Archives for November 2013

20 sec reading: our daily miracle

Give us this day, Lord, our daily miracle.

Miracles tear away the veils and change everything, but do not let us see what lies behind the veils.

They allow us to escape unharmed from the valley of the shadow of death, but do not tell us which road led us to the mountains of joy and light.

They open doors that were locked with padlocks impossible to break, but they use no key.
They surround the suns with planets so that they do not feel alone in the Universe and keep the planets from getting too close so that they won’t be devoured by the suns.

They transform the wheat into bread through work, the grape into wine through patience, and death into life through the resurrection of dreams.

Therefore, Lord, give us this day our daily miracle.
And forgive us if we are not always capable of recognising it.
 
 
taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Campbell on himself

Joseph Campbell is another proof that if we are following our dreams, things will come to us in the exact timing. Even so, we do not always have the courage to choose our destiny.
Below, some of his thoughts:

When you attend college, you don’t do what you desire, but you only seek to learn what is necessary to get the diploma. And this is not always the best option.

‘In my case, I was granted a scholarship and went to the University of Paris. As I arrived in Europe, I discovered James Joyce, Picasso, Mondrian – all that modern art group. Then, I went to Germany and started to study Sanskrit and got involved with Hinduism. Right after that came Jung; everything was opening up, from all sides.

‘I returned to the University and said: “Look, I don’t want to spend my life trying to learn only what you want to teach me.”

‘I had taken all the necessary classes for the title; I just had to write the damned thesis. If I didn’t write it, they wouldn’t let me study further and so it was time to say: go to hell.

‘I moved to the countryside and spent five years reading. I never got my doctor title. I learned to live with the minimum possible, that gave me freedom and a wonderful time.

‘Courage is necessary to do what we desire, once others always have a plan for us. Being aware of that, I decided to follow my dream: I didn’t know how I spent these five years, but I knew I would survive another five, if it was necessary.

‘I recall an occasion in which I had a one-dollar bill in a dresser’s drawer and I knew that as long as it was there, I could still count on my resources. It was great. My only responsibility was toward my own life and toward my choices.

‘In truth, there was a moment in which I thought: “Gee, I would like someone to tell me what to do.”

‘Being free implies choosing your path, and each step can change our destiny – what’s very frightening sometimes. But today, looking back, I see that my days were perfect: whatever I needed came exactly when I needed it. At the time, all I needed was to read for five years. I did it and that was essential for me.

‘As Schopenhauer says, when you see what you have overcome, you have the impression that you have followed a plot that had already been written. However, at the moment of action, you seem to be lost in a storm: surprise after surprise, and many times with no time to breathe, having to take decisions all the time. Only later will you understand that each surprise, each decision, made sense.’

The (Joyful) Discomfort of Happiness

20 sec reading: when harvest time arrives

Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted.

When harvest time arrives, you can say to yourself: ‘I succeeded.’

You succeeded in gaining respect for your work because you did not work only to survive, but to demonstrate your love for others.

You managed to finish what you began, even though you did not foresee all the traps along the way.
And when your enthusiasm waned because of the difficulties you encountered, you reached for discipline.
And when discipline seemed about to disappear because you were tired, you used your moments of repose to think about what steps you needed to take in the future.

You were not paralysed by the defeats that are inevitable in the lives of those who take risks.
You didn’t sit agonising over what you lost when you had an idea that didn’t work.
You didn’t stop when you experienced moments of glory, because you had not yet reached your goal.

And when you realized that you would have to ask for help, you did not feel humiliated. And when you learned that someone needed help, you showed them all that you had learned, without fearing that you might be revealing secrets or being used by others.

To him who knocks, the door will open.
He who asks will receive.
He who consoles knows that he will be consoled.
 
 
taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

30 sec reading: Promoting the devil

A boy was walking to buy bread when the mayor of the city crossed the street.

‘The reason he is so powerful, is because, he’s made pact with the devil,’ – a very devout woman in the street told the boy, and he was intrigued.

While traveling to another town, the boy saw a beautiful corn field. He asked who was he owner as soon as he arrived at his destination

‘All this land belongs to the same man. I’d say the Devil had a hand in that.’ – answered one of the villagers.

Later the same day, a beautiful woman walked past the boy. A priest also saw her and said aloud:

‘That woman was sent by Satan!’

From then on, the boy decide to seek the Devil out. One day he managed to see him face to face.

‘They say you can make people powerful, rich, and beautiful.’

‘To be totally honest, this is not true’ replied the Devil. ‘You have just been listening to the views of those who are trying to promote me.’

Elegance

Elegance tends to be mistaken for superficiality and mere appearance.
Nothing could be further from the truth: some words are elegant, others can wound and destroy, but all are written with the same letters.

Flowers are elegant, even when hidden among the grasses in a meadow. The gazelle when it runs is elegant, even when it is fleeing from a lion.
Elegance is not an outer quality, but a part of the soul that is visible to others.

And even when passions run high, elegance does not allow the real ties binding two people to be broken.
Elegance lies not in the clothes we wear, but in the way we wear them.
It isn’t in the way we wield a sword, but in the dialogue we hold that could avoid a war.

Elegance is achieved when, having discarded all superfluous things, we discover simplicity and concentration; the simpler the pose, the better; the more sober, the more beautiful.

And what is simplicity? It is the coming together of the true values of life.
Snow is pretty because it has only one colour.
The sea is pretty because it appears to be a flat plane.
The desert is beautiful because it seems to consist only of sand and rocks.

The simplest things in life are the most extraordinary. Let them reveal themselves.
 
 
taken from THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

20 sec reading: the gift of insults

ESPANOL: El regalo de los insultos
PORTUGUES: O presente dos insultos

______________________________

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people.

One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.

All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors.

For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:
– How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?

– If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.
– He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.

– The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master.
“When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.”
 
 

The Nagual Elias and the second chance

Carlos Castaneda tells of how his master’s master, Julian Osório, became a Nagual – a type of sorcerer according to certain Mexican traditions.

Julian worked as a actor in a traveling theater in the interior of Mexico. But his artistic life was only a pretext to flee the conventions imposed by his tribe: in fact, what Julian liked most was to drink and seduce the women – any type of woman, those he encountered during his theatrical performances. He overdid things and demanded so much of his health, that in the end he contracted tuberculosis.

Elias, a very well-known sorcerer among Iaque indians, was taking his evening walk when he found Julian lying in a field: his mouth was bleeding so much that Elias – who could see the spiritual world, could see that the young actor’s death was near.

Using some herbs he had in his pocket, he managed to stop the bleeding. Then he turned to Julian:

– I cannot save you – he said. – I have done everything I can. Your death is very close now.

– I don’t want to die, I’m too young – replied Julian.

Elias, like all Nagual men, was more interested in behaving like a warrior – concentrating his energy on the battle of life – than helping someone who had never respected the miracle of our existence. However, without being able to explain why, he resolved to answer the request.

– At five in the morning I shall depart for the mountains – he said. – Wait for me on the edge of the village, without fail. If you do not come, you shall die sooner than you think: your only chance is to accept my invitation. I will never be able to repair the damage you have inflicted on your body, but I can deviate your approach to the cliffs of death. All human beings fall into this abyss, sooner or later; you are a few steps from it, and I cannot bring you back from it.

– So what can you do?

– I can make you walk along the edge of the abyss. I shall mark your paces so that you follow the enormous length of the margin between life and death; you may go to the right or to the left, but as long as you don’t fall down, you shall remain alive.

The Nagual Elias didn’t expect much from the actor, a lazy, libertine and cowardly man. He was surprised when, at five o’clock the next morning, he found him waiting at one end of the village. He took him to the mountains, taught him the secrets of the ancient Mexican Naguas, and with time Julian Osório became one of the most respected iaque sorcerers. He was never cured of his tuberculosis, but lived to the age of 107, always walking along the edge of the abyss.

When the right time came, he started taking disciples, and was responsible for the training of Don Juan Matus, who in turn taught Carlos Castaneda the ancient traditions. Castaneda, with his series of books, ended up making these traditions popular the world over.

One afternoon, talking to another of D. Juan’s disciples, Florinda, she commented:

– It is important for all of us to examine the path of Nagual Julian along the edge of the abyss. It makes us understand that we all have a second chance, even if we are very close to giving up.

Castaneda agreed: to examine Julian’s path meant understanding his extraordinary fight to stay alive. He understood that this battle was fought by the second, tireless one against bad habits and self-pity. It wasn’t a sporadic battle, but a constant, disciplined effort to keep his balance; any distraction or momentary debility might cast him into the abyss of death.

There was only one way of overcoming the temptations of his past life: to focus all his attention on the edge of the abyss, concentrate on every step, keep calm, and not become attached to anything but the present moment.

In my opinion, these lessons apply to each and every one of us.

Paulo Coelho, Portrait (ARTE/ARD)

The Biblioburro

In a ritual repeated nearly every weekend for the past decade here in Colombia’s war-weary Caribbean hinterlands, Luis Soriano gathered his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, in front of his home on a recent Saturday afternoon.

(…)At stops along the way, children still await the teacher in groups, to hear him read from the books he brings before they can borrow them.

(…)Such victories keep Soriano going, despite the challenges that come with running the Biblioburro.

(…)Two years ago, Soriano said, bandits surprised him at a river crossing, found that he carried almost no money, and tied him to a tree. They stole one item from his book pouch: “Brida,” the story of an Irish girl and her search for knowledge, by the Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.

“For some reason, Paulo Coelho is at the top of everyone’s list of favorites,” said Soriano, hiding a grin under the shade of his sombrero vueltiao, the elaborately woven cowboy hat popular in Colombia’s interior.

To read the full article please click here

Feeling guilty

We feel guilty for all that is authentic in ourselves – our salary, our opinions, our experiences, our hidden desires, the way we speak – we even feel guilty for our parents and our brothers.

And what is the result? Paralysis.
We grow ashamed of doing anything different from what the others are expecting.
We do not expose our ideas, we don’t ask for help.
We justify this by saying: ‘Jesus suffered, and suffering is necessary’.

Jesus experienced many situations of suffering, but he never advocated staying still in those circumstances.
Cowardice cannot be concealed with this type of excuse, otherwise the entire world fails to move ahead.
That is why, if you see someone under a viaduct, you go to help them, because they are part of your world.

And how can that be changed?
Have faith. Believe that it is possible, and all the reality around you will begin to change.
“Nobody can perform that task all alone. What I see is that most people don’t have enough faith” said someone.

In the Middle Ages the Gothic cathedrals were built by several generations. This prolonged effort helped the participants to organize their thoughts, to give thanks and to dream. Today that Romanticism is ended, and yet the desire to build remains in our hearts, it’s just a question of being open to meet the right people
…then we can build our Cathedral

Café in Copacabana

I was never one to dwell on the past; I think that the present is the result of all that we have lived, and seeing how we act at this very moment suffices for us to understand our blessings and correct our curses.

But now that my life is being turned upside down by a movie based in my personal quest, I have also decided to look at some notes on my apprenticeship with J., my friend and master in the Regnus Agnus Mundi (RAM) tradition.

Most of these notes were written between 1982 and 1986. Many years ago I published some of these dialogues, and although the reaction from the readers was excellent, I felt it was enough.
Nevertheless, on re-reading some dust-covered notebooks (I no longer take notes or keep diaries), I discovered some very special things.

One afternoon, sitting in a café in Copacabana after a week of long spiritual exercises that resulted in nothing, I asked:
“I often feel that I am ignored by God, although I know that He is here by my side. Why is it so hard to establish a dialogue with the Divine?”

“On one hand we know that it is important to seek God. On the other hand, life distances us from Him – because we feel ignored by the Divine, or else because we are busy with our daily life.
“This makes us feel very guilty: either we feel that we are renouncing life too much because of God, or else we feel that we are renouncing God too much because of life.

“This apparent double law is a fantasy: God is in life, and life is in God. If we manage to penetrate the sacred harmony of our daily existence, we shall always be on the right road, because our daily tasks are also our divine tasks.”

Memories and salt

I arrive in Madrid at eight o’clock in the morning. I will only be here a few hours, so it’s not worth phoning friends and arranging to see them. I decide to go for a walk alone in my favourite places, and I end up sitting smoking a cigarette on a bench in the Retiro Park.

‘You look miles away,’ says an old man, joining me on the bench.

‘Oh, I’m here,’ I say, ‘but I’m sitting on this same bench with a painter friend of mine, Anastasio Ranchal, 24 years ago in 1986. We are both watching my wife, Christina, who has had a bit too much to drink and is trying to dance the flamenco.’

‘Enjoy your memories,’ says the old man.

‘But don’t forget that memory is like salt: the right amount brings out the flavour in food, too much ruins it. If you live in the past all the time, you’ll find yourself with no present to remember.’

Ideal conditions don’t exist

Relax. When we start our spiritual journey, we want so very hard to speak to God – and we end up not hearing what He has to tell us.
That is why it is always advisable to relax a little.
It is not easy: we have the natural tendency always to do the right thing, and we feel that we are going to improve our spirit is we work at it non-stop.

“Are you saying that I ought to be passive and not try to improve myself?”

That depends on how you see your work. We may feel that all that life can offer us tomorrow is to repeat what we did yesterday and today.
But if we pay attention we can see that no day is like another. Each and every morning brings a hidden blessing, a blessing that is only good for that particular day, for it cannot be kept or re-used.
If we don’t take advantage of this miracle today, it will be lost.

“But isn’t there some sure way of establishing this dialogue with the Divine, like meditation, for instance? Or endeavoring to make myself better every day?”

If that question can always be kept present, everything will fit together.
The ideal conditions that you are looking for don’t exist. We shall never be able to get rid of certain defects.

The trick lies in knowing that despite all your flaws you have a reason for being here, and you have to honor that reason.

Depression / depresión / depressí£o

A few days ago I watched an interesting movie: “Kinsey“, about the famous report on sexuality (1948). In this movie it was liberating for many people to know that they were not alone.
The same day I received a long text from a friend of mine, telling me his experience on depression. I have never felt depression in my life, but I know a lot of people who have been depressed.
I then decided that I would write something about this subject so that people suffering from it would not feel isolated and this feeling of not being alone can be liberating. I wanted to ask those of you – who have depression – to share some stories with me
Anonimity is granted, but I may use your text without quoting you. This is the condition.
If you want to share your story and you agree with the only condition then please send your thoughts to: [email protected]
______________________________

Hace unos dí­as vi una interesante pelí­cula: “Kinsey”,, sobre el famoso informe sobre la sexualidad (1948). En esta pelí­cula fue liberador para muchas personas saber que no están solas.
El mismo dí­a recibí­ un largo texto de un amigo, contándome su experiencia sobre la depresión. Nunca he sentido depresión en mi vida, pero conozco un montón de personas que han estado deprimidas.
Entonces decidí­ que voy a escribir algo sobre este tema para que las personas que la padecen no se sientan aisladas y que ese sentimiento de no estar solo pueda ser liberador. Quisiera pedirles a aquellos de ustedes – que tienen depresión compartan algunas de sus historias conmigo.
El anonimato está garantizado, pero puede que use el texto sin hacerles mención. Esta es la condición.
Si quieres compartir tu historia y estás de acuerdo con la única condición, por favor, enví­ala a: [email protected]
______________________________

Faz alguns dias, vi o filme “Kinsey”,, sobre o famoso relatório do comportamento sexual humano. Quando o relatório foi publicado ( 1948), muita gente sentiu-se melhor ao saber que ní£o estava só.
No mesmo dia recebi um longo texto de um amigo meu, contando sua experiíªncia sobre depressí£o. Apesar de ter experimentado momentos muito difí­ceis na minha vida, nunca me senti deprimido, mas conheí§o várias pessoas neste estado.
Pensei: será que consigo escrever sobre o tema, e desta maneira fazer com que as pessoas ní£o se sintam sós nesta difí­cil prova? Portanto, decidi pedir a voces – que experimentam depressí£o – para dividir suas histórias comigo.
Anonimidade está garantida, mas eu posso eventualmente usar seu texto sem mencionar voce. Esta é a condií§í£o.
Se voce está de acordo com esta condií§í£o, e se quer dividir sua história, por favor escreva para [email protected]

The Warrior of Light and Courage

The warrior of light knows the value of persistence and of courage.

Often, during combat, he receives blows that he was not expecting.
And he realises that, during the war, his enemy is bound to win some of the battles.

When this happens, he weeps bitter tears and rests in order to recover his energies a little.
But he immediately resumes his battle for his dreams.

The longer he remains away, the more likely he is to feel weak, fearful and intimidated.
When a horseman falls off his horse, if he does not remount immediately, he will never have the courage to do so again.

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