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Meditation – cold awake – |Anthony de Mello|

For the cricket administrator, see Anthony de Mello (cricket administrator).

Anthony de Mello
Born4 September 1931
BombayBritish India
Died2 June 1987 (aged 55)
New York, New York
OccupationJesuit priest, author
Known forSpiritual writings and teachings
Ignatian spirituality
Meditation – cold awake – |Anthony de Mello|
Meditation – cold awake – |Anthony de Mello|

Anthony “Tony” de Mello (4 September 1931 – 2 June 1987) was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker, De Mello wrote several books on spirituality and hosted numerous spiritual retreats and conferences. He continues to be known for his storytelling which drew from the various mystical traditions of both East and West and for his introducing many people in the West to awareness prayer.



De Mello was the oldest of five children born to Frank and Louisa née Castellino de Mello. He was born in BombayBritish India, on 4 September 1931.[1] He was raised in a Catholic family and dreamed of one day joining the Jesuit order.

At the age of 16, he entered the Society of Jesus in the seminary of Vinalaya on the outskirts of Bombay. In 1952, de Mello was sent to Spain to study philosophy in Barcelona before undertaking ministry. He then returned to India to study theology at De Nobili College in Pune, and was ordained into the priesthood in March 1961. After his return to India, he spent several years working in seminaries, and in 1968 he was made rector of the seminary of Vinalaya.[2][3]

De Mello was first attracted to the Jesuits for their strict discipline. Those who knew him during his earlier years in the order described him as somewhat conservative in his theology and reluctant to explore other religions.[4] Some of his peers noted that his experience in Spain led him to broaden his perspective and to lose much of his rigidity.[3]


In 1972, he founded the Institute of Pastoral Counselling, later renamed the Sadhana Institute of Pastoral Counseling, in Poona, India.[2][5] After that he spent much time introducing people in the United States to Eastern spirituality, through stories and exercises.[6]

De Mello’s first published book, Sadhana – A Way to God, was released in 1978. It outlined a number of spiritual principles and “Christian exercises in Eastern form” inspired by the teachings of Saint Ignatius.[7] It popularized the notion of “awareness prayer” in the United States for his readers and for those who attended his lectures.[8] Awareness prayer differs from centering prayer more in its method than its purpose: instead of focusing on a word, awareness prayer attends to a sensation, like our pulse or breathing.[9] Other books published during DeMello’s lifetime include The Song of the BirdOne Minute Wisdom and Wellsprings. The first two were collections of stories and the last a collection of exercises similar to Sadhana.

He became renowned worldwide for his books and talks, which help people to be more aware, more in touch with their body, sensations, and the gift that life is to them. Thousands attended his lecture-conferences, as at St. Louis University each summer.[6][10]As he would say: “Let the Spirit work. Stop straining your spiritual muscles. Become attuned to your deeper self and let the force of life take over. Let the Holy Spirit take over.”[7]

De Mello died suddenly of a heart attack in 1987, aged 55, in New York City.[11]

Posthumous controversy[edit]

In 1998, 11 years after de Mello’s death, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the leadership of its Cardinal-Prefect, Joseph Ratzinger[12] (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) conducted a review of de Mello’s work and released a lengthy comment expressing appreciation but also theological concern that, while there was no explicit heresy, some might be misled into seeing Jesus not as the Son of God but as simply one who came to teach that all are children of God.[13][14] The Indian magazine Outlook saw this as an attempt by Rome to undermine the clergy in Asia amid widening fissures between Rome and the Asian Church.[15] DeMello’s books are available in many Catholic bookshops in the West, but include the advisory that they were written in a multi-religious context and are not intended to be manuals on Christian doctrine.[16]


A number of de Mello’s works were published posthumously as collections or based on notes or recordings of his conferences.[17]

Meditation – cold awake – |Anthony de Mello|


  1. ^ de Mello, Bill (2013). Anthony Demello SJ: The Happy WandererOrbis Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-62698-020-4.
  2. Jump up to:a b Kononenko, Igor (2010). Teachers of WisdomDorrance Publishing. p. 344. ISBN 978-1-4349-5410-7.
  3. Jump up to:a b “Anthony de Mello – Jesuits Ireland”Jesuits Ireland. 2017-05-31. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  4. ^ Nazareth, Malcolm. “Here and Now with Anthony De Mello”. Archived from the original on 2009-02-21.
  5. ^ Wicks, Robert J. (1994). Handbook of Spirituality for Ministers, Volume 1Paulist Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-8091-3521-9.
  6. Jump up to:a b Ellis, Maria (2016-01-29). A Night of Stars and Snow: A Memoir. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781504920254.
  7. Jump up to:a b “Anthony De Mello: Be Aware! Be Alive! Be in Love!”America Magazine. 2010-02-25. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  8. ^ Traub, George W. (editor) (2008). An Ignatian Spirituality ReaderLoyola Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8294-2723-3.
  9. ^ Sadhana by Anthony De Mello | PenguinRandomHouse.com.
  10. ^ “De Mello Spirituality | Anthony de Mello”. demellospirituality.com. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  11. ^ Biography, by Bill deMello Archived 24 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ 02/12/2013 12:31 pm EST. “The Last 20th-Century Pope | Charles J. Reid, Jr”. Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  13. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith“Notification Concerning the Writings of Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ”. Retrieved 26 March 2017. With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.
  14. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith“Notification Concerning the Writings of Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ”. EWTN Global Catholic Network. Archived from the original on 15 November 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  15. ^ “Gospel According To De Mello | Saira Menezes | Nov 16,1998”. Outlookindia.com. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  16. ^ “About”Anthony de Mello Resource. 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  17. ^ “CDF – Writings of Fr. De Mello, SJ”. Ewtn.com. Retrieved 2015-12-30.

External links[edit]

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