by St. Paisios the Athonite
"For perverse thoughts separate men from God" (Wis 1:3)
One afternoon, I went to visit the Elder. At the fence of his cell stood a man about thirty years old, waiting for him to open the door. When I arrived, Father Paisios opened his window and asked who it is. I replied:
- It's me, Father, and one layman, I said (and I told him his name).
- Tell the layman to leave, he replied.
Then, the layman said beggingly:
- Father, I really wish to see you.
The Elder answered reproachfully:
- Go, because you upset me as you only trust your own way of thinking and do not listen to what I tell you. Why are you coming here wasting your time?
And he told him to go away. Then, he came and opened the door for me to come in.
- He is a real burden, Father Paisios told me. He does not listen to my words. He comes, ask questions and leaves; after a short while, he comes back and asks me the same things over and over again. This happens because he always listens to his own thoughts; therefore, he forgets what I tell him or does not understand a word.
There was another young man who relied completely on his own thoughts and was led astray. One day, he visited Father Paisios, who told him:
- Do not listen to your thoughts, because you will end up losing your mind. Be careful, you have a very good machine, but its wheel faces the wrong direction. You have to turn it to the right direction, where the good thoughts are. Only you, yourself, can do this along with the help of God. Nobody else can do it for you, as you are free and self-dependent. You turn the wheel and your spiritual father will show you the direction.