The real Sick

Who is the sick?

the sick heart

Imagine a patient who goes to a doctor and tells him what he is suffering from.

The doctor says, “Very well, I’ve understood your symptoms.

Do you know what I will do?

I will prescribe a medicine for your neighbor!”

The patient replies, “Thank you very much, doctor, that makes me feel much better.”

Isn’t that absurd?

But that’s what we all do.


Anthony de Mello

The way the world is!

Water world Fish Magic'

A little boy was walking along the bank of a river.

He sees a crocodile that is trapped in a net.

The crocodile says, “Would you have pity on me and release me? I may look ugly, but it isn’t my fault, you know. I was made this way.

But whatever my external appearance, I have a mother’s heart. I came this morning in search of food for my young ones and got caught in this trap!”

So the boy says, “Ah, if I were to help you out of that trap, you’d grab me and kill me.”

The crocodile asks, “Do you think I would do that to my benefactor and liberator?”

So the boy is persuaded to take the net off and the crocodile grabs him.

As he is being forced between the jaws of the crocodile, he says, “So this is what I get for my good actions.”

And the crocodile says, “Well, don’t take it personally, son, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life.”

The boy disputes this, so the crocodile says, “Do you want to ask someone if it isn’t so?”

The boy sees a bird sitting on a branch and says, “Bird, is what the crocodile says right?”

The bird says, “The crocodile is right. Look at me. I was coming home one day with food for my fledglings.

Imagine my horror to see a snake crawling up the tree, making straight for my nest. I was totally helpless. It kept devouring my young ones, one after the other.

I kept screaming and shouting, but it was useless.

The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is.”

“See,” says the crocodile.

But the boy says, “Let me ask someone else.”

So the crocodile says, “Well, all right, go ahead.”

There was an old donkey passing by on the bank of the river.

“Donkey,” says the boy, “this is what the crocodile says. Is the crocodile right?”

The donkey says, “The crocodile is quite right.

Look at me. I’ve worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely gave me enough to eat.

Now that I’m old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me and put an end to my life.

The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is.”

“See,” says the crocodile. “Let’s go!”

The boy says, “Give me one more chance, one last chance. Let me ask one other being. Remember how good I was to you?”

So the crocodile says, “All right, your last chance.”

The boy sees a rabbit passing by, and he says, “Rabbit, is the crocodile right?”

The rabbit sits on his haunches and says to the crocodile, “Did you say that to that boy?

The crocodile says, “Yes, I did.”

“Wait a minute,” says the rabbit. “We’ve got to discuss this.”

“Yes,” says the crocodile.

But the rabbit says, “How can we discuss it when you’ve got that boy in your mouth?

Release him; he’s got to take part in the discussion, too.”

The crocodile says, “You’re a clever one, you are. The moment I release him, he’ll run away.”

The rabbit says, “I thought you had more sense than that. If he attempted to run away, one slash of your tail would kill him.”

“Fair enough,” says the crocodile, and he released the boy.

The moment the boy is released, the rabbit says, “Run!” And the boy runs and escapes.

Then the rabbit says to the boy, “Don’t you enjoy crocodile flesh?

Wouldn’t the people in your village like a good meal?

You didn’t really release that crocodile; most of his body is still caught in that net.

Why don’t you go to the village and bring everybody and have a banquet.”

That’s exactly what the boy does. He goes to the village and calls all the men folk.

They come with their axes and staves and spears and kill the crocodile.

The boy’s dog comes, too, and when the dog sees the rabbit, he gives chase, catches hold of the rabbit, and throttles him.

The boy comes on the scene too late, and as he watches the rabbit die, he says, “The crocodile was right, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life.”


Anthony de Mello

Finding Yourself!


The great masters tell us that the most important question in the world is:

“Who am I?” Or rather: “What is ‘I’?” What is this thing I call “I”? What is this thing I call self?

You mean you understood everything else in the world and you didn’t understand this?

You mean you understood astronomy and black holes and quasars and you picked up computer science, and you don’t know who you are?

My, you are still asleep. You are a sleeping scientist.

You mean you understood what Jesus Christ is and you don’t know who you are? How do you know that you have understood Jesus Christ?

Who is the person doing the understanding? Find that out first. That’s the foundation of everything, isn’t it?

It’s because we haven’t understood this that we’ve got all these stupid religious people involved in all these stupid religious wars – Muslims fighting against Jews, Protestants fighting Catholics, and all the rest of that rubbish. They don’t know who they are, because if they did, there wouldn’t be wars.

Like the little girl who says to a little boy, “Are you a Presbyterian?” And he says, “No, we belong to another abomination!”


Anthony de Mello



“Henry, how you’ve changed!

You were so tall and you’ve grown so short.

You were so well built and you’ve grown so thin.

You were so fair and you’ve become so dark.

What happened to you, Henry?”

Henry says, “I’m not Henry. I’m John.”

“Oh, you changed your name too!”

How do you get people like that to listen?

The most difficult thing in the world is to listen, to see. We don’t want to see.


Anthony de Mello

Illusion of the fear


Suppose he says no?

mask fear

Samuel was down in the dumps and who could blame him?

His landlord had ordered him out of the apartment and he had nowhere to go.

Suddenly light dawned.

He could live with his good friend Moshe.

The thought brought Samuel much comfort, until it was assailed by another thought that said,

“What makes you so sure that Moshe will put you up at his place?”

“Why wouldn’t he?” said Samuel to the thought, somewhat heatedly,

“After all it is I who found him the place he is living in now;

and it was I who advanced him the money to pay his rent for the first six months.

Surely the least he could do is put me up for a week or so when I am in trouble.”

That settled the matter, until after dinner he was once again assailed by the thought:

“Suppose he were to refuse?”

“Refuse?” said Samuel,

“Why in God’s name would he refuse?

The man owes me everything he has.

It is I who got him his job;

it is I who introduced him to that lovely wife of his who has borne him the three sons he glories in.

Will he grudge me a room for a week? Impossible!”

That settled the matter, until he got to bed and found he couldn’t sleep because the thought came back to say,

“But just suppose he were to refuse.

What then?” This was too much for Samuel.

“How the hell could he refuse?”

he said, his temper rising now.

“If the man is alive today it is because of me.

I saved him from drowning when he was a kid.

Will he be so ungrateful as to turn me out into the streets in the middle of winter?”

But the thought was persistent.

“Just suppose…”

Poor Samuel struggled with it as long as he could.

Finally he got out of bed around two in the morning, went over to where Moshe lived and kept his finger pressed against the doorbell button till Moshe, half asleep, opened the door and said in astonishment, “Samuel!

What is it? What brings you here in the middle of the night?”

Samuel was so angry by now he couldn’t keep himself from yelling,

“I’ll tell you what brings me here at this hour of the night!

If you think I’m going to ask you to put me up even for a single day, you’re mistaken.

I don’t want to have anything to do with you, your house, your wife or your family.

To hell with you all!”

With that he turned on his heel and walked away.

The prayer of the frog. Volume – II

Anthony de Mello


The sheep-lion

Paula Rego – auto portrait in red

There’s a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep.

It was a lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub.

It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep.

The lion went straight for him, and when the sheep lion stood in front of the real one, he trembled in every limb.

And the lion said to him, “What are you doing among the sheep?”

And the sheep-lion said, “I am a sheep.”

And the lion said, “Oh no, you’re not.

You’re coming with me.”

So he took the sheep-lion to a pool and said, “Look!”

And when the sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty roar, and in that moment he was transformed.

He was never the same again.


Anthony de Mello


sacrifice at Full moon

A woman once told me that when she was a child her Jesuit cousin gave a retreat in the Jesuit church in Milwaukee.

He opened each conference with the words:

“The test of love is sacrifice, and the gauge of love is unselfishness.”

That’s marvelous!

I asked her, “Would you want me to love you at the cost of my happiness?”

“Yes,” she answered.

Isn’t that delightful? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

SHE would love me at the cost of HER happiness

and I would love her at the cost of MY happiness,

and so you’ve got two unhappy people,



Anthony de Mello




underwater garden

If I had a dollar for every time I did things that gave me a bad feeling,

I’d be a millionaire by now.

You know how it goes.

“Could I meet you tonight, Father?”

“Yes, come on in!”

I don’t want to meet him and I hate meeting him.

I want to watch that TV show tonight, but how do I say no to him?

I don’t have the guts to say no.

“Come on in,” and I’m thinking,

“Oh God, I’ve got to put up with this pain.”

It doesn’t give me a good feeling to meet with him and it doesn’t give me a good feeling to say no to him, so I choose the lesser of the two evils and I say, “O.K., come on in.”

I’m going to be happy when this thing is over and I’ll be able to take my smile off,

but I start the session with him: “How are you?”

“Wonderful,” he says, and he goes on and on about how he loves that workshop,

and I’m thinking, “Oh God, when is he going to come to the point?”

Finally he comes to the point, and I metaphorically slam him against the wall and say, “Well, any fool could solve that kind of problem,” and I send him out.

“Whew! Got rid of him,” I say.

And the next morning at breakfast (because I’m feeling I was so rude)

I go up to him and say, “How’s life?”

And he answers, “Pretty good.”

And he adds, “You know, what you said to me last night was a real help.

Can I meet you today, after lunch?” Oh God!


Anthony de Mello





Many, many years ago, back in the middle Ages, the Pope was urged by his advisors to banish the Jews from Rome.

It was unseemly; they said that these people should be living unmolested in the very centre of Catholicism.

An edict of eviction was drawn up and promulgated much to the dismay of the Jews who knew that wherever else they went they could only expect worse treatment than was meted out to them in Rome.

So they pleaded with the Pope to reconsider the edict.

The Pope, a fair-minded man, offered them a sporting proposition:

Let the Jews appoint someone to debate with him in pantomime. If their spokesman won the Jews might stay.

The Jews met to consider this proposal.

To turn it down was to be evicted from Rome.

To accept it was to court certain defeat, for who could win a debate in which the Pope was both participant and judge?

Still, there was nothing for it but to accept.

Only, it was impossible to find someone to volunteer for the task of debating with the Pope.

The burden of having the fate of the Jews on his shoulders was more than anyone man could bear.

Now when the synagogue janitor heard what was going on he came before the Chief Rabbi

and volunteered to represent his people in the debate.

“The janitor?” said the other rabbis when they heard of this.


“Well,” said the chief Rabbi, “None of us is willing. It is either the janitor or no debate.”

Thus for lack of anyone else the janitor was appointed to debate with the Pope.

When the great day arrived, the Pope sat on a throne in St Peter’s square surrounded by his cardinals, facing a large crowd of bishops, priests and faithful.

Presently the little Jewish delegation arrived in their black robes and flowing beards, with the janitor in their midst.

The Pope turned to face the janitor and the debate began.

The Pope solemnly raised one finger and traced it across the heavens.

The janitor promptly pointed with emphasis towards the ground.

The Pope seemed somewhat taken aback.

Even more solemnly he raised one finger again and kept it firmly before the Janitor’s face.

The janitor thereupon lifted three fingers and held them just as firmly before the Pope who seemed astonished by the gesture.

Then the Pope thrust his hand into his robes and pulled out an apple.

Whereupon the janitor thrust his hand into his paper bag and pulled out a flat piece of matzo.

At this the Pope explained in a loud voice, “The Jewish representative has won the debate.

The edict of eviction is hereby revoked.”

The Jewish leaders promptly surrounded the janitor and led him away.

The cardinals clustered around the Pope in astonishment.

“What happened, your Holiness?” then asked.

“It was impossible for us to follow the rapid thrust and parry of the debate.”

The Pope wiped the sweat from his forehead and said, “That man is a brilliant theologian, a master in debate.

I began by sweeping my hand across the sky to indicate that the whole universe belongs to God.

He thrust his finger downward to remind me that there is a place called Hell where the devil reigns supreme.

I then raised one finger to signify that God is one.

Imagine my shock when he raised three fingers to indicate that this one God manifests Himself equally in three persons, thereby subscribing to our own doctrine of the Trinity!

Knowing that it was impossible to get the better of this theological genius I finally shifted the debate to another area.

I pulled out an apple to indicate that according to some new-fangled ideas the earth is round.

He instantly produced a flat piece of unleavened bread to remind me that, according to the Bible, the earth is flat.

So there was nothing to do but concede the victory to him.”

By now the Jews had arrived at their synagogue.

“What happened they asked the janitor in bewilderment?

The janitor was indignant.

“It was all a lot of rubbish,” he said.

“Look. First the Pope moves his hand like he is telling all the Jews to get out of Rome.

So I pointed downwards to make it clear to him that we were not going to budge.

So he points a finger to me threateningly as if to say.

Don’t get fresh with me.

So I point three fingers to tell him he was thrice as fresh with us when he arbitrarily ordered us out of Rome.

The next thing, I see him taking out his lunch.

So I took out mine.”

The prayer of the frog. Volume – I

Anthony de Mello

The Inventor of Fire


The Inventor of Fire


After many years of labour an inventor discovered the art of making fire.

He took his tools to the snow-clad northern regions and initiated a tribe into the art -and the advantages- of making fire.

The people became so absorbed in this novelty that it did not occur to them to thank the inventor who one day quietly slipped away.

Being one of those rare human beings endowed with greatness, he had no desire to be remembered or revered; all he sought was the satisfaction of knowing that someone had benefited from his discovery.

The next tribe he went to was just as eager to learn as the first.

But the local priests, jealous of the stranger’s hold on the people, had him assassinated.

To allay any suspicion of the crime, they had a portrait of the Great Inventor enthroned upon the main altar of the temple;

and a liturgy designed so that his name would be revered and his memory kept alive.

The greatest care was taken that not a single rubric of the liturgy was altered or omitted.

The tools for making fire were enshrined within a casket and were said to bring healing to all who laid their hands on them with faith.

The High Priest himself undertook the task of compiling a Life of the Inventor.

This became the Holy book in which his loving kindness was offered as an example for all to emulate,

his glorious deeds were eulogized, his superhuman nature made an article of faith.

The priests saw to it that the Book was handed down to future generations,

while they authoritatively interpreted the meaning of his words and the significance of his holy life and death.

And they ruthlessly punished with death or excommunication anyone who deviated from their doctrine.

Caught up as they were in these religious tasks,

the people completely forgot the art of making fire.

The prayer of the frog. Volume – I

Anthony de Mello