“There are no devout men left,
fidelity has vanished from mankind.
All they do is lie to one another,
flattering lips, talk from a double heart…
those who say, ‘In our tongue lies our strength,
our lips have the advantage;
who can master us?'” (from Psalm 12)
“The two basic qualities, on which the common life of humans rests, well-wishing or the good will—that is, the readiness to fulfil for the other what he may expect of me in our relationship with one another—and loyalty or reliability—that is, a responsible accord between my actions and my explicit mind—have gone. They have disappeared so completely that the basis of the common life of humans has been removed. The lie has taken the place, as a form of life, of human truth, that is of the undivided seriousness of the human person with himself and all his manifestations.” (Martin Buber, Good and Evil, p. 9)
“Where semblance [or imitation] originates from the lie and is permeated by it, the interhuman is threatened in its very existence. It is not that someone utters a lie, falsifies some account. The lie I mean does not take place in relation to particular facts, but in relation to existence itself, and it attacks interhuman existence as such. There are times when a man, to satisfy some stale conceit, forfeits the great chance of a true happening between I and Thou…Whatever the meaning of the word ‘truth’ may be in other realms, in the interhuman realm it means that men communicate themselves to one another as what they are. It does not depend on saying to the other everything that occurs to him…but on his granting to the man to whom he communicates himself a share in his being.” (“Elements of the Interhuman,” in The Knowledge of Man, p. 77)
“What is ‘love’ at the outset will appear finally as ‘Knowledge’; and what is ‘knowledge’ at the outset will appear finally as ‘Love’.
Perfect Love is ‘luminous’, and perfect knowledge is ‘warm’, or rather it implies ‘warmth’ without being identified with it.”
“The spiritual man of an affective temperament knows God because he loves Him.
The spiritual man of an intellective temperament loves God because he knows Him, and in knowing Him.
The love of the affective man is that he loves God.
The love of the intellective man is that God loves him; that is, he realizes intellectively—not simply in a theoretical way—that God is Love.
The intellective man sees beauty in truth whereas the affective man does not see this a priori. The affective man leans upon truth; the intellective man lives in it.”
“‘God is Light’ (1 John 1:5)—hence Knowledge—even as He is ‘Love’ (1 John 4:8). To love God is also to love the knowledge of God. Man cannot love God in His Essence, which is humanly unknowable, but only in what God ‘makes known’ to him.
In a certain indirect sense God answers knowledge with Love and love with knowledge, although in another respect—in this case direct—God reveals Himself as Wise to the wise and as Lover to the lover.”
“In God Love is Light, and Light is Love. It is irrelevant in this case to object that one divine quality is not another, for here is is not a question of qualities—or ‘names’—but of the divine Essence itself.
God is Love, for by His Essence He is ‘union’ and ‘gift of Self’.”
Source: Frithjof Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives & Human Facts, pp. 158-60
“We said: The man had the desire to see you. He kept saying, ‘I wish I could have seen the Master.’
The Master said: He does not see the Master at this moment in truth because the desire which filled him, namely that he might see the Master, was a veil over the Master. So he does not see the Master at this moment without a veil. So it is with all desires and affections, all loves and fondnesses which people have for every variety of thing—father, mother, heaven, earth, gardens, palaces, branches of knowledge, acts, things to eat and drink. The man of God realises that all these desires are the desire for God, and all those things are veils. When men pass out of this world and behold that King without these veils, then they will realise that all those were veils and coverings, their quest being in reality that One Thing. All difficulties will then be resolved, and they will hear in their hearts the answer to all questions and all problems, and every thing will be seen face to face.
It is not God’s way to answer every difficulty singly, but by one answer all questions will be made known all at once and the total difficulty will be resolved. In the same way in winter every man puts on warm clothes and a leather jacket and creeps for shelter from the cold into an oven, into a warm hollow. So too all plants, trees, shrubs and the like, bitten by the venomous cold remain without leaves and fruit, and store and hide their goods and chattels inwardly so that the malice of the cold may not reach them. When spring in a single epiphany answers their requests, all their various problems, whether they be living, springing or lying fallow, will be resolved, and those secondary causes will disappear. All will put forth their heads, and realise what was the cause of that misery.
God has created these veils for a good purpose. For if God’s beauty would display itself without a veil, we would not have the power to endure and would not enjoy it. Through the intermediary of these veils we derive succour and benefit.
You see yonder sun, how in its light we walk and see and distinguish from bad and are warmed. The trees and orchards become fruitful, and in the heat of it their fruits, unripe and sour and bitter, become mature and sweet. Through its influence mines of gold and silver, rubies and cornelians are made manifest. If yonder sun, which through intermediaries bestows so many benefits, were to come nearer it would bestow no benefit whatsoever; on the contrary, the whole world and every creature would be burned up and destroyed.
When God most High makes revelation through a veil to the mountain, it too becomes fully arrayed in trees and flowers and verdure. When however He makes revelation without a veil, He overthrows the mountain and breaks it into atoms.
And when his Lord revealed Him to the mountain He made it crumble into dust.
Someone interposed the question: Well, is there not the same sun too in the winter?
The Master answered: Our purpose here was to draw a comparison. There is neither ‘camel’ nor ‘lamb’. Likeness is one thing, comparison is another. Although our reason cannot comprehend that thing however it may exert itself, yet how shall the reason abandon the effort? If the reason gave up the struggle, it would no more be the reason. Reason is that thing which perpetually, night and day, is restless and in commotion, thinking and struggling and striving to comprehend, even though He is uncomprehended and incomprehensible.
Reason is like a moth, and the Beloved is like a candle. Whensoever the moth dashes itself against the candle, it is consumed and destroyed. But the moth is so by nature, that however much it may be hurt by that consuming and agony it cannot do without the candle. If there were any animal like the moth that could not do without the light of the candle and dashed itself against that light, it would itself be a moth; whilst if the moth dashed itself against the light of the candle and the moth were not consumed, that indeed would not be a candle.
Therefore the man who can do without God and makes no effort is no man at all; whilst if he were able to comprehend God, that indeed would not be God. Therefore the true man is he who is never free from striving, who revolves restlessly and ceaselessly about the light of the Majesty of God. And God is He who consumes man and makes him naught, being comprehended of no reason.”
Source: Discourses of Rumi, translated by A.J. Arberry, pp. 46-8; Title quote by Jalaluddin Rumi
“We must suppose that those who secretly wrestle with us abide in another great world which, in its nature, is akin to the natural powers of our soul. For the three princes of evil, in their fight with spiritual strugglers, attack the three powers of our soul, and if a man has failed in something or does not strive at something, they overcome him in this very thing. Thus, the dragon—the prince of the abyss—rises in arms against those who keep attention on their heart, as one whose ‘strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly’ (Job xl. 16). He sends the lust-loving giant of forgetfulness against them with his clouds of fiery arrows, stirs up lust in them like some turbulent sea, makes it foam and burn in them and causes their confusion by flooding them with torrents of insatiable passions. The prince of this world, who is charge of warfare against the excitable part, attacks those who follow the path of active virtue. Using the giant of laziness, he encompasses them with all kinds of witchery of the passions and wrestles with those who always put up a courageous resistance. Thus he either vanquishes or is himself vanquished and so he gains them either crowns or shame before the faces of the angels. The prince of high places attacks those who exercise themselves in mental contemplation, by offering them fantasies; for, in company with the spiritual wickedness in high places, his task is to affect the thinking and rise on high, darkens and frightens it, introducing into it vague fantastic images of spirits and their metamorphoses and producing phantoms of lightning and thunder, tempests and earthquakes. Thus each of the three princes, impinging upon the corresponding powers of the soul, wages war against it, conducting his attacks against the particular part allotted to him.”
St. Gregory of Sinai
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians VI. 11, 12)
“The dragon is thy sensual soul: how is it dead? It is (only) frozen by grief and lack of means.
If it obtain the means of Pharaoh, by whose command the water of the river would flow,
Then it will begin to act like Pharaoh and will waylay a hundred (such as) Moses and Aaron.
That dragon, under stress of poverty, is a little worm, (but) a gnat is made a falcon by power and riches.
Keep the dragon in the snow of separation; beware, do not carry it into the sun of ‘Iraq.
So long as that dragon of thine remains frozen, (well and good); thou art a mouthful for it, when it gains release.
Mortify it and become safe from (spiritual) death; have no mercy; it is not one of them that deserves favours;
For (when) the heat of the sun of lust strikes upon it, that vile bat of thine flaps its wings.
Lead it manfully to the spiritual warfare and battle: God will reward thee with access (to Him)…
Dost thou hope, without using violence, to keep it bound in quiet and faithfulness?
How should this wish be fulfilled for any worthless one? It needs a Moses to kill the dragon.”
Source: Whitall N. Perry, The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World’s Wisdoms, pp. 397, 400
“Since all the strength by which our enemies are overcome is born in us from disbelief in ourselves and from trust in God, it is necessary for you, my brother, to acquire exact knowledge of this, in order always to have this strength and to preserve it with the help of God. Know then, and never forget, that neither all our capacities and good features, whether natural or acquired, nor all the gifts freely given us, nor the knowledge of all the Scriptures, nor the fact that we have for long worked for God and have acquired experience in these labours, nor all this together will enable us to do God’s will rightly, if at every good deed pleasing to God, which we are about to undertake, at every affliction we wish to avoid, at every cross we have to bear according to God’s will, if, I say, on all these and similar occasions a special divine help does not inspire our heart and does not give us strength to accomplish it, as the Lord said: ‘Without me ye can do nothing’ (John xv. 5). So for the duration of our life, every day and at every moment, we must keep unchanged in our heart the feeling, conviction and disposition, that on no occasion can we allow ourselves to think of relying on ourselves and trusting ourselves.
As regards trust in God, I will add the following to what I have said in the third chapter: know that nothing is easier for God than to give you victory over your enemies, whether they be few or many, whether they be old and strong or new and weak. Yet He has His own time and order for everything. Therefore if a soul be overburdened with sins, if it be guilty of all the crimes in the world, if it be defiled beyond imagination;—if, at the same time, to the extent of its desire and strength, it uses every means and endeavour to become free of sin and turn to the path of good, but cannot get stable in anything right, however small, and, on the contrary, sinks ever deeper and deeper into evil; even if it is all that, it must not weaken in its trust of God or fall away from Him. It must not abandon its spiritual weapons and strivings but must fight and fight, struggling with itself and with its enemies with all its courage and untiring efforts. For know and under- stand, that in this unseen war all are losers except a man who never ceases to struggle and keep his trust in God; for God never abandons those who fight in His armies, although at times He/ lets them suffer wounds. So fight, everyone, and do not give ground; for the whole thing is in this unceasing struggle. /God is always ready with remedies for those struck down by the enemies and with help for overcoming them, which He sends to His warriors in due time, if they seek
Him and firmly hope in Him. At some’ hour when they least expect it they will see their proud enemies vanish, as is written: ‘ The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight’ (Jer. li. 30).”
Source: St. Theophan the Recluse, Unseen Warfare, Chapter 6, p. 10
“To lose consciousness of oneself, to become conscious of God. To become conscious of the nothing that I am in order to have consciousness of everything that is God. One does not take a step toward God without this preliminary negative. What I am not, God is.
Man makes himself like God in the measure in which he is no longer man, that is, when his transparency, in the absolute sense, is such that God passes through him. This is the deification of man, not human imperfection arrogantly divinized—a haughtiness absolutely outside the place in life that leads to God—but man annulled, abolished, dissipated, so that God alone is because God alone is God and no god is god except God.”
— Guido de Giorgio