If You Like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, With a Dash of Bill Hicks…

…you will certainly enjoy Anthony de Mello.

Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist.   If his being Catholic leads you to believe that perhaps his view of faith might be different from yours, look further.  He didn’t preach dogma, he preached awareness, which was actually the title of one of his most famous books:  Awareness:  The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.

Reading him is like reading a little Eckhart Tolle (dying to the ego and disidentifying with thoughts), a little Byron Katie (accepting what is) and even Meister Eckhart (detachment). Overall, he embodies the wisdom of the sages and saints throughout time.

His approach is a little different–he’s part Aesop, part Joseph Campbell, part Bill Hicks--making his points with parables, fables and jokes (admittedly his jokes were a little cleaner than those of Bill Hicks).  His reading style is very easy, because many of the books he has “authored” are simply transcripts of seminars he gave to increasingly expanding audiences, up until he died prematurely at the age of 56.

There are some conspiracy theories about his death–he, like Thomas Merton, died an untimely death just when their popularity could be construed as a threat to the strict teachings of the Church.  Both Merton and de Mello melded Buddhism with Christian faith.  De Mello also often drew in teachings of the Bagavad Gita and other sacred teachings of his native India.  I don’t personally have any opinions as to the cause of his death:  as he himself would say, who cares?  But I only mention it because it shows how he, like many spiritual leaders who are most interested in the truth, defied fitting into a box based on ideology or religious precepts.

I read Awareness some time ago, and loved it then.  I don’t know why, but I was compelled to go back and read a little more–I guess as part of my New Year’s resolution to increase my mindfulness.

So, you know how when you go to Amazon, they say, “If you enjoyed THAT book, you might enjoy THIS book”?  Well, if you enjoy Eckhart Tolle quotes, you might enjoy this de Mello quote:

As you identify less and less with the “me”, you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don’t have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last!

If you like Byron Katie quotes, you might enjoy this de Mello quote:

Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality when your falsehoods clash with the truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.

And if you like Bill Hicks, you might enjoy this bit of de Mello stand-up:


  1. Isn’t he wonderful. So accessable! As for his premature death and what the papacy said about him … well remember Pierre de Chardin and the way Rome attacked and cut him off! so much insecurity in that place …pathetic.

  2. My understanding is that he died of a heart attack. He visited with his brother, who also was in the States at the same time, excused himself, saying he did not feel well and was found dead the next morning in his hotel room. He was to start another lecture tour in the States when he passed on.
    Thanks for your book recommendation. I will order it from the library.

    • Just wanted to add one more thing. I don’t believe anyone dies an untimely death. Once our purpose or our mission in this lifetime is completed, we move on.
      The same with Thomas Merton. Some may call his death accidental, as he touched an ungrounded fan after stepping out of the shower in Bangkok. I believe it was his time to transition. He had fulfilled his purpose. There was no longer a need for him to be in this life.

      • Catherine says:

        Wow, you know your stuff, Ruth! Thanks so much for this information–and thanks particularly for this comment. I have a Hindu-convert cousin, who was a lifelong devotee to Sri Chinmoy, who died a couple of years ago at the age of 76. That seems like a decent age, but he was known not only for his spiritual pursuits but his athletic ones as well–he ran all the time and also performed great feats of strength. So I said to my cousin “Boy, you’d think he would have lived longer being as strong and healthy as he was.”

        Her response was exactly what you said–he had fulfilled his purpose. Again, I need to be reminded that there is no untimely death. That is one of the spiritual realities that have a harder time accepting. It seems so unfair for those of us who hunger for spiritual direction to lose our leaders to a bad dinner or a faulty wire. Hmmm…or a Crucifixion (aha!).

        BTW, another de Mello book I’m reading, which is really geared as a guide for the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, is Seek God Everywhere. It’s also excellent.

        Thanks for the comment, Ruth!

  3. My daily prayer is “Let me live until I learned the lessons I have come to earth for.” Our teachers leave us with all we need to know to find God. And our inner teacher can be found in silence. We can rejoice in other people’s death, because it is the coming home to our true life on the other side.
    I am just another seeker, working on detachment and patience right now, so I will be ready for my transition.

  4. Another good series to watch is “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. The entire book is on video with link below. It was Dr. Ross’ last book before her transition.


  5. Here is the link to Tony de Mello’s biography written by his brother, Bill de Mello:
    In it Bill talks about their last meeting and Tony’s subsequent death.

  6. What a great post! Thank you for stopping in at Slow Muse and thereby introducing your blog to me. I’ll be a regular.

  7. Thank you Catherine. Your blog is wonderful. Best regards, Cormac (Ireland)

  8. Thought you might like this Catherine. Regards and best wishes, Cormac (Ireland)

    Everything is Waiting for You

    Your great mistake is to act the drama
    as if you were alone. As if life
    were a progressive and cunning crime
    with no witness to the tiny hidden
    transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
    the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
    even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
    the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
    out your solo voice You must note
    the way the soap dish enables you,
    or the window latch grants you freedom.
    Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
    The stairs are your mentor of things
    to come, the doors have always been there
    to frighten you and invite you,
    and the tiny speaker in the phone
    is your dream-ladder to divinity.

    Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
    the conversation. The kettle is singing
    even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
    have left their arrogant aloofness and
    seen the good in you at last. All the birds
    and creatures of the world are unutterably
    themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

    – David Whyte
    from Everything is Waiting for You
    ©2003 Many Rivers Press

    • Cormac, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful poem! I apologize for the delay in responding–I’ve been away for a few weeks and am just catching up. I appreciate your comments.

      • You are very welcome Catherine. Welcome back!

        Here is something that you and others may find interesting. It is a favourite prayer of mine.

        The Origin of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis

        by Dr. Christian Renoux, Associate Professor of the University of Orleans, France
        Original Text of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis

        Belle prière à faire pendant la Messe
        Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
        Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
        Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
        Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
        Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
        Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
        Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
        Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
        Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
        Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.

        Source: La Clochette, n° 12, déc. 1912, p. 285.

        Origin of this Prayer

        The first appearance of the Peace Prayer occurred in France in 1912 in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell). It was published in Paris by a Catholic association known as La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The Holy Mass League), founded in 1901 by a French priest, Father Esther Bouquerel (1855-1923). The prayer bore the title of ‘Belle prière à faire pendant la messe’ (A Beautiful Prayer to Say During the Mass), and was published anonymously. The author could possibly have been Father Bouquerel himself, but the identity of the author remains a mystery.

        The prayer was sent in French to Pope Benedict XV in 1915 by the French Marquis Stanislas de La Rochethulon. This was soon followed by its 1916 appearance, in Italian, in L’Osservatore Romano [the Vatican’s daily newspaper]. Around 1920, the prayer was printed by a French Franciscan priest on the back of an image of St. Francis with the title ‘Prière pour la paix’ (Prayer for Peace) but without being attributed to the saint. Between the two world wars, the prayer circulated in Europe and was translated into English. Its has been attributed the first time to saint Francis in 1927 by a French Protestant Movement, Les Chevaliers du Prince de la Paix (The Knights of the Prince of Peace), founded by Étienne Bach (1892-1986).

        The first translation in English that we know of appeared in 1936 in Living Courageously, a book by Kirby Page (1890-1957), a Disciple of Christ minister, pacifist, social evangelist, writer and editor of The World Tomorrow (New York City). Page clearly attributed the text to St. Francis of Assisi. During World War II and immediately after, this prayer for peace began circulating widely as the Prayer of St. Francis, specially through Francis cardinal Spellman’s books, and over the years has gained a worldwide popularity with people of all faiths.

  9. Bill deMello says:

    Hello Catherine and everyone,
    This is Bill deMello, Tony deMello’s younger brother. Since posting that short e-biography about my brother in 2000, I’ve expanded it into a full length book. The book was launched in Tony’s hometown of Bandra, Mumbai April 22nd 2012 by the publisher who produced most of his books, Gujarat Sahitya Prakash:http://www.gspbooks.in/newrelease.php
    I am pleased to announce the book’s arrival in the USA through Orbis books:http://www.maryknollsocietymall.org/description.cfm?ISBN=978-1-62698-020-4 and of course through Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/Anthony-deMello-The-Happy-Wanderer/dp/1626980209/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t
    I know most of you(Tony fans, followers and admirers) love Awareness. I have discussed the impact this book had on my life in my book. More recently however, I have discovered yet another precious GEM! Call to Love(Gujatat Sahitya Prakash, Anand Gujarat India) first published this work in 1991. These are meditations, written by Tony and found in his room after his death. Later, Image books issued this book under the title:The Way to Love.
    I draw this conclusion: Some years ago, I read Lord of the Rings and I recall one of my sons telling me I should read The Hobbit first.
    My recommendation is: read Call to Love or The Way to Love first, before moving on to Awareness and Tony’s other conferences. These meditations are the foundation for all his conferences. This in my opinion, is Tony’s finest work.
    Thank you Catherine for maintaining this blog and for keeping Tony’s dream alive. I wish you all Peace and Love!

    • Catherine says:

      Bill, it is truly an honor to have you comment on this post! Thank you! And also, thanks for the information about your book and the others. I will definitely look them up. By the way, you should know that this post is actually the most viewed post on my blog by far, so I am very happy to do some very small part to keeping your brother’s memory and writings alive. All the best to you.

      • Bill deMello says:

        I in turn thank you again Catherine, for giving me the opportunity to draw attention to Tony’s biography. I shall be a regular visitor to your blog. I am not as regular with mine but intend to devote more time to it in the future.
        How heartening it is to see so many people on your blog who love and admire Tony’s work.
        Mank thanks once again.

  10. So wonderful to see Tony’s teachings reaching a new audience! I discovered de Mello in 1998 and my life has changed completely because of it. He had a wonderfully inviting way of showing us God’s One Lesson — through stories, humor, and straightforward logic. I’ve made this music video in tribute to him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksAQ6t50a5g

    Douglas Knight

    • Catherine says:

      Hi, Douglas! Sorry for my delay in replying–I wanted to wait until I had time to spend listening to your music video, Wake Up (Life is a Banquet). I never thought I’d like electronic music, but I have to say, it was very compelling–and a very effective way to relay this important message!

      I also looked at some of the other videos you have on your website, Miracle Manor Music, and I enjoyed those, too. Interestingly, only last night I was reading Bill deMello’s book, The Happy Wanderer, and learned that the title is based on the song of the same name, which made me smile because my cousin and I used to sing that song a lot when we were very young, tromping around in the woods together. And from the insights I have learned so far in the book, that title is a very fitting one for Fr. deMello.

      So anyway, when I saw your video of Anthony deMello actually singing The Happy Wanderer, I felt like I had received a book bonus! And it actually made me a little misty. So, thanks very much!

  11. Bill deMello says:

    I see that the new Pope also happens to be a Jesuit. How interesting! I am going to ask my publisher to send him a copy of Anthony deMello SJ, The Happy Wanderer.
    I’ve lost touch with matters relating to the Catholic Church but I vaguely remember that in order for a person to be beatified and then canonised, proof of miracles performed by the candidate in question is necessary. Is this correct? Well in that case, Pope Francis may consider Tony deMello as a candidate for sainthood. Not that this would interest or for that matter please Tony one bit. But it’s interesting to note that before he died in 1987 and for twenty five years after, Tony has continued to perform miracles (in spite of the Vatican trying to stifle him) through his books and audio and video conferences. I get messages from people telling me that Tony changed their lives.
    So while he (Tony) may not have performed physical miracles like restoring sight, curing cancer and repairing broken limbs, he certainly performed the miracle of getting people to see. From the messages I receive, Tony is changing lives and bringing freedom to many people. They have thrown away their crutches (of blind faith and obedience) and where they once crawled, they now fly. This could be the only stumbling block (according to the Vatican) in his path to sainthood. Thousands, if not millions of Tony admirers and followers will disagree!

    • Catherine says:

      I am so happy with this choice. I’m a lapsed Catholic, but have never been able to really shake it, nor have I tried. I am happy with his choice of the name Francis, with the fact that he comes from a Jesuit tradition, with the fact that even today, he took the bus with the other cardinals instead of a papal limousine. This all bodes well for the Church, I believe. And I’m sure it’s totally appropriate to “shoot one up” (as my mother would say) to Anthony deMello for intercession and a miracle of the heart–perhaps Rome will learn and listen!

  12. Bill deMello says:

    The more I hear Papa Francisco speak, the more I like him. Not that his actions are of deep concern to me. As an Agnositc, I am not particularly sensitive to matters concerning the church. Reading this article though, I see he is all-inclusive. He comes across as a softy( a gentle, kindly man) but watch out Curia; I think he has a will of steel when it comes to fairness and justice. The needy and opressed can take heart. Please take a look at the link: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/03/20/full-text-of-pope-franciss-address-to-religious-leader/

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks, Bill! Hopeful article. The quote I liked best was:
      “[We] must not allow the vision of the human person with a single dimension to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one most dangerous threats of our times.”

  13. It is so wonderful to see the post about Anthony de Mello and read his brother’s words!
    I was introduced to Anthony’s books “One minute of wisdom” and “One minute of nonsense” a few years ago. I loved them so much that I had to learn more about the author. Oh, my programming and stereotypes! I was imagining a guy with the face of a European background, but it was not! I bought as many Anthony’s books as possible and started searching Youtube to see if somebody uploaded something on Anthony de Mello. I found his presentation to students at Fordham University! I listened and listened. Then I decided to find books in Russian since it is my first language and spread the word to my Russian-speaking friends. I found them, but my friends, even the friend who gave me One minute books was not ready to read or understand them….
    I am not disappointed. I continue rereading Anthony de Mello, I completely agree with his philosophy of life, but I am from the cohort for whom it takes 25 years to completely accept it. But I know that I do not want to look back, and very often I feel happy for no reason.
    PS If somebody is interested, now Youtube has two more presentations by Anthony de Mello, Wake Up! and Awareness, in addition to Rediscovering Life.

  14. This man changed my life!

    I have the audio version of the “Awareness” seminar which I’ve listened to it several times. I have many insights each time I listen to it.

    I actually bought the book just a few months ago as I wanted to be able to highlight my favorite bits and to hear his words through my own dialog, although when I’m reading it, I do hear it in his voice.

    Thanks for this post, discovered some new people too 🙂


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