Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Illnessnes of the heart - logismoi

"When the heart gets accustomed to putrid thoughts, or logismoi, he said, then it suffers from contamination."

Kyriacos Markides, A Mountain Of Silence, p. 64

Father Maximos says that we are attacked by logismoi, putrid thoughts, all the time. There is nothing unusual about this. It is when we entertain these thoughts and even relish them that the trouble starts. Father Maximos contrasts the contamination of the heart with the pure of heart. Those with a pure heart have not allowed themselves to be contaminated.

I see this contamination all the time as a psychotherapist. People complain despondently about the state of the world. They are depressed, irritable, critical, negative and sometimes entertain suicidal and homicidal ideas.

James Adkisson, the man who killed the parishioners at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church may be an example of a person who was taken over by logismoi and had a contaminated heart. But we all have contaminated hearts when we become obsessed with ideas, things, relationships that have become dysfunctional and destructive.

Cognitive Behavioral psychotherapy, all the rage these days, helps people change their dysfunctional thinking. Albert Ellis' Rational Emotional Therapy, RET, has attempted to do the same thing for decades. Before the cognitive psychologists and psychotherapists focused on dysfunctional thinking, the saints and church elders had identified the problem centuries before.

Every now and then I meet someone with a pure heart. They are free. I want to be like them.

People with a pure heart bring grace into the world for themselves and for everyone they come into contact with. Pure heartedness is such a blessing for us as human beings. Pure heartedness, though, is not created without effort, awareness, discipline, and prayer.

I have been praying the efeche, "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son Of God, have mercy on me a sinner." Father Maximos says that this prayer will purify one's heart. It seems to help me.


  1. Dear David,

    It is good that you have a deep and meaningful practice that seems to put you right with yourself, your God, and with human community. It is a precious thing to have. Such a path is one way to overcome the anger, fear, and hate that rots the core of of the human soul, a force we see all around us.

    I am dismayed, however, that you seem to suggest that other practice is less worthy than yours. My daily practice is simple - to sit in my garden each day (for longer during the summer than the winter), and deeply feel my connection to the whole of the universe. To join in worship each Sunday and feel my connection to human community. To sing (the Messiah, most recently), to play my violin, to listen to music from many traditions. To do simple acts of compassion and kindness to help me remember that I am connected to others, and depend on others more than I can ever know. To be with friends, to laugh, to share stories of our lives, our struggles, our joys. To learn of the stories and myths created by people in our collective human attempt to understand our place in the universe, to deeply respect and to honor these spirtual quests, and to create an evolving understanding of my own. At least once a year to take an extended time in the wilderness with family to feel my deep roots in creation.

    As a UU, I hope you would extend respect for my practice, as I do for yours.

  2. Golly gee anonymous I don't know what I wrote that made you think that I think my practice is the only way or even the best. I like yours better than mine.

    Father Maximos recommends the efeche which I thought was pretty simplistic, but it does lowers my anxiety, gives me comfort, and makes me more centered. I think the practices you describe are just as good if not better and especially if they work for you - great!

    Thanks for your comment.

    With all good wishes,

    David Markham

  3. i have been using ho oponopono,
    i'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, i love you.
    it's made me feel way more depressed.