ABOUT THE MAIN TASK IN SPIRITUAL LIFE
Archpriest Sergiy Baranov
Church of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos
Iveron monastery of Orsk
September 17, 2023
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Once two pilgrims were going up the Holy Mount Athos. One, two, three days passed. Suddenly, on the third day one of them said, “Why don’t we talk with each other? Why do we keep silent?” The second pilgrim answered, “We do talk. The thing is that we talk in a format of spirit. We do not use a word format, but the spiritual one.” And this way of talking is usually more precise.
It can quite often happen when we cannot find appropriate words to describe delicate situations, which are not connected to rude, earthy things but to spiritual events. Sometimes, it is so hard for a spiritual guide to explain some delicate things to a disciple if there is no spiritual connection. In this case, a word has no power. A word is pronounced, and pronounced, and pronounced but nothing happens because your partner in conversation is not with you spiritually, he cannot understand your word. Or a worse thing may happen, they pervert your word.
Do you remember the verse of the Gospel where disciples asked God, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”1 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them I speak in parables.” Well, who can know and understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven? The one who is in spirit, in spirit of the Gospel, in spirit of Christ. Some people read the Gospel throughout their lives but according to their life quality they can realise that they understand nothing. They had been reading the Gospel all their lives but understood nothing in the end. Someone opened the Gospel, read it, closed it and never even approached it again. He understood nothing there.
The task of tacit prayer life is to eschew the realm of constant thinking process and complicated reasoning. We think, and think, and think, and think. Sometimes we hear, “Look, what a smart person, he thinks a lot, he speaks floridly, he can understand complicated things.” But sometimes those smart people cannot understand very simple things. For example, they cannot realise that they are hurting the feelings of others right now. They speak floridly, but actions are opposite… You can differentiate smart and silly people by their quality of life, by their actions. Today in the Gospel there has been a word, everything is simple, the whole Gospel, “Love God and your neighbour.”2 So you can differ people by their actions towards God and by their actions towards neighbours, and it doesn’t matter how smart you are.
The modern world is boasting now by its brainpower achievements: how far are we from monkeys. We have smartphones, some cutting-edge technologies. However, when we talk about our relationships, how far are we from monkeys in this case? Monkeys. They yell, they rob each other of bananas, they argue, rag, behave awfully. But each of them has a piece of high technology in a pocket and at home. Simple things humans cannot do. They cannot stop a war. But they figured out how to make a bomb, very complicated schemes! But how to negotiate about something — they do not even know. How far are we from monkeys? Monkeys are social animals and even they have some laws to survive.
I wanted to tell you that there is a division of terms: mind and intellect. Intellect is an ability of reasoning. We can encounter this ability in psychiatric hospitals as well, sometimes we can encounter exceptional abilities to reason. Some people cannot even stop this process — reasoning. Their intellect reasons, and reasons, and reasons, so they start to experience sleep deprivation and insomnia in the end. They may even start to jitter, they may have a nervous crisis. So, the ability to reason has nothing to do with the mind. You have the mind when you can understand the essence of things. You may reason incessantly but at the same time you may not understand the essence — what God wants from you. What this situation is about and what God’s plan is here.
Therefore, the mind can understand the essence of things, it understands it briefly and simply. Intellect can confuse the mind sometimes. It happens because there are plenty of thoughts there. Well, try to find the essence in this pile of thoughts. Psychiatry. Thus, holy people were thinking in a simple and brief way because they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit. They did not search for the truth but they were praying, and they knew this truth in a simple and concise way.
She understands that she is happy and that’s it. Isn’t it? And I need to finish as well.
Glory to our God, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
Glory to Thee, our Lord! Glory to Thee, our Lord! Glory to Thee, our Lord!
1 Mt. 13:10
2 Mt. 22:37-39