A soul moved by material beauty reveals that the vain world lives inside it,and that it is attracted by the creation and not by the Creator,by clay and not by God.It makes no difference if the clay is pure and does not have the mud of sin in it.When the heart is attracted by earthly beauties,which though not sinful are still vain,it feels a worldly and momentary joy,but this joy provides no divine consolation,no inner flutter with spiritual exultation.By contrast,when man loves spiritual beauty,then the soul is filled and becomes beautiful.
Those who do not put the brakes on their heart's desires for unnecessary material things-not desires of the flesh;these are out of the question-and do not gather their mind inside the heart in order to offer everything they have together with their very soul to God,will be very miserable.
-Elder,is it always bad to desire something?
-No,the heart's desire is not bad in itself.But when things,even things that are not sinful,take up a piece of my heart,they diminish my love for Christ.Again,this kind of desire is bad,because the enemy reduces my love for Christ.When I desire a useful thing,a book ,for example and it ends up taking up a piece of my heart,then that is bad.Why should a book take up a piece of my heart?Will i desire the book or will i yearn for Christ?
Any desire,no matter how good it appears,cannot rival the desire for Christ or for the Panagia(Mother of God).When i give my heart to God, will not God give me His entire Self in Return?God seeks man's heart,"My son give me your heart".If man gives God his heart,God will grant him his heart's desires,as long as they will not be harmful to him.Only a heart given to Christ is not wasted,and only in Christ does one find in abundance the gift of divine love in this life and heavenly exultation in the next life.
We must avoid worldly things and not let them occupy our heart;we must use only the simplest means to accommodate our needs.We must make sure,however,that the few things we use are sound.If I use a beautiful thing,I give all my heart to that beauty and I leave nothing for God.You pass by somewhere and you see a house with pretty marble work,designs,engravings...You admire the stones,the bricks,and you leave your heart there.Or, you see a beautiful eye-glass frame in a store and you desire it.If you don't buy it,you leave your heart at the store.If you buy it,you are hanging your heart from the eye-glass frames you are wearing.
Women are especially vulnerable to this kind of deception.Few of them do not waste their hearts on vanities.What I am trying to say is that the devil robs them of their rich heart through all these ephemeral,colourful and shiny trinkets.
Let's say,one of them needs a plate.She will search for the one with a flowery pattern,as if the food would turn sour if the plate had no flowers!Some spiritual women may,instead,be moved by serious patterns such as a double-headed eagle and so on.And they wonder,"Why don't spiritual things touch me?" How can the heart be moved by spiritual things,when it is scattered in cabinets and plates?You do not actually have a heart;you only have a piece of flesh,which beats inside mechanically,tick-tack,like a clock,just to make you walk.It's because the heart is dispersed to so many things,a bit of it going here,a bit of it going there,that nothing is left for Christ.
-In other words,Elder, even these simple desires are sinful?
-These simple desires, even when they are not sinful,are actually worse than the sinful ones.A sinful desire will shake a man at some point,and his conscience will bother him,and he will make an effort to repent.He will say,"My God,I have sinned."On the contrary,these other desires,the"good ones",do not concern him at all.He believes that he is doing well."I love well-make and beautiful things,"he thinks."Besides,God created everything beautiful."Yes,but his love does not go to the Creator,it goes to His Creation,which is why we should brake off from every desire.When someone makes an effort for Christ by sacrificing what he loves,no matter how good what he loves is,God will grant him an even greater peace and rest.
Before the heart is cleansed,it has worldly desires and finds joy in them.But when it is cleansed and purified,it no longer tolerates earthly desires and its joys then are spiritual.The heart is purified when it loathes worldly desires.Until this happens,it is attracted to them.But,you see,we do not want to upset the old self;we would rather do him all kinds of favours.How then can we be become imitators of Christ?
Taken from, Elder Paisios of Mont Athos,Spiritual Counsels Vol1 "With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man"