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Anthony de Mello

Indian writer
Spirituality means waking up. … all mysticsCatholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well.
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 (4 September 19312 June 1987) was a Jesuit priest, psychotherapist and writer who became widely known for his books on spirituality.



  • "I wish to become a teacher of the Truth."
    "Are you prepared to be ridiculed, ignored and starving till you are forty-five?"
    "I am. But tell me: What will happen after I am forty-five?"
    "You will have grown accustomed to it."
    • Wellsprings : A Book of Spiritual Exercises (1985), p. 19
  • Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know — all mysticsCatholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
    • As quoted in Approaching God : How to Pray (1995) by Steve Brown, p. 94
  • 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.
    • Awakening : Conversations with the Masters (2003), p. 24
  • "What, concretely, is Enlightenment?"
    "Seeing Reality as it is," said the Master.
    "Doesn't everyone see Reality as it is?"
    "Oh, no! Most people see it as they think it is."
    "What's the difference?"
    "The difference between thinking you are drowning in a stormy sea and knowing you cannot drown because there isn't any water in sight for miles around."
    • Awakening : Conversations with the Masters (2003), p. 221

One Minute Wisdom (1989)Edit

Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?
Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?
  • This is what Wisdom means: To be changed without the slightest effort on your part, to be transformed, believe it or not, merely by waking to the reality that is not words, that lies beyond the reach of words. If you are fortunate enough to be Awakened thus, you will know why the finest language is the one that is not spoken, the finest action is the one that is not done and the finest change is the one that is not willed.
    • Introduction
  • 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."
    • Transformation
  • To a visitor who asked to become his disciple the Master said, "You may live with me, but don't become my follower."
    "Whom, then, shall I follow?"
    "No one. The day you follow someone you cease to follow Truth."
    • Discipleship
  • "Why is everyone here so happy except me?"
    "Because they have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere," said the Master.
    "Why don't I see goodness and beauty everywhere?"
    "Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside."
    • Projection
  • There were rules in the monastery, but the Master always warned against the tyranny of the law.
    "Obedience keeps the rules," he would say. "Love knows when to break them."
    • Revolution
  • "You are only a disciple because your eyes are closed. The day you open them you will see there is nothing you can learn from me or anyone."
    "What then is a Master for?"
    "To make you see the uselessness of having one."
    • Blindness
  • "Help us to find God."
    "No one can help you there."
    "Why not?"
    "For the same reason that no one can help the fish to find the ocean."
    • Discovery
  • To a visitor who described himself as a seeker after Truth the Master said, "If what you seek is Truth, there is one thing you must have above all else."
    "I know. An overwhelming passion for it."
    "No. An unremitting readiness to admit you may be wrong."
    • Humility
  • When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself.
    • Violence
  • Is there life before death? — that is the question!
    • Irrelevance
  • Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one's awareness of one's ignorance.
    • Wisdom
  • When you come to see you are not as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.
    • Wisdom
  • Whatever is truly alive must die. Look at the flowers; only plastic flowers never die.
    • Flow
  • 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?"
    • Restriction
  • People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change.
    • Healing
  • A disciple said to him, "I am ready, in the quest for God, to give up anything: wealth, friends, family, country, life itself. What else can a person give up?"
    The Master calmly replied, "One's beliefs about God."
    • Belief
  • Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.
    • Comprehension
  • The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu's dictum: Those who know do not say; Those who say do not know.
    When the master entered, they asked him what the words meant.
    Said the master, "Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?"
    All of them indicated that they knew.
    Then he said, "put it into words."
    All of them were silent.
    • Words
  • When I speak, you must not listen to the words, my dear. Listen to the Silence.
    • Comprehension
  • The Master is not concerned with what we believe — only with what we see.
    • Non-Instruction
  • The Master would frequently assert that holiness was less a matter of what one did than of what one allowed to happen.
    • Trust
  • Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it.
    • Thought
  • A thought is a screen, not a mirror; that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality.
    • Thought
  • Any time you are with anyone or think of anyone you must say to yourself: I am dying and this person too is dying, attempting the while to experience the truth of the words you are saying. If every one of you agrees to practise this, bitterness will die out, harmony will arise.
    • Revelation
  • The Master would insist that the final barrier to our attaining God was the word and concept "God."
    • Incompetence
  • A disciple was one day recalling how Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed were branded as rebels and heretics by their contemporaries.
    Said the Master, Nobody can be said to have attained the pinnacle of Truth until a thousand sincere people have denounced him for blasphemy.
    • Persecution
  • The Master never ceased to attack the notions about God that people entertain.
    • Prayer
  • The feigning sleeper can delude others — he cannot delude himself. The false mystic, unfortunately, can delude both others and himself.
    • Deception
  • If you never condemned you would never need to forgive.
    • Judgement
  • 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."
    • Aggression
  • "What is love?"
    "The total absence of fear," said the Master.
    "What is it we fear?"
    "Love," said the Master.
    • Fearlessness
  • The Master insisted that what he taught was nothing, what he did was nothing.
    His disciples gradually discovered that Wisdom comes to those who learn nothing, unlearn everything.
    That transformation is the consequence not of something done, but of something dropped.
    • Purification
  • A writer arrived at the monastery to write a book about the Master.
    "People say you are a genius. Are you?" he asked.
    "You might say so." said the Master, none too modestly.
    "And what makes one a genius?" "The ability to recognize." "Recognize what?"
    "The butterfly in a caterpillar: the eagle in an egg; the saint in a selfish human being."
    • Genius
  • "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.
    • Rejection

Awareness (1992)Edit

What is timeless is beyond our comprehension.
Awareness : The Perils and Oppurtunities of Reality (1992), edited by J. Francis Stroud
  • Johnny goes to modeling class in his school for special children and he gets his piece of putty and he's modeling it. He takes a little lump of putty and goes to a corner of the room and he's playing with it. The teacher comes up to him and says, "Hi, Johnny." And Johnny says, "Hi." And the teacher says, "What's that you've got in your hand?" And Johnny says, "This is a lump of cow dung." The teacher asks, "What are you making out of it?" He says, "I'm making a teacher."
    The teacher thought, "Little Johnny has regressed." So she calls out to the principal, who was passing by the door at that moment, and says, "Johnny has regressed."
    So the principal goes up to Johnny and says, "Hi, son." And Johnny says, "Hi." And the principal says, "What do you have in your hand?" And he says, "A lump of cow dung." "What are you making out of it?" And he says, "A principal."
    The principal thinks that this is a case for the school psychologist. "Send for the psychologist!"
    The psychologist is a clever guy. He goes up and says, "Hi." And Johnny says, "Hi." And the psychologist says, "I know what you've got in your hand." "What?" "A lump cow dung." Johnny says, "Right." "And I know what you're making out of it." "What?" "You're making a psychologist." "Wrong. Not enough cow dung!"
    • Spirituality Course", p. 13
  • I'm going to write a book someday and the title will be I'm an Ass, You're an Ass. That's the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you're an ass. It's wonderful. When people tell me, "You're wrong" I say, "What can you expect of an ass?"
    • "Awareness Without Evaluating Everything", p. 40
  • My experience is that it's precisely the ones who don't know what to do with this life who are all hot and bothered about what they are going to do with another life. One sign that you're awakened is that you don't give a damn about what's going to happen in the next life. You're not bothered about it; you don't care. You are not interested, period.
    • "The Illusion of Rewards", p. 42
  • 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!
    • "The Illusion of Rewards", p. 43
  • Is it possible for the rose to say, "I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad?" Or is it possible for the lamp to say, "I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people"? Or can a tree say, "I'll give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad"? These are images of what love is about.
    • "How Happiness Happpens", p. 61
  • The important thing is not to know who "I" is or what "I" is. You'll never succeed. There are no words for it. The important thing is to drop the labels.
    • "Labels", p. 73
  • 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.
    • "Obstacles to Happiness", p. 74
  • 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!
    • "Obstacles to Happiness", p. 78
  • 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."
    • "A Changed Person", p. 96
  • 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.
    • "Hidden Agenda" p. 145
  • Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you.
    • "Assorted Landmines", p. 148
  • There is no salvation till they have seen their basic prejudice.
    • On people accustomed to judging and dismissing the worth of other people based on categorical assessments, in "Assorted Landmines", p. 148
  • 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.
    • "Assorted Landmines", p. 148
  • 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.
    • "The Death of Me", p. 150
  • 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.
    • "The Death of Me", p. 150
  • A Jesuit once wrote a note to Father Arrupe, his superior general, asking him about the relative value of communism, socialism and capitalism. Father Arrupe gave him a lovely reply. He said, "A system is about as good or as bad as the people who use it." People with golden hearts would make capitalism or communism or socialism work beautifully.
    • "The Death of Me", p. 151
  • Don't ask the world to change — you change first. Then you'll get a good enough look at the world so that you'll be able to change whatever you think ought to be changed. Take the obstruction out of your own eye. If you don't you have lost the right to change anyone or anything. Till you are aware of yourself, you have no right to interfere with anyone else or with the world.
    • "The Death of Me", p. 151
  • 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.
    • "The Land of Love", p. 172

One Minute Nonsense (1992)Edit

The most ruthless murderers are those who kill for their ideas.
All God statements were poetic or symbolic expressions of the Unknowable; people, however, foolishly took them as literal descriptions of the divine.
  • No one is exempt from talking nonsense. The great misfortune is to do it solemnly.
    • Introduction
  • The Master was allergic to ideologies.
    "In a war of ideas," he said, "it is people who are the casualties." Later he elaborated: "People kill for money or for power. But the most ruthless murderers are those who kill for their ideas."
    • p. 7
  • You will seek for God in vain till you understand that God can't be seen as a "thing"; he needs a special way of looking — similar to that of little children whose sight is undistorted by prefabricated doctrines and beliefs.
    • p. 8
  • "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.
    • p. 19
  • Those who make no mistakes are making the biggest mistakes of all — they are attempting nothing new.
    • p. 20
  • "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.
    • p. 21
  • My commitment is not to consistency but to the Truth.
    • p. 31
  • To those who seek to protect their ego true Peace brings only disturbance.
    • p. 33
  • A disciple asked, "Who is a Master?"
    The Master replied, "Anyone to whom it is given to let go of the ego. Such a person's life is then a masterpiece."
    • p. 47
  • "The law is an expression of God's holy will and as such must be honored and loved," said the preacher piously.
    "Rubbish," said the Master. "The law is a necessary evil and as such must be cut down to the barest minimum. Show me a lover of the law and I will show you a muttonheaded tyrant."
    • p. 67
  • Some people write to make a living; others to share their insights or raise questions that will haunt their readers; others yet to understand their very souls. None of these will last. That distinction belongs to those who write only because if they did not write they would burst... These writers give expression to the divine — no matter what they write about.
    • p. 70
  • One year of life is worth more than twenty years of hibernation.
    • p. 73
  • "Name one practical, down-to-earth effect of spirituality," said the skeptic who was ready for an argument.
    "Here's one," said the Master. "When someone offends you, you can raise your spirits to heights where offenses cannot reach."
    • p. 80
  • Look for competence not claims.
    • p. 84
  • "What is the work of a Master?" said a solemn-faced visitor.
    "To teach people to laugh," said the Master gravely.
    • p. 85
  • Before creation Love was. After creation love is made. When love is consummated, creation will cease to be, and Love will be forever.
    • p. 91
  • The Master once referred to the Hindu notion that all creation is "leela" — God's play — and the universe is his playground. The aim of spirituality, he claimed, is to make all life play.
    This seemed too frivolous for a puritanical visitor. "Is their no room then for work?"
    "Of course there is. But work becomes spiritual only when it is transformed into play."
    • p. 96
    • ("Leela" is more commonly spelled "Lila")
  • "What is my identity?"
    "Nothing," said the Master.
    "You mean that I am an emptiness and a void?" said the incredulous disciple.
    "Nothing that can be labeled." said the Master.
    • p. 109
  • The master enjoined not austerity, but moderation. If we truly enjoyed things, he claimed, we would be spontaneously moderate. Asked why he was so opposed to ascetical practices, he replied, "Because they produce pleasure-haters who always become people-haters — rigid and cruel."
    • p. 111
  • When God means you to be a healer he sends you patients; when he makes you a teacher he sends you pupils; when he destines you to be a Master he sends you stories.
    • p. 112
  • The best things in life cannot be willed into being.
    • p. 114
  • You can will an act of service but you cannot will love.
    • p. 114
  • A disciple, in his reverence for the Master, looked upon him as God incarnate.
    "Tell me, O Master," he said, "why you have come into this world."
    "To teach fools like you to stop wasting their time worshiping Masters."
    • p. 127
  • The Master persistently warned against the attempt to encompass Reality in a concept or a name. A scholar in mysticism once asked, "When you speak of BEING, sir, is it eternal, transcendent being you speak of, or transient, contingent being?"
    The Master closed his eyes in thought. Then he opened them, put on his most disarming expression, and said, "Yes!"
    • p. 131
  • The master made it his task to systematically destroy every doctrine, every belief, every concept of the divine, for these things, which were originally intended as pointers, were now taken as descriptions. He loved to quote the Eastern saying: "When the sage points at the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger."
    • p. 132
  • 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.
    • p. 134
  • Said the self-righteous preacher, "What, in your judgment, is the greatest sin in the world?"
    "That of the person who sees other human beings as sinners," said the Master.
    • p. 139
  • "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."
    • p. 152
  • People who want to rise above a well-cooked meal and a well-tailored garment, are out of their spiritual minds.
    • p. 157
  • "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."
    "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."
    • p. 169
  • "I seek the meaning of existence." said the stranger.
    "You are of course, assuming." said the Master, "that existence has a meaning."
    "Doesn't it?"
    "When you experience existence as it is — not as you think it is — you will discover that your question has no meaning."
    • p. 171
  • Isn't there such a thing as social liberation?"
    "Of course there is," said the Master.
    "How would you describe it?"
    "Liberation from the need to belong to the herd."
    • p. 172
  • One always treads with a joyful step when one has dropped the burden called the ego.
    • p. 177
  • Ideas kill people.
    • p. 180

The Way to Love (1995)Edit

The Way to Love : The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello
  • If you want to know what it means to be happy, look at a flower, a bird, a child; they are perfect images of the kingdom. For they live from moment to moment in the eternal now with no past and no future. So they are spared the guilt and anxiety that so torment human beings and they are full of the sheer joy of living, taking delight not so much in persons or things as in life itself. As long as your happiness is caused or sustained by something or someone outside of you, you are still in the land of the dead. The day you are happy for no reason whatsoever, the day you find yourself taking delight in everything and in nothing, you will know that you have found the land of unending joy called the kingdom.
  • 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.
  • If you search within your heart, you will find something there that will make it possible for you to understand: a spark of disenchantment and discontent, which if fanned into flame will become a raging forest fire that will burn up the whole of the illusory world you are living in, thereby unveiling to your wondering eyes the kingdom that you have always lived in unsuspectingly.
  • It is the desire for "the more" that prevents clear thinking, whereas if we are discontent, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don't accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.
  • Mostly the discontent that you feel comes from not having enough of something — you are dissatisfied because you think you do not have enough money or power or success or fame or virtue or love or holiness. This is not the discontent that leads to the joy of the kingdom. Its source is greed and ambition and its fruit is restlessness and frustration. 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 you are pursuing so far and you are sick of the pursuing itself, then your heart will attain a great clarity, an insight that will cause you mysteriously to delight in everything and in nothing.

Anthony De Mello : Writings (1999)Edit

Edited by William Dych
  • A master was once unmoved by the complaints of his disciples that, though they listened with pleasure to his parables and stories, they were also frustrated for they longed for something deeper. To all their objections he would simply reply: "You have yet to understand, my friends, that the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story."
    • p. 8
  • The master was never impressed by diplomas or degrees. He scrutinized the person, not the certificate.
    He was once heard to say, 'When you have ears to hear a bird in song, you don't need to look at its credentials."
    • p. 76
  • All I did was sit on the riverbank handing out river water. After I'm gone, I trust you will notice the river.
    • p. 82


  • Never complain about what you permit.

Quotes about de MelloEdit

He considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and fully free, while others are not.
  • He considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God.
    • Vatican Notification condemning many of the writings, ideas, and purported ideas of Anthony de Mello (24 June 1998)
  • Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one's personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.
    With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.
    • Vatican Notification condemning many of the writings, ideas, and purported ideas of Anthony de Mello (24 June 1998)
  • The books of Father Anthony de Mello were written in a multi-religious context to help the followers of other religions, agnostics and atheists in their spiritual search, and they were not intended by the author as manuals of instruction of the Catholic faithful in Christian doctrine or dogma.
    • Note of caution added to the books of de Mello, after a censure of his works by the Vatican.
  • I must confess that I feel grateful for the banning, or the temporary withdrawal, of de Mello's books. I had heard of him, but never read his writings. Excommunication, somehow, has far more news value than beatification. So also the suppression of a book attracts greater publicity than its publication.
    • T. K. Thomas, in "The Prayer of the Frog Called into Question : Censuring the Writings of Fr Anthony de Mello, S.J." in The Ecumenical Review Vol. 51, (April 1999)
  • What's behind this phenomenal success? Very simply, it is a manifestation of the hunger for the spiritual spreading around the world. It's a hunger with very special characteristics. People aren't buying set formulas any more, or pius platitudes redolent of an era gone by; beaten tracks that did not succeed in bringing people to a spiritual awakening. There is an anguished search, sometimes confused in its direction, for a more liberal outlook. Modern man mired in profound cultural change first wants to know who he is, what imprisons his soul, what stands in the way of spiritual progress. He wants to rediscover the God beyond all that has been identified through the years with the name of God: laws, norms, doctrines not made flesh, words stranged from life.
    That is why Tony de Mello said that "our violent spirituality has created problems for us", that "Jesus Christ has got a bad name because of what is said of Him from pulpits" and that "it is very difficult to recognise a saint because he looks like the rest of us". In short, what Tony de Mello is telling us is that if we want to make Christianity credible we need to plumb the depths of the human spirit, to reach beyond our present frontiers.
    • Report in Vida Nueva, Madrid (12 September 1987), as quoted in The Prayer of the Frog : A Book of Story Meditations (1989), p. 278

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