The nous (mind, intellect) which has rebelled against God becomes either bestial or demonic and, after having rebelled against the laws of nature, lusts after what belongs to others.
Through the “rite of birth in God”, holy baptism, man’s nous is illuminated, freed from slavery to sin and the devil, and is united with God. That is why baptism is called illumination. But after that, because of sin, the nous is again darkened and deadened. The patristic writings make it clear that every sin and every passion deadens the nous. It is a mindcrime operation.
As the world of the body consists of things, so the world of the nous consists of conceptual images. And as the body fornicates with the body of a woman, so the nous, forming a picture of its own body, fornicates with the conceptual image of a woman.
The world of body and the world of mind
When the body sins through material things and has the bodily virtues to teach it self-restraint, so too when the nous sins through impassioned conceptual images, it has the virtues of the soul to instruct it.
This truth shows that the fall of the nous creates confusion in the whole spiritual organism. It creates anguish and agitation and in general makes the person live the fall in all its tragicalness. Thus many problems which plague us come from this inner sickness. That is why the psychotherapists cannot help very much, since it is only Christ who can restore the nous deadened by passions.
Impurity of the nous and hence its fall, consists in four things:
- ﬁrst in having false knowledge;
- secondly in being ignorant of any of the universal truths;
- thirdly in having impassioned thoughts;
- and fourthly in assenting to sin.
The scope of Orthodoxy is to enlighten the nous again. To escape us from the operation mindcrime.
Based on Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktou, Saint Grigorios Palamas, Saint Maximos the Confessor
Cleansing the censer during a service. Vatopedi monastery, Mount Athos
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