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9 There is a demon called the ‘wanderer’, appearing to the brothers especially about the time of dawn. This very demon leads the mind about from city to city and from town to town and from house to house, the mind making supposedly mere encounters and meeting certain acquaintances and speaking at greater length and corrupting its own familiar condition on account of those who meet [it] and bit by bit becoming far from the gnosis of God and from virtue and receiving forgetfulness (lethe) of the profession.
He who is living the life of solitude must keep an eye on this demon, whence it came and whither it ends. For it works that long circuit neither pointlessly nor by chance, but it does these things wishing to corrupt the spiritual condition of the hermit, so that being burnt out by these things and drunk from the many encounters, the mind immediately falls into the hands of the demon of fornication or that of anger or that of sorrow, which very demons treat with indignity the brightness of the hermit’s spiritual condition.
But if, indeed, we have the goal to know clearly the wickedness of this demon let us not quickly speak anything to it or denounce what has happened—how it works the encounters in the intellect and in what way it draws the mind bit by bit towards death—because it will flee from us. It does not condescend to be seen to be doing these things and we will learn nothing further of those things we have been zealous to learn. But let us allow it to complete the drama one more day or even two, so that learning exactly its fraud and after that convicting it with a word, we cause it to flee.
But because it happens that, during the time of temptation, the mind, being clouded, does not know exactly what is happening, let this happen after the departure of the demon: Sitting, remember by yourself those things which have happened to you, whence you came and whither you went and in what place you were apprehended by the spirit of fornication or of anger or of sorrow and, again, how these things happened that happened. Learn these things well and commit them to memory so that you have evidence to convict it when it approaches, and inform against the place hidden by it, and that you will no longer follow it any more. If you wish it to be summoned to frenzy, convict it the moment it appears and show with a word the first place into which it entered and the second and the third. For it is very violent, not bearing the shame. Let a proof that you have spoken opportunely be the fact that the thought has fled from you: it is impossible for it to stand, openly convicted. A most heavy sleep succeeds to this very demon when it is defeated, and a deadness with a great coldness of the eyelashes and numberless yawns and shoulders weighed down and numb, all of which things the Holy Spirit will dissipate through intense prayer.
10 The hatred which is against the demons contributes for us greatly to salvation and is useful to the working of virtue. And we do not have the strength to nourish this hatred in ourselves even as some good offspring, since the spirits, which are lovers of pleasure, corrupt this hatred and call the soul out again to friendship and habitual intercourse. But the Doctor of Souls cures through abandonment this very friendship—or, rather, gangrene which is difficult to cure. He permits us to suffer something fearsome from them day and night, and the soul again runs back to the archetypal hatred, being instructed by the Lord to say, according to David: ‘I have hated them with a perfect hatred; they became enemies to me.’ [Ps. 138, 22.] He hates the enemies with a perfect hatred who neither in action nor in the intellect sins, which very thing is a positive proof of the great and first dispassion.
11 Concerning the demon which makes the soul to be insensible, why is it necessary even to speak? For I have feared even to write concerning it: how the soul abandons its familiar spiritual condition during the time of the sojourn of this demon; casts off the fear of God and piety; considers sin not to be sin; does not consider transgression to be transgression; remembers hell and eternal judgement as a mere word; really, ‘mocks at the fire-bearing earthquake’ [Job 41, 21]; and on the one hand supposedly confesses God and on the other hand does not know what God has commanded. It strikes the breast, the soul being set in motion towards sin, and the soul remains insensible. It discourses from the Scriptures and has been completely hardened and does not listen. You bring forward the reproach of men to the soul and the soul does not reckon the disgrace among the brothers; and the soul does not understand, like a pig which closes its eyes and breaks through a fence. Thoughts of vainglory, if they persist, bring on this demon, of which, ‘If the days were not cut short, no flesh would have been saved.’ [Matt. 24, 22.] And, moreover, it is a demon of those who rarely meet the brothers, and the reason is manifest beforehand: on the occasion of the misfortunes of others or of those who are oppressed by illness or of those who are unhappy in prison or of those who fall into sudden death, this demon is chased away, the soul being pricked bit by bit and coming to sympathy, and the hardness which has been constituted on account of the demon being dissipated—we lack these aforesaid things on account of the desert and the rarity of persons among us who are ill. The Lord, in the Gospels, certainly expelling this demon, commanded us to see the ill and visit those in prison. ‘For I was ill and you visited me, in prison and you came to me.’ [Matt. 25, 36.] However, this must be known: if one of those who are living the life of solitude, falling into the hands of this demon, did not accept obscene thoughts or did not abandon his house from accidie, then he has received chastity and patient endurance coming down from the Heavens and he is blessed on account of such a dispassion. As many of those who have professed piety who deliberately choose to abide among seculars, let them be on guard against this demon. For concerning this demon I am ashamed before men to say or write anything more.