“There is no envy or jealousy among the members of the body; for in love they give ear unto Him, with tenderness they are visited by Him. … That light should be darkened it is not meet, that salt should lose its savor it is not right; defilement for the head is not seemly, nor yet foulness for the mirror. Nor if medicines have lost their savor sicknesses also are not cured; and if so be the torch is quenched, the stumbling also are many. The light shall chase away our darkness. Blessed be he who hath made Thee our lamp!” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian
There is no envy or jealousy among truly spiritual people because they understand better than most that it takes many different people to keep the world going. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the machine fails just as much if a tiny gear breaks as it does when a major part breaks. The spiritual person sees everyone as a part of the whole and so would not be jealous of another for his position or, conversely, think less of a person who does a simple, menial task. The king won’t sit so comfortably on the throne if the trash collectors stop doing their job.
Another reason spiritual people are not envious of others is that they are far more concerned with spiritual matters than with material ones. Of course there may be some jealousy in less advanced students who see the more advance spiritual persons in somewhat the same way that a materialist sees Warren Buffett or Donald Trump. They may not stop to realize that as some period in time, that high level person was on the same level they are on, and even lower, so the only real difference is one of time, and time is largely an illusion. The more advanced spiritual adept does realize this and is neither jealous of those above or disdain of those on a lower level. The advanced adept also understands that we all advance at our own speed and is also not jealous of the one who advances more quickly, nor critical of the one advancing slowly.
Some of the quoted section is difficult to follow. Lets look at it more closely. “That light should be darkened is not meet,” is an odd way to word this, but it means that light overcomes darkness, but darkness never overcomes light. Darkness, in the spiritual sense of the word, may be in control on the Earth at the present time, but even a small tough of spiritual Light cuts through it like the beam from a lighthouse on a foggy night. The part about salt is saying that for the Light to lose its power is about as likely as salt losing its taste.
It is a little less clear what he means when he talks about defilement of the head and foulness for the mirror, but I will try to make sense of it. I think defilement of the head is to simply fill your head, your mind, with false beliefs, false knowledge, that limit your ability to advance spiritually. By “foulness for the mirror,” I can only conclude that he is criticizing the vain person who spends much time looking in a mirror (if you have a better interpretation, let me know).
Ephraim then uses an analogy of medicines that spoil and can no longer treat disease followed by a similar one about a person left stumbling when his torch goes out. We can think of “medicine” in the spiritual sense as being God’s Light or God’s Grace which helps awaken and nourish our spiritual faculties. But when the light become “spoiled” by the interference of demons and dark beings, its frequency becomes lower and it is not as effective in aiding us. The stumbling part is obvious: when your Light goes out, you are blinded by the darkness around you and cannot see truth, so you must return to the light. He then blesses the one who brings that light to us, or who has made us aware of the Light and turned us toward it. A fine thing to do.