The fathers often talked about inner stillness as a way of sparing oneself of many battles and acquiring the virtues.
V.ii.1. Abba Antony said, “Just as fish die if kept on dry land so monks are drawn away from their original intentions if they linger outside their cells or spend too much time with worldly people. Therefore just as the fish must need return to the sea so should we hasten to our cells, lest through lingering abroad we lose our inner watchfulness.”
V.ii.2. Again he said, “He who remains quietly in solitude is saved from three areas of conflict, that is, hearing, speech and sight. He only has one area of conflict, the battle in the heart.”
V.ii.14. Amma Matrona said, “Many in the desert who seek for popularity will perish. However it is better to mingle with the multitude while at the same time longing for the solitary life than it is to live in solitude and long to be with the multitude.”
V.ii.16. The story is told of three students who became monks. One of them chose to bring reconciliation to those engaged in lawsuits, in obedience to the Scripture, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ (Matthew 5.9). The second took to nursing the sick, and the third sought inner stillness in solitude. The first one found that in his efforts to settle quarrels he couldn’t always succeed. Totally discouraged he went to see the second one who was nursing the sick and found him similarly depressed and unable to fulfill what he had set out to do. So the two of them agreed to go and see the one in the desert. They told him their troubles and asked him if he had managed any differently from them. He didn’t answer for a while, then poured some water into a bowl and told them to look into it while the water was still disturbed. And after a while when the water had become still he asked them to look again. And when they looked they saw their own faces as in a mirror. Then he said to them, “Thus it is with anyone living in the midst of people; there is so much agitation that you can’t see your own shortcomings. But when you find inner stillness, especially in solitude then you can see your own sins.” END.
From: De Vitis Patrum – Book V – Libellus 2: Inner Stillness