Daily Meditations



When you are in love you find yourself looking at everyone with new eyes; you become generous, forgiving, kindhearted, where before you might have been hard and mean. Inevitably people begin reacting to you in the same way and soon you find yourself living in a loving world that you yourself have created. Or think of the time you were in a bad mood and found yourself becoming irritable, mean, suspicious, even paranoid. The next thing you knew everyone was reacting to you in a negative way and you found yourself living in a hostile world created by your head and your emotions.

How could you go about creating a happy, loving, peaceful world? By learning a simple, beautiful, but painful art called the art of looking. This is how you do it: Every time you find yourself irritated or angry with someone, the one to look at is not that person but yourself.

The question to ask is not, “What’s wrong with this person?” but “What does this irritation tell me about myself?” Do this right now. Think of some irritating person you know and say this painful but liberating sentence to yourself. “The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.” Having said that, begin the task of finding out how you are causing the irritation. First look into the very real possibility that the reason why this person’s defects or so-called defects annoy you is that you have them yourself. But you have repressed them and so are projecting them unconsciously into the other. This is almost always true but hardly anyone recognizes it. So search for this person’s defects in your own heart and in your unconscious mind, and your annoyance will turn to gratitude that his or her behavior has led you to self-discovery.

Here is something else worth looking at: Can it be that you are annoyed at what this person says or does because those words and behavior are pointing out something in your life and in yourself that you are refusing to see? Think how irritated people become with the mystic and the prophet who look far from mystical or prophetical when we are challenged by their words or their life.

Another thing is also clear: You become irritated with this person because he/she is not living up to the expectations that have been programmed into you. Maybe you have a right to demand that he or she live up to your programming, as for instance, when he or she is cruel or unjust, but then stop to consider this. If you seek to change this person or to stop this person’s behavior, will you not be more effective if you were not irritated? Irritation will only cloud your perception and make your action less effective.

Everyone knows that when a sportsman or a boxer loses his temper, the quality of his play goes down because it becomes uncoordinated through passion and anger. In most cases, however, you have no right to demand that this person live up to your expectations; someone else in your place would be exposed to this behavior and would experience no annoyance at all. Just contemplate this truth and your irritation will vanish. How foolish of you to demand that someone else live up to standards and norms that your parents programmed into you!

And here is a final truth for you to consider: Given the background, the life experience, and the unawareness of this person, he cannot help behaving the way he does. It has been so well said that to understand all is to forgive all. If you really understood this person you would see him as crippled and not blameworthy, and your irritation would instantly cease. And the next thing you know you will be treating him/her with love, and he/she is responding with love and you find yourself living in a loving world which you have yourself created.

~Adapted from Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love:  The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello