How to protect yourself from delusion?
Archpriest Alexiy Denisov (Arkhangelsk, Russia)
– The only way to protect yourself from delusion is to realize that you are in it. This was the advice given to all of us by St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov). The Lord does not allow us to see ourselves in the right perspective, so that we do not fall into horror and despair. Therefore, we have no reason to consider ourselves as a criterion of truth.
In the past all of us committed a lot of mistakes, were under a delusion, in the future it will be in the same way. If I know that I have a sick leg, am I going to put all the weight on it? If I put the weight on it then I will fall in the same way as I fell before many times. The same is with our mind – it gives us too little reasons to trust its judgments. It is said in the Book of Psalms: "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help", but isn’t each of us a son of man? Put your trust in God, not in yourself.
Many times I have found myself in such situations, when your own understanding of what is happening seemed perfect, but then you look, everything is completely different. Once, twice you get into these situations and you begin to wonder whether to trust yourself unconditionally.
You try to explain this to people who are little taught by experience, but you refer primarily not to yourself but to the Scripture, to the Holy Fathers. Fight with delusion is carried out in the Church since its birth, so the gained experience is tremendous. The hardest thing is to earn confidence of the person who has gone pretty far in self-delusion. I recently spoke with one such woman. She kept replying to everything I said: "You misunderstood me." To be understood (or misunderstood) in such case means one thing – I have to look at the situation through the eyes of the deluded person. If I see otherwise – I do not want to go into the heart of the matter – this way the person thinks. However, with that woman who approached me, we managed to find a common ground. But we must understand that there is no universal way to help the person who sees the world in a distorted manner. It is all very individual. Some people need to be flicked on the nose and then caressed, and others should be treated quite differently. You may shout at someone, but this will antagonize another forever. For example Optina Elders, St. Anatoly was like the sun, so affectionate, and St. Nektarios was severe. Different styles. What was common in these elders? They loved people. It is impossible to reach people without love. Sometimes you can hear: "You are in delusion", and it is said in such hostile voice that it is clear - evidently something is not right with the accuser. If you do not you love the person, it’s better not to say anything, because even if you are right, you will not be heard. Only when you truly mean well to the neighbor, he can believe you.