Sunday, June 21, 2009

"One Teacher"

From The Way to Love, by Anthony de Mello
(Doubleday, Image Books):

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or
scientific or mathematical like algebra or English or
riding a cycle or operating a computer.

But in the things that really matter--life, love, reality,
God--no one can teach you a thing.

All they can do is teach you formulas.

As soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered
through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas
you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when you come to
die, you will not have known what it means to see for yourself,
to learn.

Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you
saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping
out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night
or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse
lying cold and rigid in a coffin.

You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry
or painting. But in your heart you know that no one will ever
comprehend exactly what it was you saw and sensed.

That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach
you about life or God or reality. All he can do is give you
a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with
is Reality?

Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any
formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It
can not be put into words.

So what can teachers do?

They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they can destroy
your formulas, they can indicate your error. They can, at the most,
point in the direction of Reality.

You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.

To walk alone--that means to walk away from every formula--the ones
given to you by others, the ones you have learned from books, the
ones you yourself invented in the light of your own past experience.

That is possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can do--
move into the unknown, unprotected by any formula.

To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and
mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their

Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly
and utterly alone.

What an awesome solitude!

That solitude, that aloneness is Silence. It is only this Silence
that you will see. And the moment you see you will abandon
every book and guide and guru.

And a strange change will come about in you, barely perceptible
at first but radically transforming.

You will feel the exhilarating freedom, the extraordinary confidence
that comes from knowing that every formula, no matter how sacred,
is worthless; and you will never again call anyone your teacher.
Then every single thing will be your teacher.

So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher
and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you
without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you

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