Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, influenced the world through his powerful understanding of the human condition. Through the use of parables and teaching stories, de Mello pointed the way to reclaiming our true power. Born in 1931 and died in 1987, he was known throughout the world for his writings and spiritual conferences. The following are his excerpts and stories from Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality., One Minute Wisdom,Awakening: Conversations With the Master, and Way to Love.
…The day you are discontented not because you want more of something but without knowing what it is you want; when you are sick at heart of everything that you have been pursuing so far and you are sick of the pursuit itself, then your heart will attain a great clarity, an insight that will cause you mysteriously to delight in everything and in nothing.
We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. But has it ever struck you that even if your wife changes or your husband changes, what does that do to you? You're just as vulnerable as before; you're just as idiotic as before; you're just as asleep as before. You are the one who needs to change, who needs to take medicine. You keep insisting, "I feel good because the world is right." Wrong! The world is right because I feel good.
The visiting historian was disposed to be argumentative.
"Do not our efforts change the course of human history?" he demanded.
"Oh yes, they do," said the Master.
"And have not our human labors changed the earth?"
"They certainly have," said the Master.
"Then why do you teach that human effort is of little consequence?"
Said the Master, "Because when the wind subsides, the leaves still fall."
-One Minute Wisdom
We all depend on one another for all kinds of things, don't we? We depend on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Interdependence. That's fine! We set up society this way and we allot different functions to different people for the welfare of everyone, so that we will function better and live more effectively -- at least we hope so. But to depend on another psychologically -- to depend on another emotionally -- what does that imply? It means to depend on another human being for my happiness.
Think about that. Because if you do, the next thing you will be doing, whether you're aware of it or not, is DEMANDING that other people contribute to your happiness. Then there will be a next step -- fear, fear of loss, fear of alienation, fear of rejection, mutual control. Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.
I enjoy it on a non-clinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it's something that's greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn't stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I'm alone, it continues to play. There's a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.
Most people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts -- generally somebody else's -- mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions.
As you identify less and less with the "me," you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last! You no longer feel the need or the compulsion to explain things anymore. It's all right. What is there to be explained? And you don't feel the need or compulsion to apologize anymore. I'd much rather hear you say, "I've come awake," than hear you say, "I'm sorry." I'd much rather hear you say to me, "I've come awake since we last met; what I did to you won't happen again," than to hear you say, "I'm so sorry for what I did to you."
People go through life with fixed ideas; they never change. They're just not aware of what's going on. They might as well be a block of wood, or a rock, a talking, walking, thinking machine. That's not human. They are puppets, jerked around by all kinds of things. Press a button and you get a reaction.
An affluent industrialist said to the Master, "What do you do for a profession?"
"Nothing," said the Master.
The industrialist laughed scornfully. "Isn't that laziness?"
"Heavens no. Laziness is mostly the vice of very active people."
Later the master said to his disciples, "Do nothing and all things will be done through you. Doing nothing really takes a lot of doing. Try it!"
-One Minute Wisdom
Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop. Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness will disappear. Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something you have; love is something that has you.
It was lecture time and the Master said, "The
genius of a composer is found in the notes of his
music; but analyzing the notes will not reveal
his genius. The poet's greatness is contained in
his words; yet the study of his words will not
disclose his inspiration. God reveals himself in
creation; but scrutinize creation as minutely as
you wish, you will not find God, any more than
you will find the soul through careful examination
of your body."
At question time someone asked, "How then
shall we find God?"
"By looking at creation, not by analyzing it."
-Awakening: Conversations With the Master
When asked what he did for his disciples, the
Master said, "What a sculptor does for the statue
of a tiger: He takes a block of marble and pounds
away at anything that doesn't look like a tiger."
When his disciples later asked what exactly he
meant, the Master said, "My task is to hammer
away at everything that isn't you -- every thought,
feeling, attitude, compulsion that adheres to you
from your culture and your past.
-Awakening: Conversations with the Master
"Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality."
Life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of it. For that you've got to wake up and then you'll suddenly realize that reality is not problematic, you are the problem.
First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates.
Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation.
Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.
To acquire happiness you don't have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don't you experience it? Because you've got to drop something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add anything in order to be happy; you've got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings.