. Yet if, as our opponents assert. God's essence is participated in, and is

even participated in by everyone, this means that His essence is not tn-hypostatic, but multi-hypostatic. Who trained

in the divine doctrine will not recognize this as the absurdity of the Messalians? For the Messalians maintain that

those who have

 

 

 

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attained the height of virtue participate in the essence of God. Yet the followers of Akindynos in their zeal to

surpass this blasphemy say that not only do certain people distinguished in virtue participate in the divine essence,

but all beings in general participate in it; and they say this on the spurious pretext that the divine essence is

everywhere present. But St Gregory of Nazianzos, eminent in theology, long ago refuted the dotty views of both the

Messalians and the Akindymsts when he said, 'He is "Christ", the Anointed, on account of His divinity; for it is the

divinity that anoints His human nature. This anointing sanctifies the human nature not merely with an energy, as is

the case with all others who are anointed, but with the presence of the whole of Him who anoints.' With one voice

the holy fathers have declared that the divinity dwells in those who are fittingly purified, but not as regards its

nature. Thus a person does not participate in God either according to His essence or according to His hypostases, for

neither of these can be in any way divided, nor can they be communicated to any one at all. Hence God is in this

respect totally inaccessible to all, though indeed He is also everywhere present. But the energy and power common

to the tri-hypostatic nature is variously and proportionately divided among those who participate in it, and is

therefore accessible to those who are blessed with it. For, as St Basil says, 'the Holy Spirit is not participated in to

the same degree by each person who receives Him; rather. He distributes His energy according to the faith of the

participant; for though He is simple in essence. He is diverse in His powers.'

 

110. That which is said to participate in something possesses a part of that in which it participates; for if it

participates not in a part only but in the whole, then strictly speaking it does, not participate in but possesses that

whole. Hence, if the participant must necessarily participate in a part, what is participated in is divisible. But the

essence of God is in every way indivisible, and therefore it is altogether unparticipable. On the other hand, the

property of the divine energy is to be divisible, as the holy father St John Chrysostom frequently affirms. Hence it is

the divine energy that is participated in by those who have been privileged to receive deifying grace. Listen, then,

once

 

 

 

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more to St John Chrysostom, as he clearly elucidates both these points, namely, that it is the energy that is

indivisibly divided and also participated in, and not the imparticipable essence from which the divine energy

proceeds. Citing the gospel words, 'Of His fullness we have all received' (John 1 : 16), he says, 'If in the case of fire,

where what is divided is both essence and body, we both divide it and do not divide it, how much more so is this the

case with respect to the energy, especially the energy of the unembodied essence?'

 

111. Further, that which participates in something according to its essence must necessarily possess a common

essence with that in which it participates and be identical to it in some respect. But who has ever heard that God and

we possess in some respect the same essence? St Basil the Great says, 'The energies of God come down to us, but

the essence remains inaccessible.' And St Maximos also says, 'He who is deified through grace will be everything

that God is, without possessing identity of essence.' Thus it is impossible to participate in God's essence, even for

those who are deified by divme grace. It is, however, possible to participate in the divine energy. To this does the

measured light of truth here below lead me, to behold and experience the splendor of God,' states St Gregory of

Nazianzos. As the Psalmist says, 'May the splendor of our God be upon us' (Ps. 90:17. LXX). There is a single

energy of God and the saints,' St Maximos clearly writes, who was one of their number; they are 'living icons of

Christ, being the same as He is, by grace rather than by assimilation.'

 

112. God is identical within Himself, since the three divine hypostases mutually coinhere and interpenetrate

naturally, totally, eternally, mseparably, and yet without mingling or confusion, so that their energy is also one. This

could never be the case among creatures. There are similarities among creatures of the same genus, but since each

independent existence, or hypostasis, operates by itself, its energy is uniquely its own. The situation is different with

the three divine hypostases that we worship, for there the energy is truly one and the

 

 

 

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same. For the activity of the divine will is one, originating from the Father, the primal Cause, issuing through the

Son, and made manifest in the Holy Spirit This is clear from the created effects, for it is from the effects that we

know every natural energy. Although they are similar, different nests are made by different swallows, and different

pages are written by different scribes, though the materials used are the same. But with the Father, Son and Holy

Spirit it is not the case that each one of the hypostases has His own particular effect. Rather, all creation is the smgle

work of the three. Thus we have been initiated by the fathers to recognize from creation that the divine energy of the

three Persons whom we worship is one and the same, and that they do not each possess an individual energy which

merely resembles that of the other two.

 

 

 

113. Since Father, Son and Holy Spirit unconfusedly and unmix-edly interpenetrate one another, we know that

they possess an activity and energy that is strictly one and unique. The life or power mat the Father possesses in

Himself is not different from that in the Son, since the Son possesses the same life and power as the Father; and the

same can be said of the Son and me Holy Spirit. As for those who think that the divine energy does not differ from

the divine essence because our life is nothing else but God Himself, and He Himself is pre-etemal life not in relation

to something else but in Himself, they are both ignorant and heretics. They are ignorant because they have not yet

learnt that the supreme Trinity is none other than God Himself, and that the supreme Unity is none other than God

Himself, though this in no way prevents the Unity from being distinguished from the Trinity. They are heretics

because they abolish both essence and energy, the one through the other. For what is dependent on another is not

essence; and what is self-subsistent is not dependent on another. Thus if the essence and the energy in no way differ

from each other, they abolish each other, or, rather, 1 should say that they expel from the number of the godfearing

those who say that there is no difference between them.

 

1 14. We, on the contrary, confess that the Son of God is our life as regards cause and energy, and that He is also

life in Himself absolutely and mdependently of all; and we declare mat He possesses both these attributes

uncreatedly. We likewise confess the same thing with reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus this life of

ours, that as the cause of living things quickens us, is none other than Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For our tri-

hypostatic God is said to be our life as

 

 

 

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being its cause. And when in theology the divine life is spoken of not as cause, nor in relation to something else,

but absolutely and in itself, again it is not anything other than the Father and also the Son and the Holy Spirit. Such

doctrines in no way give offence to those who affirm that God is uncreated, not only as regards His essence and

hypostases, but also as regards the divine energy that is common to the three. We proclaim in our theology one God

in three hypostases, possessing a single essence, power and energy, as well as whatever other realities pertain to the

essence - realities that are called in Scripture assembly and fullness of divinity (cf Col. 2:9), and are perceived and

theologically declared to belong to each of the three holy hypostases.

 

115. Those who reject this divine energy, saying sometimes that it is created, and sometimes that it differs in no

respect from the divine essence, fabricate at other times a new heresy, teaching the doctrine that the sole uncreated

energy is the only-begotten Son of the Father. In order to validate this view they appeal to the words of St Cyril:

'The life that the Father possesses in Himself is nothing other than the Son, and the life that is in the Son is nothing

other than the Father. Thus He speaks the truth when He says, "1 am in the Father and the Father is in Me" (John

14:11).' Briefly and so far as we can we will now clarify the sense of the saint's words, and we will refute the

impiety of those who in their undisceming darkness oppose us. They wrongly maintain that the Son is not only

unlike the Father, but is also posterior to the Father, because He possesses the faculty of life and life itself not by

nature, but as something added from without, and by participation and adventitiously, and because He takes and

 

 

 

receives life from the Father, according to the words of Scripture, 'For as the Father has life in Himself, so has He

granted the Son also to have life in Himself (John 5:26).

 

St Cyril counters those who interpret the text of the Gospel in such an impious way. 'God', he says, 'is called life

by virtue of His energy, as the Quickener of living things. He is Himself the life of things that naturally live, since

He is the Creator of nature, just as He is also the Bestower of grace on those who live in a divine manner. But God is

also said to be life in Himself, not in relation to another, but mdependently

 

 

 

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and in every way unconditionally.' The divine Cyril wanted to show that in neither of these two cases does the

Son differ from the Father, and that the fact that the Son receives something from .the Father does not indicate that

He is posterior to the Father, or that where His essence is concerned the Son is second to the Father in a temporal

sense. Thus among many other things St Cyril says, 'It is not as receiving something that the Son possesses being,

but as being He receives something.' Then he adds in conclusion: 'Therefore, the fact that the Son receives

something from the Father does not mean that where His essence is concerned the Son is second to the Father in a

temporal sense.' Here, then, he does not accept that the life which the Father has and which the Son receives from

the Father is the divine essence.

 

1 16. Further, the divine Cyril shows that although the Son of God is said by virtue of His energy to be life in

relation to living things, since He quickens them and is called their life, yet not even in this is He unlike the Father;

rather, by nature He is their life and He quickens them, just as the Father does. Then, continuing, St Cyril writes, 'If

the Son is not life by nature, how can He be speaking the truth when He says, "He that believes in Me has eternal

life" (John 6:47), and again, "My sheep hear my voice, and I give them eternal life" (John 10:27-28)?' Shortly after

St Cyril writes, 'To those who believe in Him He promises to give the life that belongs to and inheres in Him

substantially. How, then, is it possible to think that the Son did not have this life but received it from the Father?'

They should be ashamed, then, to say in their madness that, because this life is a natural attribute of God, therefore it

must be identical with God's essence. For neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit offers us believers their

essence. We must dismiss such impiety.

 

1 17. The great Cyril confutes in a similar way those who are infected with Barlaam's disease when he says shortly

afterwards, 'In proceeding from the Father the Son takes with Him all that is by nature the Father's. Now one of the

Father's attributes is life.' By the words, 'one of the Father's attributes', he clearly demonstrates that the

 

 

 

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Father has many attributes. In the opinion of those who think that life is the essence of God, this must mean that

God has many essences. Yet, apart from this impiety, to say that being and attribute are the same, except perhaps

with regard to some particular relation, also displays excessive ignorance. And even more senseless is it to say that

being and attributes - in other words, the one and what is more than one - are in no way different. For it is utterly and

completely impossible and senseless to assert that something should be both one and many with respect to the same

thing.

 

118. In stating, then, that life is one of the Father's attributes, the divine Cyril shows that in this passage, when

referring to life', he does not mean the essence of God. But let us produce his exact words where he states that God

has many attributes. For slightly later he says, 'Many excellent properties pertain to the Father, but the Son is not

without them either.' How could these many things that pertain to God be the divine essence? Wishing to indicate

some of these excellent properties that pertain to the Father, he refers to the words of St Paul, To the immortal,

invisible, and only wise God' (1 Tim. 1:17). Thus he shows even more clearly that none of God's attributes

constitutes the essence. How, indeed, could immortality, invisibility, and in general all the things said of God

privatively and apophatically, whether collectively or severally, be equated with the essence? For there is no essence

unless there exists this or that definite object. If to the divine attributes described apophatically are added those that

the theologians ascribe to God cataphatically, it is evident that none of them can be shown to disclose God's essence,

even though when necessary we apply all the names of these attributes to the supra-essential Being that is absolutely

nameless.

 

119. When attributes are in question, we necessarily ask what they pertain to. If they do not pertain to anything,

they are not attributes, and it is wrong to call them such. But if the attributes pertain to any one thing, and if this is

the essence, which according to our adversaries in no way differs from each one of the attributes and all of them

together, then, since there are many attributes, the one essence will be many essences; and that thing which is one in

essence will be many in essence, and therefore will have many essences. But if it is one and also has many essences,

it is necessarily composite. Delivering his adherents

 

 

 

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from such impious and ignorant opinions, the divine Cyril says in his Treasuries: 'If that which pertains to God

alone is inevitably also His essence. He will be composed of many essences. For there are many thmgs that pertain

by nature to God alone and to no other being. Indeed, the divine Scriptures call Him King, Lord, incorruptible,

invisible, and say many thousands of other things about Him. If, then, each of His attributes is ranked with essence,

how can the simple God not be composite? But this is a most absurd view to hold.'

 

120. By many arguments St Cyril, wise in things divine, shows that even though the Son is life and is said to

possess life as energy, since He quickens us and is the life of living things, still He is not on this account unlike the

 

 

 

Father, for the Father, too, bestows hfe. He wanted also to show that even when the Son is said to be hfe and to have

hfe not in relation to something else but altogether independently and absolutely, yet in this case also He will not be

unlike the Father with respect to life. For when we call God our life, not in so far as He bestows life on us, but

altogether independently and absolutely, then we are naming His essence on the basis of the energy that pertains to

Him by nature, as we do also when we call Him wisdom, goodness, and so on. Wishing, then, to demonstrate this, St

Cyril says: 'When we say that "the Father has life in Himself" (John 5:16), we are at the same time calling the Son

life, for He is other than the Father only with respect to His hypostasis, but not with respect to life. For this reason

there is no question of compositeness or twofoldedness in the Father. And again, when we say that the Son has life

in Himself, and we mean life absolute, we are at the same time calling the Father life. For as the Father is life, not in

relation to anything else, but independently and in Himself, the Father and the Son coinhere in one another, as the

Son Himself said: "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me" (John 14:11).' In this way, then, the divine Cyril

demonstrates that the life that is in the Father - namely, the Son - is somehow both other and not other than the

Father. But our opponents say that the life that is in the Father is in no way other than the Father and is entirely

identical with Him since it is in no respect different By proposing such things and affirming that this life is the Only-

begotten Son of the Father, they necessarily range

 

 

 

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themselves not with the doctrines of the venerable Cyril but with those of Sabellius.

 

121. Do not the followers of Barlaam and Akmdynos roundly condemn themselves when they claim that the

divine Cyril contradicts himself? To affirm sometimes one thing, sometimes another, when both affirmations are

true, is a distinguishing mark of every orthodox theologian. But to contradict oneself does not betoken an intelligent

person. St Cyril quite rightly says that by nature the Son has life, which He gives to those who believe in Him. By

this he shows that not only the essence of God - which no one receives - but also His natural energy is called life.

This life has been received as a gift of grace by those whom He has quickened, and thus they themselves are able to

save - that is to say, to render immortal in spirit - those who previously were not alive in spirit, and sometimes to

restore people lifeless in one of their limbs or even in their whole body. How could St Cyril, who has demonstrated

these things so excellently and clearly, subsequently assert, with the intention of denying what he has said about the

divine energy, that only God's essence is called life? For this is what is senselessly maintained by those who now

pervert or, rather, misrepresent, what St Cyril says.

 

122. Not just the Only -begotten Son of God but also the Holy Spirit is called energy and power by the saints, and

this because the Son and the Spirit possess precisely the same powers and energies as the Father. For according to St

Dionysios God is called power, 'as both possessing it originally in Himself and transcending all power'. Therefore,

whenever one of those two distinct hypostases, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is called power or energy, it is

understood or expressed that He is so together with the Father. Thus St Basil the Great says. The Holy Spirit is a

sanctifying power that possesses essence, existence and hypostatic subsistence.' But in his writing about the Spirit he

 

 

 

also shows that the energies of the Spirit are none of them self-subsistent, in this way clearly distinguishing them in

turn from created things; for what come forth from the Spirit as created objects

 

 

 

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are independent existences, for God creates them as essences with specific qualities.

 

123. Apophatic theology does not contradict or confute cataphatic theology, but it shows that although statements

made cataphatically about God are true and reverent, yet they do not apply to God as they might to us. For example.

God possesses knowledge of existent things, and we, too, possess this in some cases. But we know things in so far

as they exist and have come into existence, whereas God does not know them solely in this way, since He knows

them just as well even prior to their coming into existence. Thus he who says that God does not know existent things

as existent does not contradict him who says that God knows existent things and knows them as existent. There is

also a cataphatic theology which has the force of apophatic theologv, as when one says that all knowledge is

affirmed of some object, namely, the thing known, while God's knowledge does not refer to any object. This is the

same as saying God does not know existent things as existent, and He does not have knowledge of existent things -

that is to say, does not have it as we do. In this way it can be said that in terms of His pre-eminence God does not

exist But he who asserts this in order to show that people who say God exists are not speaking correctly, clearly

employs apophatic theology not in a way that connotes pre-eminence, but as though it connoted deficiency and

signified in this case that God has absolutely no existence whatsoever. This is the uttermost impiety, of which, alas,

those are guilty who by means of apophatic theology attempt to deny that God has both an uncreated essence and

uncreated energy. We, however, embrace both modes of theology, since the one does not exclude the other - rather,

by means of each we confirm ourselves in a sound way of thought.

 

124. I think a brief patristic quotation will be sufficient to confute utterly all the sophistries of Barlaam's followers

and prove them to be sheer folly. St Gregory of Nazianzos says: 'The Unoriginate, the First Originate and the One

who is with the First Originate, constitute one God. But the First Originate is not, because it is the First Originate,

separated from the Unoriginate. For its origin is not its nature, any more than to be without origin is the nature of the

other. These things pertain to the nature, but are not the nature itself" What, then? Shall we say that because origin

and unongmateness are not nature but

 

 

 

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pertain to the nature that they are therefore created? Not unless we are out of our mind. And is God composite

because origin and unoriginateness are uncreated and pertain to His nature? Certainly not; for though they pertain to

His nature, they are yet distinct from it. But, as St Cyril and other fathers teach at length, if the natural attributes of

God are identified with the nature, then the Divinity is composite. Read through the writings against Eunomios by

St Basil the Great and his brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, who fraternally shares his views. There you will find clearly

that the followers of Barlaam and Akindynos are in agreement with Eunomios, and you will have ample refutations

to use against them.

 

125. The Eunomians asserted that the Father and the Son did not have the same essence, and they came to this

conclusion because they imagined that everything predicated of God is said with regard to His essence; and so they

contentiously argued that because to beget and to be begotten are different, on this account there are also different

essences. The Akindynists assert that it cannot be one and the same God who possesses both a divine essence and

divine energy, because they imagine that everything predicated of God is essence; and so they contentiously argue

that, if there is any difference between divine essence and energy, there are also many different gods. To refute both

groups it is enough to show that not everything predicated of God is said with regard to His essence; it can be said

relatively, that is, with relation to something that is not God's essence. For example, the Father is spoken of in

relation to the Son, for the Son is not the Father. And God is called Lord in relation to the subject creation, for God

is Lord over beings that are in time and in the eternal age, and also Lord over the ages themselves. But this dominion

is an uncreated energy of God, distinct from His essence in that it is said in relation to something else, something

which He Himself is not

 

126. The Eunomians maintain that everything that is attributed to God is essence. In this way they conclude that

unbegottenness is God's essence, thus degrading - so far as they can - the Son to the rank of a creature because He

differs from the Father. Their purpose, they claim, is to avoid positing two Gods; the first, unbegotten, and the one

who comes second after Him, begotten. In imitation of the Eunomians, the Akindynists maintain that everything that

is attributed to God is

 

 

 

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essence, and in this way they impiously degrade God's energy to the rank of creature - the energy that although

inseparable from God nevertheless differs from His essence in that it originates from the essence and is participated

in by created things; for, as St Dionysios says, 'AH things participate in the providence that wells forth from the

Godhead, the Cause of all.' Their purpose, the Akindynists claim, is to avoid positing two Godheads: one, the tri-

hypostatic essence that transcends name, cause, and participation; and the other, God's energy that proceeds from the

essence, is participated in, and is named. They do not comprehend that, just as God the Father is called Father in

relation to His own Son and fatherhood pertains to Him as an uncreated property, even though the name 'Father'

does not betoken the essence, so likewise God possesses energy uncreatedly, even though energy differs from

essence. When we speak of one Godhead, we speak of everything that God is, namely, both essence and energy.

 

 

 

Consequently the Akindynists are the ones who impiously split God's single divinity into created and uncreated.

 

127. An accident is that which comes into existence and passes out of existence, and in this way we can conceive

of inseparable attributes as well. From one point of view, a natural attribute is also an accident, since it increases and

decreases, as, for instance, knowledge in the soul endowed with intelligence. But there is no such thing in God

because He remains entirely changeless. For this reason nothing can be attributed to Him that is an accident. Yet not

all things said of God betoken His essence. For what belongs to the category of relation is also predicated of Him,

and this is relative and refers to relationship with something else, and does not signify essence. Such is the divine

energy in God. For it is not essence, nor an accident, even though it is called a kind of accident by some theologians,

who mean to say simply this, that it is in God and that it is not essence.

 

128. St Gregory of Nazianzos, when writing about the Holy Spirit, teaches us that, even though the divine energy

is as it were also an accident, it is still seen to be m God without thereby making God composite. For he says, 'The

Holy Spirit must either be ranked among beings that are self-existent or among those that are seen to be in another.

Those skilled in such matters call the former essence and the latter accident. If the Holy Spirit were an accident. He

would be an

 

 

 

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energy of God. For what else, or of whom else, could He be? And this avoids making God composite.' He is

clearly saying that if the Spirit is one of the things seen to be in God, and so is not essence, but is an accident and is

called Spirit, He cannot be anything other than God's energy. This he indicated by saying, 'For what else, or of

whom else, could He be?' In order to make it clear also that apart from energy nothing else - not quality, or quantity,

or anything else of this kind - can be seen to be in God, he adds, 'And this avoids making God composite.' But how

does the energy, though it is seen to be in God, not introduce composition into God? Because only God possesses

completely impassible energy: He alone acts without being acted upon. He does not come into existence, nor does

He change.

 

129. Slightly before this, in contrasting this energy with what is created, St Gregory also shows that he regarded it

as uncreated. For he says, 'Of the wise men among ourselves, some have supposed the Spirit to be an energy, others

a created thing, and still others God.' By 'God' here he means the actual hypostasis; and by distinguishing the energy

from what is created he clearly demonstrates that it is not created. Shortly afterwards he calls the energy an activity

of God. How could God's activity not be uncreated? St John of Damaskos writes on this question: 'The energy is the

dynamic and essential activity of the nature. That which possesses the capacity to energize is the nature from which

the energy proceeds. That which is energized is the effect of the energy. That which energizes is what uses the

energy, that is to say, the hypostasis. '

 

130. In the same work St Gregory also says, 'If He is energy, then He will be energized but will not energize; and

He will cease to exist once He has been energized.' From this the followers of Akmdynos conclude and declare that

the divine energy is created. They do not understand that being energized can also be said of uncreated realities, as

 

 

 

St Gregory shows when he says that if 'Father' is the name of an energy, 'then what the Father energizes will be the

consubstantiality of the Son'. And St John of Damaskos also says, 'Christ sat at the right

 

 

 

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hand of God, divinely energizing universal providence" Yet neither does the expression 'He rested' call in

question the uncreated nature of the energy. For in creating God begins and ceases: as Moses says, 'God rested from

all the works that He had begun to make' (Gen. 2:1). But the act of creating itself, with respect to which God begins

and ceases, is a natural and uncreated energy of God.

 

131. After saying, 'The energy is the dynamic and essential activity of the nature', St John of Damaskos seeks to

demonstrate that, according to St Gregory of Nazianzos, this energy is both actuated and ceases to act. For he adds,

'We should realize that the energy is an activity and is energized rather than energizes. As St Gregory the

Theologian says in his homily on the Holy Spirit, "If He is energy, then He will be energized but will not energize;

and He will cease to exist once He has been energized".' Thus it is obvious that those who share the views of

Barlaam and Akindynos, and who teach that the energy of which St Gregory here speaks is created, mindlessly

degrade to the rank of a creature God's natural and essential energy. Yet St John of Damaskos, when he affirms that

this energy is not only energized but also energizes, shows thereby that it is uncreated. That in this St John does not

disagree with St Gregory I have made abundantly clear in my longer works.

 

132. In God the hypostatic properties are affirmed relatively one to the other. The hypostases differ from each

other, but not with respect to essence. Sometimes God is also referred to in relation to creation. Yet God, the All-

Holy Trinity, cannot be called Father in the same way that He is called pre-etemal, pre-unoriginate, great and good.

For it is not each of the three hypostases that is the Father, but only one of them, from whom and to whom

subsequent realities are referred. None the less, in relation to creation the Trinity can also be called the Father,

because creation is the joint work of the Three, brought forth from absolute nothingness, and because our adoption

as sons is achieved through the bestowal of the grace common to the Three. The scriptural texts, 'The Lord your God

is one Lord' (cf. Deut. 6:4) and 'One is our Father in heaven' (cf. Matt. 6:9; 23:9), refer to the Holy Trinity as our one

Lord and God, and also as our Father who

 

 

 

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through His grace confers on us a new birth. As we said, the Father is called Father only in relation to His

 

 

 

coessential Son. In relation to both Son and Spirit He is called Principle, as He is also called Principle in relation to

creation, but here in the sense that He is the Creator and Master of all creatures. Thus when the Father is called such

things in relation to creation, the Son is also Principle, though they constitute not two Principles but one. For the Son

is called Principle in relation to creation, as He is likewise called Master in relation to the created things subject to

Him. Thus the Father and the Son, together with the Spirit, are - in relation to creation - one Principle, one Master,

one Creator, one God and Father, one Provider and Overseer, and so on. Yet none of these properties constitute the

essence, for if it was the essence it could not have been spoken of in relation to another.

 

133. States, conditions, places, times, and any other such thing are not literally but metaphorically predicated of

God. But to create and to energize can in the truest sense be predicated of God alone; for only God creates. He does

not come into existence nor with respect to His essence is He acted upon. He alone through all things creates each

one. He alone creates from absolute nothingness, since He possesses energy that is all-powerful. With respect to this

energy He can be referred to in relation to creation and possesses potentiality. For He Himself in His own nature is

not capable of being affected by anything at all, but if He wishes He is capable of adding to His creations. For God

in His essence to be capable of being affected, of possessing or acquiring something, would denote weakness. But

for God through His energy to be capable of creating, and of possessing and adding to His creations whenever He

wishes, is a token of divinely fitting and almighty power.

 

134. All existent things can be grouped into ten categories, namely, essence, quantity, quality, relation, place,

time, activity, passivity, possession and dependence; and these ten categories apply likewise to everything

subsequently seen to pertain to essence. But God is supra-essential essence, in which can be seen only relation and

activity or creation, and these two things do not produce in His essence any composition or change. For God creates

all things without being affected in His essence. He is Creator in relation to creation, and also its Principle and

Master in that it has its origin in Him and is dependent on Him. But He is also our Father, since by grace He confers

on us rebirth. Yet He is Father, too, in relation to the Son who is completely without any temporal beginning. The

Son is Son in relation to the

 

 

 

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Father, while the Spirit is the projection of the Father, coetemal with the Father and the Son, being of one and the

same essence. Those who assert that God is only essence, with nothing to be seen in Him, fabricate a God who has

neither creativity and energy nor relation. But if He whom they suppose to be God does not possess these properties,

then He is neither active nor Creator, nor does He possess an energy; and neither is He Principle, Creator and

Master, nor is He our Father by grace. For how could He be these things if relation and creativity are not to be

envisaged in His essence? Furthermore, if relation is not to be envisaged in God's essence, the tri-hypostatic

character of the Godhead is also abolished. But He who is not tn-hypostatic is not the Master of all or God. Thus

those who hold the views of Barlaam and Akmdynos are atheists.

 

135. God also possesses that which is not essence. Yet because it is not essence it is not on that account an

 

 

 

accident. For that which not only does not pass away but which also neither admits nor induces in itself the slightest

increase or decrease, cannot be included among accidents. But the fact that it is neither an accident nor essence does

not mean that it has no existence: it exists and it truly exists. It is not an accident, because it is altogether changeless.

But again it is not an essence, because it is not among those things that are self-subsistent. It is because of this that

some theologians say that it is in a certain way an accident, by which they wish only to indicate that it is not essence.

But because each hypostatic property and each of the hypostases is neither an essence nor an accident in God, is it

on this account totally nonexistent? Certainly not. In the same way, then. God's divine energy is neither an essence

nor an accident, nor is it something utterly nonexistent. To speak in accord with all the theologians: if God creates

by will and not simply because it is His nature to do so, then to will is one thing and natural being is another. If this

is so, it means that God's volition is other than the divine essence. Does it follow from this that because in God the

will is other than the nature and is not an essence it therefore does not exist at all? Certainly not: it does exist and it

pertains to God, who possesses not only essence but also a will with which He creates. One may if one wishes say

that it is in a certain way an accident, since it is not an essence; yet neither is it in the strict sense an accident, since it

does not produce any composition or alteration. Thus God possesses both essence and that which is not essence,

even if it should not be called an accident, namely, the divine will and energy.

 

 

 

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136. Unless an essence has an energy distinct from itself, it will entirely lack actual existence and will be a mere

mental concept. For man as a general concept does not think, does not have opinions, does not see, does not smell,

does not speak, does not hear, does not walk, does not breathe, does not eat and, in short, does not have an energy

which is distinct from his essence, and which shows that he possesses an individual state of being. Thus man as a

general concept entirely lacks actual existence. But when man possesses an inherent energy distinct from his

essence, whether it be one or many or all of those activities we have mentioned, it is known thereby that he

possesses an individual state of being and does not lack actual existence. And because these energies are observed

not only in one or two or three but in a great number of individuals, it is clear that man exists in countless individual

states of being.

 

137. According to the true faith of God's Church which by His grace we hold, God possesses inherent energy that

makes Him manifest and is in this respect distinct from His essence. For He foreknows and provides for inferior

beings; He creates, sustains, rules and transforms them according to His own will and knowledge. In this way it is

clear that He possesses an individual state of being, and that He is not simply essence lacking actual existence. But

since all these energies are to be seen not in one but in three Persons, God is known to us as one essence existing in

three individual states of being or hypostases. But the followers of Akmdynos, by asserting that God does not have

inherent energy that makes Him manifest and is in this respect distinct from His essence, are saying that God does

not possess an individual state of being, and they entirely deprive the tri-hypostatic Lord of actual existence. In this

way they excel Sabellius the Libyan in heresy; for their total impiety is worse than his corrupt piety.

 

 

 

138. The energy of the three divine hypostases is one not in the sense that each has an energy similar to that of the

others, as is the case with us, but in the sense of true numerical unity. This is something which those who hold the

views of Akmdynos are unable to accept. For they say that there is no common, uncreated energy pertaining to the

three hypostases and that the hypostases are energies of one another, since according to them there is no common

divine energy. Thus they are unable to affirm that the three hypostases possess a single energy, and by excluding

now one, now another energy they again deprive the tri-hypostatic God of actual existence.

 

 

 

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139. Because those diseased in soul with Akmdynos's delusions say that the energy that is distinct from God's

essence is created, they conclude that God's creative power is created. For it is impossible to act and create without

an energy, just as it is impossible to exist without existence. Therefore, just as one cannot say that God's existence is

created and at the same trnie affirm that His being is uncreated, so also one cannot say that God's energy is created

and at the same time affirm that His power to act and create is uncreated.

 

140. According to those who hold the true faith - and contrary to Akindynos's nonsensical and impious ramblings

- created things are not the energy of God, but they are the effects of the divine energy. For if the created things are

the energy, either such things are uncreated - which is sheer folly, for it would mean that they exist before they are

created - or else prior to created things God possesses no energy; and this is mere godlessness. For of course God is

eternally active and all-powerful. Thus creatures are not God's energy, but things that (whatever the precise

terminology employed) have been actualized and effected. But God's energy, according to the theologians, is

uncreated and coetemal with God.

 

141. The energy is not known from the essence; but we do know from the energy that the essence exists, though

we do not know what it is. Thus according to the theologians God's existence is known from His providence, not

from His essence. Such, then, is the way in which energy can be distinguished from essence: the energy is that

which makes known, while the essence is that whose existence is made known by the energy. The advocates of

Akindynos's impiety,, in their anxiety to persuade us that the divine energy in no way differs from the divine

essence, abolish that which makes God known, and so end up by trying to convince us that we cannot know that

God exists - since they at any rate have no knowledge of Him. But he who does not even know that God exists will

be the most godless and stupid of men.

 

142. When the Akmdymsts say that, although God possesses an energy, it does not in any way differ from His

essence, they attempt thus to cloak their own impiety and sophistically to mislead and deceive their hearers.

Sabellius the Libyan likewise said that God the Father has a Son who differs in no way from the Father. But just as

he was guilty of teaching that the Father is without a Son, since he denied their hypostatic distinction, so now these

people are guilty of holding that God has no energy whatsoever, since they assert that the divine

 

 

 

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energy in no way differs from the divine essence. If, indeed, there were no difference between these two, God

would possess no capacity for creating and actuating, for according to the theologians it is impossible to act without

an energy, just as it is impossible to exist without existence. For those who think rightly, there is also another fact

which indicates that there is a difference between the divme energy and the divine essence. The energy actuates

something else, not identical with the one who acts. God actuates and makes created things, but He Himself is

uncreated. Further, a relationship is always affirmed in relation to something else: son is spoken of in relation to

father, but a son is never father of his father. Therefore, as it is impossible for the relationship not to differ in any

way from the essence and for it to be itself the essence instead of being in the essence, so likewise it is impossible

for the energy not to differ from the essence but to be the essence, even though this may give offence to Akindynos.

 

143. St Basil the Great, when he writes of God in his Syllogistic Chapters, says, 'The energy is neither the one

who energizes nor that which is energized. Therefore the energy is not to be confused with the essence." St Cyril

likewise affirms concerning God: To create pertains to energy, to beget pertains to nature. But nature and energy are

not identical' And St John of Damaskos writes, 'Generation is an operation of the divine nature, but the creation is

an operation of the divine will.' And elsewhere he says clearly, 'Energy is one thing and that which has the capacity

to energize is another. For energy is the essential activity of the nature. That which possesses the capacity to

energize is the nature from which the energy proceeds.' The energy, then, according to the holy fathers, differs in

many ways from the divine essence.

 

144. God's essence is entirely unnamable since it is also completely incomprehensible. Therefore we name it on

the basis of all its energies, although with respect to the essence itself none of those names means anything different

from any other. For by each name and by all names together nothing other is named except that which is hidden and

whose real identity is unknown to all. But with respect to the energies.

 

 

 

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each of these names has a different significance, for we all know that the acts of creating, ruling, judging,

providential guidance, and of God's adopting us as sons through His grace, are acts that differ from one another.

Thus when the Akindynists say that these natural, divine energies are created because they differ both from one

another and from the divine nature, what else are they doing except degrading God and making Him a creature? For

things that are created, ruled, judged and so on, are creatures and not the Creator, the Ruler, and the judge. And the

same can be said of the acts of judging, ruling, and creating, which are acts that by nature pertain to God.

 

 

 

145. Just as the essence of God is altogether without name because according to the theologians it transcends all

names, so it is also miparticipable in that according to them it transcends participation. Thus those who in our day

disbelieve the teaching of the Spirit given through our holy fathers and who revile us when we agree with the

fathers, say that if the divine energy differs from the divine essence, even though it is envisaged as wholly pertaining

to God's essence, then either there will be many gods or the one God will be composite. They are unaware that it is

not activating and energy but being acted upon and passivity that produce composition. God activates without in any

way being acted upon or subject to change. Thus He is not composite on account of His energy. Furthermore, God

also possesses relationship and is related to creation, as being its Principle and Master; but He is not on this account

numbered among things that have come into existence. And how will there be many gods because of God possessing

an energy, since the energy pertains to one God or, rather, since God Himself is both the divine essence, and the

divine energy? All this is clearly folly deriving from a demented state of mind.

 

146. The Lord said to His disciples, 'There are some standing here who will not taste death till they have seen the

kingdom of God come with power' (Mark 9:1); and after six days He took Peter, James and John, and when they had

ascended Mount Tabor He shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light (cf Matt. 17:1-2). When the

disciples could look at it no longer or, rather, because they lacked the strength to gaze at the brightness, they fell

prostrate to the earth (cf. Matt. 17:6). None the less, in accordance with the Savior's promise they did see the

kingdom of God, that divine and inexpressible light. St Gregory of Nazianzos and, St Basil call this light 'divinity',

saying that 'the light is the divinity manifested to the disciples on the

 

 

 

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Mount', and that it is 'the beauty of Him who is almighty, and His noetic and contemplatable divinity'. St Basil the

Great also says that this light is the beauty of God contemplated by the saints alone in the power of the divine Spirit;

and again he writes, 'On the mountain Peter and the sons of thunder saw His beauty shining more brightly than the

sun; and they were privileged to receive with their eyes a foretaste of His advent.' St John of Damaskos as well as St

John Chrysostom call that light a natural ray of the Divinity. The former writes, 'Because the Son was begotten

unoriginately from the Father, He possesses the natural, unongmate ray of the Divinity; and the glory of the Divinity

becomes the glory of His body.' And St John Chrysostom says, 'The Lord appeared upon the mountain more radiant

than Himself because the Divinity revealed its rays.'

 

147. This divine and inexpressible light. God's divinity and kingdom, the beauty and resplendence of the divine

nature, the vision and delight of the saints in the age without end, the natural ray and glory of the Divinity - this the

followers of Akindynos call an apparition and a creature. Further, they slanderously call ditheists those who refuse

to blaspheme as they do against the divine light and who affirm God to be uncreated both in His essence and in His

energy. But they should be ashamed, for though the divine light is uncreated, there is for us one God in one divinity,

since, as has been shown above in many different ways, both the uncreated essence and the uncreated energy - that

is, this divine grace and illumination - pertain to one God.

 

 

 

148. Because the followers of Akindynos at the Synod audaciously asserted and strove to demonstrate that the

divine light that shone from the Savior on Tabor was an apparition and a creature, and because they did not change

their views although they were frequently confuted, they were placed under a writ of excommunication and

anathema. For they blaspheme God's economy in the flesh, and

 

 

 

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mindlessly say that God's divinity is created; and in this way-since the divinity of the three Persons is one and the

same - they degrade the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit themselves to the rank of a creature. And when they

claim to worship an uncreated divinity, they plainly profess that there are two divinities in God, the one created and

the other uncreated. In this manner they strive to surpass in impiety all the ancient heretics.

 

149. At other times these people contrive to conceal their heresy by saying that the light that shone on Tabor is

both uncreated and also the essence of God, and in this they blaspheme in many ways. For since that light was seen

by the apostles, these people perversely imagine that the essence of God is visible. Let them listen to him who says,

'No one has been in such a position as to see or disclose the essence and nature of God.' Not only men but also the

angels are unable to do so; for even the six-winged Cherubim cover their faces with their wings because of the

surpassing brilliance of the illumination shining from the divine essence (cf. Isa. 6:2). God's supraessentiality has

never appeared to anyone at any time. Thus when the followers of Akindynos identify it with the light of the

Transfiguration, what they are asserting is that this light is entirely invisible, that not even the chosen apostles were

able to see it on Mount Tabor, that the Lord did not truthfully promise them the sight of it, and that he who said, 'We

saw His glory when we were with Him in the holy mount' (cf. John 1 : 14; 2 Pet. 1:18), and 'Peter and those with him

stayed awake and saw His glory' (cf. Luke 9:32), did not speak the truth; nor did that other who says that Christ's

especially beloved disciple 'saw disclosed upon the mountain the actual divinity of the Logos'. Thus they saw, they

truly saw that uncreated and divine effulgence, while God yet continued invisible in His supraessential hiddenness,

although Barlaam and Akmdynos and their followers may explode with indignation at this.

 

150. Whenever one asks the Akindynists who say that the light of the Divinity is the essence: 'Is, then, the

essence of God visible?', they are forced to unmask their treachery. For they assert that this light is the essence, since

through it the essence of God is manifest; thus God's essence can be seen by means of created things. So once again

these

 

 

 

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wretches assert that the hght of the Lord's Transfiguration is a created thing. Yet that which is seen through

created things is not God's essence but His creative energy. Therefore those who say that by means of creatures

God's essence is seen speak irrehgiously and in agreement with Eunomios, so prohfic is the crop of their impiety.

Thus we should shun them and their company, for their teaching is a soul-destroying and many-headed serpent,

corrupting the tme faith in a multitude of ways.

 

 

 

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(Prologue) The mysteries of the Mosaic law, once foreseen in the Spirit by the prophets alone, have now become

doctrines known to all alike and openly proclaimed. Similarly the way of life according to the Gospel has also its

own mysteries; and these are the blessings of the age to come which are promised to the saints, and which are now

disclosed prophetically to those whom the Spirit accounts worthy, but only to a limited extent and as a pledge and a

foretaste. If one of the Jews of old, lacking a proper spirit of reverence, were to hear the prophets proclaiming the

Logos and the Spirit of God to be pre-etemal and coetemal with God, he might have stopped up his ears, supposing

that he heard things forbidden to piety and opposed to what was openly confessed by true believers, namely. The

Lord your God is one Lord' (cf Deut. 6:4). Similarly a person today who without proper reverence hears of the

mysteries of the Spirit that are known only by those who have been purified through virtue might react in the same

way. Agam, the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament showed the mysteries of that time to be

concordant with what was later made manifest, so that now we believe in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the tri-

hypostatic Godhead, one simple, non-composite, uncreated, unseen, incomprehensible nature. Similarly, when in its

own time the age to come is revealed according to the ineffable manifestation of the one God in three perfect

hypostases, it will be clear that the present mysteries accord with all that is then made manifest.

 

Yet we must also take into account the fact that, although the tri-hypostatic nature of the Godhead - that is in no

way destroyed by the

 

 

 

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principle of unity - was in later times revealed to the ends of the earth, it was also fully known to the prophets

prior to the fulfillment of the things prophesied and was readily accepted by those who trusted in them. In the same

manner, even at this present time we are not ignorant of the doctrines of the Christian confession, both those which

are openly proclaimed and those which are mystically and prophetically revealed by the Spirit to such as are

accounted worthy. These are persons who have been initiated by actual experience, who have renounced

possessions, human glory and the ugly pleasures of the body for the sake of the evangelical life; and not only this,

but they have also: strengthened their renunciation by submitting themselves to those who have attained spiritual

maturity in Christ. Through the practice of the life of stillness they devote their attention undistractedly to

themselves and to God, and by transcending themselves through sincere prayer and by establishing themselves in

 

 

 

God through their mystical and supra-intellectual union with Him they have been initiated into what surpasses the

intellect. Others again have learnt about these things through their reverence, faith and love for such persons.

 

When, therefore, we hear the great Dionysios in his second epistle to Gaios referring to God's deifying gift as

'divinity and the source of divinity and goodness', we conclude that the God who grants this grace to those worthy to

receive it surpasses this divinity; for God does not suffer multiplicity, nor can we speak thus of two divinities. And

St, Maximos, when speaking about Melchisedec, writes that this deifying grace of God is 'uncreated', declaring it to

be 'eternally existent, proceeding from the eternally existing God', and elsewhere in many places he says it is a light,

ungenerated and completely real, that is manifested to the saints when they become worthy of receiving it, though it

does not come into being merely at that moment. He also calls this light 'the light of utterly inexpressible glory and

the purity of angels'; while St Makarios calls it the nourishment of the bodiless, the glory of the divine nature, the

beauty of the age to come, divine and celestial fire, inexpressible noetic light, foretaste and pledge of the Holy Spirit,

the sanctifying oil of gladness.'

 

' Cf. St Symeon Metaphrastis, Paraphrase of the Homilies of St Makarios, §§62, 70, 73, 74; E.T., The Philokalia,

vol. hi, pp. 312,315,317-18.

 

 

 

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1. If, then, anyone condemns as Messalians those who declare this deifying grace of God to be uncreated,

ungenerated and completely real, and calls them ditheists, he must know - if indeed there is such a person - that he is

an adversary of the saints of God, and that if he does not repent he excludes himself from the inheritance of the

redeemed and falls away from Him who by nature is the one and only God professed by the saints. But if anyone

believes, is persuaded by and concurs with the saints and does not 'make excuses to justify sin' (Ps. 141:4. LXX),

and if although ignorant of the manner of the mystery he does not because of his ignorance reject what is clearly

proclaimed, let him not refuse to enquire and learn from those who do possess knowledge. For he will find that there

is nothing inconsistent either in the divine words and acts, especially with respect to those things that are most

essential and without which nothing can stand firm, or in the sound doctrine that concerns ourselves, or in the

mystery that is altogether divine.

 

2. If anyone declares that perfect union with God is accomplished simply in an imitative and relative fashion,

without the deifying grace of the Spirit and merely in the manner of persons who share the same disposition and

who love one another, and that the deifying grace of God is a state of our intellectual nature acquired by imitation

alone, but is not a supernatural illumination and an ineffable and divine energy beheld invisibly and conceived

inconceivably by those privileged to participate in it, then he must know that he has fallen unawares into the

delusion of the Messalians. For if deification is accomplished according to a capacity inherent in human nature and

if it is encompassed within the bounds of nature, then of necessity the person deified is by nature God. Whoever

thinks like this should not attempt, therefore, to foist his own delusion upon those who stand on secure ground and

to impose a defiled creed upon those whose faith is undefiled; rather he should lay aside his presumption and learn

 

 

 

from persons of experience or from their disciples that the grace of deification is entirely unconditional, and there is

no faculty whatever in nature capable of achieving it since, if there were, this grace would no longer be grace but

merely the manifestation of the operation of a natural capacity. Nor, if deification were in accord with a natural

capacity, would there be anything miraculous in it; for then deification would truly be the work of nature, not the

gift of God, and a man would be able to be and to be called a God by nature in the full sense of

 

 

 

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the words. For the natural capacity of every being is nothing other than the undeviating and natural disposition for

active accomplishment. It is, indeed, incomprehensible how deification can raise the person deified outside or

beyond himself if it is encompassed within the bounds of nature.

 

The grace of deification is, therefore, above nature, virtue and knowledge and, according to St Maximos, all such

things infinitely fall short of it. For all the virtue we can attain and such imitation of God as lies in our power does

no more than fit us for union with the Deity, but it is through grace that this ineffable union is actually accom-

plished. Through grace God in His entirety penetrates the saints in their entirety, and the saints in their entirety

penetrate God entirely, exchanging the whole of Him for themselves, and acquiring Him alone as the reward of their

ascent towards Him; for He embraces them as the soul embraces the body, enabling them to be in Him as His own

members.

 

3. If anyone asserts that those who regard the intellect as seated in the heart or in the head are Messalians, let him

know that he is misguidedly attacking the saints. For St Athanasios the Great says that the soul's intelligence resides

in the head, and St Makarios, who is in no way inferior, says that the intellect is active in the heart; and nearly all the

saints concur with them. When St Gregory of Nyssa writes that the intellect is neither within the body nor outside it

for it is bodiless, this does not contradict what all these other saints affirm; for they say that the intellect is in the

body because it is united to it, and thus they state the same thing in a different fashion, not in the least disagreeing

with St Gregory. For if someone says that the Logos of God once dwelt within a virginal and immaculate womb, out

of ineffable divine compassion united there to our human substance, he does not contradict someone who maintains

that whatever is divine is not contained within a place because it is unembodied.

 

 

 

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4. If anyone maintains that the light which shone about the disciples on Mount Tabor was an apparition and a

symbol of the kind that now is and now is not, but has no real being and is an effect that not only does not surpass

 

 

 

comprehension, but is inferior to it, he clearly contends against the doctrines of the saints. For the saints both in

hymns and in their writings call this light ineffable, uncreated, eternal, timeless, unapproachable, boundless, infinite,

limitless, invisible to angels and men, archetypal and unchanging beauty, the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the

glory of the Spirit, the ray of Divinity and so forth. The flesh of Christ, it is said, is glorified at the moment of its

assumption and the glory of the Godhead becomes the body's glory. But this glory was invisible in His visible body

to those unable to perceive that upon which even angels cannot gaze. Thus Christ was transfigured, not by the

addition of something He was not, nor by a transformation into something He was not, but by the manifestation to

His disciples of what He really was. He opened their eyes so that instead of being blind they could see. While He

Himself remained the same, they could now see Him as other than He had appeared to them formerly. For He is 'the

true light' (John 1:9), the beauty of divine glory, and He shone forth like the sun - though this image is imperfect,

since what is uncreated cannot be imaged in creation without some diminution.

 

5. If anyone maintains that only God's essence is uncreated, while His eternal energies are not uncreated, and that

as what energizes transcends all it activates, so God transcends all His energies, let him listen to St Maximos, who

says: 'AH immortal things and immortality itself, all living things and life itself, all holy things and holiness itself, all

good things and goodness itself, all blessings and blessedness itself, all beings and being itself are manifestly works

of God. Some began to be in time, for they have not always existed. Others did not begin to be in time, for goodness,

blessedness, holiness and immortality have always existed.'' And again he says: 'Goodness, and all that is included

in the principle of goodness, and - to be brief - all life, immortality, simplicity, immutability and infinity, and all the

other qualities that

 

' Texts on Theology i, 50: E.T., The Philokalia, vol. ii, p. 124.

 

 

 

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contemplative vision perceives as substantively appertaining to God, are realities of God which did not begin to

be in time. For non-existence is never prior to goodness, nor to any of the other things we have listed, even if those

things which participate in them do in themselves have a beginning in time. All goodness is without beginning

because there is no time prior to it: God is eternally the unique author of its being, and God is infinitely above all

beings, whether participant or participable.'' It is clear, therefore, from what has been said that not everything which

issues from God is subject to time. For there are some things issuing from God that are without beginning, without

this in the least impairing the principle of the Triadic Unity, that alone is intrinsically without beginning, or God's

supraessential simplicity. In the same way the intellect, which is the imperfect image of that transcendent

indivisibility, is not in the least compound because of the variety of its inherent intellections.

 

6. If anyone does not acknowledge that spiritual dispositions are stamped upon the body as a consequence of the

gifts of the Spirit that exist in the soul of those advancing on the spiritual path; and if he does not regard dispassion

as a state of aspiration for higher things that leads a person to free himself from evil habits by completely spuming

what is evil and to acquire good habits by espousing what is good, but considers it to be the deathlike condition of

the soul's passible aspect, then, by adhering to such views, he inevitably denies that we can enjoy an embodied life

 

 

 

in the world of incorruption that is to come. For if in the age to come the body is to share with the soul in ineffable

blessings, then it is evident that in this world as well it will also share according to its capacity in the grace

mystically and ineffably bestowed by God upon the purified intellect, and it will experience the divine in conformity

with its nature. For once the soul's passible aspect is transformed and sanctified - but not reduced to a deathlike

condition - through it the dispositions and activities of the body are also sanctified, since body and soul share a

conjoint existence. As St Diadochos states, in the case of those who have abandoned the delights of this age in the

hope of enjoying the blessings of eternity, the intellect, because of its freedom from worldly cares, is able to act with

its full vigor and becomes capable of perceiving the ineffable goodness of God. Then according to the measure of its

own progress it

 

^ Op. cit, 1,48-9; E.T., pp. 123-4.

 

 

 

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communicates its joy to the body too, and this joy which then fills both soul and body is a true recalling of

incorruptible life.'

 

The intellect perceives one light, and the senses another. The senses perceive sensible light, which manifests

sensory things as sensory. The light of the intellect is the spiritual knowledge inherent in intellection. Thus sight and

intellect do not perceive the same light, but each operates to the limit of its nature in what is natural to it. When

saintly people become the happy possessors of spiritual and supernatural grace and power, they see both with the

sense of sight and with the intellect that which surpasses both sense and intellect in the manner that - to use the

expression of St Gregory of Nazianzos - 'God alone knows and those in whom these things are brought to pass'.

 

7. These things we have been taught by the Scriptures and have received from our fathers; and we have come to

know them from our own small experience. Having seen them set down in the treatise of our brother, the most

reverend Hieromonk Gregory, In Defense of Those who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness, and acknowledging

them to be fully consistent with the traditions of the saints, we have adjoined our signature for the assurance of those

who read this present document.

 

♦ The Protos of the venerable monasteries on the Holy Mountain, Hieromonk Isaac.

 

♦ The abbot of the venerable, imperial and sacred Lavra, Theodosios Hieromonk.

 

♦♦♦ The signature of the abbot of the monastery of Iviron in his own language \in Georgian^.

 

♦ The abbot of the venerable and imperial monastery of Vatopedi,

♦♦♦ Hieromonk loanmkios.

 

♦♦♦ The signature of the abbot of the monastery of the Serbs in his own language \in Slavonic]^

♦♦♦ I, Philotheos, the least of hieromonks, being of the same mind, have undersigned.

 

 

 

♦ Amphilochios, the least of hieromonks and the spiritual father of the venerable monastery of Esphigmenou.

 

♦ I, Gerasimos, the lowly hieromonk, having seen and read what has here been written with love for the trath,

and having assented thereto, have undersigned.

 

' Cf. On Spiritual Knowledge 25: ed. des Places, p. 97; E.T.. The Philokalia, vol. i, p. 259.

 

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♦ I, Moses, the lowly elder and least of monks, being of the same mind, have undersigned.

 

♦ Theodosios, the least of hieromonks and the spiritual father of Vatopedi.

 

♦ The abbot of the sacred monastery of Koutloumousiou, Theostiriktos Hieromonk.

 

♦ I, Gerontios of Maroula, the sinner, one of the council of elders of the venerable Lavra, being of the same

mind, have undersigned.

 

*X* Kallistos of Mouzalon, the least of monks.

 

♦ I, the lowly and least of monks, Gregory of Stravolangado, and perhaps a hesychast, being of the same

mind and opinion, have undersigned.

 

♦ I, the elder from the Skete of Magoula and least of hieromonks, Isaias, being of the same mind, have

undersigned.

 

♦ Mark of Sinai, the least of monks.

 

♦ Kallistos of the Skete of Magoula and least of hieromonks.

 

♦ The signature of an elder and hesychast from Syria in his own language \in Arabic].

*X* Sophromos, the least of monks.

 

♦ loasaph, the least of monks.

 

♦ I, lakovos, the humble bishop of Hierissos and the Holy Mountain, who was reared on the traditions of the

Holy Mountain and the fathers, testify that by the signatures of these select men the entire Holy Mountain

has undersigned with one accord, and I myself, assenting to these things and putting my seal thereto, have

undersigned. I add, furthermore, together with all the rest, that we shall have no communion with anyone

who is not in agreement with the saints, as we are, and as were the fathers who immediately preceded us.

 

 

 

[VI] 357, [V2] 379, [V3] 355, [V4] 427

 

Glossary

 

AGE (aicbv - aeon): the ensemble of cosmic duration. It includes the angelic orders, and is an attribute of God as

 

 

 

the principle and consummation of all the centuries created by Him. The term is used more particularly in two

ways:

 

(i) Frequently a distinction is made between the 'present age' and the 'age to come' or the 'new age'. The first

corresponds to our present sense of time, the second to time as it exists in God, that is, to eternity understood, not

as endless time, but as the simultaneous presence of all time. Our present sense of time, according to which we

experience time as sundered from God, is the consequence of the loss of vision and spiritual perception

occasioned by the fall and is on this account more or less illusory. In reality time is not and never can be

sundered from God, the 'present age' from the 'age to come'. Because of this the 'age to come' and its realities

must be thought of, not as non-existent or as coming into existence in the future, but as actualities that by grace

we can experience here and now. To indicate this, the Greek phrase for these realities ( e , - ta

 

mellonta) is often translated as 'the blessings held in store'.

 

(ii) Certain texts, especially in St Maximos the Confessor, also use the term aeon in a connected but more

specific way, to denote a level intermediate between eternity in the full sense (aiSldTrjg - aidiotis) and time as

known to us in our present experience ( m g - chronos). Where this is the case we normally employ the

rendering 'aeon' instead of 'age'. There are thus three levels:

 

(a) eternity, the totum simiil or simultaneous presence of all time and reality as known to God, who alone has

neither origin nor end, and who therefore is alone eternal in the full sense;

 

(b) the aeon, the totiim simul as known to the angels, and also to human persons who possess experience of

the 'age to come':

 

[VI] 358, [V2] 380, [V3] 356, [V4] 428

 

Glossary

 

although having no end, these angelic or human beings, since they are created, are not self-originating and

therefore are not eternal in the sense that God is eternal;

 

(c) time, that is, temporal succession as known to us in the 'present age'.

 

APPETITIVE ASPECT OF THE soul, or the soul's desiring power {to smOvfirjiiKov- to epithymitikon): one of the

three aspects or powers of the soul according to the tripartite division formulated by Plato (see his Republic,

Book iv, 4.34D-441C) and on the whole accepted by the Greek Christian Fathers. The other two are, first, the

intelligent aspect or power (to Xoyiatixov - to logistikon: see Intelligent); and, second, the incensive aspect or

power (to OvfUKov - to thymikon), which often manifests itself as wrath or anger, but which can be more

generally defined as the force provoking vehement feelings. The three aspects or powers can be used positively,

that is, in accordance with nature and as created by God, or negatively, that is, in a way contrary to nature and

leading to sin (q.v.). For instance, the incensive power can be used positively to repel demonic attacks or to

intensify desire for God; but it can also, when not controlled, lead to self-indulgent, disruptive thought and

action.

 

The appetitive and incensive aspects, in particular the former, are sometimes termed the soul's passible

aspect (to KaOrjTiKov - to pathitikon) , that is to say, the aspect which is more especially vulnerable to pathos or

passion (q.v.), and which, when not transformed by positive spiritual influences, is susceptive to the influence

of negative and self-destructive forces. The intelligent aspect, although also susceptible to passion, is not

normally regarded as part of the soul's passible aspect.

 

ASSENT (avyKardOecng - synkatathesis): see Temptation.

 

ATTENTIVENESS {jipoaox') - prosochi) : see Watchfulness.

 

COMPUNCTION {Kardw^iQ - katanyxis): in our version sometimes also translated 'deep penitence'. The state of

one who is 'pricked to the heart', becoming conscious both of his own sinfulness and of the forgiveness extended

to him by God; a mingled feeling of sorrow, tenderness and joy, springing from sincere repentance (q.v.).

 

CONCEPTUAL IMAGE {vorjua - noyma): see Thought.

 

CONTEMPLATION (Oecopia - theoria): the perception or vision of

 

 

 

[VI] 359, [V2] 381, [V3] 357, [V4] 429

 

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the intellect (q.v.) through which one attains spiritual knowledge (q.v.). It may be contrasted with the practice of

the virtues {npaKTiKrj - praktiki) which designates the more external aspect of the ascetic life - purification and the

keeping of the commandments - but which is an indispensable prerequisite of contemplation. Depending on the

level of personal spiritual growth, contemplation has two main stages: it may be either of the inner essences or

principles (q.v.) of created beings or, at a higher stage, of God Himself.

 

COUPLING {awdvaai^ioQ - syndyasmos) : see Temptation.

 

DELUSION {jiXavrj - plani): see Illusion.

 

DESIRE, Desiring power of the soul: see Appetitive aspect of the soul.

 

DISCRIMINATION (diaKpiaiq - diakrisis): a spiritual gift permitting one to discriminate between the types of

thought that enter into one's mind, to assess them accurately and to treat them accordingly. Through this gift one

gains 'discernment of spirits' - that is, the ability to distinguish between the thoughts or visions inspired by God

and the suggestions or fantasies coming from the devil. It is a kind of eye or lantern of the soul by which man

finds his way along the spiritual path without falling into extremes; thus it includes the idea of discretion.

DISPASSION (anaQsia - apatheia): among the writers of the texts here translated, some regard passion (q.v.) as

evil and the consequence of sin (q.v.), and for them dispassion signifies passionlessness, the uprooting of the

passions; others, such as St Isaiah the Solitary, regard the passions as fundamentally good, and for them

dispassion signifies a state in which the passions are exercised in accordance with their original purity and so

without committing sin in act or thought. Dispassion is a state of reintegration and spiritual freedom; when

translating the term into Latin, Cassian rendered it 'purity of heart'. Such a state may imply impartiality and

detachment, but not indifference, for if a dispassionate man does not suffer on his own account, he suffers for his

fellow creatures. It consists, not in ceasing to feel the attacks of the demons, but in no longer yielding to them. It

is positive, not negative: Evagrios links it closely with the quality of love (agape) and Diadochos speaks of the

'fire of dispassion' (§ 17: in our translation, vol. i, p. 258). Dispassion is among the gifts of God.

 

[VI] 360, [V2] 382, [V3] 358, [V4] 430

 

Glossary

 

ECSTASY {eKoraaiQ - ekstasis): a 'going out' from oneself and from all created things towards God, under the

influence of eros or intense longing (q.v.). A man does not attain ecstasy by his own efforts, but is drawn out of

himself by the power of God's love. Ecstasy implies a passing beyond all the conceptual thinking of the

discursive reason (q.v.). It may sometimes be marked by a state of trance, or by a loss of normal consciousness;

but such psychophysical accompaniments are in no way essential. Occasionally the term ekstasis is used in a bad

sense, to mean infatuation, loss of self-control, or madness.

 

FAITH (jiiariQ - pistis): not only an individual or theoretical belief in the dogmatic truths of Christianity, but an all-

embracing relationship, an attitude of love and total trust in God. As such it involves a transformation of man's

entire life. Faith is a gift from God, the means whereby we are taken up into the whole theanthropic activity of

God in Christ and of man in Christ through which man attains salvation.

 

FALLEN NATURE {naXaioQ dvOpmnoq - palaios anthropos): literally, the 'old man'. See Flesh, sense (ii).

 

FANTASY {(pavraaia -fantasia): denoting the image -producing faculty of the psyche, this is one of the most

important words in the hesychast vocabulary. As one begins to advance along the spiritual path one begins to

'perceive' images of things which have no direct point of reference in the external world, and which emerge

inexplicably from within oneself This experience is a sign that one's consciousness is beginning to deepen: outer

sensations and ordinary thoughts have to some extent been quietened, and the impulses, fears, hopes, passions

hidden in the subconscious region are beginning to break through to the surface. One of the goals of the spiritual

life is indeed the attainment of a spiritual knowledge (q.v.) which transcends both the ordinary level of

consciousness and the subconscious; and it is true that images, especially when the recipient is in an advanced

 

 

 

spiritual state, may well be projections on the plane of the imagination of celestial archetypes, and that in this case

they can be used creatively, to form the images of sacred art and iconography. But more often than not they will

simply derive from a middle or lower sphere, and will have nothing spiritual or creative about them. Hence they

correspond to the world of fantasy and not to

 

[VI] 361, [V2] 383, [V3] 359, [V4] 431

 

Glossary

 

the world of the imagination in the proper sense. It is on this account that the hesychastic masters on the whole

take a negative attitude towards them. They emphasize the grave dangers involved in this kind of experience,

especially as the very production of these images may be the consequence of demonic or diabolic activity; and

they admonish those still in the early stages and not yet possessing spiritual discrimination (q.v.) not to be enticed

and led captive by these illusory appearances, whose tumult may well overwhelm the mind. Their advice is to pay

no attention to them, but to continue with prayer and invocation, dispelling them with the name of Jesus Christ.

 

FLESH (aap^ - sarx): has various senses: (i) the human in contrast to the divine, as in the sentence, 'The Logos

became flesh' (John 1:14); (ii) fallen and sinful human nature in contrast to human nature as originally created

and dwelling in communion with God; man when separated from God and in rebellion against Him; (iii) the body

in contrast to the soul. The second meaning is probably the most frequent. If the word is being employed in this

sense, it is important to distinguish 'flesh' from 'body' (achjua - soma). When St Paul lists the 'works of the flesh' in

Gal. 5: 19-21, he mentions such things as 'seditions', 'heresy' and 'envy', which have no special connection with

the body. In sense (ii) of the word, 'flesh' denotes the whole soul-body structure in so far as a man is fallen;

likewise 'spirit' denotes the whole soul-body structure in so far as a man is redeemed. The soul as well as the body

can become fleshly or 'carnal', just as the body as well as the soul can become spiritual. Asceticism involves a

war against the flesh - in sense (ii) of the word - but not against the body as such.

 

GUARD OF THE HEART, OF THE INTELLECT {cpvXaKrj Kapdiaq, voh - phylaki kardias, nou): see Watchfulness.

 

HEART {xapdia - kardia): not simply the physical organ but the spiritual centre of man's being, man as made in

the image of God, his deepest and truest self, or the inner shrine, to be entered only through sacrifice and death,

in which the mystery of the union between the divine and the human is consummated. ' "I called with my whole

heart", says the psalmist - that is, with body, soul and spirit' (John Klimakos, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step

28, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus [London, 1959], pp. 257-8).

 

[VI] 362, [V2] 384, [V3] 360, [V4] 432

 

Glossary

 

'Heart' has thus an all-embracing significance: 'prayer of the heart' means prayer not just of the emotions and

affections, but of the whole person, including the body.

 

ILLUSION {jiXavrj - plani): in our version sometimes also translated 'delusion'. Literally, wandering astray,

deflection from the right path; hence error, beguilement, the acceptance of a mirage mistaken for trath. Cf. the

literal sense of sin (q.v.) as 'missing the mark'.

 

INCENSIVE POWER or aspect of the soul {Oujidq - thymos; to Ou^ikov - to thymikon): see Appetitive aspect of the

soul.

 

INNER ESSENCES OR PRINCIPLES (Uyoi - logoi): see Logos.

 

INTELLECT (yoijq - nous): the highest faculty in man, through which - provided it is purified - he knows God or

the inner essences or principles (q.v.) of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception.

Unlike the dianoia or reason (q.v.), from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function

by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive

reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or 'simple cognition' (the

term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the 'depths of the soul'; it constitutes the innermost

aspect of the heart (St Diadochos, §§ 79, 88: in our translation, vol. i, pp. 280, 287). The intellect is the organ of

 

 

 

contemplation (q.v.), the 'eye of the heart' (Makarian Homilies).

 

INTELLECTION (vorjaig - noisis): not an abstract concept or a visual image, but the act or function of the intellect

(q.v.) whereby it apprehends spiritual realities in a direct manner.

 

INTELLIGENT (Xojikoq - logikos): the Greek term logikos is so closely connected with Logos (q.v.), and

therefore with the divine Intellect, that to render it simply as 'logical' and hence descriptive of the reason (q.v.) is

clearly inadequate. Rather it pertains to the intellect (q.v.) and qualifies the possessor of spiritual knowledge

(q.v.). Hence when found in conjunction with 'soul' (logiki psychi), logikos is translated as 'deiform' or as

'endowed with intelligence'. Intelligence itself (to Xojikov - to logikon; x6 loyiaiiKov - to logistikon; 'o Xoyia^og -

ho logismos) is the ruling aspect of the intellect (q.v.) or its operative faculty.

 

INTENSE LONGING (spojg - eros): the word eros, when used in these

 

[VI] 363, [V2] 385, [V3] 361, [V4] 433

 

Glossary

 

texts, retains much of the significance it has in Platonic thought. It denotes that intense aspiration and longing

which impel man towards union with God, and at the same time something of the force which links the divine

and the human. As unitive love par excellence, it is not distinct from agapi, but may be contrasted with agapi in

that it expresses a greater degree of intensity and ecstasy (q.v.).

 

INTIMATE COMMUNION {nappiaia - parrisia): literally, 'Rankness', 'freedom of speech'; hence freedom of

approach to God, such as Adam possessed before the fall and the saints have regained by grace; a sense of

confidence and loving trust in God's mercy.

 

JESUS PRAYER (Irjaoi) ehji] -Tisou evchi): the invocation of the name of Jesus, most commonly in the words,

'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me', although there are a number of variant forms. Not merely a

'technique' or a 'Christian mantra', but a prayer addressed to the Person of Jesus Christ, expressing our living

faith (q.v.) in Him as Son of God and Saviour.

 

LOGOS {Adyoq - Logos): the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, or the Intellect, Wisdom and Providence of God

in whom and through whom all things are created. As the unitary cosmic principle, the Logos contains in

Himself the multiple logoi (inner principles or inner essences, thoughts of God) in accordance with which all

things come into existence at the times and places, and in the forms, appointed for them, each single thing

thereby containing in itself the principle of its own development. It is these logoi, contained principally in the

Logos and manifest in the forms of the created universe, that constitute the first or lower stage of Contemplation

(q.v.).

 

MIND: see Reason.

 

NOETIC: {vorjTOQ - no'itos): that which belongs to or is characteristic of the intellect (q.v.). See also Intellection.

 

PASSION (ndOog - pathos): in Greek, the word signifies literally that which happens to a person or thing, an

experience undergone passively; hence an appetite or impulse such as anger, desire or jealousy, that violently

dominates the soul. Many Greek Fathers regard the passions as something intrinsically evil, a 'disease' of the

soul: thus St John Klimakos affirms that God is not the creator of the passions and that they are 'unnatural', alien

to man's true

 

[VI] 364, [V2] 386, [V3] 362, [V4] 434

 

Glossary

 

self (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 26, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus [op. Cit.], p. 21 1). Other Greek

Fathers, however, look on the passions as impulses originally placed in man by God, and so fundamentally good,

although at present distorted by sin (cf St Isaiah the Solitary, § 1 : in our translation, vol. i, p. 22). On this second

view, then, the passions are to be educated, not eradicated; to be transfigured, not suppressed; to be used

positively, not negatively {see Dispassion).

PRACTICE OF THE VIRTUES {jipaKTiKrj - praktiki): see Contemplation.

 

 

 

PREPOSSESSION (Tzpolrjif/ig - prolipsis): see Temptation.

 

PROVOCATION {jipoaPoXi) - prosvofi): see Temptation.

 

REASON, mind {didvoia - dianoia): the discursive, conceptualizing and logical faculty in man, the function of

 

which is to draw conclusions or formulate concepts deriving from data provided either by revelation or spiritual

 

knowledge (q.v.) or by sense-observation. The knowledge of the reason is consequently of a lower order than

 

spiritual knowledge (q.v.) and does not imply any direct appre- hension or perception of the inner essences or

 

principles (q.v.) of created beings, still less of divine truth itself Indeed, such apprehension or perception, which

 

is the function of the intellect (q.v.), is beyond the scope of the reason.

REBUTTAL {dvnXoyia - antilogia; avtipprjaic - antirrisis): the repulsing of a demon or demonic thought at the

 

moment of provocation (q.v.); or, in a more general sense, the bridling of evil thoughts.

REMEMBRANCE OF GOD (jivrjiirj - mnimi Theou): not just calling God to mind, but the state of recoUectedness or

 

concentration in which attention is centred on God. As such it is the opposite of the state of self-indulgence and

 

insensitivity.

REPENTANCE (jisxavoia - metanoia): the Greek signifies primarily a 'change of mind' or 'change of intellect': not

 

only sorrow, contrition or regret, but more positively and fundamentally the conversion or turning of our whole

 

life towards God.

SENSUAL PLEASURE {r\dovi\ - hidoni): according to the context the Greek term signifies either sensual pleasure

 

(the most frequent meaning) or spiritual pleasure or delight.

SIN (dfiapiia - hamartia): the primary meaning of the Greek word is 'failure' or, more specifically, 'failure to hit the

 

mark' and so a

 

[VI] 365, [V2] 387, [V3] 363, [V4] 435

 

Glossary

 

'missing of the mark', a 'going astray' or, ultimately, 'failure to achieve the purpose for which one is created'. It is

closely related, therefore, to illusion (q.v.). The translation 'sin' should be read with these connotations in mind.

 

SORROW {XuTirj - lypi): often with the sense of 'godly sorrow' - the sorrow which nourishes the soul

with the hope engendered by repentance (q.v.).

 

SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE {yvmaig - gnosis): the knowledge of the intellect (q.v.) as distinct from that of the

reason (q.v.). As such it is knowledge inspired by God, and so linked with contemplation (q.v.) and immediate

spiritual perception.

 

STILLNESS {rjavxia - hesychia): from which are derived the words hesychasm and hesychast, used to denote the

whole spiritual tradition represented in The Philokalia as well as the person who pursues the spiritual path it

delineates (see Introduction, vol. i, pp. 14-16): a state of inner tranquillity or mental quietude and concentration

which arises in conjunction with, and is deepened by, the practice of pure prayer and the guarding of heart (q.v.)

and intellect (q.v.). Not simply silence, but an attitude of listening to God and of openness towards Him.

 

TEMPERAMENT (Kpdaig - krasis): primarily the well-balanced blending of elements, humours or qualities in

animal bodies, but sometimes extended to denote the whole soul-body structure of man. In this sense it is the

opposite to a state of psychic or physical disequilibrium.

 

TEMPTATION (Tzsipaajxoq - peirasmos): also translated in our version as 'trial' or 'test'. The word indicates,

according to context: (i) a test or trial sent to man by God, so as to aid his progress on the spiritual way; (ii) a

suggestion from the devil, enticing man into sin.

 

Using the word in sense (ii), the Greek Fathers employ a series of technical terms to describe the process of

temptation. (See in particular Mark the Ascetic, On the Spiritual Law, §§ 138-41, in vol. i of our translation, pp.

1 19-20; John Klimakos, Ladder, Step 15 translated by Archimandrite Lazarus [op. cit.], pp. 157-8; Maximos, On

Love, i, §§ 83-84, in vol. ii of our translation, pp. 62-63; John of Damaskos, On the J'irtues and J 'ices, also in

vol. ii of our translation, pp. 337-8.) The basic distinction made by these Fathers is between the demonic

provocation and man's

 

 

 

[VI] 366, [V2] 388, [V3] 364, [V4] 436

 

Glossary

 

assent: the first lies outside man's control, while for the second he is morally responsible. In detail, the chief

terms employed are as follows:

 

(i) Provocation {npoaPoXrj - prosvoli): the initial incitement to evil. Mark the Ascetic defines this as an

'image -free stimulation in the heart'; so long as the provocation is not accompanied by images, it does not

involve man in any guilt. Such provocations, originating as they do from the devil, assail man from the outside

independently of his free will, and so he is not morally responsible for them. His liability to these provocations is

not a consequence of the fall: even in paradise, Mark maintains, Adam was assailed by the devil's provocations.

Man cannot prevent provocations from assailing him; what does lie in his power, however, is to maintain

constant watchfulness (q.v.) and so to reject each provocation as soon as it emerges into his consciousness - that

is to say, at its first appearance as a thought in his mind or intellect ([xovoXoyioxoc; - monologistos emphasis). If

he does reject the provocation, the sequence is cut off and the process of temptation is terminated.

 

(ii) Momentary disturbance (Tiapappimafiog - pararripismos) of the intellect, occurring 'without any

movement or working of bodily passion' (see Mark, Letter to Nicolas the Solitary: in our translation, vol. i, p.

153). This seems to be more than the 'first appearance' of a provocation described in stage (i) above; for, at a

certain point of spiritual growth in this life, it is possible to be totally released from such 'momentary

disturbance, whereas no one can expect to be altogether free from demonic provocations.

 

(Hi) Communion (oixiXia - homilia); coupling (avvdvaa/uog - syndyasmos). Without as yet entirely assenting

to the demonic provocation, a man may begin to 'entertain' it, to converse or parley with it, turning it over in his

mind pleasurably, yet still hesitating whether or not to act upon it. At this stage, which is indicated by the terms

'communion' or 'coupling', the provocation is no longer 'image-free' but has become a logismos or thought (q.v.);

and a person is morally responsible for having allowed this to happen.

 

(iv) Assent (auyKamOeaic - synkatathesis). This signifies a step beyond mere 'communion' or 'coupling'. No

longer merely 'playing' with the evil suggestion, a person now resolves to act upon it. There is now no doubt as

to his moral culpability: even if

 

[VI] 367, [V2] 389, [V3] 365, [V4] 437

 

Glossary

 

circumstances prevent him from sinning outwardly, he is judged by God according to the intention in his

heart.

 

(v) Prepossession {npoXi-jif/iQ - prolipsis): defined by Mark- as 'the involuntary presence of former sins in the

memory'. This state of 'prepossession' or prejudice results from repeated acts of sin which predispose a man to

yield to particular temptations. In principle he retains his free choice and can reject demonic provocations; but

in practice the force of habit makes it more and more difficult for him to resist.

 

(vi) Passion (q.v.). If a man does not fight strenuously against a prepossession, it will develop into an evil

passion.

 

THEOLOGY (QeoXoyia - theologia): denotes in these texts far more than the learning about God and religious

doctrine acquired through academic study. It signifies active and conscious participation in or perception of the

realities of the divine world - in other words, the realization of spiritual knowledge (q.v.). To be a theologian in

the full sense, therefore, presupposes the attainment of the state of stillness (q.v.) and dispassion (q.v.), itself the

concomitant of pure and undistracted prayer, and so requires gifts bestowed on but extremely few persons.

 

THOUGHT {XoyiajxoQ - logismos; vorjfia - noima): (i) frequently signifies not thought in the ordinary sense, but

thought provoked by the demons, and therefore often qualified in translation by the adjective 'evil' or 'demonic';

it can also signs divinely -inspired thought; (ii) a 'conceptual image', intermediate between fantasy (q.v.) and an

abstract concept; this sense of noima is frequent in the texts of St Maximos, where the rendering 'conceptual

image' is normally adopted.

 

 

 

WATCHFULNESS {vrjif/iQ - nipsis): literally, the opposite to a state of drunken stupor; hence spiritual sobriety,

alertness, vigilance. It signifies an attitude of attentiveness {npoaoxrj - prosochi), whereby one keeps watch over

one's inward thoughts and fantasies (q.v.), maintaining guard over the heart and intellect ((pvXaKrj Kapdiag/vov -

phylaki kardias/noii; rriprjaig Kapdiag/voi) - tirisis kardias/nou). In Hesychios, On Watchfulness and Holiness, §§

1-6 (in our translation. Vol. i, pp. 162-3), watchfulness is given a very broad definition, being used to indicate

the whole range of the practice of the virtues. It is closely linked with purity of heart and stillness (q.v.). The

Greek title of The Philokalia is 'The

 

[VI] 368, [V2] 390, [V3] 366, [V4] 438

 

Glossary

 

Philokalia of the Niptic Fathers', i.e. of the fathers who practised and inculcated the virtue of watchfulness. This

shows how central is the role assigned by St Nikodimos to this state.

WRATH, wrathfulness: see Appetitive aspect of the soul.