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02 - DISCIPLINE OF THE MIND: UNPROFITABLE KNOWLEDGE

DISCIPLINE OF THE MIND

1. Protect your mind from harmful and unprofitable knowledge.
2. Plant in your mind the spiritual knowledge.

UNPROFITABLE KNOWLEDGE:
If you wish to pursue Christian perfection, you have to protect your mind from information that is unprofitable to your soul. Unfortunately this is the age of information and information technology and the world is offering it to us like never before, an explosion of information through TV, books, magazines, newspapers and last but not the least, the Internet. But this leads to what I call pollution of the mind with useless information. Today we have information junkies, people who seek information, not to improve their efficiency at work, but information for its own sake.
St. Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 2:2 tells us, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” That is all the knowledge that St. Paul cares about, Jesus and his lifegiving crucifixion.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 tells us, “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.”
The first example of unprofitable knowledge is excessive watching of the news. It is good to know what is happening in the world around us, but to be obsessed about knowing all the minute details of something happening somewhere else is not profitable if you are seeking Christian perfection. TV stations, responding to people’s insatiable appetite for news have invented the 24 hour news channel. Radio channels followed suit!
Take an example, the proceedings of the O. J. Simpson trial were watched by more people around the world than any other event. I can understand watching a hockey game for example, but court proceedings? What could I possibly get out of it? Nothing that is profitable to my soul, mind or body!
Let me tell you about an exercise that I do during Lent, I refuse to listen to news on Radio, or read newspapers or magazines. Of course, we agreed that TV is not going to be operational during Lent. Believe me, I don’t miss anything, rather my mind is freed from the information pollution, and I feel that it functions better.
We are told a story of a monk who was sitting chatting with the other monks, then, going to his cell; another monk saw him circling around his cell several times, so he asked him what he is doing He answered, “ I am getting rid of all the worldly talk we were talking about, because I don’t want to bring it in with me into my cell!”
The second example of unprofitable knowledge is idle curiosity. Seeking information about many things for the sole purpose of becoming knowledgeable!How can this hurt me? Well, the Fathers say that this glut of general knowledge, leads me to think that I know more than others and this leads to pride and arrogance. It also leads to talkativeness, because I want to parade my knowledge in front of others. Theophan the Recluse tells us that ultimately our mind becomes an idol which we worship. We ultimately become opinionated, refuse to consult or accept advise, since we know it all!This is pride of the mind which leads us to depend on ourselves even in spiritual matters, which is very dangerous.
If you want to follow after Christian perfection, you have to wean your mind from this addiction to knowledge. St. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” Spiritual wisdom and worldly wisdom do not go hand in hand. People who seek after the wisdom of this world in an excessive way often become atheists. Puffed up by their own conceited minds they deny God who created their minds. Of these St. Paul says, in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”
In Psalm 73:22-24 David the prophet says, “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
This is the meaning of becoming foolish in order to be wise. If you declare your foolishness before God, He will hold your right hand, guide you with His counsel, and afterwards receive you to Glory.
Curiosity led Lot’s wife to perish. And the Lord gives us the same example in warning us about curiosity in the time of Antichrist. In Matthew 24:15-18 the Lord tells us, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the house top not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.”
What this means is to avoid meeting or seeing or hearing the Antichrist at any cost, just to flee from him. People with very strong curiosity who just want to take a look, will perish just like Lot’s wife. Luke 17:31-32 tells us the same thing and warns us not to fall in the mistake of Lot’s wife . In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife.
In those days, one should curb any curiosity to watch TV, listen to the Radio, go to his “Revival Meetings” or any curiosity to know anything about him. St. John Chrysostom warns us, “He did not say, ‘Go, and do not believe;’ but, ‘Go not forth, neither depart thither.’ For great then will be the deceiving, because that even deceiving miracles are wrought.” If you ignore these warnings and follow your curiosity you will be deceived and will perish.
That is why it is good to exercise yourself in fasting from TV during Lent so that should the time of Antichrist come upon us, we can get rid of our TV altogether and keep our eyes fixed on heaven waiting for the coming of the Lord on the clouds to gather us unto Him. Another deadly kind of curiosity is curiosity about the Occult, Witchcraft, Ouija boards and the like, which can lead to demonic possession and suicide or murder.
So far we have spoken about unprofitable knowledge, now let us talk about harmful knowledge. This is obsession with knowing things about other people, or what the Bible calls being a busybody. 1 Peter 4:15 tells us, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.”
Obsession about knowing the affairs of others is the root of gossip. The devil may convince you that you want to know those things so that you can help the other person. But, I can pray for a sick person without knowing about the kind of illness he has. I can help someone move into his new house without prying into how much he paid for the house. I can congratulate someone for his new job without asking him how much salary he is getting. Young people especially are obsessed by knowing the “secrets” of their friends. If you don’t tell me your secrets then you are not my friend. Or, I’ll tell you my secrets if you tell me yours. This is harmful knowledge and the Bible tells us that being a busybody is as bad as being a murderer or a thief. Many people complain to me about other people wanting to know things about them. Some people even tell me, “I have to lie sometimes because I don’t want people to know my personal affairs.” My standard answer is, “Don’t lie, just tell those people, this is personal!” And if they get upset and don’t want to talk to you anymore, don’t worry for they are not true friends any way. True friends respect the privacy of their friends rather than insist on knowing their secrets.


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