Three Qualities Of Holiness

Anthony De Mello

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Awakin FeatureTrue 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. So it is with holiness. 

Holiness is unself-consciousness. The moment you are aware of your holiness it goes sour and becomes self-righteousness. A good deed is never so 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. If it is real virtue, it would feel so natural that it wouldn't occur to you to think of it as a virtue.

Secondly, Holiness is 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. 

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. Understand your pride and it will drop -- what results will be humility. Understand your unhappiness, and it will disappear -- what results is the state of happiness. Understand your fears and they will melt -- the resultant state is love. Understand your attachments and they will vanish -- the consequence is freedom. 

Thirdly, holiness 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 you 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. 

There are two sources for change within you.  One is the cunningness of your ego that pushes you into making efforts to become something other than you are meant to be so that it can give itself a boost, so that it can glorify itself. The other is the wisdom of Nature. Thanks to this wisdom you become aware, you understand it. That is all you do, leaving the change -- the type, the manner, the speed, the time of change -- to Reality and to Nature. The changes that follow are not the result of your blueprints and efforts but the product of Nature that spurns your plans and will, thereby leaving no room for a sense of merit or achievement, or even any consciousness on the part of your left hand of what Reality is doing by means of your right.

Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest. Excerpt above from 'The Way to Love'.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that holiness or virtue is unself-consciousness? Can you share an experience of a time that you observed the opposite of a virtue in you? What helps you go past the cunningness of your ego and toward the wisdom of nature?

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6 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 17, 2019 Quacinda wrote:
    I do believe that we are created perfect, because only perfection exists. I believe in the seen and the in-seen world, and that we live a physical (which is seen) and a spiritual (which is unseen) life.

    When we are born born we are born perfect, but as we grow up we learn the culture we are born into; culture is riddled with lies that we live by. But the newborn does not have the words or understanding or culture until it is taught to him/her.

    The lies which we live live by make all us unholy. My understanding is then that we have the power of choice. We can choose to live with a positive outlook or a negative one. We can chose to be happy or sad, we can choose to be holy or unholy.

    I also understand that we cannot live by creeds, by any religion, or even anything taught to us; what we can discover with words is an idea(s) we can 'play' with as we organize and create our life.

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    On Mar 13, 2019 Quacinda Topkok wrote:
    (Seed questions for reflection:) How do you relate to the notion that holiness or virtue is unself-consciousness? My understanding is that we are spiritual beings having a physical existence. We were created good from the beginning, collectively as well as individually. We are [created] perfect. Whole. And with everything we need to live our lives with success. I don't understandit all but I have learned that after we are born we begin a process of domestication by our parents, extended family and. Society at large. Words and symbols are used to convey messages others in the world want us to know and understand, and we take these ideas and live by them. But who we are and what we believe we are are two different things. Who we really are cannot be described with words. Words, symbols and ideas they share with us may help by giving us ideas and if we open up our own imagination, and let ourselves become spiritual as well as physical, we live more completely. Can you share an exp... [View Full Comment] (Seed questions for reflection:)
    How do you relate to the notion that holiness or virtue is unself-consciousness?

    My understanding is that we are spiritual beings having a physical existence. We were created good from the beginning, collectively as well as individually. We are [created] perfect. Whole. And with everything we need to live our lives with success.

    I don't understandit all but I have learned that after we are born we begin a process of domestication by our parents, extended family and. Society at large. Words and symbols are used to convey messages others in the world want us to know and understand, and we take these ideas and live by them. But who we are and what we believe we are are two different things. Who we really are cannot be described with words. Words, symbols and ideas they share with us may help by giving us ideas and if we open up our own imagination, and let ourselves become spiritual as well as physical, we live more completely.


    Can you share an experience of a time that you observed the opposite of a virtue in you?

    This is happens when we have become robots, and follow a pattern of living by someone else's guidelines and rules. We are not our true selves when we live someone else'sdream or vision. We can only be happy and free when we discover who we really are and what our mission inlife is.

    If we live by a pattern someone else has set up for us [to follow]we are not living our true life, and that is living a lie. We needto live our own truths, and by the light and truth given to us by the Creator, THEN we will be living a virtuous life.


    What helps you go past the cunningness of your ego and toward the wisdom of nature?

    What helps me live truth instead of living a lie is to be aware. And then proceed with vision to shine in the world my true self.[Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 12, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    First, happiness isn't caused in a linear cause and effect way. Happiness is a byproduct of a way of being that is unselfconscious right action. Unselfconscious right action is action done because it is right, not for acclaim, not for secondary gain, but because it is right. When engaged in right action I am not self conscious, I am one with myself, I am whole. When I am whole, I am holy. Right action is its own reward, and the reward is happiness -- a reward that is enjoyed, not sought. Second, holiness is effortless in the sense that I am holy by nature, but that gets lost very early in life and then it takes effort to regain and maintain, which we do for moments at a time. Holiness, like happiness, is the byproduct of living unselfconscious right action which takes effort that feels effortless because it is coming from being whole and the effort flows smoothly. Third, holiness can be desired, it can't be directly created or controlled. It's a byproduct or outcome. My act... [View Full Comment] First, happiness isn't caused in a linear cause and effect way. Happiness is a byproduct of a way of being that is unselfconscious right action. Unselfconscious right action is action done because it is right, not for acclaim, not for secondary gain, but because it is right. When engaged in right action I am not self conscious, I am one with myself, I am whole. When I am whole, I am holy. Right action is its own reward, and the reward is happiness -- a reward that is enjoyed, not sought. Second, holiness is effortless in the sense that I am holy by nature, but that gets lost very early in life and then it takes effort to regain and maintain, which we do for moments at a time. Holiness, like happiness, is the byproduct of living unselfconscious right action which takes effort that feels effortless because it is coming from being whole and the effort flows smoothly. Third, holiness can be desired, it can't be directly created or controlled. It's a byproduct or outcome. My actions contribute to outcome, and I control my actions at least to some degree, but I don't control outcome. Understanding is overrated -- what makes a real difference is action, and right action increases the chance of whole and holy outcome. I observe the opposite of a virtue in myself when my action is self conscious and goal directed, done to gain for me some favor or outcome that I desire. What helps me go past the cunningness of my ego and toward the wisdom of nature is to remind myself that my responsibility is to engage in unselfconscious right action and leave outcome to forces much bigger than myself.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Mar 12, 2019 Eric Hutchins wrote:
    After expressing the thanks and respect these well intentioned words and their author deserve, may I be frank? My response is summarized by the aphorism: "Not for lack of flowery words is the world plunged into suffering." These are flowery words that may inspire the surface minds of readers, but such inspiration is a mood that quickly passes. I read a lot of such words and wonder why so many believe in the power of flowery words to end our suffering, bring us closer to the state of Yoga/Union, etc.? If the goal is this state of mind (Yoga, Enlightenment, Divine Union, etc.), why not say whatever needs to be said to inspire the reader to take the most direct path (or, for those who believe there is no "most direct path," ANY well-established and proven path)? Flowery words are not any of these paths. They are, at best, "inspiration with no clear guidance" and, at worst, "entertainment" (as in "further distraction") for those who are sti... [View Full Comment] After expressing the thanks and respect these well intentioned words and their author deserve, may I be frank? My response is summarized by the aphorism: "Not for lack of flowery words is the world plunged into suffering." These are flowery words that may inspire the surface minds of readers, but such inspiration is a mood that quickly passes. I read a lot of such words and wonder why so many believe in the power of flowery words to end our suffering, bring us closer to the state of Yoga/Union, etc.? If the goal is this state of mind (Yoga, Enlightenment, Divine Union, etc.), why not say whatever needs to be said to inspire the reader to take the most direct path (or, for those who believe there is no "most direct path," ANY well-established and proven path)? Flowery words are not any of these paths. They are, at best, "inspiration with no clear guidance" and, at worst, "entertainment" (as in "further distraction") for those who are stilllost. This may sound overly harsh to some. However, I say this to those of us whose state of mind is such that such words come unsought (i.e. as a natural expression of divine consciousness: reader attention is a precious and fleeting phenomenon. Where we direct the attention of others can change their lives or mire them deeper in illusion. Whichare flowery words likeliest to do for the vast majority of readers? This is my point. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have been called to a direct path are also called to pay that gift forward. Weaving a perplexing tapestry of words is not paying the gift of our salvation forward. I declare that atechnique of self-transcending introspection (raja yoga) that has proven itself safe and effective over scores of generation isthe most direct path for both the religious and hte nonreligious. It soon light the thirst for knowledge (jnana yoga), devotion (bakti yoga), and right action in the field of action (karma yoga). This is the direct, PROVEN path to Enlightenment, particularly Enlightenment across all cultures. Flowery and perplexing words may flow through us as a result of progress on this path. However, again and in closing, such words are not the path, for the vast majority, they are wasted opportunity that could be much better spent with eyes closed and attention freed to move inward in the direction of every greater charm and liberation. Jai Guru Dev.[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Mar 9, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    True Happiness, Love, Goodness, Freedom, Humility, Reality and Holiness are our inherent, inborn and innate qualities or virtues. These virtues are uncaused. They are natural, effortless and spontaneous. In that sense holiness is unself-consciousness. To put it differently, holiness or wholeness is not bound by our limited lower state of consciousness. It is universal or cosmic consciousness beyond time, space and causality. It is Transcendental state of consciousness, pure or non-dualistic state of consciousness. There are many examples I can cite when I have observedthe opposite of virtue in me. My attachment to my own possessions such as mentally holding on to my precious books or numerous awards I have received robs me of my innate virtue. Non-judgemental existential awareness of my attachments frees me from the cunningnessof my ego.The ego plays mine vs your game and when am not awareof it, I get caught up in this game and I turn away from my natural innate wisdom. Namaste! Jagd... [View Full Comment] True Happiness, Love, Goodness, Freedom, Humility, Reality and Holiness are our inherent, inborn and innate qualities or virtues. These virtues are uncaused. They are natural, effortless and spontaneous. In that sense holiness is unself-consciousness. To put it differently, holiness or wholeness is not bound by our limited lower state of consciousness. It is universal or cosmic consciousness beyond time, space and causality. It is Transcendental state of consciousness, pure or non-dualistic state of consciousness.

    There are many examples I can cite when I have observedthe opposite of virtue in me. My attachment to my own possessions such as mentally holding on to my precious books or numerous awards I have received robs me of my innate virtue.

    Non-judgemental existential awareness of my attachments frees me from the cunningnessof my ego.The ego plays mine vs your game and when am not awareof it, I get caught up in this game and I turn away from my natural innate wisdom.
    Namaste!
    JagdishP Dave
    [Hide Full Comment]

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