Orthodox River

Second Century

by St Thalassios the Libyan

On Love, Self-control and Life in Accordance with the intellect (νούς)

Second Centur

  1. If you want to be freed from all the vices simultaneously, renounce self-love, the mother of evils.

  2. The soul’s health consists in dispassion and spiritual knowledge: no slave to sensual pleasure can attain it.

  3. Patient self-control and long-suffering love dry up the pleasures of soul and body.

  4. The intelligence (λογικός) by nature submits to the Logos and disciplines and subjugates the body.

  5. It is an insult to the intelligence (λογικός) to be subject to what lacks intelligence (λογικός) and to concern itself with shameful desires.

  6. For the deiform soul to abandon the Creator and worship the body is an act of depravity.

  7. You were commanded to keep the body as a servant, not to be unnaturally enslaved to its pleasures.

  8. Break the bonds of your friendship for the body and give it only what is absolutely necessary.

  9. Enclose your senses in the citadel of stillness (ήσθχία) so that they do not involve the intellect (νούς) in then' desires.

  10. The greatest weapons of someone striving to lead a life of inward stillness (ήσθχία) are self-control, love, prayer and spiritual reading.

  11. The intellect (νούς) will go on looking for sensual pleasure until you subjugate the flesh and devote yourself to contemplation (θεωριά).

  12. Let us strive to fulfill the commandments so that we may be freed from the passions; and let us struggle to grasp divine doctrine so that we may be found worthy of spiritual knowledge.

  13. The soul’s immortality resides in dispassion and spiritual knowledge; no slave to sensual pleasure can attain it.

  14. Subjugate your body, strip it of sensual pleasures, and free it from base servitude.

  15. The demons bind the intellect (νούς) to sensible things by means of desire and fear, distress and sensual pleasure.

  16. Fear of the Lord conquers desire, and distress that accords with God’s will repulses sensual pleasure.

  17. Desire for wisdom scorns fear, and the delight of spiritual knowledge expels distress.

  18. The Scriptures contain four things: commandments, doctrines, threats and promises.

  19. Self-control and strenuous effort curb desire; stillness (ήσθχία) and intense longing (έρος) for God wither it.

  20. Do not goad your brother with obscure words; you would not put up with similar treatment at his hands.

  21. Long-suffering and readiness to forgive curb anger; love and compassion wither it.

  22. If you have been given spiritual knowledge, you have been given noetic light; should you dishonor that light, you will see darkness.

  23. The keeping of God’s commandments generates dispassion; the soul’s dispassion preserves spiritual knowledge.

  24. Contemplate sensible objects noetically and you will raise your sense-perception above the realm of such objects.

  25. Woman symbolizes the soul engaged in ascetic practice; through union with it the intellect (νούς) begets the virtues.

  26. The study of divine principles teaches knowledge of God to the person who lives in truth, longing and reverence.

  27. What light is to those who see and to what is seen, God is to intellect (νούς)ive beings and to what is intelligible.

  28. The sensible firmament symbolizes the firmament of faith in which all the saints shine like stars.

  29. Jerusalem is the celestial knowledge of immaterial beings; within it the vision of peace can be contemplated.

  30. Do not neglect the practice of the virtues; if you do, your spiritual knowledge will decrease, and when famine occurs you will go down into Egypt (cf Gen. 41:57; 46:6).

  31. Spiritual freedom is release from the passions; without Christ’s mercy you cannot attain it.

  32. The promised land is the kingdom of heaven whose ambassadors are dispassion and spiritual knowledge.

  33. The Egypt of the spirit is the darkness of the passions; no one goes down to Egypt unless he is overtaken by famine.

  34. If you make a habit of listening to spiritual teaching, your intellect (νούς) will escape from impure thoughts.

  35. God alone is good and wise by nature; but if you exert yourself your intellect (νούς) also becomes good and wise through participation.

  36. Control your stomach, sleep, anger and tongue, and you will not “dash your foot against a stone” (Ps. 91: 12).

  37. Strive to love every man equally, and you will simultaneously expel all the passions.

  38. The contemplation (θεωριά) of sensible things is shared by the intellect (νούς) and the senses; but the knowledge of intelligible realities pertains to the intellect (νούς) alone.

  39. The intellect (νούς) cannot devote itself to intelligible realities unless you sunder its attachment to the senses and to sensible things.

  40. Devote your senses to the service of the intellect (νούς) and give them no time to be diverted from it.

  41. When the intellect (νούς) gives its attention to sensible objects, withdraw your senses from them, bringing the objects into direct contact with the intellect (νούς).

  42. A sign that the intellect (νούς) is devoted to the contemplation (θεωριά) of intelligible realities is its disdain for all that agitates the senses.

  43. When the intellect (νούς) is engaged in the contemplation (θεωριά) of intelligible realities, its delight in them is such that it can hardly be dragged away.

  44. When the intellect (νούς) is rich in the knowledge of the One, the senses will be completely under control.

  45. Prevent your intellect (νούς) from pursuing sensible things, so that it does not reap the fruits of pleasure and pain which they produce.

  46. When the intellect (νούς) devotes itself continually to divine realities, the soul’s passible aspect becomes a godlike weapon.

  47. The intellect (νούς) cannot be transformed by spiritual knowledge unless it first detaches itself from the soul’s passible aspect by means of its own virtues.

  48. The intellect (νούς) becomes a stranger to the things of this world when its attachment to the senses has been completely sundered.

  49. The proper function of the soul’s intelligent aspect is devotion to the knowledge of God, while that of its passible aspect is the pursuit of self-control and love.

  50. The intellect (νούς) cannot dally with any sensible object unless it entertains at least some kind of passionate feeling for it.

  51. The intellect (νούς) is perfect when transformed by spiritual knowledge; the soul is perfect when permeated by the virtues.

  52. The intellect (νούς)’s attachment to the senses enslaves it to bodily pleasure.

  53. The intellect (νούς) falls from the realm of spiritual knowledge when the soul’s passible aspect abandons its own virtues.

  54. Although we have received the power to become the children of God (cf John 1:12), we do not actually attain this sonship unless we strip ourselves of the passions.

  55. Let no one think that he has actually become a child of God if he has not yet acquired divine qualities.

  56. We are sons of God or of Satan according to whether we conform to goodness or to evil.

  57. A wise man is one who pays attention to himself and is quick to separate himself from all defilement.

  58. An obdurate soul does not notice when it is whipped and so is unaware of its benefactor.

  59. A soiled garment excludes one from the divine wedding feast and makes one a communicant of outer darkness (cf Matt. 22:12-13).

  60. He who fears God will pay careful attention to his soul and will free himself from communion with evil.

  61. If you abandon God and are a slave to the passions you cannot reap God’s mercy.

  62. Even if we do not wish to believe Him, it was Jesus who said that no one can serve two masters (cf. Matt. 6:24).

  63. A soul defiled by the passions becomes obdurate: it has to undergo knife and calltery before it recovers its faith.

  64. Fearful afflictions await the hard of heart, for without great sufferings they cannot become pliable and responsive.

  65. A wise man pays careful attention to himself, and by freely choosing to suffer escapes the suffering that comes unsought.

  66. Concern for one’s soul means hardship and humility, for through these God forgives us all our sins.

  67. Just as desire and rage-multiply our sins, so self-control and humility erase them.

  68. Distress that accords with God’s will shatters the heart, it is produced by the fear of punishment.

  69. Such distress purifies the heart, expelling from it the defilements of sensual pleasure.

  70. Patient endurance is the soul’s struggle for virtue; where there is struggle for virtue, self-indulgence is banished.

  71. All sin (άμαρτία) is due to sensual pleasure, all forgiveness to hardship and distress.

  72. If you are not willing to repent through freely choosing to suffer, unsought sufferings will providentially be imposed on you.

  73. Christ is the Savior of the whole world, and has conferred on men the gift of repentance (μετάνοια) so that they may be saved.

  74. repentance (μετάνοια) engenders the keeping of the commandments, and this in its turn purifies the soul.

  75. The purification of the soul is release from the passions, and release from the passions gives birth to love.

  76. Make the body serve the commandments, keeping it so far as possible free from sickness and sensual pleasure.

  77. The flesh revolts when prayer, frugality and blessed stillness (ήσθχία) are neglected.

  78. Blessed stillness (ήσθχία) gives birth to blessed children: self-control, love and pure prayer.

  79. Spiritual reading and prayer purify the intellect (νούς), while love and self-control purify the soul’s passible aspect.

  80. Always keep the same measure of self-control; otherwise through irregularity you will go from one extreme to another.

  81. If you lay down mles for yourself, do not disobey yourself; for he who cheats himself is self-deluded.

  82. The soul filled with passion lies in noetic darkness, for in such a soul the sun of righteousness has set.

  83. A son of God is a person who through wisdom, power and righteousness has become like God.

  84. The soul’s disease is an evil disposition'^ while its death is sin (άμαρτία) put into action.

  85. Spiritual poverty is complete dispassion; when the intellect (νούς) has reached this state it abandons all worldly things.

  86. Preserve the harmony of the soul’s virtues, and it will bring forth the fruit of righteousness.

  87. Just as the four elements are a combination of matter and form, so the bodies that derive from them are likewise made up of matter and form.

  88. When in His compassion for man the Logos became flesh. He changed neither what He was nor what He became.

  89. Just as we speak of the one Christ as being ‘from Godhead’ and ‘from manhood’ and ‘in Godhead’ and ‘in manhood", so we speak of Him as being ‘from two natures’ and “in two natures’.

  90. We confess that in Christ there is a single hypostasis, or subject, in two indivisibly united natures.

  91. We glorify the one indivisible hypostasis of Christ and confess the union without confusion of the two natures.

  92. We venerate the one essence of the Divinity in three Persons, or hypostases, and confess the coessential Trinity.

  93. Particular to the three Persons are fatherhood, sonship and procession. Common to them are essence, nature, divinity and goodness.