Anger, children, Depression, Despair, Despondency, Glossary, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Orthodox Psychotherapy, passions, Patristic Theology, Protopresbyter John S. Romanides, Psychotherapy, Romanides, St. Gregory Palamas, thoughts
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
(Excerpt from the Book “Orthodox Psychotherapy”)
John the Evangelist, when preparing to speak of the Lord’s miraculous healing of the paralytic, gives us a description of the pool of Bethesda and the situation that prevailed there during the Lord’s visit. Bethesda had five porches. “In these lay a great multitude of the sick, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the stirring of the water” (Jn. 5, 3).
The Church too is a Pool, a spiritual Bethesda. All of us, its members, overcome by death and decay, corruptibility and mortality with all their consequences are waiting at this Pool, hoping for our spiritual healing.
St. John Chrysostom interprets the miracle performed by the Lord at Bethesda. He asks the question:
“What manner of healing is this: what mystery is being intimated to us?” He answers that the pool portrays and typifies what is going to happen in the future, and this in fact is baptism. “He was on the point of giving baptism, which has much power and is a very great gift, baptism which cleanses of all sin and brings men to life, when they have been dead”.
Since baptism is the “introductory” Mystery (sacrament) by which we enter the Church, we can extend the symbolism to say that the Church is the spiritual Bethesda – the spiritual sanatorium and Hospital. All Christians, having tasted God’s love and charity towards mankind, at the same time sense our spiritual poverty. Because God’s grace throws light on our inner condition, we see the strength of the passions in us and the law of sin in our members. That is why we feel ill. This feeling is the beginning of healing, or to express it better, it is the beginning of the vision of God, since repentance and inward grief are impossible in a carnal man. Only a sharer in God’s grace experiences this inner reality.
Hospitals have special pathological clinics. And the Church, which is the spiritual hospital, the spiritual sanatorium, has its pathological clinic. We are not trying to create confusion about these terms, but we firmly believe that the study of passions is pathology. So here we shall take a longer look at the subject of passions. We shall define “passion”, go on to distinguish between passions, and then examine as analytically as we can the curing of the passions.
This account is necessary because it constitutes the Orthodox ethos. We are convinced that what one says about being Orthodox must include several basic elements. First one must refer to the fall of man from the divine life and the tragedy of the fallen state. Then one must speak of rebirth through holy baptism, and the continuation of rebirth which goes on in the Church. Teaching about rebirth is not Orthodox when it implies a momentary event which takes place through outward faith in Christ, because rebirth continues through our whole life, and there is no limit to perfection, it knows no bounds. We have the case of the Apostle Peter, who was granted to see the uncreated Light on Mt.Tabor. His eyes were transformed and thus they saw the glory of the Lord. Yet a few days later he denied Christ. Certainly that great moment of the Theophany led him to repentance and weeping. His fall showed itself to be great by contrast to the great vision. At any rate we observe here the fact that the power of the law of sin was so strong that it led to a fall even after the certainty of Christ’s divinity. There is the mitigating circumstance that when the Apostle Peter saw the glory of the Lord it was before the Baptism which took place on the day of Pentecost. The Apostle’s nature had not yet been empowered by the energy of the Holy Spirit.
We see the same thing in the Apostle Paul as well. Although he felt his close communion with Christ, so that he could say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2, 20), nevertheless he said, expressing all the pain of humanity: “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7, 23-24).
In what follows we shall try to look at this law of sin, the “other law”. We believe that this chapter which we have called pathology will be one of the most basic in this book. On a few points we shall try to be very analytical, listing all the passions as Christ, the Apostles and the Fathers present them, because we want to pinpoint the dreadful reality which is plaguing us and of which, unfortunately, we are most often unaware.
1. What the Passions are
‘Passion’ is derived from the verb ‘páscho’, ‘to suffer’ and indicates inner sickness. According to Philotheos of Sinai: “Passion, in the strict sense, they define as that which lurks impassionably in the soul over a long period”. In what follows we shall see how a sin becomes a passion. Here we want to underline particularly the fact that when a sin is repeated often and lurks in our soul for a long time, it is called a passion. The Fathers go so far as to interpret the difference between passion and sin. Passion is “the movement which takes place in the soul” while sinful practice is “that which is manifested in the body”.
The Lord explained his teaching about the passions at many points, and it is recorded in the Gospels. We underline just a few passages here because we are going to come back later. In response to the Pharisees’ question: “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders but eat bread with unwashed hands?” the Lord directed attention to the inner man: “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and they defile a man” (Mark 7, 21-23).
Interpreting the parable of the sower and especially referring to the seed which fell “among thorns”, He said that the passions are those things which choke the seed and do not allow it to be fruitful. “As for what fell among the thorns, they are those who, hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8, 14).
The Apostle Paul too knows that passions exist in the heart of man. Speaking of the condition before baptism, which is a carnal life, he writes: “While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit for death” (Rom. 7, 5). Describing the life of the heathen idolaters, he writes: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Rom. 1, 26).
Thus the passions lurk in our soul and create terrible problems in our whole being, as we shall see at many points in what follows. According to the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas, a person who loves wrongdoing hates his own soul, he tears apart and disables the image of God, that is, his soul, and “he experiences suffering similar to that of madmen who pitilessly cut their own flesh to pieces without feeling it”. Like them he “unwittingly inflicts the most miserable sort of harm and rending upon his own innate beauty”. Passion is a darkening and disabling and staining of the image, the beauty of God.
In speaking about the passions we should point out more precisely what they are. Are they forces which enter our soul and which we should root out or are they natural powers of the soul which have been corrupted by sin and by our withdrawal from God? The whole biblical-patristic tradition believes the latter. Therefore in what follows we must examine the soul and its parts so that we can then see how these powers are corrupted.
St. Gregory Palamas teaches that as God is Nous, Word and Spirit, so also the soul has nous, word and spirit. The soul’s spirit is “a certain motion of the nous which, however, involves a temporal extension in conjunction with our word and requires the same intervals and proceeds from incompletion to completion”. According to this Athonite saint the threefold nature of the soul is nous, word and spirit; that of knowledge is noetic, intelligent and sensory and the trio of the nous, as turning towards itself and ascending towards God, is nous, knowledge and love.
Beyond these divisions St. Gregory Palamas, archbishop of Thessaloniki, also uses the division of the soul established at the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. Man’s soul is one, although it has many powers. It is divided into three parts: the intelligence, the appetitive power and the incensive power appetitive and incensive aspects constitute the so-called passible part of the soul, and the word is the intelligence. So as we go on to develop the subject of the passions, when we speak about the passible part of the soul which is defiled and must be cured, we should understand the incensive and appetitive parts. We may add to the teaching of these two great Fathers of the Church that of St. Dorotheos, who, using a passage from St. Gregory the Theologian, writes that the soul is tripartite: “It has the appetitive, incensive and intelligent powers”.
These three powers should be turned towards God. That is their natural condition. According to St. Dorotheos, agreeing with Evagrios, “the intelligent soul works naturally when its appetitive part longs for virtue, the incensive part strives for it, and the intelligence devotes itself to the contemplation of beings”. And St. Thalassios writes that the proper function of the soul’s intelligent aspect is devotion to the knowledge of God, while that of its passible (appetitive and incensive) aspect is the pursuit of self-control and love. Nicholas Cavasilas, referring to this theme, is in agreement with the preceding Fathers and says that human nature was created for the new man. We have received reason “in order that we may know Christ, our desire in order that we might hasten to Him. We have memory in order that we may carry Him in us”, since Christ is the Archetype for men.
According to the above, man was not formed with passions as they function in our day in the man of flesh who does not have the operations of the Holy Spirit. The passions do not have essence or hypostasis. Just as darkness has no existence in essence but is the absence of light, so it is with passion. “It was by inclining away from the virtues through love of pleasure that the soul prepared the way for passions and gave them a firm place in itself’. We can put this better by saying that the passions are a perversion of the powers of the soul. God did not form man with the passions of dishonour. As St. John of the Ladder says, “Evil or passion is not something naturally implanted in things. God is not the creator of passions. On the other hand, there are many natural virtues that have come to us from Him”. The presence of virtues is the natural state of man, while the passions are the unnatural condition. We have altered and perverted the energies of the soul and steered them from their natural state to the unnatural state. According to St. John of the Ladder, God neither caused nor created evil. “We have taken natural attributes of our own and turned them into passions”. The same saint gives several examples to make this clear. “The seed for childbearing” is natural in us, but we pervert it for fornication. The anger which God gave us against the serpent, to wage war against the devil, is natural, but we have used it against our neighbour. We have a natural urge to excel in virtue, but instead we compete in evil. Nature stirs within us the desire for glory, but that glory is of a heavenly kind, for the joy of heavenly blessing. It is natural for us to be arrogant – against the demons. Joy is ours by nature, but it should be joy on account of the Lord and for the sake of doing good to our neighbour. Nature has given us resentment, but that ought to be against the enemies of our souls. We have a natural desire for food, and not for profligacy.
For this reason the Fathers constantly emphasize the truth that the passions as we know them in the fallen state are an unnatural life, an unnatural impulse. “A culpable passion is an impulse of the soul that is contrary to nature”. Explain ing what this unnatural impulse of the soul is, St. Maximus calls it a “mindless love or mindless hatred for someone or for some sensible thing”. At another point he writes that vice is a wrong use of our conceptual images of things, which leads to misuse of the things themselves. Taking the example of marriage, he says that the right use of sexual intercourse is the begetting of children. A person 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”. The same is true with regard to other things.
The intelligent part of the soul of fallen man is dominated by pride, the appetitive part of the soul chiefly by perversions of the flesh, and the incensive part by the passions of hatred, anger and rancour.
St. Maximus, who was concerned with the natural and unnatural life of the soul, analysed them exhaustively. The natural powers of the soul, he wrote, are intelligence, desire and the incensive power. The natural use of intelligence is “movement towards God in simplest seeking”, that of desire is “direction towards God alone in longing”, and that of the incensive power is a “struggle to attain God alone”. That is to say, when a person lives naturally, he wants to know God completely, he desires only God, and he struggles to attain God, that is, to attain communion with God. The result of this natural impulse is love. A person united with God acquires the blessed state of love, since God is love. Holy Scripture says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12, 30). When a person uses these three powers of his soul unnaturally, the result for intelligence is spiritual ignorance, for desire self-love, and for the incensive power tyranny. Thus the person becomes completely enslaved to the devil, and the soul’s beauty is spoiled.
In another place St. Maximus analyses what misuse is. Misuse of the intelligent power is ignorance and stupidity. Misuse of the incensive and desiring powers is hatred and licentiousness. The proper use of these powers produces spiritual knowledge, moral judgment, love and self-restraint. Therefore nothing created by God is evil. The fact that nothing natural is evil means that evil exists when the powers are distorted by us. St. Maximus also uses several examples. It is not foods that are evil, but gluttony, not the begetting of children, but unchastity, not material things but avarice, not esteem but self-esteem.
Misuse of the powers of the soul is sin, sickness. Vice, according to St. Dorotheos, is “a sickness of the soul depriving it of its own natural health, which is virtue”.
Thus we can speak of man’s sickness which must be healed. For the impurity of the soul is that it is “not functioning according to nature” and this condition engenders impassioned thoughts in the nous. The natural state of man’s soul, which is health par excellence, appears when in the face of provocations its passible aspects – that is, its incensive power and its desire – remain dispassionate. And since the soul of man is uniform and has many powers, for this reason when one power of the soul sickens the rest of them also fall ill.
St. Gregory Palamas teaches that just as misuse of the knowledge of created things engenders ‘the wisdom which has become folly’, so also the misuse of the powers of the soul are what engenders “the terrible passions”.
That the passions are an unnatural impulse of the soul’s powers, a turning of the passible and intelligent parts of the soul away from God towards created things, is shown by the fact that when a man is inwardly healed by the action of divine grace and his own struggle, then the passible powers of the soul are not suppressed, obliterated, but they turn towards God; they rush towards Him and attain knowledge and communion with Him. St. Gregory Palamas, referring to Barlaam, who maintained that pain and sorrow do not belong to prayer but that the passible powers, being evil, should be mortified during prayer, teaches that there are “blessed passions and common activities of body and soul which, far from nailing the spirit to the flesh, serve to draw the flesh to a dignity close to that of the spirit”. These activities are spiritual, not moving from the body to the nous, but from the nous to the body. Therefore when we try to obtain healing, we do not mortify the passions, but we redirect them, as we shall explain later. The tears, sorrow, repentance and pain, which are effective means for curing the soul, are the things which purify the passible and intelligent part of the soul.
In closing this section we want to stress mainly that the passions of the body are distorted energies of the soul. When the soul lacks love and self-control, the passions of the incensive and appetitive part of the soul are distorted. And these passions are aroused through the senses. The passions of the carnal life, in the sense of the absence of the Holy Spirit, are an unnatural movement of the soul and are therefore its dying, death and sickness.
2. Types of Passions and their Development
Now that we have seen what the passions are, we are ready to look into how they are classified and how they develop. At the same time we shall undertake to list them, because we believe that this will help Christians who are fighting the good fight. If we are to be healed of passions we need to diagnose them.
The teaching about passions is found not only in the patristic writings but also in Holy Scripture. The Apostle Paul speaks of the flesh. It is well known that according to the Apostle, a carnal man is one who is deprived of the energies of the Holy Spirit. “The desires of the flesh are against the spirit and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other” (Gal. 5, 17). Then he defines the works of the flesh, which are the carnal passions: “The works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentious ness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousies, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murders, drunken ness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5,19-21).
In his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul lists the works of sin, the passions, which plague our entire existence. Referring to those who deserted God and worshipped idols, he writes: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom. 1, 28-31).
He describes to his disciple Timothy the people’s condition “in the last days”. “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profli gates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it” (2 Tim. 3, 1-5).
The three texts quoted show the whole situation of the man who is far from God. It is really a psychogram, a significant X-ray view of the soul of a man who is ruled by passions. But we shall go on to look at the analysis in the patristic works.
According to St. Maximus, the basic passion from which all the passions originate is self-love. A man is self-loving who loves himself excessively and idolizes himself. When a person’s attention is drawn away from God and he is not interested in uniting with Him and doing His will, then he necessarily turns towards himself, wanting to satisfy himself all the time. “Guard yourself from that mother of vices, self-love”, says St. Maximus. And defining self-love, he says it is “mindless love for the body”. It gives birth to the three first and “most general of the impassioned thoughts”, which are gluttony, avarice and self-esteem. “All further vices are generated by these three”.
In another place, presenting the terrible consequences of self-love, he calls it the mother from which come many daughters. Talkativeness and gluttony cause intemperance. Avarice and self-esteem cause one to hate one’s neighbour. Self-love, the mother of vices, is the cause of both these things.
In his writing To Thalassios’ St. Maximus details the whole ancestry of self-love, which he arranges in two categories. In one category are the passions which lead to sensual pleasure and in the other those which keep pain away. In the first category he places the following passions: “gluttony, pride, self-esteem, being puffed up, avarice, tyranny, putting on airs, boastfulness, folly, frenzy, presumption, conceit, scorn, insult, impiety, frivolous talk, dissoluteness, licentiousness, ostentation, light-mindedness, stupidity, violence, mocking, chatter, unseasonable talk, indecent talk, and everything else of the sort”. In the second category he places the following passions: “wrath, envy, hatred, enmity, rancour, abuse, backbiting, slander, sorrow, lack of trust, despair, disparagement of providence, listlessness, indifference, despondency, dejection, faintheartedness, untimely mourning, tears, melancholy, lamentation, jealousy, envy, spite, and every other disposition that lacks any occasion for pleasure”.
St. Gregory Palamas creates another division. In the preceding section we emphasized that the soul is divided into three parts, the intelligent, incensive and desiring aspects. The first evil offspring of the appetitive part is love of possessions and the second is avarice. The offspring of the intelligent part of the soul is love of glory, and the characteristic mark of the incensive part of the soul is gluttony, from which comes “all uncleanness of the flesh”. In other words, from self-love, which is the mistress and mother of all the passions, are born the three general passions, love of glory, avarice and self-indulgence. From these three great passions arise all the others which defile the soul and body of man.
St. Mark the Ascetic, endeavouring to evaluate the passions and to find the mothers which give birth to others, writes that there are three great giants, and when they have been overthrown and slain, all the other powers of the evil spirits are easily removed. These three giants are spiritual ignorance, which is the source of all evils, forgetfulness, its “close relation and helper”, and laziness, which “weaves the dark shroud enveloping the soul in murk”. Laziness, forgetfulness and ignorance “support and strengthen the other passions”.
This difference in the three Fathers is not an essential one. Self-love, forgetfulness, laziness and ignorance of God are the favourable climate in which all the passions of love of glory, self-indulgence and avarice develop. Each of the Fathers, according to his personal struggle and according to the topic which he wanted to emphasize, noted a different passion. The Fathers were not making a philosophy or analysing every soul when they listed these passions, but they were always speaking from their personal experience. It must further be emphasized that self-love is very closely connected with ignorance, forgetfulness and laziness, because turning one’s attention to oneself inevitably brings forgetfulness and ignorance of God, resulting in the birth of all the other sins – passions.
According to St. John of Damascus, the soul has three parts: the intelligent, incensive and appetitive aspects. The sins of the intelligent aspect are unbelief, heresy, folly, blasphemy, ingratitude, and “assent to sins originating in the soul’s passible aspect”. The sins of the incensive aspect are heartlessness, hatred, lack of compassion, rancour, envy, murder and “dwelling constantly on such things”. The sins of the appetitive aspect are gluttony, greed, drunkenness, unchastity, adultery, uncleanness, licentiousness, love of material things and the desire for empty glory, gold, wealth and the pleasures of the flesh. The same saint also lists the eight thoughts that encompass all evil, which are naturally linked with the corresponding passions, since it is through thoughts that the sins come into being which develop into passions. These eight thoughts are those of gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem and pride.
While the division of the passions which we have examined so far is analogous to the division of the soul, we must now go on to another division which we find in patristic teaching. Here the passions are divided into those of the body and those of the soul. The soul has its related passions, as the body has the related passions of the flesh.
It is well known in patristic teaching that before the fall man’s soul was open to God and nourished by God’s grace. Certainly man would have to struggle to reach full communion and union with God, but even at that time he tasted the grace of God. Thus the soul was nourished by uncreated grace and the body was nourished by the “soul filled with grace”. The whole man tasted the gifts of God. Since the fall, the soul, separated from God, the real source of life, “seeks nourishment from the body. In this way the passions of the soul are born… The body for its part, not finding life in the soul, turns towards external things, and as is natural becomes enslaved to matter and imprisoned in the cycle of corruption. Thus the pleasure-loving bodily passions appear, whereby man struggles to draw life and joy from material things”. This is the death of the body, and especially of the soul. If, however, through asceticism and the life in Christ we make the effort to turn our soul towards God in order to be nourished by Him, the body is then nourished by the “soul filled with grace” and thus the whole man is sanctified. We see this in the saints of the Church, in whom sometimes the bodily functions are suspended.
According to St. Maximus, some of the passions pertain to the body and others to the soul. The bodily passions are occasioned by the body, while those of the soul are occasioned by external objects. We find the same distinction between passions in the teaching of Elias the Presbyter, who says: “Bodily passions are one thing, passions of the soul another”.
St. John of Damascus undertakes to list the passions of the body and those of the soul. Those of the soul are forgetfulness, laziness and ignorance, by which the eye of the soul is darkened and the soul is then dominated by all the other passions. These are impiety, false teaching or every kind of heresy, blasphemy, wrath, anger, bitterness, irritability, inhumanity, rancour, back-biting, censoriousness, senseless dejection, fear, cowardice, quarrelsomeness, jealousy, envy, self-esteem, pride, hypocrisy, falsehood, unbelief, greed, love of material things, evil desire, attachment to worldly concerns, listlessness, faint-heartedness, ingratitude, grumbling, vanity, conceit, pomposity, boastfulness, love of power, love of popularity, deceit, shamelessness, insensibility, flattery, treachery, pretence, indecision, “assent to sins arising from the soul’s passible aspect and dwelling on them continuously”. Also wandering thoughts, self-love, the root and source of all evils which is avarice, and finally, malice and guile.
The passions of the body, according to St. John of Damascus, are gluttony, greed, over-indulgence, drunkenness, eating in secret, general softness of living, unchastity, adultery, licentiousness, uncleanness, incest, pederasty, bestiality, impure desires and every passion which is foul and unnatural, theft, sacrilege, robbery, murder, every kind of physical luxury and gratification of the whims of the flesh especially when the body is in good health. Further bodily passions are: consulting oracles, casting spells, watching for omens and portents, self-adornment, ostentation, foolish display, use of cosmetics, painting the face, wasting time, daydreaming, trickery, impassioned misuse of the pleasures of this world. Further passions of the body are a life of bodily ease, “which by coarsening the nous makes it cloddish and brute-like and never lets it raise itself towards God and the practice of the virtues”.
St. Gregory of Sinai sums up the whole teaching of the Fathers about the passions of the body and those of the soul. He writes: “Passions have different names, but they are divided into those of the body and those of the soul. Bodily passions are subdivided into sorrowful and sinful; the sorrowful are again subdivided into those or sickness and those of punishment. Passions of the soul are divided into those of the incensive, appetitive and intelligent parts. The intelligent are subdivided into those of imagination and those of reason. All of them are either voluntary, through misuse, or involuntary, through necessity. The latter are so-called non-shameful passions, which the Fathers described as due to surroundings and natural characteristics (dispositions). Some passions are of the body, others are passions of the soul; some are passions of desire, others passions of the incensive part, yet others are passions of the intelligence, some of the nous and others of reasoning. All of these combine with one another in various ways and have an effect on one another: the bodily on the appetitive, those of the soul on the incensive, and again those of the intelligence on those of the nous and those of the nous on the passions of reason and memory”.
Despite the enumeration and division of the passions we must observe that the passions are not separated from one another in water-tight compartments. One is intimately connected with another, and in that way a person is completely defiled and deadened. Through the passions the soul becomes sick, the nous is deadened. Thus the person becomes an idolater and cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. The Apostle Paul is clear and categorical: “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5, 5).
There is also another division of the passions. It is between monks and people in the world. Since the way of life of the monks who practice asceticism in monasteries differs from that of the people of the world, some passions dominate in one situation and others in another. St. John of the Ladder writes that in people who live in the world the root of all evils is avarice, but in monks it is gluttony. To explain this he notes that some of the passions begin from within and are manifested in the body, while others come from outside into the interior of the soul. The former usually happens in monks, “because of the lack of stimulus from the outside”, while the latter case is usually found in those living in the world. Likewise the passions which appear during illness are different in monks and in people in the world. When people in the world are ill they suffer from the passions of gluttony and fornication. The monks, having their material support, find themselves plagued mainly by the demons of despondency and ingratitude. Here we see that man does not always receive the same temptations. This depends on his spiritual condition, his way of life and other factors. The devil is resourceful and knows how to fight each person according to his condition.
We have previously pointed out that some of the passions are characterized as mothers and others as daughters: some passions give birth to other passions and some are offspring of others. St. John of the Ladder learned from holy men that gluttony is the mother of unchastity and self-esteem is the mother of listlessness. That is to say, when listlessness takes hold of us, we can be sure that the passion of self-esteem is at work. Likewise dejection and anger are daughters of these three. Self-esteem is the mother of pride. He was also taught that usually in mindless people there is no discretion and order, but rather disorder and confusion. Untimely jokes are born sometimes from unchastity, sometimes from self-esteem. Excessive sleep sometimes comes from an easy life, sometimes from fasting, sometimes from listlessness and sometimes from natural need. Garrulity sometimes is born from gluttony and sometimes from self-esteem. Listlessness is sometimes born from an easy life, sometimes from lack of fear of God. Blasphemy is properly the child of pride, but often it comes from readiness to condemn one’s neighbour or the untimely envy of the demons. Hardheartedness sometimes comes from eating to satisfaction, and most often from insensitivity and attachment. Attachment, which is adhesion to anything sensory, comes from unchastity or avarice or self-esteem, as well as other things. Malice comes from conceit and from anger. Hypocrisy comes from independence and self-direction. And in general sensual pleasure and malice are generators of all the passions.
It is important at this point that we investigate how a sin develops into a passion. For the Fathers, experts on this inner struggle, are not satisfied simply with listing the passions, but they go on to record their causes and development. According to St. Thalassios, the passions are roused through these three things: “the memory, the body’s temperament and the senses”. A person who fixes his nous on sensory things, estranging himself from spiritual love and self-control and accepting the action of the demon, becomes an object of provocation. “It is when self-control and spiritual love are missing that the passions are roused by the senses”.
When the reins of the most sovereign senses are slackened, there is an uprising of the passions, “and the energy of the most servile passions is set in motion”. When the irrationality of the senses is loosed from the chains of self-control, it creates the causes of the passions. In fact, as we have observed before, when a man’s nous dallies with some sensible thing, “it is clearly attached to it by some passion, such as desire, irritation, anger or rancour”. Therefore the endeavour described by all the Fathers is not to let our nous be captured by any sensory thing or idea, because that is immediately followed by passion and disaster. The seeds of tragedy are sown in our soul by the capture of our nous.
Likewise, apart from the captivity of the nous, our desire plays an important role in creating passions. St. James, the Lord’s brother, describes this condition. “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas. 1, 14f). When a brother asked Abba Sisoes “What shall I do about passions?” the Elder answered: “Each man is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”.
More analytically, the development of the passions is as follows. According to St. Maximus, first the memory brings some passion-free thought into the nous. And when this thought lingers, passion is set in motion. The next step is assent. Assent leads to committing the actual sin.
Hesychios the Priest sets forth the path which passion follows. The provocation comes first. Then follows our coupling follows with it when our own thoughts mingle with those of the devil. Then comes our assent, and after that “the concrete action – that is, the sin itself’. And when the sin is repeated many times, a passion comes into being.
St. Gregory Palamas, in the Orthodox tradition of therapeutic treatment, writes that self-indulgence is the beginning of the bodily passions and a sickness of the soul. In these “the first to suffer is the nous” – that is to say, the nous is assailed first. It sets evil passions in motion. Through the senses it brings the imagination of sensory things into the soul and it is disposed towards these sins. The imprint of these images is mainly through the eyes….
St. John of the Ladder describes analytically how this thought develops until it becomes a passion. Provocation, coupling, assent, captivity, struggle, and passion are all different things. Analysing them, he writes that provocation is a word or simple chance image which appears in the heart for the first time. This is not sinful. Coupling is communion with what has appeared either with or without passion. Still this state is sometimes not blameworthy. Assent is the delighted yielding of the soul to what it has encountered. This is bad or good according to the condition of the ascetic.Captivity is a “forcible and unwilling abduction of the heart, a permanent lingering with what we have encountered”. Captivity is judged differently, depending on whether it happens at the time of prayer or at some other time. ‘Struggle’ means force equal to that which is leading the attack, that is, the soul’s struggle and battle not to let sin be committed. This battle can earn a crown or punishment. Finally comes passion, which, as we have said, is something that “lies hidden in the soul for a long time” and from long habit has prevailed on the soul to surrender to it. This passion requires appropriate repentance or future punishment.
In addition to this description of how thought develops into passion, the Fathers also describe another development: how passions unfold with age. St. Gregory Palamas says that passions develop from early childhood in the following order. First come the passions of the appetitive part of the soul, that is, possessiveness and greed. Little children want to grasp things, and when they get somewhat older they want money. Later, “with the advance of age”, the passions of the love of glory develop. Love of glory is seen in two forms. The first is worldly love of glory, which aims at “cosmetics and rich dress” and the second is that self-esteem which attacks the righteous and manifests itself in conceit and hypocrisy, through which the enemy contrives to scatter the soul’s spiritual wealth. Finally, after possessiveness and love of glory, self-indulgence develops – that is, gluttony “from which comes every sort of uncleanness of the flesh”. At the same time St. Gregory Palamas makes an interesting observation. Although self-indulgence “and natural impulses towards procreation mark babies at the breast”, yet “they are not signs of a sick soul”, the natural passions being blameless, since they were created by the good God “in order that through them we might walk in good works”. Passion is evil “when we make provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts”. So to sum up, we point out that according to St. Gregory, the passions of possessiveness and greed develop in babies, the passions of the love of glory develop in childhood, and later come the passions of self-indulgence.
It is true that the passions of both body and soul are hard to discern. This is because the demons who stir them are usually hidden and we cannot distinguish them. That is why a good therapist is needed, one who knows the hidden inner life and is a vessel of the Holy Spirit in order to discern and cure. This discernment is one of the great gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit. St. John of the Ladder, referring to the example that often when we draw water from a well it can happen that we inadvertently also bring up a frog, connects this with the virtues. When we acquire virtues we can sometimes find ourselves involved with the vices which are imperceptibly interwoven with them. He offers several examples. Gluttony can be caught up with hospitality; unchastity with love; cunning with discernment; malice with sound judgment; duplicity, procrastination, slovenliness, stubbornness, willfulness, and disobedience with meekness; refusal to learn with silence; conceit with joy; laziness with hope; censoriousness with love again; listlessness and sloth with stillness; acerbity with chastity; familiarity with humility. It is clear from this that a great deal of watchfulness is needed in order to discover the passions. For we may think that we are being virtuous while we are really working for the devil, cultivating the passions. We must watch out for the frog, which is usually the passion of self-esteem. This passion defiles obedience to the commandments.
According to the same saint, the demon of avarice often simulates humility. And the demon of self-esteem or self-indulgence encourages the giving of alms. Therefore we must, above all, be watchful to discern the cunning of the demon even while we are cultivating the virtues. He mentions a case in which he had been overcome by the demon of laziness and was thinking of leaving his cell. But when several men came and praised him for leading the life of a hesychast, “my laziness gave way to self-esteem”. And then he was amazed by the manner in which the demon of self-esteem stood up against all the other cunning spirits. Likewise the demon of avarice fights very hard against those who are completely without possessions. When it fails to overcome them, it begins to tell them about the wretched conditions of the poor, thereby inducing them “to become concerned with material things”. Another point mentioned by the Holy Fathers is the way in which we can detect the presence of passion. The discerning and dispassionate Elder who will look at the impulses of our soul and correct us certainly has an important place. But beyond this we also have other ways of perceiving the presence and working of passions. It is a sign that a voluntary passion is working when a person is upset on being reproached or corrected for it. When he accepts calmly the reproach which comes, it is a sign that “he was defeated or unaware of it”. In other words the reproach and the upset or calm show the existence of the passion and whether it is voluntary or not. “The foulest passions are hidden within our souls; they are brought to light only when we scrutinize our actions”.
In his effort to describe accurately what passion is, St. Maximos writes that a thing, a conceptual image and a passion are all different from one another. A man, 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”. Abba Dorotheos, distinguishing between sin and passion, writes that passions are anger, self-esteem, self-indulgence, hatred, evil desires and the like. Sins are the actions of the passions. And so it is possible for a person to “have passions but not to put them to work”. From this passage we also understand that it is possible to be full of passions without noticing it, because we did not happen to commit any sins. This is why complete healing by a discerning and experienced spiritual counselor is required.
In order to complete this section, we must summarize what the terrible consequences of the passions are. We have already said in various connections that the passions deaden our nous. We shall want to develop this theme further.
Resurgence of the passions “in an aged body and a consecrated soul” is a defilement of the soul.
Just as when a sparrow tied by the leg tries to fly “it is pulled down to the earth”, so also the nous, if it does not have dispassion, “is held back by the passions and pulled down to the earth”. They attach the person to the earthly.
Reprehensible passions chain the nous, “binding it to sensible objects”.
The passions often defile the soul after a time, just as certain foods which harm the body bring on illness after some time or indeed after some days. In any case it is apparent also from this passage that the passions sicken the soul.
An impassioned person’s soul is “a workshop of evil thoughts”. And such an evil soul brings forth a fund of evil.
The nous is deadened by the passions and is impervious to advice. It will not even accept any spiritual correction. “Every passion brings with it the seed of death”.
The passions are hell. The impassioned soul is punished all the time by its own bad habit, always having the bitter memory and the painful mutterings of its passions burning and consuming it. This torment is a beginning, it is a small taste of another torment in those fearful places of suffering “where the bodies to be punished will receive and inflict such varied and terrible torment on the souls and not be destroyed, that unspeakable fire, the darkness…”.
The rewards for the toils of virtue are dispassion and spiritual knowledge, which are mediators of the kingdom of heaven, just as “passions and ignorance are mediators of eternal punishment”.
St. Gregory Palamas, interpreting the passage which tells how the demons came out of the demoniac and entered the swine which then fell into the sea, writes that “the swinish life symbolizes” every evil passion because of its impurity. “But it is especially those who go around in a tunic soiled by the flesh who are swine”.
Thus finally the passions completely deaden the nous and effect our punishment. Spiritual healing is required for the nous to be freed and rejoice in God. We shall now turn to the subject of therapy.
3. Cure of the Passions
Now that we have become aware of the great destruction wrought in our whole existence by the passions, we must proceed to the subject of therapy. This is a fundamental part of the present chapter. Many of us realize that we are ill, we have a sense of being spiritually ill, but we are completely or partially ignorant of how to be cured. I think that Orthodoxy, being a therapeutic science, ought to be explaining these very topical matters. We are certain that one of the messages which the Orthodox Church should be offering to the contemporary stumbling world is the message of its sickness and, at the same time, of its healing. These matters will be our concern in what follows.
First we must clarify a few things. One is that to cure pas sions is mainly to transform them, as we have already de scribed. Since the dispassionate passions, the natural, blameless passions, have been perverted, it is to be expected that with therapeutic treatment we shall change them. This is the curing of the passions. Abba Poemen said to Abba Isaac: “We were not taught to be slayers of the body but to be slayers of the passions”. We must understand “slayers of the passions” in the sense of converting the passions. Another observation is that the Fathers offer a great deal of therapeutic treatment in their writings. Anyone reading St. Maximus’s ‘centuries’ on love will see that they contain much therapeutic material. I must confess that when I wanted to read this work, I expected to find a few rules about love and a description of the value of love. But I noticed right away that St. Maximus gives more attention to the subject of thoughts, passions and the curing of passions. He attaches great importance to man’s healing, because love for God and man is “born of dispassion”. A heart which is ruled by passions is incapable of loving. A further observation is that when the Fathers speak of the healing of man they set forth the basic principles of it. That is to say, they have in view the universal man and they give various prescriptions or methods for therapy. We shall mention these in what follows, but we must emphasize that every person needs his own therapeutic method. This method is given by the discriminating and experienced therapist to anyone who comes and asks, with humility, obedience and a disposition for healing. Therefore we shall now set out the general rules of therapeutic treatment. Every individual must practice his own therapy under the spiritual guidance of contemporary living organisms’.
The cure of the sicknesses of our soul is absolutely necessary. We have already looked at this. We have pointed out the deformed state which the passions create in us. Many passages in Scripture refer to it.
The Apostle Paul gives the following advice to the Colossians: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry… But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3, 5-10).
According to St. Maximus, the Apostle here was calling the will of the flesh ‘earth’. Unchastity’ is his word for the actual committing of sin. Actual committing of sin is assent which is acted on and becomes sin. ‘Uncleanness’ is how he designates assent to sin. ‘Passion’ is his term for impassioned thoughts. By ‘evil desire’ the Apostle means “the simple act of accepting the thought and the desire”. ‘Greed’ is his name for “what generates and promotes passions”. These ‘earthly’ things, which are part of the will of the flesh must be put to death. When they are put to death — and later we shall see how — and transformed, that is, offered to God, then the old nature with its deeds and desires will be put off and the new nature put on. It will be in the image and likeness of God – a person.
In another letter the inspired Apostle gives the same instructions: “Immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph. 5, 3f).
And in another letter he writes: “Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another” (Gal. 5, 26).
All these things show the necessity of therapy. The Christian as a dwelling place of the Holy Trinity must not be unclean, or rather, in order to become a temple of the Holy Spirit and for God to dwell within, the Christian must previously have been purified spiritually, and after becoming a temple of the Holy Spirit, he must keep it pure.
This also shows the goal of therapy. We are not struggling simply to become good people, adjusted to society. The aim of therapeutic treatment is not to make people sociable and to be an anthropocentric exercise, but it is to guide them to communion with God, and for this vision of God not to be a fire that will consume them but a light which will illuminate them. The Fathers are clearly aware or this aim of therapeutic treatment, but they also know the aims which different people set. St. Maximus says that some people abstain from passions “because of human fear”, others through self-control, and others are delivered from passions “by divine providence”. Abba Dorotheos makes the point by saying that one must not wish release from passion “in order to escape its torment, but because one truly hates it, as it is said: “I hated them with perfect hatred”. The saints realize that some people wish to be released from passions because they cause so much pain. But this is not the true aim of Orthodox therapeutic treatment. The basic aim is to attain communion with God. We do know very well that there are different spiritual ages and conditions within the Church. Some, as the Fathers teach, keep the word of God through fear of hell, others to gain Paradise and others do it out of love for Christ. The first are slaves, the second are salaried workers, and the third are children of God. We accept these spiritual ages, but we emphasize that we are struggling to reach the third category. Continual healing even of the aim of the treatment is required.
It must be pointed out that healing of the passions is not the work of man alone or of God alone. The two must work together. This is the synergy of God and man. Everything in our Church is theandric. At first the grace of Christ must be given. The purification of man, which is healing, takes place by the energy of Christ that is offered through the whole spiritual life which the Christian lives within the Orthodox Church. In his epistles the Apostle Paul often stresses this fact. The man of flesh has in him the energy of the passions. But when he receives the grace of Christ, he is freed from this old world, the world of sin. “While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (Rom. 7, 5f).
Only the people of Christ, those who live in Christ, are released from the flesh and the lust of the flesh, which constitute the world of sin: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5, 25f). When a person walks by the Spirit, that is when he has the grace of the Holy Trinity, he is healed inwardly: “I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. …If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law” (Gal. 5, 16-18). And we are well aware that, as we indicated before, the works of the flesh are all the passions (v. Gal. 5, 19-21).
To wage war against sin and passion, “to struggle, yes, to continue to fight, to inflict blows” is our own work, but to “uproot” the passions, to transform them in an essential way, is the work of God. Just as man cannot see without eyes and speak without a tongue or hear without ears or walk without feet or work without hands, so he cannot “be saved without Jesus nor enter into the kingdom of heaven”. For the soul can contradict sin, but without God it cannot conquer or uproot evil.
The sense of the love of God, which is communion with the grace of God, and our own love towards God, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, are the things which transform and cure the passions. To mortify the passible part of the soul does not mean that we enclose it “idle and motionless in ourselves”, but that we turn it from its connection with evil “to love for God”. But this change to love for God does not happen without a life of love. In any case when a person is ablaze with love for God, which is a divine inspiration, his whole inner world is transformed, it is warmed by divine grace and sanctified. “When love of God dominates the nous, it frees it from its bonds, persuading it to rise above not only sensible things but even this transitory life”. These things show that healing of the passions takes place when divine grace, God’s love, is at work. This divine grace is offered through the holy sacraments. Likewise we want to underline the fact that the divine Eucharist and Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ is an effective help in a person’s effort to purify his soul. Holy Communion is a medicine of immortality.
But in addition to the power of Christ, which plays a very important role, the human will must also cooperate. If this does not happen, it is almost impossible for a person to over come passions, to overcome the demons substantially, since “he who has conquered the passions wounds the demons”, and “a person will banish the demon of the passion which he has mastered”. In what follows we shall try to look at this cooperation of the human will.
Self-knowledge is needed first of all. It is very important; for us to be aware of our spiritual condition. Ignorance of our illness makes us permanently incurable. John the Evangelist writes: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1,8).
Peter of Damascus, specifying the eight spiritual contemplations, of which the first seven are of this age and the eighth is of the age to come, regards knowledge as the second: “knowledge of our own faults and of God’s bounty”. That is to say, the knowledge of our own faults and of God’s bounty is theoria.
Since pride is interwoven with courage, “we must be ever on guard against yielding to the mere thought that we have achieved any sort of good”. The Fathers know from the great spiritual experience which they hand down, that the symptoms of passions are not easy to diagnose with accuracy, since we are sick and they have united with our nature. Therefore the Fathers advise us to seek out our passions assiduously. “Watch out continually for signs of the passions and you will discover that there are many within you”. Regarding every passion and every virtue, especially the passions, we must “scrutinize ourselves unceasingly to see where we are, at the beginning, middle or end”. It is essential that this should be done, because the spiritual life is a continuous journey and healing is endless. We are constantly purifying ourselves in order to attain communion with God. This is indispensable, because stagnation and self-sufficiency are constantly lurking on our spiritual way.
Self-knowledge is indispensable also because there are three conditions in man: “that of activating passion, that of holding it back, and that of uprooting it”. This is to say, it is not enough to use various therapeutic means to stop the working of a passion, but we must transform it into love for God and men. In order to have good self-knowledge we need outward stillness. We must put a stop to the actual committing of sin. As long as the senses are functioning carnally, self-knowledge is impossible. “Hence one must watch over the nous in the presence of things and must discern for which of them it manifests a passion”.
Knowledge of our passions is very closely connected with repentance and confession. The first stage of repentance is knowledge of our sins, the sense of our soul’s illnesses. The expression of repentance is to confess our error. We are speaking here of holy confession.
It must be said that in the biblical and patristic texts there are two forms of confession. The first is the noetic confession which we make in prayer to God and the second is the confession we make to our spiritual physician, who is also our therapist. St. John of the Ladder defines compunction as “an eternal torment of the conscience which brings about the cooling of the fire of the heart through noetic confession”. Noetic confession produces compunction, and compunction gives consolation to the heart of man. Beyond that, confession is unrestrained repentance and it takes place in an atmosphere of repentance. It is the heart’s grief, which produces “forgetfulness of nature”. “Confession is a forgetfulness of nature since because of this a man forgot to eat his bread”.
According to St. Diadochos of Photike, we must offer to the Lord at once a strict confession even of our involuntary failings and not stop until our “conscience is assured through tears of love that we have been forgiven”. Furthermore the saint exhorts us to be very watchful lest our conscience “deceive itself into believing that the confession which it has made to God is adequate”. He says this because when we pray to God and confess our sins, we often do it inadequately, and thus we live in the satisfaction that we have made our confession. This is self-deception, so we need to be in constant readiness, for if we do not confess as we should, we shall be seized with an ill-defined fear at the hour of our death.
Confession to God through prayer does not take the place of our confession of sins to our spiritual father, nor does confession to the spiritual therapist take the place of confession through prayer. It is essential that the two types of confession be linked together. At any rate after confession through prayer it is necessary also to go to the spiritual father. God has given them the right to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn. 20, 22f). From this passage it is clear “how great is the honour which the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon priests”. According to St. John Chrysostom, the priests living on earth “have been entrusted with the stewardship of heavenly things”, since “what priests do on earth, God ratifies above. The Master confirms the decisions of his slaves”. Therefore we need to have recourse to spiritual physicians for our healing. “Above all let us make our confession to our good judge, and to him alone”. Yet if the good judge commands us to confess before all the people, we must do it, for the basic principle is that wounds which are made known are healed. “Wounds shown in public will not grow worse, but will be healed”. Certainly in order for healing to succeed, a good physician is essential. All of the confessors are able to perform the sacrament of confession, but they cannot all heal, as some lack spiritual priesthood, as we said in another chapter.
“If the diagnosis of bodily illnesses is inaccurate, and in very few cases certain, this is much more so with spiritual illnesses”. “The diagnosis of souls is far more inaccurate”. The passions of the soul are “harder to understand”. When a priest finds it impossible to heal, we must have recourse to another priest, for “without a doctor, few are cured”.
The value of confession has also been pointed out by many contemporary psychiatrists. It is fundamental that a person should be open, not closed within himself. In the language of the Church we say that when a person knows how to open himself to God through the confessor, he can avoid many psychic illnesses and insanity as well. We feel the value of confession in practice. An existing sin tires us physically as well. We even experience bodily illness. When we decide to make a confession, the healing stage begins. Soul and body are flooded with calm. But of course it is necessary to go on to make the real confession.
Since the devil knows the value of confession, he does his best to press us not to confess or to do it as if someone else had committed the sins, or else to ascribe the responsibility to others. However, it takes spiritual courage for a person to reveal his wound to a spiritual physician. St. John of the Ladder advises: “Lay bare your wound to the healer”. And along with the revelation of the illness, take all the blame on yourself, saying humbly: “This is my wound, Father, this is my injury. It happened because of my negligence and not from any other cause. No one is to blame for this, no man, spirit or body or anything else. It is all through my negligence”. One should not be ashamed, or rather one should overcome the shame of sin and of laying it bare. In revealing our inner wounds to our spiritual director, we should look and behave and think like a condemned person. And indeed St. John advises: “If you can, shed tears on the feet of your judge and healer as though he were Christ”. The same saint affirms that he has seen men confessing who showed such a humble disposition and confessed with such tearful eyes and cries of despair that they softened the harshness of the judge and “turned his rage to mercy”.
It is natural to feel shame when one has to confess one’s wound, but one should overcome it. “Do not conceal your sins”. Immediately after confessing, laying bare, there comes an inner calm. It is reported that a zealous monk mastered by a blasphemous thought dissolved his flesh by fasting and vigils and yet did not feel any help. When he decided to confess this thought to the spiritual physician and wrote it on a piece of paper, he was healed at once. “And the monk assured me that even before he had left the cell of this old man his infirmity was gone”. This demonstrates the truth that confession is not a human endeavour, but it works by the power of God. The soul is healed by divine grace. Neither fasting nor vigil is very helpful unless it is linked with confession.
Usually spiritual physicians receive attacks from those confessing when they do not make their confession with humility and self-knowledge. A spiritual operation takes place with confession and therefore the patient resists. But the advice of the Fathers to him is clear. “Do not be angry with a person who unwittingly operates on you like a surgeon. Look rather at the abomination he has removed and, blaming yourself, bless him because by the grace of God he has been of such service to you”. Confession extracts all the loathsomeness of our soul and this must move us, on the one hand to compassion for ourself, and on the other hand to gratitude towards the spiritual physician. At least whoever rejects criticism shows the existence of passion, while anyone who accepts criticism “is free of this fetter”.
We must again emphasize that repentance linked with holy confession heals one’s wound. Repentance, which is inspired by the Comforter, burns up the heart, and where there is mourning all the wounds are healed. A person in this state possesses the great treasure of virginity. Nicetas Stethatos advises: “Do not say to yourself: ‘It is no longer possible for me to regain the purity of virginity because in various ways I have fallen into defilement and bodily passion’”. Even if a person has lost his virginity, he can acquire it anew through the tears of a second baptism which is repentance. Therefore the same holy Father continues: “for where the pains of repentance are overcome by mortification and warmth of soul, and rivers of tears flow from compunction, all of sin’s defences fall, every fire of passion is extinguished, heavenly rebirth takes place through the coming of the Comforter, and once more the soul becomes a palace of purity and virginity”.
A man’s rebirth cannot happen without submission to spiritual fathers who will heal him in Christ: “If a person does not submit to a spiritual father” in imitation of Christ, who submitted to His Father unto death on the cross, it also means that “he will not be reborn”. For this rebirth “comes about through submission to spiritual fathers”.
But often the wretched passions of the soul are not healed immediately after confession. A great struggle and much asceticism are required for the soul to be freed from its passions. Essentially it is not formal confession, perhaps made under great psychological pressures, which brings forgiveness of sins, but freedom from passions. A person who has not been freed from passions by the grace of Christ “has not yet received forgiveness”. Just as someone who has been ill for many years cannot acquire instant health, so it is not possible to overcome passions – not even one of them – “in a quick moment”. Time and especially ascetic life are needed, because “passions performed in practice are also healed with practice”. So “constraint and self-control, labours and spiritual struggles” offer dispassion.
In what follows we shall attempt to describe the healing of the three parts of the soul, the passions of body and soul, what things precede and what things follow. We shall de scribe here just the general methods of healing the soul.
In another section we emphasized that St. Gregory Palamas, dividing the soul into three parts, the intelligent, the incensive and the appetitive, says that when a man withdraws from God, every power of his soul becomes sick, and the entire soul as well. So healing is needed. Healing lies in spiritual poverty, which the Lord blessed. “Let us too be ‘poor in spirit’ after humbling ourselves, suffering in the flesh and having no possessions”, so that we may inherit the kingdom of heaven. With humility we will heal our intelligence, in which the passions of ambition rage. We will heal our appetitive part, where the passions of love of possessions and avarice rage, by shedding all possessions; and we will heal our incensive part, in which the carnal passions rage, by asceticism and self-control. It is very characteristic that St. Gregory includes solitude and noetic hesychia among the methods of curing the passions of ambition. “Solitude and remaining in one’s cell are an excellent help in the curing of these passions”. And the carnal passions are cured in no other way than through suffering of the body, and prayer coming from a humbled heart, which is to be ‘poor in spirit’”.
The life of triple poverty gives birth to godly mourning, which is connected with the appropriate supplication. Mourning engenders tears. The value of mourning for purifying a man’s nous is very great. Bodily poverty breaks the heart. “Heartbreak is also brought about by the triple restraint of sleep, food and bodily ease. The soul, freed of evil and bitterness through this crushing, receives spiritual joy in their place”. Self-reproach, which plays a great role in man’s spiritual life, is born of this humility and bodily mourning.
Material poverty expressed in non-possession, joined with poverty in spirit, purifies the nous. According to St. Gregory Palamas, when the nous is freed from the senses and rises above the flood of noise of earthly things and turns to itself, then it sees “the horrible mask which it has acquired through wandering in worldly things” and hastens to wash it away with mourning. In this way the nous attains purity and enjoys peace from thoughts. When the nous tastes the goodness of the Holy Spirit, “grace begins, as it were, to paint the likeness on the image”. Then the man becomes a person, since experiencing what it is to be in the likeness of God makes us persons. At first mourning is painful, for it is linked with fear of God, but it is very beneficial. With the passage of time, love for God is engendered, and the likeness with it. And when one lives grief deeply, “it brings as fruit the sweet and holy consolation of the goodness of the Comforter”. The beginning of godly mourning is “like trying to obtain betrothal with God”. Since betrothal with God seems impossible, the lovers of God beat their breasts and pray. The end of mourning is “perfect, pure nuptial union” of the soul with God.
Therefore, according to St. Gregory Palamas, the healing of the tripartite soul is attained through the corresponding tripartite poverty. Poverty begets mourning, which finds many expressions before it leads the person to communion with God. Mourning is a purgative of the nous and the heart.
St. John of Damascus too, as we have seen, divides the soul into three powers, the intelligent, incensive and appetitive aspects. The therapy and cure of the intelligent aspect is through “unwavering faith in God and in true, undeviating and orthodox teachings, through the continual study of the inspired utterances of the Spirit, through pure and ceaseless prayer, and through the offering of thanks to God”. The cure and therapy of the incensive aspect of the soul is “deep sympathy for one’s fellow men, love, gentleness, brotherly affection, compassion, forbearance and kindness”. And the therapy and cure of the appetitive aspect is “fasting, self-control, hardship, a total shedding of possessions and their distribution to the poor, desire for the imperishable blessings held in store, longing for the kingdom of God, and aspiration for divine sonship”.
St. John of the Ladder’s formulation is concise: “Let us arm ourselves with the Holy Trinity against the three by the three”, that is, in alliance with the Holy Trinity let us arm ourselves against the three: self-indulgence, avarice, and love of glory, by these three: self-control, love and humility.
We have mentioned that the Fathers call the incensive and appetitive aspects ‘passible’. Thus the soul has an intelligent and a passible part. The intelligent part is purified by spiritual reading and prayer, the passible part by love and self-control.
St. Mark the Ascetic, as we have observed, regards the passions of forgetfulness, ignorance and laziness as the three great giants. He exhorts us to heal forgetfulness “by mindfulness of God”, to expel the destructive darkness of ignorance “through the light of spiritual knowledge” and to drive out laziness “through true ardour for all that is good”.
There is also the distinction between passions of the soul and those of the body. These passions are healed by corresponding spiritual practices. Bodily appetites and leapings of the flesh are stopped by self-control, fasting and spiritual struggles. Inflammations of the soul and “swellings of the heart are cooled by reading Holy Scripture and humbled by constant prayer. And all of these are calmed by the oil of compunction”.
In their asceticism of healing the Fathers also set out the order in which the warfare against the passions should proceed. According to Nicetas Stethatos, the basic passions are self-indulgence, avarice and love of glory, which correspond to the three aspects of the soul. As there are three general passions, so there are three ways of fighting against them: the initial, intermediate and final ones. “The beginner who has entered the struggle for piety” fights against the spirit of self-indulgence. He crushes the flesh by fasting, sleeping on the ground, vigil and prayers at night. He overwhelms the soul by remembrance of the punishments of hell and by the thought of death. One who is in the intermediate struggle, that is, when he has been cleansed from the passions of self-indulgence, “takes up arms against the spirit of ungodly avarice”. And “he who has passed through the intermediate with contemplation and dispassion”, who has entered the darkness of theology, fights against the spirit of love of glory. So self-indulgence is tackled first, then avarice and finally love of glory. This is the order of therapy.
So far we have listed the therapeutic means which we should use to heal the three different powers of the soul, we have spoken of the bodily and psychical passions, the three great giants among the passions, and so forth. Now we must examine the general therapeutic methods which apply to all the passions.
First of all, one should not be agitated in this spiritual struggle. Agitation is very harmful to the struggling soul. When a passion crowds in on us, we must not be upset: “Allowing ourselves to be disturbed by these experiences is sheer ignorance and pride because we are not recognizing our own condition and are running away from labour”. We must be patient, wrestle and call on God.
Next, it is essential not to have great confidence in ourselves, but to turn to God. “Being passionate, we absolutely must not trust our own heart; for a crooked ruler makes even straight things crooked”.
Another method is to fight the passions while they are still small. While the offence is still small, “pluck it up before it spreads and covers the field”. If a person is negligent when a fault seems slight, he will later “find it an inhuman master”. A man who fights against a passion from the start “will soon subdue it”. For obviously it is one thing “to uproot a small plant and another to uproot a large tree”. In the beginning cutting out passions is easy, and only a small effort is needed, while if they grow large, if much time elapses, then “they require more labour”. The younger they are, the easier is the struggle against them.
We must cut off the provocations and causes which evoke the passions. We have already described how a thought develops into a passion. When we watch our thoughts and reject the proposal of the evil one, we avoid engendering and kindling passions. He who repels the provocation “cuts off at once everything that comes after”. When our nous dallies with a sensual object, passions are naturally born or kindled. It is necessary to become detached from the thing by which the nous has been captivated. Unless the nous becomes detached from this thing, “it will not be able to free itself from the passion affecting it”. In this spiritual contest we must draw away from vile desires and acts “and show that we are leaving them for good”.
It is the common patristic teaching to cut off the causes and impulses of sin. God, the Physician of souls and bodies does not call on us to give up “associations with people”, but to cut off the evil causes in ourselves”. “He who hates the passions gets rid of their causes”. If he opposes the thought, “the passion grows weak and becomes powerless to fight and torment him” and so, “little by little, struggling and helped by God, he prevails over the passion itself’. To summarize the subject of cutting off the causes of passions and impulses, we can say that the general advice of the Fathers is: “any time a passion attacks you, cut it away at once”.
In order to diminish the passions we need to put up a hard struggle, and then spiritual vigilance is needed “lest they increase once more”. Again, fight to acquire the virtues and then be vigilant in order to keep them. So all of our efforts will be between warfare and vigilance.
The struggle is great. It is not an easy thing to transform oneself, to cleanse oneself from passions and fill oneself with virtues. For the purification of man is negative and positive. According to the Fathers, spiritual warfare is carried on by keeping the commandments of Christ, and we know that when a person struggles to subject his body to his soul and his soul to God, the virtues of body and soul are produced. In fallen man the body is nourished by matter, material things, and the soul is nourished by the body. Now the opposite should come about. We must get rid of the unnatural state. Our soul must learn to take nourishment from the grace of God, and the body to be fed by the “grace-filled” soul, and then our organism will come into balance. We achieve this by endeavouring to acquire virtues such as humility, love, fasting, asceticism, prayer, obedience, and so forth. At this point we would like to point out some of the virtues which are essential for our transformation.
The pursuit of a life of love banishes all the passions: “Strive to love every man equally and you will simultaneously expel all the passions”.
Unceasing prayer, “unceasingly calling on the Name of God is a medicine destructive not only of all the passions, but also of this conduct”. And just as a doctor places a dressing on the patient’s wound and it works without the patient’s knowing how, so also calling on the Name of God “removes the passions without our knowing how and why”.
St. John of the Ladder says that the remedy for all the passions is humility. “Those who possess that virtue have won the whole battle”. The prophet king David (in Psalm 104), referring to the beasts of the forest, says, “When the sun arises, they gather together and lie down in their dens”. And St. John of the Ladder interprets this, saying that when the sun rises in our soul “through the darkness of humility”, then “the wild beasts gather where they belong, in sensual hearts and not in ours”. The sun of righteousness rises through humility, and all the wild beasts of the passions are put to flight.
Yoking the powers of the soul with the virtues will free us from the tyranny of the passions.
Subordination to the spiritual father, coupled with self-control, subordinates the wild beasts of the passions.
The Christian struggles “to restrain his senses by frugality and his nous by the single-word Jesus prayer”, and “thus detached from the passions he will find himself caught up to the Lord during prayer”.
“If you want to be free of all the passions, practice self-control, love and prayer”. There are certain actions which stop the movement of the passions and do not allow them to grow, and there are other actions which subdue them and make them diminish. For instance, where desire is concerned, fasting, labour and vigil do not allow passion to grow, while withdrawal, theoria, prayer and intense longing for God subdue it and make it disappear. With regard to anger, forbearance, freedom from rancour, and gentleness, for example, all arrest it and prevent it from growing, while love, acts of charity, kindness and compassion make it diminish. He who has genuinely renounced worldly things, and lovingly and sincerely serves his neighbour, “is soon set free from every passion and made a partaker of God’s love and knowledge”.
Watchfulness, rebuttal and prayer drive away the provocation of temptation and everything remains inactive, that is, the provocation does not reach assent and passion: “If the nous is attentive and watchful and at once repulses the provocation by counter-attacking and gainsaying it and invoking the Lord Jesus, its consequences remain inoperative”.
God has bestowed upon man two great gifts of grace by which he may be saved and “may be delivered from all the passions of the old man: humility and obedience”.
The word of God too is a helpful means of purification and release from passions. The Apostle Paul, in speaking of the spiritual armour which every Christian must have, refers to the word of God. “And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6, 17). We need to have the words of God continually before our eyes. “Devote yourself ceaselessly to the words of God: application to them destroys the passions”. In another place St. Thalassios tells us to strive to fulfil the commandments “so that we may be freed from the passions”. The commandments of God refer to the tripartite soul. The commandments of Christ “legislate for the tripartite soul and seem to make it healthy through what they enjoin. They do not merely seem to make it healthy, but they actually have this effect”. Then St. Philotheos mentions several examples to make it clear. With regard to the incensive aspect he refers to the commandment “Whoever is angry with his brother without good cause will be brought to judgment” (Matt. 5, 22), with regard to the appetitive aspect the commandment “Whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5, 28) and with regard to the intelligence the commandment “He who does not renounce everything and follow Me is not worthy of Me” (cf. Matt. 10, 37f). According to St. Philotheos, Christ legislates for the tripartite soul through the commandments. But the devil fights against the tripartite soul, and hence he fights the commandments of Christ. If Christ’s commandments are fulfilled, we are cleansed of our passions, which are the bad dispositions “of our inner man”.
We have previously emphasized that mourning, repentance and confession are among the most effective weapons against the passions. “Those who are clouded by wine are often washed with water, but those clouded by passion are washed with tears”.
The various trials and temptations in our life, that is, “involuntary causes” also are a supplement to repentance. The virus of evil is great and requires the purifying fire of repentance through tears. For we are cleansed from the defilements of sin either through the voluntary sufferings of asceticism or through involuntary trials. When the voluntary sufferings of repentance precede, then involuntary ones, that is, great trials do not follow. God has arranged so that if voluntary asceticism does not effect purification, then involuntary causes “more sharply activate our restoration towards the original beauty”. This means that many trials which come into our life are there because we have not willingly repented. Taking up the cross of repentance voluntarily and willingly results in our avoiding the involuntary and unwilled cross of temptations and trials.
Another great weapon against passions is hesychia, mainly stillness of the nous, about which we shall speak in another chapter. The Apostle Paul gives assurance that “No one en gaged in warfare entangles himself in the affairs of this life” (2 Tim. 2,4). And St. Mark the Ascetic comments that he who wants to conquer the passions by involvement in worldly things is like one who wants to put out a fire with straw. Certainly the subject of hesychia and withdrawal is great and very delicate. Withdrawal is not good for everyone. For if one has a passion hidden in his soul he cannot be healed in the desert, since there is no object which would evoke the passion. St. John of the Ladder says that when a man sick with a passion in his soul attempts the solitary life he is like one who has jumped from the ship into the sea and thinks that he will reach shore on a plank.
The advice of the Fathers about hesychia is not contradictory. Hesychia is “abiding in God” and purity of the nous. This is called noetic hesychia. The effort to minimize stimulations of the senses and to devote oneself to prayer helps towards freedom from passions. But when a person without special preparation and the special blessing of a discerning spiritual director flees from men and goes off to the desert, he may not be cured. For the desert conceals the passions of a man who goes there without the necessary preparations instead of curing them.
So far we have spoken of various means for curing passions in general. Now we wish also to present several particular therapeutic methods which cure particular passions.
According to St. John Cassian of Rome, there are eight evil thoughts: gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem and pride. How are these eight thoughts, which correspond to the eight passions, to be healed?
Gluttony is cured by control of the stomach “to avoid over eating and the filling of our bellies”, by “a day’s fast” and “not to be led astray by the pleasures of the palate”.
Unchastity is cured by guarding the heart “from base thoughts”. It is cured by contrition of heart and “intense prayer to God, frequent meditation on the Scriptures, toil and manual labour”. “Humility of soul helps more than anything else”.
Avarice is cured by renunciation and poverty, as the Scriptures and the Fathers teach.
Anger, which blinds the eyes of the heart, is cured by forbearance towards our fellow men. Inner peace, which is the opposite of anger, “is not achieved through the patience which others show towards us, but through our own long-suffering towards our neighbour”. It is not enough to avoid anger towards men, but “also towards animals and even inanimate objects”. Likewise it is cured by restraining not only “the outward expression of anger, but also angry thoughts”. We are not only to control our tongue in time of temptation, but “to purify our heart from rancour and not harbor malicious thoughts against our brethren”. The final cure is to “realize that we must not become angry for any reason whatsoever, whether just or unjust”.
Dejection is cured by a warfare which should be directed “against the passions within”. We must struggle “against the demon of dejection which casts the soul into despair. We must drive him from our heart”. Let us cultivate only the sorrow “which goes with repentance for sin and is accompanied by hope in God”. That is, dejection is expelled and cured when, by the grace of God and our own courage, we turn it into spiritual sorrow, the sorrow of repentance. This godly sorrow prepares us and makes us obedient and eager for every good work, “accessible, humble, gentle, forbearing and patient in enduring all the suffering or tribulation God may send us”.
Listlessness is not cured in any other way than “through prayer, through avoiding useless speech, through the study of the Holy Scriptures, and through patience in the face of temptation”. Physical work is also needed. The holy fathers of Egypt “do not allow monks to be without work at any time”. They not only work for their own requirements, “but from their labour they also minister to their guests, to the poor and to those in prison, believing that such charity is a holy sacrifice acceptable to God”.
Self-esteem is multiform and subtle. It requires great attention. One must use every method to overcome “this multi form beast”. One should not do anything with a view to being praised by other people and, “always rejecting the thoughts of self-praise that enter one’s heart, regard oneself as nothing before God”.
Finally, pride is a struggle “most sinister, fiercer than all that have been discussed up till now”. It is cured through humility, which is achieved through faith and fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions. It is by means of these that we attain perfect love.
But the enemy of our salvation, the devil, is ingenious. Therefore the Christian who is struggling in this fight must himself be ingenious. The shrewdness in a man shows in the ways which he employs to deceive the devil. In the patristic writings we find many “clever” cases in which the devil is evaded and the soul is healed.
The passions usually tend to come back. When it seems that they have been healed or have fled, they come back more strongly after a while. Christ’s words about the unclean spirit are well known: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return to my house from which I came’. And when he comes he finds it empty, swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Matt. 12, 43-45). The saints are aware of this and they take all necessary measures.
In what follows we would like to set forth a few methods and suggestions of the Fathers.
We should mainly fight against the dominant passion, “for until this particular vice has been wiped out it will be useless for us to have mastered other passions”.
When we are fighting two passions at the same time, we should prefer to submit to the milder one in order not to be conquered by the stronger one. St. John of the Ladder offers two examples. Sometimes when we are at prayer, brothers may happen to come. Then we must do one of two things, either not receive the brothers or stop praying, for the sake of the brothers. We should prefer to let the prayer stop because “love is greater than prayer”. Another time, the saint says, he was in a city and while sitting at table he was afflicted by thoughts of gluttony and vainglory; he preferred to be conquered by vainglory (that is to be temperate and to be praised as one who fasts) because he was more afraid of gluttony: “Knowing and fearing the outcome of gluttony (lust) he decided to give in to vainglory”.
Abba Joseph teaches that sometimes it is preferable to let the passions come into us and fight them there, and some times to cut them off right from the start. Therefore he an swered one brother who asked him about this matter: “Let them come, and fight with them”, saying that this was prefer able. But to another brother who asked the same question, whether he should let the passions approach or cut them off, he answered: “Do not let the passions come in at all, but straightaway cut them off”. This shows that the spiritual therapist is the one who will assign to us the appropriate kind of struggle and battle, as well as the method, because each person is different and each case is unique.
St. John of the Ladder mentions ways in which one can conquer the demons. These ways seem extreme, and it must be noted that not everyone can apply them, but only “he who has conquered the passions”. In other words, the pure in heart have many means for wounding the demons.
A brother who had suffered disgrace was not at all troubled by it, but was prayerful in his heart. However, he then began to remonstrate and lament about the dishonours which he had undergone so that with a feigned passion he hid his dispassion.
Another brother pretended to be eager for the position of father superior when in fact he had no wish at all for it.
Another brother who was distinguished for his chastity went into a brothel “for what appeared as a determination to commit sin” and enticed the harlot to take up the ascetic life.
Another brother was given a bunch of grapes. And after the brother who brought them had left, the hermit ate them, seeming to stuff them in, but in fact taking no pleasure in them, and in this way he “fooled the demons into imagining that he was a glutton”.
Such things were done by the so-called Fools inChrist’ in order to deceive the devil and to benefit the brothers in various ways. But this requires a particular purity, a particular blessing and grace from God. Therefore St. John of the Ladder, in view of these circumstances, writes that people who use this method should be very watchful, for “in their efforts to fool the demons they may fool themselves”.
After a hard struggle, by the grace of God a man can heal his passions, the pains of his soul, and become a king. The athlete of the spiritual struggle experiences such gifts, so he can repeat the words of Abba Joseph: “I am a king today, for I reign over the passions”. He enjoys the life of Christ then, for “he who has put his passions to death and overcome ignorance goes from life to life”.
But as long as we are in this life and bear corruptibility and mortality we have to fight continuously. Therefore even when a man has overcome “almost all the passions”, there remain two demons to fight the man of God. One of them troubles the soul “by diverting it from its great love of God into a mis placed zeal, so that it does not want any other soul to be more pleasing to God than itself. That is to say, this demon pushes the soul into an untimely zeal to reach perfection and for no other soul to be more pleasing to God than itself. The other demon, with God’s permission, “inflames the body with sexual lust”. The Lord allows this temptation to one who is doing well in a multitude of virtues “so that the ascetic will regard himself as lower than those living in the world” and in this way through humility and compunction will win his salva tion. We should fight the first of these temptations with much humility and love, and the second with self-control, freedom from anger, and intense meditation on death. God allows us throughout our life to be fought by the devil in order to make us humble.
A brother said to Abba Poemen, “My body is getting sick, and yet my passions are not getting weaker”. Despite these things, in his effort to be purified a man experiences the blessed state of dispassion. So we come now to study the blessed life of dispassion.
We shall endeavour to make our study of dispassion fairly brief, because what has been said before also shows us the way to attain this blessed state.
The value of dispassion for the spiritual life is very great. The man who has attained it has come close to God and united with Him. Communion with God shows that there is dispas sion. Dispassion, according to the teaching of the Fathers, is “health of the soul”. If the passions are the soul’s sickness, dispassion is the soul’s state of health. Dispassion is “resurrection of the soul prior to that of the body”. A man is dispassionate when he has purified his flesh from all corruption, has lifted his nous above everything created, and has made it master of all the senses; when he keeps his soul in the presence of the Lord. Thus dispassion is the entrance to the promised land. The Spirit sheds its light on him who has approached the borders of dispassion and ascended, in proportion to his purity, from the beauty of created things to the Maker. In other words, dispassion has great value and is extolled by the Fathers, for it is liberation of the nous. If the passions enslave and capture the nous, dispassion frees it and leads it towards the spiritual knowledge of beings and of God. “Dispassion stimulates the nous to attain a spiritual knowledge of created beings”. Hence it leads to spiritual knowledge. A result of this spiritual knowledge is that one acquires the great gift of discrimination. A man in grace can distinguish evil from good, the created energies from the uncreated ones, the satanic energies from those of God. “Dispassion engenders discrimination”.
Our contemporaries speak a great deal about common ownership and poverty. But the error of most of them is that they limit poverty to material goods and forget that it is something more than these things. When a man’s nous is freed from everything created and ceases to be a slave to created things and lifts itself up towards God, then he experiences real poverty. This real poverty of spirit is obtained by the dis passionate man: “Spiritual poverty is complete dispassion; when the nous has reached this state it abandons all worldly things”.
But we must define what dispassion is. From ancient times the Stoic philosophers spoke of dispassion as mortification of the passible soul. We have emphasized that the passible part of the soul consists of the incensive and appetitive aspects. When these have been mortified, according to the ancient interpretation, then we have dispassion. However, when the Fathers speak of dispassion, they do not mean mortification of the passible part of the soul, but its transformation. Since it is through the fall of man that our soul’s powers are in an unnatural state, it is through dispassion, that is, freedom from passions, that our soul is in the natural state.
According to the teaching of the Fathers, dispassion is a state in which the soul does not yield to any evil impulses;
and this is impossible without God’s mercy. According to St. Maximus, “dispassion is a peaceful condition of the soul in which the soul is not easily moved to evil”. This implies that dispassion means that one does not suffer with the conceptual images of things. That is to say, the soul is free of thoughts which are moved by the senses and by things themselves. Just as in early times the bush burned with fire but was not consumed, so also in the dispassionate man, “however ponderous or fevered his body may be”, yet the heat of his body “does not trouble or harm him, either physically or in his nous”. For in this case “the voice of the Lord holds back the flames of nature”. Thus a dispassionate person has a free nous and is not troubled by any earthly thing or by the heat of his body. Certainly this freedom of the nous from all impulses of the flesh and conceptual images of things is inconceivable to those who live not in a state of dispassion but by the energies of the passions. For men of God, however, what the world calls natural is unnatural and they experience as natural what is called supernatural. St. Symeon the New Theologian, confronted by accusations that it is impossible for men to live in such supranatural states, to live in freedom of the flesh, wrote that he who is not dispassionate does not know what dispassion is, “and cannot believe that anyone on earth could possess it”. And this is natural in a way, “for when a man judges the affairs of his fellows for good or evil, he can do so only on the basis of his personal condition”. Each one judges according to the content of life and the way in which he lives. Anyway it is certain for those who have experience, that the characteristic sign of a dispassionate person is “to remain calm and fearless in all things”, since one has received from God “the strength to do anything”.
All this is to underline the truth that dispassion is an entirely natural state; it is the transformation of the passible part and its return to natural life. This was the subject of a great discus sion in the fourteenth century between St. Gregory Palamas and the philosopher Barlaam. The latter, condemning the type of prayer practiced by the hesychasts then and now, insisted that dispassion is mortification of the passible part. But St. Gregory, having personal experience of the matter and expressing the whole experience of the Church, refuted this view. “But we, oh philosopher, were taught that impassibility does not consist in mortifying the passionate part of the soul, but in removing it from evil to good, and directing its energies to divine things, turning it away from evil things towards good things. An impassible man is one who “is marked by the virtues, as men of passion are marked by evil pleasures”. Men of passion subject their reason to the passions, while the impassible man subjects the passible part of the soul, that is the incensive and appetitive parts, “to the faculties of knowledge, judgment and reason in the soul”. With the intelligent part of the soul, through the knowledge of created things, spiritually understood, he will gain knowledge of God, and with the passible part he will practice “the corresponding virtues: with the appetitive part he will embrace love and with the incensive part he will practice patience”. Thus dispassion is the transformation of the passible part, its subjection to the nous, which is by nature appointed to rule, so that one may ever tend towards God, as is right, “by the uninterrupted remembrance of Him”. Then one will “come to possess a divine disposition and cause the soul to progress towards the highest state of all, the love of God”. So we understand that the passible part is not mortified, but possesses great power and life. In another place St. Gregory teaches that to crucify the flesh “with its passions and desires” does not mean to mortify each energy of the body and each power of the soul, that is to say, to commit suicide, but to withdraw from vile appetites and practices “and to demonstrate irrevocably this flight from them”, that is, never to return to them, and so to become men of spiritual desires and go forward courageously, after the prototype of Lot, who departed from Sodom. In summary we can say that according to St. Gregory Palamas, those who are dispassionate do not mortify the passible part of their soul but “keep it alive and acting for the best”.
Thus dispassion is linked with love and is life, movement. According to St. John of the Ladder, just as light, fire and flame “join to fashion one activity”, the same is true of love, dispassion and adoption. “Love, dispassion and adoption are distinguished by name, and name only”. Dispassion is closely connected with love and adoption: it is life and communion with God.
Certainly when we say ‘dispassion’ it does not mean that the person is not under attack by the devil. The enemy of our life continues to pester even the dispassionate man; for he even tempted the Lord in the desert with the three well-known temptations. But dispassion is “to remain undefeated when the demons attack”.
There are many stages or degrees of dispassion which we wish to mention in presenting the teaching of the Fathers.
St. Maximus sets out four degrees of dispassion. The first type of dispassion is observed in beginners and is “complete abstention from the actual committing of sin”. In this stage the man does not commit the acts outwardly. The second dispassion, which occurs in the virtuous is the complete rejection in the mind of all assent to evil thoughts. The third dispassion, which is complete quiescence of passionate desire, is found in the deified, and the fourth is the complete purging even of passion-free images, in those who are perfect. It seems from this passage that according to the degree of a man’s purity, the corresponding dispassion is manifested.
St. Symeon the New Theologian divides dispassion into two categories. One is the dispassion of the soul and the other is that of the body. “The first can even sanctify the body by its own brilliance and the radiance of the Spirit, but that of the body alone without that of the soul cannot be of any benefit to the man who has it”. Yet even if a person practices every practical virtue, he should not assume that he has attained dispassion.
St. John of the Ladder, who is in the tradition of the Church, writes that one man is dispassionate and another is more dispassionate than he. The one will loathe evil while the other will have “the blessing of an inexhaustible store of virtues”. So it appears here too that dispassion is not only a negative work, but also positive. It is the acquisition of the virtues, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Nicetas Stethatos divides dispassion into two parts. The first comes to the contestants after they have completed practical philosophy, that is, after the contest proper, when the passions are deadened and the impulses of the flesh remain inactive and the powers of the soul are moving towards the natural. The second and more perfect dispassion comes to them with inspiration after the beginning of natural theoria.
This perfect dispassion, which “is raised from spiritual still ness of thoughts to a peaceful state of the nous, makes the nous very clear-sighted and foreseeing”. The nous of the dispassionate person becomes very perceptive of divine matters, of the visions and revelations of the mysteries of God, and very foreseeing of human matters, when it sees people at a distance who are about to come to him.
The Fathers generally advise giving great attention to the subject of dispassion, because it is possible not to be disturbed by the passions when the objects which rouse them are absent, but once those objects are present, the passions distract the nous. This is partial dispassion. Dispassion has degrees, and a person who is struggling to attain it must never stop, but struggle continually, because perfection has no end. In general it must be emphasized that remission of sins is one thing and dispassion is another. St. John of the Ladder writes: “Many have been speedily forgiven their sins. But no one has rapidly acquired dispassion, for this requires much time and longing, and God”. That is why in another place we stressed the fact that confession alone is not enough, but the soul needs to be healed, that is, we must acquire partial or even complete dispassion.
From these things it seems clear that there are several elements which distinguish true from false dispassion. St. John of the Ladder, an expert on the inner life of the soul and one who had the gift of discernment, writes that the passions and the demons flee from the soul for a limited time or permanently. But few people know the ways and causes of the withdrawal. The first way is that the passions are made to disappear by divine fire. Divine grace, as fire, burns up the passions and purifies the soul. The second is that the demons draw away in order to make us careless, so that suddenly they can attack and seize the soul. Thirdly, the demons withdraw when the soul has become accustomed to the passions, “when it has become its own betrayer and enemy”. It is rather like what happens to infants “weaned from the mother’s breast, who suck their fingers because the habit has taken hold of them”. And finally, another dispassion comes “from great simplicity and innocence”.
Further, the difference between true and false dispassion appears in the attitude we have towards people. Dispassion is connected with love, and therefore usually our attitude towards our brothers manifests true or false dispassion. He who “cannot overlook a friend’s fault when some trial occurs” does not have dispassion. For when the passions in the soul are disturbed, they blind the mind, “preventing it from perceiving the light of truth”. Nor can they discriminate between better and worse. Changeless dispassion in its highest form is found only in those who have attained perfect love and “have been lifted above sensory things through unceasing contemplation and have transcended the body through humility”. A person who has come close to the threshold of dispassion has simple esteem for all men, “always thinks well of everyone and sees them all as holy and pure and has right judgment about divine and human things”. The nous of a dispassionate person is freed from all the material things of the world “and is wholly absorbed in the spiritual things of God. He sees the divine beauty and in a way worthy of God prefers to frequent the divine places of the blessed glory of God, in speechless silence and joy. With all his senses transformed, he associates with men immaterially, like an angel in a material body”. And when a dispassionate man speaks of the sins of a brother he does it for one of two reasons, either to correct him or to benefit another. But if someone reports the sins of a brother “to abuse him or ridicule him”, he will not escape being abandoned by God and will fall into the same or another sin and, “censured and reproached by other men, will be put to shame”.
Perfect dispassion is present when a person remains un moved by both the object and the memory of it. “Virtue when habitual kills the passions, but when it is neglected they come to life again”. Therefore a person who is sometimes disturbed by the passions and at other times calm and at rest is not dispassionate, but rather he is dispassionate who “enjoys dispassion continually and, even when the passions are still present within him, he remains unaffected by the things that provoke them”.
Another sign of the existence of perfect dispassion in a man is when during prayer no conceptual image of anything worldly disturbs his nous.
St. John of the Ladder says that many of the proud who think that they are dispassionate “find out how poor they really are only after they die”.
This distinction between true and false dispassion brings us to the point of examining what are the true characteristics of real dispassion.
True discernment is a mark of dispassion.
It has previously been emphasized that a sign distinguishing true from false dispassion is love. Now we wish to carry the distinction still further. According to St. Maximus, “for him who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of dispassion there is no difference between his own and another’s things or between Christians and unbelievers, or between slave and free, or even between male and female”. Having in view the single nature of man, “he looks on all in the same way and shows the same disposition to all”. Again St. Maximus says that since God is by nature good and dispassionate and loves all men equally, “He glorifies the virtuous man because in his will he is united to God, and in His goodness He is merciful to the sinner; by chastising him in this life He brings him back to the path of virtue”. He who loves does the same. He loves the virtuous man because of his nature and his good intention; he loves the sinner too because of his nature and through compassion. Likewise a dispassionate man is one who harbours no rancour against someone who has injured or slandered him. The dispassionate man loves all people, “and does not distinguish the godly from the ungodly”. And furthermore, the dispassionate man suffers and prays for his neighbour. “Do not say that a dispassionate man cannot suffer affliction; for even if he does not suffer on his own account, he is under a liability to do so for his neighbour”.
Likewise a person who is running towards dispassion and towards God “considers lost any day on which he is not reviled”. That is to say, he not only is not upset by the dishonours and insults of men, but he is upset when he is not criticized. This shows his heart’s purity from passions, even hidden ones.
In general the dispassionate man is filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: he is a tree full of splendid fruits, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the virtues. When the Fathers refer to the virtues, they do not regard them as autonomous ethical acts but as ontological. That is, the virtues are not good deeds or abstract values, but person, though naturally not impersonated in the sense of being self-existent. Love is communion with real love, which is Christ. Peace is not an abstract value, but Christ Himself. The same is true of righteousness, and so forth. Inasmuch as the dispassionate person has com munion with Christ, it is natural that the virtues of Christ become his as well. We do not wish to dwell on the subject of the virtues. We only say that just as there are passions of the body and of the soul, so there are virtues of the soul and of the body. And just as there are stages and degrees of passions, so there are stages and degrees of virtues. And just as there are mothers and daughters of passions, so there are mothers and daughters of virtues. But we do not think that it is necessary to list them here. We refer the reader to the following Fathers: for the virtues of body and soul we refer to St. John of Damascus. And for the virtues which correspond to the three spiritual ages – beginners, intermediate and advanced – we refer to St. John of the Ladder.
When a person is not troubled by any passion, if his heart yearns more and more for God, if he does not fear death but regards it as sleep, then he has attained the pledge of his salvation “and, rejoicing with inexpressible joy, he carries the kingdom of heaven within him”.
A person does not receive the grace of dispassion in a casual way. Intensive effort and a great struggle are required. Therefore we are now going to see how dispassion comes about. Indeed what we said in the preceding section about the struggle to cure the passions shows the way to acquire dispassion. Here we want to go over in brief the paths leading to the land of promise, that is, the land of dispassion. We will necessarily have to be concise, citing patristic passages.
“Humility arises out of obedience, and from humility itself comes dispassion”. The humility which arises from obedience brings about dispassion. If a man proceeds by another path than this he cannot find what he desires. Dispassion is not achieved without love. Since there are degrees of love and since there is interpenetration of virtues, because the spiritual life is unified and organically bound together, therefore the life of love brings dispassion, and dispassion is closely connected with love. Love and self-control “keep the nous dispassionate in the face of things and the conceptual images we derive from them”. Dispassion is “the reward of self-control”. Fasting, vigils and prayer help greatly in the development of dispassion: “Judicious fasting and vigils, together with meditation and prayer, quickly lead to the threshold of dispassion”, provided that the soul is also in possession of humility, full of tears, and burning with love for God. A rather dry and not irregular diet, joined with charity, “leads the monk rapidly to the threshold of impassibility”. When a person works with patience, with self-control in all things and constant entreaty and at the same time keeps the ground he has won, with self-reproach and the utmost humility, he will “then in good time receive the grace of dispassion”. St. John of the Ladder says that dispassion attained through stillness of the body does not remain unshakeable “whenever the world impinges on it”, whereas “dispassion achieved through obedience is genuine and is everywhere unshakeable”. The state of purity which comes from doing God’s commandments begets dispassion. This shows that the keeping of God’s commandments has great value. “The keeping of God’s commandments generates dispassion”.
But through bodily exercise alone, without faith, men cannot enter “into the resting-place of dispassion and the perfection of spiritual knowledge”. St. Theognostos also says clearly that when a person attains practical virtue, he cannot approach dispassion “unless spiritual contemplation confers on his nous illuminative knowledge and the understanding of created beings”. This passage is very important. For today too there are men who say that we can arrive at dispassion through practical virtue. St. Theognostos does not accept this. It must necessarily be accompanied by spiritual contemplation, repentance and prayer, especially ‘noetic prayer’.
Godly sorrow is an important help for achieving dispassion. According to St. John of the Ladder, “For many people, mourning prepared the way for blessed dispassion. It worked over, ploughed, and got rid of what was sinful”. So mourning is a way of life. It cleanses the soul, purifies the nous and makes it capable of receiving the divine consolations. This mourning is linked with repentance, and true repentance with hatred of self. The Lord spoke of hating our life in connection with following Christ and gaining the kingdom of heaven. “He who loves his life will lose it and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn. 12, 25), and “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, …yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14, 26). St. Gregory Palamas writes that those who live in the world should force themselves to use the things of this world in conformity with the commandments of Christ. Such forcing, prolonged by habit, makes it easy for us to accept God’s commandments and transforms our changeable disposition into a fixed state. This condition brings about a steady hatred “towards evil states and dispositions of soul”, and the hatred produces dispassion. So the hatred of our evil and twisted self becomes a source of dispassion. And when man possesses dispassion, then sin does not master him and he rests in freedom and in the law of the Spirit.
When we see that there are some outstanding people in the spiritual life who have a few faults and small passions, we should not be scandalized, for God in His providence often leaves some vestiges of passions so that they will blame themselves and obtain a wealth of humility that no one can plunder.
This is the great treasure of dispassion. It is connected with all the virtues and the spiritual life. Therefore we must pray to acquire blessed dispassion. St. John of the Ladder urges all of us who are swept by passion to pray “ceaselessly to the Lord, for all the dispassionate have advanced from passion to dispassion”. Indeed we should not seek this dispassion with pride and egoism in order to have great and supranatural gifts. For it is possible that a man should seek such a gift and be given it by the devil in order to delude him with vanity. Therefore St. Theognostos urges: “Do not ask for dispassion, for you are unworthy of such a gift; but ask persistently for salvation, and with it you will receive dispassion as well”.
In spite of our prayer and intense struggle, it is possible that God may not permit us to be rid of one passion, so that we may taste dispassion in part or altogether. This happens either because we asked it of God prematurely or unworthily or vaingloriously or because if granted it would lead to conceit or we would become negligent or careless as a result. So we should not be grieved “if for a while the Lord seems to allow our requests to go unheard”. God would be delighted to make us dispassionate “in one moment”, but His providence is for our sake, as we have said before. Besides, in the history of the Church we have cases in which men who had dispassion asked God to take this blessing away from them so that they could fight against the enemy. After St. Ephrem had conquered all the passions of soul and body by the grace of Christ, “he asked that the gift might be taken away from him” so that he would not fall into idleness and be condemned because he no longer had to fight the enemy.
Partial or complete dispassion demonstrates the healing of the soul. The soul attains health. The nous which was mortified by the passions revives, is raised up. “Blessed dispassion raises the poor nous from earth to heaven, raises the beggar from the dunghill of passion. And love, all praise to it, makes him sit with princes, that is with holy angels, and with the princes of the Lord’s people”.
PG 59, 203. Homily 36 on John. FC 33, p. 352
Philok. 3, p. 29, 35
Nicetas Stethatos. Practical chapters, Ch. 37
150 Chapters, 40
cf. ibid. p. 144ff and Amphilochios Radovic: The Mystery of the Holy Trinity according to St. Gregory Palamas, p. 55. In Gk.
St. Gregory Palamas, To Xeni, Gk. Philok. 4, p. 100
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 89, 35
Abba Dorotheos. CS p. 229. SC p. 478, 176
Ibid. CS p. 230. SC 480, 176
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 316, 52
Nicholas Cabasilas. The Life in Christ. Bk. 6, p. 190
Abba Dorotheos. CS p. 188
Step 26. CWS p. 238
Ibid. p. 251
Ibid. p. 251
St. Maximus. Philok. 2 p. 56, 35
Ibid. p. 67, 16
Ibid. p. 67,17
Monk Artemios Rantosavlievic: The Mystery of Salvation according to St. Maximus the Confessor, p. 130, note. (In Gk.)
Philok. 2. p. 83, 3
Philok. 2. p. 83, 4
SC p. 342,106. cf.CS p. 166
Philok.2, p. 89, 35
Palamas. EF p. 410
Triads. 2, 2, 19. CWS p. 54
Triads. 2, 2, 12. CWS p. 51
Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 59f, 65
Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 75, 59
Ibid. p. 84, 7
Rantosavlievic: The Mystery of Salvation according to Maximus the Confessor, p. 131, note.l. (In Gk..)
St. Gregory Palamas. To Xeni. Gk. Philok. 4, p. 100 ff
St. Mark the Ascetic. Writings p. 28
Philok.2, p. 337
P. Nela, Zoon theoumenon, p. 203-204, In Gk.
Philok.2, p. 59, 64
Philok.3, p. 63, 122
Philok.2, p. 335
Acrostics, 77. Writings, p. 50f
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 239
Ladder. Step 15. CWS p. 182
Ibid. Step 26. CWS p. 233
Ibid. Step 26. CWS p. 233
Philok.2, p. 320f, 32
Philok.2, p. 321, 34
Gk. Philok. 3, p. 274, 6
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 65, 2
Sayings, p. 185, 44
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 62, 84
Philok. 1, p. 170, 46
To Xeni. Gk. Philok. 4, p. 105
Ladder. Step 15. CWS p. 182
ToXeni. Gk. Philok. 4, p. 100-105
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 237
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 239
Ladder. Step 27. CWS
Ibid. p. 249
Abba Dorotheos. CS p. 253. SC p. 530, 202,18
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 320, 30
Philok. 2, p. 89, 42
Abba Dorotheos. Ibid.
St. Mark the Ascetic. Gk. Philok. 1, p. 114, 77
Philok. 2, p. 63, 85
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 321, 41
Ladder. Step 15. CWS p. 178
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 323, 77
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 327, 41
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 386, 127. cf. CS p. 184
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 71, 34
St. Gregory Palamas. Homily 50. EPE 11, p. 208. (In Gk.)
Sayings, p. 162, 184
Philok. 2, p. 62, 83
Ibid. p. 68,23
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 530, 202, 16. cf. CS p. 252f, 16
St. Makarios. Homily 3, 4, CWS p. 48
St. Gregory Palamas. Triads. 2, 2, 23
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, 65, 3
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 248
Sayings, p. 168, 1
Philok. 3, p. 108
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 252
Ibid. CWS p. 239
Abba Dorotheos. CS p. 167. SC p. 346, 108
Philok. 2, p. 95f, 78
Ladder. Step 7. CWS p. 136
St. Diadochos of Photike. Philok. 1, p. 295
St. John Chrysostom. On the Priesthood. Ill, 4. p. 71
Ibid. p. 71f
Ladder. Step 4. CWS p. 93
Nicetas Stethatos. Natural chapters, Ch. 11
Ladder. Step 4. CWS p. 109
Ibid. p. 108
Ibid. p. 109
Ibid. p. 108
Ibid. Step 22. CWS p. 205
Ibid. Step 23. CWS p. 213
Ilias the Presbyter. Philok.3, p. 37, 31
Ladder. Step 23. CWS p. 208
Natural chapters. Ch. 50
Ibid. Ch. 54
Ibid. Ch. 53
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 312,101
Ladder. Summary of Step 26. CWS p. 259
Nicetas Stethatos. Practical chapters, Ch. 34
To Xeni. Gk. Philok. 4, p. 106
Ibid. p. 103
Ibid. p. 105
Ibid. p. 108
Ibid. p. 109
Ibid. p. Ill
Ibid. p. 114
Philok. 2, p. 337
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 234
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 317, 84
Philok. 1, p. 159
Nicetas Stethatos. Natural chapters, Ch. 68
Ibid. Practical chapters, Ch. 40-42
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 406f, 141. CS p. 194f
Ibid. SC p. 526, 202, 2. CS p. 251, 2
St. Isaac the Syrian. Ascetical Homilies, 5, p. 43
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 360,114. CS p. 173
Ibid. SC p. 360,115. CS p. 174
St. John of Damascus. Philok.2, p. 338
St. Maximus. Philok.2, p. 65, 2
St. Gregory Palamas. Triads. 2, 2, 24
St. Cassian of Rome. Philok. 1, p. 84
St. Mark the Ascetic. Philok. 1, p. 135, 119
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 510, 190. EF p. 177, 109. cf. CSp. 243
Sayings, p. 182, 22
St. Maximus. Philok.2, p. 66, 11
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 315, 39
Barsanuphius and John. Q.324. In Gk.
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 236
Ibid. p. 252
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 310, 65
Sayings, p. 7, 36
Ilias the Presbyter. Philok.3. p. 57, 75
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 312, 93
St. Maximus. Philok.2, p. 73, 47
Ibid. p. 55,27
Hesychios the Priest. Philok. 1, p. 170, 46
Barsanuphius and John. ET Q.550, p. 119
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 326, 18
Ibid. p. 313, 13
Philotheos. Philok. 3, p. 21, 16
Ibid. p. 22f
Abba Dorotheos. SC p. 154, 6. cf CS p. 80
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 253
Nicetas Stethatos. Natural chapters. Ch. 9
Philok. 1, p. 117,107
Ladder. Step 27. CWS p. 262
Philok. 1, p. 85
Ibid. p. 73f
Ibid. p. 75
Ladder. Step 3. CWS p. 86
Ibid. Step 15. CWS p. 176
Ibid. Step. 26. CWS p. 238f
Sayings p. 87, 3
Ladder. Step. 26. CWS p. 248
Sayings, p. 88,10
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 328, 53
St. Diadochos. Philok. 1, p. 294, 99
Sayings, p. 159,161
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 313, 2
Ladder. Step 29. CWS p. 282
Ilias the Presbyter. Philok. 3, p. 49,14
Nicetas Stethatos. Practical chapters, Ch. 90
St. Thalassios. Philok.2, p. 326, 20
St. Maximus. Philok.2, p. 107, 58
Ibid. p. 69, 25
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 318, 90
Ibid. p. 309, 40
Philok. 2, p. 56, 36
Ibid. p. 89,38
St. John of Karpathos. Philok. 1, p. 298, 3
CS 41, p. 58
CS 41, p. 58
Peter of Damascus. Philok. 3, p. 147
St. Gregory Palamas. Triads. 2, 2, 19. CWS p. 54
Ibid. 2, 2, 24
Ladder. Step 30. CWS p. 287
St. Diadochos of Photike. Philok. 1, p. 294, 98
Philok. 2, p. 222, 51
CS 41, p. 58
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2, p. 365, 29
Ladder. Step 29. CWS p. 283
Practical chapters. Ch. 89
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 106, 53
Ladder. Step 26 summary. CWS p. 259
Ibid. Step 26. CWS p. 238
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 112, 92
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2, p. 365, 29
Nicetas Stethatos. Practical chapters. Ch. 90
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 95, 73
Ibid. p. 106, 54
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2, p. 364, 25
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 63, 88
Ladder. Step 23. CWS p. 210
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 309, 43
St. Maximus. Philok. 2. p. 70, 30
Ibid. p. 55, 25
Ibid. p. 105, 42
Nicetas Stethatos. Natural chapters. Ch. 44
St. Mark the Ascetic. Philok. 1, p. 136,132
Ladder. Step 4, CWS p. 120
St. John of Damascus. Philok. 2, p. 334
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 232
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2, p. 361,12
Ladder. Step 4. CWS p. 109
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2, 364, 25
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 89, 39
Ibid. p. 69, 25
Nicetas Stethatos. Natural chapters. Ch. 79
Abba Evagrios. Sayings, p. 54, 6
St. Theognostos. Philok. 2 p. 365f, 30
Ladder. Step 15. CWS p. 176
St. Maximus. Philok. 2, p. 112, 91
St. Thalassios. Philok. 2, p. 314, 25
Nicetas Stethatos. Gnostic chapters. Ch. 71
Philok. 2, p. 369, 46
Ladder. Step 7. CWS p. 143
St. Gregory Palamas. Triads. 2, 2, 20. CWS p. 55
Nicetas Stethatos. Gnostic chapters. Ch. 75
Ladder. Step 26. CWS p. 239
Ibid. Step 28. CCWS p. 277
Philok. 2, p. 366, 32