In modern language, we might say that the eight evil thoughts, as enumerated by John Cassian, are our “shadow side”, for, says Cassian, “they exist in everyone, yet no one knows of them until they are laid open by the teaching of the elders and the Word of the Lord”.
No one knows of them because, as we would say now, we deny that side of ourselves. Yet, far from suggesting that the confrontation with our evil thoughts is a sign that we are back-sliding, Cassain tells us that this is a sign of progress.
What are these evil thoughts? According to Cassian they are:
gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, sloth (or acedia), vainglory and pride.
To explore his treatment of each vice would go beyond the scope of these posts. But, it is still worth noting that these tendencies, Cassian maintains, are just part of the human package, like it or not. This is not such bad news, however. The fact that we have the ability to see these tendencies within ourselves is a sign that God is there, providing the light by which they are seen (Conferences 23, XVII, 3).