Clerical Articles

What we must know about thoughts

  • October 1, 2016

Archimandrite Sophrony Saharov the Athonite

The one who wants to pray with a pure mind, doesn’t need to learn anything about the news from newspapers, he shouldn’t read books without connection with our spiritual life, especially those which arouse passions and should not search out of curiosity what concerns the life of the others. All these bring in mind foreign thoughts and when the man tries to clarify them, they trouble and darken his soul.

When the soul is taught by God about love, then it cries for the whole world, for all the creatures of God and prays for them to repent and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. But if the soul loses grace, love leaves it too, because without the grace of God is impossible for someone to love his enemies and then from his heart come out cunning thoughts, as God says (Matthew 15,19, Mark 7, 21-22)

Without the humility of Christ the mind is not purified and the soul never rests in God, but is always troubled by various thoughts, that hinder the contemplation of God. Oh humility of Christ! Who tasted you, soars eagerly to God day and night.

Oh, how helpless I am! I wrote a little and got tired immediately and the body needs rest. God when He was on earth, in His body, knew the human impotence. And He, the merciful One rested after a journey and slept in the ship during the storm. And when the disciples woke Him up, he ordered the sea and the wind to stop and a great silence fell there. In the same way it happens with our soul, when we call the Name of the Lord there comes the silence. Give us Lord to praise You till our last breath!

Someone falls in deceit either because he lacks experience, or because of vanity. If it’s because of a lack of experience, God heals quickly the one who fell in deceit, but if it’s because of his vanity, then his soul will suffer for a long while, till he learns how to humble himself. Only then he is healed by God.

We fall in deceit when we think that we are wiser and more experienced than others, even than our spiritual confessor. This is the way I thought myself in my lack of experience and I suffered for this. But I thank God from my heart because in this way He humbled me and rebuked me and he did not take His mercy from me. And now I think that without confession at the priest it is not possible to get rid of deceit, for the priest was given by God the grace “to bind and unbind.”

If you see light within yourself or around you, don’t believe in it, if you don’t feel that you have in the same time humility and love for God and your neighbor. But do not be afraid, humble yourself and that light will disappear.

If you have a vision or see an image or have a dream, don’t believe in such things, because they are not from God, God will enlighten you about it. The soul which did not taste the Holy Spirit, cannot see from where it comes that vision. The enemy creates a pleasant feeling inside the soul, mixed with vainglory and from this it comes out the deceit.

The holy fathers say that when the vision is from the devil, the soul feels unrest or fear. But this happens only within the humble soul, which considers itself unworthy of visions. But the one who is full of vainglory might not feel any fear or unrest, because he desires those visions and considers himself worthy of them and for this reason he is cheated so easily by the devil.

The heavenly things are known through the Holy Spirit and the earthly ones through earthly methods. The one who tries to know God by means of his natural mind, by means of science, deceits himself, because God is known only through the Holy Spirit.

If you see demons in your mind, humble yourself and try not to see and run as soon as possible to your spiritual confessor, to whom you entrusted yourself. Confess everything to him and God will have mercy on you and you will get rid of deceit. But if you think that you know more about spiritual life than your spiritual confessor and you stop telling him what happens to you, because of this pride God will permit a temptation for sure in order to mellow you.

Fight with the devil with humility. When you see another mind fighting with yours, humble yourself and the struggle will end. If it happens to you to see demons, don’t be afraid and humble yourself and the demons will vanish. If you are overwhelmed by fear, you will suffer a certain harm. Be brave. Remember that God sees you if you put your trust in Him.

In order to get rid of the demons, the soul must say: I am the worst of all, I am more miserable than any other creature and than any beast. Just like people who get in or out of the house, thoughts come and go if we don’t receive them.

If your thought tells you “steal!” and you listen, in this way you let the demon subjugate yourself. If the thought tells you “eat a lot till you satiate yourself!” and you eat a lot, then again the demon subjugates you. And if the thought of any passion defeats you, you will become a dwelling place for demons. But if you start with the due repentance, then the demons will start trembling and they will have to run away.