“Let us therefore prepare ourselves to travel to the Lord with an undivided will and purpose. … Let us sever ourselves altogether from the love of the world,and attach our souls to Him only, and keep in mind Him only as our business and care and quest. If we have to be somewhat busied also in body, with the business laid upon us, … let not the mind be parted from the love and quest and longing after the Lord; so that striving in such a mind, and journeying along the way of righteousness with an upright intention, and always taking heed to ourselves, we may obtain the promise of His Spirit, and may through grace be delivered from the perdition of the darkness of the passions.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian
Way of Righteousness
What exactly constitutes the way of righteousness is a matter of great debate among churches, mystics, and philosophers. It shouldn’t be, but it is. That is because most people speaking on the subject are doing so based on something they were told, or something they read, rather than on personal experience. Only one who has truly walked the way of righteousness and knows what it takes can actually answer the question. For those who have actually walked the way, the descriptions vary little. They may use different words because language simply doesn’t describe the spiritual very well, but the story is similar.
The only way to completely sever ourselves from the world of matter is to leave it, to die. That isn’t necessary (phew!). You can live in this world, you can own material goods, as long as you can remain detached from them. This isn’t an easy thing to do,but if you are destined for a spiritual life, you have probably already found that a life of materialism is not fulfilling. But if you have to wash your car when it gets the littlest bit of dirt on it, or wear your lucky shirt whenever you play a game, you may still need to work on that detachment.
The problem is like the old “Don’t think about an elephant” trick. As soon as someone says that, you immediately think of an elephant. So don’t think about detaching your connections to certain objects. Instead, become totally attached to the spiritual, your spiritual growth, and the needs of your soul. You will then be on the Way of Righteousness.
Let Not the Mind be Parted
St. Macarius advises us to our let our daily works, our material jobs, lure our mind away from the Way of Righteousness. His is not easy to do either. When we get busy with work, especially work that is mental, we can’t simultaneously thing of our spiritual goals. At lest that is what most of us believe. But if we remind ourselves of those goals frequently, we will lock those thoughts into a part of our minds just below the surface. Then we stay on the Way of Righteousness even when doing mundane tasks that are purely material.
Darkness of Passions
Passions are another thing that can pull us away from the Way of Righteousness. It is good to be passionate about some things. We should all be passionate lovers of peace. We should all be passionate about love. Achieving oneness with the All requires passionate devotion. But too much passion for the wrong things becomes attachment. We already know that attachment weights us down, keeps us from growing. Another area to work on as we travel the Way of Righteousness together.