Spiritual life does not mean being in the clouds while saying the Jesus Prayer or going through the various motions. It means discovering the laws of this spiritual life as they apply to one’s own position, one’s situation. This comes over the years by attentive reading of the Holy Fathers with a notebook, writing down those passages which seem most significant to us, studying them, finding how they apply to us, and, if need be, revising earlier views of them as we get a little deeper into them, finding what one Father says about something, what a second Father says about the same thing, and so on. There is no encyclopedia that will give you that. You cannot decide you want to find all about some one subject and begin reading the Holy Fathers. There are a few indexes in the writings of the Fathers, but you cannot simply go at spiritual life in that way. You have to go at it a little bit at a time, taking the teaching in as you are able to absorb it, going back over the same texts in later years, reabsorbing them, getting more, and gradually coming to find out how these spiritual texts apply to you. As a person does that, he discovers that every time he reads the same Holy Father he finds new things. He always goes deeper into it.
–Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 466