I had an amazing day today! Not because I took the day off work and traveled to a beautiful place far from home. Not because I roamed the streets of Carmel or Pacific Grove on a wonderfully bright sun-shiney California day. And not even because I got to meditate in the sun soaked beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea. No, today was amazing because I could still see the bright light in my life, smell the tangy air of sea-life, hear the ocean breeze in my ears, and feel the warmth of love in my life even though I didn’t have a dime to my name.
I couldn’t afford to shop in any of the boutique’s I passed by or eat at any of the patisserie’s that ignited my sweet tooth. The fact that not being able to do so didn’t even so much as put a ding of darkness on such a blissful day brightened it even more. Money has always been a hard-hitter in my life. To finally experience a day out with only enough money to fulfill the minimum: get to location A, pay at location A, get to location B, pay location B, and still cruise around for the rest of the day with the attempt to enjoy it despite being flat broke was fantastic!
I had everything I needed. Enough gas to get me around town, then back home when I was ready, and a lunch-sack I had packed last-minute in case I got hungry on the road. I had just the right amount of money to pay for my doctor’s appointment. Then I realized I had just enough money leftover to pay for a small pocket book and chai tea while I sat and enjoyed both at the beach down the street. I told myself I get paid again tomorrow so its okay to be broke for the rest of the day.
Letting that off my chest I had nothing else to worry about so I allowed myself the luxury of just experiencing the magical flow of energy coming at me wave after wave while sitting on the soft, white sand. And while lounging I contemplated a verse I read in that little pocket book I decided to buy last-minute because it cost the exact amount of money I had left after paying for my chai (when synchronicities toll, I’ve learned to listen).
The book is called, “The Way To Love,” the last meditations by Anthony De Mello. I’ve never heard of this person before, but the title resonated so much I couldn’t put it down. Turns out Mr. De Mello is an Indian Jesuit Priest and Psychotherapist who passed away in the summer of 1987, but during his life he spent many hours with other Jesuits and those of like-minded, spiritually awakened souls speaking at spiritual retreats in and around the greater New York area.
This is a very small book. At least comparatively to the books I’m used to reading. Its only 196 pages and the entire booklet fits in the palm of my tiny, Filipino and female hands, but it took me hours just to get through the first 20 pages. I was completely enthralled and each lesson had me putting down the book to fully register the feelings and emotional associations I was connecting within my life to the words in the book.
I couldn’t believe I had picked up this book on chance (of course we all know it was by Divine Right and not chance at all)! He was saying the exact words that have been playing in my head like a broken record over and over again my entire life, but he was linking them to words out of the bible! Something I’ve never been able to relate my life to, but there he was linking them and here I was… understanding! Whoa! Digesting that alone put my entire life on pause while I re-calibrated my previous notions on religion and this “Bible” so many people swear by, literally.
The first verse he speaks about is Profit and Loss (Matthew 16:26), “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life.” De Mello explains that there are differences between worldly feelings and soul feelings. Worldly feelings being self-gratification and self-promotion; in his words:
They are man-made and not natural, they were invented by society and your culture to make you productive and make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement — and emptiness.”
Before moving on I’d like to take a moment and point out that last word…emptiness. How hard did that word hit you straight in the gut as it did so with me? How about the fact that Man made this feeling in order to create an emptiness within us? Why would Man do this to himself?
De Mello goes on to explain that Man created this in order to place an un-quenching thirst within us, almost to the point of addiction, where we constantly seek the temporary fulfillment of attention, approval, fame, popularity, success, or power in order to control and make us productive. That if we don’t believe it than to just take a look around us and see our brothers and sisters, our friends… do you know one of them who is not controlled or who does not hunger for these fleeting worldly or Ego’ic feelings? Do they not spend every waking moment of their life seeking them consciously or unconsciously?
When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul. For they live empty, soulless lives.
Sad and unnerving, but completely true. I took a moment to mourn and pray for the lost souls of my fellow brethren in life…
Being completely opposite in nature and 100% of your own making, soul feelings, are created through your own power of self-fulfillment, not self-gratification or self-promotion; as in what De Mello says,
…the kind of feelings you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action you are currently engaged in. […] Or the feelings of intimacy, companionship — the times you thoroughly enjoyed yourself in the company of a friend or with a group in which there was fun and laughter.”
He ends the chapter with a parable of a bunch of people on a bus squabbling for the “seat of honor” during the whole ride. The shades have been pulled and no one bothers to open them, but if someone had they would see the beautiful countryside in which the bus travels. But alas, everyone is squabbling over themselves so much no one cares to take a moment and separate from the drama in which they are caught to appreciate the world around them and lost out on the opportunity they were never aware of to begin with.
Great parable, sad story… Before moving on I like to interpret “worldly feelings” as the Ego and “soul feelings” as the Divine and Impersonal Self. From how he describes it, I’m very sure that’s what he means and of course I’m in complete agreement, so I move onto the next chapter, which is Discipleship.
Now this word alone puts my guard hairs on alert, but only because of my own limiting beliefs on my personal definition of this word. Giving I’m in agreement with Mr. De Mello so far I dig in with an open mind and I’m completely rewarded for my forbearance.
The chapter starts with another verse, (Luke 14:26) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father, and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Of course this verse alone reminds me why I’ve been resistant to religion. Without someone to properly interpret the meaning, just reading the scripture alone will put anyone off. Thankfully ‘De Mello saves the day and interprets flawlessly. Sometimes I wonder why people just didn’t let this guy rewrite the Bible. I mean seriously, they’d have more flock and less war since most religious-based wars are started simply by bad interpretations anyway. De Mello writes:
Take a look at the world and see the unhappiness around you and in you. Do you know what causes this unhappiness? You will probably say loneliness or oppression or war or hatred or atheism. And you will be wrong. There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your own head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them. Because of these false beliefs you see the world and yourself in a distorted way. Your programming is so strong and the pressure of society so intense that you are literally trapped into perceiving the world in this distorted kind of way. There is no way out, because you do not even have a suspicion that your perception is distorted, your thinking is wrong, and your beliefs are false.
He is completely correct! I realized this about my own beliefs along my journey, and the first time the blindfold was finally peeled off of my face and I could truly see the world through my own eyes and not through the eyes of indoctrinated society, I was completely dumbfounded! My whole world had been turned upside-down and inside-out! I didn’t know which way was up anymore and I floundered for a good year before I was able to get my bearings and right myself again!
Then I got angry. Angry at the mask society and our culture placed on all of us at birth and prevented any of us the chance to live our own lives and create our own judgments. And for what cause?! To whose end?! So the social elite could control us? So those in power can stay in power?! But I digress within the realms of my own limiting beliefs (always the eternal student). Don’t worry, I’m not angry anymore. I’ve already processed the seven stages of grief at the death of my old belief system. I’m past that now. I was just trying to make a point about how one would feel when newly unmasked. Let’s get back to De Mello and his teachings of finding the way to Love.
He states that these false beliefs are what prevents or blocks us from true happiness and list some examples, one of which is the false belief that we think we cannot be happy without the things that we are attached to or consider precious. Another is the false belief that happiness is in the future or that it will only come to us if we manage to change a situation we are in currently. And the crème de la crème of false beleifs, we think we won’t be happy unless all of our desires are fulfilled.
He goes on very candidly and quite brusquely about how one can basically try to change the world to their own designs in order to find happiness and it will never happen. That they would have a better chance of getting gold to pour out of their ears by continuing to bang their head against a wall before that would ever happen. ‘De Mello states simply:
If you wish to attain a lasting happiness you must be ready to hate father, mother, even your own life and to take leave of all your possessions. How? Not by renouncing them or giving them up because what you give up violently you are forever bound to. But rather by seeing them for the nightmare they are; and then, whether you keep them or not, they will have lost their grip over you, their power to hurt you, and you will be out of your dream at last, out of your darkness, your fear, your unhappiness.
So spend some time seeing each of the things you cling to for what it really is, a nightmare that causes you excitement and pleasure on the one hand but also worry, insecurity, tension, anxiety, fear, unhappiness on the other.
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. Then you will hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even your own life. And you will so easily take leave of all of your possessions, that is, you will stop clinging and thus have destroyed their capacity to hurt you. Then at last you will experience that mysterious state that cannot be described or uttered — the state of abiding happiness and peace. And you will understand how true it is that everyone who stops clinging to brothers or sisters, father, mother children, land or houses… is repaid a hundred times over and gains eternal life.
He is talking about the spiritual philosophy of Attachment/Un-attachment and in my journey I have discovered that the truest form of happiness is Un-attachment. For when you learn to let go those things you hold precious (like money for example) can they no longer have the power to hurt you. You become impervious and break free of the program you once called your life into a newer and freer life all your own, and yet One with our Universe, because you have finally stepped in-sync with the rest of Her/Him/Us.
I didn’t think this book could get any better and then I read the next chapter. I’m barely 12 pages out of 196 and my spiritual gauge is almost full to bursting! Who could have known such a small book full of bible verses could have so much impact on my life! I read on in quiet excitement, Chapter 3, The Extra Mile (Matthew 5:40-41) “And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
At first I wondered…, why? To prove how unattached to a situation or a possession I am by over-compensating? Then I realized no of course not, that would be reacting egoistically. This had to be a lesson on how we unconsciously react to external stimuli or that which we have no control over. Of course the illusion is we think we have control over some things when we have absolutely no control at all (but I digress again). I read on to get a fuller explanation of the lesson.
If you take a look at the way you have been put together and the way you function you will find that inside your head there is a whole program, a set of demands about how the world should be, how you should be and what you should want.
Who is responsible for the programming? Not you. It isn’t really you who decided even such basics as your wants and desires and so-called needs; your values, your tastes, your attitudes. It was your parents, your society, your culture, your religion, your past experiences who fed the operating instructions into your computer. Now, however old you are or wherever you go, your computer goes along with you and is active and operating at each conscious moment of the day, imperiously insisting that its demands be met, by life, by people and by you. If the demands are met, the computer allows you to be peaceful and happy. If they are not met, even though it be through no fault of yours, the computer generates negative emotions that cause you to suffer.
Ah ha!! I was right! Tony, you and I are totally ONE! This chapter is completely about our unconscious reactions to our world and how we didn’t even have control over them to begin with. They were all pre-programmed into us from day one! Mr. De Mello goes onto to explain how not all is lost and there is a way out of our pre-programmed selves, but that its not going to be an easy fix or quick (of course, what good thing ever is?), and its not about changing our programming either. Few if any of us can successfully change all of our programming. We may be able to change some or most of it or we may never change it at all, but that’s not the “way out” De Mello, or the bible verse is speaking about.
What they’re talking about is changing your perspective within the program. Say for instance you’re in a situation with a person you find unpleasant and that you would ordinarily avoid and witness how your computer (or ego) decides to chime in how you should react to this situation; giving you commands to follow in order to attempt to change or avoid the situation entirely. And if you don’t follow them your computer (or ego) will make you feel anxious, or guilty, or some other negative emotion. ‘De Mello says:
Now keep looking at this unpleasant situation or person until you realize that it isn’t they that are causing the negative emotions. […] Don’t stop until you have grasped this truth: […] Once you have understood this truth and thereby stopped your computer [ego] from generating negative emotions you may take any action you deem fit. […] But only after you have got rid of your emotional upsets, for then your action will spring from peace and love, not from the neurotic desire to appease your computer [ego] or to conform to its programming or to get rid of the negative emotions it generates. Then you will understand how profound is the wisdom of the words: “If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two.” For it will have become evident to you that real oppression comes, not from people who fight you in court or from authority that subjects you to slave labor, but from your computer [ego] whose programming destroys your peace of mind the moment outside circumstances fail to conform to its demands. […] It is from the oppression of your programming that you need to be liberated.
In other words step out of your mind and ego and step more fully into your heart! For only within the precepts of love and peace will all people find true happiness and contentedness!
Between each understanding I meditate and thank my spirit guides for leading me to this book and this time and place to be able to fully appreciate all that was experienced this day. This was amazing and awe-inspiring! I had to share this lovely adventure with someone and I hope you enjoyed it enough to go out and get this book! Like I said I’ve only shared with you the first 20 pages and I’m so excited to get back to the rest! Isn’t it funny how when you just allow, let go, and let life happen, it just does in such wonderfully magical ways!
Take care, BE Love!