Humble thinking is something hard to achieve. The higher the degree of humility, the more effort it requires to be earned. It is in two situations and manners that it takes root in those partaking in the holy knowledge: when the fighter for piety is mid-way in his spiritual experience, he has a more humble thinking because of the shortcomings of his body or of those who hate without reason those who work the righteousness, or because of bad thoughts. When the mind is enlightened by the godly Grace and gains much sensitivity and security, the soul acquires humble thinking as if it were its natural characteristic, since, being full of godly kindness, it can no longer fill itself with vanity, even if it were to achieve all of God’s commands ceaselessly – but rather, it regards itself to be lower than everybody else, once it partakes in God’s good will.
The first kind of humility often contains sadness and discouragement and the second one contains joy and a shyness (delicacy) full of wisdom. Because the former appears, as I have said, in those who are mid-way in their efforts, and the latter is sent to those who have come closer to perfection. The former often gets sad when it is deprived by earthly happiness. The latter, even if someone gave it all the riches of the earth, does not get impressed and does not feel the sting of the terrible arrows of sin – as being altogether spiritual, it no longer knows the bodily glory.
But everyone who has made such efforts has gone through the former kind in order to reach the latter. For if we were not softened up by the Grace, which brings upon us the counseling passions, to cleanse our free-will, we would not be given the brilliance of ultimate humility.
Apophthegms by the Elders of the Egyptian Desert
Excerpt from „Slava deşartă. Apoftegme ale Sfinţilor Părinţi selectate şi comentate de ieromonahul Savatie Baştovoi”, editura Cathisma, Bucureşti, 2007