Chapters 11 - 20

Spiritual discourse ever preserves the soul free from vainglory; for benefiting all the parts of the soul in a [spiritual] perception[1] of light it makes the soul not to have need of the honour which comes from men.  And for that very reason spiritual discourse ever preserves the intellect free from fantasy, as transforming it wholly into the love of God.  The discourse of the wisdom of the world, however, ever provokes a man to ambition.  Because this discourse is not able to benefit through experience of the [spiritual] sense[2], it grants to its familiars the love of praises, as being the counterfeit of vainglorious men.  Therefore, we will know without deception the disposition of divine discourse if in a silence without care we consume the hours of not speaking in the warm remembrance of God.
He who loves himself is not able to love God.  He who does not love himself on account of the surpassing wealth of the love of God, this one loves God.  Wherefore such a person does not ever seek his own glory but the glory of God, for he who loves himself seeks his own glory.  He who loves God loves the glory of him who made him.  The characteristic[3] of the soul which has the spiritual sense[4] and which loves God is ever to seek the glory of God in all the commandments that it fulfils but to delight in its own humility, because glory for the sake of grandeur is proper to God whereas humility is proper to man, so that through it we become intimate with God.  If we do this very thing, then rejoicing unceasingly in the glory of the Lord we too will begin to say according to St John the Baptist: ‘He must be raised up but we must be decreased.’[5]

I know someone who loves God so much, and who still mourns that he does not love as he wishes, that unceasingly his soul is in a certain sort of warm desire that God be glorified in him and his own self be as not existing.  This man does not know just what he is, not even in the midst of the very praises borne by words.  In a great desire for humility he does not conceive his own rank; but on the one hand he serves[6] God according to the law for priests and on the other hand in a certain great disposition of love for God he steals the memory of his rank, in a spirit of humility concealing the boast that comes from this rank somewhere in the depth of the love of God so that in his intellect he always appear to himself some unworthy servant, as being estranged from his own rank in the desire for humility.  And doing this very same thing we must avoid every honour and glory for the sake of the excess of wealth of the love of the Lord who loves us thus.
He who loves God in [spiritual] perception of heart[7] has been known by him.  For as much as someone accepts the love of God in [spiritual] perception of heart, that much he comes to be in the love of God.  Therefore, henceforth such a person will not cease reaching out for the illumination of gnosis in a certain intense Eros[8] until he might perceive the very [spiritual] sense of his bones,[9] no longer knowing himself but wholly transformed by the love of God.[10]  Such a person is both present in this life and not present; still sojourning in his body, in the movement of the soul he departs unceasingly towards God by means of love.  For he has henceforth adhered to God unwaveringly, burning the heart by means of the fire of love in a certain necessity of desire, once and for all having stood outside of friendship for himself in the love of God.  For it says: ‘Whether we are beside ourselves, for God; whether we are of sound mind, for you.’
When a person begins to perceive [spiritually] the love of God richly then he also begins to love his neighbour in [spiritual] perception of spirit.[11]  This is the love concerning which all the Scriptures speak.  For friendship according to the flesh is dissolved extremely easily some slight cause having been found; it has not been bound by [spiritual] perception of spirit.  For this reason, therefore, even if it should happen that some exasperation should occur to a soul set into activity by God, the bond of love is not loosed by the soul.  For again setting fire to itself by the warmth of the love of God, it is quickly recalled to the good and seeks the love of the neighbour with great joy even if it has been greatly insulted or damaged by him.[12]  For in the sweetness of God it completely consumes the bitterness of the quarrel.
No one is able to love God in [spiritual] perception of heart not having first feared him in all his heart;[13] for being purified and as it were softened through the activity of fear, the soul comes to a love that is set into activity.[14]  A person would not come wholly to the fear of God in the way spoken of unless he came to be outside all the cares of this life.  For when the mind comes to be in much stillness and freedom from care, then does the fear of God trouble it, purifying it from every earthly grossness in much [spiritual] perception, so that this fear thus leads the mind to much love of the goodness of God.  So the fear of those who are yet being purified is with a middle degree of love; but perfect love is of those who have been completely purified, in whom there is no fear.  For it says: ‘Perfect love casts out fear.’  Both degrees are of the righteous only, those who assiduously work the virtues by the activity of the Holy Spirit.  And for this reason, in one place Divine Scripture says, ‘Fear you the Lord, all his saints;’ but in another place, ‘Love you the Lord, all his holy ones.’  This is so that we learn clearly that the fear of the righteous who are still being purified is with a middle degree of love, as was said, whereas perfect love is of those who have been purified, those in whom there is no longer a thought of any kind of fear, but ceaseless burning and adherence of the soul to God through the activity of the Holy Spirit, according to him who says: ‘My soul has adhered behind you; your right hand has helped me.’
Just as the wounds occurring to the body, when they are as it were unirrigated land[15] or even neglected, do not perceive[16] the medicine brought forth to them by the physician but, having been cleansed, they then perceive the activity of the medicine and come to rapid healing on account of it, thus also as long as it is neglected and wholly covered with the leprosy of the love of pleasure the soul is not able to perceive [spiritually] the fear of God even if someone should unceasingly announce to it the frightful and powerful court of judgement of God.  But when the soul begins to be cleansed through great attention, then it [spiritually] perceives the divine fear as being a certain medicine of life burning it, as it were, by the activity of reproaches in the fire of dispassion[17].  Whence, henceforth being purified part by part, the soul arrives at the perfection of purification, having been so much increased in love as it is decreased in fear, so that it should finally arrive at perfect love, in which there is no fear, as has been said, but all dispassion set into activity by the glory of God.  Therefore first let the fear of God be for us as the boast of ceaseless boasts; then, however, love, the fullness of the law of perfection in Christ.
The soul which has not been freed from worldly cares will neither love God genuinely nor loathe the Devil duly, for it has once and for all an oppressive veil, the care of worldly affairs.  Whence, among these sorts of people the mind is unable to know the tribunal of itself so that before itself it might without deception try the votes of the judgement.[18]  Therefore solitude is always useful.
The characteristic of a pure soul: abundant word, guileless zeal, unceasing Eros for the Lord of Glory.  Then, indeed, the mind sets its own scales exactly, appearing in its own intellect as in a most pure tribunal.[19]
Faith without works and works without faith will be rejected in the same way.  For the believer must offer to the Lord faith that demonstrates realities.  For faith would not have been reckoned as righteousness to Abraham our father if he had not brought forth its fruit, his son.

[1] This would be with the spiritual sense.
[2] What St Diadochos means is that the wisdom of the world is not able to benefit through real spiritual experience consciously experienced with the spiritual sense.
[3] Greek: idion.  This is a philosophical term.  It means the characteristic that belongs to something as part of its nature.
[4] The author treats attainment to the spiritual sense as a certain level of spiritual attainment.  Given that the author is considered to be of the school of Evagrius, we would treat this as dispassion.  See Kephalaia Gnostica I, 37: ‘The spiritual sense is the dispassion of the reasonable soul, which is produced by the grace of God.’  However, in common with the subsequent Orthodox tradition, Diadochos later in this treatise clearly uses the term ‘dispassion’ for the end of the ascetical journey, not as Evagrius uses it.
[5] This is a very free paraphrase of John 3, 30.
[6] Greek: leitourgei.  I.e. serves as a priest.  It appears that the author is speaking of himself, so, here, ‘serves as a bishop’.  We are not persuaded by Rutherford’s assertion (Rutherford, p. 2) that the text was written before St Diadochos was ordained bishop, especially since there is no evidence adduced.  The ‘law for priests’ is not dispositive since it could very well apply to the priestly rank of bishop.
[7] See our remarks on the spiritual sense.  The same thing is intended.
[8] Greek: eros.  This is the word used of marital love.  What the author is saying is that the person who has reached this stage henceforth has a burning, ardent desire for the illumination of gnosis.
[9] It seems to us that the author’s sense would be better conveyed if the phrase ‘the [spiritual] sense of his bones’ were to be taken to be in the dative, not the genitive the texts give, so that the sentence would read: ‘... until he might perceive with the very [spiritual] sense of his bones’.  The author seems to us to intend that this burning, ardent desire for the illumination of gnosis is such that the person wishes to know God spiritually even in his bones.
[10] Following the text of Rutherford.  De Places’ Greek text reads: Therefore, henceforth such a person exists in a certain intense Eros for the illumination of gnosis until he might perceive the very [spiritual] sense of his bones, no longer knowing himself but wholly transformed by the love of God.
[11] This would be yet another aspect of the spiritual sense.  What is important is that St Diadochos means that these things happen as conscious spiritual phenomena and not emotionally or by means of the bodily senses.
[12] Preferring des Places to Rutherford for this sentence.
[13] Preferring des Places to Rutherford for this clause.
[14] Greek: energoumenen.  There is a danger that this might be understood to be ‘active’ as opposed to ‘infused’ love in the Western sense, but within that terminology it is actually ‘infused’.  What the author means is an active love that is given directly to the person by the Holy Spirit once that person has been purified completely through the fear of God.
[15] The Greek is not very clear.
[16] Thus the text.  We would say, medically, ‘respond to’.  The author is using ‘perceive’ to tie his medical metaphor to the spiritual sense.
[17] Greek: apatheia.
[18] I.e. so that by itself the conscience might provide a true judgement of the person’s condition.
[19] I.e. having been completely purified, the conscience gives a true witness to the soul’s condition.