Thursday, 25 October 2012

ELDER PAISIOS-On the Wing of Will


People can easily be influenced both for good or ill.They are influenced more readily towards evil,because it is the devil who is prompting them.For example,tell someone to quit smoking because it is harmful.As soon as he decides to stop,the devil will run to tempt him:"This type of cigarette has less nicotine,that type has a filter that purifies the smoke.Smoke these;they won't harm you."The devil will find an excuse for him not to quit smoking;he will find a solution!For the devil is capable of finding many excuses.And the cigarette he suggests may be even more harmful.
This is why we must be able to exercise our will.For,if someone does not cut out his bad habits when he is young,then it will be very difficult later in life when the will is weakened.

If a person has no willpower,he can do nothing.Saint John Chrysostom says,All depends upon  being willing or unwilling.This is an important matter.God is by nature Benevolent and always desires our good.But it is essential that we,too, be willing.For man flies spiritually with two wings:God's will and his own.One wing-God's own will-He has attached permanently to one of our shoulders.But in order to fly spiritually we also have to attach our own wing-the human will-to the other shoulder.
When someone has a strong will,when he has the human wing,the one which balances the divine wing,then he can fly.But if his will is weak and has not matured,when he tries to fly a little he merely tumbles,He tries again to take off,but he still tumbles.

-Can the will be cultivated and strengthened?

-Haven't we already said that everything can be cultivated?The will exists in all people,in various degrees.When a person has the desire to struggle,he prays and asks God to increase his will,and God helps.When a person does not progress in the spiritual life,he should know that this is because he either does not contribute any will,or his will is insufficient or too weak,in which case it's of no help.A bird,for example,has one strong wing,but neglects the other;it loses some feathers and then cannot fly right.One wing works well,but the other is like a broken comb.The bird flaps it,but the wind passes through it and the bird cannot fly right.It flies a bit and then falls down.It must have both wings intact in order to be able to fly.
What I'm trying to say is that man,too,must be careful not to neglect the human will if he wants to fly securely and properly-that is,spiritually.Do you know what the devil does?He slowly creeps up,and little by little plucks some small feather from the human wing,and then another,a larger one,and if man is not careful,the devil can even pluck a large feather and make him unable to fly.And if several feathers are plucked,then,when he tries to fly,air passes through the plucked wing and so he rolls over instead of flying.
The Divine wing is always full and complete,there are no missing feathers,because the devil cannot pluck them out;it is a divine wing.Man must be careful not to be negligent and allow the devil to remove any of the feathers from his own wing.When laziness and indifference creep in,will power is eventually weakened.What can God do if man is not willing?God does not wish to interfere,because He has respect for human freedom.So, an unwilling person renders useless even the wing of God.But when man has the will,that is when he has his own wing intact,and God also is willing,with both wings in place,man can fly.
-Elder what exactly is this flying you are talking about?Does it mean that i should want to make spiritual progress ,to desire my salvation?
-Yes,my child!When i talk about flying I mean our spiritual ascent toward heaven,not about flying onto some cypress tree!
-Elder,you had said once that a person can plough,sow and do all the necessary work,but may not even harvest enough to cover the cost of the seed.
-Yes,that's right.If he is not careful,the devil can rob him of all his efforts.One who is heedful and takes the salvation of his soul seriously,struggles,progresses, bears fruit,is nourished spiritually and rejoices angelically.

Taken From ELDER PAISIOS ON MOUNT ATHOS,Spiritual Counsels Vol2 "Spiritual Stuggle"

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