Any kind of material form whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all material form should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: “This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.”
Have we condemned the world's sentiments? Are we opposed to its maxims? And have we made all our efforts to abolish its laws and overturn its accursed customs?
Have we despised what the world esteems and esteemed what it despises? Have we fled what it wants and wanted what it flees? Have we loved what it hates and hated what it loves? ... Have we fled the company of worldly persons, whom the saints, especially the Ecclesiastics, advise us to avoid like the plague, whom one should see only by necessity, and from whom we should separate ourselves as vigilantly as we can? Have we wanted, in order to render our separation from the world as perfect as the sanctity of our state demands, that the world have aversion to us, as we have aversion to the world, following the example the apostle has given us, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world”
The man who follows nature and not vain opinions is independent in all things. For in reference to what is enough for nature every possession is riches, but in reference to unlimited desires even the greatest wealth is not riches but poverty.
The shortest way to wealth lies in the contempt of wealth.
I so detached my heart from the world and cut short my hopes that for thirty years now I have performed each prayer as though it were my last and I were praying the prayer of farewell.
The inexperienced in wisdom and virtue, ever occupied with feasting and such, are carried downward, and there, as is fitting, they wander their whole life long, neither ever looking upward to the truth above them nor rising toward it, nor tasting pure and lasting pleasures. Like cattle, always looking downward with their heads bent toward the ground and the banquet tables, they feed, fatten, and fornicate. In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are.
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.
I call that mind free, which masters the senses, which protects itself against animal appetites, which contemns pleasure and pain in comparison to its own energy, which penetrates beneath the body and recognises its own reality and greatness, which passes life, not in asking what it shall eat or drink, but in hungering, thirsting, and seeking after righteousness.
Ascetic ideals reveal so many bridges to independence that a philosopher is bound to rejoice and clap his hands when he hears the story of all those resolute men who one day said No to all servitude and went into some desert.
There is good reason to believe that man's creative forces cannot be regenerated or his identity reestablished except by a renewal of religious asceticism. Only such a recall to our spiritual foundations can concentrate our powers and keep our identity from coming to dust. ... It is no good to yearn for a new kind of renaissance after such a spiritual drying-up and dilapidation, after such wanderings in the desert of life, after so deep a sundering of human identity. By an analogy we might say that we are approaching not a renaissance but the dark beginnings of a middle age, and that we have got to pass through a new civilized barbarism, undergo a new discipline, accept a new religious asceticism before we can see the first light of a new and unimaginable renaissance.
Whoever will labor to get rid of self, to deny himself, according to the instructions of Christ, strikes at once at the root of every evil, and finds the germ of every good.