The world will do its best to ignite passions, anger or disgust within you in relation to worldly matters. Your peace will be robbed of you and your mind will tire and become weary from the exhaust of the day – allowing you no energy to learn and seek God’s word, or to read the works of the holy fathers who have struggled similar battles before us and overcame them.
“If we fill our minds with a quantity of information, ideas and thoughts, not excluding such as are vain, unsuitable and harmful, we deprive it of force…useful for our true self-correction and perfection.” If you consider all the actions being taken in the world, all the injustices, and unfairness, you can quickly become overwhelmed, and this will drain you of your strength to improve your spiritual growth. As an example, you set aside some time in the day to read from the Bible. Do you think the world will allow you this peace? Absolutely not. Your day will be filled from even before you awake and well after you sleep. There will be a never ending parade of wants and needs that will pull you away from that time to read the Bible. All with the attempt to drain your will force to push on and learn more.
Seeking knowledge for the glory of God is good yes, but is not the focus of this writing. The good knowledge is that which reinforces your spiritual growth. Bad knowledge is anything that pulls you away from this spiritual pursuit or worse, creates seeds of doubt that you may start to question the truths you read. Read as an adult, but understand as a child. For the knowledge you seek is not for vanity, but for sanity. Seek out readings that will strengthen your endeavor. This can be from reading the Bible, to reading the story of some saint that overcame a worldly life to gain divine ascent, or even some commentary by a holy father on deeper understandings of the Bible. These types of readings encourage and develop our taste for more spiritual growth and also allow God to enlighten us with His wisdom.
Conversely, seeking knowledge with regards to hidden messages in the Bible, or reading books that dissect the Bible into factual and reasonable events as opposed to spiritual – these only fill our minds with useless knowledge and fan the flames of our vanity. For if the world can not draw you away from your spiritual quest, it may redirect your path just slightly, then slowly entice you into thinking you have discovered something no one else has ever known. “Attracted by the pleasure of possessing and examining such lofty thoughts, we forget to watch over our purity of heart and to pay attention to a humble opinion of ourselves. Little by little, without realizing it, we fall.” Pride of the mind is far more dangerous than pride of will. For your will can be placed under control through fasting. But pride of the mind continues to seek out support for its delusional self-glorifing thinking. And too, the self-righteous mind does not seek advice from anyone else as it feels superior to all others – and thus can never obey others.
This topic is important to bring to your attention early on, for as you begin your journey and begin to progress spiritually you will feel the progress. Just as you will notice weight loss when you stick with a diet and exercise routine – you will notice progress in your spiritual diet and exercise. Yet here is where you are most vulnerable, for in your progress you have not yet learned dominion over that natural urge to judge your progress. You will begin to feel accomplished and thus you begin to seek out the things that further this accomplishment buzz. And then the Devil will enter your world and start to slowly redirect your progress.
Knowledge is best without emotion. Yet, truly God driven knowledge enlightens our knowledge of ourselves and this invokes the emotion of pure mournful and tearful regret for all those wasted things we have done in our life that have pulled us away from God. Then the knowledge you have gained penetrates your mind and your repentance is cleansed in a baptism of tears.