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OTT (Text) -- 11

27 Thus those who live the life of solitude during the day are tempted by demons and fall into various thoughts; at night, again, in their sleep they battle with winged asps, are encircled by carnivorous beasts, are engirdled by serpents and are thrown headlong from high mountains. It also occurs that, having been awoken, they are again encircled by the very same beasts and they see the cell fiery and smoking. And when they do not give themselves up to these imaginations nor fall into cowardice, immediately again they see the demons transformed into women indecorously playing the coquette and wishing to play shamefully.

The demons invent all of these things wishing greatly to trouble the temper or the desiring part, so that there occurs the war that is wont to be fought against the anchorites. For extremely quickly during the next day is the temper tempted when it has been previously disturbed during the night; and the desiring part easily takes up obscene thoughts having been set in motion during the imaginations of sleep.

The demons bring on these imaginations, opening a road for themselves, as I said, for the next day, or, having previously disturbed the anchorites during the previous day, wishing to humiliate them even further at night. And the irascible and hot-tempered of the brothers fall more into the fearsome apparitions whereas those who have taken their fill of an excess of bread and water fall into the shameful imaginations. But it is necessary that those who live the life of solitude keep vigil and pray not to enter into temptation, and that they keep their heart with every guard, putting an end to temper with meekness and psalms and withering the desiring part with hunger and thirst. Beneficence and acts of mercy are extremely helpful in the case of imaginations of this sort. And this the wise Solomon teaches clearly in Proverbs. He says: ‘If you sit, you will be fearless; if you sleep, you will slumber pleasantly, and you will not fear an alarm coming upon you nor the approaching attacks of the impious. For the Lord shall be over all your ways and will support your foot that you not be shaken. Do not forbear to do good to the poor man when your hand shall be able to help; do not say, go and come back, and tomorrow I will give you; for you do not know to what the next day will give birth.’ [Prov. 3, 24–8.]

28 When the demons are unable greatly to disturb the temper or the desiring part at night, then they fabricate dreams of vainglory and bring the soul down into a pit of thoughts. The dreams of these demons are, as to say in outline, of this sort: Many times a certain person saw himself rebuking demons and healing certain bodily passions, or wearing a pastoral form of dress and grazing a flock. And having been roused, immediately he receives the imagination of the priesthood, and, during the whole day, besides, he takes a full account of the things that are in the priesthood.

Or, as though the charism of healing is going to be given to him, and, further, he sees beforehand the signs which occur and he imagines those who will be healed, the honours which come from the brothers and the giftbearings of those who are outside [the monastic calling], as many from Egypt and as many from beyond its borders as arrive driven towards him by his fame.

Many times the demons cast those who are living the life of solitude into an inconsolable sorrow, showing certain of their own people to them to be ill and to be in danger by land or by sea.

It happens also that the demons foretell to these same brothers through dreams shipwrecks of the monastic life, throwing them down from high ladders which they are ascending and, again, making them blind and to be groping about the walls.

And the demons make countless other marvels of such sorts, making use of the sound of the wind to suggest the advent of demons or of savage beasts or narrating certain narratives so that the anchorite neglects the hours of the services. It is necessary not to pay attention to these [demons], but, being sober in the thought, to refute them utterly which do these things for the sake of the deceit and the error of souls.

For the dreams which are given by angels are not of such sorts but they have much serenity of soul, unspeakable joy, absence during the day of impassioned thoughts, pure prayer and—certain of the angels—also reasons (logoi) of things which have come to be, gently coming forth from the Lord and revealing the wisdom of the Lord.

29 If one of those who are living the life of solitude should not be given to be disturbed during the imaginations which occur in sleep on account of the frightful or obscene apparitions, but should also be accustomed to grow angry with the female figures which approach him shamelessly, and to strike these, and if, again, touching female bodies for the sake of healing—for the demons also set such things before one—he should not be accustomed to be excited, and should admonish, rather, certain of the figures concerning chastity, then he is blessed, really, on account of such a dispassion. For a soul which has accomplished the practical life with God’s help and which has been loosed from the body enters into those very places of gnosis in which the wing of dispassion might grant it rest. From those places, further, it will also receive the wings of that Holy Dove and will fly through the contemplation of all the Ages and come to rest in the gnosis of the Worshipful Trinity.

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