Not Pushing It

by markhofreiter

The following is the 48th 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.

“Meditating on and imitating externally the behavior of Jesus is no help. It’s not a question of imitating Christ; it’s a question of becoming what Jesus was. It’s a question of becoming Christ, becoming aware, understanding what’s going on within you. All the other methods we use for self-change could be compared to pushing a car. Let’s suppose you have to travel to a distant city. The car breaks down along the way. Well, too bad; the car’s broken down. So we roll up our sleeves and begin to push the car. And we push and push and push and push, till we get to the distant city. ‘Well,’ we say, ‘we made it.’ And then we push the car all the way to another city! You say, ‘We got there, didn’t we?’ But do you call this life? You know what you need? You need an expert, you need a mechanic to lift the hood and change the spark plug. Turn the ignition key and the car moves. You need the expert—you need understanding, insight, awareness—you don’t need pushing. You don’t need effort. That’s why people are so tired, so weary. You and I were trained to be dissatisfied with ourselves. That’s where the evil comes from psychologically. We’re always dissatisfied, we’re always discontented, we’re always pushing. Go on, put out more effort, more and more effort. But there’s always that conflict inside; there’s very little understanding.”