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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