Short Wisdom Stories by Anthony de Mello

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121 - 140

The monks of a neighboring monastery asked the Master's help in a quarrel that had arisen among them. They had heard the Master say he had a technique that was guaranteed to bring love and harmony to any group. On this occasion he revealed it:

"Any time you are with anyone or think of anyone you must say to yourself: I am dying and this person too is dying, attempting the while to experience the truth of the words you are saying. If every one of you agrees to practice this, bitterness will die out, harmony will arise". Having said that, he was gone.

I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.
-- Lincoln (1809-1865)
"How would spirituality help a man of the world like me"? said the businessman.

"It will help you have more", said the Master.


"By teaching you to desire less".

After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box. -- Italian Proverb

We have met the enemy, and it is us.
-- Pogo (Walt Kelly, Earth Day, 1971)
The Master loved ordinary people and was suspicious of those who stood out for their holiness. To a disciple who consulted him on marriage he said, "Be sure you don't marry a saint".

"Why ever not"?

"Because it is the surest way to make yourself a martyr", was the Master's merry reply.

All of life is a near-death experience. -- Alan Harris
An affluent industrialist said to the Master, "What do you do for a profession"?
"Nothing", said the Master.
The industrialist laughed scornfully. "Isn't that laziness"?
"Heavens no. Laziness is mostly the vice of very active people".

Later the master said to his disciples, "Do nothing and all things will be done through you. Doing nothing really takes a lot of doing. Try it"!

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live. --Lin Yutang

"How shall I experience my oneness with creation"?
"By listening", said the Master.
"And how am I to listen"?
"Become an ear that gives heed to every single thing the universe is saying. The moment you hear something you yourself are saying, stop".

Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf. -- American Indian Proverb
"Are there ways for gauging one's spiritual strength"?
"Give us one". "Find out how often you become disturbed in the course of a single day".

Peace of mind is that mental condition in which you have accepted the worst.-- Lin Yutang
The master was known to favor action over withdrawal. But he always insisted on "Enlightened" action.

The disciples wanted to know what "Enlightened" meant. Did it mean "right-intentioned"?

"Oh no", said the Master. "Think how right-intentioned the monkey is when he lifts a fish from the river to save it from the watery grave".

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -- Marcel Proust
To newcomers the Master would say,
"Knock and the door will be opened to you".

To some of them he would later say conspiratorially, "How would you expect the door to be opened when it has never been shut"?

It has pleased God that divine verities should not enter the heart through the understanding, but the understanding through the heart. -- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

All Spiritual being is in man. A wise old proverb says, "God comes to see us without bell", that is, as there is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the infinite heavens, so is there no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

A journalist one day asked the Master to name one thing that characterizes the Modern World. The Master unhesitatingly replied, "People every day know more and more about the Cosmos and less and less about themselves".

And to an astronomer who held him spellbound with the wonders of modern astronomy the Master suddenly said, "Of all the millions of strange objects in the universe the black holes and quasars and pulsars - the strangest, unquestionably, is the self"!

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
One of the disconcerting - and delightful - teachings of the Master was: "God is closer to sinners than to saints".

This is how he explained it: "God in heaven holds each person by a string. When you sin, you cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot and thereby bringing you a little closer to him. Again and again your sins cut the string and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer".

Guilt is a little prison that keeps you out of big ones.
-- Alan Harris
"I want to be with God in prayer".
"What you want is an absurdity".
"Because whenever you are, God is not; Whenever God is, you are not. So how could you be with God"?

Later the Master said:
"Seek aloneness. When you are with someone else, you are not alone. When you are 'with God,' you are not alone. The only way to really be with God is to be utterly alone. Then, hopefully, God will be and you will not".

The way to use life is to do nothing through acting,
The way to use life is to do everything through being.
-- Lao Tzu
The disciples sought Enlightenment, but did not know what it was or how it was attainable.

Said the Master,
"It cannot be attained. You cannot get hold of it".

Seeing the disciples' downcast look, the Master said, "Don't be distressed. You cannot lose it either".

And to this day the disciples are in search of that which can neither be lost nor taken hold of.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
-- Lao-Tzu

The Master held that no words were bad if they were used in an appropriate context. When he was told that one of his disciples was given to swearing, he remarked, "Profanity has been known to offer spiritual relief denied to prayer".

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
-- Mother Teresa

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
-- Frank Outlaw
Even though it was the Master's Day of Silence, a traveler begged for a word of wisdom that would guide him through life's journey. The Master nodded affably, took a sheet of paper and wrote a single word on it: "Awareness".

The visitor was perplexed.
"That's too brief. Would you please expand on it a bit"?

The Master took the paper back and wrote:
"Awareness, awareness, awareness".

"But what do these words mean"?
said the stranger helplessly.

The Master reached out for the paper and wrote:
"Awareness, awareness, awareness

The wise person questions himself, the fool others.
-- Henri Arnold
An Eastern disciple who was proud of what he considered to be the spirituality of the East came to the Master and said, "Why is it that the West has material progress and the East has spirituality"?

"Because", said the Master laconically, "when provisions for this world were being handed out in the beginning, the West had the first choice".

Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.
-- Chuang-tzu (B.C. 350)
"What is the highest act a person can perform"?
"Sitting in meditation".
"Wouldn't that lead to inaction"?
"It IS inaction.
"Is action, then, inferior"?
"Inaction gives life to actions. Without it they are dead".

Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

To a traveler who asked how he could tell a true Master from a false one the Master said shortly, "If you are not yourself deceitful, you will not be deceived".

To his disciples the Master later said, "Why do seekers assume that they themselves are honest and all they need is a test to detect deceit in Masters"?

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. -- Confucius
"Why are you so wary of thought"? said the philosopher.
Thought is the one tool we have for organizing the world".
"True. But thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it".

To his disciples he later said, "A thought is a screen, not a mirror; that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality".

We understand why children are afraid of darkness,
but why are men afraid of light? -- Plato
To the disciples' embarrassment the Master once told a bishop that religious people have a natural bent for cruelty.

"Why"? demanded the disciples after the bishop had gone.

"Because they all too easily sacrifice persons for the advancement of a purpose", said the Master.

Be aware that a halo has to fall only a few inches to be a noose. -- Dan McKinnon
To a disciple who was forever complaining about others the Master said, "If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth".

The paradox of control is simple. The more we try to control life, the less control we have. -- Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

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