Many years ago I read and was moved by an awesome little book entitled On Retreat with Anthony DeMello. In it DeMello described seven tenets of his spiritual path called Sadhana. I was, and still am, blown away by his exposition which beautifully encapsulates the commandments, the beatitudes, and Your teachings. So taken was I that I constructed a framed poster and some laminated bookmarks with: Love Unconditionally; Accept Life; Drop Attachments; Suffering Teaches; Don’t Blame; Erase Self; and Pray Daily written on them. My opinion of these has not changed over the years.
It is fitting that Love Unconditionally is first because if this is mastered it automatically takes care of all the rest, just as mastering all the rest results in loving unconditionally.
To Accept Life means to willingly welcome our present state, no matter what it might be, as the state in which we encounter You. Therefore whatever it is, it is precious and it is Your gift. No matter its conditions, life is the journey to You. In accepting life we should be aware that there are many things: people, goods, events, experiences, power, money, values, etc. that all come with life. Most are good in themselves, but some we become so attached to that they distract and divert us from You. To weed out such distractions and Drop Attachments is essential for growth in our relationship with You.
Many of our attachments are so pleasant that we find them difficult to drop completely, but one thing attached to life that we all try to avoid is suffering, yet we must become aware that Suffering Teaches. It holds more potential for strengthening our understanding of life and our relationship with God than any of the attachments we so reluctantly drop. In accepting life we accept the suffering that is an inevitable part of it. When we accept it willingly and with resignation we unlock its value – and it teaches us.
An easy sidetrack to follow is the blaming game where we attach to some scapegoat our own faults, failings, and mistakes instead of following the tenet that says Don’t Blame. In not blaming, we take personal responsibility for our own shortcomings. In not blaming we cultivate an awareness of culpability and the need for reflection, resignation, and admission in regard to errors of what we say or do; and the key to all this is what is next: Erase Self.
If any one thing is the cornerstone of the unconditional love at the top of the Sadhana list, it is this! The greater the distance from our own construct of reality we are able to place self, the closer we approach our true self - the closer we approach You. Our false self blames, avoids suffering, nurtures attachments, and is not accepting of life when we are not served.
Finally, if we Pray Daily it helps us attain a proper disposition of focusing on our relationship with You and diminishing our focus on self.