The sons of the world consider distraction to be innocent, but the Holy Fathers consider it to be the beginning of all evil.
Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov
A person who is entrenched in his scattered way of living has a very superficial and shallow appreciation of all things, even the most important ones. The scattered man is usually inconstant - the emotions of his heart are lacking in depth and strength, and so are feeble and short-lived. As a moth flutters to the flower, so the scattered man passes from one earthly pleasure to the next, from one useless activity to another. The scattered man lacks love for his neighbor - he sees his neighbor's suffering with no twinge of sympathy and very flippantly lays intolerable burdens on others.
The scattered man is profoundly affected by sorrows, since he never expects them; he always expects pleasures.
If the sorrow is heavy, yet short-lived, the scattered man quickly forgets it in the noise of his constant distractions. A long-lasting sorrow destroys him. The scattered way of life itself turns on the one who is devoted to it - sometimes it becomes boring to him, as to one who has never acquired any real knowledge or impressions, he descends into a deadly, profound depression. The scattered life, so dangerous in essence, is especially harmful in the doing of God's work, in the work of salvation, which requires constant vigilance and attention. "Watch, and pray, lest you enter not into temptation," said the Lord to His disciples. "I say to unto all, 'Watch!'" He said to every Christian, consequently to us as well. He who leads a scattered life directly contradicts the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ with his very life.
All the saints assiduously avoided distraction.
Constantly, or at the very least as often as possible, they concentrated their thoughts within themselves, paying attention to every movement of the mind and heart directing these according to the commands of the Gospels. The habit of vigilance over the self protects one from an absent way of life, especially in the midst of loud worldly pleasures that surround one from every side. The attentive man remains alone within himself even in the midst of a crowd. Having learned for himself the importance of attention and the harm of scattered thoughts, Abba Agathon said,
"Without forceful vigilance over ourselves we will not progress in a single virtue."
It is foolish to waste our short temporal life (given to us to prepare for eternity) on earthly concerns alone, on satisfying our insignificant, endless, insatiable desires and passions, frivolously rushing from one perishable pleasure to the next, forgetting about or only sometimes remembering about imminent, majestic and terrifying eternity. God's work - this is obvious - should be examined and studied with great reverence and attentiveness, otherwise, a person will be unable to consider it, or to learn of it. That great work of God, the creation of man, and the renewal of man after the fall through Christ's redemption, should be studied in great detail by every Christian. Without this knowledge, he will never know and be able to fulfill the calling of a Christian. Knowledge of the great work of God cannot be acquired while leading a scattered life! The commandments of God are given not only to the external man, but more so to the inner man. They encompass all the thoughts and emotions of a person, all his subtlest movements. Living according to these commandments is impossible without constant vigilance and profound attentiveness.
Vigilance and attentiveness are impossible in a scattered way of life. A person must be constantly on guard against his invisible enemy. How will he stand guard when he is devoted to his scattered thoughts?
Sin, and the devil who wields it as a weapon - sneaks quietly into the mind and the heart. A person must be constantly on guard against his invisible enemy. How will he stand guard when he is devoted to his scattered thoughts? A scattered life, full of the cares of the world, makes a person weak and stupid, just like a person who eats and drinks too much. Such a person is stuck to the earth, busy only with vain and temporary matters. Serving God becomes a secondary matter to a scattered man; to him, the very thought of such service seems to him wild, murky, and intolerably heavy.
It is foolish to waste our short temporal life (given to us to prepare for eternity) on earthly concerns alone, on satisfying our insignificant, endless, insatiable desires and passions, frivolously rushing from one perishable pleasure to the next, forgetting about or only sometimes remembering about imminent, majestic and terrifying eternity.