“Those who say that sin is not in man are like people plunged under a deluge of many waters who will not acknowledge it, but say ‘We heard a sound of waters.’ Plunged under the depth of the waves of evil, they say that sin is not in their mind or thoughts. There is a difference between those who have a theory and talk, but are not seasoned with the salt of heaven—who discourse of a royal table, but have never eaten or enjoyed it—and a man who has had a sight of the King himself, to whom the treasure has been opened, and he has entered it, and inherited them, and eaten and drunk of the costly viands. …
“Like a man who has suffered many losses by thieves, and has got away from them with much difficulty, and after this has come into great affluence and a large fortune, and has no more dread of loss because of his abundant wealth; so spiritual men, after first passing through many temptations and dreadful places, and then filled with grace and repleat with good things, are no longer in terror of those who would plunder them, since their wealth is not small; yet they fear, not with the beginners fear of evil spirits, but with fear and care how to employ the spiritual gifts entrusted to them.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian
Those who say that there is no sin and no evil fall into two camps. One group believes that if God created everything, then nothing can be evil. The second group believes that in pretending that all is nice and loving and positive, they will make it a reality. Neither group has succeeded in making sin or evil disappear. They simply hide from it and are therefore helpless to deal with it. If we are to be rid of sin and evil in ourselves and in our world, we have to acknowledge it, then work to get rid of it or avoid it. As the old saying goes, the devil’s greatest strength comes in getting people to believe he doesn’t exist. It is then so much easier for him to manipulate them. Denying that evil exists doesn’t make it go away. It has to be acknowledged and corrected.
The image created by St. Macarius of people standing in a deluge, yet refusing to acknowledge it, reminds me of a political cartoon that shows a group of politicians up to their necks in the water and still denying that global warming is real. The reality of global warming can no longer be denied except by fools living in fantasies. Likewise, the existence of sin and evil cannot be denied unless you are foolish enough to think that murder, rape, and arson are good things.
Salt of Heaven
This is an expression I have not heard before, yet it is a good one. We know that many foods are bland if you don’t add a little salt to them. And a little salt, contrary to what you might think, is essential for humans and animals. That is why farmers put salt licks into pastures for the cows.
St. Macarius is using this as an allegory, of course. Being seasoned with the salt of heaven means you have gone through the process of awakening your spirit and soul and linked yourself with the All, the Unity, the Godhead. While that may only happen for a brief moment on rare occasions, its effect on us is profound. We no longer guess at what is right and what is wrong, we know. We know what evil is and avoid doing it. We want nothing more than to be part of God’s Plan to redeem the fallen realm of matter and the beings trapped in it.
Eat and Drink the Viands
We do eat and drink of the Treasure of God when we have truly been awakened. That treasure is the Light that flows from God to the spiritual sun and then to us. But taking in and using that light is more complicated than simply gazing at the sun. We do need to look toward the sun (NEVER stare directly at it!) but we need to do it with a positive and loving attitude, and a desire to go beyond the physical sun to the light of the spiritual sun. Until we do that, the effect it has on us will be limited. So let yourself be seasoned by the salt of heaven.