Archives for June 2017

Quotes from my books

selected by Keay Nigel

. When you are afraid of change:

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

2. When you are misunderstood or maligned:

“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

3. When you feel disappointed about a failure:

“But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.”

4. When you are unsure of who your true friends are:

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.”

5. After a break-up:

“When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.”

6. When you grow envious of other people:

“Some people appear to be happy, but they simply don’t give the matter much thought. Others make plans: I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, a house in the country. As long as they’re busy doing that, they’re like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they react instinctively, they blunder on, with no idea where the target is. They get their car, sometimes they even get a Ferrari, and they think that’s the meaning of life, and they never question it. Yet their eyes betray the sadness that even they don’t know they carry in their soul. Are you happy?” 

7. When you feel overwhelmed by everything in your life:

“Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.”

8. When it’s time to let go:

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”

9. When you are afraid to love:

“Love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. If we reject it, we die of hunger, because we lack the courage to reach out a hand and pluck the fruit from the branches of the tree of life. We have to take love where we find it, even if it means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness. The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us. And to save us.”

10. When you feel like you can’t hold on anymore:

“It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”

11. When your haters hate on you:

“The world is divided into those who understand me and those who don’t. In the case of the latter, I simply leave them to torment themselves trying to gain my sympathy.”

12. When you feel suppressed by others’ expectations:

“Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”

13. When you lose something or somebody you love:

“Tragedy always brings about radical change in our lives, a change that is associated with the same principle: loss. When faced by any loss, there’s no point in trying to recover what has been; it’s best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.”

14. When you find it so hard to forgive:

“I forgive the tears I was made to shed, I forgive the pain and the disappointments, I forgive the betrayals and the lies, I forgive the slanders and intrigues, I forgive the hatred and the persecution, I forgive the blows that hurt me, I forgive the wrecked dreams, I forgive the stillborn hopes, I forgive the hostility and jealousy, I forgive the indifference and ill will, I forgive the injustice carried out in the name of justice, I forgive the anger and the cruelty, I forgive the neglect and the contempt, I forgive the world and all its evils… I also forgive myself. May the misfortunes of the past no longer weigh on my heart. Instead of pain and resentment, I choose understanding and compassion. Instead of rebellion, I choose the music from my violin. Instead of grief, I choose forgetting. Instead of vengeance, I choose victory. I will be capable of loving, regardless of whether I am loved in return, of giving, even when I have nothing, of working happily, even in the midst of difficulties, of holding out my hand, even when utterly alone and abandoned, of drying my tears, even while I weep, of believing, even when no one believes in me… So it is. So it will be.”

15. When you hit rockbottom:

“When I had nothing more to lose, I was given everything. When I ceased to be who I am, I found myself. When I experienced humiliation and yet kept on walking, I understood that I was free to choose my destiny.”

Are animals monogamic?

Recently I read an interesting polemic article in the American newspaper New York Times (25/03/2008). Written by Natalie Angier, the text is based on the research of prominent biologists and psychologists concerning monogamy. The conclusion that they reach is impressive: conjugal infidelity is present throughout the animal kingdom.

And that’s not all: studies have shown that certain species “pay” for sex, while others reward their “lovers” with presents and affection. To complete the picture, jealousy and machismo are also to be found there: females are violently attacked if they copulate with another partner.

Of course we are not animals, but the similarities mentioned above are very revealing. Some of the more interesting parts of the article are worth transcribing.

1] Many species are raised from a very tender age to marry someone chosen by the family. They fly and play together, they sing and dance together. In other words, they are raised to impress the community with proof that they were born for one another.

2] Nevertheless, social monogamy is rarely accompanied by sexual monogamy. DNA tests carried out on monkeys, birds and wild animals, when their descendency is examined in the light of modern science, show that between 10% and 70% of the offspring was fathered by someone other than the resident male.

3] Professor David Barash of the University of Washington in Seattle states that: “in the infantile world, infancy. In the adult world, adultery”. For a long time, swans were believed to be a model of fidelity. Through such DNA tests, it has been concluded that not even swans are immune to temptation.

4] The only completely monogamous species is an amoeba – Diplozoon Paradoxum – which is found in organisms of certain fish. Barash explains: “male and female meet while still young, and their bodies literally merge as one. From then on, they are faithful until death do them part”. In this case, death coincides with that of the fish that shelters them.

5] The “oldest profession in the world”, as prostitution is known, is also present in the animal kingdom. It is common to find males that shower their females with presents: rodents, caterpillars and insects. But when the same male decides to have, shall we say, an extracurricular affair, the lover receives better presents than the companion.

6] The law of competition also applies to the animal world: if supply is great, the price comes down. However, if there is a shortage of females, they become objects of desire that deserve the best and most sophisticated rewards.

I have transcribed in this column the result of research conducted by scientists and psychologists specialized in studying animals. All of us can – and should – have our own opinion with respect to monogamy. We can all say that we are a highly evolved species, which is absolutely true. The only thing that we can’t do is to blame science for showing results that often contradict our way of thinking!

Prophet Mohammed, 7th century

Based on my message earlier this week – about the different languages of God – I would like to share with you this week some of the prayers that point in the same direction:

“Oh Allah! I come to you because you know all, even what is hidden.

If what I am doing is good for me and my religion, for my life now and later, then let the task be easy and blessed.

If what I am doing now is bad for me and my religion, for my life now and later, then keep me far from this task.”

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Question by the reader : Gerald

What has inspired you to write The Winner Stands Alone?

In this book I wanted to explore how dreams can be manipulated and how people get shattered in the process. I’m not condemning vanity – since all under the sun is vanity as Salomon said. What I am interested in is in how people allow themselves to be dispossessed of themselves.
In our current society there are collective standards that are completely anonymous and yet many try to subscribe to them. Some people believe their happiness is conditioned by money, fame, beauty… How does that happen? This book arose from this central question.

Epictetus to his disciples

Two things can happen when we meet someone: either we become friends, or we try to convince the other person to accept our convictions.
The same happens when the ember meets another piece of coal: either it shares its fire with it, or it is suffocated by its size and ends up extinguished.
As we are generally insecure at a first contact, we try indifference, arrogance or excessive humility.

The result is that we stop being who we are and things start heading towards a strange world that does not belong to us.

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The Dark Triad

by Quentin Fottrell

People who post selfies on social networks like Instagram and Facebook are more likely to exhibit what some psychologists call the “dark triad” of personality traits, according to two previous studies of nearly 1,200 men and women who completed personality tests and answered questions on their online habits.

This dark triad consists of

narcissism (extreme self-centeredness),

Machiavellianism (manipulation of others) and

psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings),

they noted.

Constantly posting selfies not only intensifies peer pressure, it also provides an unrealistic mirror of our own lives, experts say.

“It’s not a wonderful personality constellation,” says Jesse Fox, assistant professor of communications at Ohio State University, and co-author of the aforementioned studies of 800 men — “The Dark Triad” — published in the April 2015 edition of “Personality and Individual Differences,” a peer-reviewed journal, and a similar paper studying 400 women.

Isaac dies

By Paulo Coelho

 

A certain Rabbi was adored by the community; everyone was enchanted by what he said.

Except for Isaac, who never missed an opportunity to contradict the Rabbi’s interpretations and point out faults in his teachings. The others were annoyed by Isaac, but could do nothing about it.

One day, Isaac died. During the funeral, the community noticed that the Rabbi was deeply upset.

– Why are you so sad? – someone commented. – He was always criticizing everything you said!

– I am not upset for my friend who is now in heaven – replied the Rabbi – I am upset for my own self. While everyone revered me, he challenged me, and I was obliged to improve. Now he has gone, I am afraid I shall stop growing.

 

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