WHEN YOU GIVE ALMS, DO NOT LET YOUR LEFT HAND KNOW WHAT YOUR RIGHT HAND IS DOING. —MATTHEW 6:3
It is with charity as with happiness and holiness. It is not possible for you to say that you are happy because the moment you become conscious of your happiness you cease to be happy. What you call the experience of happiness is not happiness at all but the excitement and thrill caused by some person or thing or event. True happiness is uncaused. You are happy for no reason at all. And true happiness cannot be experienced. It is not within the realm of consciousness. It is unself-consciousness.
So it is with holiness. The moment you are aware of your holiness it goes sour and becomes self-righteousness. A good deed is never as good as when you have no consciousness that it is good—you are so much in love with the action that you are quite unselfconscious about your goodness and virtue. Your left hand has no idea that your right hand is doing something good or meritorious. You simply do it because it seems the natural, spontaneous thing to do. Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself. If it were real virtue you would have enjoyed it thoroughly and would feel so natural that it wouldn’t occur to you to think of it as a virtue. So the first quality of holiness is its unself- consciousness.
The second quality is its effortlessness. Effort can change behavior, it cannot change you. Think of this: Effort can put food into your mouth, it cannot produce an appetite; it can keep you in bed, it cannot produce sleep; it can make you reveal a secret to another but it cannot produce trust; it can force you to pay a compliment, it cannot produce genuine admiration; effort can perform acts of service, it is powerless to produce love or holiness. All you can achieve by your effort is repression, not genuine change and growth.
Change is only brought about by awareness and understanding. Understand your unhappiness and it will disappear—what results is the state of happiness. Understand your pride and it will drop—what results will be humility. Understand your fears and they will melt—the resultant state is love. Understand your attachments and they will vanish—the consequence is freedom.
Love and freedom and happiness are not things that you can cultivate and produce. You cannot even know what they are. All you can do is observe their opposites and, through your observation, cause these opposites to die.
There is a third quality of holiness: It cannot be desired. If you desire happiness you will be anxious lest you do not attain it. You will be constantly in a state of dissatisfaction; and dissatisfaction and anxiety kill the very happiness that they set out to gain. When you desire holiness for yourself you feed the very greed and ambition that make you so selfish and vain and unholy.
From Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello