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. His books include Sadhana, Song of the Bird, Wellsprings, One Minute Wisdom, Taking Flight, and The Heart of the Enlightened.

"Spirituality means waking up" is the way he begins Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. This paperback is a course in the spiritual life as presented by de Mello in teleconferences.

"Life is a banquet, and the tragedy is that most people are starving to death," says the author. They are missing the smorgasbord because they are obsessed with success and failure, poverty and riches, honor or disgrace. They are not living out of their own center. Waking up means living in the present and not allowing culture, conditioning, or what other people say or do determine your world.

That's what the mystics have been telling us for centuries. Or as de Mello puts it: "Jesus was talking horse sense to lay people, to starving people, to poor people. He was telling good news: It's yours for the taking. But who listens? No one's interested, they'd rather be asleep."

Awakened souls are free from a life determined by fear. They can grow and change by learning from adversity. And they understand that relationships are schools for enlightenment. De Mello's illustrative material includes insights from Christian mystics, Islamic sayings, Buddhist parables, and much more. Awareness is a spiritual pep talk that sparkles with glints of wisdom.