Anthony de Mello was director of the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counseling in Poona, India. A member of the Jesuit province of Bombay, he was widely respected for his inspiring workshops and conferences on the spiritual life. He died in 1987 of a heart attack. His books include Sadhana, The Heart of the Enlightened, and The Way to Love.
To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of this this creative and extraordinary spiritual teacher, Image Books is releasing this printed version of a satellite retreat de Mello gave in 1984 in conjunction with Fordham University.
"Be alert. Be watchful. Listen with a kind of fresh mind. That's not easy, either — listening with a fresh mind, without prejudices, without fixed formulas."
De Mello shares a transformative experience he had 12 years earlier when he met Ramchandra, a rickshaw puller in Calcutta who was poor, sick with TB, and exhausted after a decade of this grueling work. Yet he never complained or seemed upset. "We gotta take life as it comes," he tells de Mello.
The author realizes that he is in the presence of a true mystic, an extraordinary man, a saint who has rediscovered what it means to be alive. De Mello discovers the same spirit in a man dying of AIDS who is rejoicing in the six happiest months of his life.
Why aren't the rest of us living like these two kings who are not enslaved to fear, anxiety, tensions, stress, heartache, disappointment, despair, and depression? We continue to subscribe to the shibboleth that happiness can be acquired rather than seeing that we already have it as a gift of God. Another reason for our plight is that we feel comfortable in our familiar mess and lack the will power to change our ways. A final reason is that we have bought into the consumer ethic that makes selfish desire and attachment the central focus of our days.
We were not created to be slaves; we were created to be free. De Mello points out that nothing in this world can upset us. We upset ourselves by being drained by the ideas and emotions roaring through our minds.
"Spirituality means no longer being at the mercy of an event, or a person, or anything else." Do you know how truly liberating this way of living is? Absolutely nothing has the power to upset us, hurt us, or take away our joy or enthusiasm — two more gifts of God.
The exhilarating freedom de Mello is talking about means we no longer have to play the blame game. Nor do we need to despise the world. The author challenges us to take responsibility for our mistakes and to love the world.
In this masterwork, de Mello gives us a road map to enlightenment and to the rediscovery of life. It is a spiritual journey that will take time given all our bad habits, illusory ideas, and the immense programming of our culture and consumerism. We highly recommend this book. It has the potential to be life transforming!