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TPL (Text) -- 3

On the Eight Thoughts

6 The most general thoughts are eight in all, in which is contained every thought. First, the thought of gluttony; and, after it, the thought of fornication; third, that of avarice; fourth, that of sorrow; fifth, that of anger; sixth, that of accidie; seventh, that of vainglory; eighth, that of pride. Whether all these thoughts trouble the soul or do not trouble the soul is among those things which are not within our power; for these to persist or not to persist, or to set passions in motion or not to set in motion, is among those things which are within our power.

7 The thought of gluttony suggests to the monk the quick fall from his ascetical endeavours, portraying the stomach, liver, spleen and dropsy, and a long illness, and the rarity of necessary things and the lack of doctors. It often brings the monk also to the remembrance of certain brothers who have fallen into these passions. Sometimes this thought persuades those very persons who have suffered such things to meet the continent and to narrate their own misfortunes, as though those things had happened on account of their ascesis.

8 The demon of fornication forces [the monk] to desire various bodies; and it attacks with greater fierceness those who are continent, so that they stop their continence as leading to nothing; and, polluting the soul, it bends it towards those works; and it makes the soul speak certain words and also hear, as if the object were present and seen.

9 Avarice suggests a long old age and the weakness of the hands for work, famines which will be and illnesses which will occur and the bitter things of poverty and as shameful to accept from others those things which are necessary.

10 Sorrow, then, sometimes occurs as a result of the deprivation of desires and sometimes follows on anger. As a result of the deprivation of desires, it occurs in this way: certain thoughts by anticipation lead the soul to remembrance of home and parents and the former way of life. And when they see the soul not resisting but following and dissipating itself in pleasures which occur in the intellect, then taking the soul, they immerse it in sorrow as though the former things were no longer existent and neither able to exist any more because of the present way of life. And the wretched soul, as much as it dissipated itself in the former thoughts, being humiliated, that much contracts itself on account of the latter thoughts.

11 Anger is a very quick passion; it is said to be a boiling and a movement of the temper against him who has committed an injustice [against the monk] or who is thought to have committed an injustice. This very thing, anger, the whole day makes the soul savage, and, moreover, during the prayers, it seizes the mind, mirroring the face of the person who has grieved [the monk]. It happens that when anger persists for a long time and is transformed into wrath, it provides disturbances by night, wasting away of the body, pallor, and attacks by venomous beasts. One could find these four things which occur after wrath to follow many thoughts.

12 The demon of accidie, which is also called ‘the noonday demon’ [Ps. 90, 6], is the heaviest of all the demons. It appears to the monk around the fourth hour and it circles about his soul until the eighth hour. At first, it makes the sun appear slow to move or motionless, showing the day to have fifty hours. Then it presses [the monk] to look continually towards the doors and to leap out of his cell, to stare at the sun to see how far it is away from the ninth hour, and to look around here and there, perhaps one of the brothers [has come]. Moreover, it presents a hatred for the place and towards this way of life, and towards the labour of the hands; and [it presents the thought] that charity has gone from the brothers and that there is no one who consoles [the monk], and if, then, during those days, there might be someone who has sorrowed the monk, the demon adds that to the increase of hatred. It leads the monk also towards the desire for other places in which he can easily find the necessary things and exercise an art or trade which is rather easier and more advanced; and, it adds, pleasing the Lord does not depend on being in a place; but, it says, everywhere the Divine is to be worshipped [cf. John 4, 21–4]. It joins to these things also the remembrance of familiars and of the former way of life; it shows the time of life to be long, bringing the pains of asceticism before the eyes; and, as one says, it sets in motion every mechanism so that the monk, abandoning his cell, leaves the arena. Another demon does not follow immediately on this demon; a peaceful condition and an unspeakable joy succeed to the soul after the struggle.

13 The thought of vainglory is a very subtle sort of thought and it occurs alongside those who have accomplishments, wishing easily to publish their struggles and hunting after the glories which are from men [cf. 1 Thess. 2, 6]: figuring demons crying out and women being cured and some sort of crowd touching the monk’s garments. It then prophesies to the monk the priesthood and it presents those seeking him at the doors, and how, if he does not wish, he will be led away bound. And thus making the monk exalted in these vain hopes it flies away leaving it either to the demon of pride to tempt him, or else to the demon of sorrow, which brings to him thoughts opposed to these vain hopes; it also sometimes happens that it gives over to the demon of fornication the just-now bound and sacred priest.

14 The demon of pride becomes the purveyor to the soul of the most severe fall. It seduces the soul not to confess that God is its helper, to think that it itself is the cause of its accomplishments and to be puffed up against the brothers as ignorant because they do not all know this very thing concerning it. Anger and sorrow follow this demon and, the last evil, an ecstasy of the mental faculties, frenzy and a multitude of demons seen in the air.

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