Book Reviews

Awareness by Anthony De Mello

awareness by anthony de mello

About the Book

I could say a bunch of things about this book.

Its flowing pros, its incredible insights, its UNBELIEVABLE eye-openers.

What I’ll say instead is just look at the number of quotes below.

They tell their own story…


Favourite Passages:

  • “Don’t expect me to be of help to anyone. Nor do I expect to damage anyone. If you are damaged, you did it; and if you are helped, you did it. You really did! You think people help you? They don’t. You think people support you? They don’t.” Will I be of help to you in this retreat?


  • “You are never in love with anyone, you’re in love with your prejudiced idea of that person. Isn’t that how you fall out of love? Your idea changes, doesn’t it?” Will I be of help to you in this retreat?


  • “You never trusted anyone. Come off it! That’s part of society’s brainwashing. You never trust anyone. You only trust your judgement about that person. So what are you complaining about? The fact is that you don’t like to say, “My judgement was lousy.” Will I be of help to you in this retreat?


  • “Do you know one sign that you’ve woken up? It’s when you are asking yourself, ‘Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy?’ It really is. Because we are crazy. The world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics… We’re living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything… ‘Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy.'” Are we talking about psychology in this spirituality course?


  • “So there it is: step one. Realise that you don’t want to wake up. It’s pretty difficult to wake up when you have been hypnotised into thinking that a scrap of old newspaper is a check for a million dollars.” Are we talking about psychology in this spirituality course?


  • “Don’t denounce it, see through it. Understand its true value and you won’t need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands.” Neither is renunciation the solution


  • “Your beliefs give you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity… You’re ready to listen.” Listen and Unlearn


  • “You know, a good is never so good as when you have no awareness that you’re doing good. You are never so good as when you have no consciousness that you’re doing good.” The Masquerade of Charity


  • “It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know… What you really fear is the loss of the know.” What’s on Your Mind?


  • “Did you expect any better? Expect the worse, you’re dealing with selfish people. You’re the idiot – you glorified her, didn’t you? You thought she was a princess, you thought people were nice. They’re not… You want happiness? You want freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideasSee through people. If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will love them.” Our Illusion About Others


  • “The reason you suffer from your depression and your anxieties is that you identify with them. You say, ‘I’m depressed’ But that is false. You are not depressed. If you want to be accurate, you might say, “I am experiencing a depression right now.'” Self-Observation


  • “If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you’re O.K., you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you’re not good.” Awareness Without Evaluating Everything


  • “I could take you apart piece by piece and ask, ‘Now, this sentence, does it come from Daddy, Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa, whom?’… there probably isn’t a gesture, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a belief in you that isn’t coming from someone else.” Finding Yourself


  • “It’s going to take a lot of awareness for you to understand that perhaps this thing called ‘I’ is simply a conglomeration of your past experiences, of your conditioning and programming.” Finding Yourself


  • “As a matter of fact, some of these mystics tell us that we begin first with things, with an awareness of things; then we move onto an awareness of thoughts (that’s the “me”); and finally we get to the awareness of the thinker. Things, thoughts, thinker. What we’re really searching for is the thinker. Can the thinker know himself? Can I know what “I” is? Some of these mystics reply, “Can the knife cut itself? Can the tooth bite itself?”” Stripping Down To The “I”


  • “Listen to this: Am I my thoughts, the thoughts I am thinking? No. Thoughts come and go; I am not my thoughts. Am I my body? They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changed or renewed every minute, so that by the end of seven years we don’t have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years before. Cells come and go. Cells arise and die. But “I” seems to persist. So am I my body? Evidently not! // “I” is something other and more than the body… It keeps moving, it keeps changing. We have the same name for it but it constantly changes. Just as we have the same name for Niagara Falls, but Niagara Falls is constituted by water that is constantly changing. We use the same name for an ever-changing reality.” Stripping Down To “I”


  • “I hope you did not assume that I was saying you shouldn’t do anything. I said that if you didn’t have negative feelings you’d be much more effective…” Negative Feelings Towards Others


  • “Say a friend dies. It seems right and very human to feel some sadness about that. But what reaction? Self-pity? What would you be grieving about?… Your reaction is personal loss, right? Feeling sorry for “me” or for other people your friend might have brought joy to. But that means you’re feeling sorry for people who are feeling sorry for themselves… We never feel grief when we lose something that we have allowed to be free, that we have never attempted to possess. Grief is a sign that I made my happiness depend on this thing or person, at least to some extent.” Negative Feelings Towards Others


  • “I enjoy it [your company] on a nonclinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it’s something that’s greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn’t stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I’m alone, it continues to play.” On Dependence


  • “Is it possible for a rose to say, ‘I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad?’… These are images of what love is about.” How Happiness Happens


  • “… I’d be talking to you and at the same time I’d be out there watching you and watching me. When I’m listening to you, it’s definitely more important for me to listen to me than to listen to you. Of course, it’s important to listen to you, but it’s more important I listen to me. Otherwise I won’t be hearing you. Or I’ll be distorting everything you say. I’ll be coming at you from my own conditioning. I’ll be reacting to you in all kinds of ways from my insecurities, fro my need to manipulate you, from my desire to succeed, from irritations and feelings that I might not be aware of. // You don’t have to imagine yourself hovering somewhere in the air. Just to get a rough idea of what I’m talking about, imagine a good driver, driving a car, who’s concentrating on what you’re saying… The moment anything untoward happens.. he’ll hear it at once… The focus of his attention was on the conversation, or argument, but his awareness was more diffused. ” Good Religion – The Antithesis of Unawareness


  • “That’s what spirituality is all about, you know: unlearning. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you.” Four Steps to Wisdom


  • “Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the negative feelings in you; (b) understand that they are in you, not in the world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go; (d) understand when you change, everything changes.” Sleepwalking


  • “It’s as if you had never tasted a green mango and you ask me, ‘What does it taste like?’ I’d say to you, ‘Sour,’ but it giving you a word, I’ve put you off the track… ‘Sour like vinegar, sour like a lemon?’ No, not sour like a lemon, but sour like a mango.” Arriving at Silence


  • “A man born blind comes to me and asks, ‘What is this thing called green?’ How does one describe the colour green to someone who was born blind? One uses analogies. So I say, “The colour green is something like soft music.’ ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘like soft music.’… So a second blind man comes to me and asks, ‘What is the colour green?’ I tell him it’s something like soft satin, very soft and soothing to the touch. So the next day I notice that the two blind men are bashing each other over the head with bottles. One is saying, ‘It’s soft like music’; the other is saying, ‘It’s soft like satin.’ And on it goes.” Arriving at Silence


  • “Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don’t hold onto a few bars of the music. Don’t hold onto a couple of notes… The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow the notes to pass.” Desire, not Preference


  • “Like meeting a long lost friend. ‘Hey Tom,’ I say, ‘It’s good to see you,’ and I give him a big hug. Who am I hugging? Tom or my memory of him?” Hugging Memories


  • “The day you teach a child the name of the bird, the child will never see the bird again.” Getting Concrete


  • “If you don’t look at things through your concepts, you’ll never be bored. Every single thing is unique.” Getting Concrete


  • “In the beginning it feels awful, it feels lonely, but if you can take it for a while, you’ll suddenly discover that it isn’t lonely at all. It is solitude, it is aloneness, and the desert begins to flower.” Addictive Love


  • “‘The day you cease to travel, you will have arrived.'” Hidden Agenda


  • “No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; meaning is something that makes sense to the mind. Every time you make sense out of reality, you bump into something that destroys the sense you made. Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as a mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualising mind.” Assorted Landmines


  • “Loneliness is when you’re missing people, aloneness is when you’re enjoying yourself.” Assorted Landmines


  • “He [George Bernard Shaw] was at one of those awful cocktail parties where nothing gets said. Someone asked him if he was enjoying himself. He answered, ‘It’s the only thing I’m enjoying here.'” Assorted Landmines


  • “Seeing is the most arduous thing that a human can undertake, for it calls for a disciplined, alert mind. But most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to see each person, each thing in its present moment of freshness.” Saying Nothing About Love


  • “… if we imagine a galaxy, a whole universe, this earth of ours would be lost toward the tail end of the milkyway… And every one of the stars is a sun and some suns are so big that they could contain the sun and the earth and the distance between them. At a conservative estimate, there are one hundred million galaxies! The universe, as we know it, is expanding at the rate of 2 million miles per second.” Dead Ahead


  • “How would you ever get there [clear love]? By a ceaseless awareness, by the infinte patience and compassion you would have for a drug addict. By developing a taste for the good things in life to counter the craving for your drug [admiration, approval, dependence]… The love of work which you enjoy doing for the love of itself; the love of laughter and intimacy with people to whom you do not cling and on whom you do not depend emotionally but whose company you enjoy… It will help, too, if you return to nature.” The Land of Love


Star Rating:


They don’t come much better than this!!

Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this book whenever you get chance.

It’s heavy and mind-boggling at times but it won’t disappoint!

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