Email: Evagrius the Solitary (345–399) [6.6.2020]

Coptic icon from Monastery of Abu Sayfayn, Old Cairo, 18th Century

Dear Gillian

I was listening to the work of Evagrius the Solitary (345–399) regarding the eight patterns of evil thought that must be identified, subdued and uprooted through monastic discipline and practice. The eight evil thought patterns are gluttony, lust, greed, sadness, acedia [despondency], anger, vainglory and pride. The later Church subsumed ‘sadness’ into the ‘sloth’ of the seven deadly sins – as it was understood that ‘sadness’ as defined by the Desert Fathers was very close to the Buddhist ‘dukkha’ (a profound feeling of mind-body dissatisfaction), and did not want this fact pointed-out or even known, but here’s the thing, Evagrius states that of all the eight evil thoughts it is through the experience of ‘sadness’ that ‘daemons’ will strike the most! How interesting that the Church would theologically move away from this very important teaching! Of course, with the later Church the laity are not reliant upon their own inner efforts (as is a monk), but are dependent upon the external ministering of a priest! The Christian book I am studying is the Audiobook I forwarded to you. The Christian author states that today the Church tends to view daemons as being bundles of negative ‘psychosomatic’ responses to inner and outer stimuli. It’s a start! 

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