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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
Delusion and Deception
By By St. Paisios the Athonite, from "Elder Paisios’ Spiritual Counsels: Spiritual Struggle," vol. 3, ch. 4.
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
[2 Tim 3:13]
† † †
Regarding the Delusion of the Pentecostals
– Elder, the things that are said by those who go over to the Pentecostals—that is, about seeing visions, speaking in tongues, etc.—are those things from their own imagination, or from demonic influences?
– They are energies of demonic influences; because when they go over to the Pentecostals and are re-baptized, they are actually disregarding, denying the Holy Baptism: I confess one Baptism, in absolution of sins… as the Creed declares, in which case, they un-baptize themselves and become susceptible to demonic influences and then they … jabber-jabber, supposedly in tongues. "It is the Holy Spirit of the Pentecost talking" they tell us. But it is not the Holy Spirit; it is a whole mess of unclean spirits.
What tongues? They are merely uttering gibberish, which not even they can comprehend. They even record that gibberish and then produce statistics and reach conclusions: "That tongue has so many hallelujahs in it, and there are so many in the other tongue…" Well, it’s to be expected, among so much jabber-jabber, you will surely hear something that resembles the word hallelujah in one of the languages of the world! And so you can see, while it is something demonic, they actually believe that demonism to be the energy of the Holy Spirit, and that they are supposedly experiencing what the Apostles had experienced on the day of the Pentecost! It is blasphemies that they believe, which is the reason why they become demon-possessed.
– Elder, why are they re-baptized?
– Because they claim: "When I was baptized, I was young and didn’t know; now I am baptized and fully aware." They are re-baptized, and thus justify their sins. If the Church didn’t have infant Baptism, what would happen to infants in case of death before their Baptism? That is why a godparent becomes the child’s guarantor and recites the Creed and bears responsibility for the child until it is of age. Is the child treated unfairly, simply for being baptized young? No; on the contrary, it is helped because it receives Holy Communion. And when the child has grown up and is already baptized, even if any sin is committed, there is always repentance and confession, which can wash away any committed sin, without the need of being baptized again.
– Elder, they say that the fire-walkers on the feast-day of Saint Constantine trample across a patch of glowing coals on the ground and yet they don’t suffer any burns. What is that about?
– It is both demonic as well as a deception. The fact that they dance holding an icon or the Cross is impudence on their part—it is a denial of faith. The grace of God withdraws from them, which is why the devil assists them. Is it possible for the devil to not help them, after such behavior? Of course not; they are "entitled" to receive his assistance! However, it is also their own cunning that helps. They go beforehand to prepare the spot; in other words, they burn wood taken from plane trees—wood that leaves a lot of ash behind—and they also know where they tread, when they dance. Why don’t they choose wood that will retain the burning embers? Let someone else prepare the fire, and THEN let them go there and dance on it!
Someone once said to me: "It’s a miracle! The fire-walkers are standing on the fire and aren’t being burnt!" "Is that what you’re admiring?" I replied; "Demons have been standing inside the fires of hell for entire centuries and haven’t been burnt; that’s what you should be admiring, and not these people here, who are treading lightly over some coals and ashes without being burnt…"
– Elder, how can people—even educated people—believe in reincarnation?
– Reincarnation "accommodates" certain people, especially the atheists, the unbelievers. This is the devil’s greatest trick. The devil keeps them living the life of sin, by inspiring the thought that the soul comes back again and again in this world. "Eh, even if you don’t succeed this time around (says the devil), you will come back to life and succeed the next time; and if again you don’t succeed, you will again come back, again and again… you will evolve…"! So those people say to themselves "It doesn’t matter if I commit this sin also…" and they throw caution to the wind; they live carelessly, they don’t repent. See how the devil blinds them, and gets them hooked in hell? I have never seen bigger cunning and artfulness by the devil, for the purpose of getting people into hell! And if the devil gets his hooks into you once, do you think he will let you turn back? This is the worst theory of all the Hinduist theories.
Late one afternoon, a young man came by the my hut. "You know, around this time of day, I normally read Vespers" I told him. "Do you still preoccupy yourself with those things?" he said, and walked off. The next day he came around again and told me about his visions. "Did you smoke hash before?" I asked him. "I used to. Yes. But when I saw the visions, I hadn’t smoked any." "Did you perhaps read anything about reincarnation?" "Yes" he replied. Well, that’s where he was snagged. He had read about reincarnation, egotism entered the scene and it fashioned dreams that thousands of years ago, he was an important man, and wealthy! Then he saw in another vision that he went up to heaven but he wasn’t listed there, so he was told to go back down. The devil created that condition in him. So I remarked: "All of this is just fairytales, and you actually believe it?"
And unfortunately there are even educated people who believe in such foolishness. There was a donkey near my hut which they had named Nasser, because he was such a frisky animal. One day, a Greek man who lived in Switzerland came to visit, and he heard me calling out to the donkey with the name Nasser. When he came to visit again after some time, he brought with him a box of plain sweets and another box with special sweets. "These are for you" he said, handing me the plain sweets. "These special sweets are for Nasser" he said. "I recognized him from the last time I visited that it was Nasser. When I went up to the donkey, it looked at me with a sad gaze that broke my heart"! He actually believed that Nasser (of Egypt) was reincarnated and had become a donkey! He actually believed it! "Are you out of your mind?" I said to the man. "I named the donkey Nasser because it was such a lively creature!" But the man simply couldn’t be convinced.
And that’s nothing! Let me tell you of another incident: Years ago, some Germans went to Crete to perform a memorial service for the Germans who were killed during the Occupation in Greece. During the service, a Cretan local passed by with his donkey that was laden with his goods. When the donkey spotted all the people gathered there, he began to bray. One of the Germans thought that the donkey was his brother who had been killed in the war and was reincarnated! Apparently the donkey had recognized him and was greeting him with its braying! The German stood at attention, and—snap!—greeted it in military fashion!... He then broke into tears!... so, he immediately went over to the Cretan and said to him: "How much do you want, so I can buy it?" "Get lost!" the Cretan replied… But the German was counting his money: "This much? This much?" "Go away, leave me alone" the Cretan kept saying. Finally, another local said: "You moron, he’s paying you the value of a Mercedes for the donkey, just give it to him!" So the Cretan unloaded the donkey, removed its saddle, set it free, and the German took it with tears in his eyes, and brought it back to Germany with him!
– Seriously, Elder?
– It’s a fact! If I hadn’t heard it from a reliable witness, I wouldn’t have believed it either.
Regarding the Hinduists’ "Ascesis"
– Elder, do Hinduists achieve a certain self-control because they are helped by the severe ascesis that they perform through yoga?
– They strive and they strive, and what do they achieve with it? Orthodox self-restraint and spiritual ascesis in general always aspire to a loftier spiritual purpose: the sanctification of the soul. Their satanic, worldly ascesis is only implemented to give them a flexible body so that they can contort arms and legs like a paper puppet, and so that other foolish people might admire them and the silly demons can ridicule them. From early childhood they learn to twist their legs and place the one leg over one shoulder and the other leg over the other shoulder, and that’s how they "pray." They practice by punching their fist for many hours against a sack of gravel, and then they are enabled to break stones, wood, etc.
But, even all the things they say that they feel have an explanation. For instance, they drag their tongue until it touches their nose or they suck it in until it touches their throat, and this causes an aggravation, the feel a certain sweetness—a tickling—and they say "This is nectar"… Then they press down on certain nerves near their ears and they hear a "hummmm" sound like music. Or they press their eyes and this makes them see little stars! They sit staring at the sun with eyes wide open and when they close them, they can see light! "There! We did it! We saw uncreated light!"
So the devil says: "Oh, so you want lights? Let me give you lights!" and he then cultivates their imagination so that afterwards, without pressing their eyes or holding them open to the sun, they will be able to see lights. The devil often tries to seduce us without being provoked, by presenting lights, etc., but we turn our backs to him, so just imagine what would happen if we provoked him! All he needs is an excuse to act!
– In other words Elder, the devil presents them with various images?
– Yes. He cultivates their imagination to a large degree and then he leads them to delusion. Some of our own people go to the Indians (the holy Elder is referring to the people of India, not to American Indians, Ed.), the Indians teach them to utter some vile remarks in their language about Christ, about the Holy Mother, about the saints—unbeknownst to them—and they become demon-possessed. Then they begin to utter all sorts of ineffable words. They reach a wild state and others who observe them think that they are in a spiritual state! But it is a demonic state.
Hinduism Has Caused Severe Damage
The Indians, who are an extremely intelligent people, while having metaphysical concerns and lots of heart, preoccupy themselves with supposed philosophy, with delusions and with sorceries. They wreak havoc among Europeans with their theories. And you can see how their leaders are as fit as bulls, while the others in India are dying of hunger! They come to Greece also, and they fool people with nirvana, with laziness, with reincarnations… meantime in their books they even use quotes from the Holy Bible, from the Philokalia, from the Fathers, and thus attract people. In olden times, the Orthodox would in no way believe in Hinduist theories! Now—how can one say it—there are even some very correct people who support such nonsense and who give a whole lot of money. Hinduism has caused severe damage.
– Elder, are there any Indians who are Orthodox Christians?
– Very few. There were a few who remained from the Church that the Apostle Thomas had established, but they were abandoned. Others became (Roman) Catholics, others Protestants. Today, the Orthodox there are very few.
The things that other religions or para-religions present as miracles have nothing in common with the miracles of our Faith. Christ wants us to be honorable; He does not want us to love Him because He is Omnipotent. If He wanted, He could work a miracle and make the whole world believe instantly. But that way, He would be confining man’s freedom. That is why He said Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed. (Jn 20:29).
Orthodoxy has the miracle and divine grace. Hinduism has magic and philosophy. It replaces the miracle with magic, and divine Grace with philosophy. The devil gives powers to the gurus, the sorcerers, etc., because they have given the devil the right. That is why they can perform supposed miracles, and the others who see them admire them. From the moment someone realizes that the one performing such fake miracles is in no way related to Christ, he must understand that whatever he does is a deception of the devil, who is never able to say the truth but instead lies and deceives God’s creatures. Those who have a positive predisposition—after having become a little bit familiar with Orthodoxy—are somewhat hesitant, because they can see that the life of such sorcerers is not a clean one; it is a mixed-up one, whereas in Orthodoxy they will find a clean life and superiority. They find people who possess sanctity and who perform true miracles.
In Orthodoxy, kindness is the overflowing of man’s love; love for God and for one’s neighbor. All the kindnesses that are displayed by persons of other religions or by deluded persons, etc., do not contain any in-Christ elements, although they may have certain positive human elements. Whoever lives the Orthodox life correctly has humility, love, and he gives himself wholly to the other—he sacrifices himself. And the ascesis, the fasting and the all-night vigils that he pursues are again out of love for the Lord, and not so that he might get some kind of pleasure out of it.
Christ came into the world to be crucified out of love for His creature. First He was crucified, and then He was resurrected. It is a cheap thing for one to merely ask for spiritual favors; it is another thing, if Christ Himself gives one a taste of the celestial sweetness. Thus, while they, for instance, are preoccupied with Hinduistic philosophies, with yoga, etc., with the things that they do, they aspire to attaining a supposed spiritual state, an ecstatic state. They do this to either feel a form of pleasure or to become "superior" to others. But, whatever their reason may be, they do it without showing any actual concern for others.
Let’s assume that a Hinduist is sitting on a shore meditating. If during that time someone at sea is in danger and is crying out for help, he will remain steadfastly indifferent; he will not budge from his place, so that he won’t deprive himself of that pleasure that he is feeling. If it was an Orthodox monk there at the time saying the Prayer, he would have dropped his prayer-rope and dived into the water to save him.
People Being Misled
– Elder, when the Prophets Elijah and Enoch come back in order to preach repentance, will people understand what is happening, and come back to their senses?
– Those who have a good predisposition will understand. Those who aren’t positively predisposed will not understand and will be misled. Our Lord had warned us that we must be very careful, because false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Mk 13:22).
There are some who mistake certain deluded persons for prophets. Several years ago, there was a Protestant who constantly wandered around with a leather briefcase which had an inscription on it, written in English: "I am the Prophet Elijah"! He wore a short-sleeved shirt, he had a Bible in English and he claimed to have descended from heaven!
When they asked him what he believes in and what religion he belongs to, he said "Eh, they are obsolete things. Religions didn’t exist then!" See? To him, everyone—Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, all the heresies and all the branches of heresies are the same to him. Is it not obvious then what his true state was? And oh, how many letters did that person send me! He would write down various passages from the Holy Bible and all his positions were Protestant… he would also send a whole lot of letters to various other people, sometimes from England and sometimes from other places. There were those who believed the things he wrote and they wanted to publish in a magazine that the Prophet Elijah had come. "Are you in your right minds? What on earth are you about to do?" I said to them…. Poor people….they are so confused!
A person sins just through listening to what such deluded people have to say. There are some who say: "If you believe that it will happen that way, then it will." This is pure belief in themselves, but behind them is the little imp (mythological demonic-looking creature, Ed.). Thus, they deify themselvesand they strip themselves of divine Grace. It is with theories like these that they strive to fool people.
A 45-year-old man presented himself as a graduate of the Halki Orthodox Seminary and yet discussed all sorts of Hinduist philosophies. "You" I said to him "are doing damage to yourself and to others, when you expound all that refined nonsense and at the same time you present yourself as a graduate of the Orthodox School of Halki. Watch out, because you’ll become demonically possessed."
– Elder, why do the various para-religions in Greece strive to present themselves as unions, etc., and do not admit they are religions?
– They do it in order to disorient others. Notice how St. Constantine abolished idolatry and ordained that Christianity would be the official religion of the entire Empire, and yet, today they are striving to bring back idolatry. They allow the erection of mosques, or gurus having their own monasteries where they can freely give lectures and become centers for proselytism, and where Masons can act freely, and Jehovah’s Witnesses the same… Orthodoxy is being attacked by a swarm of theories. But they won’t last; they will eventually crumble…
Poor souls… people are fooled, because they have distanced themselves from God and have become dimmed! There were two young men who went to Hebron on a pilgrimage; they were told to put on that little Jewish cap before paying their respects to the graves of Abraham… What’s the purpose of a pilgrimage, if you have put on something that the Jews use in their worship? What can one say?... Such confusion…
In Paris, outside a Roman Catholic church there was a sign that said: "Lessons on practicing prayers with the method of yoga." Just look where things have gone! Then the psychological problems begin, and they go mad; they don’t know what they want afterwards.
There are some Roman Catholics, Protestants, etc., who are taught that if one is baptized in the Orthodox Church he changes—he becomes reborn—so they think that if they get baptized, their psychological problems will go away. I warned against a certain Protestant who wanted to be baptized Orthodox: "See that you don’t baptize him. He should not be baptized." "No" they replied; "if he is baptized, he will be helped." "But he isn’t a case for baptism. Don’t you understand?"
They paid no attention to what I said; they took him and they went down to the sea, where they baptized him! After 2-3 days, he came along and said to me: "I was baptized, but Baptism didn’t solve my psychological problems." "Do you mean to say that you were baptized in the hope that your psychological problems would go away?" I replied. "Look here: if you had felt the need for Baptism, and if you had comprehended its worth and was aiming for that grandeur, then those problems would have gone away. But when you went to be baptized for the sake of ridding yourself of the psychological problems, how do you expect them to leave? Magically?"
They confuse magic with miracle. They can’t tell gold from bronze. And you will notice, for example, a Protestant may be baptized Orthodox then becomes a Roman Catholic, then says "I’m not at ease" and thereafter goes back to the Protestants or back to the Orthodox. There was a Catholic who was baptized Orthodox, became a monk and lived nine years in a monastery. He came to my hut and said to me: "I hadn’t lived the secular life as an Orthodox, so I want to return to the world and get married"! Did you hear what he said? And imagine, me telling him all the while how severe a thing he was thinking of doing, and him saying: "Why is it severe? I can’t understand."
Return to Orthodoxy
Today’s world feels comfortable with weird things, not the correct ones. They know about India—which is at the other end of the globe—because of her "magic," and they go there. But the Holy Mountain—which is in their homeland, very close to them and with the true, mystical, in-Christ life—they are totally oblivious to! A student once told me that he had gone to India and stayed there for three and a half years. He went there looking for the truth in regard to religions. Finally, an Indian said to him: "Why did you come here? The thing you’re looking for exists in Orthodoxy. That’s where the light is. Go to the Holy Mountain and find what you’re seeking. (It is a well-known fact that God may reveal His will to a well-meaning person, in various ways. One example is the narration about Barlaam’s donkey, who spoke to him in order to avert his actions, which would have been contrary to the divine will. (see Numbers 22:18-35). That’s how he returned to Greece and came to the Holy Mountain.
– Elder, when an Orthodox goes to the Hinduists, gurus, etc., and repents afterwards, does he become accepted again in the Orthodox Church?
– He will need a lot of repentance, then Holy Myrrh. If he wishes to return to Orthodoxy and become a member of the Church again, he will normally have to first confirm with a "libel" (from the Latin term libellus = booklet, pamphlet, meant a written confession of faith, which was submitted to the Synod or the Bishop of the King); this confirmation is his declaration that he denounces their cacodoxies and confesses the Orthodox faith. Then the Orthodox priest will read the special prayers for those returning to the true faith over him (from the Major Book of Blessings), and then chrismate him with Holy Myrrh.
I have noticed several youngsters—Greek youngsters—who, without having read a single line from the Gospel, will go and read on Brahmanism, Buddhism, the Koran, etc., and they also go to the Hindus. Then they find they are not at ease, so they return to Orthodoxy, but in the meantime they will have also contracted a whole lot of "spiritual germs." They suffer damage, and it is hard for them to afterwards find the truth.
One must first become acquainted with Orthodoxy and then, if he doesn’t like it, he can leave. But he should first get to know Orthodoxy properly, before making any comparisons with the various theories that he has heard. Because, if he gets to know Orthodoxy, he will be able to distinguish between copper and gold, or evaluate how many karats the gold is. He will not be fooled easily, into mistaking whatever glistens as gold. However, I have noticed that only an egotist leaves Orthodoxy when he does get to know it. A truly humble person never leaves...