Book Review: Awareness – A De Mello Spirituality Conference In His Own Words

I founawerenessd this on the internet a number of years ago and thought that fellow grovers might be interested: AWARENESS; A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words by Anthony, S.J.; Edited by Stroud, J. Francis, S.J. De Mello (Author).

Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest 1937 – 1981. His writing is thought provoking and challenging. Despite being a Jesuit priest most of his themes are equally applicable to persons from any spiritual believe. In the introduction he tells us that we are all born asleep and that many of us never wake up; most don’t even want to. Among other things he challenges his listeners / readers:

  • to look at who they really are themselves and stop being a slave to their upbringing.
  • to reconsider their motives for ‘good works’.
  • to consider the age old question of ‘who am I?” or indeed “what is this thing I call ‘I’?”.

It has nice short sections which I particularly like so that I can be challenged and have something to think about for hours, days (or longer) without having to spend hours on the pre-reading.

Quite topically (considering de Mello died in 1981) he tells this story:

I remember hearing about a man who asks his friend, “Are you planning to vote Republican?” The friend says, “No, I’m planning to vote Democratic. My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, and my great-grandfather was a Democrat.” The man says, “That is crazy logic. I mean, if your father was a horse thief, and your grandfather was a horse thief, and your great-grandfather was a horse thief, what would you be?” “Ah,” the friend answered, “then I’d be a Republican.”

I have included a couple of short extracts for you as a taster. If you are interested, here is a link to an online PDF version: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/tonyawareness.pdf

THE MASQUERADE OF CHARITY

Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism. You say that it is very difficult to accept that there may be times when you are not honest to goodness really trying to be loving or trustful. Let me simplify it. Let’s make it as simple as possible. Let’s even make it as blunt and extreme as possible, at least to begin with. There are two types of selfishness. The first type is the one where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. That’s what we generally call self-centeredness. The second is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. That would be a more refined kind of selfishness.

The first one is very obvious, but the second one is hidden, very hidden, and for that reason more dangerous, because we get to feel that we’re really great. But maybe we’re not all that great after all. You protest when I say that. That’s great!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FINDING YOURSELF

The great masters tell us that the most important question in the world is: “Who am I?” Or rather: “What is ‘I’?” What is this thing I call “I”? What is this thing I call self? You mean you understood everything else in the world and you didn’t understand this? You mean you understood astronomy and black holes and quasars and you picked up computer science, and you don’t know who you are?

~ Linda

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