Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Way to Love

"The Way To Love" by Anthony De Mello is a series of short meditations from this spiritual giant. De Mello writes so clearly and so simply, and yet his words hit you like a ton of bricks. This book is an ideal one to keep around (it is very small in size) because it is something you can pick up randomly and challenge yourself. Each chapter is only a few short pages long and will only take you about 5 minutes to read. However, the words stick in your head and challenge your thinking in radical and surprising ways. I plan to make this one of the books that I re-read several times throughout the course of my life. Below, I will share the 2 main thoughts that I got out of the book this time, and my reactions to those thoughts.

1. All negative emotions come from your attachments. For De Mello, the way to happiness (that is, being content) is recognizing and removing your attachments to this world. He argues that since we were born, we have been programmed to be attached to the things of this world. Since I read this above statement, I have challenged myself to reflect every time I have recognized having a negative emotion. And I have come to conclude that I think De Mello may be right. How many times have we been frustrated, angered, upset over not having something or when others treat us in a way that we do not think we deserve? When we become attached to the idea that we are defined by our jobs, possessions, acquaintances, etc., all sorts of negative emotions will arise when our image is challenged.

2. It is only when we can honestly say to others "I leave you free to be yourself" that we can truly begin to love them. This statement really struck me. I can think of so many times in my life when my love for others was contingent on them conforming to my desires for their life. I can also think of many times when my love for others was contingent on how well they treated me. I think all humans have this tendency to desire to make others into their own image and to treat others in the same manner that they are treated. I suppose it takes a divine or Christlike love to love others just they way they are, regardless of how they treat you. I am so thankful that this is the way God loves!

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