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OTT (Text) -- 9

24 The demons do not all tempt us at once, nor do they cast thoughts into us at the same time, on account of the fact that it is not the nature of the mind to accept the mental representations of two sensible objects during the same period of time. For we said in Chapter 17 that an unclean thought does not occur to us without a sensible object. Even if our mind, being extremely quick in its movement, joins our thoughts to each other, one must not think, despite this, that all the thoughts are constituted during the same period of time. For the potter’s wheel does the same sort of thing, on account of the great rapidity of rotation joining two pebbles to each other which have been fixed at the ends of one diameter of the wheel. It is permitted to you, having formed within you the face of your father, to test whether, while this remains, there occurs in addition also a second face, or whether once the first face has left then after that one, the second face is formed. For if it were possible in the same period of time to accept the mental representation of gold and the mental representation of him who has sorrowed [us], then, at all events, it would also occur that, at the same time, we would fall into the hands of the demon of avarice and the demon of rancour, which very thing is among those things that are impossible, on account of the fact that the mind, just as I said, cannot receive at the same time both the mental representation of gold and that of him who has sorrowed [us]. Therefore, in times of temptation, it is necessary to attempt to transfer the mind from the unclean thought onto another mental representation and from that to another, thus to escape that evil taskmaster [cf. Exod. 5, 6; etc.]. If, however, the mind, containing the object, does not change course, it is immersed in the passion; and then it is at risk, travelling towards sin in act. And such a mind, really, stands in need of much purification and vigil and prayer.

25 As many men as have contemplated certain things in the natures on the basis of the objects themselves have also provided the proof from those things which they contemplated. In most things, my proof is the heart of him who is reading and this if the heart should be intelligent and experienced in the monastic life. I have said this on account of the natural principle which now lies before us, which is verified by him who is reading on the basis of those things which occur in his intellect. Here, one must commence one’s reasoning with the fact that it is the nature of the mind to accept the mental representations of all sensible objects and to be imprinted according to those sensible objects by means of this very body, taken as an instrument. For whatever might be the form of the object, there is a necessity of this sort that the mind receive the image, whence the mental representations of objects are also called ‘likenesses’, by virtue of the fact that the very same form is preserved in those [mental representations]. Now, just as the mind accepts the mental representations of all sensible objects, thus also of its own organ [i.e. body]—for this also is sensible—certainly, however, without the face. For the mind cannot form this in itself, not ever having seen it. Further, our mind, with this figure within, does everything, and sits and walks and gives and takes in the intellect. And it does these things and also says as much as it wishes with the celerity of mental representations, sometimes taking up the figure of its own body and extending its hand so as to receive something of those things which are given, sometimes putting off this figure and quickly putting on the form of the neighbour as if it were giving something with its own hands. Without the forms of this sort, the mind would not do anything, being both bodiless and deprived of every such movement. It is therefore necessary for him who is living the life of solitude to watch over his mind during the time of temptations, for the mind is going to seize the figure of its own body, as soon as the demon stands near to it, and, within, to engage in battle with the brother or to touch a woman. For such a one Christ in the Gospels also called an adulterer who has already committed adultery in his heart with the wife of his neighbour [cf. Matt. 5, 28]. Without this very figure, the mind would never commit adultery, being bodiless and unable, without mental representations of this sort, to approach a sensible object. And these are the transgressions. However, pay attention in yourself how the mind clothes itself with the form of its own body without the face, while again, it models the neighbour whole in the intellect, because, encountering him entire beforehand, it also has seen him thus.

But it is impossible that these things be seen in the temptations, how this occurs and is thus quickly accomplished in the intellect, if the Lord does not rebuke the wind and the sea and make a great calm and lead out him who is sailing upon the land to which he was hastening [cf. Matt. 8, 26].

It is necessary, therefore, for him who is living the life of solitude to pay attention to himself ‘lest there occur a secret word in his heart, an iniquity’ [Deut. 15, 9]. For at the time of temptations, once the demon has stood near, the mind is going to seize the figure of its own body.

Having been set in motion from this very contemplation, we have provided the definition (logos) of the unclean thought: for a demonic thought is an image of the sensible man composed in the intellect, imperfect, with which [image] the mind, being set in motion passionately, says or does something lawlessly in secret towards the image which is formed by the mind in succession [to the first].

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