238 of 244 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waking up is hard to do ... or is it?
My reaction to this book is similar to most of those who have given it 5 stars so I won't repeat what they have all said. It's certainly a refreshing point of view that de Mello offers here and anybody who has found themselves questioning their religion, depressed and despondent about the state of their life or just not content within their current spiritual life...
Published on May 10, 2005 by JBM
73 of 85 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awareness is Waking up to Spirituality
Awareness is a compilation of De Mello's dialogues on spirituality awakening. De Mello dialogues have an in-your-face conversational style that is not what you'd expect from a Jesuit priest. He uses anecdotes to make his point and demystify enlightenment. The book is an easy read, perhaps too simplistic. On the other hand, it is also practical, with topics pertinent to...
Published on October 5, 2004 by K. J. Cohen
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238 of 244 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waking up is hard to do ... or is it?,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)My reaction to this book is similar to most of those who have given it 5 stars so I won't repeat what they have all said. It's certainly a refreshing point of view that de Mello offers here and anybody who has found themselves questioning their religion, depressed and despondent about the state of their life or just not content within their current spiritual life practices can potentially gain from reading AWARENESS. It is so unlike the many self-help books that attempt to convince people they must change themselves or others to be more whatever it is is they think is right or good or happy or enlightened (i.e. "don't sweat the small stuff", etc.). This book makes it clear that the author holds no such illusions. You won't change anybody by reading this book. You won't even change yourself. You might, however, just start curiously observing or reflecting on yourself and your actions or feelings in a different way, a way more authentic to the person you really and truly are and what that person you call "I" wants or needs from life. And that little tweak in the way you perceive and experience your life can ripple widely and resonate deeply in you. You might just find that you no longer have such strong desires to change yourself or others and instead find in its place a developing sense of humorous detachment and delight as you begin to see through the folly that was ensnaring you and continues to ensnare others and simply enjoy a life free of your earlier immature mental and spiritual constraints. That is how I assess the effect of this book on my own life as it has become part of it through reading and re-reading this book from time to time.
143 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last book on this subject I'll ever read.,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)If you had told me, an depressive athiest with a history of alcoholism and self-loathing, five years ago that I'd find the greatest book on the most revolutionary wisdom in the Christian section of the bookstore, I would have told you a) get away from me, and b) gimme whatever you're smoking.
Since that time I've come into a bit of a "spiritual path", and read countless books on awareness/mindfulness/presence, or whatever you'd like to call this path.
Many are wonderful. This was the finest of all, though. This is not a Christian book at all. It is simply another expression of the "one true wisdom" which cuts across all spiritual teachings, religious or otherwise.
It is what the Buddha was talking about. It is what Jesus was talking about. It is what Lao Tzu was talking about. It is what Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Tara Brach, Thich Nhat Hahn, Byron Katie are talking about today.
There's really only one teaching over the past six thousand years or so. You pick your favorite teacher. De Mello is, after reading this book, mine. Perfectly hilarious and light, but forceful and to the point, without getting bogged down in words. Like someone who so confidently knows the subject matter, so confidently lives it, that there is no need for pretense.
If you don't like it because it goes against your doctrine, your dogma, your beliefs, that's fine. When you have suffered enough, you will be ready to wake up from your dream.
207 of 229 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthony De Mello is an enlightened man, a true mystic.,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)Although Father De Mello died in 1987, I will speak of him as living because through his writings he is certainly alive and well. He is so alive, in fact, that The Vatican Information Services has a web page ("Notification concerning the writings of Fr. Anthony De Mello, SJ") devoted to discrediting De Mello's work. Here is my summary of that page: "Father DeMello does not think like we want him to think, so Catholics should disregard what he has to say."
Awareness is the simplest and most profound book I have ever read. It is less than 200 pages, and I imagine I can (and might) spend the rest of my life reading it. So consider this my "notification" to you about the writings of Anthony DeMello: to the degree that any of us allow ourselves to be awakened by this book --- or any other of his books --- we will be changed forever.
And apparently that makes the Pope nervous.
-Thom Rutledge, ...
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The strangest thing I've ever read,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)This is the strangest thing I ever read. I always thought the world was problematic. It never occurred to me that I am the problem, not the world. Dale Carnegie once said "success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get". I never understood that until I read this book. You are in for the shock of your life, assuming that you are ready to understand it. As he says, your ability to understand this is relational to how much truth you can take before you run away. People will always tell you "I just want the truth", but don't believe them, even for a second. What they REALLY want is to be right, first and foremost. The right God, the right philosophy, the right facts..... Then, if there's some room left over for the truth, so be it. THAT'S how people operate. They never consider that life is not the problem, THEY are the problem. He will prove this to you, and although that sounds painful, it's actually joyful and liberating. No need to judge the world anymore. He will shatter the belief system that makes you unhappy, and whether you know it or not, you are unhappy. One can be the happiest person in the entire depression ward of a hospital and can truely believe that they are happy based on relative comparison, but they are not happy. They don't know what true, unconditional happiness is. He will show you TRUE happiness, TRUE love, TRUE peace. Are you ready for that? I'll bet you're not.
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life,
By A Customer
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)This was the hardest book I have ever read. Each page threw up another challange to my way of thinking. It shattered forever my view of the world and my role within it. But in the end it showed me how to become awake and alive and happy. I am no longer a slave to my programming. I no longer concern myself with how others see me. The fear I lived with for years is gone. I read this book two years ago and have enjoyed peace of mind and freedom from fear ever since, even though I have been through some very tough times. This book will challange you to the core but if you can accept its message you can find your own path to awareness.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awarenss IS the ANSWER,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)Having read approximately 60 gazillion spiritual books I was amazed that one could still blow me away. So succint, clear, to the point, hardhitting, Truth by the ton. Eloquent, enlightening and easy to understand. Numerous quotes and stories that I have not read anywhere else. What a treasure!
73 of 85 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awareness is Waking up to Spirituality,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)Awareness is a compilation of De Mello's dialogues on spirituality awakening. De Mello dialogues have an in-your-face conversational style that is not what you'd expect from a Jesuit priest. He uses anecdotes to make his point and demystify enlightenment. The book is an easy read, perhaps too simplistic. On the other hand, it is also practical, with topics pertinent to our ordinary life experiences.
"Spirituality means waking up," explains De Mello. "Many of us, even though we don't know it, are asleep. We're born asleep, we live asleep, we marry in our sleep, we breed children in our sleep, we die in our sleep without ever waking up."
One of the underlying principles is the difference between interdependence and dependence. According to De Mello, interdependence is healthy and occurs when we have different roles in society, allowing us to interact and live more efficiently. Dependence is unhealthy and occurs when we depend on another for our happiness..
De Mello provides insight on religious dogma, insight that is pertinent to the religious battles that plague us to this day. "Scripture," he says, is "a hint, a clue, not a description. The fanaticism of one sincere believer who thinks they know causes more evil than the united efforts of two hundred rogues. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept. You miss God because you think you know. There is far too much God talk; the world is sick of it. There is too little dropping of illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, too little awareness. That's what the world is suffering from, not from a lack of religion. Religion is supposed to be about awareness, of waking up. Look what we've degenerated into. Come to my country and see them killing one another over religion. You'll find it everywhere."
True faith is more than reciting scriptures. It is not something that can be worn on your sleeve. "Meditating on and imitating externally the behavior of Jesus is no help," says De Mello. "It's not a question of imitating Christ, it's a question of becoming what Jesus was. It's a question of becoming Christ, becoming aware, understanding what's going on within you. If you would die to the past, if you would die to every minute, you would be the person who is fully alive, because a fully alive person is one who is full of death. We're always dying to things. We're always shedding everything in order to be fully alive and to be resurrected at every moment."
In today's fear-based society, you may have forgotten what it feels like to be full of love and joy. "Happiness is our natural state," explains De Mello. "Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture." If you take the time to step away from your ego, you'll come to the realization that "Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change reality. Stop trying to change the other person. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our enemies, and everybody else. We don't have to change anything. Negative feelings are in you. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you." Awareness comes when we can step far enough back from our selves to drop our illusions and fantasies and reclaim the grace and magnificence of our creation.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)A Father knocked on the door of his son's bedroom and announced, "Wake up! It's time to go to school". The son replied, "I don't want to go to school". "But you must", answered the Father, "why don't you want to go?"
"For three reasons", said the son through the door, "first, I don't like it, second, all the kids tease me and third, it's so dull"
"Well", said the Father opening the door, "I'll give you three reasons why you must go:
First, it's your duty, second, you're forty-five years old and third, you're the Principal"
With stories like these Fr. De Mello explores how all of us, young and old, resist waking up. By helping us examine our own beliefs and thought patterns, he leads us to SEE our ourselves for the first time with all of our flaws and selfishness. And by so doing, liberates us.
Fr. De Mello is a Master Teacher. If you are ready to see yourself truly for the first time and awake from the sleepiness you currently believe is your life, you must read this book.
It's has plenty of humor and playfulness to match it's intensity. It has been said that the gap between stimulus and response is the area called human awareness. Fr. De Mello helps you to increase your gap and lead to even greater AWARENESS.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i have been awakened,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)I approached this book as someone who is slowly opening his eyes to reality. It is scary for someone like me, with a strong Christian upbringing and involvement in my church, to venture into this realm of 'Awareness'. I was always a nice and loving Christian my whole life, not a whacko fundamentalist by any means, but never challenged to think "outside the box". I, like so many others, was taught the doctrines of the church, said and did all the right things, was a member of the Republican Party as most "good" Christians are, and never really questioned why? After all, why would I need to ask "why?" when I had all the answers? Well, needless to say, Anthony de Mello gave me several good reasons why I need to ask "why?" I have been sleepwalking, conditioned, and trained just like a robot.
Because de Mello has obviously been influenced by Eastern/ Buddhist thought, not all Christians are going to agree with this book; however, before you refuse to read this book based on some theological disagreement, please allow yourself to at least open you mind enough to gain the truth and insight that this book offers. I did not agree with everything that the author had to say either, but so many of his words really struck a chord with me. Becoming aware and objective has really opened my eyes to so many things that are difficult to explain in words, I just know it to be true. I am realizing how much conditioning we ALL experience in this life from the media, churches, schools, politicians, etc., and are becoming nothing more than mouthpieces for these organization. There is no real thought in that, there is no real growth in that, and inevitably there is no real peace in that... We will only be disappointed and frustrated in the end if we continue to be unaware.
The author says societal answers to the internal frustrations of life only offer temporary relief, not a cure for what is ailing us. They offer treatment only, and that is exactly what they want; so we become addicted, and we believe we NEED their "drug". We have to unlearn this, de-condition ourselves and "choose" to be happy, and quit settling for untrue and superficial alternatives. We must realize there is more to life than being addicted to what "they" want.
A great quote was: "A sage will point to the moon, and the idiots will only see his finger." How true is that of us? We only focus on the externals and what is easily accessible to us: what is she wearing?, what is he saying?, what do they think of me?, will they accept me if I start to question?, etc. We have to just be. We can only control ourselves, not others, and we need to stop worrying what others will think of us.
Again, this is a great read, and I encourage anyone who wants to start thinking to read it. You may or may not agree with all he says, that is irrelevant, but there is much truth to be gained... you just have to open your mind a bit to find out what reality really is.... And chances are, it isn't what you have been taught.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sweet and profound,
This review is from: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality (Paperback)This is a sweet and funny and profound book which warmed up my heart and consistently made me laugh. De Mello was a universally respected Jesuit priest who managed to go far beyond the orthodox catholic dogma and into the very heart of spiritual alivennes and connectedness. Several centuries earlier a similar attempt was made by Loyola, another Jesuit troublemaker; however, in A., DeMello dispenses with the extraneous mumbo jumbo and goes straight to the heart of the matter. God is presence itself and through awareness we are simultaneously connected to who we truly are and to the sacredness of all life. De Mello reminds us time and again of this simple yet profound truth; i especially admire his skilfull use of anecdote and parable, which reminds me of another great spiritual teacher... Perhaps it is not coincidental that De Mello lived and worked in Goa, that syncretic ex-Portuguese colony known for its eccentric inhabitants and practices. What impresses me the most about this book is that DeMello manages to weave into his teachings the best elements of Buddhist and Hindu traditions (their emphasis on awareness, mindfulness) and combines them with what is best in Christianity (the emphasis on love, openness of the heart). In addition to that, he is consistently funny (no mean feat for a work on spiritual matters)... and even manages to be cranky in a way that makes me laugh. Perhaps as importantly, the book shows that Christianity may not be all about biblethumping -in the right hands it is a vibrant, contemporary, compassionate, and profound spiritual practice. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about mindfulness from a master teacher.
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Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony de Mello, SJ (Paperback - May 1, 1992)