Life Advice from Russian Elder, Abbot Nikon Vorobiev (1894-1963)


Wisdom comes from all eras and goes back through time.


Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge is based on facts, an accumulation of ideas and data about how different things works and why. Furthermore knowledge comes from experience, observation, and research.

Wisdom is about knowing which facts are relevant to you or to someone else, and why. Wisdom is the appropriate application of knowledge.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Let us look at some wisdom passed down from the Orthodox Elder Abbot Nikon.

Abbot Nikon Vorobiev was born in Tsarist Russia becoming a witness to all the tragic and great events of the twentieth century: the revolution, several wars, repression, social upheaval, and scientific discoveries. The son of a peasant, he was intelligent and talented, distinguished among six brothers in seriousness, especial honesty, meekness, and a kind-heartedness.

He lived through arrest, imprisonment, and exile to Siberian camps. He chose to live as an ascetic (severe self-discipline/ abstention from all indulgence) and to relate to others with love. His advice on the spiritual life was based on personal experience and full of the light of God’s grace.

Here are some quotes:

“Don’t retreat from the Lord until He has forgiven you and granted you peace of soul. Peace of soul is a sign of forgiveness from the Lord.”

“Preserve peace with yourself, and then with others.”

“Try to live with everyone so that they depart from you comforted and thanking the Lord for you.”

“People are in essence, in their depths better than the manifestations we see in their lives.”

“There’s no earthly truth which can justify enmity. I say “earthly” because heavenly truth gives both internal and external peace. If someone whom you consider your enemy dies, you will suffer, because sooner or later you will feel your guilt. Usually it comes during prayer. If you die in enmity (may it not be so), then know that all of your good works and all your hope for salvation will perish. You will go into the hands of your sown hatred. The Heavenly Kingdom is a kingdom of love and peace. Enmity cannot enter therein.”

“The path to salvation is by repentance for your sins, not in judging others. If a person judges others, then it means he does not feel his own sins and has no repentance. And conversely non-judgment of others is a sign of consciousness of our sins and repentance. Take care of your business with which you have been entrusted; don’t bother with others’ business; keep quiet as much as possible; never burden others; as a rock in the sea, let all the words that you hear drown within yourself; pity all, and bid farewell to all in your soul, and in reality if you have such a chance.”

“I advise you again: read good books more. There are few people you can benefit from, and they’re always busy or sick, but you can always read a book.”

“If a man cannot, for example, conquer gluttony, or alcoholism, or fornication, the Lord sends him an illness. A proud and pompous man the Lord will demean before all so that he becomes the least of men in the eyes of all. If this man—a Christian, is bound to the earth and all his strength, all his desires, all his dreams are aimed towards it, whether by truth or falsehood, thievery, deception—by any means—to acquire earthly prosperity, then the Lord will take away all that he has. Thus, to all our labors in our own battle with sin, the Lord sends involuntary grief as an aid in our battle.”

“He who seeks to please God will not be abandoned by God, as long as he doesn't abandon Him.”

“Success in the spiritual life is not measured by spiritual consolations, which could come from the evil one, but by the depth of humility.”

‘Not works, but humility inclines the Lord to mercy.”

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