Thursday, 22 July 2010

Two Modern Mystics: de Mello and Neill

Just wanting to share these treasures I have found in my summer reading. Lots to think about in de Mello and in AS Neill--about parenting, about love, about awareness, about childhood and play, about happiness, and about letting go.

From Anthony de Mello's Awareness:

"Nurture yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome food. I'm not talking about actual food, I'm talking about sunsets, about nature, about a good movie, about a good book, about enjoyable work, about good company....what kind of feeling comes upon you when you're in touch with nature, or when you are absorbed in work that you love? Or when you're really conversing with someone whose company you enjoy in openness and intimacy without clinging? What kind of feelings do you have? Compare those feelings with the feelings you have when you win an argument, or when you win a race, or when you become popular, or when everyone's applauding you. The latter feelings I call worldly feelings; the former feelings I call soul feelings."

I love this idea of soul feelings. Where are those spots in your life where you meet those soul feelings? And what do you do about those worldly ones?

From AS Neill's Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood:

"The function of the child is to live his own life--not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows what is best. All this interference and guidance on the part of adults only produces a generation of robots.

You cannot make children learn music or anything else without some degree of converting them into will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo--a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8.30 suburban train--a society, in short, that is carried on the shabby shoulders of the scared little man--the scared-to-death conformist."

As one of those anxious parents, I find his call to be challenging and life-giving. Makes me think about the real source of my longing for true freedom.


  1. Great passages. Yes, soul-feelings and soul-nurturing, I can relate to both ideas, in my own path and parenting. Thanks for sharing-

  2. Thank you for sharing these wise words. I've been spending my last few weeks thinking of the same thing, but I call them true and false refuges.

    And yes, remembering that our children aren't ours is tough. Luckily Naya has a knack for reminding me when I am suffocating her:)