September 2018

"The Age of We Need Each Other" by Charles Eisenstein

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July 5th, 2017

Fifteen years ago when I began writing books, I had high hopes that someday I would be “discovered” and that “my message” would thereby reach millions of people and change the world for the better.

That ambition began to disintegrate soon after when after years of labor
The Ascent of Humanity found no takers in the publishing world. So I self-published, still hoping that word-of-mouth would propel it to best-seller status. That would show all those publishers! I remember looking at the sales numbers in August 2007 – its fifth month, about the time it should have been gaining momentum. Total sales that month: five copies. Around the same time I was evicted from my apartment (having pinned all my hopes and income on the book) and spent the next half year living temporarily in other people’s houses, children in tow.

It was a painful yet beautiful clarifying experience that asked me, “Why are you doing this work? Is it because you hope to become a celebrated intellectual? Or do you really care about serving the healing of the world?” The experience of failure revealed my secret hopes and motivations.

I had to admit there was some of both motivations, self and service. OK, well, a lot of both. I realized I had to let go of the first motive, or it would occlude the second. Around that time I had a vision of a spiritual being that came to me and said, “Charles, is it really your wish that the work you do fulfill its potential and exercise its right role in the evolution of all things?”

“Yes,” I said, “that is my wish.”
“OK then,” said the being. “I can make that happen, but you will have to pay a price. The price is that you will never be recognized for your role. The story you are speaking will change the world, but you will never get credit for it. You will never get wealth, fame, or prestige. Do you agree to pay that price?”

I tried to worm my way out of it, but the being was unyielding. If it was going to be either-or, how could I live with myself knowing in my heart of hearts I’d betrayed my purpose? So I consented to its offer.
Of course, time would tell that it wasn’t actually either-or. What was important in that clarifying moment was that I declare my ultimate loyalty. Once that happened, recognition and prestige might or might not come as a byproduct, but it wouldn’t be the goal. After all, the work I do isn’t “my” work. These are ideas whose time has come and they need capable scribes. Our true wages in life consist of the satisfaction we get from a job well done. Aside from that, well, the rain falls on the just and unjust alike.

That was part one of the disintegration of my ambition. The first part was the disintegration of personal ambition. The second part was the disintegration of the ambition to do big things to change the world. I began to understand that our concepts of big impact versus small impact are part of what needs to be healed. Our culture validates and celebrates those who are out there with big platforms speaking to millions of people, while ignoring those who do humble, quiet work, taking care of just one sick person, one child, or one small place on this earth.

When I meet one of these people, I know that their impact doesn’t depend on their kind action going viral on the internet and reaching millions of people. Even if no one ever knows and no one ever thanks them for taking in that old woman with dementia and sacrificing a normal life to care for her, that choice sends ripples outward through the fabric of causality. On a five hundred or five thousand year timescale, the impact is no smaller than anything a President does.
Certain choices feel significant to us, unreasonably. The heart calls us to actions that the mind cannot justify in the face of global problems. The logic of bigness can drag us into feelings of irrelevance, leading us to project importance onto the people we see on our screens. But knowing how much harm has been done by those very people in the name of bettering the world, I became wary of playing that game.

The calculating mind thinks that just helping one person has a smaller impact on the world than helping a thousand. It wants to scale up, to get big. That is not necessary in a different causal logic, the logic that knows, “God sees everything,” or the logic of morphic resonance that knows that any change that happens in one place creates a field that allows the same kind of change to happen elsewhere. Acts of kindness strengthen the field of kindness, acts of love strengthen the field of love, acts of hate strengthen the field of hate.

Nor is scaling up necessary when we trust that the tasks life sets before us are part of a larger tapestry, woven by an intelligence that puts us in exactly the right place at the right time.

I attended a funeral recently for a central Pennsylvania farmer, Roy Brubaker, among several hundred mourners. One of the testimonials came from a young farmer who said something like this: “Roy is the one who taught me what success really is. Success is having the capacity to always be there for your neighbors. Any time someone called with a problem, Roy would put down what he was doing and be right over to help.”

This farmer had been Roy’s intern. When he went into business for himself and became Roy’s competitor, Roy helped him along with advice and material aid, and even announced his new competitor’s farm share program to his own mailing list. At the end of his speech, the young farmer said, “I used to think Roy was able to help so many people because he was a successful farmer who had it made. But now I think he was probably more like me, with fifty vegetable crops all crying for attention and a million things to do. He was there for people anyway.”

Roy didn’t wait until he had it made to start being generous.
This is the kind of person that holds the world together. On a practical level, they are the reason society hangs together despite its pervasive injustice, poverty, trauma, and so on. They also anchor the field of love that helps the rest of us serve our purpose rather than our personal ambition.

As I run into more such people and hear their stories, I realize that I don’t need to worry about the size of my audience or about reaching “people of influence.” My job is just to do my work with as much love and sincerity as I can. I can trust that the right people will read it. I am awed and humbled by people like Roy whom I meet in my travels and in my community. They live in service, in love, with great faith and courage, and unlike me they don’t have thousands of people telling them how important their work is. In fact, quite often the system and culture we live in discourages them, telling them that they are foolish, naïve, irresponsible, impractical, and giving them little financial reward. How many times have you been told a life dedicated to beauty or nurture or healing is unrealistic? Maybe after everything on your farm is all ship-shape, maybe after you are personally secure with a solid career and secure investments, maybe then you can afford a little generosity. So I admire people who are generous first, generous with their precious lives. They are my teachers. They are the ones who have eroded my ambition to make it big – even with the excuse of serving the cause.
I am reminded of a Zen teaching story in which the Zen master is approached by a messenger from the emperor. “The emperor has heard of your teaching and wants you to come to court to be the official imperial teacher.”

The Zen master declined the invitation.
A year later the invitation was repeated. This time the master agreed to come. When asked why, he said, “When I first got the invitation, I knew I wasn’t ready because I felt the stirring of excitement. I thought this would be a great chance to spread the Dharma throughout the realm. Then I realized that this ambition, which sees one student as more important than another, disqualified me from being his teacher. I had to wait until I could see the emperor as I would any other person.”
Thanks to the humble people who hold the world together, I am learning no longer to favor the emperor over any other person. What guides me is a certain feeling of resonance, curiosity, or rightness.
Ironically, having lost my careerist ambitions, this year Oprah Winfrey invited me to tape an interview with her for (even more ironically) the show
Super Soul Sunday. Five years ago my heart would have been thumping with excitement at the prospect of making it big, but now the feeling was one of curiosity and adventure. From the God’s-eye perspective, was that hour to be more important than the hour I spent with a friend in need? Or the hour you spent taking a stranger to the emergency room?

Yet my response was an immediate yes, accompanied by feelings of wonderment that my world was intersecting with hers. You see, Oprah occupies nearly a different universe from my own countercultural fringe. Could it be, I think with leaping heart, that the gulf between our worlds is narrowing? That the ideas I serve and the consciousness I speak to are ready to penetrate the mainstream?
I think the conversation with Oprah is a marker of changing times. I was amazed that someone in her position would even take notice of my writing, since it lies quite outside any familiar discourse within the mainstream. (At least I’ve never seen anything in mainstream media remotely similar to
my election article that attracted her attention.) Our meeting is perhaps a sign that our country’s familiar, polarized social discourse is broken, and that her people – the vast and fairly mainstream audience she serves – are willing to look outside it.
By this I do not mean to diminish her extraordinary personal qualities. I experienced her as astute, perceptive, sincere, expansive, and even humble, a master of her art. But I think her reaching out reflects more than these personal qualities.

I sometimes see myself as a kind of receiving antenna for information that a certain segment of humanity is asking for. A use has been found for the weird kid in high school! On a much larger scale, Oprah is something akin to that as well: not just herself, she is an avatar of the collective mind. Deeply attuned to her audience, when she brings something into their view it is probably because she knows they are ready to see it.
During our conversation I sometimes had the feeling that she personally would have liked to geek out and dive much deeper, but that she disciplined herself to remain the antenna of her audience and stay within the format of the program, which doesn’t lend itself to my usual long disquisitions. I meanwhile was trying to frame ideas for a mainstream audience that I expect isn’t familiar with some of my basic operating concepts. Our conversation felt a bit awkward at times, groping for a structure, as if we were trying to furnish a very large house with a motley mix of beautiful but odd furniture. Nonetheless I think we created a habitable enough corner to welcome people into a new perspective.

In the years since my encounter with the spiritual being, I’ve become comfortable in the cultural fringes where my work has found its home. I have scaled back on traveling and speaking in order to spend more time with my precious loved ones and to connect with the source of knowledge in nature, silence, and intimate connections. I’m with my family at my brother’s farm right now, doing farm labor part of the day and writing during the other part. The flurry of publicity that might follow the Oprah appearance (or might not – it could just be a blip on the radar) poses me with another question, the complement of the one my initial “failure” posed. If it serves the work, am I willing to sacrifice the reclusiveness I am coming to love? If it serves, am I willing to be on other programs where the host may not be as gracious as Oprah? Am I willing to be more of a public figure and deal with the attendant projections, positive and negative? Do I have the strength to remember who the real super souls are – the Roy Brubakers, the dolphin rescuers, the hospice workers, the care givers, the peace witnesses, the unpaid healers, the humble grandfathers taking a child berry-picking, the single moms struggling to hold it all together not imagining that their monumental efforts at patience have an impact on the whole world?

Let me be honest with you: if I hadn’t been facing the total collapse of my success fantasies already, I probably wouldn’t have accepted the spiritual being’s offer. And by the way, it is an offer that is constantly renewed. Every day we are asked, “What will you serve?” I had not the strength on my own to say yes to a life of service. Nor do I now, save for the help I receive from others who hold the field, the people who humble me every day with their generosity, sincerity, and selflessness. To the extent I am effective at what I do, it is because of you.

If I am right that my Oprah appearance is a marker (however small) of the unraveling of once-dominant worldviews, then it only happened because the emerging worldview I speak for is being held so strongly now by so many. Take it then as an encouraging sign. Whether or not it proves to be a breakthrough moment for the concepts of empathy and interbeing we discussed, it suggests that they are coming closer toward consensus reality. We will not be alone here much longer. I thank all who have held the field of knowledge I speak from, who believe my words even more than I do myself, and who therefore uphold me in the work that upholds you. That is how we transition from the Age of Separation to the age of We Need Each Other.
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The God of Many Tongues by Sister Joan Chittister

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Each great spiritual tradition, in its own way, suggests a model of what it means to be a holy person. Each of them shines a light on the human ideal. Each of them talks about what it takes to grow, to endure, to develop, to live a spiritual life in a world calculatingly material and sometimes maddeningly unclear.

Every major spiritual tradition—Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam—brings a special gift to the art of living the spiritual life. Each of them refracts the light of its own spiritual wisdom texts in particularly sharp and distinct ways. Each of them strikes a different tone in giving the great truths of life that form a chord, a symphony of truth.

It is an enlightening excursion, this wandering into the spiritual insights of other whole cultures, other whole intuitions of the spiritual life. It depends for its fruitfulness on openness of heart and awareness of mind. But the journey is well worth the exertion it takes to see old ideas in new ways because it can bring us to the very height and depth of ourselves. It can even bring fresh hear¬ing, new meaning to the stories that come down to us through our own tradition. A Sufi story defines the process clearly:

“Tell us what you got from enlightenment,” the seeker said. “Did you become divine?” “No, not divine,” the holy one said. “Did you become a saint?” “Oh dear, no,” the holy one said. “Then what did you become?” the seeker asked. And the holy one answered, “I became awake.”

It is the task of becoming awake to our God, to our world, to the wisdom that even now lies within us, waiting only to be tapped, that is the real meaning of our questions. It is, more than that, the one great task of life.

May your journey through these questions bring you a new moment of awareness. May it be an enlightening one. May you find embedded in the wisdom of the past, like all students of life before you, the answers you yourself are seeking now. May they waken that in you which is deeper than fact, truer than fiction, full of faith. May you come to know that in every human event is a particle of the Divine to which we turn to meaning here, to which we tend for fullness of life hereafter.

God speaks in many tongues, glows in many colors, calls to us in many voices, is beyond any puny little parochial image we make of God. It is this great cosmic God we seek.

Dogmas are signposts along the road of the soul on the way to God. They are meant to open our minds to mystery. They are not meant to keep us from learning about God in other places and ways.
Religion is meant to lead us to the center and source of creation. The aberration of religion, then lies in spending so much time as religious people claiming our truth and condemning everybody else’s. When theology is used to condemn another person’s path to God, it not only distracts us from the purpose of religion but it distorts it, as well.

What is the deepest meaning of Buddhism, Master?” the disciple asked. And in answer the Zen masters tell us, the teacher only bowed. It is in being able to find the sacred in everything that a person finally discovers God.

“God is the East and the West and wherever you turn, there is God's face,” the Koran teaches. “Behold I am with you all days,” the evangelist Matthew says, “even to the end of time.”

The Hindus teach, “May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.” Jesus says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” The overall message is clear: the abiding presence of God is a universal revelation.

The Buddha said there is an Eightfold Path to inner peace: right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, right contemplation. Jesus says there are eight beatitudes: mercy, poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger for righteousness, purity of heart, peacemaking and witness.” Do you think they decided on these together?

“In this world aspirants may find enlightenment by two different paths,” we learn in the Bhagavad Gita.“For the contemplative is the path of knowledge; for the active is the path of selfless action.” The Christian tradition teaches that both contemplation and a commitment to social justice are essential parts of the Christian life.
“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is One,” we learn in Deuteronomy. And the Hindu prays, “He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings.” And the Sikh says in the Mul Mantra, “He is the Sole Supreme Being, of eternal manifestation.” Clearly, the whole world knows that our God is their God, too. So how can we be more loved than they?

“I have breathed into humans My spirit,” The Koran says. “Let us always consider ourselves as if the Holy One dwells within,” the Talmud teaches. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” Christianity says. But if we are all vessels of the divine, how can we use religion to justify destruction of other human beings?
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience and compassion,” the TaoTe Ching teaches. “There are only three things that matter: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Wouldn't the world be different if we all loved what God loves–the other?

How do I know if I’m finally becoming closer to God? It’s when I see God in everyone I meet and touch God in everything that is.

—from
Joan Chittister::Essential Writings, selected by Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis)

SOURCE:
http://www.joanchittister.org/articles/god-many-tongues

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Facing Loneliness on the Spiritual Path by Russell Scott

Facing Loneliness on the Spiritual Path

One of the things that independent seekers face on the spiritual path is loneliness.It’s inevitable if we are committed to avoid taking on other’s belief systems and yearn to experience what is true for ourselves.

In fact, succumbing to loneliness and trying to relieve it is sometimes the reason people become blind followers. They would rather trade in the comfort of being in the crowd of religious homogeneity than the insecurity of the solitary quest. There is a certain value of joining a sanga or community but when we give up our own discernment of what is true and not true to avoid loneliness we can become a perpetual student of dogma rather than the source of our own realization. Its often a requirement of the committed spiritual seeker to leave the pack for awhile to achieve this.

Even if we are not on a spiritual path,
the experience of loneliness is part of the fabric of life. It can happen when we move to a different city, lose a job, experience the loss of a loved one, leave a relationship and break-up with a friend. In the grief a part of ourselves can go with that person, location or job and we can feel like that piece is missing. Or we can judge an aspect of ourselves harshly and push it aside and then feel an emptiness inside.
 
So when we spend some solitary time either on an organized silent retreat or just time by ourselves this loneliness can arise. We can feel like we miss our loved ones and want to reach out to them. And if that doesn’t happen we may try other ways to avoid the loneliness like eating junk food, smoking weed, watching a lot of TV, going to bars, etc . But the activity does not relieve the emotion. No amount of doingness can solve something that is in our beingness. It may be useful in these times to ask ourselves:

“What is happening here? Am I trying to bi-pass my loneliness, or trying to get others to complete me and make me feel whole or hoping that when others love me, I will feel love for myself?” What is it I am missing? What it is I am really yearning for?”

I have been through this and what I have found is that that there is no way to get over or through or around loneliness. There is only getting it...being with it. The way to resolve it is to let the loneliness arise and go into it and not resist it. We need to feel the yearning deeply in our heart and soul.

The Yearning for Self
We may experience the essential painful individuality of our being in the universe. We may cry out to God to relieve the suffering of it all, to comfort our lonely heart. It may last a long time. It may feel like forever. But eventually it will burn itself out. We may come to realize we have been trying to get others to fill us and all attempts to do this are futile because no other can fill the empty hole inside.

We will see that the cry for another is essentially the cry for our true self and the part of us that was missing will start to return . Gradually a deeper peace will arrive and we will feel more complete and whole. We will enjoy spending time with ourselves because we will have become our own best friends.

And when we do spend time with our loved ones or friends it will be more natural relaxed and less co-dependent. No longer will there be the puzzling neediness of trying to grab a piece of another to force fit it into the  missing space of ourselves and all the attendant unconscious wheeling, dealing and stealing of psychic energy that goes with the attempt: “Well if you do this for me, I’ll this for you” “If you ignore this about me, I’ll ignore this about you” etc.

You will notice when you are alone you are no longer lonely. In fact you will feel like you are gathering more of yourself to yourself so that when you are in the company of others you will have more of youself to share. Solitary time will be soul-itary time. Aloneness will be experienced as all-oneness.
And is this not what others really want from us: the fullness of who we really are?

Russell Scott www.awakentheguruinyou.com

SOURCE:
https://www.awakentheguruinyou.com/blog/facing-loneliness-on-the-spiritual-path.html
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"Anthony de Mello" by Joan Chittister

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Anthony DeMello, the Jesuit spiritual teacher and psychotherapist, died suddenly of a heart attack on June 2nd in 1987 at the age of 56. In memory of his life, printed below is a piece Sister Joan wrote about him for an article entitled "The Spiritual Art of Three Modern Masters" that appeared in the U.S.Catholic magazine in June, 1994. The other two masters were Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

I never met the man and I never made one of his retreats. I never read anything he wrote and I never studied his curriculum vitae. I've never talked to anyone who talked to him and I've never heard one of his tapes. But few people have had a greater impact on my life. DeMello was not a designer of spiritual systems. He was not a lawgiver. He was not a cheerleader for a collection of esoteric spiritual exercises. No, Anthony DeMello was a teller of ancient stories whose stories rearranged the human landscape. It is in the stories that he told that I met Anthony DeMello and knew at once that he was unforgettable.

Anthony DeMello, the Jesuit psychologist-spiritual director, is a spiritual figure of our time who will not soon be forgotten in ages to come. DeMello brought something to Western spirituality that had been mightily absent. DeMello brought all of us back into contact with the East, a treasure too long forgotten by too many. What I found in Anthony DeMello's stories that enrich contemporary spirituality is the quality of timelessness.

In the mechanistic West, it is not our style to look for wisdom. What we want in life is far more likely to be fixes than insights. Let others philosophize if they will; we push buttons and "make adjustments" and act. Consequently, we do not sit comfortably with the idea that pain is protective, that suffering is meant to be a symptom of a basic disorder in us, not an irritating inconvenience meant for quick cures and total elimination. We do not tolerate headaches; we do not brook opposition. We know what we want and we get what we go for. The name of the game is "The World According to Me."
Into that world view, as religious with its exercises as it is secular with its technology, DeMello brought a completely different attitude toward life. DeMello dedicated his work to the teaching of four basic principles: consciousness, wholeness, faith rather than belief, and spirituality.

For DeMello, presence and consciousness are the keys to life. In one of his stories, disciples ask the Holy One to teach them the secret of life. Because it was the Day of Silence, the master took a piece of paper and wrote just one word in reply, "Awareness." The disciples read the word and looked at one another in consternation. "Master," they continued, "Could you explain this a little more?" The Holy One took another piece of paper and this time wrote two words, "Awareness. Awareness." The disciples were clearly perturbed. "Holy One, "they persisted. "Can't you please explain more about what you mean by 'awareness?" The Holy One looked up from the prayer rug exasperated and this time wrote clearly and distinctly. "When I say 'awareness,' I mean Awareness! Awareness! Awareness!"

Clearly, coming to see the holy in the daily was, for DeMello, one of the essentials of life. It was awareness, he taught, that made us capable of growth, able to understand others, willing to be made new again. A capacity for the present, DeMello made clear, was the secret to happiness because it saved us from the hurts of the past and the tyranny of a fearful future.

Second, DeMello taught that we lose happiness when we make it dependent on anyone or anything else. "Holy One," the disciple pleaded. "Help me to be free." And the elder said to the disciple, "First find out who has put you in chains?" A week later, the disciple returned. "Holy One," the disciple reported, "no one has bound me." "Then," the Holy One said, "from what do you need to be liberated?" At that moment of enlightenment, the disciple suddenly became free.

The point is made. DeMello was clear about the fact that the secret to happiness is that it lies within us. Happiness, he taught, is measured not by what happens to us but by our ability to find satisfaction within ourselves. The fact that we attach happiness to things outside ourselves, outside our own control, in other words—this house, that job, these clothes, those friends, that recognition—is precisely what makes happiness impossible.

Third, DeMello maintained that we must be open to unlearning everything we have ever known in life if we are going to be able to grow from one place to another. "How shall I attain Eternal Life," the disciple asked the Holy One. "Eternal life is now. Come into the present," the Holy One replied. "But I am in the present now, am I not?" the puzzled disciple persisted. "No," said the Holy One, "You are not." "But why not?" The disciple demanded. "Because you haven't dropped your past," the Holy One said. "But why should I drop my past? Not all of it is bad," the disciple insisted. And the Holy One replied clearly and firmly, "The past is to be dropped not because it is bad. The past is to be dropped because it is past.”

Obviously DeMello was no conserver of a pious and plastic religiosity. To go through life with an open mind, challenging the truisms in the light of new questions is a sign that our faith is greater than our beliefs. Beliefs, Anthony DeMello taught, trap us into close-minded positions but faith assures us that it is God who is really the faithful One. Faith tells us that God will once again and always see us through.

Finally, DeMello taught that if we are really going to be spiritual people that we will have to stop seeking "perfection" and start seeking enlightenment, an awareness of the sacredness of the most mundane. "Help us to find God," the disciples begged the Holy One. "No one can help you there," the Holy One said. "But why not?" the disciples demanded to know. "For the same reason that no one can help the fish to find the ocean," the Holy One said.

God is, indeed, everywhere for Anthony DeMello—in darkness as well as in light, in the ordinary life lived with extraordinarily consciousness, in the sacred center of a creation that is secular to its marrow. It is in the separation of life into categories of the holy and the unholy, the spiritual and the material, the earthly and the heavenly that the human soul gets divided as well. It is the loss of a holy viewpoint that turns my rag-tag, messy, disorganized, judgmental life unholy. DeMello brings us back to the secret: life is enough for us. It is not something to be endured on the way to something better. It is the stuff of which the transformation is made. Life itself, not religion, is the substance of spirituality.

Awareness, unlearning, faith and spirituality are rarefied perspectives in a culture that prizes being out of its senses and in control and being right and being religious. Religion, DeMello pointed out in clear and unequivocal terms, "is not necessarily connected with spirituality." Clearly, spirituality for DeMello is the ability to live whole and happy in the now, expecting nothing, demanding nothing, grasping nothing and so becoming open to all things.

The very thought of going through life open-handed is chilling to the western mind, which may, of course, be precisely why we need it so much, consider it so difficult and find it so unforgettable.

Anthony DeMello brought to a mechanistic world a commitment to a contemplative heart, a passionate soul, and a conscious mind, qualities that change a world, attributes that never die. And to do it, he told us stories.

He told us stories that made us wiser than ourselves. He told us stories that broke down the barriers of our souls. He told us stories that cast light into dark and realized the simple for its profundity and the pompous—even in religion—for its calculating attempt to turn the sacred into a product rather than a prophetic presence.

It is precisely these qualities that flamed out of him with consummate conviction and disarming humor to become a living light that is far beyond who he was as a person, where he lived, what he did, where he went in life. It is in those things that his life will live on, even for those of us who never met him, never heard him, never followed his life's particular meanderings.

DeMello said once, "You are never so good as when you have no consciousness that you're good. A good is never so good as when you have no awareness that you're doing it." By his own measure then, as unaware of us as we were of the person of him, Anthony DeMello may well have done his best work on those, like myself, who never knew him.
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