Spiritwalk Readings: Anthony de Mello ~ One Minute Meditations

  

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Readings

Anthony deMello

 

 

Meditations from ONE MINUTE WISDOM

Please read this before proceeding

 

 

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BELIEF

 
The Master had quoted Aristotle:
"In the quest of truth,
it would seem better and indeed necessary
to give up what is dearest to us."
And he substituted the word "God" for "truth."
 
Later a disciple said to him,
"I am ready, in the quest for God,
to give up anything:
wealth, friends, family, country, life itself.
What else can a person give up?"
 
The Master calmly replied,
"One's beliefs about God."
 
The disciple went away sad,
for he clung to his convictions.
He feared "ignorance" more than death.
 

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DOCTRINE

To a visitor who claimed he had no need
to search for Truth
because he
found it
in the beliefs of his religion
the Master said:

"There was once a student
who never became a mathematician
because he blindly believed the answers he found
at the back of his math textbook
—and, ironically, the answers were correct."

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SIN

 

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."

 

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BENEVOLENCE

A grocer came to the Master in great distress to say
that across the way from his shop they had opened
a large chain store  that would drive him out of business.
His family had owned his shop for a century ~
and to lose it now would be his undoing,
for there was nothing else he was skilled at.
 
Said the Master,
"If you fear the owner of the chain store,
you will hate him.
And hatred will be your undoing."

"What shall I do?" said the distraught grocer.

"Each morning walk out of your shop onto the sidewalk
and bless your shop, wishing it prosperity.
Then turn to face the chain store and bless it too."

"What? Bless my competitor and destroyer?"

"Any blessing you give him will rebound to your good.
Any evil you wish him will destroy you."
 
After six months the grocer returned to report
that he had had to close down his shop as he had feared,
but he was now in charge of the chain store
and his affairs were in better shape than ever before.

 

 
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REVELATION

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.
12/27/98


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THOUGHT
 
"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."
12/26/98

 

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NOISE

Each day the Master would be inundated with questions
that he would reply to seriously, playfully, gently, firmly.
One disciple always sat through each session in silence.
 
When someone questioned her about it, she said,
"I hardly hear a word he says.
I am too distracted by his Silence."
12/25/98

 

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TRUST

The Master would frequently assert that holiness
was less a matter of what one did
than of what one allowed to happen.
 
To a group of disciples who had difficulty understanding that
he told the following story:
 
"There was once a one-legged dragon who said to the centipede,
'How do you manage all those legs?
It is all I can do to manage one.'
 
'To tell you the truth,' said the centipede,
'I do not manage them at all.'"

12/24/98              

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REALIZATION

"What did Enlightenment bring you?"

"Joy."

"And what is Joy?"

"The realization that when everything is lost you have only lost a toy."
 
12/23/98
 

 

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PRESENCE

When the disciples asked for a model of spirituality
that they could imitate,
all that the Master said was:
"Hush! Listen."

And as they listened to the sounds
of the night outside the monastery,
the Master softly intoned the celebrated haiku:

"Of an early death
showing no awareness
the cicada sings."
12/22/98

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HEAVEN
 
To a disciple who was obsessed
with the thought of life after death
the Master said,
"Why waste a single moment
thinking of the hereafter?"

"But is it possible not to?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"By living in heaven here and now."

"And where is this heaven?"

"In the here and now."
12/21/98
 

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NATURE


A lecturer explained how a fraction

of the enormous sums spent on arms in the modern world
would solve all the material problems
of every member of the human race.


The inevitable reaction of the disciples after the lecture was:
"But why are human beings so stupid?"

"Because," said the Master solemnly,
"people have learned to read printed books.
They have forgotten the art of reading unprinted ones."

"Give us an example of an unprinted book."

But the Master wouldn't give one.

One day, in response to their persistence, he said:
"The songs of birds, the sounds of insects are all trumpeting forth the Truth.
The grasses and the flowers are all pointing out the Way.
Listen!
Look!
That is the way to read!"

12/20/98

                                                                                                                       

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RESTRICTION
 
The Master was exceedingly gracious to university dons who visited him,
but he would never reply to their questions
or be drawn into their theological speculations.

To his disciples, who marveled at this, he said,
"Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well ~
or about the divine to people
who are restricted by their concepts?"

12/19/98

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MORTALITY

 

To a disciple who begged for wisdom the Master said,
"Try this out: Close your eyes and see yourself and
every living being thrown off the top of a precipice.
 
Each time you cling to something to stop yourself from falling,
understand that it is falling too . . ."

The disciple tried it out and never was the same again.

12/18/98

 

 

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ADVENTURE

 

The theme of the Master's talk was Life.

One day he told of meeting a pilot who flew laborers from China
into Burma during World War II to work on jungle roads.
The flight was long and boring, so the laborers would take to gambling.
Since they had no money to gamble with, they gambled with their lives –
the loser jumped out of the plane without a parachute!
"How terrible!" said the horrified disciples.

"True," said the Master. "But it made the game exciting."

Later in the day he said,
"You never live so fully as when you gamble with your lives."
 
12/17/98

 

 

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FLOW
 
When it became clear that the Master was going to die,
the disciples were depressed.

Said the Master smilingly,
"Don't you see that death gives loveliness to life?"

"No. We'd much rather you never died."

"Whatever is truly alive must die.
Look at the flowers; only plastic flowers never die."

12/16/98
 
 

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UNIVERSALITY     

 
The Master ordinarily dissuaded people from living in a monastery.

"To profit from books you don't have to live in a library," he would say.

Or, even more forcefully,
"You can read books without ever stepping into a library;
 
and practice spirituality
without ever going to a temple."
 
12/15/98
 
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BEATITUDE


The disconsolate stockbroker lost a fortune
and came to the monastery in search of inner peace.
 
But he was too distraught to meditate.

After he had gone, the Master
had a single sentence by way of wry comment:
"Those who sleep on the floor never fall from their beds."
12/14/98

 
 
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WISDOM

 

It always pleased the Master to hear people recognize their ignorance.

"Wisdom tends to grow in proportion
to one's awareness of one's ignorance,"
he claimed.

When asked for an explanation, he said,
"When you come to see you are not as wise today
as you thought you were yesterday,
you are wiser today."
12/12/98

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From Anthony de Mello's collection of meditations, One Minute Wisdom

 

 

MORE ONE MINUTE WISDOM

 

 

 

MIRACLES


A man traversed land and sea to check for himself the Master's extraordinary fame.

"What miracles has your Master worked?" he said to a disciple.

"Well, there are miracles and miracles. In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does
someone's will. In our country it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



INCOMPETENCE


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."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 



REVOLUTION


There were rules in the monastery, but the Master always warned against the tyranny of the
law.

"Obedience keeps the rules," he would say. "Love knows when to break them."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


VIOLENCE


The Master was always teaching that guilt is an evil emotion to be avoided like the very devil
— all guilt.

"But are we not to hate our sins?" a disciple said one day.

"When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



LIGHTHEARTEDNESS


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.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


ACCEPTANCE


"How can I be a great man - like you?"

"Why be a great man?" said the Master. "Being a man is a great enough achievement."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


BLINDNESS


"May I become your disciple?"

"You are only a disciple because your eyes are closed. The day you open them you will see
there is nothing you can learn from me or anyone."

"What then is a Master for?"

"To make you see the uselessness of having one."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


CHANGE


The visiting historian was disposed to be argumentative.

"Do not our efforts change the course of human history?" he demanded.

"Oh yes, they do," said the Master.

"And have not our human labours changed the earth?"

"They certainly have," said the Master.

"Then why do you teach that human effort is of little consequence?"

Said the Master, "Because when the wind subsides, the leaves still fall."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



ADULTHOOD


To a disciple who was always at his prayers the Master said, "When will you stop leaning on
God and stand on your own two feet?"

The disciple was astonished. "But you are the one who taught us to look on God as Father!"

"When will you learn that a father isn't someone you can lean on but someone who rids you of
your tendency to lean?"

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


PRAYER


The Master never ceased to attack the notions about God that people entertain.

"If your God comes to your rescue and gets you out of trouble," he would say, "it is time you
started searching for the true God."

When asked to elaborate, this is the story he told:

"A man left a brand-new bicycle unattended at the marketplace while he went about his
shopping.

He only remembered the bicycle the following day - and rushed to the marketplace, expecting
it would have been stolen. The bicycle was exactly where he had left it.

Overwhelmed with joy, he rushed to a nearby temple to thank God for having kept his bicycle
safe only to find, when he got out of the temple, that the bicycle was gone."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


MEANING


Said a traveler to one of the disciples, "I have traveled a great distance to listen to the
Master, but I find his words quite ordinary."

"Don't listen to his words. Listen to his message."

"How does one do that?"

"Take hold of a sentence that he says. Shake it well till all the words drop off. What is left will
set your heart on fire."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


FEARLESSNESS


"What is love?"

"The total absence of fear," said the Master.

"What is it we fear?"

"Love," said the Master.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


LOVE


A newly married couple said, "What shall we do to make our love endure?"

Said the Master, "Love other things together."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 


IRRELEVANCE


All questions at the public meeting that day were about life beyond the grave.

The Master only laughed and did not give a single answer.

To his disciples, who demanded to know the reason for his evasiveness, he later said, "Have
you observed that it is precisely those who do not know what to do with this life who want
another that will last forever?"

"But is there life after death or is there not?" persisted a disciple.

"Is there life before death? - that is the question!" said the Master enigmatically.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


TOTALITARIANISM


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.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 



SLEEPWALKING


The Master's expansive mood emboldened his disciples to say, "Tell us what you got from
Enlightenment. Did you become divine?"

"No."

"Did you become a saint?"

"No."

"Then what did you become?"

"Awake."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


SPEECH


The disciple couldn't wait to tell the Master the rumour he had heard in the marketplace.

"Wait a minute," said the Master. "What you plan to tell us, is it true?"

"I don't think it is."

"Is it useful?"

"No, it isn't."

"Is it funny?"

"No."

"Then why should we be hearing it?"

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


AGGRESSION


A zealous disciple expressed a desire to teach others the Truth and asked the Master what he
thought about this. The Master said, "Wait."

Each year the disciple would return with the same request and each time the Master would
give him the same reply: "Wait."

One day he said to the Master, "When will I be ready to teach?"

Said the Master, "When your excessive eagerness to teach has left you."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


HEALING


To a distressed person who came to him for help the Master said, "Do you really want a cure"

"If I did not, would I bother to come to you?"

"Oh yes Most people do."

"What for?"

"Not for a cure. That's painful. For relief."

To his disciples the Master said, "People who want a cure, provided they can have it without
pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


AWARENESS


"Is salvation obtained through action or through meditation?"

"Through neither. Salvation comes from seeing."

"Seeing what?"

"That the gold necklace you wish to acquire is hanging round your neck. That the snake you
are so frightened of is only a rope on the ground."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 


BELIEF


The Master had quoted Aristotle: "In the quest of truth, it would seem better and indeed
necessary to give up what is dearest to us." And he substituted the word "God" for "truth."

Later a disciple said to him, "I am ready, in the quest for God, to give up anything: wealth,
friends, family, country, life itself. What else can a person give up?"

The Master calmly replied, "One's beliefs about God."

The disciple went away sad, for he clung to his convictions. He feared "ignorance" more than
death.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 



IDENTITY


"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."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


TRANSFORMATION


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."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



RESTRICTION


The Master was exceedingly gracious to university dons who visited him, but he would never
reply to their questions or be drawn into their theological speculations.

To his disciples, who marveled at this, he said, "Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a
well — or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?"

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


DARING


Said a disappointed visitor, "Why has my stay here yielded no fruit?"

"Could it be because you lacked the courage to shake the tree?" said the Master benignly.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 


EXPANSION


The Master sat in rapt attention as the renowned economist explained his blueprint for
development.

"Should growth be the only consideration in an economic theory?" he asked.

"Yes. All growth is good in itself."

"Isn't that the thinking of the cancer cell?" said the Master.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 



HAPPINESS


"I am in desperate need of help — or I'll go crazy. We're living in a single room — my wife,
my children and my in-laws. So our nerves are on edge, we yell and scream at one another. The
room is a hell."

"Do you promise to do whatever I tell you?" said the Master gravely.

"I swear I shall do anything."

"Very well. How many animals do you have?"

"A cow, a goat and six chickens."

"Take them all into the room with you. Then come back after a week."

The disciple was appalled. But he had promised to obey! So he took the animals in. A week
later he came back, a pitiable figure, moaning, "I'm a nervous wreck. The dirt! The stench!
The noise! We're all on the verge of madness!"

"Go back," said the Master, "and put the animals out."

The man ran all the way home. And came back the following day, his eyes sparkling with joy.
"How sweet life is! The animals are out. The home is a Paradise, so quiet and clean and
roomy!"

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 



DISCIPLESHIP


To a visitor who asked to become his disciple the Master said, "You may live with me, but
don't become my follower."

"Whom, then, shall I follow?"

"No one. The day you follow someone you cease to follow Truth."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



DISCOVERY


"Help us to find God."

"No one can help you there."

"Why not?"

"For the same reason that no one can help the fish to find the ocean."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 



UNIVERSALITY


The Master ordinarily dissuaded people from living in a monastery.

"To profit from books you don't have to live in a library," he would say.

Or, even more forcefully, "You can read books without ever stepping into a library; and
practice spirituality without ever going to a temple."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


PROPHECY


"I wish to become a teacher of the Truth."

"Are you prepared to be ridiculed, ignored and starving till you are forty-five?"

"I am. But tell me: What will happen after I am forty-five?"

"You will have grown accustomed to it."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


MYTHS


The Master gave his teaching in parables and stories, which his disciples listened to with
pleasure — and occasional frustration, for they longed for something deeper.

The Master was unmoved. To all their objections he would say, "You have yet to understand,
my dears, that the shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story."

Another time he said, "Do not despise the story. A lost gold coin is found by means of a penny
candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 



DOCTRINE


To a visitor who claimed he had no need to search for Truth because he found it in the beliefs
of his religion the Master said:

"There was once a student who never became a mathematician because he blindly believed the
answers he found at the back of his math textbook - and, ironically, the answers were correct."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


HUMILITY


To a visitor who described himself as a seeker after Truth the Master said, "If what you seek
is Truth, there is one thing you must have above all else."

"I know. An overwhelming passion for it."

"No. An unremitting readiness to admit you may be wrong."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


IGNORANCE


The young disciple was such a prodigy that scholars from everywhere sought his advice and
marveled at his learning.

When the governor was looking for an adviser, he came to the Master and said, "Tell me, is it
true that the young man knows as much as they say he does?"

"Truth to tell," said the Master wryly, "the fellow reads so much I don't see how he could ever
find the time to know anything."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


HUMANITY


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."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


REALISM


A gambler once said to the Master, "I was caught cheating at cards yesterday, so my partners
beat me up and threw me out of the window. What would you advise me to do?"

The Master looked straight through the man and said, "If I were you, from now on I would
play on the ground floor."

This startled the disciples. "Why didn't you tell him to stop gambling?" they demanded.

"Because I knew he wouldn't," was the Master's simple and sagacious explanation.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 

 


SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS


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.

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


RECOGNITION


As the Master grew old and infirm, the disciples begged him not to die. Said the Master, "If I
did not go, how would you ever see?"

"What is it we fail to see when you are with us?" they asked.

But the Master would not say.

When the moment of his death was near, they said, "What is it we will see when you are
gone?"

With a twinkle in his eye, the Master said, "All I did was sit on the riverbank handing out river
water. After I'm gone, I trust you will notice the river."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


VANITY


The Master frequently reminded his disciples that holiness, like beauty, is only genuine when
unselfconscious. He loved to quote the verse:

"She blooms because she blooms,
the Rose:
Does not ask why,
nor does she preen herself
to catch my eye."

And the saying: "A saint is a saint until he knows that he is one."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


IMITATION


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 behaviour," 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?"

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


INSIGHT


The disciples were involved in a heated discussion on the cause of human suffering.

Some said it came from selfishness. Others, from delusion. Yet others, from the inability to
distinguish the real from the unreal.

When the Master was consulted, he said, "All suffering comes from a person's inability to sit
still and be alone."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


PROJECTION


"Why is everyone here so happy except me?"

"Because they have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere," said the Master.

"Why don't I see goodness and beauty everywhere?"

"Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside."

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 

 


SURVIVAL


Each day the disciple would ask the same question: "How shall I find God?"

And each day he would get the same mysterious answer: "Through desire."

"But I desire God with all my heart, don't I? Then why have I not found him?"

One day the Master happened to be bathing in the river with the disciple. He pushed the man's
head underwater and held it there while the poor fellow struggled desperately to break loose.

Next day it was the Master who began the conversation. "Why did you struggle so when I held
your head under water?"

"Because I was gasping for air."

"When you are given the grace to gasp for God the way you gasped for air, you will have found
him.'

Anthony de Mello, SJ

 

 


"Never complain about what you permit."

 

 



THE SOURCE OF THE
DE MELLO WRITINGS

A note from Scott Reeves


As part of our ministry we send out daily meditations. The most fun and amusing
of all of our meditations are drawn from the the writings of a Jesuit priest named
Anthony de Mello, SJ. from his book One Minute Wisdom.

Each spiritual anecdote is a conversation between the Master and his disciples.

To explain what these little gems are we scanned the following from the
Introduction of the book:

"The Master in these tales is not a single person. He is a Hindu Guru, a Zen Roshi,
a Taoist Sage, a Jewish Rabbi, a Christian Monk, a Sufi Mystic. He is Lao-tzu 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. Do his historical antecedents really matter?   History, after all,
is the record of appearances, not Reality; of doctrines, not of Silence.

"It will only take a minute to read each one. You will probably find the Master's
language baffling, exasperating, even downright meaningless."

As DeMello says of his work: "This, alas, is not an easy book! It was written not to
instruct but to Awaken. Concealed within its pages (not in the printed words, not
even in the tales, but in its spirit, its mood, its atmosphere) is a Wisdom which
cannot be conveyed in human speech. As you read the printed page and struggle
with the Master's cryptic language, it is possible that you will unwittingly chance
upon the Silent Teaching that lurks within the book, and be Awakened and transformed.
This is what Wisdom means: To be changed without the slightest effort on your part,
to be transformed, believe it or not, merely by waking to the reality that is not words,
that lies beyond the reach of words.

"If you are fortunate enough to be Awakened thus, you will know why the finest
language is the one that is not spoken, the finest action is the one that is not done
and the finest change is the one that is not willed."

HE THEN CAUTIONS: "Take the tales in tiny doses, one or two at a time. An overdose will
lower their potency."

So that is what we are doing. Sending one or two at a time for you to meditate on,
chuckle, and carry with you through the day.

So welcome aboard. . . and enjoy. . . and may it all contribute to your spiritual growth.

Scott

Scott Reeves <ScottR@Spiritus.Org>
Trusted Servant
The Spiritus Ministry
The Recovery Foundation


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