Chapter 30

On Knowing Ourselves

We may not trust overmuch in ourselves, for we often lack grace and understanding. There is little light in us, and even this we easily lose through carelessness. Moreover, we often do not realize how blind we are. We often do evil, and we do worse in excusing ourselves. Sometimes we are moved by passion, and mistake it for Zeal. We rebuke small faults in others, but overlook greater faults in ourselves (Matt.7:5). We are too quick to resent and feel what we suffer from others, but fail to consider how much others suffer from us. Whoever considers his own defects fully and honestly will find no reason to judge others harshly.

The spiritual man puts the care of his soul before all else; (Matt.16:26) and whoever diligently attends to his own affairs is ready to keep silence about others. You will never become interior and devout unless you refrain from criticism of others, and pay attention to yourself. If you are wholly intent on God and yourself, you will be little affected by anything outside this (I Cor.4:3). Where are you when you fail to attend to yourself? And when you have occupied yourself in countless affairs, what have you gained, if you have neglected your soul (Mark 8:36)? If you really desire true peace and union with God, attend to yourself, and set aside all else.

Keep yourself free from all worldly entanglement, and you will make good progress; but if you set great value on any worldly things, it will prove a great obstacle. Let nothing be great, pleasant or desirable to you save God alone, and whatever comes of God. Regard as empty comfort all things that derive from creatures. The soul that loves God regards as worthless all things other than God. God alone is eternal and immeasurable, filling all things; (Jer.23:24) He alone is the true comfort of the soul and joy of the heart.

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