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Gregory Palamas
translated by Nicholas Gendle
Classics of Western Spirituality
I ii 8-9 

...One of the great masters teaches, "After the transgression, the inner man naturally is conformed to external forms."  Thus, the man who seeks to make his mind return to itself needs to propel it not only in a straight line but also in the circular motion that is infallible.  How should such a one not gain great profit if, instead of letting his eye roam hither and thither, he should fix it on his breast or on his navel, as a point of concentration?  For in this way, he will not only gather himself together externally, conforming as far as possible to the inner movement he seeks for his mind; he will also, by disposing his body in such a position recall into the interior of the heart a power which is ever flowing outwards through the faculty of sight.  And if the power of the intelligible animal is situated at the centre of the belly, since there the law of sin exercises its rule and gives it sustenance, why should we not place there "the law of the mind which combats" this power, duly armed with prayer, so that the evil spirit who has been driven away thanks to the "bath of regeration" may not return to install himself there with seven other spirits even more evil, so that "the latter state becomes worse than the first?"


"Pay attention to yourself, says Moses, meaning to the whole of yourself not just a part. How? By the mind, evidently, for by no other instrument is it possible to be attentive to the whole of oneself.  Place therefor this guard over your soul and body: It will easily deliver you from the evil passions of the body and soul.  Maintain this watch, this attention, this self-control, or rather mount guard, be vigilant, keep watch! For it is thus that you will make the disobeient flesh subject to the Spirit, and "there will no longer be a hidden word in your heart."  "If the spirit of him who dominates"--that is to say, of the evil spirits and passions--"lifts himself up over you," says Scripture, "on no account shift your ground"; in other word, never leave any part of your soul or any member of your body without surveillance. 

In this way, you will become unapproachable to the spirits that attack you from below, and you will be able to present yourself with boldness to "Him who searches the reins and the heart"; and that indeed without His scrutinising you, for you will have scrutinized yourself. Paul tells us, "If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged". You will then have the blessed experience of David and you will address yourself to God, saying, "The shadows are no longer darkness thanks to you, and the night will be for me as clear as the day, for it is you who have taken possession of my reins." David says in effect, "Not only have you made the passionate part of my soul entirely ours, but if there is a spark of desire in my body, it has returned to its source, and has thereby become elevated and united to you."

For just as those who abandon themselves to sensual and corruptible pleasures fix all the desires of their soul upon the flesh, and indeed become entirely "flesh", so that (as Scripture says) "the Spirit of God cannot dwell in them", so too, in the case of those who have elevated their minds to God and exalted their souls with divine longing, their flesh also is being transformed and elevated, participating together with the soul in the divine communion, and becoming itself a dwelling towards God, and no longer possesses desires contrary to the Spirit.