On the Eight Thoughts



Know, my child, that the thoughts that work evil are eight: gluttony, fornication, love of money, anger, untimely grief, listlessness, vainglory, and pride.

If you, my child, wish to conquer gluttony, love self-control and have fear of God. Then you will conquer it.

If you wish to conquer fornication, love vigil and thirst, meditate on death, and stay away from women. Then you will conquer it.

If you wish to conquer the love of money, love poverty and thrift.

If you wish to conquer anger, acquire meekness and long-suffering, and remember how many evils the Jews did to our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the Lover of Mankind was not angry with them, but he rather had mercy on them and said, “Father, forgive them this sin, for they do not know what they are doing.”

If you wish to conquer untimely grief, do not be grieved, ever, for any seasonable cause at all. And if you are harmed or dishonored or persecuted, do not grieve, but rather rejoice. Grieve only when you sin, but even then only in moderation, lest you fall into dejection and lose your soul.

If you wish to conquer listlessness, do a little manual work, or read and pray frequently.

If you wish to conquer vainglory, do not delight in praise, or in the seat of honor. Rather, embrace those who blame you falsely and dishonor you. And call yourself the most sinful of all sinners.

If you wish to conquer pride, then, whatever you do, do not say that you have accomplished something through your own labor or your own courage. Rather, even if you fast, keep vigil, sleep on the ground, chant, serve, and do many prostrations, say that you have accomplished this by God’s help and support, not your own power or your own zeal.

Be zealous, my child, to be always simple and guileless, lest you have one thing in your heart and another thing on your lips. For this is duplicity. Be truthful and not a liar, for lies are from the Evil One.

Never return evil for evil, but if someone should do some evil to you, forgive him, that God might forgive you, too.

If you are troubled by the remembrance of wrongs, from with your whole heart for that brother, and the remembrance of wrongs will depart.

Take care that the passion of envy not take hold of you, lest the Devil swallow you alive. Rather, confess it and call upon God, that he might free you from the danger.

If you should see someone sinning, do not denounce him, judge him, or hate him, lest you, too, fall into the same sin. Rather, say, “I am worse. Today him, tomorrow me.”

Know that the demons fear a monk’s fasting, vigils, self-control, humility, prayers, tears, and every other virtue. If you want God to give you tears, compunction, and dispassion, remember death and the grave at all times.

If you are deceived by the Devil and fall into sin, either a small one or a great one, do not be dejected and lose your soul. Run, rather, to confession and repentance, and God will not abandon you.

To him be the glory for the ages. Amen.

[In spite of this seeming conclusion, the text continues. We hope to add the rest at a later date.]

Ed. K.G. Phrantzoles, Ὁσίου Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου ἔργα 3 (Thessaloniki, 1990), 295-298.

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