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The Philokalia (φιλοκαλία "love of the good" from φιλία "love" and κάλλος "beauty") is a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox Church hesychast tradition. The collection was compiled in the 18th century by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Macarius of Corinth.

In the whole range of evil thoughts, none is richer in resources than self-esteem. ~ Evagrios the Solitary

Volume One

as translated and edited by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware (1979)
  • Do not desire wealth for giving to the poor.
    • Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life, vol. 1, p. 32
  • Just as it is possible to think of water both while thirsty and while not thirsty, so it is possible to think of gold with greed and without greed. The same applies to other things.
    • On Discrimination, vol. 1, p. 40
  • In the whole range of evil thoughts, none is richer in resources than self-esteem.
    • On Discrimination, vol. 1, p. 46
  • The demon of avarice, it seems to me, is extraordinarily complex and is baffling in his deceits. Often, when frustrated by the strictness of our renunciation, he immediately pretends to be a steward and a lover of the poor; he urges us to prepare a welcome for strangers who have not yet arrived or to send provisions for absent brethren. He makes us mentally visit prisons in the city and ransom those on sale as slaves. He suggests that we should attach ourselves to wealthy women, and advises us to be obsequious to others who have a full purse. And so, after deceiving the soul, little by little he engulfs it in avaricious thoughts and then hands it over to the demon of self-esteem.
    • On Discrimination, vol. 1, p. 51

On Prayer: One Hundred and Fifty-Three Texts

  • When you are praying, do not shape within yourself any image of the deity.
    • On Prayer, vol. 1, p. 63
  • You should be aware of this trick: at times the demons split into two groups; and when you call for help against one group, the other will come in the guise of angels.
    • On Prayer, vol. 1, p. 66
  • 11. Try to make your intellect deaf and dumb during prayer; you will then be able to pray.
  • 71. You cannot attain pure prayer while entangled in material things and agitated by constant cares. For prayer means the shedding of thoughts.
  • 82. Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will soar like a young eagle high in the heavens.
  • 83. Psalmody calms the passions and curbs the uncontrolled impulses in the body; and prayer enables the intellect to activate its own energy.
  • 84. Prayer is the energy which accords with the dignity of the intellect; it is the intellect's true and highest activity.
  • 114. Never try to see a form or shape during prayer.
  • 115. Do not long to have a sensory image of angels or powers or Christ, for this would be madness: it would be to take a wolf as your shepherd and to worship your enemies, the demons.
  • 118. Blessed is the intellect that, undistracted in its prayer, acquires an ever greater longing for God.
  • 119. Blessed is the intellect that during prayer is free from materiality and stripped of all possessions.
  • 120. Blessed is the intellect that has acquired complete freedom from sensations during prayer.
  • 121. Blessed is the monk who regards every man as God after God.
  • 122. Blessed is the monk who looks with great joy on everyone's salvation and progress as if they were his own.
  • 124. A monk is one who is separated from all and united with all.
  • 125. A monk is one who regards himself as linked with every man, through always seeing himself in each.
  • 126. The man who always dedicates his first thoughts to God has perfect prayer.
  • 142. Do you have a longing for prayer? Then leave the things of this world and live your life in heaven, not just theoretically but in angelic action and godlike knowledge.
  • 153. If when praying no other joy can attract you, then truly you have found prayer.
  • The philosopher must be above all a free man, and not a slave of the passions.
  • Philosophy is a state of moral integrity combined with a doctrine of true knowledge concerning reality.
  • One was not rich while another was destitute, nor did one overeat while another starved. The generosity of those who were well off made good what others lacked, this willingness to share eliminating every anomaly and establishing equality and fairness - though even then inequality still existed, produced not as it is now by the mad struggle for social status, but by a great desire to live more humbly than others. Envy, malice, arrogance and haughtiness were banished, along with all that leads to discord.
  • Why do we cling to money and possessions, and disperse our intellect among a host of useless cares? Our preoccupation with such things diverts us from what is more important and makes us neglect the well-being of the soul, leading us to perdition.
  • By crouching a little we are able to spring upwards; and in the same way our faculty of discrimination, after stooping to attend to the needs of the body, can once more look upwards unimpeded, separating itself from all worldly thoughts.
  • Men ... have been given legs that bend: in this way they can descend sometimes to fulfill the needs of the body, and at other times ascend to fulfill those of the soul.
  • We should turn our attention to material things only in so far as some necessity forces us to do so. But always to be creeping on the ground in search of pleasure is defiling and degrading for someone with experience of spiritual knowledge.
  • When bodily concerns predominate, everything in man is asleep: the intellect, the soul and the senses.
  • Improbable details are often included in a story because of the deeper truth they signify.
  • Who, when asked, will refuse to give what is needful to one who lives a holy life?
  • How was Moses able to withstand Pharaoh when he had nothing but holiness to give him courage (cf. Exod. 5)? ... A solitary prophet once censured a king for his unlawful acts, when the king had his whole army with him. ... These holy men achieved such things because they had resolved to live for the soul alone, turning away from the body and its wants. The fact of needing nothing made them superior to all men. They chose to forsake the body and to free themselves from life in the flesh, rather than to betray the cause of holiness and, because of their bodily needs, to flatter the wealthy.
  • But, as for us, when we lack something, instead of struggling courageously against our difficulties, we come fawning to the rich, like puppies wagging their tails in the hope of being tossed a bare bone or some crumbs. To get what we want, we call them benefactors and protectors of Christians, attributing every virtue to them, even though they may be utterly wicked.
  • We should not flatter, because of our needs, those who value highly the very things it is our vocation to despise.

Volume Three

as translated and edited by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware (1979)

Saint Peter of Damaskos

  • By our free choice we abandon our own wishes and thoughts and do what God wishes and thinks. If we succeed in doing this, there is no object, no activity or place in the whole of creation that can prevent us from becoming what God from the beginning has wished for us to be: that is to say, according to His image and likeness, gods by adoption through grace, dispassionate, just, good and wise.
    • A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, p. 76
  • Woe is me, unhappy that I am! What shall I do? I have sinned greatly; many blessings are bestowed upon me; I am very weak. Many are the temptations: sloth overwhelms me, forgetfulness benights me and will not let me see myself and my many crimes. Ignorance is evil; conscious transgression is worse; virtue is difficult to achieve; the passions are many; the demons are crafty and subtle; sin is easy; death is near; the reckoning is bitter. Alas, what shall I do? Where shall I flee from myself? For I am the cause of my own destruction.
    • A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, vol. 3, p. 112

Volume Four

as translated and edited by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware (1999)
  • Stillness is an undisturbed state of the intellect, the calm of a free and joyful soul, the tranquil unwavering stability of the heart in God, the contemplation of light, the knowledge of the mysteries of God, consciousness of wisdom by virtue of a pure mind, the abyss of divine intellections, the rapture of the intellect, intercourse with God, an unsleeping watchfulness, spiritual prayer, untroubled repose in the midst of great hardship and, finally, solidarity and union with God.
    • "On the Inner Nature of Things", #64, p. 125
  • The rays of primordial Light that illumine purified souls with spiritual knowledge not only fill them with benediction and luminosity; they also, by means of the contemplation of the inner essences of created things, lead them up to the noetic heavens. The effects of the divine energy, however, do not stop here; they continue until through wisdom and through knowledge of indescribable things they unite purified souls with the One, bringing them out of a state of multiplicity into a state of oneness in Him.
    • On Spiritual Knowledge, Love and the Perfection of Living, #21
  • The Spirit is light, life and peace. If consequently you are illumined by the Spirit your own life is imbued with peace and serenity. Because of this you are filled with the spiritual knowledge of created beings and the wisdom of the Logos; you are granted the intellect of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:16); and you come to know the mysteries of God's kingdom (cf. Luke 8:10). Thus you penetrate into the depths of the Divine and daily from an untroubled and illumined heart you utter words of life for the benefit of others; for you yourself are full of benediction, since you have within you Goodness itself that utters things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52).
    • On Spiritual Knowledge, Love and the Perfection of Living, #46
  • One day, as he stood repeating more in his intellect than with his mouth the words, 'God, have mercy upon me, a sinner' (Luke 18:13), suddenly a profuse flood of divine light appeared above him and filled the whole room. As this happened the young man lost his bearings, forgetting whether he was in a house or under a roof; for he saw nothing but light around him and did not even know that he stood upon the earth. He had no fear of falling, or awareness of the world, nor did any of those things that beset men and bodily beings enter his mind. Instead he was wholly united to non-material light, so much so that it seemed to him that he himself had been transformed into light. Oblivious of all else, he was filled with tears and with inexpressible joy and gladness. Then his intellect ascended to heaven and beheld another light, more lucid than the first. Miraculously there appeared to him, standing close to that light, the holy, angelic elder of whom we have spoken and who had given him the short rule and the book.
    • "On Faith", p. 18
  • Then sit down in a quiet cell, in a corner by yourself, and do what I tell you. Close the door, and withdraw your intellect from everything worthless and transient. Rest your beard on your chest, and focus your physical gaze, together with the whole of your intellect, upon the centre of your belly or your navel. Restrain the drawing-in of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily, and search inside yourself with your intellect so as to find the place of the heart, where all the powers of the soul reside. To start with you will find there darkness and an impenetrable density. Later, when you persist and practise this task day and night, you will find, as though miraculously, an unceasing joy. For as soon as the intellect attains the place of the heart, at once it sees things of which it previously knew nothing. It sees the open space within the heart and it beholds itself entirely luminous and full of discrimination.
    • "The Three Methods of Prayer", pp. 72-73

Volume Five

as translated by Anna Skoubourdis (2020), p. 305
  • When candle wax is far from the fire, it is solid and can be grasped, but when you put it in the fire it melts, and there it burns in the flame and catches fire and becomes all light and so finds a perfect end in the fire. There is no way for it not to melt in the fire and pour out like water. So too, while man's intellect is by itself, without encountering God, it thinks that everything is solidly in its power. But when it draws near, as it were, to the fire of Divinity and the Holy Spirit, it is completely dominated by that divine light and become all light, and there within the flame of the All-Holy Spirit it is set aflame and softened by divine perceptions. And in that fire of Divinity, there is no way for it to consider it own concerns and desires.

See also

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