Daily Meditations



Has it ever occurred to you that you can only love when you are alone? What does it mean to love? It means to see a person, a thing, a situation, as it really is and not as you imagine it to be, and to give it the response it deserves. You cannot love what you do not even see.

And what prevents you from seeing? Your concepts, your categories, your prejudices and projections, your needs and attachments, the labels you have drawn from your conditioning and from your past experiences. Seeing is the most arduous thing a human being can undertake. For it calls for a disciplined, alert mind, whereas most people would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to see each person and thing anew in present-moment freshness.

To drop your conditioning in order to see is arduous enough. But seeing calls for something more painful still. The dropping of the control that society exercises over you; a control whose tentacles have penetrated to the very roots of your being, so that to drop it is to tear yourself apart.

If you wish to understand this, think of a little child that is given a taste for drugs. As the drug penetrates the body of the child, it becomes addicted and its whole being cries out for the drug. To be without the drug is so unbearable a torment that it seems preferable to die.

Now this is exactly what society did to you when you were a child. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life: work and play and the company of people and the pleasures of the senses and the mind.

You were given a taste for the drug called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, the drug called Success, Prestige, Power. Having got a taste for these things you became addicted and began to dread their loss. You felt terror at the prospect of failure, of mistakes, of the criticism of others. So you became cravenly dependent on people and lost your freedom.

Others now have the power to make you happy or miserable. And much as you now hate the suffering this involves, you find yourself completely helpless. There is never a minute when, consciously or unconsciously, you are not attuned to the reaction of others, marching to the drum of their demands.

When you are ignored or disapproved of, you experience a loneliness so unbearable that you crawl back to people to beg for the comfort known as Support, Encouragement, Reassurance. To live with people in this state involves never-ending tension; but to live without them brings the agony of loneliness. You have lost your capacity to see them clearly as they are and to respond to them accurately because mostly your perception of them is clouded by your need to get your drug.

The consequence of all this is terrifying and inescapable: You have become incapable of loving anyone or anything. If you wish to love you must learn to see again. And if you wish to see you must give up your drug. You must tear away from your being the roots of society that have penetrated to the marrow. You must drop out. Externally everything will go on as before, you will continue to be in the world, but no longer of it. And in your heart you will now be free at last and utterly alone.

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