The World Feeling And The Soul Feeling

Anthony de Mello

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For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? —Matthew 16:26

Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And contrast that with the kind of feel­ing that arises within you when you look at the sun­set or the sunrise or Nature in general, or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy. Get the taste of this feeling and contrast it with the first, namely, the one that was generated within you when you were praised. Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, self-promotion. It is a worldly feeling. The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling.

Here is another contrast: Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or a bet or an argument. And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action that you are currently engaged in. And once again notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling.

Yet another contrast: Remember what you felt like when you had power, you were the boss, peo­ple looked up to you, took orders from you; or when you were popular. And contrast that worldly feeling with the feeling of intimacy, companionship—the times you thoroughly enjoyed yourself in the com­pany of a friend or with a group in which there was fun and laughter.

Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not nat­ural, they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nour­ishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement—and emptiness.

Then observe yourself in the course of a day or a week and think how many actions of yours are performed, how many activities engaged in that are uncontaminated by the desire for these thrills, these excitements that only produce emptiness, the desire for attention, approval, fame, popularity, success or power.

And take a look at the people around you. Is there a single one of them who has not become addicted to these worldly feelings? A single one who is not controlled by them, hungers for them, spends every minute of his/her waking life consciously or unconsciously seeking them? When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul. For they live empty, soulless lives.

And here is a parable of life for you to ponder on: A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. And so they remain till the journey’s end.

Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest. Excerpt above from 'The Way to Love', a compilation of final contemplations.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the distinction between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling? Can you share an experience of a time you were able to see the distinction clearly? What helps you avoid getting addicted to worldly feelings?

Add Your Reflection:

8 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 28, 2021 Fatmah Namukasa wrote:
    For worldly feeling...it is pleasant but so short lived compared to the soul feeling...A scenario I can relate to is one time when we went for a group retreat, colleagues commended me for the organized system of collecting funds and allocating roles...then came the evening when we went on a boat to watch the sun set...this sun setting scenario has stayed with me since!...three years now...yet the praises that I received never even lasted for a week...Hence soul feeling is far more fulfilling and enduring in comparison to worldly feeling...

    1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 28, 2021 ubong eyo edet wrote:
    You find PEACE, when you remain in the soul feeling, but the Worldly Feeling it's so full with anxiety and uneasiness.

    1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 25, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    What makes a feeling a soul feeling or a worldly feeling isn't whether or not a person gets praise or applause or whether or not a person succeeds or wins, or whether or not a person has power. What makes a feeling a soul feeling is that it comes from the soul, it's genuine in that it's the truth of one's soul, and it is independent of the opinion of others. What makes a feeling a worldly feeling is that it is dependent on the reaction of the world. If how I feel about myself is dependent on how others or the world feel about me, the feeling is a worldly feeling. What helps me avoid getting addicted to worldly feelings is knowing worldly feelings are dependent on the world's reaction, they're triggered from outside me, they're not grounded in me, and they don't last leaving me in the position of chasing the next worldly feeling like any addict.

    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
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    On Sep 24, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    I like the way Anthony De Mello shows the contrast between WorldlyFeeling and Soul Feeling. Soul feeling arises from within us. is characterizedby joy, intimacy, nourishment, and fulfillment. No body takes away soul feeling from me as it is generated and sustained form within. Worldlyfeeling comes from outside sources such as someonepraising me , admiring me. think highly of me. Such worldly feeling fluctuates as it comes from out side sources. It comes and goes. Self-generated soul feeling is generated from the depth of our being. It endures and gets richer and deeper. It is rooted in our being. I am a teacher anda counselor I have enduring love affair with teaching and counseling. Teaching and counseling fill the cup of my life. I have been teaching and counseling for the last 75 years. I am not tired, bored and unfulfilled by following my inner voice. When I feel good and great about me by the praise and admiration I receive from others that make me feel good and great, the gloriou... [View Full Comment] I like the way Anthony De Mello shows the contrast between WorldlyFeeling and Soul Feeling. Soul feeling arises from within us. is characterizedby joy, intimacy, nourishment, and fulfillment. No body takes away soul feeling from me as it is generated and sustained form within. Worldlyfeeling comes from outside sources such as someonepraising me , admiring me. think highly of me. Such worldly feeling fluctuates as it comes from out side sources. It comes and goes. Self-generated soul feeling is generated from the depth of our being. It endures and gets richer and deeper. It is rooted in our being.

    I am a teacher anda counselor I have enduring love affair with teaching and counseling. Teaching and counseling fill the cup of my life. I have been teaching and counseling for the last 75 years. I am not tired, bored and unfulfilled by following my inner voice. When I feel good and great about me by the praise and admiration I receive from others that make me feel good and great, the glorious feeling stays for a while and after sometime it evaporates This week I was invitedas a guest speakerto give a talkat Governors Sate University to undergraduate and gradatestudents majoring in SchoolPsychology. I told them the reason for my being a teacher and a counselor. It has beenmy cup of tea
    for all these years.
    When I do what I love to do like teaching, counseling and meditating I feel deeply happily. The reward comes from within. It is unending. It is very joyful and fulfilling.I am connected with it and not attached to it. Fulfillment, love and joy are the criteria of soul feeling. Hope and pray we all find our path that creates and sustains inner wealth of joy, excitement and fulfillment in our life.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave[Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Kitty | Post Your Reply

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