In the beginning I was choosing books without the advice of a spiritually mature person, so my choices were whatever I had heard of on BeliefNet or whatever was free. One of first books I picked up, because it was at my local library and hence free, was The Mountain of Silence, by Kyriacos Markides. Yes, I know, *some* people don't like Markides' books. The complaint is that Markides is too liberal in his beliefs, yada yada. That's fine. You are entitled to your own opinion. For me though, this book was a Godsend. It had nothing to do with miracles and such that are found throughout the book, although that stuff was fascinating and edifying. It had all to do with one chapter. The chapter was on logismoi. If you don't know what logismoi is, don't worry, I didn't know the word either, however I was all too familiar with it. I distinctly remember reading the chapter and saying to myself "OH.MY.GOD! There is a name for this?!!!" Here's an excerpt from the book which I conveniently found on another Orthodox blog called Orthodox Christian Medicine.
'Logismoi are much more intense than simple thoughts. They penetrate into the very depths of a human being. They have enormous power. Let us say,' Fr. Maximos went on to clarify, 'that a simple thought is a weak logismos. We need to realize, however, that certain thoughts, or logismoi, once inside a human being, can undermine every trace of a spiritual life in its very foundation. People who live in the world don't know about the nature and power of logismoi. That is, they don't have the experience of that reality. But as they proceed on their spiritual struggle, particularly through systematic prayer, then are they able to understand the true meaning and power of this reality. (pg 118).
"'I have noticed that some people, particularly young, oversensitive souls,' Fr. Maximos said, breaking the silence, 'suffer so much from these logismoi that it often leads them into psychopathological conditions. They reach such states partly because of their ignorance of the nature of logismoi. Such persons who may be attacked by a perverted, or let us say a sinful logismos, are unable to realize that such a logismos does not necessarily emanate from within themselves, but is directed toward them from the outside. They feel guilty and begin what the late Paisios used to call the 'the repetition of those whys.' They become obsessive. Oversensitive persons become even more sensitive and blame themselves with all kinds of questions: "Why do I have such a thought, why?" Such people are in dire need of proper instruction on how to handle the logismoi,' Fr. Maximos pointed out. He went on to say that the most dangerous logismoi are those sent by demonic spirits that get support and get activated by our own passions. Logismoi coming from demons are extremely devious and duplicitous" (pg. 120).
In all my life, I never had a single person ever talk to me about thoughts. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm pretty sure my own parents were not taught about logismoi and probably not my Sunday school teachers either. Or maybe they did teach about logismoi and I was sick that day. (Like I am convinced that I was home sick from school when they taught conversions of pints into quarts into liters. To this day I can't get any of that straight!) Whatever the case may be, THIS NEEDS TO BE TAUGHT TO EVERYONE! I have spoken with my eldest about logismoi (she's almost 14) and thankfully it has been discussed at summer camp as well. We deal with our thoughts 24/7 from birth to death. You would think this would be a topic to talk about.
I'll leave it at this for today. There will be at least one other post on Markides' books soon. The Mountain of Silence referenced above was followed up by Gifts of the Desert and then his latest which I have just finished called, The Inner River.