Friday, October 3, 2008
The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Klimakos - Step 18
Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission.
I think this is a very poignant passage from the St. John Klimakos (of the Ladder), maybe because it applies to me. It seems to be a form of hypocrisy, but I think his description is so eloquent and so perceptive that it can bring self-realization and compunction to many. Note: the translation used is from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery edition of the Ladder of Divine Ascent.
From Step 18, or "On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body"
"He who has lost sensibility is a witless philosopher, a self-condemned commentator, a self-contradictory windbag, a blind man who teaches others to see. He talks about healing a wound, and does not stop irritating it. He complains of sickness, and does not stop eating what is harmful. He prays against it, and immediately goes and does it. And when he has done it, he is angry with himself; and the wretched man is not ashamed of his own words. 'I am doing wrong,' he cries, and eagerly continues to do so. His mouth prays against his passion, and his body struggles for it. He philosophizes about death, but he behaves as if he were immortal. He groans over the separation of soul and body, but drowses along as if he were eternal. He talks of temperance and self-control, but he lives for gluttony. He reads about vainglory, and is vainglorious while actually reading it. He repeats what he has learnt about vigil, and drops asleep on the spot. He praises prayer, but runs from it as from the plague. He blesses obedience, but he is the first to disobey. He praises detachment, but he is not ashamed to be spiteful and to fight for a rag. When angered he become bitter, and he is angered again at his bitterness; and he does not feel that, after one defeat, he is suffering another. Having overeaten he repents, and a little later again gives way. He blesses silence, and praises it with a spate of words. He teaches meekness, and during the actual teaching frequently gets angry. Having woken from passion he sighs, and shaking his head, he again yields to passion. He condemns laughter, and lectures on mourning with a smile on his face. Before others he blames himself for being vainglorious, and in blaming himself is only angling for glory for himself. He looks people in the face with passion, and talks about chastity. While frequenting the world, he praises those who live in stillness without realizing that he shames himself. He extols almsgivers, and reviles beggars. All the time he is his own accuser, and he does not want to come to his senses--I will not say cannot."
May Christ save us from this state! Amen!