The Four Steps To Wisdom By Anthony de Mello, SJ
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you're not even aware of. Lots of people have negative feelings they're not aware of. Lots of people are depressed and they're not aware they are depressed. It's only when they make contact with joy that they understand how depressed they were. You can't deal with a cancer that you haven't detected. You can't get rid of boll weevils on your farm if you're not aware of their existence. The first thing you need is awareness of your negative feelings. What negative feelings? Gloominess, for instance. You're feeling gloomy and moody. You feel selfhatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense; you've got hurt feelings, you're feeling nervous and tense. Get in touch with those feelings first. The second step (this is a four-step program) is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality. That's such a self-evident thing, but do you think people know it? They don't, believe me. They've got Ph.D.s and are presidents of universities, but they haven't understood this. They didn't teach me how to live at school. They taught me everything else. As one man
The pain is in your knee. So stop trying to change reality. trying to change our spouses. Who is feeling negative? The rain? Or YOU? What's causing the negative feeling? The rain or your reaction? When you bump your knee against a table." That's what spirituality is all about. That's crazy! Stop trying to change the other person. They never told you this. No event. our bosses. Reality is
. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you. you know: unlearning. our enemies.said. or person. they told you the opposite. We don't have to change anything. Nobody told you this. No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. condition. "I got a pretty good education. not in the table. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you. That's why you're in the mess that you're in right now. not in reality.a table. The mystics keep trying to tell us that reality is all right. It took me years to get over it. situation. Let's suppose that rain-washes out a picnic. That is why you're asleep. We spend all our time and energy trying to change external circumstances. Negative feelings are in you. But it's self-evident. It's busy being what it was made to Be -. and everybody else. the table's fine. our friends. Negative feelings are in you.
not in reality. that's fine. there are hurt feelings there right now. You're defining yourself in terms of the feeling. If you want to say depression is there. get ready for depression." Don't define your essential self in terms of that feeling.not problematic. that's fine. Don't say. You identified with "me" and that is the problem. The third step: Never identify with that feeling. Where would the problem be? No problem. leave it alone. Everything passes. The feeling is in you. It has nothing to do with the "I. If you seek kicks or thrills. Do you want your drug? Get ready for the hangover. But not: I am gloomy. That's your illusion. that's your mistake. but let it be. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness." that's all right. Take away human beings from this planet and life would go on. sleeping human mind. There is a depression there right now. if you want to say gloominess is there. One end of the pendulum swings to the other. We might add: in the stupid. You created the problem. "I am depressed. It will pass. Problems exist only in the human mind. Reality is not problematic. everything.
. Those are the swings of the pendulum. nature would go on in all its loveliness and violence. You are the problem." If you want to say. "It is depressed.
If you were kicked out of New York. You're free. that makes no difference. it has nothing to do with happiness. you can't live. or wherever you're residing. Psychologists tell us how important it is to get a sense of belonging. Baloney! Why do you want to belong to anybody? It doesn't matter anymore. But you don't need to belong
.This has nothing to do with "I". To hell with those gold mines in Alaska. there's no rule for it. He thinks he will not be able to live if he does not belong. or is it? He's convinced he needs to belong. you don't care anymore about being accepted or rejected. What are you going to do with that gold? If you're not happy. You might not need to do it even three times. A friend of mine told me that there's an African tribe where capital punishment consists of being ostracized. But do it a thousand times and you'll make the biggest discovery in your life." If you remember this. So you found gold. you wouldn't die. you will get it. How is it that the African tribesman died? Because he partakes of the common stupidity of humanity. What does that matter? You're a king. you're a princess. if you try these three steps a thousand times. It is the "me. It's very different from most people. if you say it to yourself a thousand times. I don't know.
Your society is not going to be happy to hear this. How do you control a person like this? He doesn't need you. because you become terrifying when you open your eyes and understand this. Who told you do? What you need is to be free. he's not threatened by your criticism. You're wasting your life.to anybody or anything or any group. You don't even need to be in love. You want to be applauded. WAKE UP! You don't need this.'' HUMAN! Behold! A human being at last! He broke out of his slavery. to be attractive. broke out of their prison. But nobody listens. That's what all our mystics have been crying themselves hoarse to tell us. "So we've got to get rid of him. to have all the little monkeys running after you. You can be blissfully happy without it. What you need is to love. No event justifies a negative feeling. The negative feeling is in
. He tells the truth. He's cut all those strings. That's it. But what you're really telling me is that you want to be desired. he has stopped being human. There is no situation in the world that justifies a negative feeling. It's terrifying. that's your nature. he's not a puppet any longer. he has become fearless. he doesn't care what you think of him or what you say about him.
but by a process of subtraction. It reminds me of the Irish prisoner who dug a tunnel under the prison wall and managed to escape. The great Meister Eckhart said very beautifully. "God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul. you drop something. You don't have to do anything to acquire happiness. "Plunge into the heat of battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the Lord. "I'm free. crying." The fourth step: How do you change things? How do you change yourselves? There are many things you must understand here. just one thing that can be expressed in many ways. He comes out right in the middle of a school playground where little children are playing.you. Of course. or rather. the sacred book of the Hindus." You don't do anything to be free. I'm free. "That's nothing. Imagine a patient who goes to a
. Then you're free." A marvelous sentence. I'm four. In the Bhagavad-Gita. when he emerges from the tunnel he can't restrain himself anymore and begins to jump up and down. and I’m free! A little girl there looks at him scornfully and says. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna.
"I feel good because the world is right. that makes me feel much better. what does that do to you? You're just as vulnerable as before. my wife changed. but you're thinking. I've understood your symptoms. Doctor.doctor and tells him what he is suffering from. you're just as idiotic as before. how wonderful life would be if my neighbor changed. You're suffering because you are asleep. you're just as asleep as before. The person who is asleep always thinks he'll feel better if somebody else changes. "Very well." We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. You are the one who needs to change. That's what all the mystics are saying. You keep insisting. The doctor says. Do you know what I will do? I will prescribe a medicine for your neighbor!" The patient replies. But has it ever struck you that even if your wife changes or your husband changes. "How wonderful life would be if somebody else would change.
." Wrong! The world is right because I feel good." Isn't that absurd? But that's what we all do. who needs to take medicine. "Thank you very much. my boss changed.