Archives for November 2015

Character of the week: Rilke

RILKE_1.jpg Producción ABC.

” For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.
This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.

There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.

Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it.
If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.
The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.

The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.”

Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and art critic

How much do you know about pilgrimages?

Pilgrimage has been celebrated in literature from The Canterbury Tales to Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage. Pilgrims in funny hats and buckled shoes play an outsized role in the American national mythos, but pilgrimage traditions encompass much more than the Puritans. From medieval Japan, where the first pilgrimage package tours were offered, to modern-day Mecca, which welcomes 30 million pilgrims for the annual hajj, to Africa, Latin America, and beyond, pilgrimage is a global phenomenon.

Test your knowledge of pilgrimages throughout history, across religions, and around the world HERE.

Crowns on the Torah

When Moses ascended to Heaven to write a certain part of the Bible, the Almighty asked him to place small crowns on some letters of the Torah. Moses said: “Master of the Universe, why draw these crowns?” God answered: “Because one hundred generations from now a man called Akiva will interpret them.”

“Show me this man’s interpretation,” asked Moses.

The Lord took him to the future and put him in one of Rabbi Akiva’s classes. One pupil asked: “Rabbi, why are these crowns drawn on top of some letters?”

“I don’t know.” Replied Akiva. “And I am sure that not even Moses knew. He did this only to teach us that even without understanding everything the Lord does, we can trust in his wisdom.”

 

1 min read: Pain. Suffering. Pleasure

Capture

taken from  “Eleven Minutes” (2007)

 

While he was speaking, Terence was transformed into two very different men. The one who was calmly explaining the rules to her and the one who made her feel like the most miserable wretch in the world.
‘Do you know why I am doing this? Because there is no greater pleasure than that of initiating someone into an unknown world. Taking someone’s virginity – the virginity not of their body, but of their soul, you understand.’

She understood.
‘Today you can ask questions, but the next time, when the theatre curtain goes up, the play will begin and cannot be stopped. If it does stop, it is because our souls are incompatible. Remember: it is a play. You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.’

‘What if I can’t stand the pain?’
‘There is no pain, only something that transforms itself into delight and mystery. It forms part of the play to say: “Don’t treat me like that, you’re really hurting me.”

Maria, kneeling, lowered her head and stared at the floor.
‘…in order to avoid this relationship causing any serious physical harm, we have two code words. If one of us says “yellow”, that means that the violence should be decreased slightly. If one of us says “red”, it must be stopped at once.’
‘You said “one of us”…’
‘We take turns. One cannot exist without the other; no one can know how to humiliate another person if they themselves have not experienced humiliation.’

These were terrible words, from a world she did not know, full of shadow, slime and putrefaction. Nevertheless, she wanted to go on – her body was trembling with fear and excitement.

‘Was tonight worth one thousand francs?’

Terence seemed pleased with this response.
‘I’ve asked myself the same thing. The Marquis de Sade said that the most important experiences a man can have are those that take him to the very limit; that is the only way we learn, because it requires all our courage. When a boss humiliates an employee, or a man humiliates his wife, he is merely being cowardly or taking his revenge on life, they are people who have never dared to look into the depths of their soul, never attempted to know the origin of that desire to unleash the wild beast, or to understand that sex, pain and love are all extreme experiences.
‘Only those who know those frontiers know life; everything else is just passing the time, repeating the same tasks, growing old and dying without ever having discovered what we are doing here.’

Dreams: the 12 steps

When Joseph Campbell created the expression “follow your blessing,” he was reflecting an idea that seems to be very appropriate right now. In “The Alchemist,” this same idea is called “Personal Legend.”
Alan Cohen, a therapist who lives in Hawaii, is also working on this theme. He says that in his lectures he asks those who are dissatisfied with their work and seventy-five percent of the audience raise their hands. Cohen has created a system of twelve steps to help people to rediscover their “blessing” (he is a follower of Campbell):


1. Tell yourself the truth

Draw two columns on a sheet of paper and in the left column write down what you would love to do. Then write down on the other side everything you’re doing without any enthusiasm. Write as if nobody were ever going to read what is there, don’t censure or judge your answers.
2. Start slowly, but start
Call your travel agent, look for something that fits your budget; go and see the movie that you’ve been putting off; buy the book that you’ve been wanting to buy. Be generous to yourself and you’ll see that even these small steps will make you feel more alive.
3. Stop slowly, but stop
Some things use up all your energy. Do you really need to go that committee meeting? Do you need to help those who do not want to be helped? Does your boss have the right to demand that in addition to your work you have to go to all the same parties that he goes to? When you stop doing what you’re not interested in doing, you’ll realize that you were making more demands of yourself than others were really asking.
4. Discover your small talents
What do your friends tell you that you do well? What do you do with relish, even if it’s not perfectly well done? These small talents are hidden messages of your large occult talents.
5.Begin to choose
If something gives you pleasure, don’t hesitate. If you’re in doubt, close your eyes, imagine that you’ve made decision A and see all that it will bring you. Now do the same with decision B. The decision that makes you feel more connected to life is the right one – even if it’s not the easiest to make.
6.Don’t base your decisions on financial gain
The gain will come if you really do it with enthusiasm. The same vase, made by a potter who loves what he does and by a man who hates his job, has a soul. It will be quickly sold (in the first case) or will stay on the shelves (in the second case).
7. Follow your intuition
The most interesting work is the one where you allow yourself to be creative. Einstein said: “I did not reach my understanding of the Universe using just mathematics.” Descartes, the father of logic, developed his method based on a dream he had.
8. Don’t be afraid to change your mind
If you put a decision aside and this bothers you, think again about what you chose. Don’t struggle against what gives you pleasure.
9. Learn how to rest
One day a week without thinking about work lets the subconscious help you, and many problems (but not all) are solved without any help from reason.
10. Let things show you a happier path
If you are struggling too much for something, without any results appearing, be more flexible and follow the paths that life offers. This does not mean giving up the struggle, growing lazy or leaving things in the hands of others – it means understanding that work with love brings us strength, never despair.
11. Read the signs
This is an individual language joined to intuition that appears at the right moments. Even if the signs point in the opposite direction from what you planned, follow them. Sometimes you can go wrong, but this is the best way to learn this new language.
12. Finally, take risks!
The men who have changed the world set out on their paths through an act of faith. Believe in the force of your dreams. God is fair, He wouldn’t put in your heart a desire that couldn’t come true.

20 SEC reading: the boy and the rain

After four years of drought in the small north-east village, the priest gathered everyone for a pilgrimage up to the mountain; there they would do a collective prayer, asking for the rain to fall again.

In the group, the priest noticed a boy wearing a raincoat.

‘Are you crazy?’ he asked the boy.

‘It hasn’t rained in this region for five years and the heat from hiking up the mountain will kill you.’

The boy replied: ‘I have a cold, priest. If we are going to ask God for rain, can you imagine our return from the mountain? It will be a spate and I need to be prepared.’

At this moment, they heard a great roar coming from the sky and the first drops began to fall. It sufficed the faith of a boy in a miracle that even the most prepared ones didn’t believe in.

The fire of friendship

ICI EN FRANçAIS: Le feu de l’amitié
AQUI EN ESPANOL: El fuego de la amistad

AQUI EM PORTUGUES: O fogo da amizade
______________________
When I arrive at the Moscow hotel with my publisher and my editor, a young woman is waiting outside for me. She comes over and grasps my hands in hers.
‘I need to talk to you. I’ve come all the way from Ekaterinburg to do just that.’

I’m tired. I woke up earlier than usual and had to change planes in Paris because there was no direct flight. I tried to sleep on the journey, but every time I managed to drop off, I would fall into the same unpleasant, recurring dream.
I hold out my hand to say goodbye and notice that hers is very cold.
‘Why didn’t you wait for me inside?’
‘I read your blog the other day and realised that you were talking directly to me.’

She takes out a piece of paper containing the article. I know it by heart, although I can’t remember who told me the story.
A man called Ali is in need of money and asks his boss to help him out. His boss sets him a challenge: if he can spend all night on the top of a mountain, he will receive a great reward; if he fails, he will have to work for free. The story continues:

When he left the shop, Ali noticed that an icy wind was blowing. He felt afraid and decided to ask his best friend, Aydi, if he thought he was mad to accept the wager.
After considering the matter for a moment, Aydi answered:
‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Tomorrow night, when you’re sitting on top of the mountain, look straight ahead.
‘I’ll be on the top of the mountain opposite, where I’ll keep a fire burning all night for you.

‘Look at the fire and think of our friendship; and that will keep you warm.
‘You’ll make it through the night, and afterwards, I’ll ask you for something in return.’

Ali won the wager, got the money, and went to his friend’s house.
‘You said you wanted some sort of payment in return.’

Aydi said, ‘Yes, but it isn’t money. Promise that if ever a cold wind blows through my life, you will light the fire of friendship for me.’

TAKEN FROM MY BOOK “ALEPH”
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10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Reading Paulo Coelho

The king and the hermit

 
An old hermit was once invited to visit the court of the most powerful king of those times.

“I envy such a saintly man, who is content with so little,” said the ruler.

“I envy Your Majesty, who is content with even less that I,” responded the hermit.

“How can you say such a thing, if this entire country belongs to me?” – said the offended king.

“For precisely that reason. I have the music of the celestial spheres, I have the rivers and mountains of the whole world, I have the moon and the sun, because I have God in my soul. Your Majesty, on the other hand, has only this kingdom.”

What will they say

As a boy, Abin-Alsar overheard a conversation between his father and a dervish.

“Careful with your work”, said the dervish. “Think of what future generations will say about you.”

“So what?”, replied his father, “When I die, everything shall end, and it will not matter what they say.”

Abin-Alsar never forgot that conversation. His whole life, he made an effort to do good, to help people and go about his work with enthusiasm. He became well-known for his concern for others; when he died, he left behind a great number of things which improved the quality of life in his town.

On his tombstone, he had the following epitaph engraved:

“A life which ends with death, is a life not well spent.”

Reflections In a Lake

Cain and Abel came to the banks of an enormous lake. They had never seen anything like it.

“There’s something inside it,” said Abel, looking into the water, not knowing that it was his reflection. Cain noticed the same thing, and raised his staff.

The image did the same thing. Cain stood waiting for the blow; his image did the same. Abel studied the surface of the water. He smiled, and the image smiled. He laughed out loud, and saw the other imitating him. As they walked away, Cain thought:

“How aggressive those creatures are who live in there.”

And Abel told himself:

“I’d like to return, for I met someone both handsome and in good humor.” –

The circle of joy

EM PORTUGUES AQUI: O circulo da alegria
EN ESPANOL AQUI : El circulo de alegria

Illustration by Ken Crane
And old story tells that one day, a countryman knocked hard on a monastery door. When the monk tending the gates opened up, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes.

– Brother, these are the finest my vineyard has produced. I’ve come to bear them as a gift.

– Thank you! I will take them to the Abbot immediately, he’ll be delighted with this offering.

– No! I brought them for you. For whenever I knock on the door, it is you opens it. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed by drought, you gave me a piece of bread and a cup of wine every day.

The monk held the grapes and spent the entire morning admiring it. And decided to deliver the gift to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.

The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but he recalled that there was a sick brother in the monastery, and thought:

“I’ll give him the grapes. Who knows, they may bring some joy to his life.”

And that is what he did. But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long, for he reflected:

“The cook has looked after me for so long, feeding me only the best meals. I’m sure he will enjoy these.”

The cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes. So perfect that no one would appreciate them more than the sexton; many at the monastery considered him a holy man, he would be best qualified to value this marvel of nature.

The sexton, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the youngest novice, that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of Creation. When the novice received them, he remembered the first time he came to the monastery, and of the person who had opened the gates for him; it was that gesture which allowed him to be among this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.

And so, just before nightfall, he took the grapes to the monk at the gates.

– Eat and enjoy them – he said. – For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.

The monk understood that the gift had been truly destined for him, and relished each of the grapes, before falling into a pleasant sleep.

Thus the circle was closed; the circle of happiness and joy, which always shines brightly around generous people.


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