Be Aware! Be Alive! Be in Love!

Anthony de Mello was an Indian Jesuit who became internationally famous for his writing and teaching.  From his reading of the Gospels, de Mello believed Christ was not so much concerned with teaching doctrines as awakening new life in his listeners.  Through his use of stories, actions, and parables, Jesus startled people into a new understanding of faith.  ‘Wake up’ was his message.

De Mello’s own teaching followed a similar message.  Drawing on a wide range of traditions he collected stories and parables that were designed to startle his listeners awake!  Here a just a few:

‘Most religious seekers are like the man who travelled the world on the back of a buffalo, seeking the definition of buffalo.  Just so, the person who is constantly attending retreats and spiritual conferences to discover God.’

‘Theology: the art of telling stories about the Divine.’

‘The one who prefers to memorize religious definitions is like a ravenous person in a restaurant who eats the menu instead of the meal.’

‘Christian doctrines are like a finger pointing at the moon; they are not the moon itself.’

‘To be enlightened one must experience it.  Hearing a report of how tasty peaches are is no substitute for the experience of tasting the fruit.’

‘True, saving knowledge is to be transformed by what one knows.’

All I did was sit on the riverbank handing out river water. After I'm gone, I trust you will notice the river.

Disciple:  What’s the difference between knowledge and enlightenment?

Master:  When you have knowledge you use a torch to show the way.  When you are enlightened, you become a torch.’

Among his many writings, de Mello left many meditations on the theme of death.  Thus he was well prepared when he died suddenly of a heart attack (June 2, 1987) as he was preparing for a series of conferences.  He was fifty-six. 

[adapted from All Saints – Robert Ellsberg, and ,

The Song of the Bird, A. de Mello]