“Do not follow your own judgment in anything” (Abba Dorotheos)

To Disciples In Monasteries: How One Should Should Receive Instruction

"The children of humility of wisdom are: self-reproach, not trusting one's own mind, hatred of one's own will," Abba Dorotheos
“The children of humility of wisdom are: self-reproach, not trusting one’s own mind, hatred of one’s own will,” Abba Dorotheos

If you are in obedience, never believe your own heart, for it is blinded by the attachments of the old man. Do not follow your own judgment in anything and do not assign yourself anything without asking and without counsel. Do not think or suppose that you are better or more righteous than your instructor, and do not investigate his affairs, otherwise you will often be deceived and fall into temptation. For this is the deception of the evil one, who desires to hinder perfect obedience in faith and to deprive us of the certain salvation that comes from it. Acting in this way you will submit peacefully and safely, without going astray, and go safely on the path of our Fathers. Force yourself and cut off your own will in everything, and by the grace of Christ, through training, you will enter into the habit of cutting off your own will, and when you will do this without compulsion or sorrow, it will turn out that everything will happen just as you wish. Do not desire that everything will be done just as you wish; but desire that it might be just as it will be, and in this way you will be peaceful with everyone. This of course applies to that which is not in violation of the commandments of God or the Holy Fathers. Endeavor in every way to reproach yourself, and fulfill the commandment sensibly–the commandment to consider yourself as nothing. And believe that everything that happens to us, even to the very least thing happens according to the Providence of God; and then you will bear without disturbance everything that comes upon you.

Believe that reproaches and dishonors are medicines which heal the pride of your soul, and pray for those who make you meek as the true physicians of your soul, be convinced that he who hates dishonor hates humility, and he that flees those who offend him is fleeing meekness. Do not desire to know the shortcomings of your neighbor, and do not accept suspicions against him which are instilled in you by the enemy; and even if they should arise in you, because of our sinfulness, then strive to turn them into good thoughts. Give thanks for everything and acquire goodness and holy love. First of all let us all keep well our conscience in everything in regard to God, our neighbor and all things, and before we say or do anything let us test and see whether it be in agreement with the will of God. And then, having prayed, let us say or do the thing and offer our infirmity to God, and His goodness will help us in everything, for unto Him belongs every glory, honor and worship unto the ages. Amen.

From The Fifth Instruction. That We Should Not Trust Our Own Understanding 

…It [Proverbs 11:14] exhorts us not to trust in ourselves, not to consider ourselves intelligent, not to believe that we are able to govern ourselves…

For when we keep to our own will and follow our justification, then in doing what seems to be a good work, we lay snares for ourselves and we do not even know how we are perishing…

For a man can see the blameless path of God only when he abandons his own will.

But when he obeys his own will, he does not see that the ways of God are blameless. If he hears something pertaining to instruction, he immediately reproves it, denigrates it, casts it aside and acts contrary to it. For how can he endure anything or obey anyone’s advice if he insists on his own will! Further the Elder speaks about self-justification: “And if self-justification comes to the aid of the will, then a man becomes completely perverted.”…

I do not know any other fall for a monk apart from this: when he believes his own heart. Some say that a man falls from this or because of that; but as I have already said, I do not know any other fall apart from this—when a man follows himself. Have you seen one who has fallen? Know that he followed himself. There is nothing more dangerous, there is nothing more ruinous than this…

When I was living in coenobitism, I revealed all my thoughts to the elder, Abba John, and never, as I have said, did I decide to do anything without his counsel. And sometimes the thought would say to me, “Will not the elder say the same thing to you? Why do you wish to disturb him? And I replied to the thought, “Anathema to you and to your judgment, and to your reason and to your wisdom, and to your knowledge; for what you know you know from demons.” Thus would I go and ask the Elder…

Thus also learn to conduct yourselves, O brethren, not to trust in yourself, not to believe whatever your thought tells you.

But if one does not sincerely wish to do the will of God, then though go to a prophet, God might place in the heart of that prophet an answer corresponding to the man’s corrupt heart, as the Scripture says, And if a prophet should cause to err and should speak, I the Lord have caused that prophet to err (Ezekiel 14:9).

NOTE: Along with the Ladder, Abba Dorotheos is a very highly recommended book for monastics. It is frequently read during meals, and is sometimes recommended for private reading in cells.

Monk in despair reprogram-your-mind