The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios
So that he does not burden us at all, to not create any obligation to us, to leave us completely free, to do whatever we want. Not for us to be forced by his beauty to some degree. He could easily impose his love not with fears and power and strength, but simply with the sweetness of His presence, which no one could resist. He loves us so much, he desires us so much strongly that his innards are burned, out of desire and love for us. To wake us up, to motivate our interest, to make us understand and love Him. He sits and occupies himself with each one of us personally, and simultaneously with the whole universe, the infinitely powerful one.
And because he has interest for this infinite universe the love and interest he has for each one of us personally is not lessened not even to the slightest degree, does not subside even in thought. God wants our love. He does not demand it.
- The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios (Dionysios Farasiotis)!
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Love is an emotion which is born and lives only in the air of freedom, outside of it, it ceases existing, it is perverted, altered, it dies. For this reason, God leaves us completely free to gain our love, which can be born only in this freedom. What do we have and God loves us? Some beauty, some smartness, some power, some virtue? We are nonexistent before Him and His gifts. And not only do we not have something worth it for one to love us, but we also have very many things which stink and push away and strongly urge someone to be averted from us and to hate us.
We are fainthearted to His generosity. Of very slight intelligence before a vast intellect. Wicked before His smartness. Grabbers, at the moment when He wholeheartedly offers. That which He grants us richly, overflowing, we want to grab. We respond to His kindness with grabbing and mockery. Ungrateful to His benefactions. Haughty in behavior before His almightyness. Sly and insufficient before His Wisdom.
Frederica Here and Now
He wants to grant us His Grace, He wants to give us beauty, life, Wisdom, power. We do not want to take them as gifts. Our egotism destroys them, our pride makes them filthy. We cannot keep any of His gifts due to our evil disposition. And if something of these remains in our soul, we immediately get puffed up from pride, as if we obtained them with our value, as if it is not a gift, without toil.
We lift up our eyebrow and look down at our neighbor. The gift is lifted up and leaves from our soul. What can I say?
Their Hearts Shall Live Forever
Where should I stop? A big bunch of horribleness we are. Our fallen human nature, which voluntarily remains fallen and sunk in the filth of the passions, only regurgitation and asphyxiation it calls forth from its filth. As the prophet Isaiah also used to say. It does not refer to a wound which is rotting, of a deep wound which man.. Where can you put gauze? Where medicine?
He out of kindness and love to reform it from the beginning. This is human nature today. It was not thus always. We were not created thus, we ended up thus. Our choices formulated us thus. We constantly choose evil and thus destroy ourselves. And whereas we were created beautiful, bright, almighty, wise and honored, dominating the material world, immortal, we ended up today mortal, dark, subject to the needs of material life, to pain, to illness, to affliction, to corruption, to death. And God loves us. He still loves us.
With a love which burns, with a love which trembles with longing, with a love which overlooks the pain which we cause it, with a love which accepts to enter into our toil, which accepts to suffer from the craziness of our evil. O my God! How much pain do we cause you! God loved us so much, that He accepted to become a man. He moderated His majesty in our humility.
He accepted to ascend on the Cross. He accepted to leave the devil with his sly plots to put Him up on the Cross and there, to crush the head for the snake. Now henceforth we can defeat the devil whenever we want. And all these for our sake. For me and for you. I continued feeling God and to understand Him with my heart. A deep calmness flooded me. Every fear was annihilated. Since the almighty God exists, since He knows everything, since He is so good, since He is so wise, since He loves me so much, what should I fear? I am in His embrace! I am in His palm. Who can do anything to me?
I rejoiced, because in the end, as always He will be the victor and kindness and holiness will triumph. God is Spirit! The world is matter. The spirit surpasses matter, supports it in existence, brings it into existence, maintains it in existence, however it is a completely other thing from matter.
Matter is destined to disappear. The spirit always exists. Time is a result, a quality of matter. In the matter the spirit exists time does not exist. Eternity is the manner of existence of the Spirit. Past and future coincide in a vast present. It is simultaneously everywhere from the infinite universe and in my car. He is very simple in nature, however so mysterious. How deeply my soul was satisfied!
How much I rejoiced! How much I was comforted! How much do I want to relive it again! I rejoice in the thought that when I die I will begin, I hope, to live near Him. I would like to die today, if I knew that I would meet Him. I fear my sin, my evil, that it might separate me from Him. If I judge from the road the car did, kilometers probably, but due to the many curves I was going slowly.
I certainly was not, as I am now that I am writing. Man is altered from many things. It is unique. As if someone pulled away a curtain from my mind, from my soul, and I began living in the same world on the one hand, but in the whole world, whereas first I lived in a part of it. Imagine a deaf person who suddenly begins hearing. He lived in the same world, but without the sounds. Now he hears too.
Imagine a blind person who suddenly begins seeing. The same world now has images and colors too. So thus I also lived in the same world, just that I felt God also and within Him many many, deep, important, and beautiful things. I was suddenly a partaker of the material and of the spiritual world. I imagine somewhat thus must people have been.
Adam and Eve in Paradise must have been much better, because as the Holy Scripture also says, they saw, heard and spoke with God. Then human nature had not yet suffered the destruction, which I have today. The sensorial spiritual instruments worked well. They were covered with the thick scales of my evil.
They were plugged up from the mud of my sin. I am wholly buried in the filth of my passions. Someone took me out for one moment from in there, and I also lived as a human. Now I again live like a filthy and sick man, deaf, blind and senseless. Do I truly desire I wonder to live thus? If they granted it to me again, I would accept it joyfully. Now I know the path to go there on my own. And the work is for me to keep His commandments.
So when he first went to Mount Athos and came to know some of the monks there, he realized that things were not as he thought they were. He began a conversation with a young monk around his age, and he realized that he was intelligent and aware of the various issues in life, and he came to befriend him and respect him.
It was this monk who urged him to go speak with Father Paisios, and though he was reluctant to do so, he went out of respect for the young monk. When he first arrived at the cell of Elder Paisios at Panagouda, the Elder asked him who he was looking for. He responded "Elder Paisios.
Is it you? When he entered through the gate he saw the Elder up at the balcony, and as he approached the Elder asked him to pass over his jacket which was nearby. To pass the Elder his jacket he had to look up towards the balcony, and it was the first time he saw his face. As soon as he saw his face, he became blinded by a light and inside he felt as if he was melting and an inexpressible peace. This made him wonder what he just saw, thinking how it was possible for lightning to come from the face of a man. He then met the Elder, and was impressed by how humble and friendly and easy going he was.
Athanasios felt him to be so friendly, that he asked if he could give him a friendly kiss. Then they started a conversation. Elder Paisios told him: "Do you remember when you were young, and your father was in Athens and this and that happened. Well, the problem for which you came stems from that moment.
As he left the cell of the Elder, he realized the Elder knew him better than he knew himself. When he returned home, he continued living the lifestyle he lived before, far from the Church and far from Christ. But his encounter with Elder Paisios made an impression on him. After a month he returned to visit the Elder, and began a relationship with him, which changed his life, and they became close over the next twelve years till when the Elder passed away. But shortly after beginning this relationship and starting to study Orthodoxy, he saw an icon of the Transfiguration, with Christ illuminated and His disciples unable to look upon Him.
This made him wonder that what he experienced with the Elder was similar to what happened with the disciples when they saw Christ transfigured. This also made him realize that the Orthodox faith is a living faith, and what he read in the Gospels is what he saw in the Elder. The feeling of melting within his heart is something he felt many times.
He explains how once he took the Elder on a three day trip throughout the Muslim villages of Thrace, and being with him for those three days gave him a continuous feeling of melting within. Another time at Mount Athos, around Christmas time, he asked the Elder jokingly if he was going to give him a gift. The Elder then took him by the hand and he felt his heart literally burning within him, overwhelmed with a feeling of otherworldly divine love.