Book notes: Awareness by Anthony de Mello

Awareness by Anthony de Mello book summary review and key ideas.

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Awareness: Conversations with the Masters by Anthony de Mello


“Awareness awakens you to the truth that you possess everything you need right now to be happy and fulfilled.

Happiness is your natural state. You don’t need to do anything to acquire it; you only need to drop something. This audiobook shows you what that is. There is not a single person who ever gave time to being aware who’s quality of life didn’t change.

You see life differently because you are different. You respond to people and situations differently. You see things you have never seen before. Beautiful things. You’re much more energetic, much more alive. When you finally awake, you don’t try to make good things happen; they just happen. You understand suddenly that everything that happens to you is good. You understand that all is well, even at times when things seem a mess. You discover that there is a loving force surrounding you at all times that is always within reach, always right here in your midst, making your life meaningful and beautiful and rich.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I believe this book was recommended on a podcast I listened to or a book list somewhere. I’m not sure what to expect out of this book, but I was looking for books this month around happiness and perspective

Key notes:

  • You’re never in love with anyone
    • You’re only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person 
  • The first step is to admit to yourself that you don’t want to grow up or be happy
  • We are brainwashed into thinking that choosing happiness over someone else is selfish
    • The test of love is sacrifice and the gauge of love is selflessness, unselfishness
  • The reason we cannot conceive of unconditional happiness is because we believe we need our “things” to be happy, and can’t see ourselves happy without the things we idolize
  • People have to suffer enough emotionally before they wake up
    • It’s only when you’re sick of your sickness that you get out of it
  • Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy
  • If you fight or renounce some thing, you’re tying yourself to it forever because you are giving it your energy
  • Openness and willingness to discover something new and listening is important. Not agreeing or disagreeing
    • Are you listening to confirm something you already believed or are you listening to discover something new?
  • We don’t like new things, particularly if it involves change, or admitting you were wrong
  • Faith is an openness to the truth, no matter where it comes from
    • True openness isn’t being gullible but challenging and analyzing
  • Life is a banquet
    • And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death
  • Brainwashing is when you’re interjected with an idea that was never yours, you’re willing to die for it, and when the idea is challenged, you are shocked and react emotionally
  • We don’t have fear of the unknown, we have fear of losing the known

Reader’s note: This guy reminds me of Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar in how he is a great storyteller and tells a lot of the jokes. However, instead of speaking on motivation and sales, he talks about awakening and spirituality

Reader’s note: This guy also reminds me of Jay Shetty when he talks about happiness and spirituality.

  • Self-observation is very important but nobody can help you with it
    • Self-observation is the ability to watch everything in you and around you as if it were happening to someone else 
  • The reason you suffer from your depressions and anxieties is because you identify with them
    • You’re saying you are depressed, when that is false
    • Truly, you’re experiencing depression in this moment
  • If you want to transform the world, start by transforming yourself first through observation, through understanding
    • With no interference or judgement because what you judge you cannot understand
  • There’s nothing more delightful than being bitten by the bug of awareness
  • Stop making judgements of good and bad, but just observe
    • Then you’ll start to make discoveries
  • The most important question in the world is “who am I?
    • Perhaps this thing you call “I” is simply an agglomeration of your past experiences, your conditioning, and your programming
  • Underneath suffering is desire
    • Because if you didn’t have desire, you wouldn’t suffer
    • It might be more than a desire, but a craving or identification which is causing the suffering
  • Our attachment to others make us psychologically demand they contribute to our happiness
  • Perfect love casts out fear
    • Where there is love, there are no demands, expectations, or dependencies
    • I don’t demand that you make me happy. My happiness does not lie in you
  • Loneliness is not cured by human company. It is cured by contact with reality
  • When you gain awareness, you lose the fear and tension and nothing can hurt you
  • All good in the universe is traced back to love
    • All evil is traced back to fear
  • Our problems get power when we identify with them 

Reader’s note: Although this is very philosophical and spiritual, his reframing of our fears and problems as a problem of attachment actually does make me feel better and more at peace with the things that trouble me in my mind

  • What you are aware of you are in control of
    • What you are not aware of is in control of you
  • You must listen to yourself and be aware of where your attention goes
  • You’re a success in life when you don’t have to apologize or explain yourself to anyone
    • You don’t care about what anyone thinks of you and you have no worries
  • People are stressed, anxious, and not happy in life when they identify with the label they gave themself
  • No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy
    • There is no situation in the world that justifies a negative feeling
  • We see things and people not as they are but as we are
  • Pleasant experiences make life delightful
    • Painful experiences lead to growth
  • Sometimes the nicest thing that could happen to us, for us to be awakened to reality, is for calamity to strike
  • Our greatest tragedy is that we think we know too much
  • Attachment destroys your ability to love
    • Love is sensitivity and consciousness
  • One cannot make a slave out of a free person or a wise person
  • The way to really live is to die
    • The passport to living is to imagine you are in your grave
    • Look at your problem from that viewpoint. It changes everything
  • To come to the land of love, you must pass through the pains of death
    • For to love a person means to have died for the need for persons and to be utterly alone
  • It is not from lack of religion in the ordinary sense of the word that the world is suffering
    • It is from lack of love, lack of awareness
    • Love is generated through awareness
  • Living is to have dropped all the impediments and to live in present moment freshness
  • Book reference: Summerhill by A.S. Neill
  • Nourish yourself on wholesome food: sunsets, nature, a good movie, a good book, enjoyable work, good company
    • Hopefully you will break your addiction to those other feelings
  • Seek soul feelings over worldly feelings

Closing thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I was looking for when I read it. If the reader is feeling turbulence in their life, this book gives an insightful perspective on what’s going on and helps them reorient towards a more holistic perspective.

The audio version I listened to was great because the speaker was very dynamic and powerful. He reminded me a lot of Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar in that he is very skilled and communicating a point while also captivating the audience with his wit and humor.

Overall, I strongly recommend this book for anyone who needs a shift in perspective. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, worried, or any negative feelings, chances are that this book can help even just a bit.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

One of the biggest takeaways I got from this book is:

  • Your suffering comes from attachment

There are a lot of parts to this, but the author says at one point that all suffering comes from desire/attachment/expectations. When we are upset by someone, it’s because we’re attached to some idea that hasn’t come true or some expectation that hasn’t been fulfilled. When someone bothers us, it’s because we placed our happiness in someone else.

Perfect love does not come with demands, expectations or dependencies. Unconditional love does not require people to be a certain way. It simply accepts people as they are.


Our suffering comes from attachment, and the key to happiness and fulfillment is self-awareness.

Similar books:


Rating: 4 out of 5.


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