Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Anthony de Mello, S.J.
We are heading into the short dark days of winter (though, in fact, it has been nice and sunny this past while). Time to go deeper into contemplation and self-reflection. And who better a guide than Anthony de Mello, Indian Jesuit, philosopher, psychotherapist, poet and writer? I'm reading two of his books right now The Song of the Bird and Sadhana, A Way to God. The first is a collection of what you might call parables or teaching stories from various sacred traditions - Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Some of them I get and some I don't, but I can feel them all working away in miraculous ways on my psyche, like spiritual medicine taken in glasses of sunlight. The second book is a 'how to' of exercises on how to pray. Just about every chapter has made me cry in a happy healing sort of way. It's really beautiful stuff. Of course the Vatican banned de Mello at some point. All the top dogs of organised religions hate when people approach God without their authority and permission. Of course those same top dogs are nowhere near God because secular power exercised through spiritual authority is really their chief interest. I suspect many of them are atheists (but not the humanist kind). Still, they don't like the idea that they may have missed the boat and that others could be out on the Great Ocean basking in a warmer Sun. Ah well. It takes all kinds. I don't want power (though I wouldn't mind a bit more money). I'd really like more of what de Mello talks about all the time: awareness. But most of all, I'd like to get closer to God. As the Muslims say about life, "Unto God is the journeying." [NB my de Mello books were printed in India by Gujarat Sahitya Prakash.]