Awareness by Anthony DeMello

IBSN: 0 00 627519 2
Read: 23-08-16
Rating: 09/10
Wake up! – Anthony De Mello
Review
What did I learn from this book? …I didn’t learn so much as realise what I knew already… DeMello tells it like is. He tells us to “wake up” and realise that everything we need is right here in front of us.
The big personal takeaway for me was that I have spent my adult life chasing things – I got lost in doing. Run a marathon, cycle a stage in the Tour de France, get a qualification, get a car, get a promotion. They were my goals. From reading Awareness I have realised that this kind of chasing is what causes suffering. Suffering in the form of anxiety, indecision and self-sabotage.
We tell ourselves that “stuff” will make us happy. I remember completing my insurance exams and feeling deflated. I was thinking, “now what?” Then I tried accountancy exams but that didn’t solve anything. It’s only since I’ve been practicing mindfulness and reading teachers like DeMello that I understand that everything is already here. I just need to wake up and see it.


Highlighted passages
Most of what we feel and think we conjure up for ourselves, including this business of being helped by people.
 
You are never in love with anyone, you’re in love with your prejudiced idea of that person.
 
The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take in one go.
 
Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known.
 
Stop feeling bad about being selfish; we’re all the same.
 
We differ from others – from criminals for example – only in what we do or don’t do, not in what we are.
 
You want to hope for something better than you have right now, don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t be hoping. But then, you forget that you have it all right now anyway, and you don’t know it. Why not concentrate on the now instead of hoping for better times in the future? Why not understand the now instead of forgetting it and hoping for the future? Isn’t the future just another trap?
 
The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas.
 
The reason you suffer from your depression and you anxieties is that you identify with them.
 
You are not your depression.
 
Clouds come and go: some of them are black and some white, some of them large, others small.
 
When there’s something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline.
 
If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you’re ok , you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you’re not good.
 
You’re not ok and your not not ok, you’re you.
 
Suffering exists in “me”, so when you identify “I” with “me”, suffering begins.
 
Grief is a sign I made my happiness depend on this thing or person
 
Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed: after enlightenment, I continue to be depressed.
 
Did you think happiness was excitement or thrills? That’s what causes depression. Didn’t anyone tell you that? You’re thrilled, all right, but you’re just preparing the way for your next depression. You’re thrilled but you pick up anxiety behind that: how can I make it last? That’s not happiness, that’s addiction.
 
There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss as this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or go using on what you don’t have.
 
The person who is truly nonviolent, who is incapable of violence, is the person who is fearless.
 
The unaware life is not worth living.
 
What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.
 
Just be aware of where your attention goes
 
Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions.
 
You’re a success in life when you wake up.
 
If I change my profession tomorrow, it’s just like changing my clothes. I am untouched.
 
The person who is asleep always thinks he’ll feel better if somebody else changes.
 
We see things and people not as they are but as we are.
 
Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the negative feelings in you; (b) understand that they are in you, not the world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go; (d) understand that when you change, everything changes.
 
To say no to people – that’s wonderful; that’s part of waking up. Part of waking up is that you live your life as you see fit. And understand: that is not selfish. The selfish thing is to demand that someone else live their life as you see fit. That’s selfish. It is not selfish to live your life as you see fit. The selfishness lies in demanding that someone else live their life to suit your tastes, or your pride, or your profit, or your pleasure. That is truly selfish.
 
Stop trying to push yourself somewhere. Then someday you will understand that simply by awareness you have already attained what you were pushing for.
 
Nobody cam ever reject you; they’re only rejecting what they think you are. But that cuts both ways. Nobody accepts you either. Until people come awake they, they are accepting or rejecting their image of you.
 
Before enlightenment I used to be depressed. After enlightenment I continue to be depressed.
 
Reality provides the stimulus, you provide the reaction.
 
“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again”.
 
Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within you and around you.
 
When we start off in life, we look at reality with wonder, but it isn’t the intelligent wonder if the Mystics; it’s the formless wonder for the child. Then wonder does and is replaced by boredom, as we develop language and words and concepts. Then hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll return to wonder again.
 
“All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly” – Thomas Aquinas
 
If you’re attached to appreciation and praise, you’re going to view people in terms for their threat to your attachment or their fostering of your attachment.
 
How can you love people when you need people? You can only use them.
 
“The day you cease to travel, you will have arrived”
 
Loneliness is when you’re missing people, aloneness is when you’re enjoying yourself.
 
Until you are aware of yourself, you have no right to interfere with anyone or with the world. Now, the danger of attempting to change others or change things when you yourself are not aware is that you may be changing things for your own convenience, your pride, your dogmatic convictions and beliefs, or just to relieve your negative feelings.
 
Wisdom occurs when you drop barriers you have erected through your concepts and conditioning. 
 
I’m satisfied with very little and I enjoy it intensely.
 
Slow down and taste and smell and hear, and let your senses come alive.
 
An Italian poet said, “we live in a flash of light; evening come and it is night forever.” It’s only a flash and we waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens.
 
How would you ever get there? By a ceaseless awareness, by the infinite patience and compassion you would have for the drug addict. By developing a taste for the good things in life to counter the craving for your drug. What good things? The love of work which you enjoy doing for the love of itself; the love of laughter and intimacy with people to whom you do not cling and on whom you do not depend emotionally but whose company you enjoy. It will also help if you take on activities that you can do with your whole being, activities that you so love to do that while you’re engaged in them success, recognition, and approval simple do not mean a thing to you. It will help, too, if you return. Send the crows away, go up to the mountains, and silently commune with trees and flowers and animals and birds, with sea and clouds and sky and stars. I’ve told you what a spiritual exercise it is to gaze at things, to be aware of things around you. Hopefully, the words will drop, the concepts will drop and you will see, you will make contact with reality. That is the cure for loneliness. Generally, we seek to cure our loneliness through gregariousness and noise. That is no cure. Get back to things, get back to nature, go up in the mountains. Then you will know that your heart has brought you to the vast desert of solitude, there is no one there at your side, absolutely no one.
 
Living is to have dropped all the impediments and to live in the present moment with freshness.
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