“And Jesus replied, ‘A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” ‘Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ The scholar of the law answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise'” (Lk 10:30-37).
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13: 1-13).
Since many keep asking about this topic, below is my original post on a basic level of discernment of the origin of dreams.
Discernment of dreams
According to Saint John Climacus, a simple method exists of discerning the origin of dreams we can have – from where they come: “If we wake up from sleep peaceful, this shows that we have been comforted by the angels unawares. If, on the other hand, we wake up troubled, we are suffering as a result of evil dreams and visions. A dream’s origin is indicated by whether it disturbs us or brings peace” (Met. Hierotheos . The science of spiritual medicine, p. 184).
Dreams from the devil or demons
According to Diadochos of Photiki, dreams originating from the devil or demons “do not keep the same shape, but change from one form to another, alarm the senses, resound with laughter or suddenly become threatening. The figures that appear . . . shout and menace, transform themselves into soldiers and sometimes screech at the soul” (ibid.). These dreams are characterized by color and change. They bring despair, which is always a sign of demonic deception.
Dreams from God
Dreams originating from God “do not . . . [generally] change shape or provoke fear and horror, but bring inexpressible joy and gladness . . . [These dreams are unchanging, with no or minimal color; they lead to] intense prayer, repentance, and a willingness to change” (ibid.).
Originally posted in 2012, I am re-posting the above herewith because of the ongoing number of questions that keep coming in on this subject.
According to Saint Nikita Stithatos, the differences between dreams, revelations and visions can be discerned as follows:
- Dreams are “images that do not remain unchanged in the imaginative faculty of the nous,” the heart of the soul. Dreams “present a confused picture with constantly altering scenes and forms . . . [they are seen by] materialistic and sensually-minded people;”
- Revelations are theorias of the mysteries of God, “granted to the purified and illumined soul in a way that transcends normal sense perception . . . [they are granted to those] who are activated by the Holy Spirit, and whose soul is united to God through theology” (theoria). Revelations are associated with inner purity;
- Visions are constant and unchanging. They also “remain imprinted on the nous unforgettably for many years . . . [visions are present in] those well advanced on the spiritual path, who have cleansed the soul’s organs of perception.”
Met. Hierotheos. (2010). The science of spiritual medicine. Levadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery.
Man is granted the grace of theology when, carried on wings of love in theoria and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he discerns the qualities of God – Maximus the Confessor.
The question was asked, “How can one discern whether something is from God or from the Devil?” Naturally, there are several issues to consider, as well as modes of discernment and confirmation. But the brief, simple response is: “Peace, as God both is Peace Himself and gives peace.” The Devil – Satan – can mimic Continue reading “How do we discern God from the devil? – Response to a question”
“Discernment in beginners is true knowledge of themselves; in intermediate souls, it is a spiritual sense that faultlessly distinguishes what is truly good from what is of nature and opposed to it; and in the perfect, it is the knowledge which they have within by Divine illumination, and which can enlighten with its lamp what is dark in others” (Climacus, St. John [2012-06-12]. A Short Treatise of the Ladder of Divine Ascent [Kindle Locations 777-779]. Kindle Edition).
When dealing with the Church Fathers, especially those of the primitive Church, we need to keep in mind that differences exist in their language and use of such language, in terms of addressing the mere sanctification of man and his deification through theosis. Specifically, “where we find references to human participation in divine life, there we assuredly Continue reading “Distinguishing between sanctification and deification”
The spiritual parent, “the staretz does not try to control to novice’s will and does not subjugate it to his own arbitrary will, but assumes the heavy burden of responsibility, and thereby becomes a collaborator with God in the divine act of the creation of man” (Archmandrite Sophrony).
How can we know with certainty when souls are in good spiritual health or not? That is, beyond assuming that we are not in mortal sin? According to Gregory Palamas – the theologian and saint of the Divine Light – “the only proof of a soul in good health” is when it attains theoria – the vision of God, through the Continue reading “Souls in good spiritual health”