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'''Prelest''' ({{lang-ru|прелесть}}, from {{lang-ru|лесть}} - cajolery; (charm, seduction), {{lang-el|πλάνη - ''plani''}}), also known as: spiritual delusion, spiritual deception, delusion, illusion, – according to Holy Fathers of [[Eastern Orthodox Church]], a false spiritual state, a spiritual illness, "a wounding of human nature by falsehood" - a man's assimilation of falsehood as truth (St. [[Ignatius (Brianchaninov) of Caucasus|Ignatius Brianchaninov]]).<ref name="ign">[ On Spiritual Deception. Orthodox Life, July-August 1980.]</ref> The concept of prelest should not be confused with somatic mental illness of any kind, prelest is rather a spiritual illness<ref>{{Fr icon}} Jean-Claude Larchet, Thérapeutique des maladies mentales. L’expérience de l’Orient chrétien des premiers siècles (1992, 3rd edition 2008) ISBN 2204045187 {{Ru icon}} [ Жан-Клод Ларше, Исцеление психических болезней. Опыт христианского Востока первых веков] Jean-Claude Larchet writes in his book about mental illnesses and sets apart 3 kinds of them: natural, demonic and spiritual based on the words from many Holy Fathers. Natural illness is associated with body (brain) malfunction, demonic one - with action of demons, and spiritual illness in the first place depends on the person's free will (though free will and demons can also partially participate in the first 2 kinds).</ref> - an illness of the soul in its personal relation to God, an illness that is to be cured by humility and Holy Sacraments and under the guidance of the spiritual father. In the broadest sense, everyone is in prelest: everyone has some wrong thoughts and views, everyone does not fully understand the meaning of life, the degree of own sinfulness etc. When the word "prelest" is used in the narrow sense, i.e. that some particular person is in the state of prelest, that usually means that this person, initially being on the path of pious christian life, became possessed with the strongest pride and self-conceit right up to the thought about personal sanctity. The state opposite to prelest is spiritual sobriety.
==General information==
True view of oneself (of own spiritual condition, position relative to God, sinfulness etc.) is tightly connected with the passions of pride and vainglory and is distorted by these passions. The degree of prelest is the degree of such distortion, i.e. the amount of falsehood in the view of oneself and the degree of difficulty of change from the false view to the true one.
Different kinds of prelest are described by many Holy Fathers, including the Fathers of [[Philokalia]]: St. [[Gregory of Sinai]], St. [[Maximus the Confessor]], St. [[Symeon the Metaphrast]], St. [[Symeon the New Theologian]] and others. Even when some Holy Father does not use the term "prelest" explicitly, writing about acetic ascetic life implies writing what spiritual practice is true, i.e. leads to salvation, and what is false, i.e. leads to the opposite and, therefore, accepting it as true is prelest.
A modern reader can find the most thorough explanation of prelest in the writings of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) where he relentlessly keeps the traditions of Holy Fathers. Some of these writings were incorporated into a book "On prelest"<ref>{{Ru icon}} [ St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov). On prelest.]</ref> dedicated solely to different forms of delusion (wrong way of prayer, trust to dreams, excessive zeal, false humility etc.), which St. Ignatius explains on the basis of the words from Holy Fathers of the first centuries and provides information about different recent cases of delusion.

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