Anthony de Mello quotes

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Anthony de Mello

Birthdate: 3. September 1931
Date of death: 2. June 1987

Anthony "Tony" de Mello was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher, writer and public speaker, De Mello wrote several books on spirituality and hosted numerous spiritual retreats and conferences. He continues to be known for his unconventional approach to the priesthood and his storytelling which drew from the various mystical traditions of both East and West.

Quotes Anthony de Mello

„When your excessive eagerness to teach has left you.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Aggression
One Minute Wisdom (1989)
Context: A zealous disciple expressed a desire to teach others the Truth and asked the Master what he thought about this. The Master said, "Wait."
Each year the disciple would return with the same request and each time the Master would give him the same reply: "Wait."
One day he said to the Master, "When will I be ready to teach?"
Said the Master, "When your excessive eagerness to teach has left you."

„The Master in these tales is not a single person. He is a Hindu Guru, a Zen Roshi, a Taoist Sage, a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian Monk, a Sufi Mystic. He is Lao-tzu and Socrates; Buddha and Jesus; Zarathustra and Mohammed.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Introduction
One Minute Nonsense (1992)
Context: The Master in these tales is not a single person. He is a Hindu Guru, a Zen Roshi, a Taoist Sage, a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian Monk, a Sufi Mystic. He is Lao-tzu and Socrates; Buddha and Jesus; Zarathustra and Mohammed. His teaching is found in the seventh century B. C. and the twentieth century A. D. His wisdom belongs to East and West alike. Do his historical antecedents really matter? History, after all, is the record of appearances, not Reality; of doctrines, not of Silence.

„The apprentice did precisely what he thought he was told.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Source: One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 19
Context: "When you speak about Reality," said the Master, "you are attempting to put the Inexpressible into words, so your words are certain to be misunderstood. Thus people who read that expression of Reality called the Scriptures become stupid and cruel for they follow, not their common sense, but what they think their Scriptures say."
He had the perfect parable to show this: A village blacksmith found an apprentice willing to work hard at low pay. The smith immediately began his instructions to the lad: "When I take the metal out of the fire, I'll lay it on the anvil; and when I nod my head you hit it with the hammer." The apprentice did precisely what he thought he was told. Next day he was the village blacksmith.

„The atheist makes the mistake of denying that of which nothing may be said… and the theist makes the mistake of affirming it.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Source: One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 21
Context: "Tell me," said the atheist, "Is there a God — really?"
Said the master, "If you want me to be perfectly honest with you, I will not answer."
Later the disciples demanded to know why he had not answered.
"Because the question is unanswerable," said the Master.
"So you are an atheist?"
"Certainly not. The atheist makes the mistake of denying that of which nothing may be said... and the theist makes the mistake of affirming it.

„A religious belief… is not a statement about Reality, but a hint, a clue about something that is a mystery, beyond the grasp of human thought.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Source: One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 134
Context: A religious belief… is not a statement about Reality, but a hint, a clue about something that is a mystery, beyond the grasp of human thought. In short, a religious belief is only a finger pointing to the moon. Some religious people never get beyond the study of the finger. Others are engaged in sucking it. Others yet use the finger to gouge their eyes out. These are the bigots whom religion has made blind. Rare indeed is the religionist who is sufficiently detached from the finger to see what it is indicating — these are those who, having gone beyond belief, are taken for blasphemers.

„Eternal means timeless — no time. The human mind cannot understand that. The human mind can understand time and can deny time. What is timeless is beyond our comprehension.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"The Illusion of Rewards", p. 43
Awareness (1992)
Context: Do you know what eternal life is? You think it's everlasting life. But your own theologians will tell you that that is crazy, because everlasting is still within time. It is time perduring forever. Eternal means timeless — no time. The human mind cannot understand that. The human mind can understand time and can deny time. What is timeless is beyond our comprehension. Yet the mystics tell us that eternity is right now. How's that for good news? It is right now. People are so distressed when I tell them to forget their past. They're crazy! Just drop it! When you hear "Repent for your past," realize it's a great religious distraction from waking up. Wake up! That's what repent means. Not "weep for your sins.": Wake up! understand, stop all the crying. Understand! Wake up!

„Suffering is a sign that you're out of touch with the truth.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"Obstacles to Happiness", p. 74
Awareness (1992)
Context: Suffering is a sign that you're out of touch with the truth. Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, that you might understand that there's falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.

„I have good news and bad news for you, my friend.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Source: One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 152
Context: "What can I do to see Reality as it is?"
The master smiled and said, "I have good news and bad news for you, my friend."
"What's the bad news?"
"There's nothing you can do to see — it is a gift."
"And what's the good news?"
"There's nothing you can do to see — it is a gift."

„Life is easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"Obstacles to Happiness", p. 78
Awareness (1992)
Context: Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. 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. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!

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„We're always dying to things. We're always shedding everything in order to be fully alive and resurrected at every moment.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"The Death of Me", p. 150
Awareness (1992)
Context: One of your American authors put it so well. He said awakening is the death of your belief in injustice and tragedy. The end of the world for a caterpillar is a butterfly for the master. Death is resurrection. We're talking not about some resurrection that will happen but about one that is happening right now. If you would die to the past, if you would die to every minute, you would be the person who is fully alive, because a fully alive person is one who is full of death. We're always dying to things. We're always shedding everything in order to be fully alive and resurrected at every moment. The mystics, saints, and others make great efforts to wake people up. If they don't wake up, they're always going to have these other minor ills like hunger, wars, and violence. The greatest evil is sleeping people, ignorant people.

„Can one be fully human without experiencing tragedy? The only tragedy there is in the world is ignorance; all evil comes from that.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"The Death of Me", p. 150
Awareness (1992)
Context: Can one be fully human without experiencing tragedy? The only tragedy there is in the world is ignorance; all evil comes from that. The only tragedy there is in the world is unwakefulness and unawareness. From them comes fear, and from fear comes comes everything else, but death is not a tragedy at all. Dying is wonderful; it's only horrible to people who have never understood life. It's only when you're afraid of life that you fear death. It's only dead people who fear death.

„Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"Obstacles to Happiness", p. 74
Awareness (1992)
Context: Suffering is a sign that you're out of touch with the truth. Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, that you might understand that there's falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.

„This sort of teaching is not for the living but for the dead“

—  Anthony de Mello

Rejection
One Minute Wisdom (1989)
Context: "What kind of a person does Enlightenment produce?"
Said the Master:
"To be public-spirited and belong to no party,
to move without being bound to any given course,
to take things as they come,
have no remorse for the past,
no anxiety for the future,
to move when pushed,
to come when dragged,
to be like a mighty gale,
like a feather in the wind,
like weeds floating on a river,
like a mill-stone meekly grinding,
to love all creation equally
as heaven and earth are equal to all
— such is the product of Enlightenment."
On hearing these words one of the younger disciples cried, "This sort of teaching is not for the living but for the dead," and walked away, never to return.

„Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed; after enlightenment, I continue to be depressed.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"Hidden Agenda" p. 145
Awareness (1992)
Context: Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed; after enlightenment, I continue to be depressed. You don't make a goal out of relaxation and sensitivity. Have you ever heard of people who get tense trying to relax? If one is tense, one simply observes one's tension. You will never understand yourself if you seek to change yourself. The harder you try to change yourself the worse it gets. You are called upon to be aware.

„Difficult because if you wish to possess the kingdom you may possess nothing else.“

—  Anthony de Mello

The Way to Love (1995)
Context: To find the kingdom is the easiest thing in the world but also the most difficult. Easy because it is all around you and within you, and all you have to do is reach out and take possession of it. Difficult because if you wish to possess the kingdom you may possess nothing else. That is, you must drop all inward leaning on any person or thing, withdrawing from them forever the power to thrill you, or excite you, or to give you a feeling of security or well-being. For this, you first need to see with unflinching clarity this simple and shattering truth: Contrary to what your culture and religion have taught you, nothing, but absolutely nothing can make you happy. The moment you see that, you will stop moving from one job to another, one friend to another, one place, one spiritual technique, one guru to another. None of these things can give you a single minute of happiness. They can only offer you a temporary thrill, a pleasure that initially grows in intesity, then turns into pain if you lose them and into boredom if you keep them.

„I'd much rather hear you say, "I've come awake," than hear you say, "I'm sorry."“

—  Anthony de Mello

"A Changed Person", p. 96
Awareness (1992)
Context: It's only when you become love — in other words, when you have dropped your illusions and attachments — that you will "know." 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."

„The genius of a composer is found in the notes of his music; but analyzing the notes will not reveal his genius.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Awakening : Conversations with the Masters (2003), p. 24
Context: 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.

„There is something whereby each broken thing is bound again and every stain made clean.“

—  Anthony de Mello

Source: One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 169
Context: "My life is like shattered glass." said the visitor. "My soul is tainted with evil. Is there any hope for me?
"Yes," said the Master. "There is something whereby each broken thing is bound again and every stain made clean."
"What?"
"Forgiveness"
"Whom do I forgive?"
"Everyone: Life, God, your neighbor — especially yourself."
"How is that done?"
"By understanding that no one is to blame," said the Master. "NO ONE."

„Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.“

—  Anthony de Mello

"Assorted Landmines", p. 148
Awareness (1992)
Context: As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind. Every time you make sense out of reality, you bump into something that destroys the sense you made. Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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