Mount Athos. Greek tradition
There are two traditions on Mount Athos : monasteries and sketes. It is important to make a distinction.
The pilgrims usually see the first tradition, and the second (hermitic) remains hidden from their eyes. But it is notable because it expresses the freedom in Christ, and is more ancient. If at all to call things by their right/proper names then hermitic traditions is more true. All saints were reared by this second tradition. In order to learn about it, you should visit the sketes.
The difference between the two traditions is found in the attitude towards prayer and obedience . In monasteries, the main element is liturgical prayer, in the sketes – prayer with a prayer rope (Jesus prayer). In monasteries, obedience is more disciplinary, in the sketes it is (ideally) based on love towards the elder and the brotherhood.
According to the Greek tradition , a monk must pass through a period of living in a monastery first, and then move on to a skete, then to a kelia. In Russia, this tradition is largely lost.
Monk Simeon. MYSTERIOUS DISCOURSES or INNERMOST MAXIMS
Do not trust winter till the very end of it. Do not trust yourself till your last breath.
I 1. My son, I shall tell you what my father had heard me, and what he had heard from his grandfather. Not one of the people that you see around yourself will remain alive within a hundred years. And of those you do not see - how many of them die each day in hospital wards and prison cells? Beside them, how many humans die on the way, or in backbreaking labours, or in quarrels and litigations against each other? Of a handful that we have in the remainder - how many are happy? And are they able to retain their happiness? And if not - is it happiness indeed?
2. A squirrel is running round in a cage. How great is its desire to reach a pine grove! A worm is gnawing upon an apple, and its only concern is whether its sweet world is endless. A mosquito is buzzing at your ear. How full of agitation and passion is that buzz!
Would it that the squirrel run not as fast in its cage, would it that the worm hasten not with finishing its apple, would it that the mosquito make somewhat less noise! Can this advice be helpful to them? And will they be able to grasp what they should do? And what about the human? Will he be able to find his true self in his earthly pursuits?
3. The Truth is revealed to all, the honest and the dishonest, but It will never render itself to dishonest hands. The earthly sun shines upon the righteous and the unrighteous, but the spiritual Sun will never be radiant in the unrighteous heart...