What is the mirror of your heart ?

The spiritual sense which we acquire when we have a good conscience and hardihood before God. When I am honest and I study myself I see myself as if in a mirror. This gives me hardihood and love for God and trust. But in parallel with the mirror of my heart, with my good conscience, with the spiritual experiences I see what’s in the heart of who’s near me meaning that I gain the charisma of discernment and clairvoyance.

When someone is sunken into sin, he sees them all sinners and condemns everyone. When he is mischievous, sly, when he hates he suspects all the rest of sins. This happens because his own mirror which is his conscience is a frothy sea.

He cannot see anything else at his brothers except shadows. The sinner cannot praise the other people. `Ask me if you want to know who is this`, he tells you about somebody. And it is a fact that there is no man who when he condemns and criticizes his neighbor is rebuked by his conscience. When he speaks aghainsgt another person has a demonic soul .

When he tells you: `this one is proud, the other one is grumpy and another one is depraved` it means he is that way. And even if we suppose that he is not that way now due to the fact that the spiritual law has effects, he will surely become like that. You shall ultimately fall in the pit you digged for someone else.

From here we draw the conclusion that the man who speaks against someone without thinking hasn’t got the smallest sparkle of divine light. L, the mirror of his soulon the contrary he is full of dirt in his soul. The virtuous one, the pure man never judges the other one, he only judges himself to be able to see if his own conscience, the mirror of his soul is clear and diaphanous.

Thus because the persons who condemn, pry, rebuke, give lessons to the others have demonic souls. Never be in their company!

Go away. Tell them: I am sorry, I am busy, I can’t, I am in a hurry!`

Tell them everything you like only go away because tjhere is a demon and he is surely contagious. From his mouth will come into yours like the flu. We can trust only the mouth that speaks what is good.

When I have a good heart and communion with God I rejoice and I can see the heart of the other one.

I undertand that X is glaf while Y has a demon inside, bad thoughts, sins. I see even his childhood, his birth, KI see everything kin the mirror of my heart

Thisn isn the spiritual charisma given to the pure man.

Archimandrite Emilianos of Simonopetras Saint Hesychios – Word about vigilance,  Saint Nectarios Publishing

The weak ones fall from orthodox as the withered leaves

There is a new trend among people, to change their religion. It is easier somewhere else with the fasting, the prayer and the holy services. They seem nicer, more elegant, more human, and closer to their needs. Unfortunately many villages from Moldavia, in other times a bastion of Orthodoxy, convert themselves to other religions, to sects more specifically. `We could blame the Church or its ministers for this phenomenon and it could be very easy to do so`, said the father, `but we should not look there for guilt.`

And for giving an example the father took out the bunch of keys and said shaking them: `This is the number of Orthodox people who will remain Orthodox.` The weak ones fall from orthodoxy as the withered leaves.` The people who fall are those who preach in a wrong way instead of seeing and understanding the true faith, who judge the others and draw the conclusion that the teaching of our Church is a bad one, a difficult one to bear. And I say that our teaching is the perfect but we due to the great gift of freedom we have to choose take sometimes the wrong decisions. And from here is drawn the conclusion that the received teaching is not a good one. The head of the Orthodox Church is our Lord Jesus Christ himself. Orthodoxy cannot fall, although some people do. The Church is led by men only administratively but the saving role belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. And the biggest mistake of those who fall from Orthodoxy is that they judge in a worldly way the heavenly things.

If an alcoholic comes to me willing to get rid of his vice in a few weeks if he stays here and attends regularly the holy service, goes healed. A reveller in two three months goes out healed, a man who is addicted to drugs goes out healed in less than a year but there is no remedy for a sectarian. Because by choosing something else instead of the right faith the grace leaves him and without grace we cannot speak of healing, so I cannot help him.

The sectarian does not receive the grace of Theotokos since he denies her, he doesn’t benefit from the aid of the saints whom he denies and he doesn’t benefit  of the blessed power of the Holy Cross which he denies as well, denying in this way his own identity, his own faith and the faith of his ancestors. However I cannot be glad thinking that they will lose their salvation with the righteous believers. You may be surprised by what I said but it is not enough to believe in God, you must believe in Him. Here is a fundamental difference.

This means not to complain when you face a trial or another, not to question the decisions taken by God.

Grumbling is the expression of faithlessness or of a weak faith. If we don’t ask for help from God the conclusion is clear: we will follow our mind when we do things. Why this thing may be wrong, even if we have good intentions? Because our mind may be altered. The more spiritualized you are, you  see the world through the eyes of God, the more preoccupied you are by the material things and addicted to sins the more you see the world with the eyes of the demons. If you ask for help, you receive a clear mind. Of course that a clear mind doesn’t mean to ask for help and harm other people or accumulate possessions. Humble yourself before people and have the courage to stand straight at confession and say with courage what you did, especially the shameful things. Humbleness doesn’t mean to humble yourself before people, but to become aware that nothing belongs to you. If you have a fortune, you are a simple administrator of that fortune which you can lose very easily. Instead of becoming upset because of this you should realize that the fortune never belong to you. You can lose a hand or a leg because not even the body belongs to you. It is given to us to use it temporarily. Intelligence doesn’t belong to us either although we are so often proud of it. I don’t think that there is anyone who programmed with how many neurons to be born.

Absolutely all of these are gifts. Only when we realize that nothing belongs to us and everything is given and we thank for everything, we humble ourselves. Many people think that the monks are social misfits. But I tell you something else: a monk or a nun is a fulfilled person, with an iron will and faith. When he said he gave up on smoking he did it, when he said he gave up on drinking he did it. When he decided to live in purity he did it. When he said he would practice obedience giving up on his own will he did that. When he said he didn’t want anymore money, social position and ranks he kept his word. What will do you need to do all these? A big one. But with your will you receive power from God in an equal measure. You give will and take power. The level reached by the monk depends on the height of humbleness he reached. And he can reach that level by becoming aware of what we said before and by applying the rules given by the teaching of faith. We cannot speak of faith if we don’t obey the teaching and the commandments. The number of sins doesn’t matter. What matters is humbleness and repentance form sins. Many times we face trials which are beyond our powers and the fall  into these sins is in fact the ascent of humbleness. Meaning that you realize you cannot do anything alone and ask for help from God. Or this should happen if you become aware of the status of sinner.

I saw alcoholics who tried in many ways to give up on alcohol and they couldn’t succeed that. When they realized that this effort was beyond their power and asked for help sincerely and repentantly from the Most Kind God and Theotokos they had the greatest surprise: the temptation and the appetence for drink disappeared as if they did not exist. And the same happens with the smokers and the debauched. The examples are present everywhere. This means humbleness: to become aware that without divine help you cannot succeed in anything. But this implies to behave accordingly, not falsely but respecting sincerely those around you and especially refraining yourself from judging the others. Because when you judge, you practically take our God’s place of judge which is inadmissible. Here we speak about the lack of humbleness and where is no humbleness the divine grace doesn’t abound. But who are the humble ones? The humble ones are those who have a serene face, who are happy, content with what good God gave them. They are those who don’t want anything and because of this they have everything. They are glad of everything and thankful for what they receive. Those who are sullen and focused on improving the quality of their life are not content with what they received from God and they have no humbleness. They permanently seek ways to improve their material situation and they practically forget to live. In the end they will realize this thing but it will be too late. The word God, Your will be done loses its essential meaning because these people want in fact to be done their own will. So keep in mind that you will have everything when you don’t want anything anymore and this because not everything you want is useful to you for your salvation.

Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.

When we humble ourselves we have everything

Everywhere we are told about the salvation of the soul, as a supreme aim of the man who came as a traveler on earth.

We are given as example the life of saints and thus we are encouraged that a;thoug we are sinners, there is a hope for our salvation.

We go to the church, we make the sign of the cross before icons, we listen to the holy service, we confess, we commune. We kneel and pray asking the salvation of our soul. How does God answer to these prayers?

`First of all the help would be manifested in another way than we imagine it. As long as the demons fell from heaven because of their pride, the gate to heaven is only the gate of humbleness. And there is no other way no matter how long we would seek it.

Let me tell you a story. Long time ago a demon showed up before a monk with the appearance of Theotokos and asked him to bow to him. Without thinking at all at the fact that he did not deserve at all to see Theotokos because of his pride, he took a bow and the surprise came in an instant, the horseshoes becoming visible from under his robe. Then the demon said: `You worshipped me so you are mine!`

I don’t know the fate of that monk but humbleness he needed afterwards for the salvation of his soul I think that it was big.` Therefore to acquire humbleness at any level you would be is a serious thing and the tests  will be in accordance with our spiritual evolution. But if we ask form power to humble ourselves which will be the answer?

Despite our opinion, humbleness is not acquired smoothly but roughly. Therefore the kind God will do anything to teach you humbleness seeing your willingness to be saved.

In case you cannot humble yourself which would be the best but it is hard, the kind God can humble you in another way: by giving you diseases and pains, poverty and many others and all these have as aim only your salvation. If you ask for humbleness expect to get many humiliations, offences and unspoken words. But the spiritual gifts you shall receive will be accordingly. There is the great test: one thing is to say about yourself `me the sinner and humble` and another thing is to face the situation. Listen to me well: if you strive you will receive your reward, but if you humble yourself you will receive gifts. We don’t receive spiritual gifts because we boast with them and the price of boastfulness is the perdition of our soul.

The spiritual gifts are given proportionally with humbleness. Because of this reason we don’t have anything or almost anything. When we humble ourselves we have everything. Then we will know what to do with the gifts and we surely won’t do anything bad. Look let’s practice an exercise of humbleness:

`How do you see yourself?`

`I should see myself smaller than the others but I am not able to do it.`

`It’s completely wrong. If you see yourself smaller than the others it means that you consider you are something. You must not see yourself at all. When you don’t mean anything in your own eyes, when you become aware that you are dust, when you realize that is not the fault of the fool that is a fool or of the smart one that is smart all these being received gifts and not the result of our efforts you are on the path of humbleness. From here it starts the good work.

Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.

The contradictions of opinions between mother and daughter in law

This morning a mother came to me with her son. She has come many times and complained that it was hard for her, that she did not love her daughter in law. And I told her:

`Your daughter in law is young and she cannot understand that she must love her mother in law as her own mother, but you are already old and you have to think about everything.

Here on Earth, in this world, it is in the human nature that a mother, after her son gets married, cannot stand her daughter in law even if this were an angel. Everything is nice apparently, nothing shows, but she has inner discontent. The daughter in law doesn’t know this mystery of life : that she must pray to God so that an angel may be sent to her mother in law and she would receive power to love her – and only then she notices this inner war of her mother in law.

`You see, every physical war starts from a thought. First the men cannot bear each other mentally then they start to destroy each other. Everything happens, it happens because of the thoughts…In a great measure this mother could not understand at all what I told her. I saw she was very hurt, very upset and I had to speak once again with her. And I told her:

`Understand this, don’t try more than this! If your daughter in law is not good, pray to God to remember you and to give her a good angel and pray to Him to take off your mental burden, everything you have against your daughter in law and not only against her but against everyone who harmed you so that God may give you power to love everybody!

If you have good peaceful thoughts full of love and kindness for everyone in a short time you will see how those around you will change. And your daughter in law will change.

You know that you beat her all the time in the most terrible way? You don’t beat her physically, but you cannot bear her in your mind and then there is no peace in the house. And not even her husband, your son has any peace because of this.

Try to love her. It is hard, yes…But you know why you don’t love your daughter in law?`

`I don’t know`, she said.

`Because she took your son. The son is not living anymore with his mother and father like when he was a child. It is in human nature that the man unites with his wife.

The mother wants to see her son gets married and is glad when he does it. But afterwards she suffers the most. Then the son turns more towards his wife and he doesn’t ask his mother anymore if she is hungry or thirsty and in this way it starts his mother’s struggle with the thoughts.

You can do this endlessly and in the end of the ends you will see that you won’t achieve anything. Try what I told you to do and you will see that in a short time everything will change.

Starets Tadeus, Starets Tadeus from Vitovniţa Monastery, Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Predania Publishing, Bucharest, p. 104-106.

Personal prayer (I)

12.How many kinds of prayer are there?

If we take into account the person who makes the prayer, the number of persons who attend it, the place and time when it is made then we distinguish two kinds of prayer : the personal prayer and the prayer of the Church or in other words the personal and the public cult.

  1. What means personal prayer?

The personal prayer is the prayer made by every believer alone or with his family with other believers anywhere, anytime read or recited as it is written in a book of prayers or even taken out of his heart.

A prayer of this kind is the one made by the Saviour on the path between Bethany and Jerusalem (Luke 11, 1), the one made by saint apostle Paul on the roof of his house from Joppa  (Acts 10, 9); the one made by the publican in the temple (Luke 18,13); the one made by the holy apostles Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16, 25) and others.

  1. What is the prayer ?

The prayer is the elevation of our mind and will to God. Evagrios the Monk says that `the prayer is the speaking of the mind with God`

For this reason when we speak with God, meaning when we pray, we should draw away from our mind any worry and focus all the powers of our spirit on God. Meaning that the mind should think of Him and the memory should forget about all the earthly things and the heart speaking with Him should rejoice full of love. `Since who loves God always speaks with Him as with as father, drawing away any sinful thought. Only to think about God it doesn’t mean prayer because the demons think about God but they don’t pray.

  1. Why the prayer is followed by some visible signs as the sign of the Cross the kneeling down the prostrations, the raised hands and others?

During prayer we make the sign of the cross, make prostrations, stay on our knees and many others in order to increase our inner piety and make it manifested

  1. How is made the sign of the cross and what we say when we make it ?

The sign of the cross is made in the following way: we bend inside and hold together in the palm the small finger and the ring finger, we unite the tips of the thick finger the index and the middle finger from the same hand and having them united in this way we make the sign of the cross on the forehead, chest, the right and the left shoulder.

Any prayer begins by saying : in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen, followed by the sign of the holy cross. Thus when we say: ` in the  name of the Father` we make the sign on our forehead, when we say `and of the Son` we make the sign on the chest and when we say `and of the Holy Spirit` we make the sign first on the right shoulder then on the left one and we end by saying `amen.`

The sign of the cross is a very old Christian custom, dating from the time of the Holy Apostles. We make the sign of the cross when we say any prayer aloud or in our mind and when we pass, by a church, by a crucifix; when we begin and when we end something or as Tertullian says ( 240): `At every step and deed we make the sign of the holy cross`.

When we make the sign of the holy cross let us meditate at the glorification of the Most Holy One in whose name we make it. Thus we should not make the sign of the cross in a hurry, no matter how hurried we would be by chores.

Depending on the way we make the sign of the cross the other men see what is the place has God in our hearts.

  1. When we make the sign of the holy cross do we make a testimony of faith?

Without any doubt. Making the sign of the holy cross we confess the faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ the Crucified One and the faith in the triune God.

And the sign of the cross reminds us that the Son of God who made Himself man saved us by his crucifixion on the cross. Thus the sign of the holy cross it is somehow a brief teaching of the Christian faith. The Church honors with great piety the holy cross:  three days a year  (on 14 th September, the third Sunday from the Great Lent and 1st of August) are consecrated to honoring the holy cross.

The cross made of wood or metal, nicely worked and adorned is present on every Holy Table and in every church where it is officiated the Holy Liturgy.

In the same time it is present on all the church spires and bell towers and in our graveyards the reposed wait the resurrection of the dead under the protection of the holy cross. The vessels and the holy vestments of the churches are  adorned with crosses. Many churches are built in the shape of the cross and the ecclesiastical books are full of a lot of chants in the honor of the holy cross.

In many places the cross is placed at the water wells and the crossroads and the last fact, which is of great significance: the second arrival of the Savior, when He comes to judge the live and the dead will be announced by the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man in the sky.`(Matthew 24, 30), namely of the cross.

What do we gain when  we make the sign of the holy cross?

By making the sign of the cross we gain God’s blessing, because it crashed the wall of enmity between God and man. (Ephesians 2, 16); the holy cross protects us against  hauntings and against many spiritual and physical evils.

The sign of the cross is by itself a divine blessing and the `blessing brings holiness which chases away the evils and bring the good, says the canon 22 of saint Basil the Great.

  1. The cross protects us of physical harm. The sign of the cross saved from destruction the first born from Israel because the sign made on the pillars and thresholds of the doors beside which the angel of death passed without knocking. (les. 12, 7, 27), prefigured the sign of the cross. This was the sign which healed the people bitten by snakes, because the copper snake risen by Moses in the desert saved people only by watching it  (Num. 31), prefigured the sign of the holy cross (John 3, 14).
  2. The Cross chases away the demons. As the dog runs away of the stick which hit him the devil runs away of the cross which reminds him that he was defeated by it. `The Cross, says saint John the Damascene, is the shield, the weapon and the sign of victory against the devils.` And our Church sings:

`Thou gavest us Thy Cross as a weapon against the devil, O Lord; for he trembles and quakes, unable to bear the sight of its strength.`The sign of the holy cross which symbolizes the cross of Christ protects us of the cunnings of the devil. By this sign the Christians regained their freedom from the pagan domination. In the year 312 the emperor Constantine the Great saw in the sky a bright cross where it was written: `By this sign you will win`

Then he making this sign on the flags and the armies of his caste he won the battle with Maxentius. The expression `by this sign we win!` matches the sign of the cross we make.

Only the mentioning of the cross of Christ chases away the invisible enemies and strengthens us against their schemings.

`No evil spirit will dare to approach you seeing on your face the arms which knocked him down, this shining sword whose deadly blow many had gotten. Many saints used to chase away the bad thoughts from their mind making the sign of the cross and with the sign of the cross the Christians demolished the idols and their temples during persecutions

  1. When must we make the sign of the holy cross?

We can make the sign of the cross anytime especially before and after the prayer when we go to bed and when we wake up, when we get in or out of the house, before we start and after we finish anything especially when the temptation assaults us, in a word in all circumstances.

We make the sign of the cross when we wake up to receive God`s blessing for the entire day. We make it before sleep for chasing away from our mind all sinful thoughts for having a peaceful night. We make it before prayer for being protected of the dissipation of our mind and of the lack of concentration at prayer. We make it before starting work and after we finish it for asking help first from God and afterwards for thanking Him for His help.

Tertulian (160-240) says that the first Christians as those from his time used to make the sign of the cross: before and after work, when entering and exiting, when getting dressed, before sleep, in all our works we make the sign of the cross on our foreheads. Who gets the habit to make the sign of the cross in any circumstances fulfills completely saint Paul’s word:

`Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. `(I Corinthians 10, 31). So let us not be ashamed of the cross of Christ.

The counsels of Saint Mark of Ephes the defender of the Orthodox faith

It is good to be in peace with everyone but to confess when it comes to defend the right faith. Since the peace which is made in a right and pious way is a good gain but when it is made with slyness and evilness is a miserable and harmful thing. Between light and darkness we can say that is a middle way called dawn but between truth and lie there is no middle way no matter how hard would try someone to find it.

  • I am sure that the farther I go from him (the patriarch with Latin spirit), the closer I get to God and the saints. And the more I separate myself of these the more I unite myself with the truth and the Holy Fathers.
  • Nobody is allowed to present another faith than the one settled by the Holy Fathers who reunited in Nikea.
  • I was exiled by the emperor but the word of God and the power of truth cannot be tied, they run and spread more and many of the brothers taking courage from my exile study the transgressors of the Orthodox Faith and of the patristic tradition and chase them away as if they were trash not accepting tlo serve with them not even to mention them as Christians.
  • It is impossible to invoke peace if it is not solved first the issue of the schism and if the pope who proclaimed himself equal to God does not come into his senses.
  • The Catholics are not only schismatic, but also heretical. We did not separate of them from another reason than that they are heretics. That is why we should not unite with them.
  • They do not recognize the voices of the teachers from the West and they do not accept them. We must not be lenient in matters of faith.
  • Run away of them brothers and of the communion with them. Since some of them are false apostles, cunning workers who pretend to be apostles of Christ.
  • It is no wonder because Satan becomes an angel of light too. It is not a big thing if his servants appear as servants of justice, whose end will be in accordance with their deeds. (II Corinthians 11,13-15).
  • All the teachers of the Church, all the Ecumenical Councils, all the Holy Scriptures tell us to avoid these heretics and the communion with them.
  • This is our pride, our faith, our good inheritance left by our Fathers. Together with them we hope to stand before God and receive the absolution of sins.
  • Who mentions the name of the pope as one of an Orthodox archbishop is guilty and who has a Catholic spirit will be judged with the Catholics and will be considered as a transgressor of the Right Faith.

Persistence in prayer

Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos

In an evangelical parable we see that a widow bothered with her insistence because she vexed the judge who had no fear of God or shame of men but who did justice to her, meaning that he defended her and escaped her of injustice. Did you see what did the unjust judge do? After much insistence and disturbance cause by the woman, in order to get rid of that, he fulfilled her request. If this judge who did not fear God came to fulfill the request of the widow because he was bothered by her insistence, the more it will be done by our Heavenly Father who will fulfill the requests of His sons!

This is what we must do ourselves! To ask, to pray, to knock at the door of God’s mercy and we shall receive an answer. That’s why let us have courage, let us have faith and never cease to ask in prayer what concerns us, regarding our sins and passions or even our life matters. Prayer brings so many good things to the person who prays when he has the steady belief that he receives an answer.

When God descended from Thabor Mountain there came the father of a lunatic child, fell on his knees at Christ’s feet and said:

`My Lord, please have mercy on my son, because he is lunatic and he suffers badly. I brought him to Your disciples but they couldn’t heal him. Have mercy on us and if possible help us!

The Lord answered:

`If you can believe that I can heal your child, everything is possible for the person who believes.`

That one fearing that he might not have had enough good faith to see his son healed, says tearfully to the Lord:

`I believe, my Lord, please help my unbelief. Strengthen my faith so that it becomes strong and see my child healed!

Then the Lord admonished the evil spirit and after that one shook the child hard, got out of him, leaving him as dead. Christ took him by the hand, raised him up and gave him to his father. [1].
And when we have our requests, our needs, when the sin tempts us, when the passions challenge us and make us suffer, let us kneel down wholeheartedly and cry – if possible to cry when praying – and our requests will be listened by God.

We see that David in the 140th psalm which is sung at the Vespers says:

 

`I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;    hear me when I call to you.`

 

Lord, I call You, I cry your name from the bottom of my heart. May the words of my prayer be listened by You and please fulfill my requests.

[1] Matthew 17, 14-20; Mark 9, 17-27; Luke 9, 37-43.
[1] Luke 18, 1-8.

Excerpt from the book The art of salvation, to be published at Evanghelismos Publishing.

 

Parables for modern man

Abba Sisoe asked a brother: `What are you doing?` And he answered:`I’m wasting my time, father.` The elder said: `I am thankful to God even when I waste my time.` (Sisoe, 54) In the ascetic strain of the live in the desert it is hard to imagine how is to waste time. And today when we are all exceedingly busy to waste time is almost a blasphemy. But it is important to convert even the wasted time in a spiritual benefit. Meaning to bring it back to God, the One who created the time of the world. It is not known what gain may be found in the human waste of time. It is not known what you can found in change for the wasted time.

 

***

Some elders went to abba Pimen and asked him : `If we see the brothers drowsy at the holy liturgy should we shake them to keep them awake ? And he said: `When I see a brother falling asleep, I keep his head on my knee to let him rest.` (Pimen, 92) The kindness of the heart is beyond any other ascetic endeavour. In the sweetness of the innocent rest, under the protection of a loving brother the liturgy is not lost, but fulfilled. The one who sleeps and the one who guards his sleep participate at the same mystery. There is no place for any military exigencies, for formal discipline, for pedantic rebukes. Everything is filled by the uncomplicated nature of faith.

***

They also said about him that late on the nights from Saturday to Sunday he left the sun behind him and raised his hands to the sky in prayer until the sun shone before him. Then he sat. (Arsenios, 30) In this posture abba Arsenios resumes the archetypal position of the believer: crucified between East and West, with the face towards darkness waiting for the daylight. The evening (and autumn) represent the initial phenomenon of faith. That is why the ecclesiastical year begins in autumn, at the end of the calendar year) The first gesture is a plunge in the great shadow of the world and in the bright divine darkness. You stay and wait praying. You make from the fact of being apprehensive the settlement of your life.

***

Abba Theodotos said: `Do not judge the fornicator only because you refrain. You break the law too but in a different way.». And indeed Who said: Do not commit adultery» also said «Do not judge the others!»“ (Theodotos, 2)

***

Makarios the Egyptian, 39: A bad word makes even the good ones bad and a good word makes good even the bad ones.`

Source: Patericon

About the harmful influence of yoga practice upon the body and mind

In our time the yoga system is presented as a heal-all remedy for most of the problems the world is facing. There are heard many promotional slogans like `practice yoga for health and beauty!`

In the beginning somebody may feel indeed that state of good disposition and revitalization. He is immediately advised to attribute this improvement to certain hidden powers activated through the yoga asanas.

But this good mood and revitalization may be attributed to movement, to the activity of the body which awakesns from the almost chronical sedentariness imposed by the contemporary society. Besides, the same symptoms are experienced by any person who begings to  practice regularly jogging, swimming, football or any kind of gymnastics. And even more if that person gives up on certain harmful habits like smoking, sleepless nights, overeating, alcoholism and so on.

It must be also emphasized that this refreshing feeling accompanies the first stage of yoga practice. Afterwards there appear serious problems involving pelvic, spinal, knee and joint pains. The asanas, these strange yoga positions are completely abnormal for the human body, imitating different positions f the animals. Their names are very suggestive in this respect: shalabasana, the position of the locust, bhujangasana, the position of the cobra, kukondasana, the position of the crane, utthan pristasana, the position of the lizard.

Some of them are easier others harder. Anyway the prolonged stay in these positions requires a long practice. In time the joints of the body will relax allowing these unnatural contorsions. However there are many people who suffer slight or severe traumas in this way. The fact is attested by the so called holy texts. The Upanishads for example say that whoever complains or revolts because f the problems caused by yoga is not worthy of yoga.

While practicing asidously these exercises it happened to attend in Thessaloniki the conference of an Indian yogi. Willing to show himself being superior to his other spiritual competitors who begin their hunt with statements of these kind: yoga = health=beauty he said a truth : `who practices yoga only for obtaining health and beauty would rather practice swimming. He has no reason to practice yoga. Yoga is for those interested in a spiritual evolution. Let’s see what are the nature and means for achieving through yoga this spiritual process.

The main target of the yoga gymnastics, the aim of the asanas is not the development of the muscular system or of the physical mobility. Their aim is to change the biochemical balance of the human body.

By practicing these asanas the internal organs of the organs suffer of a constant pressure (the heart, liver, lungs, bowls) but especially the endocrinal glands (the chakras as they are known in the yoga language)

This pressure causes the hyperstimulation of these glands which usually causes their and as a result a hypersecretion of hormones in the body. Other times, very rarely, it happens the opposite.

Each group of asanas causes a pressure on certain glands. A set of positions excite fr instance the tyroid causing a hypersecretion of thyroxine which flows in the blood and changes the whole basic metabolism of the body. That person becomes hyperkinetic fact which is the result of an absorbtion of energy from the superior centers of the universe as a result of the yoga techniques.

In the same way there are some asanas which excite the  adrenal glands, the pancreas and the pituitary gland which regulates the functioning of the other glands. Medicine proves that such a generalized hormonal disorder causes major disorders of perception of all the senses. The effects are more intense than those produced by the consumption of alcohol or narcotics.

In the ashram from India of Satyananda, my English friend Tony said: The Kriya Yoga exercises make me feel as if I took all the time L.S.D. (drug).` He felt an ebullient energy which needed to be wasted by a permanent activity and high physical effort. The poor man could never stay still fact which caused him many troubles.

The yoga exercises based on the prolonged breath abstention  cause in most of the cases a high quantity of carbon bioxide from blood phenomenon which is connected by the most recent medical discoveries with the appearance of some visual and auditive hallucinations when the feeling of decorporealization of communication with entities from other worlds, of spontaneous materialization of some light bodies and so on.

It is very easy for someone who is spiritually unexperienced to estrange himself if missing a criterion which to help him discern the nature of his experience. Is it a physiological phenomenon? Is it an illusion caused by senses? Is it something psychological like the hallucinations of the psychopaths who hear voices and have visions? Or is it a spiritual phenomenon? And if it is a spiritual phenomenon where does it come from? From Christ or from the devil (who has the ability to turn himself into animal, light apparition or angel as it appears in the Scripture, the patristic writings and the ascetic experience of the Holy Church?

See what Satyananda said when speaking about the yoga techniques: Beside this chance of releasing yourself of bonds and troubles, there is the risk of losing your mind and spend the rest of your life in a psychiatric hospice. Unfortunately this happend to some people who practiced yoga without guidance or they did not follow the advice of their master. (from the Greek periodical `Yoga`nr. 15/1981, pp. 41-42).

Beside the obvious attempt to transfer the entire responsibility to the disciples, this statement raises the question : since these exercises are so risky why are they so intensively promoted without any specifications or warnings in periodicals, books and illustrated brochures which highlight only their so called beneficial effects?

I was influenced myself by the praises written in a magazine of this kind which presented these exercises and started to practice Nuria Namaskar (the sun greeting). They said that is a method which gives back the mobility of all joints and massages efficiently all the internal organs and muscles. If someone feels tired he can recover his physical and mental vitality anytime doing this exercise. Reading that the yogis practice it in 12 cycles daily I did the same. After a few days I started to feel that my chest was burning and wheezing. The temperature of my body increased constantly. The spiritual fires were lit I thought then in my naivety of my 22 y.o deeply influenced by the yogi mentality and terminology. I began to feel worse and worse and fortunately I stopped.

What happened? My symptoms were caused by a hyperactivation of the hormones. There was nothing spiritual as I thought. I discussed later about this with a swami who liked me. She expressed her concern and advised me to renounce for ever at such practices without offering me other explanations.

But let’s go back to guru Satyananda, to see how he justified the physical and psychical traumas someone can suffer cause of yoga.

And he added : `Do not allow something like this happen to you. If you want to follow the path to true knowledge you must have a guru who to be acquainted with this special dimension of the conscience.

The guru must know it by heart he must have reached that level himself. A guru of this kind is called satguru. Why being content with less?`

Before the spiritual rivalry of the other gurus  Satyananda proposes himself as initiated in the yoga mysteries, able to guide without risks those interested. But reality offers many examples of disciples who left him frightened, disappointed or even psychically distempered. When I met some swami or yoga teachers showing serious psychical disorders and asked explanations about that fact I was told naturally that the guru simply stole their minds because it impeded their spiritual evolution. See what effort is made for eluding the truth and for justifying morally the spiritual crimes.

The same guru Satyananda says : `Many disciples cnfess they have had many sexual problems since they began Kundalini Yoga. They feel very guilty for this. If I hadn’t been there they would have gone crazy. I said to them: This is a mere physiological matter. Let it happen!` (from the book published in Greece `Teachings of  Paramhamsa Satyananda`, vol. VI, Ed. September, 1989, p. 397).

In other words serious body disorders whose impact reflects dramatically at the psychical level must be ignored as some pure physiological occurrences. Although this point of view is completely irrational it should not be shocking. It is the effect of the Hindu religious mentality which considers madness as being holy. I met a Brahmin in India who was proud that his wife was crazy. Comments are unnecessary.

Satyananda goes on : `Many times the persons who get these waves from Kundalini want to eat a lot as some Epicureans. I tell them that’s ok otherwise they suffer of complexes.

In another context Satyananda says : However the people say that the awakening of Kundalini is dangerous. Why? Of course there may take place accidents and you may go to a mental asylum for a while. But everything in this world is a risk. Life presents a great risk and the man must be a brave fighter willing to risk anytime. What will happen if I practice  Kundalini Yoga and go crazy? Then you will began practicing it and if you go crazy someone else will begin doing it. In the end we will tame Kundalini.` (Yoga, no. 5/1981, p. 8).

So Satyananda not only proposes to all the yogis to assume the status of lab rats for an incontrollable experiment but also he, the great enlightened initiated guru admits that he is exposed to the same risks.

Beside the fact that the existence of Kundalini (the sacred snake which sleeps at the basis of the spinal cord of any human) is a religious belief it must be taken into account the defense of the useful and honorable character of madness at least when it is caused by yoga. The message is clear. We will go on until taming Kundalini no matter if it could make millions of people go mad.`

The lack of any scruples in such an attitude is only the expression of the general conception about the world of Hinduism which educates sistematically such personalities. It’s relevant in this respect the confession made by Theodora Katelouzou, published in the newspaper `Orthodoxos Typos`, in 1976:

Because I applied intensively for more than two years Maharishi`s method I may say very honestly and responsibly that the relaxation through meditation is a passivity in Indian style which paralyzes any power of reaction and struggle for life.It is far from the true spiritual peace and fulfillment.

By Maharishi’s technique and by all the other Hindu or Buddhist techniques the man hypnotizes himself and loses any self will and initiative. It is a brain washing imposed gradually which has as final effect the complete loss of personality. I suffered many mental harms because I could not focus in any circumstance and lost all my energy.

From the moment I stopped meditating I was able to continue my studies without any problem. Maharishi’s method  made many victims. A young man practiced transcendental meditation and  he committed suicide when he attended one of  Maharishi’s seminaries. Another one lost his voice completely. A Greek captain began to suffer of more and more severe psychical disorders until he was sent to a mental asylum. I saw many young men who began to have spasmodic movements and weird gestures and had many twitches they couldn’t control.

Let’s end this presentation reminding the fact that usually the practitioner of yoga is trained to focus his mind on certain points of the body which vary depending on the exercise.

In the same time he must repeat in his mind or even aloud a certain mantra and we have already seen that this is nothing else than a formula for invoking or worshipping one of the thousands of Hindu deities : Shiva, Krishna, Kali, Vishnu, so on. There is also another unanswerable proof of the religious character of yoga and a warning about the spiritual implications involved by the practice of these exercises.

For a Christian the consequences are similar with those of apostasy.

Dyonysios Farasiotis | crestinortodox.ro

The first visit to the Holy Mountain Athos

My spiritual journey began on a torrid summer when I was with my family on vacation in Greece somewhere near Thessaloniki at about 100 km from the Holy Mountain. I have heard some stories from and about the Holy place but I didn’t believe them anyway and I was very wary smiling mistrustfully. The educational system and the environment where I lived imposed to me a life which did not allow me to see another way of living spiritually without giving such importance to the material stuffs. Arriving in the port of Ouranopolis, I had the feeling of a huge border. But not a physical border, as if you stepped in a different country, as a border which separates you of another world, composed of different elements with different kinds of people with a different air, with a different light. Everything was different comparing to what I had seen before.

We were three adults and three children and although we had the permits of access we missed the trip because the ship had left without us. We had to go on the holy land a day later. Upset we found out that there was a fast boat which was ready to depart but the reservations were made with some time beforehand so our chances were small. The Greek told us that he had only six seats left and it was the case to hurry. We looked at each other surprised – we were exactly six – and we got on the boat and got on the ship thinking of the small miracle we all saw. The encounter with the grace coming from the wonder maker icons was devastating for me. It was almost unbearable for me to feel that, I considered that I did not deserve to receive so much positive energy, so much joy. I tried to be a man but my tears flowed without being able to stop them. I began to understand gradually the phrase `wonder making icon` and feel my soul filled of a feeling I can hardly describe. Our elders thin from fasting and ascetic strife but hard as stone spiritually were those I began to follow as models of living. many of them had been men like us some of them with families, children, others with high positions, with big bank accounts. What made them leave the wealth and comfort they had? What did they find there that they had left behind positions, fortunes gained after years of study? Who keeps them here and especially why? Many questions whirled in my head then  anyway too many to get the answer on the spot. I noticed then that these men make great efforts to get rid of their passions. They don’t eat meat, they don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, they gave up on all the worldly pleasures. They keep vigils day and night praying, they loved to love their enemies. If I were to describe them in worldly terms I would describe them as real man, good fighters with their own passions. Not without a reason, the Holy Mountain is called the `factory of saints`.

The fathers of the Holy Mountain beside the spiritual activities make rosaries, small wooden sculptures, paint icons, record religious chants, translate and write books. Briefly they have a rich cultural activity. Our fathers, the guides of the pilgrims are in the same time real encyclopedias of the Holy Mountain, knowing each detail of the histories about the wonder making icons and of the miracles made by the Holy Mother of God in Athos. The hermitage `The entrance of the Theotokos in the church` at that time was under construction almost finished. On that occasion I met father Pimen who was our guide on that pilgrimage. From that time on he also became our adviser. When we asked him how he could build the hermitage the father gave me an answer that makes me muse even today: `with the help of the Holy Mother of God!` How is that, father? How is that possible? Then the father told me that every morning he looked in the agenda of the construction works and because they were so many he divided them with the Holy Mother of God. `And this for a few years until the hermitage was finished. I told to the Holy Mother of God` : `today I am going to do this or that and in what regards the rest of the things from the list, please help me! And the Holy Mother of God helped him. She did everything he asked her in the same time father Pimen did his part. And his pious feelings for her grew a lot. Now when he finished the last detail of the construction which is of an inexpressible beauty the hermitage offers very good accommodation conditions for those who visit it.

On my first trip I was to live a strange experience. Before withdrawing a father asked me to give him the phone to call in the country for a serious matter. I told him that there was no signal, that I had hardly tried to make a call and it had been in vain. I gave him the phone to see for himself. To my big surprise I saw that in his hand the signal reappeared, the father called, solved the problem, closed and after he ended the conversation the phone became again nonfunctional. In vain I stood in his place, the signal did not appear at all. It was obvious, I thought, the fathers from there were used to miracles, these don’t seem uncommon to them anymore, they make part of their natural daily life.

I left the Holy Mountain with the regret that I was leaving a place that had already made part of my being, of my chemical structure after the first visit. I left so happy I cannot express in words, with the promise to go back soon.

Excerpt from the book `Down to earth` author Ionuț Riteș.