The following is the 18th 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 DeMello Stroud Spirituality Center.
“But it’s what all the mystics in the past have been telling us. I’m not saying that ‘me,’ the conditioned-self, will not sometimes fall into its usual patterns. That’s the way we’ve been conditioned. But it raises the question whether it is conceivable to live a life in which you would be so totally alone that you would depend on no one.
“We all depend on one another for all kinds of things, don’t we? We depend on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Interdependence. That’s fine! We set up society this way and we allot different functions to different people for the welfare of everyone, so that we will function better and live more effectively—at least we hope so. But to depend on another psychologically—to depend on another emotionally—what does that imply? It means to depend on another human being for my happiness.
Think about that. Because if you do, the next thing you will be doing, whether you’re aware of it or not, is demanding that other people contribute to your happiness. Then there will be a next step—fear, fear of loss, fear of alienation, fear of rejection, mutual control. Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.
“I enjoy it on a nonclinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it’s something that’s greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn’t stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I’m alone, it continues to play. There’s a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.
“That’s what awakening is all about. That’s also why we’re hypnotized, brainwashed, asleep. It seems terrifying to ask, but can you be said to love me if you cling to me and will not let me go? If you will not let me be? Can you be said to love me if you need me psychologically or emotionally for your happiness? This flies in the face of the universal teaching of all the scriptures, of all religions, of all the mystics. ‘How is it that we missed it for so many years?’ I say to myself repeatedly. ‘How come I didn’t see it?’ When you read those radical things in the scriptures, you begin to wonder: Is this man crazy? But after a while you begin to think everybody else is crazy. ‘Unless you hate your father and mother, brothers and sisters, unless you renounce and give up everything you possess, you cannot be my disciple.’ You must drop it all. Not physical renunciation, you understand; that’s easy. When your illusions drop, you’re in touch with reality at last, and believe me, you will never again be lonely, never again. Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality. Oh, I have so much to say about that. Contact with reality, dropping one’s illusions, making contact with the real. Whatever it is, it has no name. We can only know it by dropping what is unreal. You can only know what aloneness is when you drop your clinging, when you drop your dependency. But the first step toward that is that you see it as desirable. If you don’t see it as desirable, how will you get anywhere near it?
“Think of the loneliness that is yours. Would human company ever take it away? It will only serve as a distraction. There’s an emptiness inside, isn’t there? And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a book, search for human company, seek entertainment, seek distraction. Everybody does that. It’s big business nowadays, an organized industry to distract us and entertain us.”