Wednesday, 4 September 2013

ST. GREGORY OF SINAI - On Delusion and Other Subjects

Be careful, therefore, not to entertain and readily give assent to anything even if it be good, before questioning those with spiritual experience and investigating it thoroughly, so as not to come to any harm. Always be suspicious of it and keep your intellect free from colors, forms and images. For it has often happened that things sent by God to test our free will, to see which way it inclines and to act as a spur to our efforts, have in fact had bad consequences. For when we see something, whether with mind or senses -- even if this thing be from God -- and then readily entertain it without consulting those experienced in such matters, we are easily deceived, or will be in the future, because of our gullibility. A novice should pay close attention solely to the activity of his heart, because this is not led astray. Everything else he must reject until the passions are quietened. For God does not censure those who out of fear of being deluded pay strict attention to themselves, even though this means that they refuse to entertain what He sends them until they have questioned others and made careful enquiry. Indeed, He is more likely to praise their prudence, even though in some cases He is grieved.

-- Yet you should not question everyone. You should go only to one, to someone who has been entrusted with the guidance of others as well, who is radiant alike in his life and in his words, and who although poor makes many rich (II Corinthians 6:10). For people lacking spiritual experience have often done harm to foolish questioners, and for this they will be judged after death. Not everyone is qualified to guide others: only those can do so who have been granted divine discrimination -- what St. Paul calls the "discrimination of spirits" (I Corinthians 12:10) -- enabling them to distinguish between bad and good with the sword of God's teaching (Ephesians 6:17). Everyone possesses his own private knowledge and discrimination, whether inborn, pragmatic or scientific, but not all possess spiritual knowledge and discrimination. That is why Sirach said, "Be at peace with many, but let your counselors be one in a thousand" (Ecclesiastes 6:6). It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says, or thinks is free from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil -- especially in the case of beginners -- is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.

-- If some have gone astray and lost their mental balance, this is because they have in arrogance followed their own counsels. For when you seek God in obedience and humility, and with the guidance of a spiritual master, you will never come to any harm, by the grace of Christ who desires all to be saved (I Timothy 2:4). Should temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to spur you on; and God, who has permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way He sees fit. As the Holy Fathers assure us, a person who lives an upright and blameless life, avoiding arrogance and spurning popularity, will come to no harm even if a whole host of demons provoke him with countless temptations. But if you are presumptuous and follow your own counsel you will readily fall victim to delusion. That is why a hesychast must always keep to the royal road. For excess in anything easily leads to conceit, and conceit induces self-delusion. Keep the intellect at rest by gently pressing your lips together when you pray, but do not impede your nasal breathing, as the ignorant do, in case you harm yourself by building up inward pressure.

-- There are three virtues connected with stillness which we must guard scrupulously, examining ourselves every hour to make sure that we possess them, in case through unmindfulness we are robbed of them and wander far away from them. These virtues are self-control, silence and self-reproach, which is the same thing as humility. They are all-embracing and support one another; and from them prayer is born and through them it burgeons.

-- QUESTION: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14) and tries to seduce us?

ANSWER: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good and reject what is evil (I Thessalonians 5:21-22). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything. You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from satan. The lettuce is similar in appearance to the endive, and vinegar to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of satan.

from The Philokalia: Volume IV, edited and translated by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), pp. 283 - 286.


Κάποτε ένας φτωχός Σκωτσέζος αγρότης, ενώ καλλιεργούσε το χωράφι του, άκουσε τη φωνή ενός παιδιού που κλαίγοντας ζητούσε βοήθεια.

Αμέσως παράτησε τα εργαλεία του κι έτρεξε προς το μέρος ενός βούρκου, απ' όπου προέρχονταν οι φωνές. Τι να δει; Ένα τρομοκρατημένο αγόρι, βυθισμένο κιόλας μέχρι τη μέση στη λάσπη, πάλευε μάταια να ελευθερωθεί ουρλιάζοντας. Χωρίς αργοπορία ο αγρότης έσωσε το αγόρι, που σίγουρα θα πέθαινε αργά και βασανιστικά.

Την επομένη, μια φανταχτερή άμαξα με δύο άλογα σταμάτησε μπροστά από την αγροικία του. Κατέβηκε ένας καλοντυμένος ευγενής κύριος, που του συστήθηκε ως ο πατέρας του αγοριού που είχε σώσει ο αγρότης.

- Θα ήθελα να σας ανταμείψω για την πράξη σας, είπε ο κύριος. Σώσατε τη ζωή του γιου μου.

- Όχι, δεν είναι δυνατόν να πληρωθώ για ότι έκανα, απάντησε ο Σκωτσέζος αγρότης, απορρίπτοντας την προσφορά. Την ίδια στιγμή, στην πόρτα του χαμόσπιτου εμφανίστηκε ο γιός του αγρότη.

- Αυτός είναι ο γιός σας; Ρώτησε ο καλοντυμένος κύριος.

- Μάλιστα, απάντησε με υπερηφάνεια ο αγρότης.

- Θα κάνουμε μια συμφωνία. Αφήστε με να προσφέρω στο γιο σας το ίδιο επίπεδο μόρφωσης που απολαμβάνει ο δικός μου. Αν ο μικρός μοιάζει στον πατέρα του τότε, χωρίς αμφιβολία, μεγαλώνοντας θα γίνει κάτι για το οποίο και οι δυο μας θα υπερηφανευόμαστε.

Έτσι κι έγινε.

Ο γιος του αγρότη παρακολούθησε τα καλύτερα σχολεία και αποφοίτησε από τη φημισμένη ιατρική σχολή του νοσοκομείου της Αγίας Μαρίας στο Λονδίνο.

Έπειτα από την αποφοίτηση του, ανακάλυψε την πενικιλίνη. Το όνομα του Αλεξάντερ Φλέμινγκ.

Ο γιος του ευγενούς κυρίου, που σώθηκε από το βούρκο, χτυπήθηκε από βαριά πνευμονία μετά από χρόνια. Ο μόνος τρόπος να σωθεί ήταν τότε η πενικιλίνη.

Ποιό ήταν το όνομα εκείνου του ευγενούς κυρίου; Λόρδος Ράντολφ Τσώρτσιλ. Το όνομα του γιού του; Σερ Ουίνστον Τσώρτσιλ!

Πώς τα φέρνει καμιά φορά η ζωή. Ο αμόρφωτος αγρότης, πατέρας του πατέρα της πενικιλίνης, έσωσε τη ζωή ενός παιδιού, που, μεγαλώνοντας, θα κυβερνούσε τη Μεγάλη Βρετανία και θα ονομαζόταν, διεθνώς, «Πατέρας της Νίκης» του Β΄ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου.

Η έμπρακτη ευγνωμοσύνη του Λόρδου Ράντολφ Τσώρτσιλ άνοιξε το δρόμο στη δημιουργία του Φλέμινγκ, που ανακάλυψε την πενικιλίνη, που θα έσωζε - για δεύτερη φορά - τη ζωή του γιου του Ουίνστον Τσώρτσιλ.

Μια θαυμαστή ιστορία δυο διάσημων προσωπικοτήτων, που - κι επειδή ήταν διάσημοι - έγινε γνωστή.

Πραγματικά, ο φτωχός Σκωτσέζος αγρότης έκανε ένα καλό με αγνότητα καρδιάς, χωρίς υπολογισμό, γιατί πίστευε απλά στη δύναμή του. Και το καλό αυτό πήγε ανυπολόγιστα μακριά.

Αυτό εκφράζει και ο λαός μας με τη γνωστή παρότρυνση «Κάνε το καλό και ρίχ'το στο γιαλό».

Πιστεύεις ότι θα το πάει μακριά. Ποτέ δεν ξέρεις σε πόσες και ποιες ακρογιαλιές θα το ταξιδέψει η μαγευτική, απέραντη, μυστηριώδης θάλασσα. Απλά την εμπιστεύεσαι, όπως το θείο Φως - του Ελύτη.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...