Good, Bad or Lucky

by markhofreiter

The following is the 10th chapter in AWARENESS: A de Mellow Spirituality Conference in His Own Words

by Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J. edited by J. Francis Stroud, S.J., Copyright © 1990 by the Center for Spiritual Exchange

“To me, selfishness seems to come out of an instinct for self-preservation, which is our deepest and first instinct. How can we opt for selflessness? It would be almost like opting for non-being. To me, it would seem to be the same thing as non-being. Whatever it is, I’m saying: Stop feeling bad about being selfish; we’re all the same. Someone once had a terribly beautiful thing to say about Jesus. This person wasn’t even Christian. He said, ‘The lovely thing about Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he understood that he wasn’t one bit better than they were.’ We differ from others—from criminals, for example—only in what we do or don’t do, not in what we are. The only difference between Jesus and those others was that he was awake and they weren’t. Look at people who win the lottery. Do they say, ‘I’m so proud to accept this prize, not for myself, but for my nation and my society.’ Does anybody talk like that when they win the lottery? No. Because they were lucky, lucky. So they won the lottery, first prize. Anything to be proud of in that?
In the same way, if you achieved enlightenment, you would do so in the interest of self and you would be lucky. Do you want to glory in that? What’s there to glory about? Can’t you see how utterly stupid it is to be vain about your good deeds? The Pharisee wasn’t an evil man, he was a stupid man. He was stupid, not evil. He didn’t stop to think. Someone once said, ‘I dare not stop to think, because if I did, I wouldn’t know how to get started again.”