I bought this from Amazon many years ago, and have just re-read it. Some past comments question the compatibility of de Mello's views with Christianity; and indeed the Church published a warning (but not disapproval).
If you are a Christian within a particular culture, you may find it unsettling. For example, de Mello refers with approval to some ideas and attitudes of Eastern non-Christian mysticism.
For myself the answer is:
(1) it is wrong - and contrary to the teachings of the Church - to consider that all other religions lack insight or truth. The critical difference is in the question "Is Jesus Christ God?". If you believe Yes, and hold that in mind while reading the book, you will be alright.
(2) The book is not an exposition of Christianity; but it does revive concepts which the Church in practice has neglected, but we're very much alive in other times e.g. the Desert Fathers.
I suggest you read the book and apply the concepts to your own relationship with God. You will find that they are enriching and revealing. If you come across something with which you do not agree, simply reject it and read on.
Over the years l have collected so many books, and this one in my opinion, stands out from the crowd. It doesn't disapoint, unlike so many, that promise so much and yet deliver so little. I have recently sold most of my books as they don't speak to me in the same way and no longer serve me. Most just repeat same old, but this one is for keeps. Not so keen on his other books, apart from Rediscovering life which is also excellent.
This book changed my life forever. It will make you realise how social programming changes you and how you are not yourself. It also shows you a real meaning of religion and spirituality, how fake all religions are these and how we misinterpreted the gospel. This book should be a must read in every school. I also recommend his audiobook which I listen at least every 6 months. It helps you to get rid of a programming you get from the tv, radio and society around you. Must read!
This book wasn't written by Tony de Mello as a book. It is edited from one of his spirituality conferences, hence the very direct conversational style. Some regard the tone as a bit hectoring but it just sounds mischievous in the original conference footage (which can be found on Youtube).
I say it is a book to keep coming back to because although it trips along most readably it actually contains profundities that bear revisiting. It's a bit like the lad who complimented his dad on how much he seemed to have learnt during the time his son was at college. This book seems to get smarter in that way too. When I first read it I was all excitement, and kept seeing Gurdjieff in it. Later I concluded that it was essentially Buddhism. Now I bracket it with Advaita/Non-duality. It is all these things and lots more besides.
Apparently Tony de Mello had the same view of much of this stuff, and was in the habit of repeating the Chinese Farmer story rather often, to people he must have known he'd told it too often enough, as if to say "Have you REALLY squeezed all the juice out of this one yet? Or is there more? Have you maybe still missed the main point?"
So if you love this book, and reckon you've got its message, return to it and maybe get even more, and more...
This book and/or the series of CDs of which it is a transcript, WILL change your life!!! I can guarantee it! Religion does not necessarily equate with true Christianity, or with true spirituality, or with enlightenment.... it hardly ever does!! This book can, if read with a truly open mind, be so liberating, it's almost too good too be true! but.. the beauty of it is... IT IS SO TRUE you'll wonder why the 'penny' didn't 'drop' long ago!!! :-)
The book opens with a thought-provoking and amusing little parable about an eagle who thinks he is a chicken because he was reared as a chicken. Basically he is not aware of who he really is. This whole book is about becoming aware of one's authentic self and opening up to the wonderful world of opportunity available to us for growth in our personal inner life whatever the outward circumstances. By becoming aware and losing all the inner chaff that clouds our vision we gain insight into why circumstances are as they are and learn to modify our reactions as a result of self-awareness. An easy read and a simple message for anyone, whatever their spiritual status or tradition, interested in personal growth. In fact you don't have to be interested in spiritual thought at all.
Full of humourous short paradoxical stories and parables that illustrate how to awaken awareness of the reality of life and provide insights into ourselves and a glimpse of the mystery of a higher consciousness that pervades all. De Mello's psychological viewpoint is what really captures the reader's attention. He makes the reader stop and reflect on the stories rather than bombarding him/her with set beliefs. De Mello asks you to enquire into your own being and into the reality of life and its quirkiness and to extract the meaning for yourself.
Such books should be welcomed as useful stepping stones to an awakened awareness of something beyond ourselves. Such books excite interest in the inner life and often provoke further exploration and reading and even the following of a spiritual path. Such books are beacons of light giving a taste of the potential beauty and depth of the inner life that can lead to a more wholesome view of life in every moment.
Worth reading Anthony de Mello's autobiography if you find his many books a thought-provoking read.
De Mello's style is confrontational and urgent. Awareness is about how to find your spiritual core. De Mello urges us to recognise how we are programmed by our societies and cultures to believe certain things which are detrimental to our spiritual well-being. Through stories and a delivery which makes you feel he is in the room talking to you he helps you to better understand yourself and the world and to bring you closer to God. Although de Mello is a Jesuit his teaching touches the core of all religions and can be read and understood by anyone on a spiritual journey.