Friday, February 18

Anthony de Mello teachings - Awareness

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air. Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth--we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know ~ all mystics ~ Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion ~ are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Thought everything is a mess, all is well.
Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.

I heard a story about this gentleman who knocks on his son’s door. "Jaime," he says, "wake up!" Jaime answers, "I don’t want to get up, Papa." The father shouts, "Get up, you have to go to school." Jaime says, "I don’t want to go to school." "Why not?" asks the father. "Three reasons," says Jaime. First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school. And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster." Wake up! Wake up! You’ve grown up. You’re too big to be asleep. Wake up! Stop playing with your toys.

Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don’t believe them. Don’t believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success." This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That’s all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.

Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It is irritating to be woken up. That’s the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I’m going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, "Wake up!" My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it fine; if you don’t, too bad! As the Arabs say, "The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens."

"There's nothing so delightful as being aware. Would you rather live in darkness? Would you rather act and not be aware of your actions, talk and not be aware of your words? Would you rather listen to people and not be aware of what you're hearing, or see things and not be aware of what you're looking at? the great Socrates said, "The unaware life is not worth living." That's a self-evident truth.

Most people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts--generally somebody else's--mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions. Do you want to see how mechanical you really are? "My, that's a lovely shirt you're wearing." You feel good hearing that. For a shirt, for heaven's sake! You feel proud of yourself when you hear that. People come over to my center in India and they say, "What a lovely place, these lovely trees" (for which I'm not responsible at all), "this lovely climate." And already I'm feeling good, until I catch myself feeling good, and I say, "Hey, can you imagine anything as stupid as that?" I'm not responsible for those trees; I wasn't responsible for choosing the location. I didn't order the weather; it just happened. But "me" got in there, so I'm feeling good. I'm feeling good about "my" culture and "my" nation. How stupid can you get? I mean that.

I'm told my great Indian culture has produced all these mystics. I didn't produce them. I'm not responsible for them. Or they tell me, "That country of yours and its poverty--it's disgusting." I feel ashamed. But I didn't create it. What's going on? Did you ever stop to think? People tell you, "I think you're very charming," so I feel wonderful. I get a positive stroke (that's why they call it I'm O.K., you're O.K.). I'm going to write a book someday and the title will be I'm an Ass, You're an Ass. That's the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you're an ass. It's wonderful. When people tell me, "You're wrong." I say, "What can you expect of an ass?"

Disarmed, everybody has to be disarmed. In the final liberation, I'm an ass, you're an ass. Normally the way it goes, I press a button and you're up; I press another button and you're down. And you like that. How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or blame? That isn't human, we say. Human means that you have to be a little monkey, so everybody can twist your tail, and you do whatever you ought to be doing. But is that human? If you find me charming, it means that right now you're in a good mood, nothing more.

It also means that I fit your shopping list. We all carry a shopping list around, and it's as though you've got to measure up to this list--tall, um, dark, um, handsome, according to my tastes. "I like the sound of his voice." You say, "I'm in love." You're not in love, you silly ass. Any time you're in love-- I hesitate to say this--you're being particularly asinine. Sit down an watch what's happening to you. You're running away from yourself. You want to escape. Somebody once said, "Thank God for reality, and for the means to escape from it." So that's what's going on. We are so mechanical, so controlled. We write books about being controlled and how wonderful it is to be controlled and how necessary it is that people tell you you're O.K. Then you'll have a good feeling about yourself. How wonderful it is to be in prison! Or as somebody said to me yesterday, to be in your cage. Do you like being in prison? Do you like being controlled? Let me tell you something: 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. As long as you live to fulfill other people's expectations, you better watch what you wear, how you comb your hair, whether your shoes are polished--in short, whether you live up to every damned expectation of theirs. Do you call that human?"


Where’s the Fire?
There was a man who invented the art of making fire. He took his tools and went to a tribe in the north, where it was very cold, bitterly cold. He taught the people there to make fire. The people were very interested. He showed them the uses to which they could put fire: they could cook, could keep themselves warm, etc. They were so grateful that they had learned the art of making fire. But before they could express their gratitude to the man, he disappeared. He wasn’t concerned with getting their recognition or gratitude; he was concerned about their well-being. He went to another tribe, where he again began to show them the value of his invention. People were interested there too, a bit too interested for the peace of mind of their priests, who began to notice that this man was drawing crowds and they were losing their popularity. So they decided to do away with him. They poisoned him, crucified him, put it any way you like. But they were afraid now that the people might turn against them, so they were very wise, even wily. Do you know what they did? They had a portrait of the man made and mounted it on the main altar of the temple. The instruments for making fire were placed in front of the portrait, and the people were taught to revere the portrait and to pay reverence to the instruments of fire, which they dutifully did for centuries. The veneration and the worship went on, but there was no fire.

Where’s the fire? Where’s the love? Where’s the freedom? This is what spirituality is all about. Tragically, we tend to lose sight of this, don’t we? This is what Jesus Christ is all about. But we overemphasized the “Lord, Lord,” didn’t we? Where’s the fire? And if worship isn’t leading to the fire, if adoration isn’t leading to love, if the liturgy isn’t leading to a clearer perception of reality, if God isn’t leading to life, of what use is religion except to create more division, more fanaticism, more antagonism? It is not from lack of religion in the ordinary sense of the word that the world is suffering, it is from lack of love, lack of awareness. And love is generated through awareness and through no other way, no other way. Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop. Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness will disappear.

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