Saint Paisios of Mount Athos: What Is Predisposition to Spiritual Delusion?

– Father, I’m afraid of spiritual delusion.

You’re doing the right thing. One who is afraid of spiritual delusion does not fall into spiritual delusion, because such a person, being attentive, confesses all his thoughts [to spiritual father]. He does not hide anything and thus receives help.

– Father, what is predisposition to spiritual delusion?

To be predisposed to spiritual delusion means to have the idea that you make something of yourself, and to show others that you are doing some kind of work. To be predisposed to spiritual delusion means to think that you have reached a spiritual measure, because, for example, you are making some kind of ascetic work, and to think about others that they have not yet understood the meaning of spiritual life, and to behave proudly with them. If a person selfishly forces himself in asceticism, wanting to achieve the measure of some saint and that others admire him, then this is the beginning of spiritual delusion. It is one thing to make yourself do something, and another to force yourself in asceticism. Once I said to one person: “Be careful so as not to fall into spiritual delusion because of a wrong attitude to spiritual life. You are in spiritual danger”. – “Am I going to fall into spiritual delusion? – he answered indignantly. – I do not even eat meat!” At the same time that person did not even go to confession. He “confessed” his sins to an icon. “Are you an Orthodox Christian or a protestant? – I asked him. – In which book have you read that this is the right way to confess?” – “Why? – he asked me. – Doesn’t Christ hear me?” Do you realize what’s going on!

– Father, how can one understand: was this or that [supernatural] happening from God or from the devil?

You can see it. If a happening is not from God, then the devil brings pride thoughts to a person. And besides this, visions from the devil – clumsy work: he goes so far as to blasphemy. Once, a man who was in spiritual delusion and had an unclean spirit came to my kaliva (gr. Καλύβα – lit. “cabin”). I talked to him and it’s been good for him. Do you know what he told me after that? “I’m hearing such wise things for the first time! I haven’t read it even in the Gospel!” It is like he said to me: “What you said to me is better than what Christ said”. Do you understand what the devil does to bring you a pride thought? Whatever you say, but if a person does not understand that he cannot do anything by his own strength, but what he does is done by the strength of Christ, then such a person will not do anything, even if he casts out thousands of demons from the possessed.

Source: Words. Volume III. Spiritual Fight
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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