Archives for November 2012

In the plane between Melbourne and Los Angeles

This extract from the on-board magazine is attributed to Loren Eisley:

“The journey is difficult, long, sometimes impossible. Even so, I know few people who have let these difficulties stop them. We enter the world without knowing for sure what happened in the past, what consequences this has brought us, and what the future may have in store for us.

“We shall try to travel as far as we can. But looking at the landscape around us, we realize that it won’t be possible to know and learn everything.

“So what remains is for us to remember all about our journey so that we can tell stories.
“To our children and grandchildren, we can tell the marvels that we have seen and the dangers that we have faced.
“They too will be born and will die, they too will tell their stories to their descendants, and still the caravan won’t have reached its destination.”

The fox and the king

The animals decided that the king of the group would be elected by the best dancer. At the end of a big feast, the monkey was crowned king.

The jealous fox went for a walk around the neighborhood. There he discovered a trap intact with food inside it. He swiftly picked it up and brought it to the group:

“I found this banquet and felt that I had to bring it to our king, who shall have priority in all things.”

In all innocence, the monkey stretched out his paw to get the food, and was caught in the trap.

“You betrayed me!” he shouted.

“What do you mean? I did not even try to take the food! But at least we have seen that you are not fit for the position; an intelligent animal would never make a decision without first thinking a lot about all the possibilities and dangers involved.

The three editions of Tao Te King

A Japanese legend tells of a certain monk who was so enraptured by the beauty of the Chinese book “Tao Te King” that he decided to raise money to have those verses translated and published into his language. It took him ten years to raise enough funds.

However, a pest swept through the country and the monk decided to use the money to relieve the suffering of the sick. But as soon as the situation became normal, once more he started to gather the amount necessary to publish the Tao.

Another ten years passed by, and when at last he was ready to print the book a seaquake left hundreds of people homeless.

Once more the monk spent all the money on rebuilding the houses of those who had lost everything. Another ten years passed by, he gathered the money again and finally the people of Japan were able to read the “Tao Te King.”

The wise men say that this monk actually made three editions of the Tao: two are invisible and one is in print.
He kept his faith in his objective without ever failing to care for his neighbour.

“Why are writers afraid of social networks?”

By Arantza Méndez-Aguirre

MADRID 23 November – Paulo Coelho needs no introduction or whatsoever sort of ceremony, and neither do all his personal achievements and professional rewards in life. A man difficult to define, whose only presence is enough to create a very especial, almost bewitching atmosphere: he speaks, the entire audience just listens…How can he manage to do such thing? May be just because gratefulness and appreciation for every single thing in life are ruling values for Paulo… Over the presentation of his last book, Manuscript found in Accra, Paulo openly shared with us his most sincere, bewildering feedback on trending-topics.

In his own words, “ writers tend nowadays to explore new means to share their work, as they all want their books to be read.” With nearly 500 million readers, he definitely know what he is saying. “ I can only write if I can count on the human contact, that is to say, people who can understand my soul, and if it happens, then we have a starting point, a point of mutual confidence “ .

“ The books’ world is changing radically right now, as it did centuries ago. It was nonetheless a technological revolution itself, and now, we are simply living another one. Gutenberg faced similar problems. such as discovering the lead and antimony mix required for types, finding a new ink formula…to set a couple of examples – and deciding what to print. He chose the Bible, of course, which once again proved to be a source of new problems. The printing press caused the of Renaissance, where thinking is suddenly freed out to travel all over…the era of the privileged was over.”

“This is the same now with Social Networks, I love posting and blogging, with which I make zero money but, at the same time, I gain something by far more precious…the contact with the reader.

“ I cannot help feeling surprise when contemporary writers complain about Social Networks, and the amount of information, which they deem as data bombing…It is just the possibility to choose, in my opinion, and it only makes us even more free….

“we are living a new Renaissance, if only we could see it…We do not like being romantic, but romanticism is here again….This is nonetheless the Internet Advent, where people start both thinking and share differently for the fist time in many years…”

to read the full post, please CLICK HERE

How one of the most important books in the world was written

In the twenty-third year of the reign of Zhao, Lao Tsu realized that the war would end up destroying the place where he lived. As he had spent years meditating on the meaning of life, he was quite aware that at certain moments one has to be practical. He decided to make the simplest decision: move home.

He gathered his few possessions and set out for Han Keou. At the gates of the city he came upon a guard.

– Where can such an important wise man be going? – asked the guard.

– Far from the war.

– You can’t leave just like that. I would very much like to know what you learned in so many years of meditation. I will only let you leave the city if you share with me what you know.

Lao Tsu wrote several pages there and handed the only copy to the man. Then he went on his journey and nobody ever heard of him again.

Lao Tsu’s text was copied and recopied, crossed centuries and millennia and has reached our times. It is called “Tao Te King” translated in nearly every language.

Here are some extracts:

He who knows others is wise.
He who knows himself is illuminated.
He who defeats others is strong.
He who defeats himself is powerful.
He who knows happiness is rich.
He who keeps his path is wilful.

Be humble and you will become whole.
Bend and you will become straight.
Empty yourself and you will become full.
Wear yourself out and you will become new.

The wise man does not show off, and so he shines.
He does not make himself known, and so he is noticed.
He does not praise himself, and so he has merit.
And because he does not compete,
none in the world can compete with him.

Diez puntos

21 Noviembre /Madrid – España

Habla mucho y sus palabras son seductoras. Las trata como el encantador a la serpiente. Tiene don de gentes, tantas como los 17 millones de seguidores que tiene en las redes sociales, como los cerca de quinientos millones de lectores que han pasado por las páginas de los ciento ochenta millones de ejemplares vendidos de sus libros […]antes de hablar ante los periodistas el propio Coelho tuitea a sus seguidores el inicio de comparecencia ante la Prensa madrileña.

Le gusta hacer preguntas más que ofrecer respuestas y eso es lo que hace en su nuevo libro, «El manuscrito encontrado en Accra» (Ed. Planeta), reflexión sobre los valores, que arranca en una Jerusalén a punto de ser conquistada por los Cruzados. «Los valores de entonces son los mismos de hoy y de siempre», explica. […]Con sus palabras quedan, amigos lectores.

1. Palabras con plataforma. «El escritor debe descubrir nuevas plataformas para compartir su trabajo. El mundo del libro está viviendo un cambio radical y aún hay gente que no se da cuenta. Me sorprende que tantos escritores sean tan reacios a la comunidad social. Yo, sin embargo, creo que cuanta más información recibimos, mayor es nuestra libertad».

2. Contacto muy í­ntimos.
«Por mucho que se diga lo contrario, se escribe para ser leí­do. Igual que el vino o un jardí­n no son para uno mismo, sino para compartir. La idea de un escritor aislado en un torreón de marfil y con sus grandí­simas ideas ya no existe. Yo solo puedo escribir a partir del contacto humano, porque quiero compartir mi alma con mis seguidores. Me encanta hacer un tuit, un post, mi blog, no me dan dinero, pero así­ estoy conectado con la gente. Ninguna promoción supera al boca a oreja».

3. ¿Un nuevo Renacimiento? «Gutenberg llevó a cabo una gran revolución tecnológica con la imprenta, y esa revolución trajo el Renacimiento, porque el conocimiento podí­a viajar y no era una propiedad de un único grupo de elegidos. No vemos el mundo de manera romántica, pero yo creo que sí­ vivimos ahora un nuevo Renacimiento, la transmisión del conocimiento ha mejorado y cambiado, se piensa y se comparte de una manera muy diferente a hace diez años».

4. Gibran, profeta y maestro. «Me sorprende que un libro tan sorprendente como “El profeta” sea hoy un libro olvidado, que nadie sepa quién eraGibran. No sé, es lo mismo que me sucede con Jimi Hendrix. Para mí­ es un icono no entiendo como puede haber gente que no sepa quién es.

5. ¿Felicidad?, no gracias. «No creo en la felicidad que es una invención del siglo XVIII. Me interesa más la alegrí­a que la felicidad, que nunca fue una de mis prioridades. Por supuesto, yo también tengo temor, sufro desesperación, pero tengo alegrí­a. La felicidad es como querer parar el tiempo y el espacio… y entonces te cae un rayo».

6. La Señora de la Guadaña. «Me pregunta usted por la muerte. Tengo que morirme y entonces se lo diré. Aunque sí­ creo que hay otra vida, pero no sé cuál. Pero vive, lo que pase después no es interesante».

7. Las respuestas no están en el viento. «No hay respuestas, creo que la magia de la vida son las preguntas. El trabajo de un escritor es añadir algo no imponer algo. Si llegamos a tener una respuesta, entonces vuelve a cambiar la pregunta. Y lo que creo es que la gran pregunta es ¿quién soy yo?».

8. Razón e intuición.
«Sin la razón no habrí­amos llegado hasta aquí­. Y también por la intuición. Una de las claves de la vida es saber cuando uno debe usar la razón y cuando debe dejarse llevar por la intuición. Porque ambas no es que se lleven siempre mal, pero desde luego no duermen en la misma cama».

9. Ciencia y magia. «Podemos oí­r un trueno, ver relámpagos y rayos, y pensar que simplemente son hechos meteorológicos, descargas y chispazos eléctricos, pero es mucho más bonito y mágico decir que Dios está furioso».

10. Dichos y parábolas.
«Después de Joyce se olvidó la parábola. No quiero saber nada del ego del escritor. La sencillez es la cosa más difí­cil. Yo siempre intento ser claro y sencillo. Siempre he aprendido de gente muy sencilla. El taxista me enseña más que un sabio. No soy un gurú, soy un peregrino. Muy tarde, muy tarde es no hacer lo que uno sueña. La tradición oral es importantí­sima para mí­. En ella no hay egos, no importa quién narra la historia sino lo que se cuenta.

(trechos de el articulo publicado esta tarde en Cultura)

20 sec reading: Kazantzakis and God

During his whole life, the Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba, The Last Temptation of Christ) was an absolutely coherent man. Although he touched on religious themes in many of his books – such as an excellent biography of Saint Francis of Assisi – he always considered himself a confirmed atheist. Well, this confirmed atheist wrote one of the most beautiful definitions of God that I have ever come across:

“We gaze with perplexity at the highest part of the spiral of force that governs the Universe. And we call it God. We could give it any other name: Abyss, Mystery, Absolute Darkness, Total Light, Matter, Spirit, Supreme Hope, Supreme Despair, Silence.
“But we call it God, because only this name – for some mysterious reason – is capable of making our heart tremble with vigor.
“And let there be no doubt that this trembling is absolutely indispensable for us to be in contact with the basic emotions of the human being, emotions that are always beyond any explanation or logic”.

How the city was pacified

An old legend tells of how a certain city in the Pyrenees mountains used to be a stronghold for drug-traffickers, smugglers and exiles. The worst of them all, an Arab called Ahab, was converted by a local monk, Savin, and decided that things could not continue like that.

As he was feared by all, but did not want to use his fame as a thug to make his point, at no moment did he try to convince anyone. Knowing the nature of men as well as he did, they would only take honesty for weakness and soon his power would be put in doubt.

So what he did was call some carpenters from a neighboring town, hand them a drawing and tell them to build something on the spot where now stands the cross that dominates the town. Day and night for ten days, the inhabitants of the town heard the noise of hammers and watched men sawing bits of wood, making joints and hammering in nails.

At the end of ten days the gigantic puzzle was erected in the middle of the square, covered with a cloth. Ahab called all the inhabitants together to attend the inauguration of the monument.

Solemnly, and without making any speech, he removed the cloth.

It was a gallows. With a rope, trapdoor and all the rest. Brand-new, covered with bee’s wax to endure all sorts of weather for a long time.

Taking advantage of the multitude joined together in the square, Ahab read a series of laws to protect the farmers, stimulate cattle-raising and awarding whoever brought new business into the region, and added that from that day on they would have to find themselves an honest job or else move to another town. He never once mentioned the “monument” that he had just inaugurated; Ahab was a man who did not believe in threats.

At the end of the meeting, several groups formed, and most of them felt that Ahab had been deceived by the saint, since he lacked the courage he used to have. So he would have to be killed. For the next few days many plans were made to this end. But they were all forced to contemplate the gallows in the middle of the square, and wondered: What is that thing doing there? Was it built to kill those who did not accept the new laws? Who is on Ahab’s side, and who isn’t? Are there spies among us?

The gallows looked down on the men, and the men looked up at the gallows. Little by little the rebels’ initial courage was replaced by fear; they all knew Ahab’s reputation, they all knew he was implacable in his decisions. Some people abandoned the city, others decided to try the new jobs offered them, simply because they had nowhere to go or else because of the shadow of that instrument of death in the middle of the square. Some time later the place was at peace, it had grown into a great business center on the frontier and began to export the best wool and produce top-quality wheat.

The gallows stayed there for ten years. The wood resisted well, but now and again the rope was changed for another. It was never put to use. Ahab never said a single word about it. Its image was enough to change courage to fear, trust to suspicion, stories of bravado to whispers of acceptance. After ten years, when law finally reigned in Viscos, Ahab had it destroyed and replaced by a cross.

Comments on this blog

As you probably know, internet is an important tool, but nobody is sure about anything.
That includes emails.
Therefore, Suphi and I are changing the way to post comments on this blog. From next week on, you must have a Facebook account to do it (I guess many of you have)
You log in with your Facebook account, and then you can write whatever you feel like writing.
By changing the way comments are posted, you don’t need to put your email here anymore every time you want to express your opinion. Your email will remain secret (to all of us, except Facebook, of course).
Addendum: of course you will be able to read any post – and you only need to be logged in on Facebook when posting a comment

The Warrior Of Light And Resistence

Paulo Coelho

The warrior knows that the most important words in all languages are the small words.
Yes. Love. God.
They are words that are easy enough to say and which fill vast empty spaces.
There is, however, one word – another small word – that many people have great difficulty in saying: no.
Someone who never says no, thinks of himself as generous, understanding, polite, because ‘no’ is thought of as being nasty, selfish, unspiritual.
The warrior does not fall into this trap. There are times when, in saying ‘yes’ to others, he is actually saying ‘no’ to himself.
That is why he never says ‘yes’ with his lips if, in his heart, he is saying ‘no’.

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

Voce vai morrer em 30 dias

‘But who taught you that?’

A man decided to go in search of God.

And he went after the masters who were said to have profound knowledge about the reasons for which the universe had been created and promised to explain what God wanted from humanity.

‘But who taught you that?’ he asked the masters. ‘Was it God Himself?’

The masters would say many beautiful words, but they weren’t able to define exactly who taught them everything they preached to the four winds.

Therefore, after a few days of learning here and there, the man would always move on. In his travels he ended up learning about a valley in which the peasants affirmed that at a nearby mountain, God would speak to those who reached it.

And the man went to the mountain. He waited for three days, fasting and praying, but God didn’t approach him.

On the fourth day, already desperate, he shouted: ‘Where are you?’ Echo answered: ‘Where are you?’

And from that moment on, the man understood that God asked the same question and that He was seeking him too.

Charla con lectores 12/11/2012

There is always something hidden there

There is always something hidden there: the owner of a firm who has still to close the deal he has always dreamed of, the housewife who would like to have more independence or more money, the new graduate who wonders whether he has chosen his career or has had it chosen for him, the dentist who wanted to be a singer, the singer who wanted to be a politician, the politician who wanted to be a writer, and the writer who wanted to be a peasant.

In this street where I am sit writing this post and looking at the people passing by, I bet that everyone is feeling the same thing. That elegant woman who has just walked by spends her days trying to stop time, controlling the bathroom scales, because she thinks love depends on that.
On the other side of the street I see a couple with two children. They live moments of intense happiness when they go out with their kids, but at the same time their subconscious is busy thinking about the job they might not get, the tragedies that might occur, how to get over them, how to protect themselves from the world.

I leaf through magazines filled with famous people: everybody laughing, everybody very happy.
But since this is a segment of society that I am quite familiar with, I know it is not like that: everyone is laughing or enjoying themselves at the moment that photo is taken, but at night, or in the morning, the story is always quite different. “What can I do to keep on appearing in the magazine?”, “how can I disguise not having enough money to afford all this luxury?” or “how can I manage this life of splendor to make it even more luxurious, more expressive than other people’s?”, “the actress whom I am seen with in this photo, laughing and having a great time, she could steal my part tomorrow!”, or “I wonder if my clothes are nicer than hers. Why do we smile so much if we loathe one another?”

There is always something hidden there, but Jorge Luis Borges has the final word:
“I will not be happy, but that doesn’t matter, / there are many other things in this world”.

What is happiness?

This is a question that has not bothered me for a long time, precisely because I don’t know how to answer it.

Some people seem to be happy: they just do not think about it. Others make plans: “I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, and a house in the country”. While this keeps them occupied, they are like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they don’t think, they just keep moving forward. They manage to get their car – sometimes even a Ferrari – and they think that the meaning of life lies there, so they never ask the question. Yet, despite all that, their eyes betray a sadness that they themselves are quite unaware of.

I don’t know if everyone is unhappy. I do know that people are always busy: working overtime, looking after the kids, the husband, the career, the university degree, what to do tomorrow, what they need to buy, whatever it is they need to have in order not to feel inferior, and so on.

Few people have ever told me: “I’m unhappy”. Most say: “I’m fine, I’ve managed to get all I ever wanted”.

So then I ask: “What makes you happy?”

They answer: “I have everything that a person can dream of – a family, a home, work, good health”.

I insist: “So the meaning of life is work, the family, children who grow up and leave you, a wife or husband who will become more like a friend than a true love-mate. And one day the work will come to an end. What will you do when that happens?”

They answer: there is no answer. They change the subject.

World Book Night 2013 (USA)

if you live in USA, you can give away The Alchemist (English and Espanol) for free.
All authors who have their books in the list waived their royalties.
Below a short explanation from Carl, the organizer:

Hello, World Book Night friends:

The fun is beginning: The WBN 2013 book picks are official and the giver applications have opened!
I am really excited about the selection of books for World Book Night 2013, and I know you’ll be pleased with them, too. As I said in our press release today: “This isn’t a best-books-of-all-time list; these are contemporary or classic books that appeal to a wide range of new readers. We looked for diversity and variety in all things: subject matter, age level, gender, as well as ethnic and geographic considerations. Last year’s givers also got to nominate books. This is a beautiful mix with, I hope, some old friends and nice surprises! We believe that the wide range of books being offered will appeal to our volunteer book givers and, in turn, to a half million new readers.”

To see the 2013 books, please visit our Books page.

We’ve also opened the giver applications, and I have good news for you. The application process will be open until January, so you have plenty of time to read up on the books and think about where you want to personally hand out your 20 copies before you apply. I recommend you check out the Application Guidelines in advance as well. It’s a great resource and will help make the whole process a lot easier for you.

If you want to give away books to celebrate the event, follow this link to apply to be a book giver

Choosing the way we will depart

As you probably know, we are all going to die one day.

As we become aware of that, we should surrender to life with much more joy, making things we always postpone, respecting the precious minutes that are passing by and will never come back, disclosing and discovering horizons that can be interesting or disappointing, but deserve at least a little bit of our effort.

It’s normal that we try to avoid death.

It isn’t only normal, it’s the healthiest attitude we can adopt. It is an aberration however to deny it, as the awareness of it lends us much more courage.

If I were to die today, what would I like to do that I haven’t done yet? This is my thought every morning. I learned, along the Saint James Path, that the Angel of Death is my best counsellor.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo says to his disciple: ‘All of us want to live and that is absolutely natural. However, we should learn from childhood on to choose our best way to die.

‘If we don’t do that, we end up spending our days like a dog, only in search of harbour, food and expressing a blind loyalty to his owner in return. That isn’t enough to make our lives have a meaning.’

It is no use in trying to create a world apparently safe and I can find nothing better to explain that than a little story by John O’Hara:

A man goes to the market to buy fruits, when he sees his own Death walking among the people.

Desperate, he runs back and asks his employer to exempt him that day, as he had seen his Death from close.

His boss lets him go to his village, but starts thinking that all that might have been a lie. He goes to the market and really sees his employee’s Death, sitting in a bank.

He complains: ‘But what are you doing here? My servant was surprised to see you and because of that I had to dismiss him from work!”
‘I was surprised to see him here as well,’ Death answers.

‘I have a date with him at five o’clock, at his village, and as it seems, he will escape me!’