Despise Possessions?

Let us begin, then, to withdraw from the thing of this world. Let us despise possessions and money and all that swamps and drowns our intelligence. …Those who travel by sea, when overtaken by a storm, do not worry about their merchandise but throw it into the waters with their own hands, considering their property less important than their life. Why, then, do we not follow their example, and for the sake of the higher life despise whatever drags our soul down to the depths? Why is fear of God less powerful than fear of the sea? …
Do athletes compete with their clothes on? No, the rules require them to enter the stadium naked. … Yet, instead of stripping ourselves, we try to engage in the contest while carrying countless burdens on our shoulders, thus giving our opponents many chances of getting a grip on us.” ~The Philokalia

We do need to withdraw from the things of the world, but despising possessions and the material world in general is probably going a little too far. We don’t need to hate the material world, indeed we should not, because the source of it is the spiritual world, the realm of God and the angels. We don’t hate a person for having a physical deformity, so we shouldn’t hate the spirit that has been deformed into matter. Spirit is still at it’s root. We can have possessions, we can wear clothes and live in a house, but we should avoid becoming attached to these things.


The quoted section gives the example of a ship caught in a storm and how even the owners of the property will throw possessions overboard in order to save themselves. That is the proper attitude to have for material goods, but the real “storm” we should be concerned with is the battle of the Children of Light and the Forces of Darkness for possession of our souls. Many people seem to have the idea that by default, when they die physically, their soul and spirit will go to heaven and be claimed by the Children of Light as one of their own and the only way they will be claimed by the dark ones is if they do something really evil or, as in many classic novels, sell their soul to Satan. The truth is, if you ask Satan to buy your soul he will laugh in your face. As an old saying goes (on a totally different subject); why buy the cow if you can get free milk?


Satan doesn’t need to buy your soul because as long as you are in the grips of materialism, it is already his! You need to wrestle it away from him, in a manner of speaking, by turning away from materialism, by rejecting attachments to physical objects, and become attached instead to God and obeying His will and fulfilling His Plan.


I had to include the part about athletes competing naked for a little humor, but it does make a point. When we become attached to material things, and then try to develop spiritually, the demons can use those attachments to pull us away from our spiritual intentions. Then can cause a car to crash into our beloved auto, they can cause a forest fire to burn our house, etc. By not getting attached to things, we take that away from them.





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