We have only one enemy – ourselves

Enemies and opponents in spiritual life do not exist. We have only one enemy, and that is  – ourselves. We suffer from one disease – our egoism. Fighting against egoism, slowly we build an atmosphere of humbleness within us. Egoism appears in us in different ways: sometimes as vanity other times as contemplating on ourselves, many times like self-pitying selfishness or egocentrism; it can appear in many clearly visible forms like arrogance or anger or sometimes in more subtle like excessive sensitivity, regret, disagreement, sensitivity and so on.

A simple example would be enough to show how big is this hidden egoism even with the hard to notice narrowness. If there is a situation when we are observing a photograph with 5 people on it and we are on it, what do you think, which face would we look at first? Our face – of course. And even if the photograph is with an incredible background in colours and appearance of the people on it, and our face is with slightly closed eyes, which can happen very often, we simply don’t like the photo, although the rest of the people all like it. This is a typical example of how our subtle egoism functions inside our character.

By analogy, we also have the tendency of self-justification. We simply cannot take being wronged. What’s more, we cannot stand our brothers with characters which don‘t fit our and make troubles for us to function together. We don‘t understand that our good associates (virtuous and pleasant) can be our neighbours and brothers, however, the difficult ones (the so called ‘sinners’ who are probably void of virtues, and are often annoying and challenging), are even better, because they are the beloved Christ‘s brothers as well. We oppose this reality, thus we refuse to be the people, the  brothers and friends of the unjustified Christ.

We live all these things in our everyday life, whether through specific forms or in our silence, when we feel that our ego interrupts like fog the appearance and revelation of God. As we have already mentioned, what really exists in ourselves in a very strong form is basically our opinion as a point of view, the righteousness as an internal feeling and the will as an expression of self-centered ‘me’. It would be useful for us to fight against these things. We go and confess to our spiritual father, attempt to be obedient, fight as much as we can in our spiritual feats and thus we cherish our philosophical mind. It would be useful for us to acquire some spiritual way of thinking (‘a spiritual brain’). Very often, we can be specialists in discovering the weaknesses and passions in other people, while we are completely blind when it comes to ours. In that way we do damage to ourselves and hinder our connection to God. In fact, we limit Him in His right to transform us and recreate us again in His image.

Excerpt from the book: Νικολάου, Μητροπολίτου Μεσογαίας και Λαυρεωτικής, «Άνθρωπος μεθόριος»