Be What and Who You Were Born to Be
Happy Today !
There are no borders in nature, only in the mind.
Culture is only ideas that divide us"
“We were brought up to need people. For what?
For acceptance, approval,appreciation, applause -
for what they call success. Those are words that
do not correspond to reality. They are conventions,
things that are invented, but we don't realize that they don't correspond to reality. What is success? It is what one group decided is a good thing. Another group will decide the same thing is bad.”
"All men and women of all religions and
no religion, are called to be sons and
daughters of the one God who
“does not play favorites"
Anthony de Mello
WALKING ON WATER
Anthony De Mello
Chosen by I
"I am reminded of a line made famous by one of our greatest mystical poets in India, Kabir. He wrote a beautiful poem that begins with the following line; " I laughed when they told me that a fish in the water is thirsty!" Settle on this image; a thirsty fish in the water, how can it be?
We human beings enwrapped in God being restless! Look at creation: trees, birds, grass, animals…All creation is full of joy. All creation is happy!
I know there is suffering, pain, growth, decline, old age, and death. All this is in creation, but we must understand what happiness means! Only the human being is thirsty, only the human heart is restless. Isn’t that strange? Why is the human being unhappy, and what can be done to change that unhappiness into happiness? Why are people so sad? Because they have mistaken ideas and wrong attitudes.
The first mistaken idea that people have is that happiness means euphoria, being high, sensations of pleasure, fun. On the basis of that idea people go looking for intoxicants and stimulants, and end up depressed. The only thing with which we ought to intoxicate ourselves is Life. It is a calm sort of intoxicant but one that is lasting.
The second mistaken idea is to think that we can pursue our own happiness, that we can do something to attain it. I am almost contradicting myself because latter on I’m going to say what we can do to reach happiness, but happiness cannot be sought in itself. Happiness is always a consequence.
The third and perhaps most decisive mistaken idea about happiness is that it is always found in the outside, in external things, in other persons “By changing my job, perhaps I will be happy” or who knows “Changing where I live, marrying someone else, I will be happy” etc. Happiness has nothing to do with the outside. Money or power or respectability promise to bring happiness, but they don't. Poor people can be happy.
Happiness is not found on the outside. Get rid of that mistaken notion or you will never find happiness.
We have to change some of our attitudes. Which ones?
The first is the attitude of self-centered child. Have you ever seen a child saying, “If you don’t play with me I’m going home”? Look at yourselves. Think about what causes you unhappiness and see if you can detect this line that you say almost unconsciously, “If they don’t give me this or that, I won’t be happy” Many people aren’t happy because they are imposing conditions on their happiness.. Discover whether this attitude exists in your heart, and if it does, get rid of it.
The second mistaken attitude is that of attachment. If you are attached to negative emotions you will never be happy. I’m not saying that you can’t have what are called negative emotions. If you never felt anxious or depressed, if you never felt sad over a loss, you wouldn’t be human!
But what is bad is when you are attached to them.
I want to give you a koan as an exercise; Ask yourselves: What would happen if I got rid of my negative emotions, my guilt, my hurt, my resentments, my envy? If you focus on this question as a koan, fear may rise to the surface. Keep asking the question. You may make a great discovery.
He gives examples of happy people, poor, sick be able to offer they gratitude and appreciation for life. Mentions a man who was extremely disappointed at home living with all the family in a room. The master suggests to bring into the room also the animals. After doing that, he was even more disappointed, he came back to the master and he said "take the animals out of the room". He did it and experience peace never felt before.
“Look at your reactions. Look, don’t judge, don’t condemn, don’t approve; be an impartial observer. Look! You don’t even have to ask the questions that I suggested. If that distracts you, don’t ask. Just look. The machinery will disappear, life will begin to enter in, and you will notice the difference”
“Observe your reactions to each thing that happens during the day; observe your convictions. Raise questions! Are you open to questioning your convictions? If you’re not, you’re prejudiced and mechanical”
“Look at your thoughts, and you will see how often they are in the past or in the future. Seeing how little you live in the present, how little alive you are, is a shock.”
“Arguments are wonderful, and so are ideas. But ideas aren’t life! They are excellent for guiding us in life. But they aren’t life. Abstraction isn’t life. Life is found in experience. It is like reading a wonderful menu. You can guide your lives by reading the menu, but the menu isn’t the meal. And if you spend all your time with the menu, you’re never going to eat anything. Sometimes it’s even worse. Here are people who are eating the menu. They are living off ideas, letting life slip away” “What are to do to overcome this? Krishnamurti warns us, “The day we teach a child the name of a bird, the child stops seeing the bird” The child looks at that sprightly thing, full of mystery and surprise, and we each it: it is a sparrow. The child now has an idea: sparrow. And latter, whenever it sees a sparrow, it’s going to say “Well, you know, it’s a sparrow…” The same thing applies to the idea, let us suppose, of an American. Every time I see an American citizen go by I say “American” And I miss out on the unique being that this individual is. Have you experienced seeing a child in wonder looking at this mysterious trembling vibrant thing that we call sparrow? The idea, the word, can be an obstacle to seeing the sparrow. The word “American” can be an obstacle keeping me from really seeing the American in front of me. The word and idea “God” can be an obstacle to seeing “God”
Being alive means being yourself, being alive means being now, and being alive means being here. Look at yourself. To the degree that you can observe yourself, not just mentally, but as an impartial observer, you will put aside your mechanical and puppet existence and will come to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” “Experience reality; come to your senses. That will bring you to the now. That will bring you to experience. It is in the now that God is found”
“The enemies of freedom aren’t outside; they’re inside” The chains that tie us down are here”
The first chain that ties us down and keeps us from being free is past experiences. That is quite easy to understand. Someone who has lost his or her mother at eight years of age has been traumatized by this experience and is prevented from getting close to anyone else. A woman who has been sexually molested as a child is afraid of all men. A man unjustly accused and fired from his job finds his entire life poisoned by bitterness.
Another kind of chain that seizes us within: good experiences from the past. How? It is so good to recall them and be nourished by them. Here is danger there, however. The danger is that you get stuck in that illness called nostalgia, that you stop living! You will abandon the present. In fact you will probably destroy the present.
The third chain: anxiety and fear of the future. Even Jesus despaired in the face of death. He was depressed and anxious. And if we want to break the chain of anxiety, we have to do what Jesus did: face the fear and talk to it as though it were a person. Lovingly without violence, because the fear is inside us, disguised as caution. Say to the fear “I understand why you are here, but I trust in God” and if you find it in your heart that you can do it, be grateful in advance for these consequences. That will be a great help. Thank God for everything that is going to happen.
Other chains that enslaves us
Being ambitious can be a wonderful thing. But being enslaved by ambition is horrible. People ruled by ambition don’t even live! Attachment to present things. We want to possess things and persons and let nothing separate us from them. We are dependent, and lose our freedom. Tell whatever it is “How precious you are to me but you are not my life. I have a life to live. A destiny to fulfill that is different from yours” afterward say the same thing to realities more intimately connected to you, things that are almost part of your being: reputation, health. Tell life itself that someday it will be annihilated by death: “How you are precious and loved, but you are not my life. I have a life to live and a destiny to fulfill, different from you” By courageously repeating that phrase, you can hope to attain spiritual freedom.
Try to imagine as though you were looking at the earth three thousand years from now, looking for this place, seeking some remnant of your life. Of one thing you can be certain: if there are people here, they won’t be speaking your language, they won’t be wearing your clothes, they will belong to another culture. Think about the grains of sand, drops of water, a raindrop. Think about yourselves. How insignificant you are!
“As psychologist tell us, we tend to be what we feel we are…The person is re-created. “The lover creates love”, that is, sees the beauty there, and by seeing it, draws it out”
“God is unknown, God is the Mystery, God is love. And so whenever you are loving, you are sharing in divinity and grace”
Why do people react so differently to the same stimulus? This is a matter of their programming. Did someone fail to fulfill a promise to you, has someone rejected you, has someone left you? No, no one has hurt you in your whole life! Nothing that has happened has ever disturbed you. It was you who did it to yourself. Actually this wasn’t even done by you, because no one would do it deliberately. Your conditioning, your programing, has caused everything: how you see things and life. That is what has to be changed: your “head”!
If you are having problems with people get ready for a shock: there is something wrong with you. There are no problems in dealing with human beings. If you change, everything will change. If you can bring yourself to let go, people will change. You aren’t seeing people as they are but as you are. If someone causes me to be bothered, and in a bad mood, there is something wrong with me. I have o change! How can I give someone he power to upset me? How give someone the power to decide whether I’m going to be happy or sad? If I give that power to someone, I can’t protect myself from the consequences of what I’m doing. “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, only consequences” You only have to grow and face them.
We have to have the courage to not let ourselves be manipulated. “Live your life. Let me live mine”
What do you do to be happy? Nothing! You don’t do anything. You have to be detached from things. From illusion. From mistaken ideas. How are you to be detached? By seeing that they are wrong.
“When the eye is unobstructed, the result is seeing; when the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing; when the palate is unobstructed, the result is tasting. When the mind is unobstructed, the result is wisdom and happiness. If you could get rid of illusion, you would be happy".
Think of a little child on whom a drug has been tried. When he grows up his whole body cries out for the drug. Living without it is a pain so great that it is better to die. You and I, like that child, have taken this drug that is called “approval”, “appreciation”, “success”, “acceptance”, “popularity”. Once you have taken the drug, society can control you, you have become a robot.
“How do human beings become robots? Listen to this: ‘Oh, you’re so pretty.’ And the robot swells with pride. I push the appreciation button and it’s riding high. Then, I push the other button, the criticism one, and it hits bottom. Complete control. We are so affected by approval! So easily controllable. And when deprived of it, we are frightened of making mistakes, afraid that people are going to laugh.
When you make a mistake and are rejected you feel a tremendous vacuum. Your loneliness is such that you go back to being pulled along begging for that drug called encouragement and acceptance, and you continue to be controlled. How are we to get out of this? Because you’ve taken this drug, you have lost your ability to love. You can no longer see any human being. You’re only aware of whether people accept you or don’t. You see them as threatening your drug or helping you get it.
When under the effect of this drug we’re no different. How can we love what we don’t even see? How can we become free of the drug? We have to pull these tentacles out of our system. They’ve gotten down into our bones. Such is the control that society exerts over us. If we can do that, everything will be the same, but we will have become detached. We will be in the world, but we will no be of the world. That is terrifying. It is like asking an addict “Why don’t you enjoy a good and nutritious meal, fresh water from a mountain spring, and the pleasant morning air? Put aside your drug for this” He can’t even conceive of such an idea, because he can’t live without the drug.How to get out of this? We have to understand why we can’t live without people’s approval. How to love people? Die to them. Die to the need for people. Understand what the drug is doing to you. Be patient with yourself. Then call the drug by its name: it is an artificial stimulant. Do you really want to live? Savor your senses, your mind. Appreciate your work, nature, go to the mountains and appreciate the trees and the stars, the night. Send the crowds away. And you will be completely alone. Then love will be born in solitude. You reach the country of love by passing trhough the country of death
LEAVE YOUR BOAT ON THE BEACH
Do you realize that borders exist only in the mind, that in nature there are no border lines? That being an American is just in your mind? That there are no American trees or mountains? Those are conventions! But people are ready to die for those conventions, so real does the separation seem to them”.
“In nature there are no illegitimate children. Illegitimate is a human convention. Adoption too, is all in the mind! There are cultures where almost everyone is adopted, and no one is bothered. We react to words, to ideas. We live off ideas, feeding ourselves words.
“Love isn’t easing our loneliness! People feel empty inside and rush to fill the emptiness with someone. That isn’t love. In order to flee from emptiness and loneliness, people surrender to all kinds of activities, to work, or to someone’s arms. But the cure for loneliness isn’t contact with human beings; it is contact with reality.”
In facing loneliness we discover that it’s not there. There isn’t any vacuum! Here’s something to remember in the future. What we are looking for is inside us. When we face what’s inside us, what we are fleeing disappears. And what we are seeking comes to the surface
Centuries ago Buddha said “The world is full of suffering. The origin of suffering, the root of suffering is desire. Eliminating suffering consists of eliminating desire” By desire he meant that on whose satisfaction my happiness depends. And our society and culture are continually urging us to increase that desire. We are ever more programmed for unhappiness and loveliness.
Ambition is a brainwashing that has been done on us! We have been told that unless we have ambition, we won’t do anything. The energy and delight in work has been forgotten.
Love is not a relationship. It is a state of being. Love existed before any human being. Before we existed, love already existed. I have said that when the eye is unobstructed the result is vision. We cannot do anything to get love. If we comprehend our duties, attachments, attractions, obsessions, predilections, inclinations, and if we got rid of them all, love would appear. When the eye is unobstructed the result is vision. When the heart is unobstructed, the result is love.
Healing the suffering created by the mind.
What causes suffering? Mental activity, constructing our thoughts. Sometimes the mind is in repose, and all is well. But sometimes it begins to act, elaborating what Buddha calls the construction of thoughts. It begins to make judgments, evaluations, different and varied thoughts. The mind moves along in a way that means evaluating things and judging persons and events. Suffering is the result of evaluations, judgements and mental constructs.
You are not yourself nor have you been yourself since your earliest infancy. Would you like to discover who you really are? Would you have enough courage to become yourself?...This new life begins with self-acceptance and self-love and with confidence in your senses, all of them, in all respects.
Rising above your conditioning will be as difficult as using your five feelings for the first time. You will feel strange and lonely when you trust them instead of following your need for approval, but the pleasure that you will then feel will be beyond any description: the Resurrection of your life.
If we suppose that our feelings are purely receptive, we have a problem, because in fact they are very selective. Our mind is like a sieve; WE DON”T SEE REALITY , we can’t see it; we can only see what is projected, preselected by the mind. I can’t see you, only the idea that exist of you in my mind. This is why we see double. I see in you things that someone else doesn’t see and vice versa. In other words, in order for me to see you, I have to place you in my mind, on its selective side, and perceive; HOW MUCH OF REALITY IS THERE? Just as much as exist in our minds. Is that reality?
What subsist in the mind is constantly filtered. What are the filters? My fears, desires, relaions, beliefs, habits, and conditioning. They select what is perceived by mu senses. I don’t have real sensations; I react to images formed in my mind. I can look at someone, see an American, and have a good feeling; someone else seeing the same person could have a feeling of repugnance. Is it a human being that is being seen? Or an image? In someone else’s reaction we can see if that person is responding to the impulse of the here and now or to a preconceived image.
When you desire something, you are aware of many things that other person don’t notice. A mother can be sound sleep with jet planes roaring overhead, but at the first murmur from her baby she will wake up. Why? Her senses filter out other sounds. That also happens inside us. We have there a censor that acts on what we experience. Our perception depends on past conditioning.
Someone who feels inferior will constantly perceive things that confirm that belief. We are always confirming our beliefs. If I think something about Americans, I will see in them things that confirm what I think.
So we live with so many things filtered, selected, censored. What actually is there in our minds? We add to our images mental construct and evaluations: “This is good, this is bad, true, untrue, etc.” Actually there is no good nor evil in persons or in nature. There is only a mental judgement imposed on this or that reality: which team is good, which is best, when a victory is well earned, when the game isn’t well played. In reality all that exists is a game and the people playing in it, a ball that is thrown, kicked, hurled. Ball and players move back and forth. People then add their particular evaluations to these actions in life; they cheer more for a uniform or for an idea than the reality that is already there. They applaud their own conditioning and preferences much more than the reality they observe. Isn’t that stupid?
We end up in this common confusion because we go running after things like idiots, not even knowing what they are. We keep adding our filters, evaluations, and desires to reality. We insert good and evil into reality as though we were filling a balloon; we say that things are desirable, undesirable, true, and false. But things are what they are, whether we understand them or not.
What is awareness? It is the capacity to observe when we are filtering reality, not just the persisting image. We must become aware:
That there is a filter;
That when we react, we are reacting o an image in our mind, not to reality;
That everything that exists in this filter is transitory is constantly moving and changing. We pretend that it is permanent, standing still, but is always changing. Everything flows, moves, lives;
That everything that exist is in our mind, in our filter, is inadequate and unsatisfactory because it is transitory;
That everything that exist in the filter, in our mind, isn’t us, but rather is the emptiness of our self which is not there, where there are only mental projections.
The self has invented the notion of the ego, the I. If I look at the world, in my stupidity, I have projected the “mine” onto buildings, computers, cities, ono reality. This mine exists only in my head because if I were going to die tonight, nothing in that building would change. Things are what they are. They are not mine, yours nor someone else’s. That is a mere convention among us.
All conventions, labels, and limits are invented in our mind….Our minds create labels and apply them to individuals, saying that from now on this or that group is separate….The mass mentality, the desire to be successful, and the ratification of the promises of the self are more seductive and often more attractive than real life….Good and evil do not exist in reality, nor does desirability or undesirability. This scene is our own invention.
When we can purify our hearts of all attachments and aversions, we will see God. Religion isn’t a matter of rituals or academic studies. It isn’t some sort of worship or good actions. Religion is about uprooting impurities from the heart. It is the path toward meeting God. When we have no antipathies or attachments, our love is reborn and grows. We will then know love
Why be so dependent on what others think? Why let yourself be inhibited? As your emotions flow, you won’t need others, nor will you fear their opinion stated or unstated. There will be so much grace and richness within you…Once your fear of a particular person is gone, you will be free.
Some members of religion congregations have been so repressed that they have spent a lifetime of unhappiness trying to win the approval of a concept, the concept of “God” And they remain emotionally needy forever, and thanks to this concept, also spiritually needy”
ANTHONY DE MELLO WRITINGS SELECTED Selected
INTRODUCTION BY WILLIAM DYCH,S.J.
The Knowledge of God
“God is said to be not a being, but the source and ground of being, or God is the horizon within which all beings exist, or, as this latter image comes to expression in scripture: “In him we live and move and have our beings” (Acts 17:28)”
“If knowing finite realities is a process of grasping or comprehending them, God must be known rather as that which lies beyond all of our capacities to comprehend and grasp. God is known precisely as what we cannot comprehend, as the incomprehensible, as the “known unknown,” a mystery.”
Anthony De Mello’s own experience led him to stress with the apophatic tradition that the reality of God lies beyond all of our inadequate
human concepts of language.
God and the Religions
Faith comes from what is heard (fides ex auditu), and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ
In recent decades the Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, have been moving toward a new way of understanding their relationship to the larger and very pluralistic world in which they exist, a pluralism which includes a pluralism of religions. In the Catholic Church this move is most pronounced and most explicit in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Several of its documents affirm that ALL people have access to the very same truth which Christians, as Paul says, have heard from Christ. To take but
one example from among several passages that clearly make this affirmation, Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in
the Modern world, makes a statement which only a few years earlier would have been unthinkable. The Council had been speaking of what members of the church have received from Christ, and then continues: All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all people of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For since Christ died for all people, and since the ultimate vocation of all people is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every person the possibility of being associated
with the paschal mystery (of Jesus)”
Experience and Scripture
How, then, are we to understand the relation between the universal experience of God accessible to all people and what Paul called fides ex auditu, that knowledge of God based upon and earned from a particular tradition and its scripture such as the Jewish or Christian Bible or the Muslim Qur’an?. First, we must keep in mind that there is no such thing as “pure experience” that is, an experience that has not been shaped by the particular tradition in which a person has been brought up and molded and whose language gives expression to and interprets this person’s experience. We are social as well as individual beings. As such, we and our experience are shaped by the society and culture in which we have been reared; without this common culture and language we could not put our experience into words, share it, and belong to a people. This process of communication is essential to our social life together as people, so that when the first Christians experienced and interpreted salvation and liberation through the love of Jesus they proclaimed this in the native language of their Jewish scriptures, and eventually formed their own canon of Christian scripture to embody their peculiarly Christian experience. Scripture, then, does no stand over against experience as a body of religious knowledge totally independent of our experience and dictated by God from above, as it were. Rather scripture is the written record of people experience.
Experience and scripture, then, are not alternate or competing sources of knowledge about God, but are complementary moments in the single process of experiencing the presence of God in one’s life and then expressing and interpreting that experience in the language of one’s tradition.
Anthony de Mello dedicated his life by trying to build a bridge of understanding, tolerance, and acceptance between the religions of East and West. He did this, as we have seen, not by theoretical discussion of competing positions or truth-claims, but by using the very practical path of the story to take the shortest route to the truth. It would be a mistake then, to think that because East and West are different, either the one or the other must be wrong, and that Anthony de Mello wanted to use one in order to “correct” the other. Rather Eastern and Western approaches to the truth are so radically different that they do not fit into the same logical framework so that one could be corrected by the other. Each has a validity of its own and can be used not to correct the other, but to complement the other and give a broader and more balanced approach to the truth.
Awareness Awareness Awareness! Be alive, be awake, be sensitive to the
realities right there before your eyes. One can imagine what a difference
it would make if all those who profess faith in Jesus and his passion could
become aware of the history of his passion still being played out in the
suffering of his brothers and sisters today.
The Presence of the Spirit
Religion, like all things human, is determined and conditioned by the culture where it emerges. It always comes to us as refracted through the minds and imaginations of the people who gave it voice. To deny this is to take the path of fundamentalism, which absolutizes the relative and the finite human world. How these different masters and the different religious languages they speak will one day be seen in the unity of the Spirit is an aspect of the larger cultural question how human kind with all its divisions and differences will one day become the single human family of God’s intention and design.
For on the deeper level of our shared human experience of birth and death, of tragedy and triumph, we are all indeed of a piece, the same human piece.
Awareness and the Spirit
It is so difficult to be aware of what is right there in front of our eyes because we prefer to see our labels for things rather than things themselves –labels that enshrine our preconceptions, our prejudices, and our preferences. To remove these labels, to remove our blinders and to allow the Spirit to blow where the Spirit will is, indeed, very difficult and requires a genuine religious conversion, the conversion Anthony de Mello calls becoming aware.
All those who have embarked upon the journey toward awareness become ever more attuned to the present where the Spirit is present and at work. In this sense they know that
. They see the challenge of their faith and hope not so much as a theoretical challenge as it is a practical challenge to do the truth here and now.
In Jesus and with Jesus, all men and women, of all religions and no religion, are called to be sons and daughters of the one God who “does not play favorites” (Acts 10:34). Such is the very catholic vision of Anthony De Mello”
“Silence of --words and thoughts—can sometimes be the most powerful form of communication and union when hearts are full of love”
“Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be a good in disguise.
And everything that seems good on the surface may really be an evil”
“Do not despise the story. A lost gold coin is found by means of a penny candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story”
Eat Your Own Fruit
“A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never revel their meaning to us”. Said the master.. “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and masticated if before giving it to you?”
NO ONE can find YOUR MEANING FOR YOU. Not even the masters
From The Darkness
“The Pharisees were given to judging
People to them were either good or bad
There was never any good in someone
Who their prejudice said was bad”
He might see the accused before him as not being guilty
But he lacked the holy daring
To stand up to his peers and speak his mind.
I think, regretfully, of my fear to give offense,
My need to please
From The Hazard
“I recall the words of Paul,
“Let this mind be in you
Which was in Jesus Christ””
“To a disciple who was forever complaining about others the master said, “If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth”
“How would spirituality help a man of the world like me? Said the businessman.
“It will help you to have more.” Said the master.
“By teaching you to desire less”
A lecturer explained how a fraction of the enormous sums spent on arms in the modern world would solve all the material problems of every member of the human race.
The inevitable reaction of the disciples after the lecture was: "But why are human beings so stupid?
"Because", said the master solemnly, “People have learned to read printed books. They have forgotten the art of reading unprinted ones”
“Give us an example of an unprinted book” But the master wouldn’t give one. One day, in response to their persistence, he said: “The songs of the birds, the sounds of insects are all trumpeting forth the truth. The grasses and the flowers are all pointing out the Way. Listen! Look! That
is the way to read!”
What does your master teach? Asked a visitor
“Nothing” said the disciple.
“Then, why does he give discourses?”
“He only points the way – he teaches nothing.”
The visitor couldn’t make sense out of this, so the disciple made it clearer: “If the master were to teach we would make beliefs out of his teachings. The master is not concerned with what we believe—only with what we see.”
Calamities can bring growth and enlightenment” said the master.
And he explained it thus: “Each day a bird would shelter in the withered branches of a tree that stood in the middle of a vast deserted plain. One day a whirlwind uprooted the tree, forcing the poor bird to fly hundred miles in search of shelter – till it finally came to a forest of fruit-laden trees”
And he concluded: “If the withered tree had survived, nothing would have induced the bird to give up its security and fly”
“Why are you so wary of thought? Said the philosopher.
“Thought is the one tool we have for organizing the world”
“True. But thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it.”
To the disciples he later said, “A thought is a screen, not a mirror; that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality”
“The master was exceedingly gracious to university dons who visited him, but he would never reply to their questions or be drawn into their theological speculations.
To his disciples, who marveled at this, he said, “Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well – or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?”
“It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear.”
“Nothing surpasses the holiness of those who have learned perfect acceptance of everything that is.
We are not asked if we will play. That is not an option. Play we must. The option is how.”
“Is it possible that all of the horrible things you have done have been forgotten by everyone –except yourself!”
THE HEART OF THE ENLIGHTENED
‘When the sparrow builds its nest in the forest, it occupies but a single brunch, when the deer slakes its thirst at the river, it drinks no more than its belly can hold.
We collect things because our hearts are empty”
“Do not attempt to possess things, for things cannot really be possessed. Only make sure you are no possessed by them and you will be the sovereign of creation”
“Wife to husband whose face is buried in the newspaper: “Has it ever occurred to you that there might be more to life than what’s going in the world?” Most people love humanity. It’s the person next door they cannot stand.
Human beings react not to reality, but to ideas in their heads.
A group of tourists stranded somewhere in the countryside, was given old rations to eat. Before eating the food, they tested it by throwing some of it to a dog, who seemed to enjoy it and suffered no aftereffects. The following day they learned that the dog had died. Everyone was panic- stricken. Many began to vomit and complained of fever and dysentery. A doctor was called in to treat the victims for food poisoning. The doctor began by asking what had happened to the body of the dog. Inquiries were made. A neighbor said casually, “Oh, it was thrown in a ditch because it got run over by a car”
The walls that imprison them are mental, not real.
A bear paced up and down the twenty feet that was the length of his cage. When, after five years, the cage was removed, the bear continued to pace up and down those twenty feet as if the cage were there. It was. For him!
“Instead of touching reality they respond to stereotypes…”
At the dinner of an international conference, an American delegate turned to the Chinese delegate siting next to him, pointed to the soup, and asked somewhat condescendingly, "Likee soupee?" The Chinese gentleman nodded eagerly. A little latter it was "Likee fishee?" and "Likee meatee?" and "Likee fruitee?" -and always the response was anaffable nod. At the end of the dinner the cairman of the conference introduced the guest speaker of the evening -none other thnn the Chinese gentleman, who deliver a penetrating, witty discourse in impecable English, much to the astonishment of his American neighbor. When the speech was over, the speaker turned to his neighbor and, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, asked "Likee speechee?"
“All that you give to others you are giving to yourself”
“I get a great kick out of serving you –but still insist that you be grateful”
“There are few things the ego delights in more than correcting other people’s mistakes.”
“The human condition is perfectly depicted in the case of the poor drunk standing late at night outside the park, beating on the fence, and yelling, “Let me out!.” Only your illusions prevent you from seeing that you are –and always have been—free”
Plutarch tells the story of how Alexander the Great came upon Diogenes looking attentively at a heap of of human bones.
"What are you looking for" asked Alexander.
"Something that I can not find", said the philosopher.
"And what is tha?"
"The difference between your father's bones and those of hs slaves"
The following are just indistinguishable: Catholic bones from protestant bones. Hindu bones from Muslim bones. Arab bones from Israeli bones. Russian bones from American bones. The enlightened fail to see the difference even when the bones are clothed in flesh!
The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas. If you are ready to listen and if you are ready to be challenged, there is one thing that you can do, but no one can help you: Self Observation. It means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else. It means that you do not personalize what is happening to you. It means that you look at things as if you have no connection with them whatsoever.
The reason you suffer from your depression and your anxiety is that you identify with them. You say “I’m depressed.” But that is false. You are not depressed. If you want to be accurate, you might say, “I’m experiencing a depression right now.” You are not your depression. That is but a strange kind of trick of the mind, a strange kind of illusion. You have deluded yourself into thinking –though you are not aware of it—that you are your depression, that you are your anxiety, that you are your joy or the thrills that you have. “I am delight!” You certainly are not delighted. Delight may be in you right now, but wait around, it will change; it won’t last: it never lasts; it keeps changing: it’s always changing.
Awareness without evaluating everything
Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgement on your part. Because what you judge you cannot understand.
Do you want to see how mechanical you are? “My, that a lovely shirt you’re wearing.” You feel good hearing that. For a shirt, for heaven’s sake! You feel proud of yourself when you hear that. People come over to my center in India and they say, “What a lovely place, these lovely trees” (for which I am not responsible at all), “this lovely climate.” And already I’m feeling good, until I catch myself feeling good and say, “Hey can you imagine anything as stupid as that? I was not responsible for the trees; I wasn’t responsible for choosing the location. I didn’t order the weather; it just happened. But “me” got in there, so I’m feeling good. I’m feeling good about “my” culture and “my” nation. How stupid can you get? I’m told my great Indian culture has produced all these mystics. I didn’t produce them. I’m not responsible for them. Or they tell me, “That country of yours and its poverty ---it’s disgusting.” I feel ashamed. But I didn’t create it. What’s going on? Did you ever stop to think? People tell you, “I think you’re very charming” so I feel wonderful. I get a positive stroke…
Normally the way it goes, I press a button and you’re up; I press another button and you’re down. And you like that. How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or blame? That isn’t human, we say. Human means that you have to be a little monkey, so everybody can twist your tail and you do whatever you ought to be doing. But is that human? If you find me charming, it means that right now you’re in good mood, nothing more.
FOUR STEPS TO WISDOM
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you are not even aware of. Lots of people have negative feelings they are not aware of. Lots of people are depressed and they are not aware that they are depressed. It’s only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they were. You can’t get rid of boll weevils on your farm if you’re not aware of their existence.
What negative feelings? Gloominess, for instance. You are feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense; you’ve got hurt feelings, you’re feeling nervous and tense. Get in touch with those feeling first. The second is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality. That’s such a self-evident thing, but do you think people know it? , believe me. They got Ph.Ds. and are presidents of universities, but they have not understood this. They didn’t teach me how to live at school. They taught me everything else. As one man said “I got a pretty good education. It took me years to get over it.” That is what spirituality is about, you know: unlearning. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you. The third step: Never identify with that feeling. It has nothing to do with the “I” Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, “I am depressed, If you want to say “It is depressed” that’s all right, if you want to say depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloom. You are defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion, that’s your mistake.
The fourth step: How do you change things?...The person who is sleep always thinks he’ll feel better if somebody else changes. THE WORLD IS RIGHT BECAUSE I FEEL GOOD. That’s what all the mystics are saying.
Arriving at Silence
The fanaticism of one sincere believer who thinks he knows causes more evil than the united efforts of two hundred rogues.
The root of sorrow is craving. Craving distorts and destroys perception. Fears and desires haunt us… We were brought up to need people. For what? For acceptance, approval, appreciation, applause –for what they called success. What is success? It is what a group decided is a good thing. Another group will decide the same thing is bad. What is good in Washington might be considered bad in Carthusian monastery.
When we were young we were programed to unhappiness. They taught us that in order to be happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God –you name it. Unless you get these things, you’re not going to be happy, we were told. Now, that is what I call an attachment. An attachment is a belief that without something you are not going to be happy. Once you get convinced of that – and it gets into our subconscious, it gets stamped into the roots of our being – you are finished.
Wisdom occurs when you drop barriers you have erected through your concepts and conditioning. Wisdom is not something acquired; wisdom is not experience; wisdom is not applying yesterday illusions to today’s problems…Wisdom is to be sensitive to this situation, to this person, uninfluenced by any carryover from the past, without residue from the experience of the past.
“A nice definition of an awakened person: a person who no longer marches to the drums of society, a person who dances to the tune of the music that springs out from within. When you are ignored or disapproved of, you experience loneliness so unbearable that you crawl back to people and beg for the comforting drug called support and encouragement, reassurance. To live with people in this state involves a never-ending tension. “Hell is other people,” said Sartre. How true. When you are in this state of dependency, you have to be on your best behavior; you can never let your hair down; you have to live up to expectations. To be with people is to live in tension. To be without them brings the agony of loneliness, because you miss them. You have lost your capacity to see them exactly as they are and to respond to them accurately, because your perception of them is clouded by the need to get your drugs. You see them insofar as they are a support for getting your drug or a threat to have your drug removed.”
“Give up your dependency. Tear away the tentacles of society that have enveloped and suffocated your being.”
“Think of a life in which you depend on no one emotionally, so that no one has the power to make you happy or miserable anymore.”
“If God isn’t leading to life… of what use is religion except to create more division, more fanatism, more antagonism?” (page 125)
“Nourish yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome food. I’m not talking about actual food; I’m talking about sunset, about nature, about a good movie, about a good book, about enjoyable work, about good company, and hopefully you will break your addictions to those other feelings. What kind of feeling comes upon you when you’re in touch with nature, or when you’re absorbed in work that you love? Or when you’re really conversing with someone whose company you enjoy in openness and intimacy without clinging? What kind of feelings do you have? Compare those feelings with the feelings you have when you win an argument, or when you win a race, or when you become popular, or when everybody’s applauding you. The latter feelings I call worldly feelings; the former feelings I call soul feelings. Lots of people gain the world and lose their soul. Lots of people live empty, soulless lives because they are feeding themselves on popularity, appreciation, and praise, on “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.,” look at me, support me, value me, on being the boss, on having power, on winning the race. Do you feel yourself on that? If you do, you have lost you’re your soul. Feed yourself on other, more nourishing material. Then you’ll see the transformation. I’ve given you a whole program for life, haven’t I?”
Heaven at Hand
The moment you pick an attachment, the functioning of this lovely apparatus called the human heart is destroyed. If you want to repair your radio, you must study radio mechanics. If you want to reform your heart, you must give serious, prolonged thought to four liberating truths. But first choose some attachment that troubles you, something that you are clinging to, or something that you dread, or something you are craving for, and keep this attachment in mind as you listen to these truths.
The first truth: You must choose between your attachment and happiness. You cannot have both. The moment you pick up an attachment, your heart is thrown out of kilter and your ability to lead a joyful, carefree, serene life is destroyed. See how true this is when applied to the attachment that you have chosen.
The second truth: Where did your attachment come from? You were not born with it. It sprang from a lie that your society and your culture have told you, or a lie that you have told yourself, namely, that without this or the other, without this person or the other, you can’t be happy. Just open your eyes and see how false his is…So make your choice: Do you want your attachment, or your freedom and happiness?
The third truth: If you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective. Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you. Trifle, yes, because if you live long enough a day will easily come when it will cease to matter. It will not even be remembered –your own experience will confirm this.
The fourth truth brings you to the unavoidable conclusion that no thing or person outside of you has the power to make you happy or unhappy. Whether you are aware of it or not it is you and only you who decide to be happy or unhappy. Whether you will cling to your attachment or not
in a given situation.
SHOW NO PARTIALITY
Look at your life and see how you have filled its emptiness with people. As a result they have a stranglehold on you. See how they control your behavior by their approval or disapproval. They hold the power to ease your loneliness with their company, to send your spirits soaring with their praise, to bring you down to the depths with their criticism and rejection.
Insecurity feelings are not generated by anything outside of you, but only by your emotional programing, by something you are telling yourself in your head. If you change your program, your insecurity feelings would vanish in a second, even though everything in the outside world remained exactly as it was before. One person feels quite secure with practically no money in the bank; another feels insecure even though he has millions. It isn’t the amount of money but their programming that makes the difference. One person has no friends, yet feels perfectly secure in the love of people. Another feels insecure even in the most possessive and exclusive of relationships. Again, the difference is in the programming.
DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS
First, it is futile to ease your insecurity feelings by trying to change things outside of you. Your efforts may be successful, though mostly they are not. They may bring some relief, but the relief will be short-lived.
Second, this fact will lead you to tackle the problem where it really is, inside your head. Think of people who in exactly the same condition than you find yourself in now would not feel the slightest insecurity. There are such people. Therefore the problem lies not with reality outside of you but with you, in your programming.
Third, you must understand that this programming of yours was picked up from insecure people who, when you were very young and impressionable, taught you by their behavior and their panic reactions that every time the outside world did not conform to a certain pattern you must create an emotional turmoil within yourself called insecurity. And you must do everything in your power to rearrange the outside world –make more money, seek more reassurances, placate and please the people you have offended, etc, etc, in order to make the insecurity feelings go away. The mere realization that you don’t have to do this, that doing this really solves nothing, and that the emotional turmoil is caused solely by you and your culture –this realization alone distances you from the problem and brings considerable relief.
Effort does not lead to grow; effort, whatever the form it may take, whether it be willpower or habit or a technique or a spiritual exercise, does not lead to change. At best it leads to repression and a covering over of the root disease.
You truly win the love of others not by the practice of techniques but by being a certain kind of person.
And that is never achieved through effort and techniques