How to protect yourself from delusion?
Archpriest Basil Volskiy (village Polyarnye Zori, Murmansk region, Russia).
- The signs that you start to fall into delusion are numerous. They include self-righteousness, a desire to have own way by all means, disobedience and self-conceit, unwillingness to listen and take advice from other people, neglect to the authorities, officials, dreaminess, tendency to visions, dreams, delight in own righteousness. A deluded person likes to take excessive feats upon himself, for example, he can read akathists and canons for several hours a day. Imitating the righteous people outwardly, he does not realize that they were strengthened by love, while he is driven by vainglory, by the desire to rise above the people. I remember how one grandmother in the cathedral told someone, "You should pray, but not overpray." According to the remark of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), enthusiasm for external deeds creates voluptuousness.
We are all in delusion. Adam was contaminated by it when he accepted a lie for the truth, and since that time we cannot get rid of it, but there are extreme states. In the world it is not understood at all. For example, in the Soviet dictionary by Ozhegov, delusion (“prelest”) is a good word such as "beauty" - means attractiveness, while its original meaning is not even considered. In Dahl's dictionary, the attitude to this word is more folk, the essence of "prelest" is revealed there – delusion, confusion, deception, temptation, seduction by the evil spirit. About a century separates the appearance of these two dictionaries but the difference is huge, the delusion, the lack of spiritual sobriety became something correct, up-to-date. In the Church, fortunately, there is at least an understanding that this is not the case. Another question is how to get rid of this disease. Here I am a bad adviser, a patient cannot help to a patient. A doctor is needed. And He comes, many times I have witnessed as the Lord helps, pulls people out of the deluded state.
Neophytes are very prone to it. And I did not miss it, yet before ordination. Unfortunately, there were no people who would just tell me about it. But the Lord sent such grief that I was on the verge of death (I was dying, the blood pressure was 40x20) and through this I thought who I was, why would I have such a high opinion about myself. The Lord sent medicines, thank God! And He still sends, and when this will be over - I don’t know. But I will say that elderly people not less but more than neophytes are subjected to delusion. They no longer suffer from bodily passions and they take it for righteousness. They consider themselves to be very prayerful and good in fasting and it is especially difficult with those who have been in the Church for a long time and even spent the whole life at the Church. Here a person starts to think too much of himself. We should treat ourselves with caution.
Hegumen John (Alexeev) - Valaam elder, who was the hegumen of our Tryphon-Pechenga Monastery for some time, said well about delusion. When he arrived there, he found a terrible scene: many monks suffered from severe conceit, thought themselves men of prayer and miracle workers. They believed they could walk on thin ice without falling under it, and many died at that. So Fr. John gave a very wise advice: "Do not trust yourself until you go to last home." You cannot say better that that.