The Way to Love – Anthony de Mello


Paperback: 160 pages ISBN-10: 0307951901 ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0307951908



The Way to Love contains some of the most beloved stories from Anthony de Mello. Here, more than ever before in his bestselling writing, he grapples with the ultimate question of love. In thirty-one meditations, he implores his readers with his usual pithiness to break through illusion, the great obstacle to love.


Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise or Nature in general, or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy. Get the taste of this feeling and contrast it with the first, namely, the one that was generated within you when you were praised. Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, self-promotion. It is a worldly feeling. The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling. Here is another contrast: Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or a bet or an argument. And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action that you are currently engaged in. And once again notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling.

Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not natural, they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement—and emptiness.

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. Because of these false beliefs you see the world and yourself in a distorted way. Your programming is so strong and the pressure of society so intense that you are literally trapped into perceiving the world in this distorted kind of way.

Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.

In order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.

An attachment isn’t a fact. It is a belief, a fantasy in your head, acquired through programming. If that fantasy did not exist inside your head, you would not be attached.

Now 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.

As well search for water without wetness as for an attachment without unhappiness.

No one has ever lived who has come up with a formula for keeping the objects of one’s attachments without struggle, anxiety, fear and, sooner or later, defeat.

For when you cling, what you offer the other is not love but a chain by which both you and your beloved are bound. Love can only exist in freedom. The true lover seeks the good of his beloved which requires especially the liberation of the beloved from the lover.

An attachment is a state of clinging that comes from the false belief that something or someone is necessary for your happiness.

Who decides what will finally make its way to your conscious mind from all the material that is pouring in from the world? Three decisive filters: first your attachments, second your beliefs and third your fears.

Look at it this way: You see persons and things not as they are but as you are. If you wish to see them as they are you must attend to your attachments and the fears that your attachments generate.

If you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective. Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you.

Trifle, yes, because if you live long enough a day will easily come when it will cease to matter. It will not even be remembered—your own experience will confirm this.

Just as today you barely remember, are no longer the least bit affected by those tremendous trifles that so disturbed you in the past.

The day that happens and your attachment to the drum drops, you will no longer say to your friend, “How happy you have made me.” For in so saying you flatter his ego and manipulate him into wanting to please you again. And you give yourself the illusion that your happiness depends on your friend. Rather you will say, “When you and I met, happiness arose.” That leaves the happiness uncontaminated by his ego and yours.

good deed is never so good as when you have no consciousness that it is good—you are so much in love with the action that you are quite unself-conscious about your goodness and virtue.

Think of something that you love to do 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.

The royal road to mysticism and to Reality does not pass through the world of people. It passes through the world of actions that are engaged in for themselves without an eye to success or to gain—or profit actions.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with is Reality? Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It simply cannot be put into words.

To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and the mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their formulas. Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly and utterly alone. What an awesome solitude!

The first quality that strikes one when one looks into the eyes of a child is its innocence: its lovely inability to lie or wear a mask or pretend to be anything other than what it is. In this the child is exactly like the rest of Nature.

A dog is a dog; a rose, a rose; a star, a star; everything is quite simply what it is. Only the adult human being is able to be one thing and pretend to be another.

Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could only do that by ceasing to be a lamp.

Observe the marvelous change that comes over you the moment you stop seeing people as good and bad, as saints and sinners and begin to see them as unaware and ignorant. You must drop your false belief that people can sin in awareness. No one can sin in the light of awareness. Sin occurs, not, as we mistakenly think, in malice, but in ignorance.

Have you ever stopped to remove a stone or a nail from the road lest someone come to harm? It does not matter that you will never know the person who will benefit from this gesture and you will receive no reward or recognition. You just do it from a feeling of benevolence and kindness.

The blocks to sensitivity are two; Belief and Attachment. Belief—as soon as you have a belief you have come to a conclusion about a person or situation or thing. You have now become fixed and have dropped your sensitivity.

Attachment—how is an attachment formed? First comes the contact with something that gives you pleasure: a car, an attractively advertised modern appliance, a word of praise, a

person’s company. Then comes the desire to hold on to it, to repeat the gratifying sensation that this thing or person caused you. Finally comes the conviction that you will not be happy without this person or thing, for you have equated the pleasure it brings you with happiness.

How could you go about creating a happy, loving, peaceful world? By learning a simple, beautiful, but painful art called the art of looking. This is how you do it: Every time you find yourself irritated or angry with someone, the one to look at is not that person but yourself. The question to ask is not, “What’s wrong with this person?” but “What does this irritation tell me about myself?”

If you get caught up in the judgments of people around you, you are eating the fruit of tension and insecurity and anxiety, because when today they call you beautiful and you are elated, tomorrow they will call you ugly and you will be depressed. Therefore the proper and accurate response when someone calls you beautiful is to say, “This person given his present perception and mood sees me as beautiful, but that does not say anything about me. Someone else in his place and depending on his background and mood and perception will see me as ugly. But that again says nothing about me.”

What is love? It is a sensitivity to every portion of reality within you and without, together with a wholehearted response to that reality.

And what is an attachment? A need, a clinging that blunts your sensitivity, a drug that clouds your perception. That is why as long as you have the slightest attachment for anything or any person, love cannot be born.

The orchestra is within you and you carry it with you wherever you go. The things and people outside you merely determine what particular melody the orchestra will play. And when there is no one or nothing that has your attention the orchestra will play a music of its own; it needs no outside stimulation. You now carry in your heart a happiness that nothing outside of you can put there, and nothing can take away.

Here is a simple truth of life that most people never discover. Happy events make life delightful but they do not lead to self-discovery and growth and freedom. That privilege is reserved to the things and persons and situations that cause us pain.

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.

Contrary to what your culture and religion have taught you, nothing, but absolutely nothing can make you happy. The moment you see that, you will stop moving from one job to another, one friend to another, one place, one spiritual technique, one guru to another. None of these things can give you a single minute of happiness. They can only offer you a temporary thrill, a pleasure that initially grows in intensity, then turns into pain if you lose them and into boredom if you keep them.

One person feels quite secure with practically no money in the bank, another feels insecure even though he has millions. It isn’t the amount of money but their programming that makes the difference. One person has no friends, yet feels perfectly secure in the love of people. Another feels insecure even in the most possessive and exclusive of relationships. Again the difference is in the programming.

The present moment, no matter how painful, is never unbearable. What is unbearable is what you think is going to happen in five hours or in five days; and those words you keep saying in your head, words like, “This is terrible, this is unbearable, how long is this going to last,” and so on.

In order to live you must look reality in the face and then you will shed your fear of losing people and develop a taste for newness and change and uncertainty. You will shed your fear of losing the known and expectantly wait and welcome the unfamiliar and the unknown.