St Augustine and logic

By Paulo Coelho

God speaks to us through signs. It is a highly individual language which requires us to have faith and discipline if we are fully to absorb it.
 
This is how St Augustine was converted. He had spent years searching in various philosophies for an answer to the meaning of life. One evening, in the garden of his house in Milan, he was reflecting on the utter failure of his search when he heard the sing-song voice of a child saying: ‘Pick it up and read it! Pick it up and read it!’
 
Although he had always been ruled by logic, he decided, on an impulse, to open the first book that came to hand. It was the Bible, and he read part of an epistle by St Paul, which contained all the answers he was looking for.
 
From then on, Augustine’s logic made room for faith, and he became one of the Church’s greatest theologians.

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Comments

  1. G.K. Gill says:

    I am sikh. There was a time when everyone told me I was mad. I happened to go to the Gurdwara and there was the translation of the Guru Granth Sahib on big screen. The words leapt out to me.

    I wasn't mad. Everyone else was. I was the quiet trickle among the roar of the ocean. I survived.

    It doesn't matter what religion. They all speak the same language.

  2. G.K. Gill says:

    I needed direction for my next note. I’ve found it.

    Yesterday I observed my children as they were playing. Mik ran to sit on this car thingy and as he sat, Jaz immediately pushed him over and sat on it. Mik didn’t say a word and went on to play some other toy. Then Jaz got off after a while and Mik went to sit on it again. Again the same thing happened. I admonished Mik for simply giving in and reinforced the fact that he really was an angel but that didn’t mean he had to give in all the time. He looked puzzled. He had been taught to always be the better person. Not that being a better person is necessarily a bad thing. Only when it happens to be at your expense. I then admonished Jaz for pushing her brother off instead of waiting her turn. She immediately burst into tears at the injustice that had been done to her, screamed and wailed and stormed off. I ignored her.

    It wasn’t long before I realised what was happening. Jaz always got what she wished because she screamed and wailed loudly if she didn’t get her way. Mik would always give in because, while he could fight her, he had been scolded by those who don’t know any better that look “your sister is crying. Just let her play with the toy first”. He respected elders enough to listen to them. Or he simply cannot take all the drama for some silly toy and knows enough that there are alternatives. It was easier to give in that to face the battle and insist on his right to sit on the car as he got there first. What he doesn’t realise is that as he grows up, this behaviour would be reinforced time and time again to continue into adulthood. He would always choose to give in instead of facing the drama as giving in would have become a habit. He thinks he’s in control of the situation. That he is giving in only because he wants to. Only, he wouldn’t know when it would become a habit that he cannot get out of and ultimately consume him. By the time he wants to put a stop to it, the habit would have become so strong that it would be easy for the other to squash him. Kinda sets him up for queen control scenario. I fear for him.

    Jaz, on the other hand would grow up to be confident and secure. However, the moment someone does not see things her way, she would not be able to handle it. She would cry and scream and storm. She may become a bit impossible to live with. She may even unwittingly destroy the love that she found with her confidence and popularity by not being able to handle the insecurity of not having things done her way. She would always need to be in control. Giving in to another would mean losing everything she stood for. In wanting to maintain control, she may even destroy the confidence and self esteem of loved ones without even realising it.

    The good guy is being punished, and the equally good girl is being rewarded for her not so good actions.

    This cycle prevails in adults.

    The next time Mik went onto his car thingy, I watched Jaz as she headed for him, paused, and then stopped in her tracks. She then headed the other way. She must have felt awful at not being able to wrest it away from him.

    I immediately went over to her and gave her a hug and a kiss as I told her how proud mommy was of her in not wrestling the car from him.

    She also appeared a little startled. She had been taught that crying was the only way to get what she wanted. Here, she appeared to not do anything and yet she got the very thing that she craved for when I admonished her.

    It is so easy to reward evil by being lazy. This only creates more evil.

    Positive reinforcement for negative acts is so difficult to do. Simply for the reason that it is a negative act. It is unseen. When a partner does something that makes you happy, you applaud silently or it simply goes unnoticed. Yet, when something displeases you, you hit the roof.

    The kids looked puzzled.

    Our loved ones would appear puzzled.

    We are so accustomed to receiving positive feedback on a “bad” act, we come to expect it. The bad act continues simply because its working. And when we expect something to happen, it happens. We are headed for a downward spiral.

    Nobody tells us how special we are. They assume we know. Ok, why not reinforce what we already know? Is it so bad?

    About time this cycle of self destruction be broken. About time about everybody told everybody where their strengths lie and why they appreciate them so much. Sometimes, you don’t even want to do that. Because that would mean carrying the other person at supposedly your expense. And maybe making yourself feel not so special if you praise the other too much. Or maybe it is embarassing. Not macho enough. Hehe that’s so funny.

    It is about time we give positive feedback to that unseen good deed.

    Look out for that silent goodness in others. Applaud it loudly.

    Love works silently. God works silently.

    No, no, he’s not all yappity yap like me *grins*

  3. Kathleen says:

    To Aditya,
    The Bible is hard to read and interpret, I agree. Online you can search http://www.biblegateway.com there is the new translation which is a simplified version of the Bible. I find this helps me to understand.
    Kathleen xx

  4. aditya says:

    Kathleen, Hi that was nice sharing !

    wendy is there any conflict between having a scientific attitude and also a religious bent of mind, science is for the outer world, releigion is for the inner world; the real sceintists, the greater sceintists were / are able to gather courage to accept relegion.

    Kathleen about the Quote from Bible ! does it indicate that Elias is always present !

  5. Kathleen says:

    This happened this year. My series of coincidences that lead me to the book “The Fifth Mountain”.
    First I had a “daydream”. Saw a massive pair of wings on my back wall, covered most of the wall. I was watching the fine detail in the wings and thought to myself, angels wings, but then I noticed an eagles head between the wings. Not long after this I was searching the internet with my nephew to find the meanings to names as he was to have his confirmation and we stumbled upon the name of John (which my nephew’s name is a derivative of) and this is what it said “The eagle is the symbol used to depict John the Apostle, whose writing most clearly witnesses the light and divinity of Christ. In art, John, as the presumed author of the Gospel, is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height he rose in the first chapter of his gospel. See Names of John.”
    I was flabbergasted. I also wrote an email to a very spiritual friend of mine who lives in the UK and he sent me a picture of a painting by an artist called Danny Hahlbohm. It was of Jesus – The Agony in the Garden. Jesus sitting with his head down and an angel behind him with his hand on his shoulder. This painting really moved me.

    The following weekend on the night of my nephew’s confirmation there was a painting up on the projector screen. It was of Jesus with a Dove with open wings behind him. I thought to myself, wow that’s similar to the painting my friend sent me just recently so when I got home from the confirmation I looked it up and it was by the same painter. Now this is a coinicidence but also this painter is a popular christian painter so there’s a good likelihood that our Priest would us his paintings (though I’ve never seen any before in mass). This though really blew me away. I looked up the painting that was in the mass and there was a paragraph attached to this one: And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
    – John 14:16-19
    St John again!
    I decided to look up St. John a bit more as I seemed to be bumping into him a lot and I read how when St. John was born his mother was expected to call him Zacharias after his father as the tradition goes but Elizabeth was told by God to call him John which means “ God is merciful”.

    Lastly the Book: A couple of months after this series of coincidences I was in the city. I was looking for a new book to read (a cheap one as I had left my job). I came across a book by Paulo “The Fifth Mountain”. I liked the idea of reading in a simple format a story supposedly through the eyes of the prophet himself. His trials and triumphs. The end of the story finished with Paulo quoting from the Bible.

    “Matthew 17:10-13 tells the rest of the story:
    “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
    “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.
    “Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist”.

    Love Kathleen xxx

  6. Yajna says:

    Dearest Paulo and friends..

    Truthfully its happened to me many times.. Magical times.. And so i know it exists.. Its the language of the universe.. Of the world.. Of God. I honestly believed in it once and still do.. But now i find myself confused.. Maybe even doubting it all. I don’t know.. I had the magic.. It saved me and it saved him and in each other we survived. Now the very magic and distance that brought us together has ripped us apart. So now i wonder if there is actually going to ever be that magic again in my life. That connection where you can tell someone you love them with the wind..and he knows it. That connection where God himself will give you signs.. That love. I still get my signs.. I got one the other day.. And in times of serious doubt, they keep me going.
    A few years ago i recieved a love story.. And basically it spoke of a love between two people in silence.. The sounds of silence..how they owned an ocean of love.. How he found his place in the world apart from her but they seem to loved each other always.. And how their love gave him strength when they were apart to carry on. About a month ago.. I was in a unique mood. Maybe not sad, but somewhat full love maybe? .. So i wrote a story.. It was how i visited this ocean of love to draw my strength.. And how i sent a message to him with the wind while he was gone.. On his journey. Anyway, i emailed it to a couple of my friends, and thought it maybe too personal to put on my blog.. Then i came here and read paulo saying, when you share your heart, you’re set free. So i decided to share. I put it up on my blog. Only my story. Then about two days later or so, serene from this blog read it, and said she felt somehow inspired and wrote a corresponding story. It was remarkable.. Because not only did i get my answers, but her words so many of them were exactly as he wrote them years ago.. Its so lovely. And many of my friends who read them seemed wowed as well, as they knew the other story. Maybe in a way the world is giving me some hope. I think signs from God are everywhere and at times he uses us as angels to express his messages and signs to others in need.

    thank you for being
    Yajna

  7. mw says:

    God is words from you–nobody else. Some never get to this realization of godhood. The bible and texts of others hinder this possibility…slow it down to stasis in the soul. One day we will see all the religions as part of a meaningful whole and celebrate all of them… rituals and celebrations make life more fun. Let’s party!

  8. JAROMIL says:

    Then, may I confess, he wrote The (Synchroni)City of God.
    Love
    Jaromil

  9. Kathleen says:

    That is so true!! This has happened to me and also to people I know. It really is fascinating and bewildering.
    Has this happened to you Mr. Coelho?
    Kathleen xxx

  10. aditya says:

    so damn true ! a lot of things we start treating as routine like say a n ad on TV, a mesage on Paulo’s site, a hertfelt response by Agnieszka, stray dogs, kites having fun in sky…. anything, that treating things as routine and boring is the chif drawback in understanding the language of signs, i feel.

    One needs to be aware & alert ( not tensed up ) to undersatnd the language of signs ?

    I have read so much but so far I have not read any good commnetary on bible ( originals of these religious texts, are too difficult to comprehend ) can anyone suggest some good ‘interpretation’ of Bible, has Paulo written anything like that ?

  11. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,
    Here is sth personal that shows that God exists:

    It was a very bad day. I was feeling so down.
    Outside also you couldn’t find nothing to makes you smile – rain , dark clouds.
    Even those beautiful autumn leafs were not so pretty anymore.
    I wasn’t in the mood at all, thinking about living in the place where I don’t want,
    about life passing so quickly, dreaming about being somewhere else…..
    Really not a nice day, but………
    I went for a walk with my husband and my umbrella in the hand,
    There was nobody else but us,
    My husband trying hard to make me smile, to make me at ease,
    Helped a little……
    And then suddenly, out of the blue, in between these dark clouds you could see a void,
    a space where the sun showed his face and ..
    those rays of light were everywhere around us,
    on the trees, on those still yellow leafs, on the river,
    on my husband face and mine.
    It was a miracle, it was like God would reach from haven to touch me, to touch us with
    his/hers never-ending LOVE.
    Tears went down my face and ….JOY, great JOY of this UNITY WITH GOD filled me inside. Being grateful it’s not a good enough world to describe this feeling I had at that moment – it was LOVE, GREAT LOVE !!!!
    love
    Agnieszka

  12. Wendy Espinoza says:

    GOD = eternal, unchanging source of all change movement and process. all motion is a process within matter by which the forms latent in it are brough into actual manisfestation. and this process only takes place in the precsence of an adequate efficient cause of all motion. ” the unmoved mover”.- ARISTOTLE.

    aristotle called this force “the mover of the universe” but still didn’t regard him as the creator.
    yes Aristotle was a great philosopher and a logical thinker. and there are so many people like him in this world

    perhaps if they have a little bit of faith
    they will regard this force as
    God=love,the only creator of the universe our loving father and mother,the one responsible for the rain,love, blossom of a flowers… he created this beautiful universe for us his children to explore and enjoy…
    I personally believe in science and of course the theory of evolution. i do not believe in the GENESIS, but i believe that behind science is the hand of God.
    i have faith!

  13. G.K. Gill says:

    I am sikh. There was a time when everyone told me I was mad. I happened to go to the Gurdwara and there was the translation of the Guru Granth Sahib on big screen. The words leapt out to me.

    I wasn’t mad. Everyone else was. I was the quiet trickle among the roar of the ocean. I survived.

    It doesn’t matter what religion. They all speak the same language.

  14. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,
    Too bad that when people get older; become adults,
    their imagination changes.
    They don’t believe in miracles anymore.
    Childish enthusiasm goes away somewhere and everything become plain and boring.
    The perception of life is no longer based on faith but mostly on logic.
    Too bad!!

    As You, Paulo wrote in one of Your book:

    “Wisdom of the people become madness in the eyes of God.
    If we listen of the voice of the child, who lives inside our soul, our eyes will shine again”

    I think that if we listen to this child inside us we will be able to notice incredible moments that happen in our everyday life.
    I believe that if we let our imagination go wild :-)
    our life could be like a fairy tale.
    I really believe that it depends on us.

    If we try and see things through pink glasses,
    our life will change!!!

    So let’s not logic things, at least not all the time
    and
    believe in dreams, miracles, fairy tales and
    beautiful, wonderful life!!!

    Like this song:

    It’s a wonderful, wonderful life!!!

    Don’t waste any second!!!
    Smile!!!
    Dream!!!
    Believe!!!
    Love!!!
    EVERYBODY!
    LIFE IS FULL OF SURPRISES!!!!

    Thank You Paulo,
    for every story, every question,
    and of course for every book!!
    love
    Agnieszka

  15. vondora says:

    faith is powerful and i live by faith all my problems i have many, but it is through faith that i make it through my hard times, i’ve truly been blessed by my heavenly father, i talk with my father everyday and night in our secret place, and i am heard.
    faith is very powerful
    peace
    vondora

  16. The signs are white pebbles on the path in the moonlight, I hope anyone who reads this will pick up and read the Bible.

    When people look for answers they tend to glorify man. God however has given mankind all the solutions. They are right there. Why are we unable to apply what we know would be good for us?

    Love and light.

    Lydia
    aka Serendipity Jane