Evagrius of Pontus: Do Your Thoughts Swim in a State of Peace?

Feast of St Mary Magdalene, the Holy Myrrh-Bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles

Evagrius_Square.jpgANGER IS a passion that leads to madness and easily drives those who possess it out of their senses; it makes the soul wild and moves it to shun all human encounter.

A fierce wind will not move a tower; irascibility cannot carry off a soul free from anger.

Water is driven by the force of the winds; the irascible person is troubled by senseless thoughts.

The angry monk, like a solitary wild boar, saw some people and gnashed his teeth.

The forming of a mist thickens the air; the movement of irascibility thickens the intellect of the angry person.

A passing cloud darkens the sun; a thought of resentment darkens the mind.

A lion in a cage continuously rattles the hinges; the irascible monk in his cell rattles thoughts of anger.

A calm sea is a delight to contemplate, but there is nothing more delightful than a state of peace. For dolphins go diving in a sea that is calm; thoughts worthy of God swim in a state of peace.

A patient monk is like a still spring offering a gentle drink to all, but the intellect of an angry person is always disturbed and provides no water to the thirsty, and if it does offer water it is muddy and useless.

The eyes of an angry person are irritated and bloodshot and are indicative of a troubled heart; the face of a patient person is composed, with gentle eyes looking downwards.

The gentleness of a man is remembered by God (cf. Ps. 131.1), and a soul without anger becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Christ reclines His head on a patient spirit (cf. Matt. 8.20), and an intellect at peace becomes a shelter for the Holy Trinity.

Foxes find shelter in the resentful soul, and beasts make their lairs in a troubled heart.

A distinguished person avoids a shameful inn, and God avoids a resentful heart.

When a stone falls into water it troubles it; an evil word troubles a man’s heart.

Remove thoughts of anger from your soul, and let not irascibility lodge in your heart, and you will not be troubled at the time of prayer. In the same way as the smoke from chaff irritates the eyes, so does resentment irritate the mind in the time of prayer.

The thoughts of the irascible person area a viper’s offspring (cf. Matt. 3.7); they consume the heart that gave them birth.

The prayer of the irascible person is an abominable incense offering (cf. Is. 1.13); the psalmody of an angry person is an irritating noise.

The gift of a resentful person is a blemished sacrifice (cf. Lev. 22.22) and does not approach the consecrated altar.

The irascible person sees disturbing nightmares, and an angry person imagines attacks of wild beasts.

A patient person has visions of encounters with holy angels, and one free from resentment discourses on spiritual matters and receives in the night the answers to mysteries.

—Evagrius of Pontus, On the Eight Thoughts

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