Monday, December 8, 2014

The Demonology of St. John of the Ladder (5 of 6) - Indirect Warfare

5. Indirect Warfare

Speaking of man's struggle against the demons, Barsanuphios says: "Do not argue with them, for this is what they want and they will never stop."83 John's advice is likewise to fight the demons indirectly, disregarding them and doing the exact opposite of what they intimate.84 This is achieved by feeding one's mind with good thoughts each time the demons sow their evil ones.85 This does not contrast with Evagrius' exhortation "to stand there firmly" and not "to flee and to shun such conflicts."86 John refers to the manner of outflanking the demons while actually facing the battle: it could be suicidal to attempt to fight them directly,87 or even to attempt "to overthrow them with retaliations and pleadings."88 The attitude towards them should be one of "mindfulness of evil": "Having remembrance of wrongs and spitefulness against the demons."89 One must lead one's energy elsewhere, in the direction of doing good, but at the same time being firmly conscious of the facing enemy. All these propositions: that one should not be involved with the demons but rather mind one's own business,90 that one should fight them positively yet indirectly,91 and that one should not underestimate the demons,92 are emphasized in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.


83. Barsanuphios 91.

84. Ladder 7.49.

85. Ibid. 4.8.

86. Prakt. 28.

87. Ladder 4.30.

88. Ibid. 16.20.

89. Ibid. 9.8.

90. Apophth. Poimen 20.

91. Ibid. 111.

92. Ibid. Synkletica 18.