To a distressed person who came to him for help, the Master said, “Do you really want a cure?”
“If I did not, would I bother to come to you?”
“Oh yes. Most people do.”
“Not for a cure. That’s painful. For relief.”
To his disciples the Master said, “People who want a cure provided they can have it without pain are like those who favour progress provided they can have it without change.” (Anthony de Mello: One Minute Wisdom)
Tony de Mello often used to comment on people paying a lot of money to their therapists in order to change and to be happy and from the word go proceed to sabotage the very process they had begun. So they would fight the therapist and use all kinds of strategies to make sure that they would not change. Why then would they take all that trouble and spend all that money? It is not to change, Tony would assure us, but to feel good. People are looking for relief, not the resolution of their problems.
This is why he would emphasise the vital role of Awareness in the process of change. Without that essential ingredient, transformation is impossible for us and all our psychotherapy is of no use except giving us the satisfaction that we are doing something about the problem. People may derive great comfort from being listened to or experience catharsis from the expression of long held emotions, but that does not mean there is change. But the moment their eyes open to see the truth of a situation or problem, change happens quickly.
When psychotherapy combines in it that essential quality called Awareness, and helps a person to see what he or she needs to see, a powerful process of transformation begins. Many lives have been transformed by Tony’s work with people. This is the result not of the employment of traditional counseling skills he had learned as a student at Loyola University of Chicago but through “Spiritual Counselling’” as he would describe his work in later years.
This integration of counseling and the spirituality named Awareness is an important part of Tony’s legacy. This approach is a wholesome and often speedy way for the process of transformation.