From The Heart Of Anthony De Mello Poem by Tony Pitman

From The Heart Of Anthony De Mello


The student monk had spent seven years,
Learning how to comprehend awareness.
At the end of his study it was time for assessment,
To visit the master was his final assignment.

The master sat, at the young man he looked,
Was he ready to become a teacher monk?

The young monk, wet from his walk,
Had placed his umbrella in the hall
Master asked, 'to the left or right of your clogs,
Did you place your umbrella to dry at rest? '

The monk was taken by surprise,
Why such simple thing, when so wise?
Try as he might he couldn't recall;
Had to admit, no idea at all.

'Go back to your teacher for seven more years,
To learn once more the secret of awareness'.

To late the young monk remembered,
Awareness encompasses everything.
No chance of ever really seeing,
Unless every second has meaning.

Entrepreneur Spirit.

Young fisherman sat on the beach,
Smoking his pipe in shade of boat.
Finished his work for the day,
Sold his catch, got his pay.

Passing man stopped for a chat,
Interested in fisherman's lot.

'Why aren't you out catching fish? '
'I've already caught all I need'.

'But if you land more you'll make more money'.
'What would I do with the extra cash? '

'Buy bigger nets and make more money'.
'What would I do with the extra cash? '

'Buy bigger boat and make more money'.
'What would I do with the extra cash? '

'Buy second boat and make more money'.
'What would I do with the extra cash? '

'Hire men to make you more money'.
'What would I do with the extra cash? '

'You could have time off to do what pleases you'.
'But I already have time to do as I please'.

The man moved on with puzzled frown,
Not understanding such lack of drive.
Young fisherman with such opportunity,
Sat, puffing his pipe, looking out to sea.


The young couple sat in their garden,
Watching the sun set in the west.
Holding hands and nestling close,
Their hearts in tune and at rest.

The children were in their beds asleep,
Sated with supper and fairy tale book.
The air was still and filled with scent,
Flowers tempting night time guests.

The woman whispered in her lover's ear,
'One day we'll have money to make us rich'.
'Look around my darling, how rich we are,
One day lots of money we may also have'.

Righteous gift

Christ descended down to Hades,
To set all the sinners free.
His sacrifice was their salvation,
With love he'd died on a tree.

Satan wept in a quiet corner,
Sad and forlorn on his own.
He didn't even wave goodbye,
As the last of his mates left for home.

'What's up with you', Christ asked.
'There's no one left to have a chat'.
'It'll be alright, I've made an arrangement,
You'll get the self righteous, until I come back'.


The wise man returned from his distant travels.
After searching for years he had touched the divine.
The people of the village could see the affect on him;
He was so uplifted that they wanted a share.

For days and days they pestered him,
'Tell us the secret, explain what it is'.
There was no way to describe the experience,
It was for each to discover the way for them.

The people would not let up their pleas,
'Just tell us a little of what you have seen'.
Finally the man relented and did his best,
To give some insight into enlightenment.

The people listened and wrote it down.
The words were copied and passed around.
The story became the truth revealed;
The people adopted it as their belief.

The dogma was spread from village to village.
Groups gathered together to read their faith.
Missionaries were sent to spread the word,
Travelling the world with book and sword.

The wise man helplessly watched the result,
His inadequate words taken as absolute;
With overwhelming sadness in his heart,
He wished he had said nothing at all.


Two monks approached the river ford,
Brother Francis and Brother Tom.
A young woman was waiting to cross,
Afraid of the river's fast torrent.

'Climb on my back', said Brother Tom,
'I'll safely carry you over'.
Brother Frank was taken aback;
Such a deed transgressed their Order.

The woman alighted on the far bank,
Thanking Tom for his kind act.
Frank could not hold back his anger,
Berating Tom for his unholy action.

On and on Brother Francis raged,
For hours and hours after the passage.
Tom duly admitted momentary fault,
But Frank was perpetuating any sinful act.


Beware of word's bewitching ways;
Look away and they take on a life of their own.
They dazzle, mesmerise, lead astray;
Making belief they are reality.

Words can kill by breeding ideas,
That freeze into beliefs and dogmas;
Causing a hardening of the mind,
And a distorted perception of Reality

The words of the Scholar are to be understood;
But the words of the Master are to be listened to,
Like the wind in the trees and the song of the bird;
They will awaken something in the heart,
That is beyond all human knowledge.

When words and thoughts are silenced,
The Universe blossoms forth; real, whole and one.
Words become what they're meant to be,
The score, not the music; the menu, not the food;
Only the signpost, not journey's end;
For the language of the divine is silence.


A word so misused and abused,
Often confused with ownership.
Provenance of poets and romantics,
Yet the core of human essence.

It's love that binds humanity to God;
Not law or religious observance.
It's love that's the key to the good life;
Not power, wealth or possessions.

For love only sees that all is one,
No distinction by colour or creed.
For love never seeks to divide.
Its power is to encompass all.

The core of love is care for the other,
For to give is to receive oneself.
The action of love is help for the other,
Everyone's welfare is thus ensured.

The rule of love is simple to observe.

It is impossible to help another,
Without helping oneself.
It is impossible to harm another,
Without harming oneself.


People reacting not to Reality,
Responding to conceptions in the mind.
Deciding to love and hate
Configurations not essences.

True Reality can only be grasped,
When going beyond thoughts in the head
Seeing the world in its naked loveliness,
Forgoing the dominance of self.

Reality's not dwelling on sorrows past,
That are gone, not worth a moment's grief;
But a dramatic change of the mind,
To a radical different view of Reality.

Reality can't be recorded as history;
A documentation of appearances and doctrines.
Reality only exists in the moment,
Resulting from boundless Awareness.


The human heart yearns for Truth,
In which to find liberation and delight.
Yet its discovery always brings,
Humanity's hostility and fright.

Faith is the fearless search for truth,
Why the mystery of the great fear of it?
Can't grasp it by a conceptualising mind;
No formula to pick up from a book.

Truth is purchased at the price of loneliness,
To follow it one walks alone.
The searching journey does not truth find,
But prepares one for it to recognise.

Theology now an obstacle to the cause;
No longer on the quest for Truth.
A maintainer of belief systems,
Closing the mind to the search.


Recognising reality, not as we think it is;
Seeing the hollowness of success,
The nothingness of human striving,
The emptiness of achievement.
Not through pessimism and despair,
With excitement and flair.

Knowing that life could be less painless,
Not by changing the world but the human heart;
That awareness of death gives sweetness to life,
Since fear of death negates life;
Knowing fear obscures how things are viewed
And the unimportance of everything we do.

Enlightened is to understanding oneself;
Identifying self as the cause of one's grief;
Understanding that Wisdom is learnt not taught,
Not a terminal but a means of travelling to truth.
A heart not enslaved, happy in any state,
Always free as only the contented can be.


Possessions to fill an empty heart.
But only held for a while.
Possessions to trap if not to gift.
Hoard and soil, set free and thrive.

What's the true measure of riches?
To strive for wealth without joy?
Like a bald man collecting combs?
For richness is the capacity for joy.

Life's finest things do not cost or hide;
Worthwhile one is a change of heart.
The greatest wealth we possess,
Is contentment with what we have.

Prospect always finer than event;
Expectation and acquirement never met;
For things can't really be possessed;
More likely to be possessed by them.

The best and worst of things we possess;
Understand enough to hate but too little to love.
Taking belief as a statement of reality,
Instead of a clue about a mystery beyond grasping.

Religion is neither social nor inherited;
It's an intensely personal thing.
A signpost pointing a way to Truth
Not to cling to for security.

Religious law is not God's holy will,
Poetic expressions of the Unknowable.
It can't demand honour and obedience.
Except by fools claiming Divine instruction.

Religious law is a necessary evil,
To be cut down to the barest minimum.
Rules with only functional value;
Yielding to the Supreme Law of Reality.


The greatest sin in the world?
Simply to see others as sinners.
A world seen shrouded in the darkness of sin
More interesting to the human condition;
Excusing the exercise of the right to judge,
Whose defect resides simply in the judging.

Is the act of sinning the greater offence,
Than the dwelling on the thought of it?
The body may indulge in pleasures of the moment,
The mind and heart may chew on it forever.
Perhaps the chewing on other's sins,
More pleasurable than the sinning itself.

Not to think in terms of sin but of forgiveness;
Forgiveness, whereby each broken thing is bound;
Forgiveness, whereby every stain made clean;
Forgiveness, whereby everyone is forgiven;
Forgiveness of Life, God, neighbour, self.
Forgiveness accepting no one to blame.


Nothing magical about Spirituality,
The realisation of what one has always been.
The journey without distance to self-recognition;
An awakening to that always sought.

Spirituality isn't knowing what one wants
But understanding what one doesn't need.
Travelling from ignorance to understanding;
From where one is to where one has always been.

A path that brings one to oneself;
A quest making one what one always was;
Seeing what was always looked for;
A matter of becoming what one really is.

Realisation of what has always been,
The essence of worldly existence;
Pure untainted Spiritual beings,
Struggling vainly to be fully human.

Partial truth.

Lucifer was walking with a friend,
Through the woods at Knott End.
Having a stroll this fine day,
Time off from tempting ways.

In the distance man and dog,
Ambling along without a care.
The man stops to bend down,
Picks up something with shining crown.

'That man's found a bit of truth',
The friend whispers in Satan's ear.
'I'm not perturbed', the Devil responds,
'I'll persuade him to make it absolute'.


Listen carefully to a Story,
You'll never be the same again.
'Once upon a time……….',
The most enchanting words to begin.

Spiritual teachers of humanity knew its power,
A device to circumvent opposition to Truth.
Pictures given in parable form,
Not to be resisted by anyone.

Listen carefully to a Story,
You'll never be the same again.
Words worming their way into the heart;
Breaking down barriers to the Divine.

Even stories read for entertainment,
Can slip through barriers and explode,
Throwing light onto the meaning of life,
When least expected to.


'How much do your sheep eat each day? '
'Which ones, the white or the black? '
'The white'.
'About four pounds of grass each day'.
'And the black ones? '
'The black ones too'.
'How far a day do the sheep walk? '
'The white ones about four miles'.
'And the black? '
'The same'
'What about wool yield, how much per year? '
'Which ones, the white or the black? '
'The white ones'.
'About six pounds every year'.
'And the black ones? '
'The black ones too'.

'Tell me, why divide your sheep,
White and black each answer you give? '
'That's natural. The white ones are mine'.
'Oh I see. And the black? ' 'Them too'.

Taking sides.

To the football match his friends took him;
Protestant Punchers verses Catholic Crusaders.
The most ferocious battle of the season,
Would be Jesus' first match to see.

Crusaders scored first and Jesus cheered.
Punchers equalised and Jesus leapt with joy.
The man behind with puzzled frown tapped his back.
'Good man, which side are you rooting for? '
'Neither', was the answer, 'Just enjoying the game'.
Sneered the man to his neighbour, 'Hmm, another atheist'.

After the game Jesus' friends a question asked,
Did he never see reason for sides to take?
'But of course. All the time', he replied,
'People not Religions. Humans before the Sabbath day'.


The Great Owl, a Centipede consulted,
'Oh wise one I have such pain in my legs'.
'The answer's simple', replied the Owl,
'A mouse become, reducing to four percent the pain'.

'What a great idea', cried the Centipede with joy.
'Please show me how to become a mouse'.
'Don't pester me on implementation,
Policy only I make in this house'.


The king was amazed at the sight;
Everywhere circles, bullet hole centred.
'Who's responsible for this skill? '
'How such marksmanship possible? '

A ten year old stepped forward;
The king could not believe his eyes;
Such a little fellow before him stood.
'How in the world do you do it, my child? '

'Easy as pie', the boy replied,
'It's not very difficult sire'.
'I just shoot first'.
'Then draw the circles after'.

'Conclusions first', said the Master,
'The premise can wait till later'.
'Arguing not to discover truth'.
'Vindication of presumed view'.


The old man was wet and muddy,
But explanation he had for his state.
The creek he crossed was getting wider;
Once jumped with leap, now can't make.

The Master commiserated with his pal;
He too knew how things were changing.
'Nowadays I realise whenever I stoop,
The ground was nearer for a younger me'.

'Perhaps my friend the problem we share,
Seeing things as we be, not as they are'.


Scribbled rubbish was the memorandum;
Presented by the Secretary for his attention.
'I can't read this', complained the Manager.
The Secretary seemed unrepentant.

Again he asked for explanation.
The Secretary replied seriously,
'I couldn't understand the caller,
So wrote the message appropriately'.


Greatest Theologian of his church;
Prolific output from Aquinas.
Thesis on thesis he did write,
On every subject with insight.

Interpretation and extension of sacred texts,
Believed derived from divine inspiration.
Accepted as dogma were his words;
Copied and spread throughout the world.

Suddenly his prodigious scratching ceased;
Pen lying idle on parchment sheet.
Worried Secretary was bemused;
Tom must be ill, was only excuse.

Months went by but still no work;
Angry frown screwed Secretary's brow.
Berating Thomas for lack of effort;
Took some time before came the answer.

'Some weeks passed I touched the divine,
Now I know, just straw the words of mine'.


Everyday service disrupted;
Meandering Ashram cat distracting them.
The wise guru had the answer,
Cat to be tied at Ashram prayer time.

Tethering of cats after Guru's death;
One following another as each expired;
Disciples saw it as crucial,
Guru's orders to be obeyed.

Centuries passed, learned texts produced;
Scholars interpreting Guru's command.
Great liturgical significance was the truth,
To tie up a cat at worship time.

Religious Fair.

My friend I took to the Fair;
A quest for truth, his desire.
Perhaps the religious displays
Would help in his path of faith

The Jewish stall cried out:
Yahweh is all-compassionate;
We the Jews the chosen people.
All humanity are his children,
But non as chosen as the Jews.

The Muslim stall displayed:
Allah is all-merciful;
Mohammed is his voice.
Salvation is given to all,
By listening to the prophet's call.

The Christian stall campaigned:
Christ's love is all-embracing;
No salvation outside the church.
Come and join us now,
Or risk damnation of your soul.

After the visit I asked my friend,
What he thought of religion's god.
Without hesitation came his words with sorrow,
'Bigoted, fanatical, cruel, not the truth I look for'.

Back home I said to god,
'Why put up with this farce? '
'Why allow them to tarnish your name? '
Sadly he replied, 'I do not believe in Fairs'.
'And I was too ashamed to be there'.


People assembled for the debate,
Representing every state.
Old, young, wise and humble;
To answer the question on the table.

'What's the greatest gift of life? '

'Love', shouts the romantic.
'Knowledge', says the scholar.
Religion, the choice of the theologian.
'Freedom', cries the liberal.
'Enlightenment', intones the mystic.
'Wealth', says the poor man.
'No, health', replies the sick.
'To be able to run', says the legless man.
'Eyes for me', enjoins the blind.
A wife for the lonely bachelor.
Babies for the childless couple.
Work for the unemployed.
Retirement for the toil stressed.
Composition for the musician.
Choreography, the dancer's dream.
Imagination, the author's wish.

A voice from the back joins the debate,
'To know myself, to understand who I am'.
People look at one another with puzzled frowns.
What fool on the door let in this clown?

Anthony de Mello SJ (1931 - 1987)

A man of passion,
A seeker, a pilgrim

A traveller against strife
From orthodoxy towards the light

Open to the impact of love
Theologian extraordinary
Error Success