The Way to Love - by Anthony de Mello

Take each one of these meditations and carry them with you throughout your day. Challenge his ideas, mull over his thoughts, and then be silent.

Profit and Loss

Observe yourself in the course of a day or a week and think how many actions of yours are performed, how many activities engaged in that are uncontaminated by the desire for these thrills, these excitements that only produce emptiness, the desire for attention, approval, fame, popularity, success or power. And take a look at the people around you. Is there a single one of them who has not become addicted to these worldly feelings? A single one who is not controlled by them, hungers for them, spends every minute of his/her waking life consciously or unconsciously seeking them? When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul. For they live empty, soulless lives.


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. What are these false beliefs that block you from happiness? Here are some examples. First: You cannot be happy without the things that you are attached to and that you consider so precious. False. There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything that you need to be happy. Think of that for a minute. The reason why you are unhappy is because you are focusing on what you do not have rather than on what you have right now. Another belief: Happiness is in the future. Not true. Right here and now you are happy and you do not know it because your false beliefs and your distorted perceptions have got you caught up in fears, anxieties, attachments, conflicts, guilt and a host of games that you are programmed to play. If you would see through this you would realize that you are happy and do not know it. Yet another belief: Happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you. Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world. If changing the world is your vocation in life, go right ahead and change it, but do not harbor the illusion that this is going to make you happy. What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head.

Another false belief: If all your desires are fulfilled you will be happy. Not true. In fact it is these very desires and attachments that make you tense, frustrated, nervous, insecure and fearful.

What then is happiness? 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.

If people want happiness so badly, why don’t they attempt to understand their false beliefs? First, because it never occurs to them to see them as false or even as beliefs. They see them as facts and reality, so deeply have they been programmed. Second, because they are scared to lose the only world they know: the world of desires, attachments, fears, social pressures, tensions, ambitions, worries, guilt, with flashes of the pleasure and relief and excitement which these things bring.

So spend some time seeing each of the things you cling to for what it really is, a nightmare that causes you excitement and pleasure on the one hand but also worry, insecurity, tension, anxiety, fear, unhappiness on the other.

The Extra Mile

If you take a look at the way you have been put together and the way you function you will find that inside your head there is a whole program, a set of demands about how the world should be, how you should be and what you should want. Who is responsible for the programming? Not you. It was your parents, your society, your culture, your religion, your past experiences who fed the operating instructions into your computer.

And so you live a pathetic existence, constantly at the mercy of things and people, trying desperately to make them conform to your computer’s demands, so that you can enjoy the only peace you can ever know—a temporary respite from negative emotions, courtesy of your computer and your programming.

Don’t stop till you have grasped this truth: The only reason why you too are not reacting calmly and happily is your computer that is stubbornly insisting that reality be reshaped to conform to its programming. Observe all of this from the outside so to speak and see the marvelous change that comes about in you. Once you have understood this truth and thereby stopped your computer from generating negative emotions you may take any action you deem fit. But only after you have got rid of your emotional upsets, for then your action will spring from peace and love, not from the neurotic desire to appease your computer or to conform to its programming or to get rid of the negative emotions it generates.

He Went Away Sad

If you wish to be happy the first thing you need is not effort or even goodwill or good desires but a clear understanding of how exactly you have been programmed. This is what happened: First your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons and certain things.

Once you swallowed your belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thing you were convinced you could not be happy without. Then came the efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it. This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it and miserable when you lost it. Stop for a moment now and contemplate in horror the endless list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of concrete things and persons, not abstractions.

Once your attachment had you in its grip you began to strive might and main, every waking minute of your life, to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment. This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever-changing world that you simply are not able to control. So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, tension.

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.

Pass in review now all those attachments of yours. And to each person or object that comes to mind say: “I am not really attached to you at all. I am merely deluding myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy.” Just do this honestly and see the change that comes about within you.

The Eye of a Needle

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.

There is only one way to win the battle of attachments: Drop them. Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All you have to do is see, but really see, the following truths. First truth: You are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing you will not be happy.

Second truth: If you just enjoy things, refusing to let yourself be attached to them, that is, refusing to hold the false belief that you will not be happy without them, you are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for yourself.

The third and final truth: If you learn to enjoy the scent of a thousand flowers you will not cling to one or suffer when you cannot get it.

Bring In the Poor

Think of someone you dislike—someone you generally avoid because his/her presence generates negative feelings in you. Imagine yourself in this person’s presence now and watch the negative emotions arise ... you are, quite conceivably, in the presence of someone who is poor, crippled, blind or lame. Now understand that if you invite this person, this beggar from the streets and alleys into your home, that is, into your presence, he/she will make you a gift that none of your charming, pleasant friends can make you, rich as they are. He or she is going to reveal yourself to you and reveal human nature to you—a revelation as precious as any found in Scripture, for what will it profit you to know all the Scriptures if you do not know yourself and so live the life of a robot?

Now take a look at yourself reacting negatively and ask yourself the following question: “Am I in charge of this situation or is this situation in charge of me?” That is the first revelation. With it comes the second: The way to be in charge of this situation is to be in charge of yourself, which you are not. How does one achieve this mastery? All you have to do is understand that there are people in the world who, if they were in your place, would not be negatively affected by this person. They would be in charge of the situation, above it, not subject to it as you are. Therefore, your negative feelings are caused, not by this person, as you mistakenly think, but by your programming. Here is the third and major revelation. See what happens when you really understand this.

Having received these revelations about yourself, listen to this revelation concerning human nature. This behavior, this trait in the other person that causes you to react negatively—do you realize that he or she is not responsible for it? You can hold on to your negative feelings only when you mistakenly believe that he or she is free and aware and therefore responsible. But who ever did evil in awareness? The ability to do evil or to be evil is not freedom but a sickness for it implies a lack of consciousness and sensitivity.

The Blind See

There is an enormous amount of information that is continuously flowing in from the world through the senses, the tissues of the organs of your body. Only a small part of this information reaches your conscious mind. 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.

Your attachments: You will inevitably look for what fosters or threatens them and turn a blind eye to the rest.

Your beliefs: Just take a look at a fanatic who only notices what confirms his/her belief and blocks out whatever threatens it and you will understand what your beliefs are doing to you. And then your fears: If you knew you were to be executed in a week’s time it would wonderfully concentrate your mind to the exclusion of everything else. That is what fears do; they irresistibly rivet your attention on to some things to the exclusion of others. You falsely think that your fears protect you, your beliefs have made you what you are and your attachments make your life exciting and secure. You fail to see that they are actually a screen between you and life’s symphony.

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. Because when you look at life it is these attachments and fears that will decide what you will notice and what you block out. Whatever you notice then commands your attention. And since your looking has been selective you have an illusory version of the things and people around you. The more you live with this distorted version the more you become convinced that it is the only true picture of the world because your attachments and fears continue to process incoming data in a way that will reinforce your picture. This is what gives origin to your beliefs: fixed, unchanging ways of looking at a reality which is not fixed and unchanging at all but in movement and change. So it is no longer the real world that you interact with and love but a world created by your head. It is only when you drop your beliefs, your fears and the attachments that breed them that you will be freed from the insensitivity that makes you so deaf and blind to yourself and to the world.

Heaven At Hand

The first truth: You must choose between your attachment and happiness. You cannot have both.

The second truth: Where did your attachment come from? You were not born with it. It sprang from a lie that your society and your culture have told you, or a lie that you have told yourself, namely, that without this or the other, without this person or the other, you can’t be happy.

The third truth: 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.

And so the fourth truth brings you to the unavoidable conclusion that no thing or person outside of you has the power to make you happy or unhappy. Whether you are aware of it or not it is you and only you who decides to be happy or unhappy, whether you will cling to your attachment or not in any given situation.

No Stone Will Be Left

Think of a flabby person covered with layers of fat. That is what your mind can become—flabby, covered with layers of fat till it becomes too dull and lazy to think, to observe, to explore, to discover. It loses its alertness, its aliveness, its flexibility and goes to sleep. Look around you and you will see almost everyone with minds like that: dull, asleep, protected by layers of fat, not wanting to be disturbed or questioned into wakefulness. What are these layers? Every belief that you hold, every conclusion you have reached about persons and things, every habit and every attachment. In your formative years you should have been helped to scrape off these layers and liberate your mind. Instead your society, your culture, which put these layers on your mind in the first place, has educated you to not even notice them, to go to sleep and let other people—the experts: your politicians, your cultural and religious leaders—do your thinking for you. So you are weighed down with the load of unexamined, unquestioned authority and tradition.

What can you do to break out? Four things: First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep.

Second, contemplate the walls, spend hours just observing your ideas, your habits, your attachments and your fears without any judgment and condemnation. Look at them and they will crumble.

Third, spend some time observing the things and people around you. Look, but really look, as if for the very first time, at the face of a friend, a leaf, a tree, a bird in flight, the behavior and mannerisms of the people around you. Really see them and hopefully you will see them afresh as they are in themselves without the dulling, stupefying effect of your ideas and habits.

The fourth and most important step: Sit down quietly and observe how your mind functions. There is a steady flow of thoughts and feelings and reactions there. Watch the whole of it for long stretches of time the way you watch a river or a movie.

The unaware life, it is said, is not worth living. It cannot even be called life; it is a mechanical, robot existence; a sleep, an unconsciousness, a death; and yet this is what people call human life!

How to Give?

A 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. Your left hand has no idea that your right hand is doing something good or meritorious. You simply do it because it seems the natural, spontaneous thing to do. Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself. If it were real virtue you would have enjoyed it thoroughly and would feel so natural that it wouldn’t occur to you to think of it as a virtue. So the first quality of holiness is its unself-consciousness.

The second quality is its effortlessness. Effort can change behavior, it cannot change you. Think of this: Effort can put food into your mouth, it cannot produce an appetite; it can keep you in bed, it cannot produce sleep; it can make you reveal a secret to another but it cannot produce trust; it can force you to pay a compliment, it cannot produce genuine admiration; effort can perform acts of service, it is powerless to produce love or holiness. All you can achieve by your effort is repression, not genuine change and growth. Change is only brought about by awareness and understanding.

There is a third quality of holiness: It cannot be desired. If you desire happiness you will be anxious lest you do not attain it. You will be constantly in a state of dissatisfaction; and dissatisfaction and anxiety kill the very happiness that they set out to gain. When you desire holiness for yourself you feed the very greed and ambition that make you so selfish and vain and unholy.

Serpents and Doves


Our challenge is to recapture the simplicity and wisdom of the dove without losing the cunningness of the serpentine brain. How can you achieve this? Through an important realization, namely, that every time you strive to improve on Nature by going against it, you will damage yourself, for Nature is your very being. It is as if your right hand were to fight your left hand or your right foot were to stamp on your left foot. Both sides lose and, instead of being creative and alive, you are locked in conflict.

In a conflict between Nature and your brain, back Nature; if you fight her, she will eventually destroy you. The secret therefore is to improve on Nature in harmony with Nature. How can you achieve this harmony? First: Think of some change that you wish to bring about in your life or in your personality. Are you attempting to force this change on your nature through effort and through the desire to become something that your ego has planned? That is the serpent fighting the dove. Or are you content to study, observe, understand, be aware of your present state and problems, without pushing, without forcing things that your ego desires, leaving Reality to effect changes according to Nature’s plans, not yours? Then you have the perfect blending of the serpent and the dove.

Take a look at some of those problems of yours, those changes you desire in yourself, and observe your way of going about it. See how you attempt to bring about change—both in yourself and in others—through the use of punishment and reward, through discipline and control, through sermonizing and guilt, through greed and pride, ambition and vanity, rather than through loving acceptance and patience, painstaking understanding and vigilant awareness.

Second: Think of your body and compare it with the body of an animal that is left in its natural habitat.

If your body could speak, what would it say to you? Observe the greed, the ambition, the vanity, the desire to show off and to please others, the guilt that drives you to ignore the voice of your body while you chase after objectives set by your ego. You have indeed lost the simplicity of the dove.

Third: Ask yourself how much you are in touch with Nature, with trees and earth and grass and sky and wind and rain and sun and flowers and birds and animals. How much are you exposed to Nature? How much do you commune with her, observe her, contemplate her in wonder, identify with her? When your body is too long withdrawn from the elements, it withers, it becomes flabby and fragile because it has been isolated from its life force. When you are too long separated from Nature, your spirit withers and dies because it has been wrenched from its roots.

Men of Violence

Consider your sad condition. You are always dissatisfied with yourself, always wanting to change yourself. So you are full of violence and self-intolerance which only grows with every effort that you make to change yourself. So any change you achieve is always accompanied by inner conflict. And you suffer when you see others achieve what you have not and become what you are not.

There is another way besides laborious self-pushing on the one hand and stagnant acceptance on the other. It is the way of self-understanding. This is far from easy because to understand what you are requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else. If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgment or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be nonselective, comprehensive, never fixed on rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment. Then you will notice a marvelous thing happening within you: You will be flooded with the light of awareness, you will become transparent and transformed.

Show No Partiality

You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself. 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.

You must not think for love to arise in your heart, you must first meet people. That would not be love but attraction or compassion. Rather it is love that first springs in the heart through your contact with the Real. Not love for any particular person or thing but the reality of love—an attitude, a disposition of love. This love then radiates outward to yhe world of things and persons. If you desire this love to exist in your life you must break loose from your inward dependence on people by becoming aware of it and by engaging in activities that you love to do for themselves.

One Teacher

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or scientific or mathematical like algebra or English or riding a cycle or operating a computer. But in the things that really matter, life, love, reality, God, no one can teach you a thing. All they can do is give you formulas. And as soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas you will be imprisoned.

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. So what can teachers do? They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they cannot show you Reality; they can destroy your formulas, they cannot make you see what the formula is pointing to; they can indicate your error, they cannot put you in possession of the Truth. They can, at the most, point in the direction of Reality, they cannot tell you what to see. You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself. Then you will never cease to learn as each day you observe and understand afresh the whole process and movement of life. Then every single thing will be your teacher. So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher whoever your teacher may be and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you see.

Become Like Children

How much of the innocence of childhood do you still retain, is there anyone today in whose presence you can be simply and totally yourself, as nakedly open and innocent as a child?

Love One Another

This is the first quality of love: its indiscriminate character. How does one attain this quality of love? Anything you do will only make it forced, cultivated and therefore phony, for love cannot be forced. There is nothing you can do. But there is something you can drop. 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. "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

A second quality of love—its gratuitousness. Like the tree, the rose, the lamp, it gives and asks for nothing in return. Is your own love any different when you seek the company of those who bring you emotional gratification and avoid those who don't; when you are positively disposed toward people who give you what you want and live up to your expectations and are negative or indifferent toward those who don't? Here too there is only one thing that you need to do to acquire this quality of gratuitousness that characterizes love. You can open your eyes and see. Just seeing, just exposing your so-called love for what it really is, a camouflage for selfishness and greed, is a major step toward arriving at this second quality of love.

The third quality of love is its unselfconsciousness. Love so enjoys the loving that it is blissfully unaware of itself. Love exists independently of persons. Love simply is, it has no object.

The final quality of love is its freedom. The moment coercion or control or conflict enters, love dies. Think for a while of all the coercion and control that you submit to on the part of others when you so anxiously live up to their expectations in order to buy their love and approval or because you fear you will lose them. Each time you submit to this control and this coercion you destroy the capacity to love which is your very nature, for you cannot but do to others what you allow others to do to you.

Love Your Enemies

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?" Do this right now. Think of some irritating person you know and say this painful but liberating sentence to yourself. "The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me." Having said that, begin the task of finding out how you are causing the irritation. First look into the very real possibility that the reason why this person's defects or so-called defects annoy you is that you have them yourself.

Here is something else worth looking at: Can it be that you are annoyed at what this person says or does because those words and behavior are pointing out something in your life and in yourself that you are refusing to see?

Another thing is also clear: You become irritated with this person because he/she is not living up to the expectation that have been programmed into you. If you seek to change this person or to stop this person's behavior, will you not be more effective if you were not irritated? Irritation will only cloud your perception and make your action less effective. Everyone knows that when a sportsman or a boxer loses his temper, the quality of his play goes down because it becomes uncoordinated through passion and anger.

And here is a final truth for you to consider: Given the background, the life experience, and the unawareness of this person, he cannot help behaving the way he does. It has been so well said that to understand all is to forgive all. If you really understood this person you would see him as crippled and not blameworthy, and your irritation would instantly cease. And the next thing you know you will be treating him/her with love, and he/she is responding with love and you find yourself living in a loving world which you have yourself created.

Tax Collectors and Sinners

If you wish to get in touch with the reality of a thing, the first thing you must understand is that every idea distorts reality and is a barrier to seeing reality. The idea is not the reality, the idea "wine" is not wine, the idea "woman" is not this woman.

There is yet another barrier to the perception of reality—the judgment. This thing or person is good or bad, ugly or beautiful. 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."

Be Awake

The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is.

The second ingredient is equally important to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences.

Judge Not

Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you. Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad. Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you are constantly discovering anew.

Having done this move on now to people you dislike. First observe what it is in them that you dislike, study their defects impartially and with detachment. That means you cannot use labels like proud, lazy, selfish, arrogant. The label is an act of mental laziness, for it is easy to stick a label onto someone. It is difficult and challenging to see this person in his/her uniqueness. You must study those defects clinically, that means, you must first make sure of your objectivity. Consider the possibility that what you see as a defect in them may not be a defect at all but really something that your upbringing and conditioning have led you to dislike. If after this you still see a defect there, understand that the origin of the defect lies in childhood experiences, past conditionings, faulty thinking and perception; and above all in unawareness, not in malice. As you do this your attitude will change into love and forgiveness, for to study, to observe, to understand is to forgive.

Having made this study of defects, now search for the treasures buried in this person that your dislike prevented you from seeing before. And as you do this observe any change of attitude or feeling that comes over you, for your dislike had clouded the vision and prevented you from seeing. You can now move on to each of the persons you live and work with, observing how each of them becomes transformed in your eyes when you look at them in this way.

Now make this same gift to yourself. If you have been able to do it for others that should be fairly easy. Follow the same procedure: No defect, no neurosis is judged or condemned. You have not judged others, you will be amazed now that you yourself are not being judged. Those defects are probed, studied, analyzed, for a better understanding that leads to love and forgiveness, and you will discover to your joy that you are being transformed by this strangely loving attitude that arises within you toward this thing you call yourself. An attitude that arises within you and moves out through you to every living creature.

Suffering and Glory

Think of some of the painful events in your life. For how many of them are you grateful today, because thanks to them you changed and grew? 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.

Now think of some recent event that caused you pain, that produced negative feelings in you. Whoever or whatever caused those feelings was your teacher, because they revealed so much to you about yourself that you probably did not know. And they offered you an invitation and a challenge to self-understanding, self-discovery, and therefore to growth and life and freedom. Try it out now, identify the negative feeling that this event aroused in you. Was it anxiety or insecurity, jealousy or anger or guilt? What does that emotion say to you about yourself, your values, your way of perceiving the world and life and above all your programming and conditioning? If you succeed in discovering this, you will drop some illusion you have clung to till now, or you will change a distorted perception or correct a false belief or learn to distance yourself from your suffering, as you realize that it was caused by your programming and not by reality; and you will suddenly find that you are full of gratitude for those negative feelings and to that person or event that caused them.

Consider the Lilies

If you wish to deal with your feelings of insecurity there are four facts that you must study well and understand. First, it is futile to ease your insecurity feelings by trying to change things outside of you. Your efforts may be successful, though mostly they are not. They may bring some relief, but the relief will be short-lived. So it is not worth the energy and time you spend in improving your physical appearance or making more money or getting further reassurances of love from your friends.

Second, this fact will lead you to tackle the problem where it really is, inside your head. Think of the people who in exactly the same condition that you find yourself in now would not feel the slightest insecurity. There are such people. Therefore the problem lies not with reality outside of you but with you, in your programming.

Third, you must understand that this programming of yours was picked up from insecure people who, when you were very young and impressionable, taught you by their behavior and their panic reactions that every time the outside world did not conform to a certain pattern, you must create an emotional turmoil within yourself called insecurity. And you must do everything in your power to rearrange the outside world—make more money, seek more reassurances, placate and please the people you have offended, etc., etc.—in order to make the insecurity feelings go away. The mere realization that you don't have to do this, that doing this really solves nothing, and that the emotional turmoil is caused solely by you and your culture—this realization alone distances you from the problem and brings considerable relief.

Fourth, whenever you are insecure about what may happen in the future, just remember this: In the past six months or one year you were so insecure about events which when they finally came you were able to handle somehow. Thanks to the energy and the resources that that particular present moment gave you, and not to all the previous worrying which only made you suffer needlessly and weakened you emotionally. So, say to yourself: "If there is anything I can do about the future, right now, I shall do it. Then I'm going to just leave it alone and settle down to enjoy the present moment, because all the experience of my life has shown me that I can only cope with things when they are present, not before they occur. And that the present always gives me the resources and the energy I need to deal with them."

The final disappearance of insecurity feelings will only come when you have attained that blessed ability of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field to live fully in the present, one moment at a time. 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.

Lost and Found

So you fear life and you fear death because you cling. When you cling to nothing, when you have no fear of losing anything, then you are free to flow like the mountain stream that is always fresh and sparkling and alive. Do you want a way to measure the degree of your rigidity and your deadness? Observe the amount of pain you experience when you lose a cherished idea or person or thing. The pain and the grief betray your clinging, do they not? Why is it that you grieve so much at the death of a loved one or the loss of a friend? You never took the time to seriously consider that all things change and pass away and die.

The Lamp of the Body

Look into yourself and examine your reactions to persons and situations, and you will be appalled to discover the prejudiced thinking behind your reactions. It is almost never the concrete reality of this person or thing that you are responding to. You are responding to principles, ideologies, belief systems, economic, political, religious, psychological belief systems; to preconceived ideas and prejudices, whether positive or negative. Take them one at a time, each person and thing and situation and search for your bias separating the reality here before you from your programmed perceptions and your projections. And this exercise will afford you a revelation as divine as any that the Scriptures could provide you with.

Be Ready

Holiness is not an achievement, it is a Grace. A Grace called Awareness, a grace called Looking, Observing, Understanding. If you would only switch on the light of awareness and observe yourself and everything around you throughout the day, if you would see youself reflected in the mirror of awareness the way you see your face reflected in a looking glass, that is, accurately, clearly, exactly as it is without the slightest distortion or addition, and if you observed this reflection without any judgment or condemnation, you would experience all sorts of marvelous changes coming about in you. Only you will not be in control of those changes, or be able to plan them in advance, or decide how and when they are to take place. It is this nonjudgmental awareness alone that heals and changes and makes one grow. But in its own way and at its own time.

What specifically are you to be aware of? Your reactions and your relationships. Each time you are in the presence of a person, any person, or with Nature or with any particular situation, you have all sorts of reactions, positive and negative. Study those reactions, observe what exactly they are and where they come from, without any sermonizing or guilt or even any desire, much less effort to change them. That is all that one needs for holiness to arise.