The Way to Love

The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello
Anthony de Mello

False beliefs create unhappiness

  • There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.
  • One false belief: Happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you. Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world.
  • Another false belief: If all your desires are fulfilled you will be happy. Not true. In fact, it is these very desires and attachments that make you tense, frustrated, nervous, insecure, and fearful.
  • The reason why you are unhappy is that you are focusing on what you do not have rather than on what you have right now.
  • Each time you are anxious and afraid, it is because you may lose or fail to get the object of your attachment, isn't it?
  • 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.
  • Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.

Change your programming

  • Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise or Nature in general, or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy.
  • What makes it even worse is the fact that most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are - like the man in a dream who has no idea he is dreaming.
  • Realize that someone with a different programming, when faced with this same situation or person or event, would react quite calmly, even happily. Don't stop until you have grasped this truth: The only reason why you too are not reacting calmly and happily is your computer that is stubbornly insisting that reality be reshaped to conform to its programming.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is done actually by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.

How to break free of attachment

  • Make a list of all your attachments and desires and to each of them say these words: "Deep down in my heart, I know that even after I have got you, I will not get happiness.
  • Say to yourself: "I am not really attached to you at all. I am merely deluding myself into the belief that without you, I will not be happy." Just do this honestly and see the change that comes about within you.
  • Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality.

Happiness requires giving up attachments

  • Hardly anyone has been told the following truth: In order to be genuinely happy, there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.
  • Father and mother: nightmare. Wife and children, brothers and sisters: nightmare. All your possessions: nightmare. Your life as it is now: nightmare. Every single thing you cling to and have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without: nightmare.
  • Fear, attachment, and beliefs harden the mind – let these go and our mind becomes soft. It becomes easier to love and appreciate the richness of life.
  • 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.
  • 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.

No person or thing can make you happy

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It is not possible for you to say that you are happy because the moment you become conscious of your happiness you cease to be happy.
  • Change is only brought about by awareness and understanding. Understand your unhappiness, and it will disappear - what results is the state of happiness.

What is love?

  • Love can only exist in freedom. The true lover seeks the good of his beloved, which requires especially the liberation of the beloved from the lover.
  • It is said that love is blind. But is it? Actually, nothing on earth is as clear-sighted as love. The thing that is blind is not love but attachment.
  • This poor person here in front of you is crippled, blind, lame, not stubborn and malicious as you so foolishly thought. Understand this truth; look at it steadfastly and deeply, and you will see your negative emotions turn into gentleness and compassion.
  • If you hold on to an idea about someone, then you no longer love that person but your idea of that person.
  • You are so much in love with the action that you are quite unselfconscious about your goodness and virtue.
  • What is love? Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, "I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?" Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light?

Develop clarity of perception

  • Think of the information that is sent to the President of a nation: Only a tiny fraction makes its way to him. Somebody does the screening and the processing at the President's office. Who decides what will finally make its way to your conscious mind from all the material that is pouring in from the world? Three decisive filters: first your attachments, second your beliefs, and third your fears.
  • It is quite impossible, of course, to be fully conscious of every note in life's symphony. But if your spirit becomes unclogged and your senses open, you will begin to perceive things as they really are and to interact with reality and you will be entranced by the harmonies of the universe. Then you will understand what God is, for you will at last know what love is.
  • Think of a flabby person covered with layers of fat. That is what your mind can become - flabby, covered with layers of fat till it becomes too dull and lazy to think, to observe, to explore, to discover.
  • Sit down quietly and observe how your mind functions. There is a steady flow of thoughts and feelings and reactions there. Watch the whole of it for long stretches of time the way you watch a river or a movie. You will soon find it so much more absorbing than any river or movie.
  • The secret is to renounce nothing, cling to nothing, enjoy everything, and allow it to pass, to flow. How? Through many hours of observing the rottenness, the corrupt nature of an attachment.
  • If you wish to get in touch with the reality of a thing, the first thing you must understand is that every idea distorts reality and is a barrier to seeing reality. The idea, therefore, is a barrier to the perception of reality.
  • There is yet another barrier to the perception of reality - the judgment. This thing or person is good or bad, ugly or beautiful.
  • What is clear thinking and how does one arrive at it? The first thing you must know is that it does not call for any great learning. It is so simple as to be within the reach of a ten-year-old child. What is needed is not learning but unlearning, not talent but courage.
  • Do not be anxious about tomorrow, tomorrow will look after itself. Each day has troubles enough of its own.

Stop trying to fix yourself

  • This is the state of most people in the world. Take a look at them: dead, uncreative, stuck because they are locked in conflict with Nature, attempting to improve themselves by going against what their nature demands.
  • Compare the serene and simple splendor of a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift that you lack: It is perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth, as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is.
  • If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgment or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be nonselective, comprehensive, never fixed on rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment.
  • The marvelous quality of Nature-violence, unlike ego-violence, is that it does not spring from intolerance and self-hatred.
  • It is next to impossible to be dependent, to be a slave when one constantly observes the folly of one's dependence. But awareness may not be enough for a person whose addiction is people. You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself.
  • Look at your daily life. Is there a single thought, word, or action untainted by the desire to become somebody, even if all you seek to become is a spiritual success or a saint unknown to anyone except yourself?

Love requires giving up attachment

  • The moment you touch this Reality, you will know what freedom and love are - freedom from people, and so the ability to love them.
  • Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with is Reality? Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any formula, whether given by another or created by yourself. It simply cannot be put into words.
  • But it is not possible, not even conceivable, that you would ever awaken to the world of love unless you pluck out, chop off, those parts of your psychological being that are called Attachments.
  • So it is only when attachments disappear that one enters the boundless realm of spiritual freedom called love.
  • If you wish to break out of the cycle and into the world of love, you must strike while the attachment is alive and raw, not when you have outgrown it. And you must strike not with the sword of renunciation, for that kind of mutilation only hardens, but with the sword of awareness.
  • Take these persons and things one at a time and imagine they are dead or lost or separated from you forever, and in your heart say goodbye. To each of them, say thank you and goodbye.
  • So you fear life and you fear death because you cling. When you cling to nothing, when you have no fear of losing anything, then you are free to flow like the mountain stream that is always fresh and sparkling and alive.

Stop worrying what other people think

  • If you get caught up in the judgments of people around you, you are eating the fruit of tension and insecurity and anxiety because when today they call you beautiful and you are elated, tomorrow they will call you ugly and you will be depressed.
  • In order to be truly liberated, you need to listen to the so-called good and bad things that they tell you, but to feel no emotion at the feedback any more than a computer does when data is fed into it. Because what they say about you reveals more about them than about you.
  • The moment you choose to become like someone else, however great or holy, you have prostituted your being. Think sadly of the divine spark of uniqueness that lies within you, buried under layers of fear.
  • You have lost the freedom to make a fool of yourself, to be laughed at and to be ridiculed, to do and say whatever feels right to you rather than what fits in with the image others have of you.
  • There is never a minute when, consciously or unconsciously, you are not attuned to the reaction of others, marching to the drum of their demands.

Be suspicious of praise

  • Take the time when somebody told you that you are very special to him; if you accepted that compliment, then you ate the fruit of tension.
  • So the moment you accept that compliment and you allow yourself to enjoy it, you will give control of yourself to that person.
  • What you may rejoice in is my company and not my compliment. What you may enjoy is my present interaction with you, not my praise.

Remember that people mistreat us out of ignorance

  • Sin occurs, not, as we mistakenly think, in malice, but in ignorance. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." To see this is to acquire the indiscriminate quality one so admires in the rose, the lamp, and the tree.
  • Do this right now. Think of some irritating person you know and say this painful but liberating sentence to yourself. "The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me."
  • And here is a final truth for you to consider: Given the background, life experience, and the unawareness of this person, he cannot help behaving the way he does. It has been so well said that to understand all is to forgive all. If you really understood this person, you would see him as crippled and not blameworthy, and your irritation would instantly cease.

Love means seeing things as they really are

  • Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them; otherwise, it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire, not as he or she is in themselves.
  • If you ever allow yourself to see, it will be the death of you. And that is why love is so terrifying, for to love is to see, and to see is to die. But it is also the most delightful exhilarating experience in the whole world.
  • What does it mean to love? It means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves.
  • Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you. Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.

Growth requires pain

  • Happy events make life delightful, but they do not lead to self-discovery and growth and freedom. That privilege is reserved for the things and persons and situations that cause us pain.
  • And if you have caused pain and negative feelings to others, were you not at that moment a teacher to them, an instrument that offered them a seed for self-discovery and growth?
  • 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.
© 2023 Mike Fiorillo
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