The Wisdom of Anthony de Mello: Enlightenment

alex atkins bookshelf wisdomAnthony de Mello (1931-1987) was an Indian Jesuit priest, spiritual teacher, psychotherapist, writer, and public speaker. He founded the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counseling in Poona, India in 1972. Fr. de Mello earned international acclaim for his profound spiritual insights, via the mystical traditions of East and West, and his unique approach to the inner life. He was best known for his mesmerizing storytelling — using insightful stories, parables, and humor — as well spiritual exercises to lead people to greater awareness (self-discovery), helping them to be more in touch with their body, sensations, and living life more fully. Fr. de Mello believed that humanity could learn from every religious tradition. In his stories, when he speak of the Master, he is not just referring to Jesus, following the Catholic/Christian tradition; de Mello writes “He is a Hindu Guru, a Zen Roshi, A Taoist Sage, a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian Monk, a Sufi Mystic. He is a Lao-Tau and Socrates. Buddha and Jesus, Zarathustra and Mohammed. His teaching  is found in the seventh century B.C. and the twentieth century A.D. His wisdom belongs to East and West alike.” Remarkably, the Catholic Church did not appreciate this synthesis of East and West, especially the consideration of Jesus as a master alongside many others (particularly the Buddha, which de Mello respected a great deal), the promotion of other spiritual works other than the Bible, and the belief that you didn’t need religion to achieve self-discovery and enlightenment. (Interestingly, there are significant similarities between the beliefs of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, mystic, theologian, scholar of comparative religion, and author of The Seven Story Mountain, and de Mello.) Consequently — and rather ironically considering that Jesus taught in parables and also broke with the traditions and thinking of his time — the Catholic Church condemned his writings. Unfortunately, this had an unintended consequence: it increased the sale and publications of his work (20+) — many which were published posthumously. Here is an excerpt from One Minute Wisdom, published in 1985), titled “Enlightenment.”

The Master was an advocate both of learning and of Wisdom.

“Learning,” he said when asked, “is gotten by reading books or listening to lectures.”

“And Wisdom?”

“By reading the book that is you.”

He added as an afterthought: “It is not an easy task at all, for every minute of the day brings a new edition of the book!”

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks
The Wisdom of Lady Grantham
The Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz
The Wisdom of Yoda
The Wisdom of George Carlin
The Wisdom of Saint-Exupery

For further reading: One Minute Wisdom by Anthony de Mello
Taking Flight by Anthony de Mello
The Heart of the Enlightened by Anthony de Mello

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.