“A young monk asked Abba Moses to give him a piece of useful advice.
“Stay in your cell and your cell will teach you,” the wise elder answered.”
Abba Moses the Black was not the only Desert Christian to say this. “Stay in your cell and your cell will teach you everything” is how I remember it.
This particular Abba and monk lived in the desert of Egypt. Each monk had a simple, one-room hut, aka cell, in which the monk was to spend her or his time, weaving mats or baskets out of palm fronds and praying the entire Psalter every day.
it was a life of extreme austerity in which they gave up everything to know God. I mean everything. They ate perhaps once a day.
To stay in the hut means no walking around visiting the other monks. They gathered once a week for an agape meal and communion. Otherwise, they simply stayed in the hut, prayed the Psalms and wove. Inside the hut it was simply God and the monk. The monk would confront all sorts of things within herself or himself, as we have seen in other Sayings. All desires, urges, thoughts to be purged in order to experience God.
Yes, I agree with you. This extreme austerity is over-the-top. It is unhealthy and, fortunately, later monastic developments brought to a far more balanced monasticism. We have St. Benedict and his Rule to thank for this.