By Paulo Coelho
In the days when I practised Zen meditation, there always came a moment when the teacher would go over to one corner of the dojo (the room where the students gathered) and return carrying a bamboo cane. Any student who had failed to concentrate properly was asked to put up his or her hand; the teacher would then come over and strike each one three times on each shoulder.
On the first day, that seemed to me absurd and medieval. Later, I understood that it is often necessary to place spiritual suffering on a physical plane in order for us to see the evil that it causes. On the road to Santiago, I learned an exercise which consisted of digging the nail of my index finger into my thumb whenever I had any harmful thoughts.
We only see the terrible consequences of negative thoughts much later, but by making them manifest on the physical plane – through pain – we soon come to realise the evil they cause and end up avoiding them.
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