By Paulo Coelho
We go out into the world in search of our dreams and ideals, although we often know we put away in inaccessible places, all that which is within our reach. When we discover our mistake, we start to think we’ve lost too much time looking far and wide for something which was nearby; and this is why we allow ourselves to be overcome by a sense of guilt, for past mistakes, for the useless search, for the grief caused.
But that’s not really true: although the treasure is buried in your home, you’ll only find it when you distance yourself. If Peter hadn’t experienced the pain of negation, he would never have been chosen as head of the Church. If the prodigal son hadn’t abandoned everything, he would never have been joyously received by his father.
There are certain things in our lives that carry a seal which says: “you will only understand my value when you lose me – and recover me.” It is no use hoping to shorten this path.
The Cistercian priest Marcos Garcia, who lives in Burgos, Spain, commented: “sometimes, God takes away a certain blessing, so the person can understand Him beyond the favors and requests. He knows how far to go in testing a soul – and never goes beyond this point.
“At such moments, we never say God has abandoned us. He never does so; it is we who at times abandon Him. If the Lord puts us to the test, he also always provides enough graces – more than enough, I’d say – to get us through it. When we feel far from His face, we should ask ourselves: are we making the most of that which He has placed along the way?”
In Japan, I was invited to Guncan-Gima, where there is a Zen-Buddhist temple. When I arrived, I was surprised: a fine structure was situated in the middle of a great forest, but had a vast waste land beside it. I asked the reason for this, and the person in charge explained:
- It is the site of the first construction. Every twenty years, we destroy this temple you see before you, and rebuild it next door.
“In this way, the monks, be they carpenters, bricklayers or architects, have the opportunity to exercise their skills, and teach their apprentices in practice. We also show that nothing in life is eternal – and that even temples are in a constant process of refinement.”
If what you are following is the path of your dreams, commit yourself to it. Don’t leave the back door open with excuses: “this still isn’t quite what I wanted.” This sentence – heard so often – contains the seed of defeat.
Embrace your path. Even if you need to take uncertain steps, constantly destroy and build, even if you know you can do better than at present. If you accept the possibilities of the present, you will certainly improve in the future.
Master Achaan Chah was given a fine piece of land so that he might build a monastery. Chah had to go away for a time and left his disciples in charge of the building work.
When he returned – five months later – nothing had been done. The disciples had already ordered several plans from local architects.
One of them asked Chah:
- Which of the projects should we go ahead with? How should we go about taking the right decision?
- When one desires that which is good, the results are always good.
Free of the fear to make mistakes, the decision was taken and the result was magnificent.
Face your path with courage, do not be afraid of other people’s criticism. And – above all – don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by self-criticism.
God is the God of the brave.
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