Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Must-Read Book, Part 4

     May I share some delicious quotes from Anthony de Mello's book, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality?  It may give you a taste for how clearly he wrote and how much sense his ideas make.
"A nice definition of an awakened person:  A person who no longer marches to the drums of society, a person who dances to the tune of the music that springs up from within."
"What does it mean to love?  It means to see a person, a situation, a thing as it really is, not as you imagine it to be."
"It's not reality that matters, but what you're saying to yourself about it."
"The beauty of an action comes not from its having become a habit but from its sensitivity, consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response."
     I am so glad I found this book, and am honored to share it with you.  It can be world-changing.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A Must-Read Book, Part 3

     Last week I was introducing you to Anthony de Mello's book, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.  If you get nothing out of this book (and it really is jam-packed with clear and helpful hints on how to live more wisely), let me outline briefly one of the major lessons he returns to, which is his Four Steps to Wisdom.

     In step one, he asks that you first get in touch with your negative feelings (ones that you may not even be aware of).

     In step two, he says that you need to understand that the feeling is in you, not in external reality.  He says that no person, event, or circumstance has the power to disturb or hurt you.  Think on that a while.

     In step three, he says that we must never identify with that feeling, but realize that feelings come and feelings go.  Let it pass.  There is an eternal "I" which is completely undisturbed by external reality.

     In step four, he says that good feelings -- happiness, joy, bliss -- come from inside and have nothing to do with externals.  As we change, everything changes.

     As I read the book, I couldn't help but see that some of his philosophy has some influences of Buddhism and mindfulness practices.  Still, the way he presents his ideas make perfect sense and seem fresh and applicable as he describes them.  A fabulous book.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Must-Read Book, Part 2

     I'm such a tease.  The book I was referring to last week, the one that took my soul and pointed to a way deeper and purer than ever before, the one that rattled my viewpoint and spoke to the essence of wise living, is Anthony de Mello's Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.

     First, a word about Anthony de Mello.  He was born in Bombay, India, in 1931 and became a Jesuit priest and a psychotherapist.  His writing shows both a strong mystical leaning as well as a rare insight into the human psychological dilemma.  One of the things that I also appreciated about his viewpoint is that he was able to meld Eastern and Christian spirituality with a clear description of human psychology.  He spoke and wrote with a rare clarity that took my breath away.

     Sadly, he died too soon, at the age of fifty-five, of a heart attack.

     Awareness is a compilation of talks de Mello gave at a spirituality conference, put together and edited by an associate, J. Francis Stroud, after de Mello's death.  Happily, it reads like you are sitting in the conference room with him, watching as he goes off on tangents, or re-engages his audience with a fitting joke.  He speaks to where people are, and not in some nebulous theoretical discourse.  It's a pleasure to read.

     If you are remotely interested in deepening your spiritual life, read this book.  Like, right now.  Like, go to your favorite bookstore and order it.  Now.  It will change your life.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

A Must-Read Book

     After reading a book on various Christian mystics, I picked up a book written by one of the mystics described.  It was one of those books that took me by surprise -- I kept asking myself, "Where has this book been all my life?"  Once I read it, savoring each short chapter, I immediately re-read it, taking detailed notes all the way through.

     Like it was a college text or something.

     And then I typed those notes up to keep as reference and reminder.  That's pretty serious for me.

     Even though I don't completely identify as Christian anymore, I found this book spoke to my mystical-leaning heart.  In fact, it helped deepen those leanings and lit the way for further journeying along that path.  It was a joy to find.

     And what is that book? you ask.  Well, tune in next week and I'll tell you more.

(photo courtesy of

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Some Wonderful Quotes

     Here are some quotes that are applicable to our times:
Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before.  You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.  (Elizabeth Edwards)
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.  (Helen Keller)
Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you.  Never excuse yourself.  Never pity yourself.  Be a hard master to yourself -- and be lenient to everybody else.  (Henry Ward Beecher)
The human capacity for burden is like bamboo -- far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance.  (Jodi Picoult)
     Have courage, friends.  Peace.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Yet Five More Things I've Learned from COVID-19

     Reading the news about how people and leaders react to the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me a few things about human nature.

1.  People can react either out of fear or out of love.  The former buy guns and stockpile supplies, while the latter express gratitude and compassion to others.  Although it's hard at times when things seem so out of control, I try to act out of love as best I can.

2.  In times of crisis, people can turn their fear into anger and aggressiveness.  This manifests as putting blame on other people or countries, being threatening, or turning inward and ignoring the needs of others.  This is an opportunity to pull our fractured nation and world together and work as one.  Let's do that.

3.  Our leaders show their true values in times of crisis.  I've noticed that they either put money and the economy first, or they put people and their wellbeing first.  My personal belief is that you can't have an economy without people, but I suppose there is some merit to the idea that if you have a healthy economy, then people can take care of themselves.  Still, if both the economy and the people are ailing, let's put people first, shall we?

4.  Viruses have no nation, creed, ethnicity, or religion.  It is universal, just as the human soul is.  I think people are coming to the knowledge that we really are all one.

5.  We are living through extraordinary times.  Let's be remembered for rising to the occasion and showing our best selves.  We can overcome this.  We're in this together.

(image courtesy of

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Five More Things I've Learned from COVID-19

     Staying home for days on end can be very trying, especially for an introvert living full-time with others.  Here are some lessons I've learned.

1.  Alone time is essential.  Even if I can't be completely alone in the house, I can still hide in a room, a closet, or in my innermost self through meditation.  I need this.  Every day.

2.  Little things can become big things if we let them.  I've learned it's necessary for my sanity and for peace between peoples if I lighten up and let things slide a bit.  Rather than make a big deal over that irritating mouth sound my Significant Other makes when reading, I can either focus on my breath or I can leave for a while.  Fantasizing about silencing those mouth sounds with a pillow is OK as long as I don't act on it.

3.  People are reaching out more.  I heard from a family member for the first time in a couple of decades and the conversation was quite pleasant.  Perhaps this pandemic has put things in perspective for some people.  I know it has for me.

4.  Gratitude goes a long way.  I find things run much more smoothly at home when I say at least five  "thankyous" for every "please will you . . ".  People like to feel appreciated, not constantly commanded or criticized.

5.  On the rare occasions that I go to the store, I make it a point to thank every worker that I see.  So often treated as if they are invisible, they are heroes in my book.  We both feel better when I take the time to acknowledge that.

(image courtesy of