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St. Basil the Great - Bilingual Anthology

WE MUST STRIVE AFTER A QUIET MIND

from St Basil's Letters, the Second Letter, * § 2. Translated by B. Jackson * Greek Fonts ||| St Basil Home Page


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Page 2

Now one way of escaping all this is separation from the whole world; that is, not bodily separation, but the severance of the soul's sympathy with the body, and to live so without city, home, goods, society, possessions, means of life, business, engagements, human learning, that the heart may readily receive every impress of divine doctrine. Preparation of heart is the unlearning the prejudices of evil converse. It is the smoothing the waxen tablet before attempting to write on it. Now solitude is of the greatest use for this purpose, inasmuch as it stills our passions, and gives room for principle to cut them out of the soul. For just as animals are more easily controlled when they are stroked, lust and anger, fear and sorrow, the soul's deadly foes, are better brought under the control of reason, after being calmed by inaction, and where there is no continuous stimulation. Τούτων δὲ μία φυγή͵ ὁ χωρισμὸς ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου παντός. κόσμου δὲ ἀναχώρησις͵ οὐ τὸ ἔξω αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι σωματικῶς͵ ἀλλὰ τῆς πρὸς τὸ σῶμα συμπαθείας τὴν ψυχὴν ἀπορρῆξαι καὶ γενέσθαι ἄπολιν͵ ἄοικον͵ ἀνίδιον͵ ἀφιλέταιρον͵ ἀκτήμονα͵ ἄβιον͵ ἀπράγμονα͵ ἀσυνάλλακτον͵ ἀμαθῆ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων διδαγμάτων͵ ἕτοιμον ὑποδέξασθαι τῇ καρδίᾳ τὰς ἐκ τῆς θείας διδασκαλίας ἐγγινομένας τυπώσεις. ἑτοιμασία δὲ καρδίας ἡ ἀπομάθησις τῶν ἐκ πονηρᾶς συνηθείας προκατασχόντων αὐτὴν διδαγμάτων. οὔτε γὰρ ἐν κηρῷ γράψαι δυνατόν͵ μὴ προκαταλεάναντα τοὺς ἐναποκειμένους χαρακτῆρας· οὔτε ψυχῇ δόγματα θεῖα παραθέσθαι͵ μὴ τὰς ἐκ τοῦ ἔθους προλήψεις αὐτῆς ἐξελόντα. πρὸς δὴ τοῦτο μέγιστον ὄφελος ἡμῖν ἡ ἐρημία παρέχεται͵ κατευνάζουσα ἡμῶν τὰ πάθη καὶ σχολὴν διδοῦσα τῷ λόγῳ παντελῶς αὐτὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἐκτεμεῖν. ὡς γὰρ τὰ θηρία εὐκαταγώνιστά ἐστι καταψηχθέντα͵ οὕτως ἐπιθυμίαι καὶ ὀργαὶ καὶ φόβοι καὶ λύπαι͵ τὰ ἰοβόλα τῆς ψυχῆς κακά͵ κατευνασθέντα διὰ τῆς ἡσυχίας καὶ μὴ ἐξαγριαινόμενα τῷ συνεχεῖ ἐρεθισμῷ͵ εὐκαταγωνιστότερα τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ λόγου γίνεται.
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