Short Wisdom Stories by Anthony de Mello

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061 - 080


To a preacher who kept saying,

"We must put God in our lives: " the Master said,

"He is already there. Our business is to recognize this".

God is singing and Creation is the melody. -- David Palmer

"There are three stages in one's spiritual development", said the Master. "The carnal, the spiritual and the divine".

"What is the carnal stage"? asked the eager disciples.

"That's the stage when trees are seen as trees and mountains as mountains".

"And the spiritual"?

"That's when one looks more deeply into things -- then trees are no longer trees and mountains no longer mountains".

"And the divine"?

"Ah, that's Enlightenment", said the Master with a chuckle, "when trees become trees again and mountains, mountains".

How wonderful! How wonderful! All things are perfect Exactly as they are! -- Buddha

Much advance publicity was made for the address the Master would deliver on "The Destruction of the World" and a large crowd gathered at the monastery grounds to hear him. The address was over in less than a minute.

All he said was;
"These things will destroy the human race:
politics without principle, progress without compassion, wealth without work, learning without silence, religion without fearlessness and worship without awareness".

He who knows the precepts by heart, but fails to practice them, is like unto one who lights a lamp and then shuts his eyes. --Nagarjuna

"I wish to see God".
"You are looking at him right now", said the Master.
"Then why do I not see him"?
"Why does the eye not see itself"? said the Master.
Later the Master explained: "As well ask a knife to cut itself or a tooth to bite itself as ask that God to reveal himself".

I have a capacity in my soul for taking in God entirely. I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.
-- Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?)


"How does one seek union with God"?
"The harder you seek, the more distance you create between Him and you".
"So what does one do about the distance"?
"Understand that it isn't there".
"Does that mean that God and I are one"?
"Not one. Not two".
"How is that possible"?
"The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song -- not one. Not two".

It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth . . . and so it goes away. Puzzling. -- Robert M. Pirsig

A group of political activists were attempting to show the Master how their ideology would change the world. The Master listened carefully. The following day he said, "An ideology is as good or bad as the people who make use of it. If a million wolves were to organize for justice, would they cease to be a million wolves"?

Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty. -- Stanislaw J. Lee

The Master never wearied of warning his disciples about the dangers of religion. He loved to tell the story of the prophet who carried a flaming torch through the streets, saying he was going to set fire to the temple so that people would concern themselves more with the Lord than with the temple. Then he would add

"Someday I shall carry a flaming torch myself to set fire to both the temple and the Lord"!

It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

"How shall I attain Eternal Life"?
"Eternal Life is now. Come into the present".
"But I am in the present now, am I not"?
"Why not"?
"Because you haven't dropped your past".
"Why should I drop my past? Not all of it is bad".
"The past is to be dropped not because it is bad but because it is dead".

Every man is his own ancestor, and every man is his own heir. He devises his own future, and he inherits his own past. -- Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-1890)


After the Master attained Enlightenment, he took to living simply -- because he found simple living to his taste. He laughed at his disciples when they took to simple living in imitation of him.

"Of what use is it to copy my behavior", he would say, "without my motivation. Or to adopt my motivation without the vision that produced it"?

They understood him better when he said, "Does a goat become a rabbi because he grows a beard"?

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. -- C.G. Jung

When a disciple came from a faraway country, the Master asked, "What are you seeking"?


"You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside"?

"Where is my treasure house"?

"This seeking that has come upon you".

At that moment the disciple was Enlightened. Years later he would say to his friends, "Open your own treasure house and enjoy your treasures".

In all persons, all creatures, the Self is the innermost essence. And it is identical with Brahman: our real Self is not different from the ultimate Reality called God. The Upanishads -- As Translated by Eknath Easwaran

The Master would insist that the final barrier to our attaining God was the word and concept "God". This so infuriated the local priest that he came in a huff to argue the matter out with the Master. "But surely the word 'God' can lead us to God"? said the priest.

"It can", said the Master calmly.

"How can something help and be a barrier"?

Said the Master, "The donkey that brings you to the door is not the means by which you enter the house".

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. -- Epictetus (50-138 A.D.)

It was impossible to get the Master to speak of God or of things divine. "About God", he said, "we can only know that what we know is nothing".

One day he told of a man who deliberated long and anxiously before embarking on discipleship. "He came to study under me, with the result that he learned nothing". Only a few of the disciples understood: What the Master had to teach could not be learned. Nor taught. So all one could really learn from him was nothing.

When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. -- Tao Te Ching


"Heavens, how you've aged"! exclaimed the Master after speaking with a boyhood friend.

"One cannot help growing old, can one"? said the friend.

"No, one cannot", agreed the Master, "but one must avoid becoming aged".

The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old. -- William James

When out on a picnic, the Master said, "Do you want to know what the Enlightened is like? Look at those birds flying over the lake".

While everyone watched, the Master exclaimed:

"They cast a reflection on the water that they have no awareness of - and the lake has no attachment to".

Life's lessons are not taught in classrooms.

On the question of his own Enlightenment the Master always remained reticent, even though the disciples tried every means to get him to talk. All the information they had on this subject was what the Master once said to his youngest son who wanted to know what his father felt when he became Enlightened. The answer was: "A fool".

When the boy asked why, the Master had replied, "Well, son, it was like going to great pains to break into a house by climbing a ladder and smashing a window -- and realizing later that the door of the house was open".

He who knows Self as the enjoyer of
The honey from the flowers of the senses,
Ever present within, ruler of time,
Goes beyond fear. For this Self is Supreme!
-- Upanishads (c. B.C. 800)

The Master claimed he had a book that contained everything one could conceivably know about God. No one had ever seen the book till a visiting scholar, by dint of persistent entreaty, wrested it from the Master. He took it home and eagerly opened it - only to find that every one of its pages was blank.

"But the book says nothing", wailed the scholar.

"I know", said the Master contentedly. "But see how much it indicates"!

Listen in the silence.
Listen and you shall hear God speak.
The chamber of silence is manís divine self.
It is there that man meets manís God. -- Frater Achad


When a disciple came to take leave of the Master so that he could return to his family and business, he asked for something to carry away with him. Said the Master, "Ponder on these things: It is not the fire that is hot, but you who feel it so. It is not the eye that sees, but you. It is not the compass that makes the circle, but the draftsman".

Just as a picture is drawn by an artist, surroundings are created by the activities of the mind.
-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

"How shall I rid myself of fear"?

"How can you rid yourself of what you cling to"?

"You mean I actually cling to my fears? I cannot agree to that".

"Consider what your fear protects you from and you will agree! And you will see your folly".

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. -- Kahlil Gibran, (1883-1931)

"How shall I forgive others"?

"If you never condemned, you would never need to forgive".

Judgment and love are opposites. From one come all the sorrows of the world. But from the other comes the peace of God Himself. -- A Course In Miracles

In keeping with his doctrine that nothing be taken too seriously, not even his own teachings, the Master loved to tell this story on himself:

"My very first disciple was so weak that the exercises killed him. My second disciple drove himself crazy from his earnest practice of the exercises I gave him. My third disciple dulled his intellect through too much contemplation. But the fourth managed to keep his sanity".

"Why was that"? someone would invariably ask.

"Possibly because he was the only one who refused to do the exercises". The Master's words would be drowned in howls of laughter.

The teacher is like the candle which lights others in consuming itself. -- Giovanni Ruffini (1807-1881)

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