When You’re Least Aware (Again!)

Someone sent me this quote from a book they’ve been reading that seemed to go along with my earlier posting about washing someone’s shoes and how it touched their life. I haven’t read the book and don’t know anything about the author, but I sure like this quote:

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 unself-conscious 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. Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself. If it were real virtue you would have enjoyed it thoroughly and would feel so natural that it wouldn’t occur to you to think of it as a virtue. So the first quality of holiness is its unself-consciousness.

The second quality is its effortlessness. Effort can change a 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; effort can PERFORM acts of service, it is powerless to produce love or holiness. All you can achieve by your effort is REPRESSION, not genuine change and growth.

The Way to Love
~ Anthony De Mello

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14 Comments
  1. sandy maudlin January 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Wonderfully expressed and just what i needed.

  2. Ian Stapleton January 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    How very true, instead of doing things to be a good christian, it is a case of just doing what come naturally/spiritually to us.

  3. sandy maudlin January 4, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Wonderfully expressed and just what i needed.

  4. David Grant January 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I think there are some great ideals stated here. I wonder if there is a process of getting there or is it to seem that effortless right from the beginning.

  5. Ian Stapleton January 4, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    How very true, instead of doing things to be a good christian, it is a case of just doing what come naturally/spiritually to us.

  6. David Grant January 4, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I think there are some great ideals stated here. I wonder if there is a process of getting there or is it to seem that effortless right from the beginning.

  7. Wayne January 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Hi David,

    I think what I’m trying to say in all of this is that living this way is the fruit of living loved. We can’t try to live this way; he has to produce it in us out of our growing relationship. So our effort is employed in “remaining in him”, spending time with him and learning to recognize his voice. As that grows we find ourselves living in greater expanses of freedom and find ourselves responding quite naturally in situations in ways that we wouldn’t have as our old self-focused selves. That’s what I love about this kind of transformation—it surprises us too when we find ourselves thinking and acting differently than our old ways. As Paul says, it gives us no room to boast at all. This is his work as we have just learned to live loved and to love.

  8. Don January 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Nuggets of God’s wisdom can show up in the most unusual places. I did a quick Google search on Anthony De Mello and He was a Jesuit Priest and psychotherapist who was influenced by a Thai Buddhist teacher, Ajan Khah. Mr. De Mello’s opinions were condemned for the most part by the Catholic hierarchy because his thinking was influenced by this Buddhist Priest. It is amazing how God places bread for those who are seeking in paths that are not normally trampled by his children. I am not encouraging anyone to go seek God in some Buddhist Spiritual enlightenment training center. But, if a Buddhist is seeking to know the Truth, God has ways of leading him unto himself. As one responds to the light given, Jesus will provide more light.

  9. Wayne January 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Hi David,

    I think what I’m trying to say in all of this is that living this way is the fruit of living loved. We can’t try to live this way; he has to produce it in us out of our growing relationship. So our effort is employed in “remaining in him”, spending time with him and learning to recognize his voice. As that grows we find ourselves living in greater expanses of freedom and find ourselves responding quite naturally in situations in ways that we wouldn’t have as our old self-focused selves. That’s what I love about this kind of transformation—it surprises us too when we find ourselves thinking and acting differently than our old ways. As Paul says, it gives us no room to boast at all. This is his work as we have just learned to live loved and to love.

  10. Don January 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Nuggets of God’s wisdom can show up in the most unusual places. I did a quick Google search on Anthony De Mello and He was a Jesuit Priest and psychotherapist who was influenced by a Thai Buddhist teacher, Ajan Khah. Mr. De Mello’s opinions were condemned for the most part by the Catholic hierarchy because his thinking was influenced by this Buddhist Priest. It is amazing how God places bread for those who are seeking in paths that are not normally trampled by his children. I am not encouraging anyone to go seek God in some Buddhist Spiritual enlightenment training center. But, if a Buddhist is seeking to know the Truth, God has ways of leading him unto himself. As one responds to the light given, Jesus will provide more light.

  11. Javier January 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Oooh….my favorite part…”Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself.”

    Don….amazing post…I couldn’t agree more…fear of the “unknown” limits us from awareness that we can obtain through freedom. I once read a quote in a parenting book that went something like….”I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief” – Gerry Spence

    …its not so much that every road leads to my Father but that my Father would travel on any road to get to me….

  12. Javier January 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Oooh….my favorite part…”Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself.”

    Don….amazing post…I couldn’t agree more…fear of the “unknown” limits us from awareness that we can obtain through freedom. I once read a quote in a parenting book that went something like….”I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief” – Gerry Spence

    …its not so much that every road leads to my Father but that my Father would travel on any road to get to me….

  13. Nancy Fowler January 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Wayne,
    thanks for saying it again…I need to hear it over and over. What a relief to begin to learn that this life is not up to me. It is such a relief (even at this, for me, early point in the process) to know that it’s all Father’s doing and none of mine. I really can just sit here and only try to focus on him without having to do anything else. He loves me and that is what moves me. Ah, I don’t have the words….
    I have a picture in my bible of a baby wearing only a cloth diaper, sitting there – and by the expression on his face it is obvious what he is DOING. When I found the picture years ago I realized that it aptly showed just what we humans can do/produce in our own strength!!! Makes people laugh, too, if ruefully.
    Thanks again for spreading the word….he loves me!! He loves you!! Yay!!

  14. Nancy Fowler January 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Wayne,
    thanks for saying it again…I need to hear it over and over. What a relief to begin to learn that this life is not up to me. It is such a relief (even at this, for me, early point in the process) to know that it’s all Father’s doing and none of mine. I really can just sit here and only try to focus on him without having to do anything else. He loves me and that is what moves me. Ah, I don’t have the words….
    I have a picture in my bible of a baby wearing only a cloth diaper, sitting there – and by the expression on his face it is obvious what he is DOING. When I found the picture years ago I realized that it aptly showed just what we humans can do/produce in our own strength!!! Makes people laugh, too, if ruefully.
    Thanks again for spreading the word….he loves me!! He loves you!! Yay!!

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