Archives for June 2008

Edií§í£o nº 175 : As duas gotas de óleo

No alto da pequena cidade de Tarifa existe um velho forte construí­do pelos mouros. Lembro-me de ter sentado ali com minha mulher, Christina, em 1982, olhando pela primeira vez um continente do outro lado do estreito: a ífrica. Naquele momento, ní£o podia sonhar que este momento de preguií§a no final de uma tarde iria inspirar uma cena no meu livro mais famoso, “O Alquimista.” Tampouco podia sonhar que a história a seguir, escutada no carro, serviria como um excelente exemplo para todos nós que estamos em busca do equilí­brio entre o rigor e a compaixí£o.

Certo mercador enviou seu filho para aprender o Segredo da Felicidade com o mais sábio de todos os homens. O rapaz andou durante quarenta dias pelo deserto, até chegar a um belo castelo, no alto de uma montanha. Lá vivia o Sábio que o rapaz buscava.

Ao invés de encontrar um homem santo, porém, o nosso herói entrou numa sala e viu uma atividade imensa; mercadores entravam e saí­am, pessoas conversavam pelos cantos, uma pequena orquestra tocava melodias suaves, e havia uma farta mesa com os mais deliciosos pratos daquela regií£o do mundo.

O Sábio conversava com todos, e o rapaz teve que esperar duas horas até chegar sua vez de ser atendido.

Com muita paciíªncia, escutou atentamente o motivo da visita do rapaz, mas disse-lhe que naquele momento ní£o tinha tempo de explicar-lhe o Segredo da Felicidade.

Sugeriu que o rapaz desse um passeio por seu palácio, e voltasse daqui a duas horas.

– Entretanto, quero lhe pedir um favor – completou, entregando ao rapaz uma colher de chá, onde pingou duas gotas de óleo. – Enquanto vocíª estiver caminhando, carregue esta colher sem deixar que o óleo seja derramado.

O rapaz comeí§ou a subir e descer as escadarias do palácio, mantendo sempre os olhos fixos na colher. Ao final de duas horas, retornou í  presení§a do Sábio.

– Entí£o – perguntou o Sábio – vocíª viu as tapeí§arias da Pérsia que estí£o na minha sala de jantar? Viu o jardim que o Mestre dos Jardineiros demorou dez anos para criar? Reparou nos belos pergaminhos de minha biblioteca?

O rapaz, envergonhado, confessou que ní£o havia visto nada. Sua única preocupaí§í£o era ní£o derramar as gotas de óleo que o Sábio lhe havia confiado.

– Pois entí£o volte e conheí§a as maravilhas do meu mundo – disse o Sábio. – Vocíª ní£o pode confiar num homem se ní£o conhece sua casa.

Já mais tranqüilo, o rapaz pegou a colher e voltou a passear pelo palácio, desta vez reparando em todas as obras de arte que pendiam do teto e das paredes. Viu os jardins, as montanhas ao redor, a delicadeza das flores, o requinte com que cada obra de arte estava colocada em seu lugar. De volta í  presení§a do Sábio, relatou pormenorizadamente tudo que havia visto.

– Mas onde estí£o as duas gotas de óleo que lhe confiei? – perguntou o Sábio.

Olhando para a colher, o rapaz percebeu que as havia derramado.

– Pois este é o único conselho que eu tenho para lhe dar – disse o mais Sábio dos Sábios. – O segredo da felicidade está em olhar todas as maravilhas do mundo, e nunca se esquecer das duas gotas de óleo na colher.

The two drops of oil

Standing above the little town of Tarifa is an old fort built by the Moors. I remember sitting here with my wife, Christina, in 1982, and for the first time looking at a continent from across a narrow stretch of water: Africa. At that time I could not dream that such a lazy moment in the late afternoon would inspire a scene in my best-known book, “The Alchemist”. Nor could I have dreamed that the story that follows, heard in the car, would serve as an excellent example for all of us who are searching for some balance between discipline and compassion.

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, he listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handing the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

The stories of the desert priests

By Paulo Coelho

During the early part of the Christian era, the monastery at Scete became a center where many people gathered. After renouncing everything they had, they went to live in the desert surrounding the monastery. Many of the teachings of these men have been collected and published in numerous books.The stories of the desert priests

Work in the field

A young man crossed the desert and finally came to the monastery of Scete. There, he asked to hear one of the abbot’s lectures – and was granted permission.

That afternoon, the abbot’s discourse was about the importance of work in the field.

After the lecture, the young man said to one of the monks:

– That was amazing. I thought I would hear a fine sermon about virtues and sins, and the abbot spoke only of tomatoes, irrigation and so forth. Where I come from, all believe that God is merciful: all one must do is pray.

The monk smiled and replied:

– Here we believe that God has already done His part; now it is up to us to continue the process.

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

The Warrior of Light unwittingly takes a false step and plunges into the abyss.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Plagiarism on one of the most important books ever published?

On July 1st, 50 years ago, an event occurred which, according to the journalist Arnold Brackman, was “one of the great watersheds in the history of Western civilization.” Members of the London’s august Linnean Society on Piccadilly heard two unpublished fragments about evolution written by the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, and a fully thought-out paper written by a relative unknown, Alfred Russel Wallace.

Neither Darwin nor Wallace was present. Darwin stayed at his home in England mourning the death of a son to scarlet fever; Wallace was in distant New Guinea chasing butterflies and beetles.

Wallace’s paper – formally titled “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type” and popularly dubbed the “Ternate Paper” after the eastern Indonesian town from which he sent the study to Darwin – was the first complete explanation of the process of natural selection, which introduced the concept that “the fittest would survive.”

To simplify a complex story, as a result of Wallace’s paper, Darwin was pushed to complete “Origin of Species,” which was published in 1859. No doubt we will see a media blitz in 2009 when the world will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s bestseller. Darwin, a member of the British scientific elite, became a household name. Wallace, who left school at 14 and came from a modest family, ended up as a (rather important) footnote in history.

Some researchers argue that it was scientific coincidence – that each man had his eureka moment independently. Such an occurrence is not uncommon; it’s called a “multiple”: Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Oxygen was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheel in 1773 and by Joseph Priestly in 1774. Color photography was invented almost simultaneously by two Frenchmen. Four independent researchers discovered sunspots, all in 1611. Six men invented the thermometer and nine invented the telescope. And so on.

Did Darwin plagiarize Wallace? The question can be addressed in both legal and anecdotal terms.

The British lawyer David Hallmark, who is a trustee of the Wallace Foundation based in Indonesia, notes that as Darwin had not previously published and as the letter from Wallace stimulated publication, it follows that Wallace was first and Darwin, whatever he wrote, was second.

Also, when Darwin did publish he failed to attribute to Wallace the impact of the younger man’s Ternate letter on his own works, yet Darwin used the Wallace theory as his own. Therein lies the prima facie case of plagiarism.

There is circumstantial evidence that Darwin knew he had wronged Wallace and felt guilty about his actions. Although we obviously don’t know everything that Darwin and his colleagues thought or said to one another, there is an illuminating paper trail of letters in which Darwin referred to the events as a “miserable affair” and his relationship with Wallace as “a delicate situation.”

For the full article, “Survival of the fittest”, by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, please click here.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

Would you be able to change your style of writing completely? Would you be able to, for instance, write a biography of one person that you admire and respect, or write intimate memories? Maybe a collection of poems?

In terms of content, you must keep in mind that my literature is much more the result of a paradox than that of an implacable logic. The paradox is the tension that exists in my soul. Like in archery, the paradox is the bow that can be both tense and relaxed. I know that it’s important to have values in life, but I’ve always been more drawn to incoherence, because life is not static but rather like the tides, coming and going.
That’s why I can’t say in which direction my internal compass of questioning will guide me.

The stories of the desert priests

By Paulo Coelho

During the early part of the Christian era, the monastery at Scete became a center where many people gathered. After renouncing everything they had, they went to live in the desert surrounding the monastery. Many of the teachings of these men have been collected and published in numerous books.

Behave like others

Abbot Pastor was walking with a monk from Scete when they were invited for a meal. The host, honored by the holy men’s presence, served only the finest dishes.

However, the monk was fasting; as soon as the food arrived, he took a pea and chewed it slowly. He only ate that one pea, during the whole meal.

As they left, Abbot Pastor called him:

– Brother, when you pay a visit, do not render your holiness an offense. The next time you are fasting, do not accept an invitation to dine.

The monk understood what Abbot Pastor said. From then on, whenever he was with others, he behaved as they did.

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

Sometimes Evil pursues the Warrior of Light, and when it does, he calmly invites it into his tent.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Paparazzo

Veronika decides to die

Sarah Michelle Gellar filming Veronika decides to die, New York

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

You are so famous and well known that you have many agents, who directs your logistics. Do they have any influence on your work, on contents of novels? In which field of your work you let them influence on you? Are you the one who determines the title of the novel? Is the lawfulness of market that, what limits you by an volume of your work, rhythm of publishing?

I have only one agent: Monica Antunes. We have had a profound bound for over 20 years and we grew together, we walked along the path. She has been my ally & my friend. I don’t know where I would be today without her support and dedication.
She helps me when it comes to dealing with the publishing houses but has no say in the creative process. This, of course, includes the title of my books.
I maintain my independence regarding, as you say, ‘ the laws of the market’. I can’t think of this when I’m confronted with the necessity of writing. I first and foremost write for myself.
Once the book is brought to life, it’s normal that I turn myself towards others in order to present it to the world: my agent, the publishing houses, the booksellers. This chain brings me to the hands of my readers: the harbor that welcomes my dreams and questionings.

Human beings or speaking machines ?

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Each one of us has had this experience of when phoning to get a service, stumbling upon an answer machine. After pressing many buttons, finally we get through to a human being at the other end of the line. Yet, the other human being has also a list of answers and instead of trying to be of service, many times is unable to help.
Despite the sophisticated media today – that always helps in the small tasks – I believe we are loosing somehow this human warmth in our relations.
Acoording to you: how did we loose this human contact? Also, how this new type of relation will affect our future?

Brida’s Book Review

Dear Readers,

Here’s a video with the book review of Brida made by an Indian journalist.

Love,
Paulo

The stories of the desert priests

By Paulo Coelho

During the early part of the Christian era, the monastery at Scete became a center where many people gathered. After renouncing everything they had, they went to live in the desert surrounding the monastery. Many of the teachings of these men have been collected and published in numerous books.

The town on the far side

A hermit from the monastery of Scete went to Abbot Theodore:

– I know precisely the objective of life. I know what God asks of man, and I know the best way of serving Him. Even so, I am incapable of doing everything I should in order to serve the Lord.

Abbot Theodore remained silent for a time. Finally, he said:

– You know that there is a city on the far side of the ocean. But you haven’t yet found the ship, nor have you loaded your bags, nor crossed the sea. Why spend time commenting on what it is like, or how one should walk through its streets?

“Knowing the objective of life, or recognizing the best way of serving the Lord is not enough. Put into practice that which you think, and the way will be revealed all by itself.”

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

Whenever the Warrior of Light draws his sword, he uses it.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

EU votes to unify rules on detention of migrants

Today, I found this article in the IHT by Caroline Brothers. I wanted to share with you this pathetic news.

European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to allow countries in the bloc to hold undocumented migrants in detention centers for up to 18 months and ban them from EU territory for five years.

Approved in this medieval French border city, which is home to a significant population of North Africans and Turks, the legislation establishes common rules for expelling foreigners who are detained on EU territory without permission to be there.

Described by critics like Amnesty International as “severely flawed” and an erosion of human rights standards, but by supporters as a balanced approach, the so-called return directive passed in the European Parliament by a vote of 369 to 197, with 106 deputies abstaining.

(…)

Cimade released a statement Wednesday saying that it deplored the passage of what civil liberties groups have called “the directive of shame,” and said it was studying the possibility of contesting it before the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.

(…)

The vote came a day after António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said that the world was dealing with “a complex mix of global challenges” that could threaten even more forced displacements than the 37.4 million people last year.

To read the whole article, please go here.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

How is changing your relation to the world? Are you becoming optimistic or pessimistic? Why?

Injustice exists and I can’t pretend to have an answer for that. I’m not a guru and I can’t explain why bad things happen to honest people. It’s also true that evil is much more visible than good. See how easy it is to destroy and how laborious it is to build. Nevertheless I think that we are all responsible if the world is the way it is. That’s why instead of looking for the guilty, we should look at our attitudes and ourselves. We cannot set out to change the world but we can try to change ourselves. If we are capable of that: of mending our ways, of being generous to life, then we will be able to see that good is everywhere. There’s a wide range of heroes that work in silence and that try to enhance the state of the world.

Paulo Coelho and Privacy Zero – The making of a cover

Dear readers,

less than 30 minutes ago I recorded this small video about the making of a cover.
Next week, the italian newspaper Corriere della Sera will be dedicating the cover of its magazine to me and I wanted to give you an insight of the making of.

Love,
Paulo