Tag Archives: Anthony de Mello

He Went Away Sad

Mark 10 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

“Everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without certain things – money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality, God – they cannot be happy.”  You then develop an attachment to the thing and become happy when you have it and sad if you are in danger of losing it.

If you possess something but you can’t give it away, then you don’t possess it… it possesses you. – Frank Sinatra

This set me pondering about love, and marriage.  There is a paradox here, which I recognise in my own marriage – without Lesley I would be less happy, but clinging tight and not letting her have a free choice reduces my happiness too.  Instead of being about controlling the other to ensure that they are there all the time, you have to accept their freedom.  However, with it comes the gift of their presence – which increases our joy.

The Extra Mile

Matthew 5.40-1 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

We are programmed by society, our parents, our culture, our past experiences, our religion to want certain things. If we don’t get them we are unhappy… our programming tells us to be anxious, tense or worried. We expend energy coping with these emotions and even more energy rearranging the world so that the negative emotions aren’t triggered. Our existence is pathetic – we are at the mercy of so much we can’t control.

The way out is to be in the situation that causes us pain or difficulty and to observe ourselves, recognising that what is actually causing the pain is not the situation but the programming. Stay in the situation until there is a choice – we choose to act in a certain way, we don’t have to react

We see how powerful it is then to have the freedom to give to the person who demands our coat our cloak also, or to walk the extra mile. Only when we have freed ourselves from our inner programming can we come to a place of peace and love that permits us to do such a thing.

It reminds me of that Buddhist story of the Zen master:

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived – everyone except the Zen master.

Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn’t treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.
“You fool,” he shouted as he reached for his sword, “don’t you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!”

But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.
“And do you realize,” the master replied calmly, “that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?”

(from here).

 

Discipleship

Luke 14:26 ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Happiness cannot be found by seeking it – unhappiness is caused by our false beliefs about what makes us happy, and these are so ingrained by society that we are not even aware that we have them – like a dreamer in a dream.  Once we realise that attempting to please others will never bring us happiness we can start to understand this.

Not trying to please others  is difficult.  I write this as someone who got a career because that is what you are expected to do after university.  It was all very pleasant, passed the time nicely, paid the mortgage, but wasn’t what I was called to do.  As I changed my life, discovered my vocation, left the career, stopped worrying about what the world might think (at least sometimes) I found a deeper happiness.  But – it was a scary process!

I was asked over 30 years ago if I might have a vocation to the priesthood, but at that time I was too scared to give up the nascent career that I had, too worried about what “they” might say.  Two questions which Lesley helpfully (really) asks me from time to time are:

  • Who are they – name them?
  • What is the worst that could happen?

They do help 🙂

Profit & Loss

Matthew 16: 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Anthony De Mello asks us to consider the difference in satisfaction between doing something that makes us feel good, and something which gives us kudos in the eyes of the world.

One of the pitfalls of ministry can be forgetting that we are serving God, and thinking that we make things happen, that we are achieving things.  The times that I find I get most stressed are just those times – the times when I forget that it is God who is transforming the parish, that it is God who gives the growth.

I know this – I have been around the loop often enough to know this, and yet there are still times when I find myself falling into the same trap.

When will they (I) ever learn!

Advent Reading

The Way to LoveAlan and I are going to read meditations during Advent from the book “The Way to Love” by Anthony de Mello during Advent and blog about them here. If anyone else would like to do the same then you will be able to add your thoughts to ours in the comments.

This is what it says on the back of the book:

The Way To Love contains the final flowering of Anthony de Mello’s thought, and in it he grapples with the ultimate question of love. In thirty-one meditations, he implores his readers with his usual pithiness to break through illusion, the great obstacle to love. “Love springs from awareness,” de Mello insists, saying that it is only when we see others as they are that we can begin to really love. But not only must we seek to see others with clarity, we must examine ourselves without misconception. The task, however, is not easy. “The most painful act,” de Mello says, “is the act of seeing. But in that act of seeing that love is born.” Anthony De Mello was the director of the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counseling in Poona, India, and authored several books. The Way To Love is his last.