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on March 9, 2004
This book, contrary to some of the criticism it has received through the years, is a classic resource for meditation and prayer for those of us on a spiritual journey; and if you ask me, it doesn't much matter what religion you happen to practice. The word "Sadhana" has a myriad of meanings, so it reminds me of Ludwig Wittgenstein's old slogan, "Don't give me the meaning, give me the use!" And the use, my dear friends, is esoteric for each and every one of us. Sadhana could be described as a personal understanding of God, or discipline-even spiritual practice.
In this book Anthony offers 47 exercises derived from Zen Buddhist sources, Christian scripture, modern psychology, and even yoga; de Mello's palate was always an eclectic one. He was a true master when it came time for him to speak to an audience, retaining this mysterious ability to completely captivate all those in the room. In some sense, what de Mello prescribes in this work is basically zazen meditation (Zen Buddhist form of meditation); even going so far as facing our corpse in order to live freely as though we were already dead. Wonderful advice. This book is much more than "cognized prayer"-no-this one talks about devoting your entire being into the act, not simply your words. An earlier reviewer remarked that Anthony would not recommend this book; I don't know of such information, and I certainly don't find him to be the type to make `claims of enlightenment.' I would have smacked him if he said, "I wrote this before my enlightenment." Such a naughty word - "BEFORE." Nora gives the fundamentalists side of the book, of which this work will never satisfy such folk. I'm sorry, but Anthony de Mello was a mystic, not a poisonous snake dancer. Nora demonstrates the Vatican's take in a nutshell, yet if you look at the early Gnostic texts, it's all right there; perfectly in line with what de Mello speaks about in here. We must knock inward, to realize there NEVER WAS AN INSIDE OR OUTSIDE. Anyway, I got off subject a bit. Great book!
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2000
To let go of your anxiety, your negative thoughts, even your positive thoughts and to delve into the heart of God.

Anthony deMello leads us on this journey with exercises that transcend the sometimes dull, lifeless days. He helps us explore the possibilities of the inner life, the love of God that one finds here, in the contemplative moments.

Let go of stress, of fear, of what other's may or may not think of you, freeing you to become who you were meant to become, a person in the image of God. Learning to live one moment at a time in the presence of God.

Jesus said to us his disciples: "Pray without ceasing". This is the living God.

Other authors for your consideration:
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Lifeby Thich Nhat Hanh
How to Practice : The Way to a Meaningful Lifeby Dalai Lama
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on April 16, 1999
To those who believe in God, this book teaches how to pray without words, without thoughts, without ideas. One learns how to pray with the heart, not the head. The practices developed by Anthony de Mello allows the reader to follow them alone or with a group. If the reader was faithful in doing the practice in each chapter, at the end of the book: joy, peace, love, tolerance and wisdom will follow. One cannot stay in the sun without getting tanned.
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VINE VOICEon September 2, 2000
Fr. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest of Portuguese-South Asian descent who used his dual heritage as a retreat leader. This particular volume begins with exercises common to all mystical traditions i.e. awareness and contemplation exercises. The section of fantasy exercises owe much to the Ignatian Exercises (as in St. Ignatius the founder of the Jesuit order) although expanded. The final set of exercises include a number of traditional prayer methods - the Benedictine method, the Jesus prayer associated with the Orthodox, the Thousand Names of God, Gospel Sentences similar to lectio divina etc.
This book works better as a source book for retreat leaders or spiritual directors in that it is disruptive to prayer/awareness/contemplation to break to refer to the instructions. However, individuals certainly can benefit from the volume.
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on April 27, 2004
Whether or not de Mello was "enlightened" or not when he wrote this (based on another reviewer's comments), this book serves as a classic primer for the fundamentals of Christian prayer. It includes much of the eastern influence which de Mello became more associated with toward the end of his life. The book talks much about meditation, lectio divina, and the spiritual exercises. De Mello's contribution here is to attempt to bridge a gap in Christian prayer with some non-traditional methods. It is an invitation to a deeper form of prayer, where communication with God comes through the heart. Indeed, this form of prayer is all the more Christian in my opinion for its observance of the type of prayer Jesus himself used according to scripture.
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on November 7, 2003
Sadhana is a book that continuously leaves my possession into the hands of friends. It is the best written, most comprehensive book on meditation; as suitable for the beginner as it is for someone like myself who has been meditating for almost 30 years.
Although deMello intended the book to be a guide for group meditation, it serves the individual as well. In Sadhana, deMello has conjoined Eastern and Western techniques whose origins include Ignatian and Benedictine methods, yoga, Zen Buddhism, and Christian mysticism. The result is 47 exercises that are broken down into three groups; awareness, fantasy, and devotion. deMello's Jesuit proficiency as a teacher is reflected as he guides the reader through each exercise.
I have supplemented my meditation schedule with several of these exercises and as a result, my spiritual development has become enriched.
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on September 23, 2006
Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit spiritual director and writer, prior to his sudden and untimely death in 1987.

I first read Sadhana probably 12 or 14 years ago. This time, I brought it with me into the hospital as a back-up read, but didn't start it until I came home. The book is in three sections and divided into 47 "exercises" or short chapters, and should be read over a period of time - I took almost five weeks, reading one or two exercises a day.

The three sections are entitled Awareness, mostly having to do with various thought, concentration, and breathing exercises. I used exercise five for four weeks (you'll have to get the book to find out what exercise five is!)

The second section is Fantasy but perhaps would be better labeled Imagination, and is somewhat Ignatian. Imagine yourself in a Gospel story, imagine you are dying and say good-bye to your body, the joyful (and sorrowful) mysteries of your life - stuff like that.

The last section is Devotions, with lessons like The "Benedictine" method, the Jesus Prayer, the Prayer of Intercession.

The book is very good and once read can serve as a sort of reference - go back and re-use the things you found valuable. Of course the trick is to actually do the exercises over a period of time. Time is important - it takes time for the value of these approaches to affect you. Or as some would say, to "sink in".

I guarantee that when you finish the book you will NOT be able to levitate, have visions, etc, but you probably will be a calmer and saner person. Not bad.
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on April 17, 1997
This little volume will teach you the fundamentals of the basic attitudes of prayer and meditation. Tony's approach to his subject is benevolent (giving) not dogmatic (demanding). By the time you finish this book, you may not have had the perseverance to try all the exercises, but you will be a changed person. You will find yourself, sense the quiet, and in the emptiness experience the Great Spirit. Take flight with this smorsgasbord of spiritual exercises
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on July 10, 2001
If you have never meditated before, then you are exactly as I was before reading this book. It was the GREATEST experience I have ever had in terms of prayer, faith, and awareness of God. If you have an interest in meditation, or just in calming your mind, body and soul, take a look at this short, easy-to-read book by Anthony De Mello - you wont regret it!
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2009
I admit it.
I am a beginner.
I began the formal contemplative path in the Roman Catholic Church a mere 37 years ago.
I am just beginning, and so easily distracted.

This is the book for me.

Some say this book was later disowned by the author as an early and clumsy and shallow attempt.

I, a beginner, find within it infinite wealth.

Some say this book merely applies Buddhist meditation techniques to our Christian Faith.

I ask, Merely . . .

Some feel a professional photographer finds no merit in reviewing the Rule of Thirds or the interplay of the color wheel, that what is basic and obvious is best quickly forgotten, taken for granted.

I say we do so at our risk, to our most perilous loss.

I find much which is needed here within this book, not only for the beginner but for the veteran to remember, to touch home, to strengthen in this long pilgrimage of Faith.

This book makes every traveler strong.

Saint Benedict wrote that the The Rule of Saint Benedict was a mere Rule for Beginners.

I am a beginner.
I need clear rules, such as presented here.

Read this book, and remember. Read this book and get stronger.

As one who struggles alone, to pray alone, I find the reminders here most poignant and helpful, such as the importance of prayer within compassionate community, the strength provided, the focus, just as Saint Benedict wrote in his own rule for beginners.

Yet I am alone, and I read this book, and know I am less alone.
And I pray.
That you may also read this book, with me.
That we may pray the more powerfully.
For Peace.

In these times of turmoil we need to stop and remember why we are on the Way, and remember how to walk.

This book recalls us to the path unto our loving, nonviolent, merciful and compassionate God, who loves us all as all Creation.

Here in the 1978 edition, on page 70, we hear this calling: 'In times of spiritual crisis it is good to follow the advice of the Risen Lord to his dejected Apostles: "Return to Galilee.' Return to the joyful days spent in the company of the Lord. Return - and you will find Him again! And probably find him in a new way as the Apostles did. But there is no need to wait for days of crisis in order to do this. If we did this frequently enough we might be able to avoid those crises.'

Come to the desert, to a place apart . . .

This excellent guide to one Way to God bears the Imprimi Potest of Bertram Phillips, SJ and the Imprimatur of Bishop C. Gomes, SJ, trustworthy signs of its doctrinal soundness and orthodoxy as a spiritual treatise we may each gratefully read in confidence and in Faith.

This is a book we need to read now, in these lost days of uncertainty, in which all around appears now doubtful, in which a good book such as this comes like mannah in the desert, an oasis of blessed rest, refreshment and recovery, a true reorientation in the midst of a troubled tossing sea of storms.

This book by the renowned spiritual master the Reverend Father Anthony de Mello SJ, consists of 47 exercises divided into three sections: Awareness, Fantasy and Devotion.

The section on Devotion, for example, begins on page 107 with Exercise 33: The 'Benedictine' Method:

'This is a form of prayer that was widely used for centuries in the Church and has been attributed to Saint Benedict, who popularized it and refined its use. It has traditionally been divided into three parts: lectio (or sacred reading), meditatio (meditation), and oratio (prayer).'

After Father de Mello describes 'one way of practicing this form of prayer' he suggests certain helpful texts to use: 'The ideal book for this is the Bible. The Imitation of Christ of Thomas a Kempis is another book that lends itself to this form of prayer. So do the writings of the Fathers, or any other devotional book, such as Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God (p. 107).'

Finding impossible to summarize this rich and practical text, I can only urge the wayfarer to take it up, to find this long and lonesome way to God less lonely, but accompanied always by the kind and joyous and solid presence of Father de Mello.

Please see as well the recent transcription of an early retreat with Father de Mello, so tragically and suddenly deceased at Fordham over twenty years ago, lovingly assembled and published this year by the Jesuit community under the title Seek God Everywhere: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Father de Mello in his too short lifetime offered us several other publications which we may find helpful, even essential for our journey of Faith; we might also begin with the compilation published by Orbis as Anthony De Mello: Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters Series).

But always we return to this one book, surely as A Way to God.
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