Orthodox River

First Century

by St Thalassios the Libyan

On Love, Self-control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect

First Century

  1. An all-embracing and intense longing (έρος) for God binds those who experience it both to God and to one another.

  2. An intellect (νούς) that has acquired spiritual love does not have thoughts unworthy of this love about anyone.

  3. He who has acquired love endures calmly and patiently the injuries and sufferings that his enemies inflict on him.

  4. Love alone harmoniously joins all created things with God and with each other.

  5. A person who does not tolerate suspicion or disparagement of others possesses true love.

  6. He who does nothing to dispel love is precious in the sight of God and among men.

  7. True words from a pure conscience betoken unfeigned love.

  8. If you tell your brother how someone else denigrates him you conceal your own envy in the guise of goodwill.

  9. Worldly virtues promote human glory, spiritual virtues the glory of God.

  10. Love and self-control purify the soul, while pure prayer illumines the intellect (νούς).

  11. A strong man is one who repels evil through the practice of the virtues and with spiritual knowledge.

  12. He who has acquired dispassion and spiritual knowledge has been granted God’s grace.

  13. If you wish to overcome impassioned thoughts, acquire self-control and love for your neighbor.

  14. Guard yourself from hatred and dissipation, and you will not be impeded at the time of prayer.

  15. Inner work destroys self-esteem, and if you despise no one you will repel pride.

  16. The signs of self-esteem are hypocrisy and falsehood; those of pride are presumption and jealousy.

  17. The true ruler is he who rales over himself and has subjected soul and body to the intelligence (λογικός).

  18. The genuineness of a friend is shown at a time of trial, if he shares the distress you suffer.

  19. Seal your senses with stillness (ήσθχία) and sit in judgment upon the thoughts that attack your heart.

  20. Respond without rancor to thoughts of dejection, but oppose thoughts of self-indulgence with enmity.

  21. stillness (ήσθχία), prayer, love and self-control are a four-horsed chariot bearing the intellect (νούς) to heaven.

  22. Waste your body with fasting and vigils, and you will repulse the lethal thoughts of pleasure.

  23. As wax melts before fire, so does an impure thought before the fear of God.

  24. The intelligent soul is greatly harmed when it dallies with an ignoble passion.

  25. Patiently endure the distressing and painful things that befall you, for through them God in His providence is purifying you.

  26. Now that you have renounced toe world and material things, renounce evil thoughts as well.

  27. The proper activity of the intellect (νούς) is to be attentive at every moment to the words of God.

  28. It is God’s task to administer the world and the soul’s task to guide the body.

  29. With what hope will we meet Christ if we are still enslaved to the pleasures of the flesh?

  30. Hardship and distress, whether of our own choosing or providential, destroy sensual pleasure.

  31. The amassing of money fuels the passions, for it leads to increasing indulgence in all kinds of sensual pleasure.

  32. The failure to secure sensual pleasure breeds dejection, while sensual pleasure itself is linked with all the passions.

  33. How God treats you depends upon how you treat your body.

  34. God’s justice is a fair requital for what we have done through our bodies.

  35. Virtue and spiritual knowledge lead to immortality, their absence is the mother of death.

  36. Distress that accords with God’s will puts an end to sensual pleasure, and the destruction of such pleasure is the soul’s resurrection.

  37. Dispassion is a state in which the soul does not yield to any evil impulse, and it can be realized only through Christ’s mercy.

  38. Christ is the savior of both soul and body, and the person who follows in His footsteps is freed from evil.

  39. If you wish to attain salvation, renounce sensual pleasure and learn self-control, love and how to pray with concentration.

  40. The mark of dispassion is true discrimination: for one who has attained the state of dispassion does all things with discrimination and according to measure and rule.

  41. Our Lord and God is Jesus Christ, and the intellect (νούς) that follows Him will not remain in darkness (cf John 12;46).

  42. Concentrate your intellect (νούς), keep watch over your thoughts, and fight with any of them that are impassioned.

  43. There are three ways through which thoughts arise in you: through the senses, through the memory, and through the body’s temperament. Of these the most irksome are those that come through the memory.

  44. The man to whom wisdom has been given knows the inward essences of immaterial things and what is the origin and consummation of the world.

  45. Do not neglect the practice of the virtues and your intellect (νούς) will be illumined; for it is written, ‘I will open for you invisible secret treasures’ (Isa. 45:3. LXX).

  46. The man freed from his passions has been granted God’s grace, and if: he has been found worthy of spiritual knowledge he has received great mercy.

  47. The intellect (νούς) freed from the passions becomes like light, unceasingly illumined by the contemplation (θεωριά) of created beings.

  48. Holy knowledge is the light of the soul; bereft of it, ’the fool walks in darkness’ (Eccles. 2:14).

  49. The man who lives in darkness is a fool, and the murk of ignorance awaits him.

  50. The intellect (νούς) freed from the passions forms conceptual images that are also passion-free, whether the body is asleep or awake.

  51. The completely purified intellect (νούς) is cramped by created beings and longs to go beyond them.

  52. Blessed is he who has attained boundless infinity, transcending all that is transitory.

  53. He who stands in awe of God searches for the divine principles that God has implanted in creation: the lover of truth finds them.

  54. Rightly motivated, the intellect (νούς) will find the truth; but motivated by passion it will miss the mark.

  55. As God is unknowable in His essence, so is He infinite in His majesty.

  56. God, whose essence is without origin or consummation, is also impenetrable in His wisdom.

  57. The sublime providence of the Creator preserves everything that is.

  58. In his mercy the Lord supports all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down’ (Ps. 145:14).

  59. Christ in His justice rewards the living, the dead, and every single action.

  60. If you wish to be in control of your soul and body, forestall the passions by rooting out their causes.

  61. Yoke the powers of the soul to the virtues and they will be freed from the tyranny of the passions.

  62. Curb the impulses of desire by means of self-control and those of anger with spiritual love.

  63. Stillness (ήσθχία) and prayer are the greatest weapons of virtue, for they purify the intellect (νούς) and confer on it spiritual insight.

  64. Only spiritual .conversation is beneficial; it is better to preserve stillness (ήσθχία) than to indulge in any other kind.

  65. Of the five kinds of conversation choose the first three, be sparing of the fourth, and avoid the fifth.

  66. The person who is unaffected by the things of this world loves stillness (ήσθχία); and he who loves no human thing loves all men.

  67. The conscience is a true teacher, and whoever listens to it will not stumble.

  68. Only those who have reached the extremes of virtue or of evil are not judged by their consciences.

  69. Total dispassion renders our conceptual images passion-free: perfect spiritual knowledge brings us into the presence of Him who is utterly beyond knowledge.

  70. Failure to obtain pleasure induces a culpable kind of distress he who scorns pleasure is free from distress.

  71. In general, distress arises from the privation of pleasure, whether it be of a worldly kind or relate to God.

  72. Kingship, goodness and wisdom belong to God; he who attains them dwells in heaven.

  73. The person who in his actions shows that he prefers his body to his soul, and the world to God, is a pathetic creature.

  74. He who does not envy the spiritually mature and is merciful to the wicked has attained an equal love for all.

  75. The person who applies the laws of virtue to soul and body is truly fit to rule.

  76. Spiritual commerce consists in being detached equally from the pleasures and the pains of this life for the sake of the blessings held in store.

  77. Love and self-control strengthen the soul: pure prayer and contemplation (θεωριά), the intellect (νούς).

  78. When you hear something to your benefit, do not condemn the speaker; for if you do you will nullify his helpful admonition.

  79. A depraved mind thinks evil thoughts and regards as defects the achievements of a neighbor.

  80. Do not trust a thought that would judge your neighbor: for it is the man who is a storehouse of evil that thinks evil thoughts (cf Matt. 12:35).

  81. A good heart produces good thoughts: its thoughts correspond to what it stores up in itself.

  82. Keep watch over your thoughts and shun evil. Then your intellect (νούς) will not be darkened but, on the contrary, will see.

  83. Bear in mind the Jews and watch yourself carefully; for the Jews were blinded with jealousy and took Beelzebub for their Lord and God (cf Matt. 12:24).

  84. An evil suspicion darkens the mind (cf. Ecclus. 3:24) and diverts attention from the path to what lies beside it.

  85. To each virtue there is an opposing vice; hence the wicked take vices for virtues.

  86. If the intellect dallies with pleasure or dejection, it rapidly succumbs to the passion of listlessness.

  87. A pure conscience rouses the soul, but an impure thought debases it.

  88. An intellect (νούς) that gives itself over to God in prayer frees the soul’s passible aspect from the passions.

  89. God, who gave being to all that is, at the same time united all things together in His providence.

  90. Being Master, He became a servant, and so revealed to the world the depths of His providence.

  91. God the Logos, in becoming incarnate while remaining unchanged, was united through His flesh with the whole of creation.

  92. There is a new wonder in heaven and on earth: God is on earth and man is in heaven.

  93. He united men and angels so as to bestow deification on all creation.

  94. The knowledge of the holy and coessential Trinity is the sanctification and deification of men and angels.

  95. Forgiveness of sins is betokened by freedom from the passions; he who has not yet been granted freedom from the passions has not yet received forgiveness.