06 December 2011


Light-mindedness (levity)

The monk who instead of concentrating on himself looks curiously at others, trying to judge who is his superior and who is his inferior, will see things to envy in others and things to mock.  Thus it is that the light-minded follow their roving eyes and, no longer pinned down by proper responsibility, are now swept up to the heights by pride, now cast down into the depths by foolish envy.  Now the man is consumed by foolish envy; now he grows childishly pleased about his own excellence.  In one mood he is wicked, in the other vain.  In both he shows himself to be proud, because he makes it a matter for self-congratulation both when he grieves to be outdone and when he is pleased to outdo others.  He displays these changes of mood in his speech: Now his words are few and grudging; now numerous and trivial; now he is laughing; now he is depressed; but there is never any reason for his mood.  Compare if you will these two stages of pride [i.e., this and curiosity] with the last two steps of humility [namely, restrained speech and containment of one's interests] and see whether the last does not quell pride and the last but one light-mindedness.  You will find that the same is true for the rest, if you compare one with another.