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Jiddu Krishnamurti and Anthony de Mello, S.J.: Two Spiritual Guides from India to Enlighten Us

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Growth involves grace [vs. Effort and will power]

Life affirming [vs. Life denying]

Poverty, chastity, and obedience for people in Catholic religious orders, means [vs. Poverty, chastity, and obedience, consequences]

Regarding chastity, he claims that when our hunger for love is met, then our sex drive is not quite so strong. In effect, President Bill Clinton explained that his sex drive for Monica Lewinsky was as strong as it was because his hunger for love as a child had not been met. When our hunger for love has not been met, then our love relationships can have a drug-like impact on us and can become addictive, Anthony de Mello noted. In the traditional terminology of Ignatian spirituality, a drug-like impact of anything on us that makes us addicted to it would be discussed as an inordinate desire. But's that not all. When our hunger for love is not met, we tend to feel that we cannot cope with life, and this tendency sets us up to become addicted. For example, Anthony de Mello says that our love for Jesus can be just as much a drug as an all-absorbing love relationship can. Karl Marx famously pointed out this unfortunate tendency when he described religion as the opiate of the people. In my estimate, the conceptual construct of the Child Within (also known as the Inner Child) is useful for understanding our hunger for love that has not been met. In other words, the Child Within did not receive optimal love. As a result, the Child Within hungers for love. But Anthony de Mello's observation gives rise to the question, "For an adult, what are the characteristics of healthy love for Jesus or anybody else or anything else, if healthy love is indeed possible for an adult?"

In his July 1980 preached retreat in Denver for Jesuits, Anthony de Mello worked with terminology from Eric Berne's still useful book GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: THE BASIC HANDBOOK OF TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS (1964): Rescuer, Victim, and Persecutor. The role of the Persecutor involves anger and resentment. In the present essay, I myself prefer to work with the conceptual construct of the Child Within (also known as the Inner Child) that John Bradshaw and others have popularized in the United States . In Berne 's terminology, the Child Within involves the Victim who feels helpless. However, the Child Within can and does also involve not only the Rescuer (e.g., the compulsive "helper" who comes to the rescue) but also the Persecutor who is motivated by anger and resentment to vent his or her anger and resentment. I discuss Anthony de Mello's comments about anger below.

The conceptual construct of the Child Within is used to represent the traumatized child in us in our psyches. When we were traumatized as a child, we experienced the traumatizing experience as Victim, in Eric Berne's terminology. In addition, we experienced somebody in our life-world as Persecutor. Moreover, we introjected and internalized the Persecutor. So the Child Within internalized the Persecutor. So the Child Within today carries the memorable imprinting not only of being the Victim but also of being the victimizer or the Persecutor. Furthermore, in the young child's experience of being the Victim in the traumatizing experience, the young child longed to be rescued from the Persecutor (e.g., the Evil Mother) by a fantasy Rescuer (e.g., the Good Mother), who failed to come to the rescue. As a result, the Child Within today may be strongly inclined to play the role of Rescuer (e.g., many people in the helping professions today).   But all three roles (Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor) are compulsive. In terms of imagery I explain below, The Child Within is in effect a portable prison cage that we carry around with us embedded in our ego-consciousness. In effect, the Child Within functions like computer programming for all kinds of compulsive and obsessive tendencies, including compulsive playing of the roles of Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor.

Digression: Father Leo Booth explores religious addiction in his book WHEN GOD BECOMES A DRUG: BREAKING THE CHAINS OF RELIGIOUS ADDICTION AND ABUSE, Foreword by John Bradshaw (Los Angeles, California (USA): Jeremy Tarcher, 1991), as do Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in their book TOXIC FAITH: UNDERSTANDING AND OVERCOMING RELIGIOUS ADDICTION, Foreword by Michael Doucette, M.D. (Nashville, Tennessee (USA): Oliver Nelson/A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991). In general, when we act out our Child Within (also known as our Inner Child), we can be described as outering our Child Within so that we can then think of our Outer Child as problematic, as Susan Anderson does in her accessible book TAMING YOUR OUTER CHILD: A REVOLUTIONARY PROGRAM TO OVERCOME SELF-DEFEATING PATTERNS (New York, New York (USA): Ballantine Books/ Random House, 2011). End of digression.

In any event, it strikes me that Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic bishops have not embraced the growth model of spiritual growth that Anthony de Mello delineated, probably because they are so preoccupied with indoctrinating people in the doctrines of the Catholic catechism. In short, they are following the training or forming model, not the growth model.

As we will see below, Anthony de Mello eventually became convinced that Jesuits making 30-day retreats in silence following the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of St. Ignatius Loyola were not able to draw "fruit" from the experience because they were living in their heads, figuratively speaking, and were not sufficiently in touch with their feelings to be able to draw "fruit" from the retreat experience. But does the emphasis on being indoctrinated in Catholic doctrine condition certain Catholics to live in their heads, figuratively speaking (also known as intellectualizing)?

In addition to working with the contrast between the growth model and the training or forming model, Anthony de Mello also worked with the contrast between a passive way of life and an active way of life in his preached retreat in July 1980 in Denver to Jesuits. Jesuits making a preached retreat maintain silence, just as Jesuits making a 30-day retreat following the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola main silence, except for the daily conferences with the retreat director. Anthony de Mello claims that silence helps us develop depth. In addition, silence can also help surface unfinished business in our psyches. Even so, silent awareness in meditation and contemplation can at times brings us into the present and the mystic experience of the present.   Thus making an Ignatian retreat in silence would be one way to cultivate a passive way of life for a certain period of time (e.g., three days, eight days, 30 days).

The passive and receptive way of life is fostered by awareness and tends to be characterized as follows, as distinct from the ways in which the active way of living is characterized (indicated here in square brackets):

Freshness, richness [versus Automatization]

Sensual [vs. Discerning shape and form]

World oriented [vs. Self oriented]

Let go, let flow [vs. Control, possessiveness]

Reception [vs. Acquisition]

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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