WOE FROM WIT
Archpriest Sergiy Baranov
The Holy Trinity Cathedral, Iveron Monastery of Orsk
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy!
I have a question for you. Raise your hands those who is willing to make mistakes. Oh! Here is one insane woman. You should visit a doctor. Usually, people do not want to make mistakes consciously. Do they? Why should we make mistakes? Mistakes always lead to a trouble.
Then I have another question. Who of you can do without mistakes? No one again. As a rule, no one, except for some queer people, wants to make mistakes cautiously because mistakes bring discomfort in our lives and ruin its mere structure.
No one can do without mistakes. We always make mistakes. How do you think, why does this happen? Don’t you know? I think we are all crazy. Forgive me, of course. Well, who then does not want to make mistakes but keeps making them? The one who is wrong in the head. I guess, we are all wrong in the head. Do you know why this is so and what is happening there? There is a mess in our head. We do not see obvious and simple things and constantly make mistakes because we have a mess of thoughts there. The “smarter” (in commas) we are, the more mistakes we make, as our intellect, or what we call it, is our insanity in truth. Too many thoughts. These thoughts tangle with one another and mix, and we cannot distinguish in this mixture the answer to what we should do, how we should act correctly, as everything is so confused there.
We may turn a simplest business into the most complicated one. Do you know who helps us in doing so? If you go to church for a long time, you might hear and know that God is the greatest simplicity. And everything is definite and clear in this simplicity: yes is yes and no is no. Do you remember what the Lord says in the Gospel? He says, “Let your word be simple: your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” A word comes from a thought, it is brought from the head. If everything is complicated in one’s head, it will never give a simple word, this word will never give a simple decision, and everything will always remain complicated. We are ill ourselves, but there is someone who stimulates and makes our illness progress. Who do you think this is? Surely, this is not the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes, everything is very simple and definite: this is a sin, this is the truth. “My child, do it this way and you will be happy and do not do it that way.” But when the truth and false are mixed in one cocktail, you will never distinguish what to do and how to act, as everything is confused.
Satan mixes our thoughts and makes everything complicated in order to make us insane in these murky waters, deceive us and possess us through this in the end. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit simplifies our thoughts. He makes our thoughts and actions simpler. We think in a simple way and understand everything simply. Well, simplicity is relative and the truth is relative too. Someone might say, “Oh, the truth is so complicated, one should think a lot, dig to the roots, and come at the truth.” However, for someone the truth is very simple. Stop digging and set yourself to Christ. He is the Truth. That’s it. Nevertheless, you do not trust Him, but you trust your thoughts and you keep spinning in this whirl. Christ is the Truth, not you. You are a poor man, as if someone has lowered a mixer into your head and mixed everything there. I tell you as a spiritual guide, I sometimes want to cry. We may pervert and make complex the simplest thing ever. I sometimes want to say, “What’s going on? O Lord, everything is so simple. What is happening to you?”
They say, people may go crazy because of the Jesus prayer. It might happen not because of the Jesus prayer, but due to incorrect practice of it. Has someone understood the essence of the Jesus prayer? What is the essence of it? When we say the Jesus prayer, we practice the stoppage of our thoughts in one point and in one phrase, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” At this moment, we turn away from all the mess in our head and simply say, “Jesus, Jesus.” What have I already told you about the truth? Christ is the Truth. Our thoughts, logical conclusions, all those labyrinths, where we go and never find the way out, are not the truth. Christ is the Truth. This is very simple and short, “Jesus, Jesus.”
You see those people who say the Jesus prayer with their mouths and wander in those labyrinths of logic with their heads, have nothing to do with the Jesus prayer. They go mad not because of the Jesus prayer, but because of being highbrows. The Jesus prayer, on the contrary, teaches us simplicity of mind where everything is simple. But those people think they say the Jesus prayer and it sends them a thousand of revelations and they enjoy them and go crazy. If the Jesus prayer has the right way, it will not make anyone crazy. Quite the opposite, it brings people back to sanity. Stop, o man, in your thoughts, and come back to your senses. No matter how high you fly in your thoughts, they are mere fancies and illusions; satan deceives you, he will fly with you up to the Sun, but then will smash you against the ground.
It is very easy for a spiritual guide to distinguish who says the Jesus prayer correctly and who does not. He sees who is in a good spiritual state and who is insane. Those who have a sober head, act soberly, very simply, laconically and shortly. Meanwhile, those who have a mess in their heads will turn the simplest business into a universe disaster. For example, one may give a tree sapling to two people. One of those people would be a simple headed person, another one, though being faithful, with a mess in his head. The one having a simple mind would say, “Lord bless me to plant this tree.” He digs a hole, puts a little manure in it, plants the tree, covers the roots with soil, waters it with three buckets of water, crosses it and leaves.
At the same time, the one who has a complicated mind will make a whole business out of this. “Let us read the Akathist for planting an apple tree. Interesting, are the Akathist for an apple and the one for a pear tree differ or not? ” They read the Akathist. “Let us have a round procession with this sapling.” They go. “Let us do something with the roots.” In the end, while they do all this, the roots become dry, and soon after the planting, the tree dies. “Lord, where are You?” He says, “Madman, I was crying for three hours when you were making a spectacle of yourself. I was here, but you were too smart to ask Me. Even if I tried to say something to you, you would nevertheless say, ‘Lord, wait. I will read up the Akathist.’”
No one goes mad because of the Jesus prayer. People go crazy because of their highbrowness. You see, the main criterion, those who think simply, say simply and act simply and everything is simple in their lives. Everything surrounding them is simple. Meanwhile, it is very hard and sometimes even unbearable near the person who complicates everything. Lord, have mercy! It’s impossible! Someone prays sincerely, “Lord, give me some intelligence!” He thinks intelligence is many thoughts. “The more thoughts I have, the smarter I will be.” Today, when you come back home, think about my words. Is having many thoughts speaks for your intellect or… What is it called in psychiatry? Schizophrenia. God forbid! Where everything is simple there are a hundred Angels, where everything is complicated, there are no Angels.2 They have all flown away.
Glory to our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!
1“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Mt. 5:37)
2The quote from St. Ambrose of Optina.