A disciple came to Macarius the Elder one day and said: ‘Macarius, what must I do to save my soul?’ Macarius answered: ‘Go and insult the dead.’ The disciple went to the cemetery, he insulted the dead, and came back to Macarius. ‘What did the dead say?’ asked Macarius. ‘They said nothing,’ replied the disciple. Then Macarius told him to return to the cemetery and bless the dead. The disciple did so and came back to Macarius. ‘what did the dead say?’ asked Macarius. ‘They said nothing,’ replied the disciple. ‘Be like the dead,’ said Macarius. ‘Judge nobody and learn to keep silent.’

Sayings of the Desert Fathers

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