The nerve of all the passions is the passionate state, the longing which connects us to the visible appearances of things which promise us each and give us nothing or very little.
The passionate state, or enslavement to the passions attracts all of our psychic powers toward the exterior. It is the adhesive which glues us to the surface of the exterior world. The problem of asceticism is how can this enslavement to the passions (prospatheia), the substance of the passions, be slain, not how to slay our authentic nature and the world we live in. The challenge is, how can we live in this world as free beings, admiring it and understanding it as a transparent creation of God, without this admiration enslaving us to its purely perceptible and opaque surface, and thus hinder our development as beings oriented toward the infinite spiritual order. How can we use the world, the road toward our goal, without falling and succumbing on it?
- Fr. Dumitru Staniloae