Anthony de Mello Quotes: Wisdom, Nonsense and Truth Are One - as Are We All



Is there life before death - that is the question!

~ Anthony de Mello ~

Above is one of the more famous Anthony de Mello quotes and it pretty much sums up what the man himself was about. There are literally hundreds of Anthony de Mello quotations, a testament maybe to how highly the popular psychotherapist and Jesuit priest influenced was thought of by the many people he touched the whole world over.


This page will present you with a huge selection of the best quotes by Anthony de Mello, including some less well known ones - and also including many small parables and mini-short stories. Enjoy!


Read more about his life and his spirituality books on the page Anthony de Mello biography .

Who Was Anthony de Mello?


As well as many CDs and DVDs of his teachings and work shops, Anthony de Mello was author to several best-selling self help books and books on spirituality with "Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality" and "The Way to Love: Meditations for Life" and "Song of the Bird" as well as the audio CDs "A Rediscovery of Life" and " A Way to God for Today" and "Wake Up! Spirituality for Today" being a few of the more popular.

       

If you click on the images of the books above it will open a new tab/window on Amazon.com, where you can read more about the books and see if there is made a kindle version of the book.


Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one's awareness of one's ignorance.
~ Anthony de Mello ~ (from: 'One Minute Wisdom')

You see persons and things not as they are but as you are.
~ Anthony de Mello quotes ~

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 spiritual quotes ~

The latter of the three above quotes by Anthony de Mello is very typical of most spiritually enlightened teachers.

No spiritual teacher can ever give you something you don't already have: all the wisdom and enlightenment you ever need is always completely available to you, anywhere, any time - all you have to do is relax and look inside yourself. There you will find your intimate connection to everything as well as you never ending fountain of wisdom.

First, though, you need to WANT to wake up ...

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.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

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.
~ Anthony de Mello quotations ~

If you search within your heart, you will find something there that will make it possible for you to understand: a spark of disenchantment and discontent, which if fanned into flame will become a raging forest fire that will burn up the whole of the illusory world you are living in, thereby unveiling to your wondering eyes the kingdom that you have always lived in unsuspectingly.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

A thought is a screen, not a mirror; that is why you live in a thought envelope, untouched by Reality.

~ Anthony de Mello ~ (from: 'One Minute Wisdom')

Problems only exist in the human mind.

~ Anthony de Mello quotes ~

Anthony de Mello - the Immensely Popular Priest Whom the Church Didn't Really Like

Born in Bombay, India, de Mello spent much of his childhood dreaming of one day being a Jesuit priest. Anthony de Mello grew up writing his thoughts down whenever he had chance. In fact, many of the most famous Anthony de Mello quotes were from early on in his career, when by his own admittance, he was "innocent, alert and ready". Born with an innate need to help others "see", signs of how popular de Mello would one day become were obvious even as a young boy.

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.
~ Anthony de Mello quotations ~

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.
~ Anthony de Mello self help quotes ~


Tony de Mello was a likeable person and had friends, fans and followers across all beliefs, religions, cultures and backgrounds. However, despite his work spreading the word and helping people understand how religion affected them as individuals, Anthony de Mello was seen by some members of the Catholic Church as a bit of a loose cannon.

At the height of Anthony de Mello's popularity the congregation for The Doctrine of Faith announced that they felt many of Anthony de Mello's quotes, works, writings and teachings were "incompatible with the Catholic faith". The notification, issued by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later went on to become Pope Benedict XVI accused Anthony de Mello of "working to become progressively distant from the Christian faith".

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 ~

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.

~ Anthony de Mello ~ (from: 'One Minute Nonsense')

Everybody was talking about the religious man who committed suicide. While no one in the monastery approved of the man's action, some say they admired his faith. "Faith?" said the Master. "He had the courage of his convictions, didn't he?" "That was fanaticism, not faith. Faith demands a greater courage still: to re-examine one's convictions and reject them if they do not fit the facts."
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of self!
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Perhaps of all the Anthony de Mello quotes, it is the one above that maybe best describes how he felt when he received condemnation from the church. The condemnation surely saddened him, but he did not fight it or distance himself from the Catholic Church - it was purely the other way around.

The condemnation was a highly controversial move at the time, and many of Anthony de Mello's fans were outraged by the condemnation - they felt that the Catholic Church failed to allow freedom of thought (and freedom of personal experience and expression), and some believed de Mello's Buddhist influences (including the emphasis on personal experience rather than doctrine and dogma) were actually the real issue.

As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. … That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life… Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

Although there was widespread outrage at the time of the condemnation, or maybe because of it, since Anthony de Mello's death in 1987, many later editions of his work carry a warning, stating, "Anthony de Mello's work is written in a multi-religious context, with a view to help atheists, agnostics and followers of other religions in their spiritual search and is not intended to be perceived as instructions of the Catholic Faith in Christian Doctrine".

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.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

A series of Anthony de Mello quotes were also removed from Christian student's textbooks and other Christian educational material. Proof maybe that, at least some members of the church were quite irritated by Anthony de Mello and his ability to reach into the average person and help them understand themselves better.

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 ~

That said, other Catholic priests (and priests of other denominations) did indeed approve of Anthony de Mello and his work - some even went as far as saying that the things he taught about love and life were what should have been taught to people all along.

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. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

I have no fear of losing you, for you aren't an object of my property, or anyone else's. I love you as you are, without attachment, without fears, without conditions, without egoism, trying not to absorb you. I love you freely because I love your freedom, as well as mine.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

The Passion of Father de Mello

Father Anthony "Tony" de Mello was very passionate in his belief that most people are, metaphorically speaking, asleep and he believed they need to wake up in order to see what is real. In this he is in line with most other spiritual teachers throughout the ages. He dedicated much of his life to teaching spirituality and basically helping others learn how to become conscious and live a more fulfilled life.

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.
~ Anthony de Mello spiritual quotes ~

The above quote is rather dramatic, some would probably even find it provocative, but most who have experienced an awakening or even just been aware of what happened as we glimpsed absolute reality (which we do more often than we think, we just aren't aware of it) must agree with de Mello's dramatic statement: most of us are asleep most of the time.

Father de Mello's understanding of the human condition was deep as was his love for all of life. He often used teaching stories, parables and even jokes to point the way to authentic living - that's one of the things that make his books, lectures and quotations so enjoyable - often they're easy to read yet profound.

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."

~ Anthony de Mello ~

When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself!
~ Quotes by Anthony de Mello ~

The one who would be constant in happiness must frequently change.

~ Anthony de Mello self help quotes ~

As the above few quotes by Anthony de Mello indicate, he was a firm believer in people being responsible for their own destiny - as well as a believer in beliefs being a hindrance rather than an aid to spiritual enlightenment. However, as indeed was one of the strongest points he made, we all have the option of 'waking up' from our egoic dream ... waking up to absolute reality .

"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."

~ Anthony de Mello quotes ~

Anthony de Mello travelled the world, sharing his knowledge and wisdom, teaching people and holding spirituality meetings. While he visited many different countries, he spent a lot of his time in Spain and the United States.

His main interests revolved around people, and teaching them how to be in touch with themselves, their mind, body and feelings - and of course 'waking up', spiritual awakening.

For some reason, in the earlier days of his career de Mello hated being filmed or recorded – however, as his popularity grew he agreed to many of his lessons and teachings being recorded. His works have been watched and listened to in literally every corner of the globe, but Anthony de Mello is particularly popular in Canada, the United States and Central America.



Whatever is truly alive must die, look at the flowers, only plastic flowers never die.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Sadly the above Anthony de Mello quote came true for him on the 2nd June, 1987, when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack. There is no question however, that he left behind a legacy. At the time of his death, he was the director of the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counselling and renowned all over the world for his retreats.

Even today, over twenty years since his death his books are read and his work shops and prayer courses are listened to by hundreds and thousands of people.

Anthony de Mello quotes are regularly used by people of all faiths who are looking to educate others on the importance of spirituality. For a man who accomplished so much in a relatively short life-time, Anthony de Mello led a simple life, yet was generous in what he gave to others. And this is may just be one of the greatest lessons he could teach anyone.

This truth I firmly hold, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding; my life has been a gift, a blessing to the world.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

... We are inclined to agree!

Lots More Anthony de Mello Quotes - a Long List of Spiritual Stories, Self Help Quotes and Potent Parables


Anthony de Mello was the master of parables and tiny stories, often told in the form of dialogue between a spiritual Master and his students. What follows here (on the rest of this page) is a mixed collection of such dialogue-stories and other quotes by Anthony de Mello:

"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."

~ Anthony de Mello quotations ~ (from: 'Awakening : Conversations with the Masters')

- - - * - - -

One of your American authors put it so well. He said awakening is the death of your belief in injustice and tragedy. The end of the world for a caterpillar is a butterfly for the master. Death is resurrection. We're talking not about some resurrection that will happen but about one that is happening right now. If you would die to the past, if you would die to every minute, you would be the person who is fully alive, because a fully alive person is one who is full of death. We're always dying to things. We're always shedding everything in order to be fully alive and resurrected at every moment. The mystics, saints, and others make great efforts to wake people up. If they don't wake up, they're always going to have these other minor ills like hunger, wars, and violence. The greatest evil is sleeping people, ignorant people.

~ Anthony de Mello quotes on awakening ~

- - - * - - -

"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 spiritual quotes ~

- - - * - - -

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."

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

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

~ Anthony de Mello self help quotes ~

- - - * - - -

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!
~ Anthony de Mello quotations ~

- - - * - - -

Concepts are always frozen. Reality flows.
~ Quotes by Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it.
~ Anthony de Mello ~ (from: 'One Minute Wisdom')

- - - * - - -

Reality is a whole and we cut it up to make concepts and we use words to indicate different parts. If you had never seen an animal in your life, for example, and one day you found a tail -- just a tail -- and somebody told you, "That's a tail," would you have any idea of what it was if you had no idea what an animal was? Ideas actually fragment the vision, intuition, or experience of reality as a whole. This is what the mystics are perpetually telling us. Words cannot give you reality. They only point, they only indicate. You use them as pointers to get to reality. But once you get there, your concepts are useless.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

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."

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

"What is love?"
"The total absence of fear," said the Master.
"What is it we fear?"
"Love," said the Master.

~ Quotes by Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

Wisdom comes to those who learn nothing, unlearn everything.
~ Anthony de Mello self help quotes ~

- - - * - - -

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. So they are spared the guilt and anxiety that so torment human beings and they are full of the sheer joy of living, taking delight not so much in persons or things as in life itself. As long as your happiness is caused or sustained by something or someone outside of you, you are still in the land of the dead. 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.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

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.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality.
~ Anthony de Mello spiritual quotes ~

- - - * - - -

As the great Confucius said, "The one who would be in constant happiness must frequently change." Flow. 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 ...

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

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.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

"How shall I get liberation?"
"Find out who has bound you," said the Master.
The disciple returned after a week and said, "No one has bound me."
"Then why ask to be liberated?"
That was a moment of Enlightenment for the disciple, who suddenly became free.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

"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 spiritual quotes ~

- - - * - - -

Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you.

~ Anthony de Mello self help quotes ~

- - - * - - -

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.

~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -


Dag Hammarskjold, the former UN Secretary-General, put it so beautifully:

"God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source of which is beyond all reason."

We don't have to quarrel about a word, because "God" is only a word, a concept. One never quarrels about reality; we only quarrel about opinions, about concepts, about judgments.

Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see that.

~ Anthony de Mello spiritual quotes ~


- - - * - - -

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 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.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

- - - * - - -

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.
~ Anthony de Mello quotations ~

- - - * - - -

How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a child.
~ Anthony de Mello ~







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