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21. Who resembles a person who satisfies his passions? He is like a person who, after being struck down with his enemyís arrows, then takes them with his hands and pierces his own heart with them. He who opposes passions is like a person that is showered with his enemyís arrows, but remains untouched because he is dressed in steel. One who has eradicated his passions, is like a person that although under a torrent of arrows, either shatters them or returns them into the hearts of his enemies ó just as the Psalm states: "Their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken" (Psalm 37:15).

21. One elder was walking with his pupil among cypress-trees. Some of them were tall while others small. Pointing to a very small cypress, he invited his pupil to pull it out. The pupil promptly did this with one hand. The elder suggested he do the same to a slightly larger tree. The pupil complied by using both hands. The next tree the elder nominated was larger still and the pupil uprooted it, but with great difficulty. Finally, the elder nominated a much larger tree. Try as he may, the pupil was incapable of pulling it out. The elder then spoke: "So are our passions: while they are small, we are capable of pulling them out easily; if we neglect them, they will strengthen and the stronger they become, the more difficult it will be to rid ourselves of them."

21. If even one passion becomes a habit with a person, it will torment him. Sometimes, even one evil habit can surmount many good deeds performed by a person. For example, if even only one talon of an eagleís foot gets entangled in a net, he would be captured. Similarly, a soul can fall into the hands of the enemy because of one passion. Consequently, donít allow even one passion to turn into a habit, but constantly pray to God so as not to succumb to temptation. If through our weakness we find ourselves conquered, let us force ourselves to arise immediately, begin to lament before Godís goodness and begin again to be vigilant and dutiful. And God seeing our good intentions, humility and penitent heart, will offer His helping hand and will deal with us according to His mercy.

21. It is not he that got angry once can be called wrathful, and it is not he that fell once to lust as lustful, and it is not he who showed kindness can be called kind ó but as with benevolence and as with iniquity, it becomes a habit with repetition. And it is this habit that later either torments or calms. Benevolence calms because the more we do good, the more we acquire the habit in virtue and through it, return to ourselves the natural qualities and ascend to our primordial soundness. Whereas iniquity torments, because through it we are receiving an alien and damaging habit into our nature, which does destroy us.

22. The soul, according to the extent of the sin becomes fatigued, because sin weakens and brings the person that has succumbed to it into exhaustion. That is why a person is overburdened with everything that happens to him. If a person thrives in goodness, then according to the measure of his success, everything that previously seemed burdensome has now become much lighter.

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