focus on the mind before the heart?
by Andrea Elizabeth
from Orthodox Interventions
“Practicing virtues is not enough unless Christ-centered watchfulness over the thoughts is also practiced.
‘Many monks are not aware of how the demons deceive the intellect. Being naive and undeveloped, they tend to give all their attention to the practice of the virtues and do not bother about the intellect. They move through life, I fear, without having tasted purity of heart, and are totally ignorant of the darkness of the passions within. Such people, unaware of the battle about which Paul speaks [c.f. Eph 6:12] and not embued with personal experience of true goodness, regard as lapses only those sins which are actually put into effect. They do not take into account the defeats and victories that occur on the plane of thought, for these, being internal, cannot be seen by natural sight and are known only to God our judge, and to the conscience of the spiritual contestant… But for those who have a divine desire to cleanse the vision of the soul there is another form of activity in Christ and another mystery. (St. Nikodimos and St. Makarios, 1983, p. 30)’
Interventions to deal with how the individuals utilize self-talk and thinking with reference to external provocations are also addressed (Bouton, 2004). St. Philotheos (in St. Nikodimos & St. Makarios, 1983) encourages avoiding provocation to be turned into a harmful or sinful action. He emphasizes the use of watchfulness over the thoughts using both the goal of becoming one with God and the wisdom drawn from the life of Christ and the Holy Scriptures as the measure by which judgments are made (Bouton, 2004).” p. 67