The cause of ignorance
The cause of ignorance is the man’s thought which is earthly and without humility, the beastly life as it is said by saint Basil the Great. Thus the mind cannot perceive the divine realities and states. Therefore ignorance is the fruit of sin, of man’s fall and enslavement by his own will and in general of his estrangement of God. The man who fell out of the divine love has inside himself as ruler the law of flesh. And this law does not allow him to accomplish any of the divine commandments. And since he preferred the pleasure-loving life instead of the virtues in the end instead of the knowledge of God he attracts the ignorance of God, as saint Maximus stresses out. Our carelessness in knowing the gifts of God led us to idleness and this led us to forgetfulness and because of this ignorance reigns over us. (Saint Mark)
Ignorance separates the soul from its union with God and makes the man be completely irrational and senseless. Whoever falls into ignorance, does not know the judgments of God. He argues with those who rebuke him and he regards as stupid those who forgive him.
When he becomes rich, he behaves haughtily and when he gets poor, he becomes double-tongued. When he lives well, he falls in all kinds of shameful and dissolute deeds and when he lives badly, he complains about his fate.
Thus if someone doesn’t acquire, with the help of God’s grace, the knowledge of truth and the fear of God, he is severely hurt not only by his own passions but also by all the saddening things that happen to him.
These are some of the consequences of ignorance in the spiritual world of man.
Saint Maximus tells us that ignorance give birth to selfishness and tyranny. Ignorance is the cause of our love for vainglory and money.
Saint Theodor of Edessa says: Thus you must be concerned about the first gift which is the right opinion about beings then give wings to your will, to fly to it and despise all the things from present and be aware of their futility.
Ignorance and deceit
Ignorance is the cause of deceit and heresy. Ignorance gives birth to haughtiness and this leads to ignorance. We can say that ignorance is equivalent with deceit. The deceiver of the world, the devil, uses the ignorance of men, being the one who brings and works for creating ignorance and deceit of any kind, in the case when this thing happens in the field of spiritual life.
Deceit is the great opponent of truth that leads the men to destruction. Because of it in the soul of the idle ones reigns the dark ignorance which estranged them from God. Some like this do not acknowledge Christ – who gave us birth for the second time and enlightened us – as God or acknowledge Him only in their words but not in their deeds. They think that God appeared only to those from the old times and He does not do this for us anymore. They think that the testimonies of the Scriptures about God do not concern them only the others or only those who wrote about them. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God as long as they give up on the true and knowing piety. They do not understand the Scriptures spiritually, for not saying that they understand them in the Jewish manner and they negate the possibility of the spiritual resurrection of man, preferring to live in the tomb of their ignorance.
Thus in deceit are found these three passions: the faithlessness, guile and laziness. They are born and support each other. Meaning that faithlessness is the teacher of guile, guile is the companion of laziness. And vice versa, laziness gives birth to guile, according to the words of the Lord who said: `Cunning and lazy servant.`
Guile is the mother of faithlessness because any cunning man is unfaithful and the one who does not have faith, does not have fear of God either. And from faithlessness appears laziness, which is the mother of despise, because of which is lost all good and is committed all evil.
You should fight against ignorance with the enlightened knowledge, by its means the soul awakens and drives away the darkness of ignorance.
Saint Gregory the Palamas, in perfect accordance with the pure Orthodox tradition, considers as absolutely necessary the presence of the starets, of the spiritual confessor, who can guide towards the right, safe path of salvation. If someone wants to get rid of ignorance, he should not trust in his own thought, but ask his starets.
The escape from ignorance is a gift from God which is given to those who struggle and endeavor. God seeing man’s endeavors, removes the cloud that darkens his mind impeding him to see clearly, meaning that he removes his ignorance and gives him the self knowledge, the knowledge of His secrets and truth.