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St. Teresa of Avila
Interior Castle

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I have sometimes been terribly oppressed by this turmoil of thoughts and it is only just over four years ago that I came to understand by experience that thought (or, to put it more clearly, imagination88) is not the same thing as understanding. I asked a learned man about this and he said I was right, which gave me no small satisfaction. For, as the understanding is one of the faculties of the soul, I found it very hard to see why it was sometimes so timid89; whereas thoughts, as a rule, fly so fast that only God can restrain them; which He does by uniting us in such a way that we seem in some sense to be loosed from this body.90 It exasperated me91 to see the faculties of the soul, as I thought, occupied with God and recollected in Him, and the thought, on the other hand, confused and excited.




88 The words in brackets were written in the margin by St. Teresa and lightly scored out. Ribera, however, adds: "Nothing to be deleted." Gracián has added, interlineally, after "imagination": "for so we women generally call it."


89 [tan tortolito, an expressive phrase: "so like a little tórtola (turtle-dove)" -- i.e. not only timid, but irresolute and apparently stupid, like an inexperienced fledgling.]


90 [Here there is a play on words difficult to render in English: the word translated both "restrain" and "uniting" is atar -- "tie", "bind."]


91 [Traíame tonta. Cf. n. 72, above.]





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