St Maximos the Confessor: Four Hundred Texts on Love
Foreword to Elpidios the Presbyter
In addition to my treatise on the ascetic life I am also sending you. Father Elpidios, this treatise on love divided, on the analogy of the four Gospels, into four centuries of chapters. It may not fulfill your expectations, but it is the best that I can do. Moreover, you should know. Father, that these chapters are not the products of my own mind. On the contrary, I have gone through the writings of the holy fathers and collected from them passages relevant to my sub- ject, condensing much material into short paragraphs and in this way making it easy to remember and to assimilate. In sending these chapters to you I beg you to read them with sympathy and to seek out only what is profitable in them, overlooking the inelegant language. I also ask you to pray for my unworthy self, bereft as I am of all spiritual blessing. I have this request too: do not be annoyed by what I have written, for I have merely carried out what I was commanded to do. I say this because we who plague people with words are many nowadays, while those who teach or are taught by actions are very few.
Please give careful attention to each chapter. For I suspect that not all the chapters are easy for everyone to understand. Many of them will need to be studied closely by most readers even if what they say seems to be very simple. If anything in these chapters should prove useful to the soul, it will be revealed to the reader by the grace of God, provided that he reads, not out of curiosity, but in the fear and love of God. If a man reads this or any other work not to gain spiritual benefit but to track down matter with which to abuse the author, so that in his conceit he can show himself to be the more learned, nothing profitable will ever be revealed to him in anything. St Maximos the Confessor
1. Love is a holy state of the soul, disposing it to value knowledge of God above all created things. We cannot attain lasting possession of such love while we are still attached to anything worldly.
2. Dispassion engenders love, hope in God engenders dispassion, and patience and forbearance engender hope in God; these in turn are the product of complete self-control, which itself springs from fear of God. Fear of God is the result of faith in God.
3. If you have faith in the Lord you will fear punishment, and this fear will lead you to control the passions. Once you control the passions you will accept affliction patiently, and through such acceptance you will acquire hope in God. Hope in God separates the intellect from every worldly attachment, and when the intellect is detached in this way it will acquire love for God.
4. The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created by God, and pursues such knowledge ardently and ceaselessly.
5. If everything that exists was made by God and for God, and God is superior to the things made by Him, he who abandons what is superior and devotes himself to what is inferior shows that he values things made by God more than God Himself.
6. When your mtellect is concentrated on the love of God you will pay little attention to visible things and will regard even your own body as something alien.
7. Since the soul is more noble than the body and God incomparably more noble than the world created by Him, he who values the body more than the soul and the world created by God more than the Creator Himself is simply a worshipper of idols.
8. If you distract your intellect from its love for God and St Maximos the Confessor Four Hundred Texts on Love First Century concentrate it, not on God, but on some sensible object, you thereby show that you value the body more than the soul and the things made by God more than God Himself. 9. Since the light of spiritual knowledge is the intellect's life, and since this light is engendered by love for God, it is rightly said that nothing is greater than divine love (cf I Cor. 13:13).
10. When in the intensity of its love for God the intellect goes out of itself, then it has no sense of itself or of any created thing. For when it is illumined by the infinite light of God, it becomes insensible to everything made by Him, just as the eye becomes insensible to the stars when the sun rises.
11. All the virtues co-operate with the intellect to produce this intense longing for God, pure prayer above all. For by soaring towards God through this prayer the intellect rises above the realm of created beings.
12. When the intellect is ravished through love by divine knowledge and stands outside the realm of created beings, it becomes aware of God's infinity. It is then, according to Isaiah, that a sense of amazement makes it conscious of its own lowliness and in all sincerity it repeats the prophet's words: 'How abject I am, for I am pierced to the heart; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips: and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts' (Isa. 6:5).
13. The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds.
14. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified.
15. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.
16. He who loves Me, says the Lord, will keep My commandments (cf. John 14:15, 23); and 'this is My commandment, that you love one another' (John 15:12). Thus he who does not love his neighbor fails to keep the commandment, and so cannot love the Lord.
17. Blessed is he who can love all men equally.
18. Blessed is he who is not attached to anything transitory or corruptible.
19. Blessed is the intellect that transcends all sensible objects and ceaselessly delights in divine beauty.
20. If you make provision for the desires of the flesh (cf. Rom. 13:14) and bear a grudge against your neighbor on account of something transitory, you worship the creature instead of the Creator.
21. If you keep your body free from disease and sensual pleasure it will help you to serve what is more noble.
22. He who forsakes all worldly desires sets himself above all worldly distress.
23. He who loves God will certainly love his neighbor as well. Such a person cannot hoard money, but distributes it in a way befitting God, being generous to everyone in need.
24. He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men's bodily needs. He gives equally to all according to their need, even though he prefers the virtuous man to the bad man because of the probity of his intention.
25. God, who is by nature good and dispassionate, loves all men equally as His handiwork. But He glorifies the virtuous man because in his will he is united to God. At the same time, in His goodness He is merciful to the sinner and by chastising him in this life brings him back to the path of virtue. Similarly, a man of good and dispassionate judgment also loves all men equally. He loves the virtuous man because of his nature and the probity of his intention: and he loves the sinner, too, because of his nature and because in his compassion he pities him for foolishly stumbling in darkness.
26. The state of love may be recognized in the giving of money, and still more in the giving of spiritual counsel and in looking after people in their physical needs.
27. He who has genuinely renounced worldly things, and lovingly and sincerely serves his neighbor, is soon set free from every passion and made a partaker of God's love and knowledge.
28. He who has realized love for God in his heart is tireless, as Jeremiah says (cf Jer. 17:16. LXX), in his pursuit of the Lord his God, and bears every hardship, reproach and insult nobly, never thinking the least evil of anyone.
29. When you are insulted by someone or iiumiliated, guard against angry thoughts, lest they arouse a feeling of irritation, and so cut you off from love .and place you in the realm of hatred.
30. You should know that you Save been greatly benefited when you have suffered deeply because of some insult or indignity; for by means of the indignity self-esteem has been driven out of you.
31. Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not actualize the light of spiritual knowledge in the soul.
32. Just as the light of the sun attracts a healthy eye, so through love knowledge of God naturally draws to itself the pure intellect.
33. A pure intellect is one divorced from ignorance and illumined by divine light.
34. A pure soul is one freed from passions and constantly delighted by divine love.
35. A culpable passion is an impulse of the soul that is contrary to nature.
36. Dispassion is a peaceful condition of the soul in which the soul is not easily moved to evil.
37. A man who has been assiduous in acquiring the fruits of love will not cease loving even if he suffers a thousand calamities. Let Stephen, the disciple of Christ, and others like him persuade you of the truth of this (cf Acts 7:60). Our Lord Himself prayed for His murderers and asked the Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing (cf. Luke 23:34).
38. If love is long-suffering and kind (cf. I Cor. 13:4), a man who is contentious and malicious clearly alienates himself from love. And he who is alienated from love is alienated from God, for God is love.
39. Do not say that you are the temple of the Lord, writes Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 7:4); nor should you say that faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save you, for this is impossible unless you also acquire love for Him through your works. As for faith by itself, 'the devils also believe, and tremble'(Jas. 2:19). 40. We actively manifest love in forbearance and patience towards our neighbor, in genuinely desiring his good, and in the right use of material things.
41. He who loves God neither distresses nor is distressed with anyone on account of transitory things. There is only one kind of distress which he both suffers and inflicts on others: that salutary distress which the blessed Paul suffered and which he inflicted on the Corinthians (cf 2 Cor. 7:8-11).
42. He who loves God lives the angelic life on earth, fasting and keeping vigils, praying and singing psalms and always thinking good of every man.
43. If a man desires something, he makes every effort to attain it. But of all things which are good and desirable the divine is incomparably the best and the most desirable. How assiduous, then, we should be in order to attain what is of its very nature good and desirable.
44. Stop defiling your flesh with shameful deeds and polluting your soul with wicked thoughts; then the peace of God will descend upon you and bring you love.
45. Afflict your flesh with hunger and vigils and apply yourself tirelessly to psalmody and prayer; then the sanctifying gift of self-restraint will descend upon you and bring you love.
46. He who has been granted divine knowledge and has through love acquired its illumination will never be swept hither and thither by the demon of self-esteem. But he who has not yet been granted such knowledge will readily succumb to this demon. However, if in all that he does he keeps his gaze fixed on God, doing everythmg for His sake, he will with God's help soon escape.
47. He who has not yet attained divine knowledge energized by love is proud of his spiritual progress. But he who has been granted such knowledge repeats with deep conviction the words uttered by the patriarch Abraham when he was granted the manifestation of God: 'I am dust and ashes' (Gen. 18:27).
48. The person who fears the Lord has humility as his constant companion and, through the thoughts which humility inspires, reaches a state of divine love and thankfulness. For he recalls his former worldly way of life, the various sins he has committed and the temptations which have befallen him since his youth: and he recalls, too, how the Lord delivered him from all this, and how He led him away from a passion-dominated life to a life ruled by God. Then, together with fear, he also receives love, and in deep humility continually gives thanks to the Benefactor and Helmsman of our lives.
49. Do not befoul your intellect by clinging to thoughts filled with anger and sensual desire. Otherwise you will lose your capacity for pure prayer and fall victim to the demon of listlessness.
50. When the intellect associates with evil and sordid thoughts it loses its intimate communion with God.
51. The foolish man under attack from the passions, when stirred to anger, is senselessly impelled to leave his brethren. But when heated by desire he quickly changes his mind and seeks their company. An intelligent person behaves differently in both cases. When anger flares up he cuts off the source of disturbance and so frees himself from his feeling of irritation against his brethren. When desire is uppermost he checks every unruly impulse and chance conversation.
52. In time of trial do not leave your monastery but stand up courageously against the thoughts that surge over you, especially those of irritation and listlessness. For when you have been tested by afflictions in this way, accordmg to divine providence, your hope in God will become firm and secure. But if you leave, you will show yourself to be worthless, unmanly and fickle.
53. If you wish not to fall away from the love of God, do not let your brother go to bed feeling irritated with you, and do not go to bed yourself feeling irritated with him. Reconcile yourself with your brother, and then come to Christ with a clear conscience and offer Him your gift of love in earnest prayer (cf Matt. 5:24). 54. St Paul says that, if we have all the gifts of the Spirit but do not have love, we are no further forward (of. I Cor. 13:2). How assiduous, then, we ought to be in our efforts to acquire this love.
55. If 'love prevents us from harming our neighbor' (Rom. 13:10). he who is jealous of his brother or irritated by his reputation, and damages his good name with cheap jibes or in any way spitefully plots against him, is surely alienating himself from love and is guilty in the face of eternal judgment.
56. If love is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10), he who is full of rancor towards his neighbor and lays traps for him and curses him, exulting in his fall, must surely be a transgressor deserving eternal punishment.
57. If 'he who speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law' (Jas. 4:11), and the law of Christ is love, surely he who speaks evil of Christ's love falls away from it and is the cause of his own perdition.
58. Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbor's expense or chatter to a person who likes finding fault. Otherwise you will fall away from divine love and find yourself cut off from eternal life.
59. Do not permit any abuse of your spiritual father or encourage anyone who dishonors him. Otherwise the Lord will be angry with your conduct and will obliterate you from the land of the livmg (cf. Deut. 6:15).
60. Silence the man who utters slander in your hearing. Otherwise you sin twice over: first, you accustom yourself to this deadly passion and, second you fail to prevent him from gossiping against his neighbor.
61. 'But I say to you,' says the Lord, 'love your enemies ... do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you' (Matt. 5:44). Why did He command this? To free you from hatred, irritation, anger and rancor, and to make you worthy of the supreme gift of perfect love. And you cannot attain such love if you do not imitate God and love all men equally. For God loves all men equally and wishes them 'to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' ( I Tim. 2:4).
62. 'But I say to you, do not resist evil; but if someone hits you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek as well. And if anyone sues you in the courts, and takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And if anyone forces you to go a mile, go with him for two miles' (Matt. 5:39-41). Why did He say this? Both to keep you free from anger and irritation, and to correct the other person by means of your forbearance, so that like a good Father He might bring the two of you under the yoke of love.
63. We carry about with us impassioned images of the things we have experienced. If we can overcome these images we shall be indifferent to the thmgs which they represent. For fighting against the thoughts of things is much harder than fightmg against the things themselves, just as to sin in the mind is easier than to sin through outward action.
64. Some passions pertain to the body, others to the soul. The first are occasioned by the body, the second by external objects. Love and self-control overcome both kinds, the first curbing the passions of the soul and the second those of the body.
65. Some passions pertain to the soul's incensive power, and others to its desiring aspect. Both kinds are aroused through the senses. They are aroused when the soul lacks love and self-control.
66. The passions of the soul's incensive power are more difficult to combat than those of its desiring aspect. Consequently our Lord has given a stronger remedy against them; the commandment of love.
67. While passions such as forgetfulness and ignorance affect but one of the soul's three aspects - the incensive, the desiring or the intelligent - listlessness alone seizes control of all the soul's powers and rouses almost all the passions together. That is why this passion is more serious than all the others. Hence our Lord has given us an excellent remedy against it, saying: 'You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21: 19).
68. Never strike any of the brethren, especially without reason, in case he is unable to bear the affliction and leaves the monastery. For then you would never escape the reproach of your conscience. It would always bring you distress in the time of prayer and divert your intellect from intimate communion with God.
69. Shun all suspicions and all persons that cause you to take offence. If you are offended by anything, whether intended or unintended, you do not know the way of peace, which through love brings the lovers of divine knowledge to the knowledge of God.
70. You have not yet acquired perfect love if your regard for people is still swayed by their characters - for example, if, for some particular reason, you love one person and hate another, or if for the same reason you sometimes love and sometimes hate the same person.
71. Perfect love does not split up the single human nature, common to all, according to the diverse characteristics of individuals; but, fixing attention always on this single nature, it loves all men equally. It loves the good as friends and the bad as enemies, helping them, exercising forbearance, patiently accepting whatever they do, not taking the evil into account at all but even suffering on their behalf if the opportunity offers, so that, if possible, they too become friends. If it cannot achieve this, it does not change its own attitude; it continues to show the fruits of love to all men alike. It was on account of this that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, showing His love for us, suffered for the whole of mankind and gave to all men an equal hope of resurrection, although each man determines his own fitness for glory or punishment.
72. If you are not indifferent to both fame and dishonor, riches and poverty, pleasure and distress, you have not yet acquired perfect love. For perfect love is indifferent not only to these but even to this fleeting life and to death.
73. Listen to the words of those who have been granted perfect love: 'What can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written, 'For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded as sheep for slaughtering (Ps. 44:22). But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom. 8:35-39). Those who speak and act thus with regard to divine love are all saints.
74. Listen now to what they say about love for our neighbor: 'I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie, my conscience also bears me witness in the Holy Spirit: I have great distress and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were severed from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites' (Rom. 9:1-3). Moses and the other saints speak in a similar manner.
75. He who is not indifferent to fame and pleasure, as well as to the love of riches that exists because of them and increases them, cannot cut off occasions for anger. And he who does not cut these off cannot attain perfect love.
76. Humility and ascetic hardship free a man from all sin, for the one cuts out the passions of the soul, the other those of the body. This is what the blessed David indicates when he prays to God, saying, 'Look on my humility and my toil, and forgive all my sins' (Ps. 25: 18).
77. It is through our fulfilling of the commandments that the Lord makes us dispassionate; and it is through His divine teachings that He gives us the light of spiritual knowledge.
78. All such teachings are concerned either with God, or with things visible and invisible, or eke with the providence and judgment relating to them.
79. Almsgiving heals the soul's incensive power; fasting withers sensual desire; prayer purifies the intellect and prepares it for the contemplation of created beings. For the Lord has given us commandments which correspond to the powers of the soul.
80. 'Learn from Me', He said 'for I am gentle and humble in heart' (Matt. 11:29). Gentleness keeps the soul's incensive power in a calm state; humility frees the intellect from conceit and self-esteem.
81. Fear of God is of two kinds. The first is generated in us by the threat of punishment. It is through such fear that we develop in due order self-control, patience, hope in God and dispassion; and it is from dispassion that love comes. The second kind of fear is linked with love and constantly produces reverence in the soul, so that it does not grow indifferent to God because of the intimate communion of its love.
82. The first kind of fear is expeUed by perfect love when the soul has acquired this and is no longer afraid of punishment (cf. I John 4:18). The second kind, as we have already said, is always found united with perfect love. The first kind of fear is referred to in the following two verses: 'Out of fear of the Lord men shun eviP (Prov. 16:6), and Tear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10). The second kind is mentioned in the following verses: 'Fear of the Lord is pure, and endures for ever' (Ps. 19:9. LXX), and 'Those who fear the Lord will not want for anything' (Ps. 34: 10. LXX).
83. 'Put to death therefore whatever is earthly in you: unchastity, uncleanliness, passion, evil desire and greed' (Col. 3:5). Earth is the name St Paul gives to the will of the flesh. Unchastity is his word for the actual committing of sin. Uncleanness is how he designates assent to sin. Passion is his term for impassioned thoughts. By evil desire he means the simple act of accepting the thought and the desire. And greed is his name for what generates and promotes passion. All these St Paul ordered us to mortify as 'aspects' expressing the will of the flesh.
84. First the memory brings some passion-free thought into the intellect. By its lingering there, passion is aroused. When the passion is not eradicated, it persuades the intellect to assent to it. Once this assent is given, the actual sin is then committed. Therefore, when writing to converts from paganism, St Paul in his wisdom orders them first to eliminate the actual sin and then systematically to work back to the cause. The cause, as we have already said, is greed, which generates and promotes passion. I think that greed in this case means gluttony, because this is the mother and nurse of unchastity. For greed is a sin not only with regard to possessions hut also with regard to food, just as self-control likewise relates to both food and possessions.
85. When a sparrow tied by the leg tries to fly, it is held back by the string and pulled down to the earth. Similarly, when the intellect that has not yet attained dispassion flies up towards heavenly knowledge, it is held back by the passions and pulled down to the earth.
86. The intellect, once totally free from passions, proceeds un-distracted to the contemplation of created beings, making its way towards knowledge of the Holy Trinity.
87. When in a pure state, the intellect, on receiving the conceptual images of things, is moved to contemplate these things spiritually. But when it is sullied through indolence, while its conceptual images may in general be free from passion, those concerned with people produce in it thoughts that are shameful or wicked.
88. When during prayer no conceptual image of anything worldly disturbs your intellect, then know that you are within the realm of dispassion.
89. Once the soul starts to feel its own good health, the images in its dreams are also calm and free from passion.
90. Just as the physical eye is attracted to the beauty of things visible, so the purified intellect is attracted to the knowledge of things invisible. By things invisible, I mean things incorporeal.
91. It is already much not to be roused to any passion by material things. It is even more to remain dispassionate when presented with mental images of such things. For the war which the demons wage against us by means of thoughts is more severe than the war they wage by means of material things.
92. He who has succeeded in attaining the virtues and is enriched with spiritual knowledge sees things clearly in their true nature. Consequently, he both acts and speaks with regard to all things in a manner which is fitting, and he is never deluded. For according to whether we use things rightly or wrongly we become either good or bad.
93. If the conceptual images that continually rise up in the heart are free from passion whether the body is awake or asleep, then we may know that we have attained the highest state of dispassion.
94. Through fulfilling the commandments the intellect strip itself of the passions. Through spiritual contemplation of things visible it casts off impassioned conceptions of such things. Through knowledge of things invisible it discards the contemplation of things visible. Finally it denudes itself even of this through knowledge of the Holy Trinity.
95. When the sun rises and casts its light on the world, it reveals both itself and the things it illumines. Similarly, when the Sun of righteousness rises in the pure intellect. He reveals both Himself and the inner principles of all that has been and will be brought into existence by Him.
96. We do not know God from His essence. We know Him rather from the grandeur of His creation and from His providential care for all creatures. For through these, as though they were mirrors, we may attain insight into His infinite goodness, wisdom and power.
97. The pure intellect is occupied either with passion-free conceptual images of human affairs, or with the natural contemplation of things visible or invisible, or with the light of the Holy Trinity.
98. When the intellect is engaged in the contemplation of thmgs visible, it searches out either the natural principles of these things or the spiritual principles which they reflect, or else it seeks their original cause.
99. When the intellect is absorbed in the contemplation of things invisible, it seeks their natural principles, the cause of their generation and whatever follows from this, as well as the providential order and judgment which relates to them.
100. When the intellect is established in God, it at first ardently longs to discover the principles of His essence. But God's inmost nature does not admit of such investigation, which is indeed beyond the capacity of everything created. The qualities that appertain to His nature, however, are accessible to the intellect's longing: I mean the qualities of eternity, infinity, mdeterminateness, goodness, wisdom, and the power of creating, preserving and judging creatures. Yet of these, only infinity may be grasped fully; and the very fact of knowing nothing is knowledge surpassing the intellect, as the theologians Gregory of Nazianzos and Dionysios have said.
1. He who truly loves God prays entirely without distraction, and he who prays entirely without distraction loves God truly. But he whose intellect is fixed on any worldly thing does not pray without distraction, and consequently he does not love God.
2. The intellect that dallies with some sensible thing clearly is attached to it by some passion, such as desire, irritation, anger or rancor: and unless it becomes detached from that thing it will not be able to free itself from the passion affecting it.
3. When passions dominate the intellect, they separate it from God, binding it to material things and preoccupying it with them. But when love of God dominates the intellect, it frees it from its bonds, persuading it to rise above not only sensible things but even this transitory life.
4. The effect of observing the commandments is to free from passion our conceptual images of things. The effect of spiritual reading and contemplation is to detach the intellect from form and matter. It is this which gives rise to undistracted prayer.
5. Unless various successive spiritual contemplations also occupy the intellect, the practice of virtues by itself cannot free it so entirely from passions that it is able to pray undistractedly. Practice of the virtues frees the intellect only from dissipation and hatred; spiritual contemplation releases it also from forgetfulness and ignor- ance. In this way the intellect can pray as it should.
6. Two states of pure prayer are exalted above all others. One is to be found in those who have not advanced beyond the practice of the virtues, the other in those leading the contemplative life. The first is engendered in the soul by fear of God and a firm hope in Him, the second by an intense longing for God and by total purification. The sign of the first is that the intellect, abandoning all conceptual images of the world, concentrates itself and prays without distraction or disturbance as if God Himself were present, as indeed He is. The sign of the second is that at the very onset of prayer the intellect is so ravished by the divine and infinite light that it is aware neither of itself nor of any other created thing, but only of Him who through love has activated such radiance in-it. It is then that, being made aware of God's qualities, it receives clear and distinct reflections of Him.
7. Whatever a man loves he inevitably clings to, and in order not to lose it he rejects everything that keeps him from it. So he who loves God cultivates pure prayer, driving out every passion that keeps him from it.
8. He who drives out self-love, the mother of the passions, will with God's help easily rid himself of the rest, such as anger, irritation, rancor and so on. But he who is dominated by self-love is overpowered by the other passions, even against his will. Self-love is the passion of attachment to the body.
9. Men love one another, commendably or reprehensibly, for the following five reasons; either for the sake of God, as the virtuous man loves everyone and as the man not yet virtuous loves the virtuous : or by nature, as parents love their children and children their parents: or because of self-esteem, as he who is praised loves the man who praises him: or because of avarice, as with one who loves a rich man for what he can get out of him; or because of self-indulgence, as with the man who serves his belly and his genitals. The first of these is commendable, the second is of an intermediate kind, the rest are dominated by passion.
10. If there are some men you hate and some you neither love nor hate, and others you love strongly and others again you love but moderately, recognize from this inequality that you are far from perfect love. For perfect love presupposes that you love all men equally.
11. 'Shun evil and do good' (Ps. 34: 14), that is to say, fight the enemy in order to diminish the passions, and then be vigilant lest they increase once more. Again, fight to acquire the virtues and then be vigilant in order to keep them. This is the meaning of 'cultivating' and 'keeping' (cf. Gen. 2:15).
12. Those permitted by God to test us either inflame the desiring aspect of the soul, or stir up its incensive power, or darken its intelligence, or envelop its body in pain, or deprive us of bodily necessities.
13. The demons either tempt us themselves or arm against us those who have no fear of the Lord. They tempt us themselves when we withdraw from human society, as they, tempted our Lord in the desert. They tempt us through other people when we spend our time in the company of others, as they tempted our Lord through the Pharisees. But whichever line of attack they choose, let us repel them by keeping our gaze fixed on the Lord's example.
14. When the intellect begins to advance in love for God, the demon of blasphemy starts to tempt it, suggesting thoughts such as no man but only the devil, their father, could invent. He does this out of envy, so that the man of God, in his despair at thinking such thoughts, no longer dares to soar up to God in his accustomed prayer. But the demon does not further his own ends by this means. On the contrary, he makes us more steadfast. For through his attacks and our retaliation we grow more experienced and genuine in our love for God. May his sword enter into his own heart and may his bows be broken (cf. Ps. 37:15).
15. When the intellect turns its attention to the visible world, it perceives things through the medium of the senses in a way that accords with nature. And the intellect is not evil, nor is its natural capacity to form conceptual images of things, nor are the things themselves, nor are the senses, for all are the work of God. What, then, is evil? Clearly it is the passion that enters into the conceptual images formed in accordance with nature by the intellect: and this need not happen if the intellect keeps watch.
16. Passion is an impulse of the soul contrary to nature, as in the case of mindless love or mindless hatred for someone or for some sensible thing. In the case of love, it may be for needless food, or for a woman, or for money, or for transient glory, or for other sensible objects or on their account. In the case of hatred, it may be for any of the things mentioned, or for someone on account of these things.
17. Again, vice is the wrong use of our conceptual images of things, which leads us to misuse the things themselves. In relation to women, for example, sexual intercourse, rightly used, has as its purpose the begetting of children. He, therefore, who seeks in it only sensual pleasure uses it wrongly, for he reckons as good what is not good. When such a man has intercourse with a woman, he misuses her. And the same is true with regard to other things and our conceptual images of them.
18. When the demons expel self-restraint from your intellect and besiege you with thoughts of unchastity, turn to the Lord with tears and say, 'Now they have driven me out and encircled me' (Ps. 17:11. LXX); 'Thou art my supreme joy: deliver me from those who encircle me' (Ps. 32:7. LXX). Then you will be safe.
19. The demon of unchastity is powerful and violently attacks those who struggle against passion, particularly if they are lax about matters of diet and often meet women. With the lubricity of sensual pleasure he imperceptibly steals into the intellect and thereafter persecutes the hesychast by means of the memory, setting his body on fire and presenting various forms to his intellect. In this way he evokes his assent to sin. If you do not want these forms to linger in you, turn again to fasting, labor, vigils and blessed stillness with intense prayer.
20. Those who are always trying to lay hold of our soul do so by means of impassioned thoughts, so that they may drive it to sin either in the mind or in action. Consequently, when they find the intellect unreceptive, they will be disgraced and put to shame, and when they find the intellect occupied with spiritual contemplation, they will 'be turned back and suddenly ashamed' (Ps. 6:10).
21. He who anoints his intellect for spiritual contest and drives all impassioned thoughts out of it has the quality of a deacon. He who illuminates his intellect with the knowledge of created beings and utterly destroys false knowledge has the quality of a priest. And he who perfects his intellect with the holy myrrh of the knowledge and worship of the Holy Trinity has the quality of a bishop.
22. The demons are weakened when the passions in us decrease through our keeping the commandments, and they are defeated totally when they are routed by dispassion, for then they no longer find anything through which they can enter the soul and fight against it. This is what is meant by 'they will be weakened and defeated before Thy face' (Ps. 9:3).
23. Some men abstain from the passions because of human fear, others because of self-esteem, and others through self-control. Some, however, are delivered from the passions by divine providence.
24. All the discourses of our Lord contain these four elements: commandments, doctrines, threats and promises. With the help of these we patiently accept every kind of hardship, such as fasting, vigils, sleeping on the ground, toil and labor in acts of service, insults, dishonor, torture, death and so on. 'Helped by the words of Thy lips,' says the psalmist, I have kept to difficult paths' (Ps. 17:4. LXX).
25. The reward of self-control is dispassion, and the reward of faith is spiritual knowledge. Dispassion engenders discrimination, and spiritual knowledge engenders love for God.
26. When the intellect practices the virtues correctly, it advances in moral understanding. When it practices contemplation, it advances in spiritual knowledge. The first leads the spiritual contestant to discriminate between virtue and vice; the second leads the participant to the inner qualities of incorporeal and corporeal things. Finally, the intellect is granted the grace of theology when, carried on wings of love beyond these two former stages, it is taken up into God and with the help of the Holy Spirit discerns - as far as this is possible for the human mtellect - the qualities of God.
27. If you are about to enter the realm of theology, do not seek to descry God's inmost nature, for neither the human intellect nor that of any other being under God can experience this: but try to discern, as far as possible, the qualities that appertain to His nature - qualities of eternity, infinity, mdeterminateness, goodness, wisdom, and the power of creating, preserving and judging creatures, and so on. For he who discovers these qualities, to however small an extent, is a great theologian.
28. He who combines the practice of the virtues with spiritual knowledge is a man of power. For with the first he withers his desire and tames his incensiveness, and with the second he gives wings to his intellect and goes out of himself to God.
29. When our Lord says, 'I and My Father are one' (John 10:30), He indicates their identity of essence. Again, when He says, 'I am in the Father, and the Father in Me' (John 14:11), He shows that the Persons cannot be divided. The tntheists, therefore, who divide the Son from the Father, find themselves in a dilemma. Either they say that the Son is coetemal with the Father, but nevertheless divide Him from the Father, and so they are forced to say that He is not begotten from the Father: thus they fell into the error of claiming that there are three Gods and three first principles. Or else they say that the Son is begotten from the Father but nevertheless divide Him from the Father, and so they are forced to say that He is not coetemal with the Father; thus they make the Lord of time subject to time. For, as St Gregory of Nazianzos says, it is necessary both to maintain the one God and to confess the three Persons, each in His own individuality. According to St Gregory, the Divinity is divided but without division and is united but with distinctions. Because of this both the division and the union are paradoxical. For what paradox would there be if the Son were united to the Father and divided from Him only in the same manner as one human being is united to and divided from another, and nothing more? 30. For him who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of dispassion there is no difference between his own
or another's, or between Christians and unbelievers, or between slave and free, or even between male and female. But because he has risen above the tyranny of the passions and has fixed his attention on the single nature of man, he looks on all in the same way and shows the same disposition to all. For in him there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free, but Christ who 'is all, and in all' (Col. 3: I 1; cf Gal. 3:28).
31. The passions lymg hidden in the soul provide the demons with the means of arousing impassioned droughts in us. Then, fighting the intellect through these thoughts, they force it to give its assent to sin. When it has been overcome, they lead it to sin in the mind; and when this has been done they induce it, captive as it is, to commit the sin in action. Having thus desolated the soul by means of these thoughts, the demons then retreat, taking the thoughts with them, and only the specter or idol of sin remains in the intellect. Referring to this our Lord says, 'When you see the abominable idol of desolation standing in the holy place (let him who reads understand) . . .' (Matt. 24:15). For man's intellect is a holy place and a temple of God in which the demons, having desolated the soul by means of impassioned thoughts, set up the idol of sin. That these things have already taken place in history no one, I think, who has read Josephus will doubt; though some say that they will also come to pass in the time of the Antichrist.
32. There are three things that impel us towards what is holy: natural instincts, angelic powers and probity of intention. Natural instincts impel us when, for example, we do to others what we would wish them to do to us (cf Luke 6:31), or when we see someone suffering deprivation or in need and naturally feel compassion. Angelic powers impel us when, being ourselves impelled to something worthwhile, we find we are providentially helped and guided. We are impelled by probity of intention when, discriminating between good and evil, we choose the good.
33. There are also three things that impel us towards evil: passions, demons and sinfulness of intention. Passions impel us when, for example, we desire somethmg beyond what is reasonable, such as food which is unnecessary or untimely, or a woman who is not our wife or for a purpose other than procreation, or else when we are excessively angered or irritated by, for instance, someone who has dishonored or injured us. Demons impel us when, for example, they catch us off our guard and suddenly launch a violent attack upon us, stirring up the passions already mentioned and others of a similar nature. We are impelled by sinfulness of intention when, knowing the good, we choose evil instead.
34. The rewards for the toils of virtue are dispassion and spiritual knowledge. For these are mediators of the kingdom of heaven, just as passions and ignorance are mediators of eternal punishment. It is because of this that he who seeks these rewards for the sake of human glory and not for their intrinsic goodness is rebuked by the words of Scripture, 'You ask, and do not receive, because you ask wrongly' (Jas. 4:3).
35. Many human activities, good in themselves, are not good because of the motive for which they are done. For example, fasting and vigils, prayer and psalmody, acts of charity and hospitality are by nature good, but when performed for the sake of self-esteem they are not good.
36. In everything that we do God searches out our purpose to see whether we do it for Him or for some other motive.
37. When you hear the words of Scripture, 'Thou shalt render to every man according to his work' (Ps. 62:12. LXX), do not think that God bestows blessings when something is done for the wrong purpose, even though it seems be good. Quite clearly He bestows blessings only when something is done for the right purpose. For God's judgment looks not at the actions but at the purpose behind them. 38. The malice of the demon of pride takes two forms. Either he persuades the monk to ascribe his achievements to himself and not to God, the Giver of all goodness and helper in every achievement; or, if this fails, he suggests that he should belittle those of his brethren who are as yet less perfect than himself. Influenced in this way, he does not realize that the demon is persuading him to deny God's help. For if he belittles his brethren for their lack of achievement, he clearly infers that he has achieved something through his own powers. But this is impossible, since, as our Lord has said, 'Without Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). For even when impelled towards what is good, our weakness cannot bring anything to fruition without the Giver of all goodness.
39. The person who has come to know the weakness of human nature has gained experience of divine power. Such a man, having achieved some things and eager to achieve others through this divine power, never belittles anyone. For he knows that just as God has helped him and freed him from many passions and difficulties, so, when God wishes. He is able to help all men, especially those pursuing the spiritual way for His sake. And if in His providence He does not deliver all men together from their passions, yet like a good and loving physician He heals with individual treatment each of those who are trying to make progress.
40. We grow proud when the passions cease to be active in us, and this whether they are inactive because their causes have been eradicated or because the demons have deliberately withdrawn in order to deceive us.
41. Almost every sin is committed for the sake of sensual pleasure; and sensual pleasure is overcome by hardship and distress arising either voluntarily from repentance, or else involuntarily as a result of some salutary and providential reversal. 'For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned with the world' ( I Cor. 11:31 -32).
42. When a trial comes upon you unexpectedly, do not blame the person through whom it came but try to discover the reason why it came, and then you will find a way of dealing with it. For whether through this person or through someone else you had in any case to drink the wormwood of God's judgments. 43. As long as you have bad habits do not reject hardship, so that through it you may be humbled and eject your pride. 44. Sometimes men are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress or by physical suffering. By means of His prescriptions the Physician of souls administers the remedy according to the cause of the passions lying hidden in the soul. 45. Trials are sent to some so as to take away past sins, to others so as to eradicate sins now being committed, and to yet others so as to forestall sins which may be committed in the future. These are distinct from the trials that arise in order to test men in the way that Job was tested.
46. The sensible man, taking into account the remedial effect of the divine prescriptions, gladly bears the sufferings which they bring upon him, since he is aware that they have no cause other than his own sin. But when the fool, ignorant of the supreme wisdom of God's providence, sins and is corrected, he regards either God or men as responsible for the hardships he suffers.
47. Certain things stop the movement of the passions and do not allow them to grow; others subdue them and make them diminish. For instance, where desire is concerned, fasting, labor and vigils do not allow it to grow, while withdrawal, contemplation, prayer and intense longing for God subdue it and make it disappear. The same is true with regard to anger. Forbearance, freedom from rancor, gentleness, for example, all arrest it and prevent it from growing, while love, acts of charity, kindness and compassion make it diminish.
48. When a man's intellect is constantly with God, his desire grows beyond all measure into an intense longing for God and his incensiveness is completely transformed into divine love. For by continual participation in the divine radiance his intellect becomes totally filled with light; and when it has reintegrated its passible aspect, it redirects this aspect towards God, as we have said, filling it with an incomprehensible and intense longing for Him and with unceasing love, thus drawing it entirely away from worldly things to the divine.
49. If a man is not envious or angry, and does not bear a grudge against someone who has offended him, that does not necessarily mean that he loves him. For, while still lacking love, he may be capable of not repaying evil with evil, in accordance with the commandment (cf Rom. 12:17), and yet by no means be capable of rendering good for evil without forcing himself To be spontaneously disposed to 'do good to those who you hate you' (Matt. 5:44) belongs to perfect spiritual love alone.
50. If a man does not love someone, it does not necessarily mean that he hates him: and conversely, if he does not hate him, it does not necessarily mean that he loves him, since he can be neutral towards him, that is, neither love him nor hate him. For the disposition to love is created only in the five ways listed in the ninth text of this Century, one commendable, one of an intermediate kind, and three reprehensible.
51. When you find your intellect occupied pleasurably with material things and becoming fondly attached to its conceptual images of them, you may be sure that you love these things more than God. 'For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also' (Matt. 6:21).
52. The intellect joined to God for long periods through prayer and love becomes wise, good, powerful, compassionate, merciful and long-suffering; in short, it includes within itself almost all the divine qualities. But when the intellect withdraws from God and attaches itself to material things, either it becomes self-indulgent like some domestic animal, or like a wild beast it fights with men for the sake of these things.
53. Scripture calls material things 'the world': and worldly men are those who occupy their intellect with these things. It is such men that Scripture rebukes when it says: 'Do not love the world or the things that are in the world . . . The desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and pride in one's possessions, are not of God but of the world' (cf I John 2:15-16).
54. A monk is a man who has freed his intellect from attachment to material things and by means of self-control, love, psalmody and prayer cleaves to God.
55. The herdsman signifies the man practicing the virtues, for moral achievements may be represented by cattle. That is why Jacob said, 'Your servants are herdsmen' (Gen. 46:34). The shepherd signifies the gnostic, for sheep represent thoughts pastured by the intellect on the mountains of contemplation. That is why 'every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians' (Gen. 46:34), that is, to the demonic powers.
56. When the body is urged by the senses to indulge its own desires and pleasures, the corrupted intellect readily succumbs and assents to its impassioned fantasies and impulses. But the regenerated intellect exercises self- control and withholds itself from them. Moreover, as a true philosopher it studies how to rectify such impulses.
57. There are virtues of the body and virtues of the soul. Those of the body include fasting, vigils, sleeping on the ground, ministering to people's needs, working with one's hands so as not to be a burden or in order to give to others (cf I Thess. 2:9, Ephes. 4:28). Those of the soul include love, long-suffering, gentleness, self-control and prayer (cf. Gal, 5:22). If as a result of some constraint or bodily condition, such as illness or the like, we find we cannot practice the bodily virtues mentioned above, we are forgiven by the Lord because He knows the reasons. But if we fail to practice the virtues of the soul, we shall not have a single excuse, for it is always within our power to practice them.
58. Love for God leads him who shares in it to be indifferent to every transient pleasure and every labor and distress. Let all the saints, who have suffered joyfully so much for Christ, convince you of this.
59. Guard yourself from that mother of vices, self-love, which is mindless love for the body. For it gives birth with specious justification to the three first and most general of the impassioned thoughts. I mean those of gluttony, avarice and self-esteem, which take as their pretext some so-called need of the body. All further vices are generated by these three. You must therefore be on your guard, as we have already said, and fight against self- love with great vigilance. For when this vice is eradicated, all the others are eradicated too.
60. The passion of self-love suggests to the monk that he should have pity on his body and in the name of its proper care and governance should take food more often than is fitting; for in this way self-love will lead him on step by step to fall into the pit of self-indulgence. On the other hand, self-love prompts those who are not monks to fulfill the body's desires at once.
61. It is said that the highest state of prayer is reached when the intellect goes beyond the flesh and the World, and while praying is utterly free from matter and form. He who maintains this state has truly attained unceasing prayer.
62. When the body dies, it is whoUy separated from the things of this world. Similarly, when the intellect dies while in that supreme state of prayer, it is separated from all conceptual images of this world. If it does not die such a death, it cannot be with God and live with Him.
63. Let no one deceive you, monk, with the notion that you can be saved while a slave to sensual pleasure and self- esteem.
64. When the body sins through material things, it has the bodily virtues to teach it self-restraint. Similarly, when the intellect sins through impassioned conceptual images, it has the virtues of the soul to instruct it, so that by seeing things in a pure and dispassionate way, it too may learn self-restraint.
65. Just as night follows day and winter summer, so distress and pain follow self-esteem and sensual pleasure, either in this life or after death.
66. No sinner can escape future judgment without experiencing in this life either voluntary hardships or afflictions he has not chosen.
67. There are said to be five reasons why God allows us to be assailed by demons. The first is so that, by attacking and counterattacking, we should learn to discriminate between virtue and vice. The second is so that, having acquired virtue through conflict and toil, we should keep it secure and immutable. The third is so that, when making progress in virtue, we should not become haughty but learn humility. The fourth is so that, having gained some experience of evil, we should 'hate it with perfect hatred' (cf Ps. 139:22). The fifth and most important is so that, having achieved dispassion, we should forget neither our own weakness nor the power of Him who has helped us.
68. Just as the intellect of a hungry man imagines bread and that of a thirsty man water, so the intellect of a glutton imagines a profusion of foods, that of a sensualist the forms of women, that of a vain man worldly honor, that of an avaricious man financial gain, that of a rancorous man revenge on whoever has offended him, that of an envious man how to harm the object of his envy, and so on with all the other passions. For an intellect agitated by passions is beset by impassioned conceptual images whether the body is awake or asleep.
69. When desire grows strong, the intellect in sleep imagines things that give sensual pleasure; and when the incensive power grows strong, it imagines things that cause fear. For the impure demons, finding an ally in our negligence, strengthen and excite the passions. But holy angels, by inducing us to perform works of virtue, make them weaker.
70. When the desiring aspect of the soul is frequently excited, it implants in the soul a habit of self-indulgence which is difficult to break. When the soul's incensive power is constantly stimulated, it becomes in the end cowardly and unmanly. The first of these failings is cured by long exercise in fasting, vigils and prayer; the second by kindness, compassion, love and mercy.
71. The demons fight against us either through things themselves or through our impassioned conceptual images of these things. They fight through things against those who are occupied with things and through conceptual images against those who are not attached to things.
72. Just as it is easier to sin in the mind than in action, so warfare through our impassioned conceptual images of things is harder than warfare through the things themselves,
73. Things are outside the intellect, but the conceptual images of these things are formed within it. It is consequently in the intellect's power to make good or bad use of these conceptual images. Their wrong use is followed by the misuse of the things themselves.
74. The intellect receives impassioned conceptual images in three ways: through the senses, through the body's condition and through the memory. It receives them through the senses when the senses themseh'es receive impressions from things in relation to which we have acquired passion, and when these things stir up impassioned thoughts in the intellect; through the body's condition when, as a result either of an undisciplined way of life, or of the activity of demons, or of some illness, the balance of elements in the body is disturbed and again the intellect is stirred to impassioned thoughts or to thoughts contrary to providence; through the memory when the memory recalls the conceptual images of things in relation to which we were once made passionate, and so stirs up impassioned thoughts in a similar way.
75. Some of the things given to us by God for our use are in the soul, others are in the body and others relate to the body. In the soul are its powers: in the body are the sense organs and other members; relating to the body are food, money, possessions and so on. Our good or bad use of these things given us by God, or of what is con- tingent upon them, reveals whether we are virtuous or evil.
76. Of the things contingent upon those given us by God, some are in the soul, some are in the body, and some relate to the body. Those in the soul are spiritual knowledge and ignorance, forgetful-ness and memory, love and hate, fear and courage, distress and joy, and so on. Those in the body are pleasure and pain, sensation and numbness, health and disease, life and death, and so on. Those relating to the body are having children and not having children, wealth and poverty, fame and obscurity, and so on. Some of these are regarded as good and others as evil. Not one of them is evil in itself. According to how they are used they may rightly be called good or evil.
77. Both spiritual knowledge and health are good by nature, yet their contraries have been of more benefit to many people. For such knowledge may serve no good purpose where the wicked are concerned, even though, as we have said, it is good in itself The same is true with regard to health, riches and joy, for they are not used advantageously by such people. But certainly their contraries do benefit them. Therefore not one of them is evil in itself, even though it may appear to be evil.
78. Do not misuse your conceptual images of things, lest you are forced to make a wrong use of the things themselves. For if a man does not first sin in his mind, he will never sin in action.
79. The principal vices - stupidity, cowardice, licentiousness, injustice - are the 'image' of the 'earthy' man. The principal virtues - intelligence, courage, self-restramt, justice - are the 'image' of the 'heavenly' man. As we have borne the image of the earthy, let us also bear the image of the heavenly (cf I Cor. 15:49).
80. If you wish to find the way that leads to life, look for it in the Way who says, 'I am the way, the door, the truth and the life' (John 10:7: 14:6), and there you will find it. Only let your search be diligent and painstaking, for 'few there are that find it' (Matt. 7:14) and if you are not among the few you will find yourself with the many.
81, Five things make a soul cut itself off from sin: fear of judgment, hope of future reward, love of God and, lastly, the prompting of conscience.
82. Some say that there would be no evil in the created world unless there were some power outside this world dragging us towards evil. But this so-called power is in fact our neglect of the natural energies of the intellect. For those who nurture these energies always do good, never evil. If this, then, is what you too wish to do, get rid of negligence and you will also drive out evil, which is the wrong use of our conceptual images of things, followed by the wrong use of the things themselves.
83. In its natural state, the human intelligence is subject to the divine intelligence and itself rules over the non- intelligent element in us. Let this order be maintained in all things, and there will be no evil among creatures nor anything which draws us towards evil.
84. Some thoughts are simple, others are composite. Thoughts which are not impassioned are simple. Passion- charged thoughts are composite, consisting as they do of a conceptual image combined with passion. This being so, when composite thoughts begin to provoke a sinful idea in the mind, many simple thoughts may be seen to follow them. For instance, an impassioned thought about gold rises in someone's mind. He has the urge mentally to steal the gold and commits the sin in his intellect. Then thoughts of the purse, the chest, the room and so on follow hard on the thought of the gold. The thought of the gold was composite - for it was combined with passion - but those of the purse, the chest and so on were simple: for the intellect had no passion in relation to these things. And the same is true for every thought - thoughts of self-esteem, women and so on. For not all thoughts which follow impassioned thought are themselves impassioned, as our example has shown. From this, then, we may know which conceptual images are impassioned and which are not.
85. Some say that the demons first touch the genitals during sleep and so arouse the passion of unchastity. Once aroused, the passion, by means of the memory, brings the form of a woman into the intellect. But others say that the demons appear first to the intellect in the guise of a woman and then excite the appetite by touching the genitals and so fantasies arise. Yet others say that the passion dominant in the approaching demon stirs the passion in us, and thus the soul is incited to sinful thoughts and brings these female forms mto the intellect by means of the memory. The same is true with regard to other impassioned fantasies. Some say they happen in one way, others in another. However, if love and self-control are present in the soul, the demons have no power to arouse any passion at all in any of the ways described, whether the body is awake or asleep. 86. Some commandments of the Mosaic Law must be kept both physically and spiritually, others only spiritually. For example, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal' (Exod. 20: 13-15) and so on must be kept both physically and spiritually (the spiritual observance is threefold, as explained below). To be circumcised (cf Lev. 12: 3), to keep the Sabbath (cf Exod. 31:13), and to slaughter the lamb and eat unleavened bread with bitter herbs (cf Exod. 12:8; 23:15) and similar injunctions are to be kept only spiritually.
87. There are three main inner states characterizing the life of the monk. The first consists in not sinning in actions; the second in not allowing the soul to dally with impassioned thoughts; the third in being able to contemplate dispassionately in the mind the forms of women and of those who have given one offence.
88. A man who is truly without possessions is one who has renounced all his worldly goods and has absolutely nothing on earth except his body; and who, breaking his attachment to the body, has entrusted himself to the care of God and of the devout.
89. Some people with possessions possess them dispassionately, and so when deprived of them they are not dismayed but are like those who accepted the seizure of their goods with joy (cf. Heb. 10:34). Others possess with passion, so that when they are in danger of being dispossessed they become utterly dejected, like the rich man in the Gospel who went away full of sorrow (cf. Matt. 19:22); and if they actually are dispossessed, they remain dejected until they die. Dispossession, then, reveals whether a man's inner state is dispassionate or dominated by passion.
90. The demons attack the person who has attained the summits of prayer in order to prevent his conceptual images of sensible things from being free from passion; they attack the gnostic so that he will dally with impassioned thoughts; and they attack the person who has not advanced beyond the practice of the virtues so as to persuade him to sin through his actions.. They contend with all men by every possible means in order to separate them from God.
91. Those whom divine providence is leading towards holiness in this life are tested by the following three tests: by the gift of agreeable things, such as health, beauty, fine children, money, fame and so on; by afflictions causing distress, such as the loss of children, money and fame: and by bodily sufferings, such as disease, torture and so on. To those in the first category the Lord says, 'If a person does not forsake all that he has, he cannot be My disciple' (Luke 14:33); and to those in the second and third He says, 'You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21 : 19).
92. The following four things are said to change the body's temperament and through it to produce either impassioned or dispassionate thoughts in the intellect: angels, demons, the winds and diet. It is said that angels change it by thought, demons by touch, the winds by varying, and diet by the quality of our food and drink and by whether we eat too much or too little. There are also changes brought about by means of memory, hearing and sight - namely when the soul is affected by joyful or distressing experiences as a result of one of these three means, and then changes the body's temperament. Thus changed, this temperament in its turn induces corresponding thoughts in the intellect.
93. Death in the true sense is separation from God, and 'the sting of death is sin' (1 Cor. 15:56). Adam, who received the sting, became at the same time an exile from the tree of life, from paradise and from God (cf Gen. 3); and this was necessarily followed by the body's death. Life, in the true sense, is He who said, '1 am the life' (John I 1 :25), and who, having entered into death, led back to life him who had died.
94. A man writes either to assist his memory, or to help others, or for both reasons; or else he writes in order to injure certain people, or to show off, or out of necessity.
95. In Psalm 23, 'green pasture' represents the practice of the virtues; 'water of refreshment', spiritual knowledge of created things.
96. 'The shadow of death' is human life. Therefore if a man is with God and God is with him, clearly he is able to say, 'Though I walk through the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me'.
97. A pure intellect sees things correctly. A trained intelligence puts them in order. A keen hearing takes in what is said. He who is lacking in these three qualities insults the person who has spoken.
98. He who knows the Holy Trinity, the Trinity's creation, and providence, and who has brought his soul's passible aspect into a state of dispassion, is with God.
99. Again in Psalm 23 'the rod' is said to signify God's judgment and 'the staff His providence. So he who has received spiritual knowledge of these things is able to say, 'Thy rod and Thy staff have comforted me.'
100. When the intellect is stripped of passions and illuminated with the contemplation of created beings, then it can enter into God and pray as it should.
1. An intelligent use of conceptual images and their corresponding physical objects produces self-restraint, love and spiritual knowledge; an unintelligent use produces licentiousness, hatred and ignorance.
2. 'You have prepared a table before me . . .' (Ps. 23:5). In this passage, 'table' stands for the practice of the virtues, for this has been prepared for us by Christ to use 'against those who afflict' us. The 'oil' anointing the intellect is the contemplation of created things. The 'cup' of God is the knowledge of God. His 'mercy' is His divine Logos. For through His incarnation the Logos pursues us 'all the days' until He overtakes all those who are to be saved, as He did in the case of Paul (cf. Phil. 3:12). The 'house' is the kingdom in which all the saints will dwell. 'Length of days' means eternal life.
3. When we misuse the soul's powers their evil aspects dominate us. For instance, misuse of our power of intelligence results in ignorance and stupidity; misuse of our incensive power and of our desire produces hatred and licentiousness. The proper use of these powers produces spiritual knowledge, moral judgment, love and self-restraint. This being so, nothing created and given existence by God is evil.
4. It is not food that is evil but gluttony, not the begetting of children but unchastity, not material things but avarice, not esteem but self-esteem. This being so, it is only the misuse of things that is evil, and such misuse occurs when the intellect fails to cultivate its natural powers.
5. Among the demons, says the blessed Dionysios, evil takes the form of mindless anger, desire uncontrolled by the intellect, and impetuous imagination. But mindlessness, lack of intellectual control and impetuosity in intelligent beings are privations of intelligence, intellect and circumspection. But a privation is posterior to the possession of something. There was a time, then, when the demons possessed intelligence, intellect and devout circumspection. This being the case, not even the demons are evil by nature, but they have become evil through the misuse of their natural powers.
6. Some of the passions produce licentiousness, some hatred, while others produce both dissipation and hatred.
7. Overeating and gluttony cause licentiousness. Avarice and self-esteem cause one to hate one's neighbor. Self-love, the mother of vices, is the cause of all these things.
8. Self-love is an impassioned, mindless love for one's body. Its opposite is love and self-control. A man dominated by self-love is dominated by all the passions.
9. 'No man has ever hated his own flesh', says the Apostle (Eph. 5:29), but he disciplines it and makes it his servant (cf. I Cor. 9:27), allowing it nothing but food and clothing (cf. I Tim. 6:8), and then only what Is necessary for life. In this way a man loves his flesh dispassionately and nourishes it and cares for it as a servant of divine things, supplying it only with what meets its basic needs.
10. If a man loves someone, he naturally makes every effort to be of service to that person. If, then, a man loves God, he naturally strives to conform to His will. But if he loves the flesh, he panders to the flesh.
11. Love, self-restraint, contemplation and prayer accord with God's will, while gluttony, licentiousness and things that increase them pander to the flesh. That is why 'they that are in the flesh cannot conform to God's will' (Rom. 8:8). But 'they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh together with the passions and desires' (Gal. 5:24).
12. If the intellect inclines to God, it treats the body as its servant and provides it with no more than it needs to sustain life. But if it inclines to the flesh, it becomes the servant of the passions and is always thinking about how to fulfill its desires.
13. If you wish to master your thoughts, concentrate on the passions and you will easily drive the thoughts arising from them out of your intellect. With regard to unchastity, for instance, fast and keep vigils, labor and avoid meeting people. With regard to anger and resentment, be indifferent to fame, dishonor and material things. With regard to rancor, pray for him who has offended you and you will be delivered.
14. Do not compare yourself with weaker men but rather apply yourself to fulfilling the commandment of love. For by comparing yourself with the weak you will fall into the pit of conceit, but by applying yourself to the commandment of love you will reach the height of humility.
15. It you totally fulfill the command to love your neighbor, you will feel no bitterness or resentment against him whatever he does. If this is not the case, then the reason why you fight against your brother is clearly because you seek after transitory things and prefer them to the commandment of love.
16. It is not so much because of need that gold has become an object of desire among men, as because of the power it gives most people to indulge in sensual pleasure.
17. There are three things which produce love of material wealth: self-indulgence, self-esteem and lack of faith. Lack of faith is more dangerous than the other two.
18. The self-indulgent person loves wealth because it enables him to live comfortably; the person full of self- esteem loves it because through it he can gain the esteem of others: the person who lacks faith loves it because, fearful of starvation, old age, disease, or exile, he can save it and hoard it. He puts his trust in wealth rather than in God, the Creator who provides for all creation, down to the least of living things.
19. There are four kinds of men who hoard wealth: the three already mentioned and the treasurer or bursar. Clearly, it is only the last who conserves it for a good purpose - namely, so as always to have the means of supplying each person's basic needs.
20. All impassioned thoughts either stimulate the soul's desiring power, or disturb its incensive power, or darken its intelligence. It is in this way that the intellect's capacity for spiritual contemplation and for the ecstasy of prayer is dulled. And for this reason a monk, especially the hesychast, must pay close attention to such thoughts, searching out and eliminating their causes. For example, the soul's power of desire is stimulated by impassioned thoughts of women. Such thoughts are caused by intemperance in eating and drinking, and by frequent and senseless talk with the women in question; and they are cut off by hunger, thirst, vigils and withdrawal from human society. Again, the incensive power is disturbed by impassioned thoughts about those who have offended us. This is caused by self-indulgence, self-esteem and love of material things. For it is on account of such vices that the passion-dominated man feels resentment, being frustrated or otherwise failmg to attain what he wants. These thoughts are cut off when the vices provoking them are rejected and nullified through the love of God.
21. God knows Himself and He knows the things He has created. The angelic powers, too, know God and know the things He has created. But they do not know God and the things He has created in the same way that God knows Himself and the things He has created.
22. God knows Himself through knowing His blessed essence. And the things created by Him He knows through knowing His wisdom, by means of which and in which He made all things. But the angelic powers know God by participation, though God Himself transcends such participation; and the things He has created they know by apprehending that which may be spiritually contemplated in them.
23. Although the intellect apprehends its vision of created things within itself, they are actually outside it. This is not the case with respect to God's knowledge of Created things, for He is eternal, infinite and undetermined, and has bestowed on everything that exists its being, well-being and eternal being.
24. Natures endowed with intelligence and intellect participate in God through their very being, through their capacity for well-being, that is for goodness and wisdom, and through the grace that gives them eternal being. This, then, is how they know God. They know God's creation, as we have said, by apprehending the har- monious wisdom to be contemplated in it. This wisdom is apprehended by the intellect in a non-material way, and has no independent existence of its own.
25. When God brought into being natures endowed with intelligence and intellect He communicated to them, in His supreme goodness, four of the divine attributes by which He sustains, protects and preserves created things. These attributes are being, eternal being, goodness and wisdom. Of the four He granted the first two, being and eternal being, to their essence, and the second two, goodness and wisdom, to their volitive faculty, so that what He is in His essence the creature may become by participation. This is why man is said to have been created in the image and likeness of God (cf Gen. I :26). He is made in the image of God, since his being is in the image of God's being, and his eternal being is in the image of God's eternal being (in the sense that, though not without origin, it is nevertheless without end). He is also made in the likeness of God, since he is good in the likeness of God's goodness, and wise in the likeness of God's wisdom, God being good and wise by nature, and man by grace. Every intelligent nature is in the image of God, but only the good and the wise attain His likeness.
26. All beings endowed with intelligence and intellect are either angelic or human. All angelic beings may be subdivided further into two general moral categories or classes, the holy and the accursed — that is, the holy powers and the impure demons. All human beings may also be divided into two moral categories only, the godly and the ungodly.
27. Since God is absolute existence, absolute goodness and absolute wisdom, or rather, to put it more exactly, since God is beyond all such things, there is nothing whatsoever that is opposite to Him. Creatures, on the other hand, all exist through participation and grace, while those endowed with intelligence and intellect also have a capacity for goodness and wisdom. Hence they do have opposites. As the opposite to existence they have non- existence, and as the opposite to the capacity for goodness and wisdom they have evil and ignorance. Whether or not they are to exist eternally lies Within the power of their Maker. But whether or not intelligent creatures are to participate in His goodness and wisdom depends on their own will.
28. The ancient Greek philosophers say that the being of created things has coexisted with God from all eternity and that God has only given it its qualities. They say that this being itself has no opposite, and that opposition lies only in the qualities. But we maintain that only the divine essence has no opposite, since it is eternal and infinite and bestows eternity on other things. The being of created things, on the other hand, has non-being as its opposite. Whether or not it exists eternally depends on the power of Him who alone exists in a substantive sense. But since 'the gifts of God are irrevocable' (Rom. 11:29), the being of created things always is and always will be sustained by His almighty power, even though it has, as we said, an opposite; for it has been brought into being from non-being, and whether or not it exists depends on the will of God.
29. Just as evil is a privation of good, and ignorance a privation of knowledge, so non-being is a privation of being - not of being in a substantive sense, for that does not have any opposite, but of being that exists by participation in substantive being. The first two privations mentioned depend on the will of creatures; the third lies in the will of the Maker, who in His goodness wills beings always to exist and always to receive His blessings.
30. All creatures are either endowed with intelligence and intellect, and thus possess a capacity for opposites such as virtue and vice, knowledge and ignorance; or else they are physical bodies of various kinds made up of opposites, that is, of earth, air, fire and water. The former are altogether incorporeal and immaterial, although some of them are joined to bodies; the latter are composed of matter and form.
31. By nature all bodies lack a capacity for motion; they are given motion by the soul, either by one that is intelligent, or by one without intelligence, or by one that is insensate, as the case may be.
32. The soul has three powers: first, the power of nourishment and growth; second, that of imagination and instinct; third, that of intelligence and intellect. Plants share only in the first of these powers; animals share in the first and second; men share in all three. The first two powers are perishable; the third is clearly imperishable and immortal.
33. In communicating illumination to each other, the angelic powers also communicate either their virtue or their knowledge to human nature. As regards their virtue, they communicate a goodness which imitates the goodness of God, and through this goodness they confer blessings on themselves, on one another and on their inferiors, thus making them like God. As regards their knowledge, they communicate either a more sublime knowledge about God - for, as Scripture says, 'Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore' (Ps. 92:8) - or a more profound knowledge about embodied beings, or one that is more exact about incorporeal beings, or more distinct about divine providence, or more precise about divine judgment.
34. Impurity of intellect consists first in having false knowledge; secondly in being ignorant of any of the universals (I refer to the human intellect, for it is a property of the angelic intellect not to be ignorant even of particulars): thirdly in having impassioned thoughts: and fourthly in assenting to sin.
35. Impurity of soul lies in its not functioning in accordance with nature. It is because of this that impassioned thoughts are produced in the intellect. The soul functions in accordance with nature when its passible aspects - that is, its incensive power and its desire - remain dispassionate in the face of provocations both from things and from the conceptual images of these things.
36. Impurity of body consists in the actual committing of sin.
37. He who is not attracted by worldly things cherishes stillness. He who loves nothing merely human loves all men. And he who takes no offence at anyone either on account of their faults, or on account of his own suspicious thoughts, has knowledge of God and of things divine.
38. It is a great achievement not to be attracted by things. But it is a far greater achievement to remain dispassionate in the face both of things and of the conceptual images we derive from them.
39. Love and self-control keep the intellect dispassionate in the face both of things and of the conceptual images we form of them.
40. The intellect of a man who enjoys the love of God does not fight against things or against conceptual images of them. It battles against the passions which are linked with these images. It does not, for example, fight against a woman, or against a man who has offended it, or even against the images it forms of them: but it fights against the passions which are linked with the images.
41. The whole purpose of the monk's warfare against the demons is to separate the passions from conceptual images. Otherwise he will not be able to look on things dispassionately.
42. A thing, a conceptual image and a passion are all quite different one from the other. For example, a man, a woman, gold and so forth are things: a conceptual image is a passion-free thought of one of these things: a passion is mindless affection or indiscriminate hatred for one of these same things. The monk's battle is therefore against passion.
43. An impassioned conceptual image is a thought compounded of passion and a conceptual image. If we separate the passion from the conceptual image, what remains is the passion-free thought. We can make this separation by means of spiritual love and self-control, if only we have the will.
44. The virtues separate the intellect from the passions; spiritual contemplation separates it from its passion-free conceptual images of things: pure prayer brings it into the presence of God Himself.
45. The virtues exist for the sake of the knowledge of creatures; knowledge for the sake of the knower; the knower, for the sake of Him who is known through unknowing and who knows beyond all knowledge.
46. God, full beyond all fullness, brought creatures into being not because He had need of anything, but so that they might participate in Him in proportion to their capacity and that He Himself might rejoice in His works (cf Ps. 104:31), through seeing them joyful and ever filled to overflowing with His inexhaustible gifts.
47. There are many people in the world who are poor in spirit, but not in the way that they should be: there are many who mourn, but for some financial loss or the death of their children: many are gentle, but towards unclean passions: many hunger and thirst, but only to seize what does not belong to them and to profit from in- justice : many are merciful, but towards their bodies and the things that serve the body: many are pure in heart, but for the sake of self-esteem; many are peace -makers, but by making the soul submit to the flesh: many are persecuted, but as wrongdoers: many are reviled, but for shameful sins. Only those are blessed who do or suffer these things for the sake of Christ and after His example. Why? Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and they shall see God (cf. Matt. 5:3-12). It is not because they do or suffer these things that they are blessed, for those of whom we have spoken above do the same; it is because they do them and suffer them for the sake of Christ and after His example.
48. As has been said many times, in everything we do God examines our motive, to see whether we are doing it for His sake or for some other purpose. Thus when we desire to do something good, we should not do it for the sake of popularity: we should have God as our goal, so that, with our gaze always fixed on Him, we may do everything for His sake. Otherwise we shall undergo all the trouble of performing the act and yet lose the reward.
49. In time of prayer clear your intellect of both the passion-free conceptual images of human things and the contemplation of creatures. Otherwise in imagining lesser things you may fall away from Him who is incomparably greater than all created beings.
50. Through genuine love for God we can drive out the passions. Love for God is this: to choose Him rather than the world, and the soul rather than the flesh, by despising the things of this world and by devoting ourselves constantly to Him through self-control, love, prayer, psalmody and so on.
51. If we persistently devote ourselves to God and keep a careful watch on the soul's passible aspect, we are no longer driven headlong by the provocations of our thoughts. On the contrary, as we acquire a more exact understanding of their causes and cut them off, we become more discerning. In this way the following words come to apply to us: 'My eye also sees my enemies, and my ear shall hear the wicked that rise up against me' (Ps. 92:11. LXX).
52. When you see that your intellect reflects upon its conceptual images of the world with reverence and justice, you may be sure that your body, too, continues to be pure and sinless. But when you see that your intellect is occupied with thoughts of sin, and you do not check it, you may be sure that before very long your body, too, will fall into those sins.
53. As the world of the body consists of things, so the world of the intellect consists of conceptual images. And as the body fornicates with the body of a woman, so the intellect, forming a picture of its own body, fornicates with the conceptual image of a woman. For in the mind it sees the form of its own body having intercourse with the form of a woman. Similarly, through the form of its own body, it mentally attacks the form of someone who has given it offence. The same is true with respect to other sins. For what the body acts out in the world of things, the intellect also acts out in the world of conceptual images.
54. One should not be startled or astonished because God the Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son (cf John 5:22). The Son teaches us, 'Do not judge, so that you may not be judged' (Matt. 7:1); 'Do not condemn, so that you may not be condemned' (Luke 6:37). St Paul likewise says, 'Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes' (1 Cor. 4:5); and 'By judging another you condemn yourself (Rom. 2: 1). But men have given up weeping for their own sins and have taken judgment away from the Son. They themselves judge and condemn one another as if they were sinless. 'Heaven was amazed at this' (Jer. 2:12. LXX) and earth shuddered, but men in their obduracy are not ashamed.
55. He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins, which are truly heavier than a great lump of lead; nor does he know why a man becomes heavy-hearted when he loves vanity and chases after falsehood (cf Ps. 4:1). That is why, like a fool who walks in darkness, he no longer attends to his own sins but lets his imagination dwell on the sins of others, whether these sins are real or merely the products of his own suspicious mind.
56. Self-love, as has often been said, is the cause of all impassioned thoughts. For from it are produced the three principal thoughts of desire; those of gluttony, avarice and self-esteem. From gluttony is born the thought of unchastity; from avarice, the thought of greed; from self-esteem, the thought of pride. All the rest - the thoughts of anger, resentment, rancor, listlessness, envy, backbiting and so on - are consequent upon one or other of these three. These passions, then, tie the intellect to material things and drag it down to earth, pressing on it like a massive stone, although by nature it is lighter and swifter than fire.
57. The origin of all the passions is self-love; their consummation is pride. Self-love is a mindless love for the body. He who cuts this off cuts off at the same time all the passions that come from it. 58. Just as parents have a special affection for the children who are the fruit of their own bodies, so the intellect naturally clings to its own thoughts. And just as to passionately fond parents their own children seem the most capable and most beautiful of all - though they may be quite the most ridiculous in every way - so to a foolish intellect its own thoughts appear the most intelligent of all, though they may be utterly degraded. The wise man does not regard his own thoughts in this way. It is precisely when he feels convinced that they are true and good that he most distrasts his own judgment. He makes other wise men the judges of his thoughts and arguments - lest he should ran, or may have ran, in vain (cf. Gal. 2:2) - and from them receives assurance.
59. When you overcome one of the grosser passions, such as gluttony, unchastity, anger or greed, the thought of self-esteem at once assails you. If you defeat this thought, the thought of pride succeeds it.
60. All the gross passions that dominate the soul drive from it the thought of self-esteem. But when all these passions have been defeated, they leave self-esteem free to take control.
61. Self-esteem, whether it is eradicated or whether it remains, begets pride. When it is eradicated, it generates self- conceit; when it remains, it produces boastfulness.
62. Self-esteem is eradicated by the hidden practice of the virtues, pride, by ascribing our achievements to God.
63. He who has been granted knowledge of God, and fully enjoys the pleasure that comes from it, despises all the pleasures produced by the soul's desiring power.
64. He who desires earthly things desires either food, or things which satisfy his sexual appetite, or human fame, or wealth, or some other thing consequent upon these. Unless the intellect finds something more noble to which it may transfer its desire, it will not be persuaded to scorn these things completely. The knowledge of God and of divine things is incomparably more noble than these earthly things.
65. Those who scorn sensual pleasures do so either from fear, or from hope, or from knowledge and love for God.
66. Passion-free knowledge of divine things does not persuade the intellect to scorn material things completely; it is like the passion-free thought of a sensible thing. It is therefore possible to find many men who have much knowledge and yet wallow in the passions of the flesh like pigs in the mire. Through their diligence they temporarily cleanse themselves and attain knowledge, but then they grow negligent. In this they resemble Saul: for Saul was granted the kingdom, but conducted himself unworthily and was driven out with terrible wrath (cf. 1 Sam. 10-15).
67. Just as passion-free thought of human things does not compel the intellect to scorn divine things, so passion-free knowledge of divine things does not fully persuade it to scorn human things. For in this world truth exists in shadows and conjectures. That is why there is need for the blessed passion of holy love, which binds the intellect to spiritual contemplation and persuades it to prefer what is immaterial to what is material, and what is intelligible and divine to what is apprehended by the senses.
68. If a man has cut off the passions and so has freed his thoughts from passion, it does not necessarily mean that his thoughts are already orientated towards the divine. It may be that he feels no passionate attraction either for human or for divine things. This occurs in the case of those simply living the life of ascetic practice without yet having been granted spiritual knowledge. Such men keep the passions at bay either by fear of punishment or by hope of the kingdom. 69. 'We walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Cor. 5:7) and we gain spiritual knowledge through symbols, indistinctly as in a mirror (cf I Cor. 13:12). Thus we must devote much time to this kind of knowledge, so that by long study and constant application we may achieve a persistent state of contemplation.
70. If we cut off the causes of the passions for only a short while, and occupy ourselves with spiritual contemplation without making it our sole and constant concern, we easily revert to the passions of the flesh, gaining nothing from our labor but theoretical knowledge coupled with conceit. The result is a gradual darkening of this knowledge itself and a complete turning of the intellect towards material things.
71. The passion of love, when reprehensible, occupies the intellect with material things, but when rightly directed unites it with the divine. For the intellect tends to develop its powers among those things to which it devotes its attention; and where it develops its powers, there it will direct its desire and love. It will direct them, that is to say, either to what is divine, intelligible and proper to its nature, or to the passions and things of the flesh.
72. God created both the invisible and the visible worlds, and so He obviously also made both the soul and the body. If the visible world is so beautiful, what must the invisible world be like? And if the invisible world is superior to the visible world, how much superior to both is God their Creator? If, then, the Creator of everything that is beautiful is superior to all His creation, on what grounds does the intellect abandon what is superior to all and engross itself in what is worst of all - I mean the passions of the flesh? Clearly this happens because the intellect has lived with these passions and grown accustomed to them since birth, whereas it has not yet had perfect experience of Him who is superior to all and beyond all things. Thus, if we gradually wean the intellect away from this relationship by long practice of controlling our indulgence in pleasure and by persistent meditation on divine realities, the intellect will gradually devote itself more and more to these realities, will recognize its own dignity, and finally transfer all its desire to the divine.
73. He who speaks dispassionately of his brother's sins does so either to correct him or to benefit another. If he speaks for any other reason, either to the brother himself or to another person, he speaks to abuse him or ridicule him. In this case he will not escape being abandoned by God. On the contrary, he will fall into the same sin or other sins and, censured and reproached by other men, will be put to shame.
74. It is not always for the same reason that sinners commit the same sin. The reasons vary. For example, it is one thing to sin through force of habit and another to sin through being carried away by a sudden impulse. In the latter case the man did not deliberately choose the sin either before committing it, or afterwards: on the contrary, he is deeply distressed that the sin has occurred. It is quite different with the man who sins through force of habit. Prior to the act itself he was already sinning in thought, and after it he is still in the same state of mind.
75. He who cultivates the virtues for the sake of self-esteem also seeks after spiritual knowledge for the same reason. Such a man plainly does not do anything or discuss anything for the edification of others. On the contrary, he always seeks the praise of those who see him or hear him. His passion is brought to light when some of these people censure his actions or words. This distresses him greatly, not because he has failed to edify them - for that was not his aim - but because he has been humiliated.
76. The presence of the passion of avarice reveals itself when a person enjoys receiving but resents having to give. Such a person is not fit to fulfill the office of treasurer or bursar.
77. A man endures suffering either for the love of God, or for hope of reward, or for fear of punishment, or for fear of men, or because of his nature, or for pleasure, or for gain, or out of self-esteem, or from necessity.
78. It is one thing to be delivered from sinful thoughts and another to be free from passions. Frequently a man is delivered from such thoughts when the things which rouse his passions are not present. But the passions lie hidden in the soul and are brought to light when the things themselves are present. Hence one must watch over the intellect in the presence of things and must discern for which of them it manifests a passion. 79. A true friend is one who in times of trial calmly and imperturbably suffers with his neighbor the ensuing afflictions, privations and disasters as if they were his own.
80. Do not treat your conscience with contempt, for it always advises you to do what is best. It sets before you the will of God and the angels; it frees you from the secret defilements of the heart; and when you depart this life it grants you the gift of intimacy with God.
81. If you wish to be a person of understanding and moderation, and not to be a slave to the passion of conceit, continually search among created things for what is hidden from your knowledge. When you find that there are vast numbers of different things that escape your notice, you will wonder at your ignorance and abase your presumption. And when you have come to know yourself, you will understand many great and wonderful things: for to think that one knows prevents one from advancing in knowledge.
82. The person who truly wishes to be healed is he who does not refuse treatment. This treatment consists of the pain and distress brought on by various misfortunes. He who refuses them does not realize what they accomplish in this world or what he will gain from them when he departs this life.
83. Self-esteem and avarice produce each other. Those who are full of self-esteem acquire riches and those who are rich become full of self-esteem. That is what happens to people living in the world. In the case of a monk, if he has renounced possessions, he becomes still more full of self-esteem; but if he has money he is ashamed and hides it as something unworthy of one who wears the habit.
84. The mark of monastic self-esteem is to be puffed up about one's virtue and its consequences. The mark of monastic pride is to be conceited about one's own achievements, to ascribe these achievements to oneself and not to God, and to hold others in contempt. The mark of worldly self-esteem and pride is to be puffed up and conceited about one's beauty, wealth, power and moral judgment.
85. The achievements of the worldly man constitute the failings of the monk, and the achievements of the monk constitute the failings of the worldly man. For example, the achievements of the worldly man are wealth, fame, power, luxury, comfort, children and what is consequent upon all these things. But the monk is destroyed if he obtains any of them. His achievements are the total shedding of possessions, the rejection of esteem and power, self-control, hardship, and all that is consequent upon them. If a lover of the world obtains these against his will, he considers it a great calamity and is often in danger even of killing himself; some people have actually done this. Food was created for nourishment and healing. Those who eat food for purposes other than these two are therefore to be condemned as self-indulgent, because they misuse the gifts God has given us for our use. In all things misuse is a sin.
87. Humility consists in constant prayer combined with tears and suffering. For this ceaseless calling upon God for help prevents us from foolishly growing confident in our own strength and wisdom, and from putting ourselves above others. These are dangerous diseases of the passion of pride.
88. It is one thing to fight against a passion-free thought so that it will not stimulate a passion; it is another to fight against an impassioned thought so that there will be no assent to it. Both these two forms of counter-attack prevent the thoughts themselves from persisting.
89. Resentment is linked with rancor. When the intellect forms the image of a brother's face with a feeling of resentment, it is clear that it harbors rancor against him. 'The way of the rancorous leads to death' (Prov. 12:28. LXX), because 'whoever harbors rancor is a transgressor' (Prov. 21 :24. LXX).
90. If you harbor rancor against anybody, pray for him and you will prevent the passion from being aroused; for by means of prayer you will separate your resentment from the thought of the wrong he has done you. When you have become loving and compassionate towards him, you will wipe the passion completely from your soul. If somebody regards you with rancor, be pleasant to him, be humble and agreeable in his company, and you will deliver him from his passion.
91. You will find it hard to check the resentment of an envious person, for what he envies in you he considers his own misfortune. You cannot check his envy except by hiding from him the thing that arouses his passion. If this thing benefits many but fills him with resentment, which side will you take? You have to help the majority but without, as far as possible, disregarding him, and without being seduced by the cunning of the passion itself, for you are defending not the passion but the sufferer. You must in humility consider him superior to yourself, and always, everywhere and in every matter put his interest above yours. As for your own envy, you will be able to check it if you rejoice with the man whom you envy whenever he rejoices, and grieve whenever he grieves, thus fulfilling St Paul's words, 'Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep' (Rom. 12:15).
92. Our intellect lies between angel and demon, each of which works for its own ends, the one encouraging virtue and the other vice. The intellect has both the authority and the power to follow or resist whichever it wishes to.
93. The angelic powers urge us towards what is holy. Our natural instincts and our probity of intention assist us. But the passions and sinfulness of intention reinforce the provocations of the demons.
94. When the intellect is pure, sometimes God Himself approaches and teaches it: and sometimes the angelic powers, or the nature of the created things that it contemplates, suggest holy things to it.
95. An intellect which has been granted spiritual knowledge must keep its conceptual images free from passion, its contemplation unfaltering, and its state of prayer untroubled. But it cannot always guard these from intrusions by the flesh, because it is obscured by the ploys of demons.
96. The things that distress us are not always the same as those that make us angry, the things that distress us being far more numerous than those which make us angry. For example, the fact that something has been broken, or lost, or that a certain person has died, may only distress us. But other things may both distress us and make us angry, if we lack the spirit of divine philosophy.
97. When the intellect gives attention to conceptual images of physical objects, it is assimilated to the configuration of each image. If it contemplates these objects spiritually, it is transformed in various ways according to which of them it contemplates. But once it is established in God, it loses form and configuration altogether, for by contemplating Him who is simple it becomes simple itself and wholly filled with spiritual radiance.
98. A soul is perfect if its passible aspect is totally orientated towards God.
99. A perfect intellect is one which by true faith and in a manner beyond all unknowing supremely knows the supremely Unknowable; and which, in surveying the entirety of God's creation, has received from God an all- embracing knowledge of the providence and judgment which governs it - in so far, of course, as all this is possible to man.
100. Time has three divisions. Faith is coextensive with all three, hope with one, and love with the remaining two. Moreover, faith and hope will last to a certain point; but love, united beyond union with Him who is more than infinite, will remain for all eternity, always increasing beyond all measure. That is why 'the greatest of them is love' (1 Cor. 13:13).
1. First the intellect marvels when it reflects on the absolute infinity of God, that boundless sea for which it longs so much. Then it is amazed at how God has brought things into existence out of nothing. But just as 'His magnificence is without limit' (Ps. 145:3. LXX), so 'there is no penetrating His purposes' (Isa. 40:28).
2. How can the intellect not marvel when it contemplates that immense and more than astonishing sea of goodness? Or how is it not astounded when it reflects on how and from what source there have come into being both nature endowed with intelligence and intellect, and the four elements which compose physical bodies, although no matter existed before their generation? What kind of potentiality was it which, once actualized, brought these things into being? But all this is not accepted by those who follow the pagan Greek philosophers, ignorant as they are of that all-powerful goodness and its effective wisdom and knowledge, transcending the human intellect.
3. God is the Creator from all eternity, and He creates when He wills, in His infinite goodness, through His coessential Logos and Spirit. Do not raise the objection: 'Why did He create at a particular moment since He is good from all eternity?' For I reply that the unsearchable wisdom of the infinite essence does not come within the compass of human knowledge.
4. When the Creator willed. He gave being to and manifested that knowledge of created things which already existed in Him from all eternity. For in the case of almighty God it is ridiculous to doubt that He can give being to anything when He so wills.
5. Try to learn why God created; for that is true knowledge. But do not try to learn how He created or why He did so comparatively recently; for that does not come within the compass of your intellect Of divine realities some may be apprehended by men and others may not. Unbridled speculation, as one of the saints has said, can drive one headlong over the precipice.
6. Some say that the created order has coexisted with God from eternity; but this is impossible. For how can things which are limited in every way coexist from eternity with Him who is altogether infinite? Or how are they really creations if they are coetemal with the Creator? This notion is drawn from the pagan Greek philosophers, who claim that God is in no way the creator of being but only of qualities. We, however, who know almighty God, say that He is the creator not only of qualities but also of the being of created things. If this is so, created things have not coexisted with God from eternity.
7. Divinity and divine realities are in some respects knowable and in some respects unknowable. They are knowable in the contemplation of what appertains to God's essence and unknowable as regards that essence itself
8. Do not look for conditions and properties in the simple and infinite essence of the Holy Trinity; otherwise you will make It composite like created beings - a ridiculous and blasphemous thing to do in the case of God.
9. Only the infinite Being, all-powerful and creative of all things, is simple, unique, unqualified, peaceful and stable. Every creature, consisting as it does of being and accident, is composite and always in need of divine providence, for it is not free from change.
10. Both intelligible and sensible nature, on being brought into existence by God, received powers to apprehend created beings. Intelligible nature received powers of intellection, and sensible nature powers of sense- perception.
11. God is only participated in. Creation both participates and communicates: it participates in being and in well- being, but communicates only well-being. But corporeal nature communicates this in one way and incorporeal nature in another.
12. Incorporeal nature communicates well-being by speaking, by acting, and by being contemplated; corporeal nature only by being contemplated.
13. Whether or not a nature endowed with intelligence and intellect is to exist eternally depends on the will of the Creator whose every creation is good; but whether such a nature is good or bad depends on its own will.
14. Evil is not to be imputed to the essence of created beings, but to their erroneous and mindless motivation.
15. A soul's motivation is rightly ordered when its desiring power is subordinated to self-control, when its incensive power rejects hatred and cleaves to love, and when its power of intelligence, through prayer and spiritual contemplation, advances towards God.
16. If in time of trial a man does not patiently endure his afflictions, but cuts himself off from the love of his spiritual brethren, he does not yet possess perfect love or a deep knowledge of divine providence.
17. The aim of divine providence is to unite by means of true faith and spiritual love those separated in various ways by vice. Indeed, the Savior endured His sufferings so that 'He should gather together into one the scattered children of God' (John I 1 : 52). Thus, he who does not resolutely bear trouble, endure affliction, and patiently sustain hardship, has strayed from the path of divine love and from the purpose of providence.
18. If 'love is long-suffering and kind' (1 Cor. 13:4), a man who is fainthearted in the face of his afflictions and who therefore behaves wickedly towards those who have offended him, and stops loving them, surely lapses from the purpose of divine providence.
19. Watch yourself, lest the vice which separates you from your brother lies not in him but in yourself. Be reconciled with him without delay, so that you do not lapse from the commandment of love.
20. Do not hold the commandment of love in contempt, for through it you will become a son of God. But if you transgress it, you will become a son of Gehenna.
21. What separates us from the love of friends is envying or being envied, causing or receiving harm, insulting or being insulted, and suspicious thoughts. Would that you had never done or experienced anything of this sort and in this way separated yourself from the love of a friend.
22. Has a brother been the occasion of some trial for you and has your resentment led you to hatred? Do not let yourself be overcome by this hatred, but conquer it with love. You will succeed in this by praying to God sincerely for your brother and by accepting his apology: or else by conciliating him with an apology yourself, by regarding yourself as responsible for the trial and by patiently waiting until the cloud has passed.
23. A long-suffering man is one who waits patiently for his trial to end and hopes that his perseverance will be rewarded.
24. 'The long-suffering man abounds in understanding' (Prov. 14:29), because he endures everything to the end and, while awaiting that end, patiently bears his distress. The end, as St Paul says, is everlasting life (cf. Rom. 6:22). 'And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent' (John 17:3).
25. Do not lightly discard spiritual love: for men there is no other road to salvation.
26. Because today an assault of the devil has aroused some hatred in you, do not judge as base and wicked a brother whom yesterday you regarded as spiritual and virtuous: but with long-suffering love dwell on the goodness you perceived yesterday and expel today's hatred from your soul.
27. Do not condemn today as base and wicked the man whom yesterday you praised as good and commended as virtuous, changing from love to hatred, because he has criticized you; but even though you are still full of resentment, commend him as before, and you will soon recover the same saving love.
28. When talking with other brethren, do not adulterate your usual praise of a brother by surreptitiously introducing censure into the conversation because you still harbor some hidden resentment against him. On the contrary, in the company of others give unmixed praise and pray for him sincerely as if you were praying for yourself; then you will soon be delivered from this destructive hatred.
29. Do not say, 'I do not hate my brother', when you simply efface the thought of him from your mind. Listen to Moses, who said, 'Do not hate your brother in your mind; but reprove him and you will not incur sin through him' (Lev. 19:17. LXX).
30. If a brother happens to be tempted and persists in insulting you, do not be driven out of your state of love, even though the same evil demon troubles your mind. You will not be driven out of that state if, when abused, you bless: when slandered, you praise; and when tricked, you maintain your affection. This is the way of Christ's philosophy: if you do not follow it you do not share His company.
31. Do not think that those who bring you reports which fill you with resentment and make you hate your brother are affectionately disposed towards you, even if they seem to speak the truth. On the contrary, turn away from them as if they were poisonous snakes, so that you may both prevent them from uttering slanders and deliver your own soul from wickedness.
32. Do not irritate your brother by speaking to him equivocaUy;
otherwise you may receive the same treatment from him and so drive out both your love and his. Rather, rebuke him frankly and affectionately, thus removing the grounds for resentment and freeing both him and yourself from your irritation and distress.
33. Examine your conscience scrupulously, in case it is your fault that your brother is still hostile. Do not cheat your conscience, for it knows your secrets, and at the hour of your death it will accuse you and in time of prayer it will be a stumbling-block to you.
34. In times of peaceful relationships do not recall what was said by a brother when there was bad feeling between you, even if offensive things were said to your face, or to another person about you and you subsequently heard of them. Otherwise you will harbor thoughts of rancor and revert to your destructive hatred of your brother.
35. The deiform soul cannot nurse hatred against a man and yet be at peace with God, the giver of the commandments. 'For', He says, 'if you do not forgive men their faults, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your faults' (cf Matt. 6:14-15). If your brother does not wish to live peaceably with you, nevertheless guard yourself against hatred, praying for him sincerely and not abusing him to anybody.
36. The perfect peace of the holy angels lies in their love for God and their love for one another. This is also the case with all the saints from the beginning of time. Most traly therefore is it said that 'on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets' (Matt. 22:40).
37. Stop pleasing yourself and you will not hate your brother; stop loving yourself and you will love God.
38. Once you have decided to share your life with spiritual brethren, renounce your own wishes from the start. Unless you do this you will not be able to live peaceably either with God or with your brethren.
39. He who has attained perfect love, and has ordered his whole life in accordance with it, is the person who says 'Lord Jesus' in the Holy Spirit (cf I Cor. 12:3).
40. Love for God always aspires to give wings to the intellect in its communion with God; love for one's neighbor makes one always think good thoughts about him.
41. The man who still loves empty fame, or is attached to some material object, is naturally vexed with people on account of transitory things, or harbors rancor or hatred against them, or is a slave to shameful thoughts. Such things are quite foreign to the soul that loves God,
42. If you have no thought of any shameful word or action in your mind, harbor no rancor against someone who has injured or slandered you, and, while praying, always keep your intellect free from matter and form, you may be sure that you have attained the full measure of dispassion and perfect love.
43. It is no small struggle to be freed from self-esteem. Such freedom is to be attained by the inner practice of the virtues and by more frequent prayer: and the sign that you have attained it is that you no longer harbor rancor against anybody who abuses or has abused you.
44. If you want to be a just person, assign to each aspect of yourself - to your soul and your body - what accords with it. To the intelligent aspect of the soul assign spiritual reading, contemplation and prayer; to the incensive aspect, spiritual love, the opposite of hatred; to the desiring aspect, moderation and self-control; to the fleshly part, food and clothing, for these alone are necessary (cf. I Tim. 6:8).
45. The intellect functions in accordance with nature when it keeps the passions under control, contemplates the inner essences of created beings, and abides with God.
46. As health and disease are to the body of a living thing, and light and darkness to the eye, so virtue and vice are to the soul, and knowledge and ignorance to the intellect.
47. The commandments, the doctrines, the faith: these are the three objects of the Christian's philosophy. The commandments separate the intellect from the passions: the doctrines lead it to the spiritual knowledge of created beings: and faith to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity. 48. Some of those pursuing the spiritual way only repel impassioned thoughts: others cut off the passions themselves. Such thoughts are repelled by psalmody, or by prayer, or by raising one's mind to God, or by occupying one's attention in some similar way. The passions are cut off through appropriate detachment from those things by which they are roused.
49. The passions are roused in us by, for example, women, wealth, fame and so on. We can achieve detachment with regard to women when, after withdrawing from the world, we wither the body, as we should, through self- control. We can achieve detachment where wealth is concerned when we make up our mind to be frugal in all things. We can become indifferent to fame by practicing the virtues inwardly, in a way visible only to God. And we can act in a similar fashion with respect to other things. A person who has achieved such detachment as this will never hate anybody.
50. He who has renounced such things as marriage, possessions and other worldly pursuits is outwardly a monk, but may not yet be a monk inwardly. Only he who has renounced the impassioned conceptual images of these things has made a monk of the inner self, the intellect. It is easy to be a monk in one's outer self if one wants to be: but no small struggle is required to be a monk in one's inner self.
51. Who in this generation is completely freed from impassioned conceptual images, and has been granted uninterrupted, pure and spiritual prayer? Yet this is the mark of the inner monk.
52. Many passions are hidden in our souls: they can be brought to light only when the objects that rouse them are present.
53. A man can enjoy partial dispassion and not be disturbed by passions when the objects which rouse them are absent. But once those objects are present, the passions quickly distract his intellect.
54. Do not imagine that you enjoy perfect dispassion when the object arousing your passion is not present. If when it is present you remain unmoved by both the object and the subsequent thought of it, you may be sure that you have entered the realm of dispassion. But even so do not be over-confident; for virtue when habitual kills the passions, but when it is neglected they come to life again.
55. He who loves Christ is bound to imitate Him to the best of his ability. Christ, for example, was always conferring blessings on people: He was long-suffering when they were ungrateful and blasphemed Him: and when they beat Him and put Him to death. He endured it, imputing no evil at all to anyone. These are the three acts which manifest love for one's neighbor. If he is incapable of them, the person who says that he loves Christ or has attained the kingdom deceives himself. For 'not everyone who says to Me: 'Lord, Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that does the will of My Father' (Matt. 7:21); and again, 'He who loves Me will keep My commandments' (cf John 14:15, 23).
56. The whole purpose of the Savior's commandments is to free the intellect from dissipation and hatred, and to lead it to the love of Him and one's neighbor. From this love springs the light of active holy knowledge.
57. When God has granted you a degree of spiritual knowledge, do not neglect love and self-control: for it is these which, once they have purified the soul's passible aspect, always keep open for you the way to such knowledge.
58. Dispassion and humility lead to spiritual knowledge. Without them no one will see the Lord.
59. Since 'knowledge puffs up, but love edifies' (1 Cor. 8:1), unite love with knowledge and you will free yourself from arrogance and be a spiritual builder, edifying both yourself and all who draw near you.
60. Love edifies because it does not envy, or feel any bitterness towards those who are envious, or ostentatiously display what provokes envy: it does not reckon that its purpose has yet been attained (of. Phil. 3:13), and it unhesitatingly confesses its ignorance of what it does not know. Hence it frees the intellect from arrogance and always equips it to advance in knowledge.
61. It is natural for spiritual knowledge to produce conceit and envy, especially in the early stages. Conceit comes only from within, but envy comes both from within and from without - from within when we feel envious of those who have knowledge, from without when those who love knowledge feel envious of us. Love destroys all three of these failings: conceit, because love is not puffed up: envy from within, because love is not jealous: and envy from without, because love is iong-suffering and kind' (1 Cor. 13:4). A person with spiritual knowledge must, then, also acquire love, so that he may always keep his intellect in a healthy state.
62. He who has been granted the grace of spiritual knowledge and yet harbors resentment, rancor or hatred for anybody, is like someone who lacerates his eyes with thorns and thistles. Hence knowledge must be accompanied by love.
63. Do not devote all your time to your body but apply to it a measure of asceticism appropriate to its strength, and then turn all your intellect to what is within. 'Bodily asceticism has only a limited use, but true devotion is useful in all things' ( ITim. 4:8).
64. He who always concentrates on the inner life becomes restrained, long-suffering, kind and humble. He will also be able to contemplate, theologize and pray. That is what St Paul meant when he said: 'Walk in the Spirit' (Gal. 5:16).
65. One ignorant of the spiritual path is not on his guard against impassioned conceptual images, but devotes himself entirely to the flesh. He is either a glutton, or licentious, or fall of resentment, anger and rancor. As a result he darkens his intellect, or he practices excessive asceticism and so confuses his mind.
66. Scripture does not forbid anything which God has given us for our use; but it condemns immoderation and thoughtless behavior. For instance, it does not forbid us to eat, or to beget children, or to possess material things and to administer them properly. But it does forbid us to be gluttonous, to fornicate and so on. It does not forbid us to think of these things — they were made to be thought of - but it forbids us to think of them with passion.
67. Some of the things which we do for the sake of God are done in obedience to the commandments: others are done not in obedience to the commandments but, so to speak, as a voluntary offering. For example, we are required by the commandments to love God and our neighbor, to love our enemies, not to commit adultery or murder and so on. And when we transgress these commandments, we are condemned. But we are not commanded to live as virgins, to abstain from marriage, to renounce possessions, to withdraw into solitude and so forth. These are of the nature of gifts, so that if through weakness we are unable to fulfill some of the commandments, we may by these free gifts propitiate our blessed Master.
68. He who honors celibacy and virginity must keep his loins girded and his lamp burning (cf Luke 12:35). He keeps his loins girded through self-control, and his lamp burning through prayer, contemplation and spiritual love.
69. Some of the brethren think that they are excluded from the Holy Spirit's gifts of grace. Because they neglect to practice the commandments they do not know that he who has an unadulterated faith in Christ has within him the sum total of all the divine gifts. Since through our laziness we are far from having an active love for Him - a love which shows us the divine treasures within us - we naturally think that we are excluded from these gifts.
70. If, as St Paul says, Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (cf Eph. 3:17), and all the treasures of wisdom and spiritual knowledge are hidden in Him (cf. Col. 2:3), then all the treasures of wisdom and spiritual knowledge are hidden in our hearts. They are revealed to the heart in proportion to our purification by means of the commandments .
71. This is the treasure hidden in the field of your heart (of. Matt. 13:44), which you have not yet found because of your laziness. Had you found it, you would have sold everything and bought that field. But now you have abandoned that field and give all your attention to the land nearby, where there is nothing but thorns and thistles.
72. It is for this reason that the Savior says, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Matt. 5:8) for He is hidden in the hearts of those who believe in Him. They shall see Him and the riches that are in Him when they have purified themselves through love and self-control; and the greater their purity, the more they will see.
73. And that is why He also says, 'Sell what you possess and give alms' (Luke 12:33), 'and you will find that all things are clean for you' (Luke I 1 :41). This applies to those who no longer spend their time on things to do with the body, but strive to cleanse the intellect (which the Lord calls 'heart') from hatred and dissipation. For these defile the intellect and do not allow it to see Christ, who dwells in it by the grace of holy baptism.
74. In Scripture the virtues are called 'ways'. The greatest of all the virtues is love. That is why St Paul said, 'Now I will show you the best way of all' (1 Cor. 12:31), one that persuades us to scorn material things and value nothing transitory more than what is eternal.
75. Love of God is opposed to desire, for it persuades the intellect to control itself with regard to sensual pleasures. Love for our neighbor is opposed to anger, for it makes us scorn fame and riches. These are the two pence which our Savior gave to the innkeeper (cf Luke 10:31), so that he should take care of you. But do not be thoughtless and associate with robbers; otherwise you will be beaten again and left not merely unconscious but dead.
76. Cleanse your intellect from anger, rancor and shameful thoughts, and you will be able to perceive the indwelling of Christ.
77. Who enlightened you with faith in the holy, coessential and adorable Trinity? Or who made known to you the incarnate dispensation of one of the Holy Trinity? Who taught you about the inner essences of incorporeal beings, or about the origin and consummation of the visible world, or about the resurrection from the dead and eternal life, or about the glory of the kingdom of heaven and the dreadful judgment? Was it not the grace of Christ dwelling in you, which is the pledge of the Holy Spirit? What is greater than this grace? What is more noble than this wisdom and knowledge? What is more lofty than these promises? But if we are lazy and negligent, and if we do not cleanse ourselves from the passions which defile us, blinding our intellect and so preventing us from seeing the inner nature of these realities more clearly than the sun, let us blame ourselves and not deny the indwelling of grace.
78. God, who has promised you eternal blessings (cf. Tit. I :2) and has given you the pledge of the Spirit in your hearts (cf. 2 Cor. I :22), has commanded you to pay attention to how you live, so that the inner man may be freed from the passions and begin here and now to enjoy these blessings.
79. When you have been granted the higher forms of the contemplation of divine realities, give your utmost attention to love and self-control, so that you may keep your soul's passible aspect undisturbed and preserve the light of your soul in undimmished splendor.
80. Bridle your soul's incensive power with love, quench its desire with self-control, give wings to its intelligence with prayer, and the light of your intellect will never be darkened.
81. Disgrace, injury, slander either against one's faith or one's manner of life, beatings, blows and so on - these are the things which dissolve love, whether they happen to oneself or to any of one's relatives or friends. He who loses his love because of these things has not yet understood the purpose of Christ's commandments. 82. Strive as hard as you can to love every man. If you cannot yet do this, at least do not hate anybody. But even this is beyond your power unless you scorn worldly things.
83. Has someone vilified you? Do not hate him; hate the vilification and the demon which induced him to utter it. If you hate the vilifier, you have hated a man and so broken the commandment. What he has done in word you do in action. To keep the commandment, show the quahties of love and help him in any way you can, so that you may deliver him from evil.
84. Christ does not want you to feel the least hatred, resentment, anger or rancor towards anyone in any way or on account of any transitory thing whatsoever. This is proclaimed throughout the four Gospels.
85. Many of us are talkers, few are doers. But no one should distort the word of God through his own negligence. He must confess his weakness and not hide God's truth. Otherwise he will be guilty not only of breaking the commandments but also of falsifying the word of God.
86. Love and self-control free the soul from passions; spiritual reading and contemplation deliver the intellect from ignorance; and the state of prayer brings it into the presence of God Himself.
87. When the demons see that we scorn the things of this world in order not to hate men on account of such things, and so to fall away from love, then they incite slanders against us. In this way they hope that, unable to contain our resentment, we will be provoked into hating those who slander us.
88. Nothing pains the soul more than slander, whether directed against one's faith or one's manner of life. No one can be indifferent to it except those who like Susanna have their eyes firmly fixed on God (cf. Sus. verse 35). For only God has the power to rescue from peril, as He rescued her, to convince men of the truth, as He did in her case, and to encourage the soul with hope.
89. To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.
90. Only God is good by nature (cf. Matt. 19: 17), and only he who imitates God is good in will and purpose. For it is the intention of such a person to unite the wicked to Him who is good by nature, so that they too may become good. That is why, though reviled by them, he blesses; persecuted, he endures; vilified, he supplicates (cf I Cor. 4:12-13); put to death, he prays for them. He does everything so as not to lapse from the purpose of love, which is God Himself.
91. The Lord's commandments teach us to use neutral things intelligently. Such use purifies the soul's state. A state of purity begets discrimination; discrimination begets dispassion; and it is from dispassion that perfect love is born.
92. If when some trial occurs you cannot overlook a friend's fault, whether real or apparent, you have not yet attained dispassion. For when the passions which lie deep in the soul are disturbed, they blind the mind, preventing it from perceiving the light of truth and from discriminating between good and evil. If you are in such a state you have likewise not yet attained perfect love, the love which expels the fear of judgment (cf. I John 4:18).
93. 'A faithful friend is beyond price' (Ecclus. 6:15), since he regards his friend's misfortunes as his own and suffers with him, sharing his trials until death.
94. Friends are many, but in times of prosperity (cf. Prov. 19:4). In times of adversity you will have difficulty in finding even one.
95. One should love every man from the soul, but one should place one's hope only in God and serve Him with all one's strength. For so long as He protects us against harm, all our friends treat us with respect and all our enemies are powerless to injure us. But once He abandons us, all our friends turn away from us while all our enemies prevail against us.
96. There are four principal ways in which God abandons us. The first is the way of the divine dispensation, so that through our apparent abandonment others who are abandoned may be saved. Our Lord is an example of this (cf Matt. 27:46). The second is the way of trial and testing, as in the case of job and Joseph; for it made Job a pillar of courage and Joseph a pillar of self-restraint (cf. Gen. 39:8). The third is the way of fatherly correction, as in the case of St Paul, so that by being humble he might preserve the superabundance of grace (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7). The fourth is the way of rejection, as in the case of the Jews, so that by being punished they might be brought to repentance. These are all ways of salvation, full of divine blessing and wisdom.
97. Only those who scrupulously keep the commandments, and are true initiates into divine judgments, do not abandon their friends when God permits these friends to be put to the test. Those who scorn the commandments and who are ignorant about divine judgments rejoice with their friend in the times of his prosperity; but when in times of trial he suffers hardships, they abandon him and sometimes even side with those who attack him.
98. The friends of Christ love all truly but are not themselves loved by all: the friends of the world neither love all nor are loved by all. The friends of Christ persevere in love to the end; the friends of the world persevere only until they fall out with each other over some worldly thing.
99. 'A faithful friend is a strong defense' (Ecclus. 6:14); for when things are going well with you, he is a good counselor and a sympathetic collaborator, while when things are going badly, he is the truest of helpers and a most compassionate supporter.
100. Many have said much about love, but you will find love itself only if you seek it among the disciples of Christ. For only they have true Love as love's teacher. 'Though I have the gift of prophecy', says St Paul, 'and know all mysteries and all knowledge . . . and have no love, it profits me nothing' (1 Cor. 13:2-3). He who possesses love possesses God Himself, for 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). To Him be glory throughout the ages. Amen.