Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | June 20, 2008

Elder Paisios’s “Machine”

Inside a Church that never seems to lack for something going on, something to do, some prayer to pray or some book to read, sometimes it seems so easy to get so busy with religiosity that we get off kilter and kind of neglect the basics of what we’re supposed to get out of all this effort. Priestmonk Christodoulos’s “Elder Paisos of the Holy Mountain” gives a quick and simple reminder.

Looking at this subject from a different point of view, Elder Paisos stressed and greatly emphasized the specific charateristic of love, that is, that “love is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor 13:4 ). He used to say that “we should never, even under the worst circumstances, allow a negative thought to penetrate our soul. The person, who, under all circumstances, is inclined to positive thoughts, will always be a winner; his life will be a constant festivity, since it is constantly based on his positive thinking. Our acts depend on and are determined by the “machine” we have inside us, and not by the “material” we digest, or the environment we live in. I will give you an example, so you can better understand what I am trying to say:

If one has a machine that produces bullets and feeds it with the highest quality material, – let’s say gold – the machine will still turn gold into bullets, golden but destructive bullets; if he feeds it with silver, then it will produce silver bullets; if he feeds it with iron, it will produce iron bullets, or if he feeds it with clay, it will produce clay bullets. In other words, no matter what material he feeds his machine, it still produces bullets. If someone converts the machine into one that produces holy chalices instead of bullets, then whatever material he feeds it, it will always produces holy chalices. If he puts in the machine clay or iron, it will manufacture clay or iron chalices respectively.

I will now tell you a story regarding a very old father from Kapsala. The old father’s “machine” was the kind that produced only positive thoughts. He only saw the good things in life and he was blind to every evil. Once, a group of people visited him and brought him a small radio as a present. The old father took it in his hands and examined it with lots of admiration. He asked where it was manufactured and the visitors told him in Japan. As he was looking at it, suddenly he was filled with joy and started kissing the radio saying:

Glory to God!” The visitors asked him why he was glorifying God and he explained to them:

“You see, I am very pleased that the Japanese Christians put the sign of the Holy Cross on the products they manufacture.”

The old father had notice the positive and negative pole (+, -) of the batteries and thought it was the sign of the Cross. His mind produced a simplistic and positive thought for the radio the visitors bought him. Considering he was an ascetic, he could have developed negative thoughts and get angry at them for bringing him such an unsuitable present.

One might also observe that perhaps the Elder was not as simplistic as he was professed to be, but was instead willing to be seen this way that he might find pleasure in the gift, show kindness to his visitors, and maintain his inner peace and silence. Not bad.


  1. Oh to be so guileless and “simpleminded”.

  2. […] the Dome quotes Elder […]

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