11 May 2012

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under :
There are two basic forms of prelest or spiritual deception. The first and more spectacular form occurs when a person strives for a high spiritual state or spiritual visions without having been purified of passions and relying on his own judgment. To such a one the devil grants great "visions."
Seraphim Rose
*prelest -
To enter spiritual work without adequate preparation is the sure step to failure. Most people, as soon as they get some spiritual ideas, they become so confident and proud of their own discoveries, that they take these to be something much more than just the tip of the iceberg (which usually is). As soon as they get familiar to certain deep-sounding concepts, they act as if they'd spent good years in India or Tibet and even boast about having found "the way". 

Even for the disbelievers, there is a line that should hold some meaning: "The devil will come as an angel of light". It is easy to mistake a hypnotic state with astral experiences,  a hormonal change with a change of consciousness, an unexpected light with the appearance of God or a guide, a clear voice within with the voice of the higher self and so on. In fact, ANYTHING can be mistaken for ANYTHING in this kind of work.
Since a lot of people around indulge only in a material life and laugh at any hint to spirituality, it is easy for the 'awakened' one to see himself as special. In such conditions, he will not ask too much of himself. A little meditation before sleep, a few mantras or prayers, a bit of reading on some websites... and there he is - ascension is easy! (Strange fact that none of these amazing spiritual individuals haven't yet left this dimension of existence. Oh, wait. They're waiting for that 2012 special energy wave to come over.) Just like that type of people who go to church on Sunday just because, then leave and go on with the same vices, considering that going to church is already quite enough for their so-called spiritual goal. 

While some masters lure their students by telling them to have complete trust in whatever comes their way when taking the path, it is actually advised not to. I rather say DOUBT as much as you can, doubt all confusing ideas that come your way. Being sure of something when it's too soon has never been beneficial spiritually. It means rush, ego, vain pride. The best students are those who start with the premise that one doesn't know enough. In fact, one knows so little...Besides, remember:
You can't even create the things nature creates. Man only learns to manipulate. Man doesn't give life, he merely puts 2 existent cells in contact. Only and only that.

"We are all in deception. The knowledge of this is the greatest preventative against deception. It is the greatest deception to acknowledge oneself to be free of deception."
Bishop Ignatius

"It is not a little labor to attain the truth precisely and to make oneself pure of everything that opposes grace; because it is usual for the devil to show his deception, especially to beginners, in the form of truth, giving a spiritual appearance to what is evil."
St. Gregory the Sinaite

The various forms of occultism have a rather contrary advice. The initiate is told to take for granted everything that happens. How can one trust randomness, the pure arbitrary in an ocean of subjectivity and uncertainty, which is guaranteed by our very imperfect nature, by our very ever changing feelings and thoughts, by these things that simply lead to illusion? How can one be taught to trust exactly that? This is where most methods go wrong, without anyone noticing.

There comes the split inside. Psychologically, the individual is still what he thinks he is (still belonging to the spirituality he started with), but spiritually, he has begun a distinct experience, as long as his mind cannot keep track of the nature of each idea involved. The subject will still claim he belongs to the X group or tradition, but in fact, due to his subjectivity and unseen deceit, has become like a heretic to it.

"Self-confidence and boldness are usually noticeable in people who are in self-deception, supposing that they are holy or are spiritually progressing." "An extraordinary pomposity appears in those afflicted with this deception: they are as it were intoxicated with themselves, by their state of self-deception, seeing in it a state of grace. They are steeped in, overflowing with high-mindedness and pride, while appearing humble to many who judge by appearances without being able to judge by fruits."
Bishop Ignatius