Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anthony de Mello: Awareness without Evaluating Everything

 From Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality:

Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgment on your part. Because what you judge you cannot understand.

When you say of someone "He's a communist," understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on him. "She's a capitalist." Understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on her, and if the label carries undertones of approval or disapproval, so much the worse! How are you going to understand what you disapprove of, or what you approve of, for that matter? All of this sounds like a new world, doesn't it? No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because if you desire to change what is into what should be, you no longer understand.
 The last sentence is the key: we seem always to want to change the behaviour of others so that it conforms with our expectations, and of course when it does not conform, we are not only disappointed, we judge that other person as selfish, hurtful, insensitive, thoughtless, whatever. The problem lies in our harbouring these expectations, which we often do unconsciously.If we can let them go and simply be aware, all our judgmental notions of good and bad simply dissolve.

De Mello goes on to say:
A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other aim. He's not attempting to train them or to get anything out of them. He's interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle. You will change -- effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for yourself. 
 Judging (and condemning) are life-long habits -- so much so that they are automatic, mechanical, unconscious reactions. Like other habits that are unhealthy for us, we need to replace them with healthy ones. In this case we need to replace desire and expectation and unconscious judgment with the habit of observation, of awareness. Such a process takes a certain amount of discipline. But the result will be profound and miraculous: a transformation from unhappiness to happiness.

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