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Awareness

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"This is your wake-up call! You may not have even realized you were sleep-walking. Most of us are most of the time. Awareness is an eye-opener. It's Anthony de Mello telling you gently but firmly, 'It's time to get up now.'" --Charles Osgood of "CBS Sunday Morning" and "The Osgood File"

"Awareness will be the critical test of American business in the next decade. I call it the 'business of awareness.'" --F.X. Maguire, Hearth Communications Group


The heart of Anthony de Mello's bestselling spiritual message is awareness. Mixing Christian spirituality, Buddhist parables, Hindu breathing exercises, and psychological insight, de Mello's words of hope come together in Awareness in a grand synthesis.

In short chapters for reading in quiet moments at home or at the office, he cajoles and challenges: We must leave this go-go-go world of illusion and become aware. And this only happens, he insists, by becoming alive to the needs and potential of others, whether at home or in the workplace.

Here, then, is a masterful book of the spirit, challenging us to wake up in every aspect of our lives.

193 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1990

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About the author

Anthony de Mello

165 books809 followers
Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. An internationally acclaimed spiritual guide, writer and public speaker, de Mello hosted many spiritual conferences.

The few talks which he allowed to be filmed, such as "A Rediscovery of Life" and "A Way to God for Today," have inspired many viewers and audiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Central America. De Mello established a prayer center in India. He died suddenly in 1987. His works are readily available and additional writings were published after his death.

In 1998, some of his opinions were condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, wrote for the Congregation:
"But already in certain passages in [his] early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. ... With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm."

Some editions of his books have since been supplemented with the insertion of a caution:
"The books of Father Anthony de Mello were written in a multi-religious context to help the followers of other religions, agnostics and atheists in their spiritual search, and they were not intended by the author as manuals of instruction of the Catholic faithful in Christian doctrine or dogma."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,022 reviews
Profile Image for Courtney.
Author 1 book19 followers
March 7, 2021
This is one of the more personally challenging books I've ever read. It made me think... hard. I wanted to sit down and argue with this guy. I didn't like how it was written. I didn't like what he said about people and selfishness and being and love, but I can't stop thinking about it. The more time passes, the more I think thiss asshole is on to something. The Pope must have thoght so too, since he EXCOMMUNICATED HIM FOR WRITING IT.
Profile Image for Tom LA.
585 reviews217 followers
December 31, 2022
"You guys are such idiots. Just look at you all. Fretting about, worrying, stressing about everything... But hey, I have the key to take all of your stresses away! Yes, I do! Look closely in my eyes, though, because before you have the chance to ask me what that key is, and why I'm not explaining it properly to you, I'm going to slam a little cute story in your face that is going to distract you from the fact that I have actually just told you nothing at all”. Voilà! Clap! Boom! It's magic!

I'm giving this trickster's book 2 stars and not only 1 because there are some snippets, here and there, of interesting, good stuff (mainly the quotations from the Fathers of the Church). The vast majority of the book's 184 pages, however, are filled with vague, KahlilGibrany, NewAgey, PauloCoelhoey banalities and platitudes.

De Mello sometimes hits at some profound spiritual concepts, sourcing from induism, buddhism and christianity, but it's all done in a very simplistic, conversational and superficial way. Mostly, he keeps blurting out empty slogans like a Jesuit Tony Robbins: "Wake up!". He will write sentences like "One of the signs that you've awakened is that... ". The horror, the horror!

His main missteps are his over-rationalization of life and his posing as the wise guru. Here is a perfect example:

"When my own mother got cancer, my sister said to me: "Tony, why did God allow this to happen to Mother?". I said to her "My dear, last year over a million people starved in China because of the drought, and you never raised a question".

He’s probably lucky his sister didn't have a knife in her hand at that moment.

Anyway, I bet he was an extremely charismatic individual to be in the same room with.

But this book is wishy-washy, bland tripe.
Profile Image for Joel.
20 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2008
I picked up this book at a monastery in Northern California about 10 years ago and have kept it close ever since.

De Mello, espousing no religious agenda, contends we've been brainwashed as to our typical ideas of love and happiness. This untypical priest--his writings were denounced by the Pope--says our attachments, illusions, conditioning and general unawareness keep us anxiety-ridden. (Maybe the Pope didn't like de Mello's appreciation of the prostitute scene in Fellini's "8 1/2.")

The author says, "If we really dropped illusions, we would be alert. The consequence of not doing this is terrifying and unescapable. We lose our capacity to love. If you wish to love, you must learn to see again....How can you love someone whom you do not even see? Do you really see someone you're attached to?"

And once we have the "awareness" he asks, "Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last! You no longer feel the need or the compulsion to explain things anymore."

Read this book and feel free.

Profile Image for Anita Louise.
16 reviews5 followers
January 8, 2009
My favorite spiritual book. Anthony de Mello helped me to understand, "I'm an ass, you're an ass". He tells us we're all sleeping, and he clobbers us over the head with a wake up call.
Profile Image for S.Ach.
483 reviews157 followers
November 21, 2019
How to write a best-selling spiritual / self-improvement book?
Challenge peoples' thoughts. Destroy their beliefs, no matter what they are. Tell them how miserably they are leading their lives, what scoundrels and idiots they have been all through.
(Yes, people love to hear that. Probably, that's the reason they have taken up that book/course. A perfectly happy person would seldom pick-up a spiritually enlightening book.)
Ask them tough questions. What is "happiness"? Who is "I"? What is life's goal? You don't have to offer any intellectual answer. Just ask the questions and say "nay" to their fragmented answers.

Now, tell them the things they already know, in a suave manner, with lots of funny anecdotes that they can relate to or laugh about. Quote some philosophers / gurus of the past. "Know Thyself", "Desire not, Suffer not." If you can fuse the ideas of different cultures/ belief systems, you become a rock-star. And finally conclude with something like, "Live in the present. Don't think about the past.", "Transform yourself if you want to see a change in the world", "Be aware of your surroundings", and you will see people nodding around. That gives the hope to people who still believe that there is much more to life than the wretched mechanical life they are clinging on to.

P.S. If you have already read J Krishnamurthy or Osho's books, you can safely avoid this book. And if you haven't read those books, then read those first.
Profile Image for Paul.
165 reviews51 followers
January 3, 2023
Really? "Spirituality"? Not even close.
This self help book is so horribly awful that all it will help is make you wonder why someone would write such duplicitous and angry deceit in the first place. De Mello, begins by proclaiming that everyone in the world is asleep, and that most will never "wake up", and this mantra is repeated ad nauseam, throughout the entire book (actually almost written on every page) and he really never explains how one is to "wake up" other than exhorting that you actually DON'T want to wake up. Blah, blah, blah., and so it goes on.

one stars because it makes for great kindling. :-D
Profile Image for Randy.
Author 6 books28 followers
February 10, 2009
Awareness, Anthony de Mello's most popular book, is a beautiful bridge between Western and Eastern spiritual thought. de Mello was a Roman Catholic priest who grew up in India, and his intimate familiarity with both traditions combined with a deep understanding of world mysticism provide seekers of a Western background (i.e., Christian) a thought provoking introduction to Eastern spiritual thought. After his death in 1987, de Mello was censured by the Vatican's Defeneders of the Faith (headed at that time by Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope). Consequently, his books are not allowed to be sold in official Roman Catholic bookstores. All the more reason to read them ;-)
Profile Image for Zach.
36 reviews4 followers
June 10, 2013
Awareness Review

Well, I must really love this book. I’ve read it 3 times in my life. There was a time in my life where I wanted to wake each day with a favorite quote – I chose 52 different quotes (one for each randomly drawn card from a deck) from 5-6 books, with about 10 of the quotes from this one. The reading this most recent time in an effort to better understand the culture of India, where I am now working with several of their citizens. Anthony de Mello brought Buddhist parables, Hindu philosophies into Christian spirituality. So there is a fine mix of a Catholic template with an overlay of Eastern mysticism. At times in this life, I reach out from the Puritan work ethic and strict quid pro quo level of spirituality to someone who is saying, “not this, not this”. Try this DeMello quote from the middle of the book: “When you said, ‘I was a success,’ you were in error; you were plunged into darkness. You identified yourself with things. You’re going to cling to them, you’re going to be worried that they may fall apart, and that’s where your suffering comes in. That is what I meant earlier when I said to you, ‘If you’re suffering, you’re asleep’… suffering is a sign that you’re out of touch with the truth.”

I am told that the Catholic Chuch, under the writings of future Pope Benedict, issued a notification questioning if de Mello went too far in his belief system. Along the line of “the only knowing is unknowing: the less identification with the world, the better. For most of society, I would believe this to be true. But isolation can go too far. Speaking of all of reality as illusion doesn’t leave a person much to grab a hold of. Here is the full Bishop Ratzinger notification. Nowhere does it say that he’s some sinister, dangerous writer though. I think he’s a refreshing change from a life of immersion.
http://web.archive.org/web/2006111505...

What I get into from de Mello is his easy grasp on what might be the most common U.S. habits. This one’s kind of fun, because it poker at India adapting to American habits. “In India, many of our poor people are starting to get transistor radios, which are quite a luxury. (May as well be a smart phone). ‘Everybody has a transistor,’ you hear, ‘but I don’t have a transistor; I’m so unhappy.’ Until everyone started getting transistors, they were perfectly happy without one. Until somebody told you you wouldn’t be happy unless you were loved, you were perfectly happy.”

The frolicking short 2-3 page chapters made the book especially amusing. Like a good homily, you get a soundbite to catch your attention, a couple of Buddhist parables to twist your assumptions a little and then a drumbeat of his different themes which stretch through the book. This style is made effective through some level of repetition that I’m sure some readers find frustrating: “Quit telling me to release myself from the dependencies of the world in 57 different ways. I get it already!” But most everyone does not. If you ask a person if they could give up their established way of life right now and accept that the suit of armor known as your body is temporary, could most do it? De Mello wants to wear you down to the point where you could give it all up for a better reality.

But the book seems to have an ephemeral quality to it. Most of what I’ve seen of self-help books have anecdotes of current people in current situations for the therapist/psychiatrist to draw off of. De Mello chooses the timeless metaphors, leaving the book to read like a New Testament set of readings and accompanying homily. Where is the mention of current Presidents or Prime Minister or Social Issues? It’s refreshing that he steers clear of politics or personal struggles and moves to the struggles that we must all go through. I can imagine for some readers though, this book will seem like an exploration of Mars for solutions to problems on Earth. It’s out there a bit, with the spray of allegories.

So, one of the frustrating parts of working through the Eastern mysticism is the continued theme of “if you meet the Buddha on the road, shoot him!” as if to say if you are trying to find the truth, you had better believe that what you find won’t be the truth. But unlike my typical experience of Eastern philosophy, this one seems to point to a way forward rather than just where NOT to find the truth. He points to a model of viewing what is happening to oneself as the “me”, where there is an additional, eternal “I” who is looking on as the omniscient observer. The “me” can be in pain, can be confused, can be divided, can be feeling elation, but each is transient and the forever “I” knows that all of it is the experience of being alive. I kind of like this.

What I liked even better are the concepts introduced on the last pages, beginning with the Chapter “Saying Nothing About Love”. A taste of the destructive powers of drugs, a taste of the human bodies insatiable need for approval, appreciation, attention and then a treatment on the nourishment of life. You might be surprised by what you see here.
Profile Image for Yuliya.
2 reviews3 followers
October 5, 2014
After quite some time, I finished reading "Awareness" by Anthony de Mello.
Although it is not long, and the language is not difficult, the book is not easy to read or like. It is not written for entertainment, but for thinking, thinking beyond everyday routine. It criticizes society and human values. It will turn your world upside down, well, at least that's what I felt after reading it. I think it will take me forever to process everything I read in the book, and, probably, forever would not be enough. After all, what I came to agree with is that "...we don't want to wake up. Waking up is unpleasant."
Recommended to everyone ready to look at one's life from another angle.
Profile Image for A.
3 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2008
Book that tought me that I am not my emotions, and to wake up, which I haven't really done, because I have too many snooze buttons.
Profile Image for Garland Vance.
271 reviews14 followers
September 10, 2010
I hated almost every minute of this book but had to read it for a class. de Mello combines Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and New Age worldviews mixed with a dose of radical individualism to create a spirituality devoid of any significant beliefs except for the fact that we don't need other people if we are aware of ourselves.

Throughout the book there were sentences and sometimes paragraphs that I thought were insightful. But I continually found myself wishing that I was finished with this book. FINALLY, I am. Don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Tonkica.
609 reviews111 followers
February 9, 2022
3.5

Definitivno mi je potrebno buđenje (pomoć, promjena, usmjeravanje, olakšavanje) pa sam uhvatila ovu knjižicu u kojoj sam se nadala nešto pronaći i pomoći si. Uzevši u obzir koliko sam si citata/misli/ideja označila u knjizi koja ne sadrži niti 200 stranica, rekla bih da u njoj ima puno toga značajnoga i vrijednog za obratiti pažnju.

Više o utiscima pročitajte klikom na link: https://knjige-u-svom-filmu.webador.c...
Profile Image for Donna.
335 reviews12 followers
June 28, 2007
Considering the length of Awareness (184 pages), it’s taken me a long time to read what I have of it. As a matter of fact, I haven’t quite finished it, but it’s due at the library and I’m taking it back.

It’s taken a long time to read, partly because the book is a collection of meditations and, of course, the whole point is to take time to reflect on them. In addition, though, I have to say that, like a dictionary, it offers very little in the way of plot. There’s just one message in each of its little commentaries and vignettes: letting go. It’s a pretty important lesson—probably one we need to master at some time or another, for the sake of sanity—so I suppose it bears repeating. Up to a point.

The trouble is that Anthony de Mello, S.J., was clearly a personality—one of those rare individuals who exudes energy and charisma and what we used to call in the 60’s “good vibes.” He was a popular leader of retreats and conferences, where he communicated his ideas to people through the spoken word, not the written word. He died fairly young and very suddenly, before he had a chance to compile and edit his own writings. Consequently, it seems that those who loved and worked with him have gathered every scrap of wisdom, every utterance he left behind, and captured them for posterity. The result, in this book, is a patchwork quilt of loosely stitched anecdotes, parables, and exhortations.

I was eager to read something by de Mello because I’ve heard him described as a philosopher. One of my all-time favorite authors, Teillard de Chardin, was a Jesuit philosopher, so I rather hoped to find penetrating analysis and eloquent language such as I remember from his writings. But if Teillard’s prose had the rich intricacy of, say, Handel’s water music, then the writing of de Mello is the lone, sweet melody of a Pied Piper.

If you happen to be interested in de Mello, his brother’s Web site (http://users.tpg.com.au/adsligol/tony/) offers many insights into the nature of the man and his life.

Profile Image for Maryska.
58 reviews16 followers
February 7, 2014
I have read this one 5 times now. How obvious it is that we don't want to wake up. We don't want to admit, or give up our attachments! I have tried to focus on his teachings for years now, and denounce my attachments but I always end up back in square one. I fall into the same patterns and expectations. How did he do this? Better, how do I do this? My biggest concern with this book is that he wants us to "give up" attachments like our family for example. He claims that once you no longer "need" them, they lose the power over you and you will truly love them. How are you to form close relationships with family and loved ones if you don't participate in the human connection? What is love then really if you don't experience the feeling of withering inside when let's say you end a long relationship. How do you rewire your brain to simply not get attached to any person or thing? I understand this theory in regards to detaching oneself from material objects better than I do the detachment from people.
Profile Image for Kimmo.
36 reviews4 followers
July 26, 2015
Hyviä pointteja nostattava kirja, mutta lankeaa välillä vähän yksipuoliseen arvomaailmaan. Ihastuttava ja vihastuttava, herättää varmasti ajattelemaan. Puheista koottu kirja on välillä vähän sekavaa luettavaa.
Profile Image for Renée Paule.
Author 9 books264 followers
January 29, 2020
I love, love, love this book and I'll read it again very soon. Anthony was in love with life and humanity and, provided you have an open mind, you will be also when you finish reading this book. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Andrew Diamond.
Author 8 books78 followers
January 13, 2019
This book reads like a transcription of talks given before live audiences. The initial chapters read like the joke-filled exhortations of a professional self-help writer, but the book begins to deepen around pages 60-70. De Mello was a Jesuit priest, a trained psychologist, and apparently a devoted student of both Eastern and Western religion. His knowledge is broad and deep, and he has obviously brought great passion to his learning.

At its core, this book is about the difference between reality and our constructs of reality, most of which we have inherited from our culture, our parents, our teachers, the clergy, and the media. The constructs are all second-hand and almost always false. Our suffering comes from the strife we feel when reality does not conform to our false understanding of how the world should be.

De Mello points out repeatedly that most people are not aware of the constructs they live by. These constructs include the ideas that we must succeed financially, that we must find another person to give us love, that illness and death are personal affronts, that we must adhere to this or that ideal, that our lives must go a certain way. Our false understandings control us through fear and desire, and they do so invisibly until we take the time to see them and root them out.

Even the love we think we feel toward others is often simply an expression of our need for approval and validation. We don't see this until we look deep inside and discover that we expect to get something in return from the person to whom we think we are giving selflessly.

Our most deeply cherished beliefs are the most dangerous. De Mello offers this excellent observation and parable:


Reality, God, divinity, truth, love are unknowable; that means they cannot be comprehended by the thinking mind. That would set at rest so many questions people have because we're always living under the illusion that we know. We don't. We cannot know.

What is scripture, then? It is a hint, a clue, not a description. The fanaticism of one sincere believer who thinks he knows causes more evil than the united efforts of two hundred rogues. It's terrifying to see what sincere believers will do because they think they know. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a world where everybody said, "We don't know"?...

A man born blind comes to me and asks, "What is this thing called green?"

How does one describe the color green to one who was born blind? One uses analogies.

So I say, "The color green is something like soft music."

"Oh," he says, "like soft music."

So a second blind man comes to me and asks, "What is the color green?"

I tell him it's something like soft satin, very soft and soothing to the touch.

So the next day I notice that the two blind men are bashing each other over the head with bottles. One is saying, "It's soft like music"; the other saying, "It's soft like satin." And on it goes.


We see this kind of trouble in the world all the time. This is the difficulty of trying to use concepts that people understand to point them toward concepts that they don't understand. People get attached to the bits they understand, and their understanding ends there, often permanently.

We can only change our false concepts, De Mello says, when we become aware of them. In fact, our false understandings often lose their power as soon as we become aware of them. In this, he is in line with Socrates and the Buddhists, with the stoicism of Seneca and twentieth-century European existentialists. Life is flow. Abandon your ideas and go with it.

Of course, that's easier said than done. There's nothing more terrifying than being asked to accept what you cannot control or understand. Yet with the acceptance comes freedom.

De Mello notes that the few people who really do start to question their understanding of the world do so only after immense suffering. Only after it becomes too painful for them to hold on to their ideas of how the world should be. He notes that there are only two paths for those whose world-view is completely shattered: they become insane, or they become mystics.

De Mello is deeply critical not of religion, but of the way religion is practiced and misunderstood. If people devoted to awareness the time and energy they currently devote to worship, they and the world would be much better off. Toward the end of the book, he gives this excellent parable:


There was a man who invented the art of making fire. He took his tools and went to a tribe in the north, where it was very cold, bitterly cold. He taught the people there to make fire. The people were very interested. He showed them the uses to which they could put fire--they could cook, keep themselves warm, etc. They were grateful that they had learned the art of making fire. But before they could express their gratitude to the man, he disappeared. He wasn't concerned with getting their recognition or gratitude; he was concerned about their well-being.

He went to another tribe, where he again began to show them the value of his invention. People were interested there, too, a bit too interested for the peace of mind of the priests, who began to notice that this man was drawing crowds and they were losing their popularity. So they decided to do away with him. They poisoned him, crucified him, put it any way you like.

But they were afraid now that people might turn against them, so they were very wise, even wily. Do you know what they did? They had a portrait of the man made and mounted it on the main altar of the temple. The instruments for making fire were placed in front of the portrait, and the people were taught to revere the portrait and to pay reverence to the instruments of fire, which they dutifully did for centuries. The veneration and the worship went on, but there was no fire.


This powerfully describes the problem of many of the world's religions, where people are taught to direct their worship outward through ritual, rather than inward toward awareness, growth, and change. They have duty without fire, maintaining the symbols without ever discovering the thing the symbols were meant to lead them to.

"These are the more dangerous idol worshippers," De Mello says. "They use a very subtle substance, the mind, to produce their God."

True spiritual practice is not a palliative to soothe us in times of trouble. It is the root of how we perceive and experience the world, and it comes from surrender, from accepting that we can simple be without having to know or control or even understand. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow," De Mello reminds us. "They toil not, neither do they spin."
Profile Image for Fatima.
378 reviews2 followers
July 11, 2019
Anthony de Mello was an indian Jesuit priest and a psychotherapist. The book definitely felt like reading a speech. De Mello argues that life is easy only if you let go of your attachments, cravings and illusions. You’ve got to drop the labels and you’ve got to understand that the negative feelings you experience are in you and not in the external world around you. Until you drop everything, you can’t experience happiness because true happiness is uncaused unlike excitement. In order to change, you need to be aware, you need to wake up.

Awareness is not easy and the more you try to work hard to reach it, it becomes even harder. One story mentioned by De Mello is about this alcoholic who knew all the damage alcohol is doing to him and to his family. he knew all the facts about the situation but he could never quit until one day he wakes up lying in a gutter under a slight drizzle and he realizes the dangerous situation and becomes “aware” and from that day he never goes back to drinking”. Awareness just happens, you just become “aware”. It is not knowledge. Knowing the situation really well doesn’t mean that you’re aware of it.

His words make great sense but it’s hard. How do you let go of your attachments. he says just say it to yourself everyday but it’s hard, especially when I think of my attachment to my mother. Awareness is hard. I was craving more depth but I knew that it contradicted the book’s message which is that life is so simple, just drop your illusions and become “aware”.

Some of his words:

(*) If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you’re O.K., you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you you’re not good

(*) One sign that you’re awakened is that you don’t give a damn about what’s going to happen in the next life

(*) Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality

(*) What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you

(*) if you identify yourself with these things. You’re going to cling to them, you’re going to be worried that they may fall apart

(*) If you’re suffering, you’re asleep

(*) True happiness is uncaused, happiness is not the same as excitement

(*) 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!

(*) you don’t need to belong to anybody or anything or any group

(*) No one has the power to hurt you anymore. No one has the power to put pressure on you

(*) Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the negative feelings in you; (b) understand that they are in you, not in the world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential part of “I”; these things come and go; (you don’t need to belong to anybody or anything or any group) (d) understand that when you change, everything changes

(*) You’re never so full of yourself as when you’re in pain. You’re never so centered on yourself as when you’re depressed. You’re never so ready to forget yourself as when you are happy. Happiness releases you from self. It is suffering and pain and misery and depression that tie you to the self

(*) we are getting feedback from reality. But we are filtering things out constantly. One demon doing the filtering is called attachment, desire, craving. The root of sorrow is craving.

(*) When we were young, we were programmed to unhappiness. They taught us that in order to be happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God—you name it. Unless you get these things, you’re not going to be happy, we were told. Now, that is what I call an attachment.

(*) this little exercise for a few minutes: Think of something or someone you are attached to; in other words, something or someone without which or without whom you think you are not going to be happy. It could be your job, your career, your profession, your friend, your money, whatever. And say to this object or person, “I really do not need you to be happy. I’m only deluding myself in the belief that without you I will not be happy. But I really don’t need you for my happiness; I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness, you are not my joy.”

(*) In the beginning giving up the drug can be tough, unless you have a very keen understanding or unless you have suffered enough. It’s a great thing to have suffered. Only then can you get sick of it. You can make use of suffering to end suffering.

(*) People who are busy planning their vacation; they spend months planning it, and they get to the spot, and they’re all anxious about their reservations for flying back. But they’re taking pictures alright, and later they’ll show you pictures in an album, of places they never saw but only photographed.

(*) “You know, I had all the information I needed; I knew that alcohol was killing me, and, believe me, nothing changes an alcoholic—not even the love of his wife or his kids. He does love them but it doesn’t change him. I discovered one thing that changed me. I was lying in a gutter one day under a slight drizzle. I opened my eyes and I saw that this was killing me. I saw it and I never had the desire to touch a drop after that. As a matter of fact, I’ve even drunk a bit since then, but never enough to damage me.

(*) When you get a feel for it you change. When you know it in your head, you don’t.
May 22, 2011
"on dependence:
---to depend on another emotionally-- what does it imply? it means to depend on another human being for my happiness. Think about that. Because if you do, the next thing you will be doing is demanding other people contribute to your happiness... Perfect love casts out of fear where theres 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.
I enjoy it on a nonclinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it's something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn't stop. when I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I am alone, it continues to play. There;s a great repertoire and it never ceases to play."
Profile Image for Vlad Lazăr.
3 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2018
"Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone your leaving in an illusion. There's something seriously wrong with you.You're not seeing reality. Something inside of you has to change.But what do we generally do when we have a negative feeling? he is to blame, she is to blame.She's got to change. NO! The world's all right.The one who has to change is you."

I had a negative feeling toward this book from the first 10 pages I read even though i was very hyped and eager to read it. This paragraph is where i stopped. I already knew that when you have a negative issue the road to take is in flipping the questions towards myself. But is there something "seriously wrong" with me? I feel fine.

Personally i think the book is written in an aggressive way to make you feel cloudy, unclear, "there's something seriously wrong with you", "wake up" and the targets are highly emotional vulnerable people with the intent for you to buy more books, more seminars, more "wisdom".

Profile Image for Ville Verkkapuro.
Author 1 book89 followers
July 25, 2020
One of the best books books of happiness and enlightenment I have read. Eastern philosophy, critical towards modern consumerism etc.
The tone is magnificent: at times it feels almost angry, like it’s mocking me. I love it. And it’s very straight-forward, absolutely no bullshit. Some people will get hurt by this book.
The kind of selfishness that this book courages is very welcome to me. It is not selfishness, quite the opposite. We should all be on our path to clarity, we should all stare within, need less and make less castles in the sky. We should let go of our expectations of other people, of the world, of ourselves.
Tones of Eckhart Tolle and Alan Watts. Of course.
I will continue reading this book for the rest of my life, with an underliner.
Profile Image for Siska.
Author 1 book3 followers
October 16, 2016
If I could give this book a 10 stars, I would.

The reason why it took a while for me to finish this book is that it has so many passages that I would prefer to give them time to sink in before moving forward. Some of them made me silent within, that I had to pause. There are many fundamental truths expressed in the simplest and most blunt manner for anyone to get a glimpse of what it is to be trully aware.
Profile Image for Christopher Maricle.
12 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2008
This book is fun - not becuase it's light. It's because it feels like someone left a tape recorder on during a retreat and wrote down exactly what he said, so it feels like you are in the room with him, and his tone and charm come right off the page. But it's not simplistic - it's challenging. Best quote: "To see at last with a vision unclouded by fear or desire."
Profile Image for Emilie.
246 reviews
March 26, 2021
When a theology teacher introduced me to Anthony De Mello, I initially found him too demanding and off-putting. I was an oversensitive teenager who didn't really understand what he meant by "waking up" or "becoming aware." It's been over a decade since then and now I find De Mello's meditations invaluable. He brings you a lot to chew on and does not encourage you to accept everything he says without thinking over it first. I especially connected to the section where the bemoans how much western culture demands we focus on constantly achieving and setting goals, leaving us little time to reflect or even enjoy the simple things in life.
Profile Image for Antti Lahtinen.
16 reviews2 followers
July 26, 2019
While being generally entertaining, this book somewhat overstayed its welcome as the key points could have be fitted into a short essay. The "babbling" nature of writing started to get tedious towards the end. This would probably have been more interesting read around 10 years ago when the book's themes were a bit less saturated in the western discourse.
Profile Image for Srikanth.
159 reviews
January 11, 2021
I'm glad I was able to hear the audio version of this book 'Awareness' which is definitely an eye opener in several aspects. Anthony de Mello talks about a lot of topics which all have the basic philosophy of awareness or 'waking up' to see reality as it is and not to cloud it with our biases.
December 6, 2022
“You can only change through awareness and understanding.” – Anthony de Mello

Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that is more than a gem of a read. It’s a compass for life, a roadmap to happiness. A book that decreases anxiety and silences other inner demons. A book you wish everyone would read.

The book I’m talking about is ‘Awareness’ by Anthony de Mello. De Mello was an Indian priest and psychotherapist. He was a spiritual teacher and public speaker who drew wisdom from both East and West traditions.

On every page, there is a piece of wisdom to be found fitting whatever predicament you’re in. It’s that powerful. If you only read one more book this year, let it be this one. A spiritual guide that will help you put life and yourself in perspective, guide you in any decision you face, and helps to understand the world around you. It is time to wake up and become aware of yourself and your place in the world.

The following lessons will help you to wake up to reality, see the world again with wonder, crawl into the logic of being an animal, help reprogram your mind, and understand what happiness truly is.

“When we talk about self-worth, are we not talking, really, about how we are reflected in the mirrors of other people’s minds? But do we need to depend on that?” – Anthony de Mello

#1: Wake up and become aware

“Be aware of what you’re saying, be aware of what you’re doing, be aware of what you’re thinking, be aware of how you’re acting. Be aware of where you’re coming from, what you’re motives are. The unaware life is not worth living. The unaware life is a mechanical life. It’s not human, it’s programmed, conditioned.” – Anthony de Mello

De Mello argues in the book that we have to truly understand everything that’s happening within us and outside of who we are. Bluntly, this means not merely living and acting as chickens running around without their heads. Think before you act. Reflect before you react. See everything as if it’s happening to someone else, without judgment or a desire to act, just to understand first.

Becoming aware is tied to achieving some sort of success in life. When you wake up and live life accordingly, you’ll worry less. According to De Mello, this happens when: “you don’t have to apologize to anyone, you don’t have to explain anything to anyone, you don’t give a damn what anybody thinks about you or what anybody says about you.”

I understand this is easier said than done. But this form of success always starts with awareness. The first step is to be honest with yourself and admit that something is off. When we carry on with life on autopilot, we will not become aware. You can only change by first becoming aware and second to understand what is going wrong.

We often suffer before we wake up. For instance when we grief over losing a loved one when we’re fired from our job when we get very ill. A dramatic shift that forces us to focus on the underlying truth that we are out of touch with reality.

Please don’t wait for such moments. Act now. Throughout this article, you will be equipped with a toolkit to become aware and get back in touch with yourself and the world around you.

Throughout the book, Anthony de Mello describes multiple ways to wake up, some include:

Admit to yourself that change is necessary.

Be open to discover something new.

Drop the barriers you have erected through your concepts and conditioning.

Do not see people as you are yourself, but as who they are.

Identify your negative feelings, understand that they stem from you and are not put upon you by anyone else.

Learn that things come and go.

Say no to people if it clashes with the life you want.


#2: Become like a child
“How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a child.” – Anthony de Mello

I probably don’t have to explain to you that when you were a child you were more curious about the world that you are as an adult. You were full of wonder and watched the world and reality unfold step by step. Figuring it out, examining it, laughing about it.

You weren’t thinking about what the future held, how you would attain that goal, or how you would be able to pay your bills. You weren’t dwelling on the past regrets, sorrows, or triumphs either. You were simply present.

According to De Mello, all of reality is constantly moving. As a child, you watch and observe more what’s going on around you and within you. You notice the ladybug flying from the wall towards the window. You make mistakes, you fall, and all will happen in the moment, without fear. You react as it happens. You don’t expect anything yet.

When we grow up we are being conditioned by our parents, direct family, friends, school, and society. Through our experiences and conditioning, we start living in the past and future. Go back to that careless and curious feeling of being a child. Become like a child. Return to wonder.

#3: Be like an animal
Addiction, neglecting the needs of our bodies, being (too) busy, distraction, feeling guilty. A dog doesn’t feel that.

Anthony de Mello: “If you really enjoy life and the simple pleasures of the senses, you’d be amazed. You’d develop that extraordinary discipline of the animal. An animal will never overeat. Left in its natural habitat, it will never be overweight. It will never drink or eat anything that is not good for its health. You never find an animal smoking. It always exercises and relaxes as much it needs. […] We’ve lost that. We’re lost in our minds, in our ideas and ideals and so on, and it’s always go, go, go. And we’ve got an inner self-conflict which animals don’t have. And we’re always condemning ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty.”

#4: Learn to die in order to live
“I’ve often said to people that the way to really live is to die. The passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave.” – Anthony de Mello.

I’m a big fan of Stoic philosophy. The Stoics use the term ‘Memento Mori’ to remind themselves of the inevitability of death. Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Roman emperor said: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” That’s also what De Mello is saying.

If you’re interested in learning more about Stoic philosophy, I highly recommend Ryan Holiday’s new book: ‘Lives of the Stoics’.

When you remind yourself of the finality of your life and when you accept it, it will propel you to live your life differently. If you’d know that you’d die in one month, you will probably do everything in your power to make the most of it. Why not now?

If I’m lucky enough to die when I’m 90, why wouldn’t I make the most of the next 62 years?

At their deathbeds, people are often reflecting on their lives and how they lived it. A common thread among these musings is that many people have regrets. They regretted not having lived life fully, that they worked too much, that they wondered what could have been had they chased their dreams, that they should’ve spent more time with their loved ones. If you would leave life right now, are you content? The answer to this question might be the compass for the rest of your life.

I would try to let go of my fears and live life by what I value and believe in even more than I do now. I would start learning not to demand too much of myself. I would watch more what I feed myself with: from food to entertainment. I would implement more of my resources to being of service. What would you do?

In the timeline of the universe, our lives are not even worth a second. So why waste this flash in time with being worried, afraid, or running after the wrong goals and ideals we believe are true. Are they really? Who is saying so?

Anthony de Mello: “The root of evil is within you. As you begin to understand this, you stop making demands on yourself, you stop having expectations of yourself, you stop pushing yourself and you understand. Nourish yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome food.” With the latter he means to spend time in nature, read a good book, see a good movie, to have enjoyable and meaningful work and good company around you.

#5: Reprogram your mind

“That’s what learning is all about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning, unlearning almost everything you’ve been taught. A willingness to unlearn, to listen.” – Anthony de Mello

To become aware, you have to be willing to unlearn everything you know or belief is true in order to grow. When we grow up we are conditioned by our environment. Our parents, family, friends, teachers, governments, religion, everyone dictates us how we are supposed to live our life. Your challenge is to evaluate what matters to you. To wake up and review everything you’ve been taught.

“To wake up, the one thing you need the most is not energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something new. [..] What you really fear is the loss of the known.” – Anthony de Mello

This is very difficult. When I come across insights like these I feel inspired. I feel that I found a piece of the puzzle of meaning. It is, however, a process. It’s not like we can press a button and reboot. We have to spot what’s going on, why we have learned certain things in particular ways. De Mello: “You frequently interpret everything that’s being said in terms of your hypnotic state or your conditioning or your programming.”

So wonder: is this thing I learned really true? Does it really connect with my inner values? If not, unlearn it and learn how you can take control and learn to become better.

#6: Stop identifying with the ego
“It’s not reality that matters, but what you’re saying to yourself about it.” – Anthony de Mello

Our minds are wonderful storytellers. The brain is an expert illusionist, constantly speaking, constantly fantasizing (at least mine, who’s with me?). These fictions we create will become our truths if we’re not careful.

This is what Anthony de Mello has to say about this: “Am I my thoughts? No. Thoughts come and go. I am not my thoughts. Am I my body? They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changed or are renewed every minute so that by the end of seven years we don’t have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years before. Cells come and go. Cells arise and die. But ‘I’ seems to persist. So am I my body? Evidently not.”

I love how clearly he explains the issue with our ego in a few sentences. Thoughts come and go, cells too. We are an amalgamation of our past, what we have learned, and how we are conditioned. Is that who you truly are? How can it be? You will learn new things. You will change your view on life and your values. You will have new experiences. You’re in a constant flux of life.

#7: Happiness is about being content
“You’re never so full of yourself as when you’re in pain. You’re never so centered on yourself as when you’re depressed. You’re never so ready to forget yourself as when you’re happy. Happiness releases you from self. It is suffering and pain and misery and depression that tie you to the self.” – Anthony de Mello

Happiness is about being content, not seeking one thrill after the other. We have a tendency to tie our happiness with achieving the next something. A raise, a book deal, a relationship, getting a new car, traveling the world. Sure, attaining your goals and dreams bring happiness, but being content with the journey of getting there is far more rewarding.

Happiness is already within us. It is through striving for the next thing or avoiding to deal with matters you run away from that bring up suffering. Connected to the previous lesson, it helps to try not to identify with that suffering. De Mello says: “Unhappy people are miserable people. They don’t enjoy life. They are constantly tense and anxious. Do you call that human? And do you know why that happens? Only one reason: They identified with some label. They identified with the ‘I’ with their money or their job or their profession. That was their error.”

When we focus on what we don’t have, you stop living in the present. This way, we can’t be content and feel the natural happiness that lies within. Through hoping for something else, you forget what you already have. Try to express gratitude for what you have at this very moment. It’s ok to hope for something, desire fuels our energy. The challenge lies in not letting that desire prevent you from feeling happy now. It’s like De Mello says in the book: “Happiness is our natural state.”

#8: Detach to feel free
“An attachment is a belief that without something you are not going to be happy.” – Anthony de Mello

When you’re open to learning new things, stop identifying with your ego, and focus on being content with what you have you’re a long way into becoming aware and at ease with yourself and the world around you. But there’s a stone in our shoe still that we have to get rid of. An attachment to something that prevents you from feeling centered. Or perhaps more than one attachment. This can be an attachment to people or things. It can be that you’re anxious and believe you’re deserving of it.

“Life is always flowing, life is always changing. […] When you cling, life is destroyed; when you hold on to anything, you cease to live.” – Anthony de Mello
April 30, 2017
อ่านเล่มนี้แล้วรู้สึกเหมือนนั่งอยู่ในห้องบรรยายเล็กๆ กับบาทหลวงผู้ข้ามพ้นเขตแดนทางศาสนา เขานั่งบนอาสนะหรือไม่ก็อยู่หลังโพเดียมพูดตรงๆ แสกหน้าคนฟังแรงๆ อย่างไม่ต้องกลัวว่าคนฟังจะชอบหรือไม่ชอบใดๆ

Awareness อธิบายประกอบเรื่องเล่ามุ่งตรงไปที่การตระหนักรู้ หรือการมีสติกับปัจจุบัน สำเนียงจริงจัง จี้มาที่ใจคนอ่าน ไม่บรรยายภาพกว้างๆ รวมๆ หรือเป็นหลักการ หนังสือให้ประสบการณ์การตระหนักรู้ได้ในหลายจังหวะ

อ่านแรกๆ อาจจะลงๆ กับท่าที หรือวิธีการเชื่อมโยงระหว่างคนอ่าน กับหนังสือ และสำเนียงการสื่อสาร ต้องใช้เวลาปรับตัวสักระยะ กว่าจะทำใจรับมือลีลาของผู้เขียนได้ เมื่ออ่านไปถึงครึ่งเล่มจึงค่อยลื่นไหลไปกับเรื่งอเล่าและอรรถาธิบายเกี่ยวกับความตระหนักรู้ กลลวงจิตใจ และวิธีการเอาตัวรอดจากอุบายเหล่านั้น

สำหรับคนที่สนใจเจริญสติ ผมคิดว่าเล่มนี้เหมาะควรแก่การศึกษา
Profile Image for Chris Higley.
10 reviews6 followers
March 7, 2021
Some good ideas and interesting perspectives in here. I felt skeptical, frustrated and annoyed often throughout the book and considered not finishing multiple times.

May have to spend a bit more time digesting some of the ideas mentioned, maybe with more time and experience, I’ll be able to understand where he was coming from more.

I wish he communicated his points better, made better arguments for points of view. There seemed to be contradictions and hypocrisy at times, and general “take my word for it” or *let me tell you this story I made up to help prove my point, even though the story isn’t necessarily accurate/reliable*. Lol, idk it was kinda weird, don’t really feel like thoroughly reviewing/getting into it now.
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