Schema-archimandrite Abraham (Reidman). The good part. Conversations with the monks. 44. About delusion.
I am coming to a very serious issue, and it is important for me that you understand me right: I mention only the most common, I cover only theoretical issues, and you need to solve specific cases with your mentor. What other outward signs of delusion one can mention? Sometimes a person can even imagine about himself that he has unceasing prayer. I recently read interesting memories of Archimandrite Raphael about elder schema-archimandrite Seraphim (Romantsov) from the Glinsk Hermitage. The book about ascetics of 50-60s of XX century "In the Caucasus mounts" by monk Mercury tells about one very young schema-nun, who had secret schema, and who was thought to have the unceasing prayer. And it turns out that this schema-nun once came to schema-archimandrite Seraphim, a highly experienced elder, whom I can not mistrust. The elder gave her some instructions, none of which she accepted, and he realized that she was in delusion and she did not have the unceasing prayer for a single day. The one who gave her schema was also in delusion. Fr. Seraphim said that there is such a state (this time he meant the another monk), which to some prayerful person seems as he has unceasing prayer, but in fact it's just a state close to delusion, because he is accustomed to the incessant repetition of prayer as others are accustomed to the bad language, that is, it is not a gift of grace and only a habit. An inexperienced person who does not know what unceasing prayer actually is, who does not even have the correct theoretical idea of it, begins to imagine that he has it and starts telling others. If such inexperienced Christian encounters an experienced spiritual person and begins to tell him about his spiritual state (this applies especially to eldresses), the latter should ask him in detail because some seemingly insignificant trifle can show that the person, in fact, simply does not understand what he tells us about, he only fantasizes about his experiences. One speaks about himself out of ignorance Heaven knows what, and believes that his state is spiritual, and the other, on the contrary, after reading the Holy Fathers and having no idea what they actually mean, identifies it, due to his highly developed imagination, with his own state. He speaks with the words of the Holy Fathers that he has read and understood in the book and not his own experience. It turns out that he was deluded and is misleading others, even spiritually experienced. Therefore, when dealing with someone who talks about some of his spiritual experiences, you need to have special attention and carefully question even about small things. One does not know how to describe - and explains the proper spiritual condition wrong, and the other, on the contrary, represents a delusional or just imagined experience as something significant, because of learned and internalized terms. We must be extremely careful not to get lost in such subtle and at the same time vital subjects.