About Anthony de Mello

Anthony de Mello (1931 – 1987) was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker, de Mello wrote several books on spirituality and hosted numerous spiritual retreats and conferences.  Wikipedia

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Anthony de Mello (quotes)

Principles to live by



  • If the heart is unobstructed, the result is love.
  • You can will an act of service but you cannot will love.
  • Obedience keeps the rules. Love knows when to break them.
  • The human mind makes foolish divisions in what love sees as one.
  • What is love?; “The total absence of fear,” said the Master; “What is it we fear?”; “Love,” said the Master.
  • You are never in love with anyone. You’re only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person.
  • A newly married couple said, “What shall we do to make our love endure?” Said the Master, “Love other things together”.
  • Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something you have; love is something that has you.
  • The important religious distinction is not between those who worship and those who do not worship but between those who love and those who don’t.
  • What is a loving heart? A loving heart is sensitive to the whole of life, to all persons; a loving heart doesn’t harden itself to any persons or things.
  • Has it ever occurred to you that you can only love when you are alone? What does it mean to love? It means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves. You cannot love what you do not even see.
  • If you ever allow yourself to see it will be the death of you. And that is why love is so terrifying, for to love is to see and to see is to die. But it is the most delightful exhilarating experience in the whole world. For in the death of the ego is freedom, peace, serenity, joy.
  • Is it possible for the rose to say, I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad? Or is it possible for the lamp to say, I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people? Or can a tree say, I’ll give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad? These are images of what love is about.
  • It’s only when you become love – in other words, when you have dropped your illusions and attachments – that you will “know.” As you identify less and less with the “me,” you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything.
  • One day, a philosopher asked, “What is the purpose of creation?” “Lovemaking,” said the Master. Later, to his disciples, he said, “Before creation, love was. After creation, love was made. When love is consummated, creation will cease to be, and love will be forever.”
  • Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you.
  • 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. Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something you have; love is something that has you.

Do what you love

  • You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself, whether it succeeds or not, whether you are praised for it or not, whether you are loved and rewarded for it or not, whether people know about it and are grateful to you for it or not. How many activities can you count in your life that you engage in simply because they delight you and grip your soul? Find them out, cultivate them, for they are your passport to freedom and to love.

Love the present

  • Say goodbye to golden yesterdays: or your heart will never learn to love the present.
  • The present moment is never intolerable. What’s intolerable is what’s going to happen in the next four hours. To have your body here at 8 pm and your mind at 10:30 pm, that’s what causes us suffering.


  • Everything passes, everything.


  • We live in a flash of light; evening comes and it is night forever. It’s only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens.
  • My experience is that it’s precisely the ones who don’t know what to do with this life who are all hot and bothered about what they are going to do with another life.
  • One year of life is worth more than twenty years of hibernation.


  • Wisdom can be learned. But it cannot be taught.
  • 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.
  • Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.
  • When you come to see you are not as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.


  • My commitment is not to consistency but to the Truth.
  • If what you said was true, where was the need to shout?
  • Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth.
  • Sinners often speak the truth. And saints have led people astray. Examine what is said, not the one who says it.
  • True tolerance only arises from a keen awareness of the abysmal ignorance of everyone as far as truth is concerned.
  • As the Japanese Zen masters say, Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions. Drop your theories; don’t seek the truth.
  • If you make me your authority, you harm yourself because you will not see things for yourself, and you harm me too because you refuse to see me as I am.
  • 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.
  • It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear!
  • A disciple was one day recalling how Buddha , Jesus , Mohammed were branded as rebels and heretics by their contemporaries. Said the Master, Nobody can be said to have attained the pinnacle of Truth until a thousand sincere people have denounced him for blasphemy .
  • It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear!
  • 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 .

…in the form of stories

  • A story is the shortest distance between a human being and truth.
  • Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.
  • A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.
  • You have to understand, my dears, that the shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story.
  • When God means you to be a healer he sends you patients; when he makes you a teacher he sends you pupils; when he destines you to be a Master he sends you stories.
  • EAT YOUR OWN FRUIT A disciple once complained, You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us. Said the master, How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and masticated it before giving it to you? No one can find your meaning for you. Not even the master.

Waking up

  • 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.
  • 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.

Spiritual realisation

  • The spiritual quest is a journey without distance. You travel from where you are right now To where you have always been. From ignorance to recognition.
  • 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.
  • The words of the scholar are to be understood. The words of the master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.


  • Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality. Understand your false beliefs and they will drop; then you will know the taste of happiness.
  • You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You dont change. But when you understand it, it changes.

Life is easy and hard

  • Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings.

All is well

  • All is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well.
  • 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. Though 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.


  • Nothing has changed but my attitude, therefore, everything has changed.


  • Enlightenment is: absolute cooperation with the inevitable.
  • The greatest learning of the ages lies in accepting life exactly as it comes to us.
  • My former master taught me to accept birth and death. “Then what have you come to me for?” asked the master. “To learn to accept what lies in between.”
  • A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him. Finally he wrote the department of agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?” In due course the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.”


  • What is the secret of your serenity? Said the master: “Wholehearted cooperation with the inevitable.”
  • Are there ways for gauging one’s spiritual strength? Many. Give us one. Find out how often you become disturbed in the course of a single day.
  • When you get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding… you can be yourself. Relaxed. You’ll no longer be driving with your brakes on.
  • 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.

Letting go of attachments

  • We do not have a fear of the unknown. What we fear is giving up the known.
  • You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something.
  • When you cling, life is destroyed; when you hold on to anything, you cease to live.
  • The secret is to renounce nothing, cling to nothing, enjoy everything and allow it to pass, to flow.
  • What you usually call your happiness is actually your chain: Your job, your home, your possessions.
  • As the great Confucius said, ‘The one who would be in constant happiness must frequently change.’ But we keep looking back, don’t we? We cling to things in the past and cling to things in the present… Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don’t hold on to a few bars of the music. Don’t hold on to a couple of notes. Let them pass, let them flow. The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow the notes to pass.
  • If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is attachment. What is an attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.
  • The tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness – it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness, and it is always accompanied, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment.
  • You’re so ashamed of your past; drop it! You’re so proud of your past; drop it!

The answer within

  • You have within yourself the answer to every question you propose – if you only knew how to look for it. In the Land of the spirit, you cannot walk by the light of someone else’s lamp.  You want to borrow mine.  I’d rather teach you how to make your own.

To know that we don’t know

  • This is what is ultimate in our human knowledge of God, to know that we do not know.
  • The seeker says, “I do not know.” That takes honesty. The master says, “I do not know.” That takes a mystic’s mind that knows things through non-knowing. The disciple says, “I know.” That takes ignorance, in the form of borrowed knowledge.

Letting go of concepts

  • Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?
  • You are so proud of your intelligence,” said the master. “You are like a like a condemned man, proud of the vastness of his prison cell.
  • As one man said, “I got a pretty good education. It took me years to get over it.” That’s what spirituality is all about, you know: unlearning. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you.
  • The Master persistently warned against the attempt to encompass Reality in a concept or a name. A scholar in mysticism once asked, “When you speak of BEING, sir, is it eternal, transcendent being you speak of, or transient, contingent being?” The Master closed his eyes in thought. Then he opened them, put on his most disarming expression, and said, “Yes!”
  • The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-Tzu’s dictum: “Those who know, do not say; Those who say, do not know.” When the master entered, they asked him what the words meant. Said the master, “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?” All of them indicated that they knew. Then he said, “Put it into words.” All of them were silent.

The absence of self

  • Silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of self.
  • The important thing is not to know who “I” is or what “I” is. You’ll never succeed. There are no words for it. The important thing is to drop the labels.
  • What is my identity ?” “Nothing,” said the Master. “You mean that I am an emptiness and a void?” said the incredulous disciple. “Nothing that can be labeled.” said the Master.
  • Are you your clothes? Are you your name? Are you your profession? Stop identifying with them. They come and go.

Transcending the ego

  • To those who seek to protect their ego true Peace brings only disturbance.
  • One always treads with a joyful step when one has dropped the burden called the ego.
  • A disciple asked, “Who is a Master?” The Master replied, “Anyone to whom it is given to let go of the ego. Such a person’s life is then a masterpiece.
  • As you identify less and less with the “me”, you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don’t have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last!


  • Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop illusions. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!
  • If you want to know what it means to be happy, look at a flower, a bird, a child; they are perfect images of the kingdom. For they live from moment to moment in the eternal now with no past and no future.
  • Most cultures understand happiness to mean, ‘You get what you want so you are happy!’ But that’s not happiness. That’s a thrill… that’s getting what you want. But thrills, fun and pleasure are NOT happiness. What are they? They’re thrills, they’re fun, they’re pleasure…they are not happiness. Happiness is a state of non- attachment.
  • The day you are happy for no reason whatsoever, the day you find yourself taking delight in everything and in nothing, you will know that you have found the land of unending joy called the kingdom.
  • The poor think they will be happy when they become rich. The rich think they will be happy when they are rid of their ulcers.
  • The master never seemed to have his fill of gazing at his firstborn child. “What do you want him to be when he grows up?” someone asked. “Outrageously happy,” said the master.

The finger pointing to the moon

  • When the sage points at the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger.
  • A religious belief is not a statement about Reality, but a hint, a clue about something that is a mystery, beyond the grasp of human thought. In short, a religious belief is only a finger pointing to the moon. Some religious people never get beyond the study of the finger. Others are engaged in sucking it. Others yet use the finger to gouge their eyes out. These are the bigots whom religion has made blind. Rare indeed is the religionist who is sufficiently detached from the finger to see what it is indicating – these are those who, having gone beyond belief, are taken for blasphemers.


  • There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have….But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.


  • Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.
  • There is no explanation you can give that will explain away all the sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger in the world! You’ll never explain it. Because life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense of it. For that you’ve got to wake up and then you’ll suddenly realize that reality is not the problem, you are the problem.


  • What is the work of a Master?” said a solemn-faced visitor. “To teach people to laugh ,” said the Master gravely.


  • The content of your awareness is less important than the quality of the awareness.
  • What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.
  • There’s nothing so delightful as being aware. Would you rather live in darkness? Would you rather act 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.
  • 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.
  • I’m talking about self-observation. It means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else.


  • When I speak, you must not listen to the words, my dear. Listen to the Silence.
  • If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance.… In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence.… If only you practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence … after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence.

Risk taking

  • Life is for the gambler, it really is.
  • Take the leap! You cannot cross a chasm in little jumps.
  • People who deliberate fully before they take a step will spend their lives on one leg.
  • Live dangerously, and when I say ‘Live dangerously,’ I mean live according to your own self, whatever the cost. Whatever is at stake, live according to your own consciousness, according to your own heart and feeling.


  • If you never condemned you would never need to forgive.


  • The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song — not one. Not two.


  • Don’t ask the world to change….you change first.
  • The only way to change is by changing your understanding.
  • The one who would be constant in happiness must frequently change.
  • 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.

Potential and possibility

  • A writer arrived at the monastery to write a book about the Master. “People say you are a genius . Are you?” he asked. “You might say so.” said the Master, none too modestly. “And what makes one a genius?” “The ability to recognize.” “Recognize what?” “The butterfly in a caterpillar: the eagle in an egg; the saint in a selfish human being.


  • All that you give to others you are giving to yourself.


  • Repentance brings an intense desire for God, deep gratitude, and a growth in self-awareness that increases our freedom to love.


  • There was an exhausted woodcutter who kept wasting time and energy chopping wood with a blunt axe because he did not have the time, he said, to stop and sharpen the blade.


  • Of what use is it to be tolerant of others if you are convinced that you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? That isn’t tolerance but condescension.

Being free of the herd

  • Isn’t there such a thing as social liberation?” “Of course there is,” said the Master. “How would you describe it?” “Liberation from the need to belong to the herd.
  • A nice definition of an awakened person: a person who no longer marches to the drums of society, a person who dances to the tune of the music that springs up from within.
  • Most people don’t live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts – generally somebody else’s – mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions.


  • My life is like shattered glass. said the visitor. My soul is tainted with evil. Is there any hope for me? Yes, said the Master. There is something whereby each broken thing is bound again and every stain made clean. What? Forgiveness Whom do I forgive? Everyone: Life, God, your neighbor especially yourself. How is that done? By understanding that no one is to blame, said the Master. NO ONE.


  • If you don’t look at things through your concepts, you’ll never be bored. Every single thing is unique.

Things that can limit us



  • Can one be fully human without experiencing tragedy? The only tragedy there is in the world is ignorance; all evil comes from that.
  • Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.


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


  • Certainty is the culprit. The spiritual person knows uncertainty—a state of mind unknown to the religious fanatic.


  • As soon as you look at the world through an ideology, you are finished. No reality fits ideology.


  • Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality.

False beliefs

  • There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.


  • All suffering comes from a person’s inability to sit still and be alone.
  • Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth.
  • Do you want a sign that you’re asleep? Here it is: you’re suffering. Suffering is a sign that you’re out of touch with the truth. Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, that you might understand that there’s falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality, when your falsehoods clash with truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.
  • Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.
  • The present moment is never intolerable. What’s intolerable is what’s going to happen in the next four hours. To have your body here at 8 pm and your mind at 10:30 pm, that’s what causes us suffering.


  • No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you. No event, condition, situation, or person. Nobody told you this; they told you the opposite. That’s why you’re in the mess you’re in right now. That is why you’re asleep. They never told you this. But it’s self-evident.

Negative feelings

  • Never identify with that feeling. It has nothing to do with the ‘I.’ Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, ‘I am depressed.’ If you want to say, ‘It is depressed,’ that’s all right. If you want to say that depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say gloominess is there, that’s fine. But not: I am gloomy. You’re defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake. There is a depression there right now, but let it be, leave it alone. It will pass. Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are swings of the pendulum.
  • Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. Stop trying to change reality. That’s crazy! Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else. We don’t have to change anything. Negative feelings are in you.


  • Sin is a refusal to grow, a refusal to love, a refusal to get committed, to be concerned, and to take risks.

Fighting and resisting

  • When you fight something, you’re tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it, you’re giving it power.
  • When you renounce something, you’re tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don’t renounce it, see through it. Understand its true value and you won’t.
  • How does one cope with evil? Not by fighting it but by understanding it. In understanding, it disappears. How does one cope with darkness? Not with one’s fist. You don’t chase darkness out of the room with a broom, you turn on a light. The more you fight darkness, the more real it becomes to you, and the more you exhaust yourself. But when you turn on the light of awareness, it melts.


  • Rare indeed, is the relationship in which the other is not cultivated for what one can get for oneself.
  • Live your life as you see fit. That’s not selfish. Selfish is to demand that others live their lives as you see fit.

Thoughts on…



  • Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.
  • The Master would insist that the final barrier to our attaining God was the word and concept God.
  • 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.
  • Tell me,” said the atheist , “Is there a God really?” Said the master, “If you want me to be perfectly honest with you, I will not answer.” Later the disciples demanded to know why he had not answered. “Because the question is unanswerable,” said the Master. “So you are an atheist?” “Certainly not. The atheist makes the mistake of denying that of which nothing may be said… and the theist makes the mistake of affirming it.
  • The genius of a composer is found in the notes of his music; but analyzing the notes will not reveal his genius. The poet’s greatness is contained in his words; yet the study of his words will not disclose his inspiration. God reveals himself in creation; but scrutinize creation as minutely as you wish, you will not find God, any more than you will find the soul through careful examination of your body.
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a world where everybody said, ‘We don’t know?’ The fact is that you’re surrounded -God and you don’t see God, because you KNOW ABOUT God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept. You miss God because you think you know. The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. All revelations, however divine, are never any more than a finger pointing at the moon. As we say in the East, ‘When the sage points to the moon, all the idiot sees is the finger’.
  • You will seek for God in vain till you understand that God can’t be seen as a “thing”; he needs a special way of looking – similar to that of little children whose sight is undistorted by prefabricated doctrines and beliefs.


  • Enlightenment is: absolute cooperation with the inevitable.
  • Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed; after enlightenment, I continue to be depressed.
  • To relate is to react. To react is to understand oneself. To understand oneself is to be enlightened. Relationships are schools for enlightenment.
  • What, concretely, is Enlightenment ? Seeing Reality as it is, said the Master. Doesn’t everyone see Reality as it is? Oh, no! Most people see it as they think it is. What’s the difference? The difference between thinking you are drowning in a stormy sea and knowing you cannot drown because there isn’t any water in sight for miles around.


  • A thought is a screen, not a mirror; that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality.
  • People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.


  • To a woman who complained about her destiny the Master said, “It is you who make your destiny.” “But surely I am not responsible for being born a woman?” “Being born a woman isn’t destiny. That is fate. Destiny is how you accept your womanhood and what you make of it.”


  • Whatever is truly alive must die. Look at the flowers; only plastic flowers never die.
  • 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.
  • The way to really live is to die. The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine you’re lying in your coffin….Now look at your problems from that viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn’t it?
  • Is there life before death? – that is the question!
  • You’re not living until it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to you whether you live or die. At that point you live. When you’re ready to lose your life, you live it.


  • We see people and things not as they are, but as we are.
  • Problems only exist in the human mind.
  • Why don’t I see goodness and beauty everywhere? Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside.
  • How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a child.
  • Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it.
  • What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head.
  • You keep insisting, I feel good because the world is right! Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That’s what all the mystics are saying.


  • The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas.
  • People kill for money or for power. But the most ruthless murderers are those who kill for their ideas.

More thoughts

  • It isn’t falling in that causes you to drown, it’s staying in.
  • When someone offends you, you can raise your spirits to heights where offenses cannot reach.
  • The trouble with your ideals is that if you live up to all of them, you become impossible to live with.
  • You can read books without ever stepping into a library; and practice spirituality without ever going to a temple.
  • This truth I firmly hold, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding; my life has been a gift, a blessing to the world.
  • The Rose does not preen herself to catch my eye. She blooms because she blooms. A saint is a saint until he knows he is one.
  • There are two ways to wash dishes: One is to wash them in order to make them clean; the other is to wash them in order to wash them.
  • In many ways we were drugged when we were young. We were brought up to need people. For what? For acceptance, approval, appreciation, applause.
  • Said the monk: “All these mountains and rivers and the earth and stars – where do they come from?” Said the master: “Where does your question come from?”
  • Another illusion is that external events have the power to hurt you, that other people have the power to hurt you. They don’t. It’s you who give this power to them.
  • A disciple, in his reverence for the Master, looked upon him as God incarnate. “Tell me, O Master,” he said, “why you have come into this world.” “To teach fools like you to stop wasting their time worshiping Masters.
  • A Jesuit once wrote a note to Father Arrupe, his superior general, asking him about the relative value of communism, socialism and capitalism. Father Arrupe gave him a lovely reply. He said, “A system is about as good or as bad as the people who use it.” People with golden hearts would make capitalism or communism or socialism work beautifully.
  • 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?
  • Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better lighting, better ventilation. Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.
  • The three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or intellectual achievements. They are, first, returning love for hate; second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong.
  • When the eye is unobstructed, the result is sight. When the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing. When the mind is unobstructed the result is truth. When the heart is unobstructed, the result is joy and love.

On a lighter note

  • There comes a point in your life when you become stark raving insane, commit suicide or become a mystic.