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September 9, 2015 + On Positive Thinking - Part 4

by St. Paisios the Athonite

"For perverse thoughts separate men from God" (Wis 1:3)

- When laymen listen to and believe in their own thoughts, they lose their minds, whereas monks are filled with illusions. A monk should not take tranquillizers; his medication is humbleness and repentance. This monk lacks both of these virtues. When these will fill his soul again, all his problems will be solved. Sometimes, he went on, when children behave badly towards their parents or insult them, they immediately start to be receptive to the devil's energies and become confused. By cursing or slandering their parents, they give the devil the right to interfere in their lives and control their actions. The same thing happens to monks, when they accept negative thoughts about their elder or the rest of the monks; this way, they give the right to the devil to fight them. When someone trusts his negative thoughts, he tends to disregard other people's advice. He can only listen to someone whom he absolutely trusts- after his own thoughts. For this reason, when he needs help, he can only accept it from the person he trusts the most. Concerning medication, that is tranquillizers, they may be of some assistance to people in serious conditions, that is, those who are filled with illusions, or are on the verge of losing their minds. If, for example, our fellow man's mental condition is seriously deteriorating, we should give him a certain dose of medication to stabilize it. At the same time, we must show him love and try to correct his negative thinking and persuade him not to listen to his own thoughts. As his condition is improving, the dose of his medication should also be reduced. This should last for a while.

When the mind of our fellow man moves away from humility, it escapes into a fantasy world. When he takes medication, he stops thinking or imaging things and his fantasy world is limited. Then, he starts feeling sleepy, tired, hungry and generally speaking, he is physically humbled; while he thought he was an incorporeal angel, he now feels like a human being bearing flesh.

"There is no magical therapy that will automatically cure someone, whose mind has gone astray due to his constant preoccupation with his false thinking; there are, however, certain steps to follow in order to recover: First, and most important, is to realise the state of his own wretchedness. After he realizes it, the second step is to repent, go to confession, and never listen again to the voice of his own thoughts; instead, he must follow the advice of his spiritual father. Thirdly, after he becomes aware of his miserable state of being, he should constantly ask God for His mercy through Jesus prayer, so Christ will help him and His divine grace will return inside him. One can only be cured and saved through humbleness, the only miraculous therapy I know of; only humility can save us."

"Man is changeable; on one hand, he clings to his good thoughts and on the other, to his negative and devious ones. He does what he likes and whenever he likes, for he has a free and independent will. The same thing applies to divine grace and illusion. Since man is constantly changing, divine grace and illusion come and go respectively....

"When our soul lives carelessly without watching over its thoughts, it will consequently fill up with dirty and sly thoughts. As a result, people start developing psychological problems which gradually pile up. Some people, while they are found in this situation and come face to face with the problem itself, they do not realise it, and thus are unable to humbly confess to their spiritual father their fall. Instead, they look for a "secular" solution and consult a psychiatrist, who will inevitably prescribe medication. Pills will not solve the problem, but will temporarily cover it. This is not an effective solution, as once they stop taking their medication, the problem will come to the surface again, and the person will be found in the same miserable condition. The only solution is to become aware of the problem and confess it to a spiritual father and then humbly follow his advice.

In our days, people have lost control over their lives, and they do not know what they are doing. The reason being, that they do not wish to be guided; they want to live undisturbed, following their own free will, which will eventually bring their total destruction. God gave man his freedom and independence to do as he likes, but He also gave him the knowledge, the ability to realise, that he is unable to achieve good acts by solely relying on himself, "... for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5), "If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?" (Lk 12:26). Therefore, when man uses his freedom and independence without taking into consideration his human weakness, he becomes deceived; he experiences and interprets everything by using his own logic. Instead of God's grace, human logic rules his life, and his mind is in confusion. This is terrible."

"I always give the following advice to people, and I insist that they follow it:

  1. To become aware of their problem, in other words, their alienation from God,
  2. to repent for this, and
  3. humbly go into confession.

Today, people, more than ever, become recipients of the devil's influence and intrusion in their lives, and only if they follow the above mentioned advice they will be safe."

from ON POSITIVE THINKING, from Priestmonk Christodoulos (1998) “Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, accessed online August 13th, 2015.


Holy, Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna

Troparion, Tone 1

Since you were righteous under the law of grace, O Joachim and Anna, you gave birth to the God-given infant for our sake. Therefore, the divine Church radiantly keeps feast today, joyfully celebrating your honorable memory and giving glory to God who has raised up a horn of salvation from the house of David.