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“A pure nous sees things correctly. A trained intelligence puts them in order”. According to the theology of St. Thalassios, which we mentioned before, the intelligence by nature submits to the word and disciplines and subjugates the body, while it is an insult to the intelligence to be subject to what lacks intelligence, that is, the body, and “concern itself with shameful desires”. It is also an act of depravity for the soul to abandon the Creator and worship the body. Thus man’s nous before the fall had a relationship with God, and the word expressed this experience and life with the help of the mind, that particular instrument of the body.

But after the fall came the dying and death of the soul. As a result, it became impossible for the whole inner world of the soul to function naturally and for all the harmonised inner functions to go on. Man’s nous was confused, hidden by the passions and overcome by impenetrable darkness. The word, not having to express the experiences of the nous, was identified with the mind. Thus the intelligence was raised above the nous and now holds sway in fallen man. In fact this is the sickness of the word and of the intelligence. The intelligence is overnourished, it has been raised to a greater position than the nous and has captured the word. The overnourished intelligence is the source of great abnormality in the spiritual organism. Arrogance, with all the energies of egoism, which is the source of the abnormality, is raging there.

What Archimandrite Sophrony writes about the movements of the intelligence in fallen man and about the abnormality which this creates in the whole spiritual organism is characteristic. I quote it in its entirety because it is very expressive. “The spiritual struggle is a manifold struggle but the struggle with pride strikes deepest and is the most grievous. Pride is the supreme antagonist of divine law, deforming the divine order of being and bringing ruin and death in its train. Pride manifests itself partly on the physical plane but more essentially on the plane of thought and spirit. It arrogates priority for itself, battling for complete mastery, and its principal weapon is the reasoning mind.

“Intelligence, for example, will reject the commandment `Judge not, that ye be not judged’ (Matt.7,1) as nonsensical, urging that the faculty of being able to judge is a distinctive quality in man, which makes him superior to the whole world and affords him the power to dominate.

“In order to assert its superiority the intelligence points to its achievements, to its creativeness, producing many convincing proofs purporting to show that in the age-old experience of history the establishment or affirmation of truth falls entirely within its province.

“Intelligence, functioning impersonally, is by nature only one of the manifestations of life in the human personality, one of the energies of the personality. Where it is allotted priority in the spiritual being of man, it begins to fight against its source – that is, its personal origin.

“Rising, as he thinks, to the furthest heights; descending, as he believes, to the lowest depths, man aspires to contact the frontiers of being, in order, as is his way, to define it, and when he cannot achieve his purpose he succumbs and decides that `God does not exist’.

“Then, continuing the struggle for predominance, boldly and at the same time miserably, he says to himself:

“`If there is a God, how can I accept that I am not that God?'”

“Not having reached the frontiers of being and having attributed to himself this infinity, he stands up arrogantly and declares, `I have explored everything and nowhere found anything greater than myself, so – I am God.’

“And it is a fact that when man’s spiritual being is concentrated on and in the mind, reason takes over and he becomes blind to anything that surpasses him and ends by seeing himself as the divine principle.

“The intellectual imagination here reaches its utmost limits and, at the same time, its fall into the darkest night”.

No wise people without God can have pure word and pure intelligence. St. Gregory of Sinai says: “Only the saints, through purity, have become intelligent in accordance with nature. None of those wise in words have had pure intelligence, because they corrupted it from the start with evil thoughts”.

In order to see the corruption of intelligence in fallen man and what it does to our whole spiritual organism, we shall examine three levels on which fallen intelligence enters.

—Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (Orthodox Psychotherapy)

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