Archives for June 2008

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 middle way

The monk Lucas was walking through a village accompanied by a disciple. An old man asked the man from Scete:

– Holy man, how can I come closer to God?

– Enjoy yourself. Praise the Creator with your joy – was the reply.

The two went on their way. Just then, a young man came over.

– What must I do to come closer to God?

– Enjoy yourself less – said Lucas.

When the young man left, the disciple commented:

– It seems to me that you are not sure whether or not one should enjoy oneself.

– A spiritual journey is a bridge with no railings across an abyss – replied Lucas, – If someone is too near the right hand side, I tell him ‘left a bit!’ If he approaches the left side, I say ‘right a bit!’ The extremes veer us away from the Path.

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

A Warrior of Light knows that an angel and a devil are both competing for his sword hand.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

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Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

All your books have an obvious mystical feature. Do you think that your success all over the world is due to that?

They don’t, and Eleven Minutes is an example of that. My books deal with human conflicts, and although the spiritual quest is one of this conflicts, it is not the only one.

Reflections of an explorer of Kanchenjunga

By Paulo Coelho

By an explorer of mount Kanchenjunga:

“I climbed the highest mountain in my land, and could see the whole world around it. While I was there, I could see more that I can put into words, and understood more than I can express.

“If, however, I were to better define what those moments high up on Kanchenjunga really meant, I would say: seen from high up, all things – rivers, trees, snow, grass – seem as one, and my heart was filled with joy, because I was part of everything. When I understood this, even alone on the top of a mountain, I understood that I was close to all things on this Earth.”

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

The Warrior of Light knows that there are occasional pauses in the struggle.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

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More on the Telectroscope

Dear readers,

for those that have been following the news here on the blog, you may remeber that I published an article about the Telectroscope – a telescope joining New York to London a few weeks back.
To read the article posted on the 28th of May, please go here.

Recently I stumbled upon videos of this object and decided to post it here for you to see.


Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

Although you didn’t like the compulsiveness of the religious practice, that you have known ever since you were a child, something happened, in your youth, when you decided to reconsider your attitude. I know that you have never revealed the identity of that man who must have been the one that brought about the change I was speaking about. However I insist, by asking you: was it not one of those rare meetings with a warrior of light?

The warrior of the light, who can change your life, is everywhere. It may be a taxi driver, a person that you met by chance in the bus, if you are attentive to the signs – this person, even if you never see him/her again, will give you the right input to take the decisions that you are postponing. Therefore, all we need is to be attentive to signs and open to people.

A man lying on the ground

By Paulo Coelho

On 1st July, at 13:05 hrs., there was a man aged about fifty lying on the promenade in Copacabana. I passed him with a glance and went on my way towards a stall where I always drink fresh coconut water.

Being from Rio, I’ve passed hundreds (thousands?) of men, women and children lying on the ground. As someone who travels, I’ve seen the same scene in practically all the countries I’ve been to – from wealthy Sweden to dire Romania. I’ve seen people lying in the street in all seasons of the year: in the biting winter of Madrid, New York or Paris, where they huddle around the warm air floating up from the subway stations. In the relentless sun of Lebanon, among buildings destroyed by years of war. People lying on the ground – drunks, homeless, tired – are not a novelty for anyone.

I drank my coconut water. I was in a hurry to get back for an interview with Juan Arias, from the Spanish newspaper El Paí­s. On the way, I saw the man was still there, in the sunshine – and everyone who passed acted in exactly the same way as I had: they looked, and walked on.

The fact is – not that I was aware of this – my soul was tired of seeing the same scene, over and over again. When I passed that man again, something great force made me kneel down and try to help him up.

He didn’t react. I turned his head, and there was blood near his temple. Now what? Was it a serious wound? I cleaned his face with my shirt: it didn’t look serious.

Just then, the man started mumbling something which sounded like: “tell them to stop beating me.” Well, at least he was alive; now all I had to do was get him out of the sun and call the police.

I stopped the first man passing and asked him to help me drag him to the shade between the promenade and the beach. He was wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase and parcels, but he put them down and came to help me – his soul must also have been tired of seeing that scene.

Having got the man into the shade, I walked towards my building, knowing there was a police post on the way, where I could get help. But before getting there, I passed two policemen.

– A man has been hurt over there opposite number such-and-such, I said. I put him on the sand. You should send for an ambulance.

The policemen said they’d make arrangements. Right, now I’d done my duty. A good scout, “Be Prepared”. Do a good turn daily! The problem was in the hands of others now, they were responsible. And the Spanish journalist would be arriving at my place in a few minutes.

I hadn’t gone ten places when a foreign man stopped me. He spoke in broken Portuguese:

– I had already told the police about the man on the sidewalk. They said that as long as he wasn’t a thief, it was none of their business.

I didn’t let the man finish. I walked back to the policemen, certain that they knew who I was, someone who wrote in the newspapers and appeared on television. I returned with the false impression that success can, at times, help to resolve many things.

– Do you belong to some official authority? – one of them asked, noticing that I’d asked for help more urgently this time.

They had no idea who I was.

– No. But let’s solve this problem right now.

I was badly dressed, my shirt stained with the man’s blood, my shorts were made from an old pair of jeans I had torn up, and I was sweating. I was an ordinary, anonymous man, without any authority beyond that of having grown tired of seeing people lying on the ground, for dozens of years, without ever having done a single thing about it.

And that changed everything. There’s a moment when you go beyond any mental block or fear. A moment when your eyes look different, and people know you’re being serious. The policemen went with me and called an ambulance.

On the way home, I reflected on the three lessons from my walk. a] everyone can stop an action when it is pure romanticism. b] there’s always someone there to say: “now you’ve started, go all the way.” And, finally: c] everyone is an authority, when he is quite convinced of what he is doing.

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

A Warrior of Light is reliable.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

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The weapon of rape

Today, while browsing the IHT I came upon this editorial by Nicholas D. Kristof

World leaders fight terrorism all the time, with summit meetings and sound bites and security initiatives. But they have studiously ignored one of the most common and brutal varieties of terrorism in the world today.

This is a kind of terrorism that disproportionately targets children. It involves not WMD but simply AK-47s, machetes and pointed sticks. It is mass rape – and it will be elevated, belatedly, to a spot on the international agenda this week.

“Rape in war has been going on since time immemorial,” said Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador who was the UN’s envoy for AIDS in Africa. “But it has taken a new twist as commanders have used it as a strategy of war.”

There are two reasons for this. First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.

Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.

In Sudan, the government has turned Darfur into a rape camp. The first person to alert me to this was Zahra Abdelkarim, who had been kidnapped, gang-raped, mutilated – slashed with a sword on her leg – and then left naked and bleeding to wander back to her Zaghawa tribe. In effect, she had become a message to her people: Flee, or else.

Since then, this practice of “marking” the Darfur rape victims has become widespread: typically, the women are scarred or branded, or occasionally have their ears cut off. This is often done by police officers or soldiers, in uniform, as part of a coordinated government policy.

When the governments of South Africa, China, Libya and Indonesia support Sudan’s positions in Darfur, do they really mean to adopt a pro-rape foreign policy?

The rape capital of the world is eastern Congo, where in some areas three-quarters of women have been raped. Sometimes the rapes are conducted with pointed sticks that leave the victims incontinent from internal injuries. A former UN force commander there, Patrick Cammaert, says it is “more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier.”

The international community’s response so far? Approximately: “Not our problem.”

To read the rest of the article, please go here.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

The Paulo Coelho Institute concentrates on helping the children and the elderly. Why are these two groups specifically important to you?

For a writer, to be famous is very abstract, because he does not have a direct contact with the readers. Therefore, the only visible change is that I know that several doors are open, and I have to choose the good ones. For example, I choose to participate on the Rainbow Project, supporting young people whose countries are at war, as I choose to engage myself into a Unesco program that tries to create a bridge between different cultures. And that’s why I also created the Paulo Coelho Institute, which takes care of 430 children in Rio de Janeiro. If you understand Saint Paul’s motto “sic transit gloria mundi” (the glory of the world is transitory) you may do your best to use the success as a tool, not as an end itself. As for money, I have what I need to live a comfortable life, and this is the fruit of my work, which I am very proud of.

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light – Like a child

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light behaves like a child.

People are shocked. They forget that each one of us must have fun, play, be a little irreverent, ask importune and immature questions, and say foolish things that we ourselves don’t even believe.

People are outraged: “Is that the spiritual path? He is simply not mature! He’s more like a child.”

The warrior is proud of this comment, because he knows that the logical consequence of maturity is decay. Thus in nature, so it is in life.

And he preserves his innocence and joy, without ever losing sight of his mission.

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Italy defends move to patrol streets with soldiers

Today, I found in Digg, this interesting article by Reuters.

“The Italian government has defended its decision to use soldiers to patrol cities in an effort to curb crime, rejecting criticism that it will “militarise” the streets.


The government announced on Friday that up to 2,500 soldiers, some of whom have served in Afghanistan and Kosovo, would be made available for a trial period of six months to bolster the police in difficult urban areas.

Silvio Berlusconi’s new conservative government won an April election on a law-and-order ticket, and crime and public safety have stayed on top of the political agenda since Mr Berlusconi took office.

The government’s decision was attacked by the centre-left opposition, with Roberta Pinotti, defence spokesman for the Democratic party, expressing “firm opposition to the militarisation of the streets”.


To read the rest of the article, please go here

Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

The Warrior of Light knows that everyone is afraid of everyone else.
(Manual of the Warrior of Light)

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Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

What memories do you keep from the days when you were a lyricist?

Excess. But as William Blake once said “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

Magic or risks?

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In Brida, a book that I wrote back in 1990, there are two ways to recognize your soulmate. Through Magic – meaning : entering a state of transe in which you can see a bright spot over the shoulder of your soulmate – or, by taking risks, by making mistakes, by being with the wrong people until you find your soul mate.
So here is my question: Would you try to find your soul mate through magic or by taking risks, making mistakes?

Reflections of The Warrior of The Light – Accepting Pardon

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light has learned that it is better to follow light. He has betrayed, lied, strayed from his path, courted darkness. And everything continued to work out – as if nothing had happened.

However suddenly the abyss comes. One can take a thousand safe steps – and one single step too much can destroy everything.

It is this consciousness which causes the warrior to change the course of his steps.

Upon making this decision, he hears four comments: “You always acted wrongly. You are too old to change. You are no good. You are not worthy.”

So he looks skywards. And a voice says: “well, dear friend, everyone has done wrong. You are forgiven, but I cannot force this pardon. You must decide.”

The true warrior of the light accepts the pardon.

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