1. Why does a person become bad? Because he forgets that God is above him.
2. You have to pay attention to your inner life so that you do not notice what is happening around you. Then you won’t judge.
3. A man is like a weed. He who is proud will wither like grass, and he who fears God is spared by the Lord.
4. Pride and disobedience give rise to deception which is the beginning of all evil and disasters.
5. Three rings are clamped together: hatred comes from anger, anger comes from pride.
6. He who criticizes us, gives us a gift; and he who praises us, steals from us.
7. If you do good, you must do it only for God’s sake. This is why you shouldn’t pay any attention to the ingratitude of other people. Expect your reward not here but from God in heaven; and if you expect it here, you will suffer deprivation in vain.
8. Do not be like a pesky fly, which sometimes flies around without a purpose, and sometimes bites, which is annoying; but be like a wise bee, which begins its work diligently in the spring, and finishes honeycombs by the fall, so good as properly played music. One is sweet, and the other is pleasant.
9. We have to live in the world like a spinning wheel: it touches the ground at just one point, and the rest is constantly striving upwards; and we can’t even get up as we lay down on the ground.
10. God sends grace to the working man, and consolation to the loving man.
11. Teaching is like throwing small stones from a belfry, whereas fulfilling the commandments is like dragging big stones onto a belfry.
12. You should have love, and love has two wings: one is humility and the other is charity and all kinds of compassion for your neighbor.
13. We have thought hard and never figured out anything; it is better to rely on God’s Almighty Providence, which is strong enough to bring everything to a useful end beyond our expectations.
14. No matter how heavy the cross that man carries may be, the wood from which it was made grew on the soil of his heart. The tree is at the source of water; the water (passion) is boiling there.
15. If the sun were to shine at all times, everything would wither in the field; therefore there must be rain at times. If it were raining all the time, then everything would rot. That’s why you need the wind to blow. If the wind isn’t enough, there has to be a storm to blow everything away. A man can benefit from all this in due time, because he is changeable.
Source: Schema-Archimandrite John (Maslov), Saint Ambrose, the Optina Elder
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds