Archives for May 2019

20 SEC READING: What is truth?

I read the following piece of news in the Spanish newspaper “La Vanguardia”.

“What is truth? The President of the Court, Josep Maria Pijuan, had to check which of the versions of rape offered by the girl victim, 11-year-old J., was closest to reality. The lawyers attending the questioning did not believe that she would manage to avoid contradicting herself in her deposition.

“At a certain moment the judge asked a rather philosophical question: What is truth? Is it what you imagine or what they asked you to tell?”

The girl stopped for a minute, then she answered:

“Truth is the bad they did to me.”

“Lawyer Jufresa, a renowned and prestigious jurist, said that was one of the most brilliant definitions she had heard in her whole career.”
 
 
 

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The mechanism of terror

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, called Ahab, was converted by a local monk, Savin, and decided that things could not continue like that.

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.

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. One year 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.



in “The Devil and Miss Prym”

The Magic Mountain

I think that one of the most beautiful regions in the world is Languedoc, a part of the Pyrenees in southwest France. I have been there several times and its valleys, mountains, vegetation and rivers always impress me. However, as human beings are quite unpredictable, it was precisely in this magnificent place that the first great European “heresy” arose, Catharism.

Many books have been written on the subject, yet it is possible to summarize the Cathar philosophy in one simple phrase; the Universe was created by the devil, all this apparent beauty is a diabolic work.

According to the encyclopedia, they were dualists who believed in the existence of two gods, one of good (God) and one of evil (Satan), who created the material world. Because of this, they took a vow of chastity and had no intention of procreating and presenting the devil with more followers. They called themselves “perfect” and were disposed to martyrdom to prove the importance of their belief. The symbolic end of the movement, which triggered off the first crusades recorded in history, took place on March 15, 1244 in the fortress of Montségur. After a long siege when they were offered the choice of converting to Catholicism or else die, approximately 250 “perfect” men, women and children climbed down the mountain singing of their intent to throw themselves into the flames of the bonfire specially made for the occasion.

For a long time I was interested in Catharism. In 1989 I met Brida O’Fern (who later on became a character in a book of mine), who had been a Cathar in an earlier incarnation. At the beginning of that same year I had met Mí´nica Antunes, who at that time was just my friend, now my friend and agent.

Since for spiritual reasons I needed to go on the Cathar walk (a trail linking together the castles/fortresses of the “perfect ones”) I invited her to take part in a stretch of the walk.

Mí´nica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August afternoon. We had planned to climb it the following day, and after dinner we went to chat in the place where the bonfire had been lit almost 800 years before (an insignificant monument marks the spot). The weather was overcast, with clouds so low that we could not even see the ruins at the top of the gigantic rock. Just to provoke Mí´nica, I said that it might be interesting to make the climb that very night. She said no, and I was relieved, imagine if she had said yes!

At that moment a car drove up, the same make and color as mine. An Irishman stepped out and asked, as if we were from the region, from what point the rock could be climbed. I suggested that he make the climb the next morning with us, but he was determined to go up that very night, he wanted to see the sun rise from up there, claiming that perhaps he had been a Cathar in a past life.

“I wonder if you could lend me a lamp?” he asked.

And everything seems to fit; Brida, the obligation of going on the Cathar walk, the joke with Mí´nica a few minutes before, and now this fellow, with a car just like mine. It is a sign. I go to the hotel in the village where we are staying and borrow a lamp, the only one they have.

Mí´nica seems scared, but I say that we have to go ahead. Signs are signs, I say. The newcomer asks where the path is. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up the path.

And for some time, (I cannot remember how long) the three of us climbed a mountain that we did not know at night and with the fog that only allowed us to see a few yards ahead of us. Finally, we penetrated the clouds, the sky filled with stars, the moon was full, and standing before us was the gate of the fortress of Montségur.

We entered and contemplated the ruins. I looked at the beauty of the firmament, wondering how we got there without any accident, and then I think it is better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle. The Cathars contemplated this very same sky, and believed that all these stars were the work of the devil. I shall never understand the Cathars, although I do respect the integrity with which they dedicated themselves to their faith.

I have returned to Montségur and climbed the mountain several other times, but have never again managed to find the path that we used that August night in 1989.

Mysteries exist.

Temos muito para agradecer a Bolsonaro

Temos muito para agradecer a Bolsonaro.

Bastaram 5 meses de um governo atípico, “sem jeito” com o congresso e de comunicação amadora para nos mostrar que o Brasil nunca foi, e talvez nunca será, governado de acordo com o interesse dos eleitores. Sejam eles de esquerda ou de direita.

Desde a tal compra de votos para a reeleição, os conchavos para a privatização, o mensalão, o petrolão e o tal “presidencialismo de coalizão”, o Brasil é governado exclusivamente para atender aos interesses de corporações com acesso privilegiado ao orçamento público.

Não só políticos, mas servidores-sindicalistas, sindicalistas de toga e grupos empresariais bem posicionados nas teias de poder. Os verdadeiros donos do orçamento. As lagostas do STF e os espumantes com quatro prêmios internacionais são só a face gourmet do nosso absolutismo orçamentário.

Todos nós sabíamos disso, mas queríamos acreditar que era só um efeito de determinado governo corrupto ou cooptado. Na próxima eleição, tudo poderia mudar. Infelizmente não era isso, não era pontual. Bolsonaro provou que o Brasil, fora desses conchavos, é ingovernável.

Descobrimos que não existe nenhum compromisso de campanha que pode ser cumprido sem que as corporações deem suas bênçãos. Sempre a contragosto.

Nem uma simples redução do número de ministérios pode ser feita. Corremos o risco de uma MP caducar e o Brasil ser OBRIGADO a ter 29 ministérios e voltar para a estrutura do Temer.

Isso é do interesse de quem? Qual é o propósito de o congresso ter que aprovar a estrutura do executivo, que é exclusivamente do interesse operacional deste último, além de ser promessa de campanha?

Querem, na verdade, é manter nichos de controle sobre o orçamento para indicar os ministros que vão permitir sangrar estes recursos para objetivos não republicanos. Historinha com mais de 500 anos por aqui.

Que poder, de fato, tem o presidente do Brasil? Até o momento, como todas as suas ações foram ou serão questionadas no congresso e na justiça, apostaria que o presidente não serve para NADA, exceto para organizar o governo no interesse das corporações. Fora isso, não governa.

Se não negocia com o congresso, é amador e não sabe fazer política. Se negocia, sucumbiu à velha política. O que resta, se 100% dos caminhos estão errados na visão dos “ana(lfabe)listas políticos”?

A continuar tudo como está, as corporações vão comandar o governo Bolsonaro na marra e aprovar o mínimo para que o Brasil não quebre, apenas para continuarem mantendo seus privilégios.

O moribundo-Brasil será mantido vivo por aparelhos para que os privilegiados continuem mamando. É fato inegável. Está assim há 519 anos, morto, mas procriando. Foi assim, provavelmente continuará assim.

Antes de Bolsonaro vivíamos em um cativeiro, sequestrados pelas corporações, mas tínhamos a falsa impressão de que nossos representantes eleitos tinham efetivo poder de apresentar suas agendas.

Era falso, FHC foi reeleito prometendo segurar o dólar e soltou-o 2 meses depois, Lula foi eleito criticando a política de FHC e nomeou um presidente do Bank Boston, fez reforma da previdência e aumentou os juros, Dilma foi eleita criticando o neoliberalismo e indicou Joaquim Levy. Tudo para manter o cadáver procriando por múltiplos de 4 anos.

Agora, como a agenda de Bolsonaro não é do interesse de praticamente NENHUMA corporação (pelo jeito nem dos militares), o sequestro fica mais evidente e o cárcere começa a se mostrar sufocante.

Na hipótese mais provável, o governo será desidratado até morrer de inanição, com vitória para as corporações. Que sempre venceram. Daremos adeus Moro, Mansueto e Guedes. Estão atrapalhando as corporações, não terão lugar por muito tempo.

Na pior hipótese ficamos ingovernáveis e os agentes econômicos, internos e externos, desistem do Brasil. Teremos um orçamento destruído, aumentando o desemprego, a inflação e com calotes generalizados. Perfeitamente plausível. Claramente possível.

A hipótese nuclear é uma ruptura institucional irreversível, com desfecho imprevisível. É o Brasil sendo zerado, sem direito para ninguém e sem dinheiro para nada. Não se sabe como será reconstruído. Não é impossível, basta olhar para a Argentina e para a Venezuela. A economia destes países não é funcional. Podemos chegar lá, está longe de ser impossível.

Agradeçamos a Bolsonaro, pois em menos de 5 meses provou de forma inequívoca que o Brasil só é governável se atender o interesse das corporações. Nunca será governável para atender ao interesse dos eleitores. Quaisquer eleitores. Tenho certeza que esquerdistas não votaram em Dilma para Joaquim Levy ser indicado ministro. Foi o que aconteceu, pois precisavam manter o cadáver Brasil procriando. Sem controle do orçamento, as corporações morrem.

O Brasil está disfuncional. Como nunca antes. Bolsonaro não é culpado pela disfuncionalidade, pois não destruiu nada, aliás, até agora não fez nada de fato, não aprovou nada, só tentou e fracassou. Ele é só um óculos com grau certo, para vermos que o rei sempre esteve nu, e é horroroso.

Infelizmente o diagnóstico racional é claro: “Sell”.

20 sec reading: The Drunkard Disciple

A Zen master had hundreds of disciples. They all prayed at the right time, except one, who was always drunk.

The master was growing old. Some of the more virtuous pupils began to wonder who would be the new leader of the group, the one who would receive the important secrets of the Tradition.

On the eve of his death, however, the master called the drunkard disciple and revealed the hidden secrets to him.

A veritable revolt broke out among the others.

“How shameful!” they cried in the streets, “We have sacrificed ourselves for the wrong master, one who can’t see our qualities.”

Hearing the commotion outside, the dying master remarked, “I had to pass on these secrets to a man that I knew well. All my pupils are very virtuous, and showed only their qualities. That is dangerous, for virtue often serves to hide vanity, pride and intolerance. That is why I chose the only disciple whom I know really well, since I can see his defect: drunkenness.”

Viva N. Sra. Fátima!

nossa-senhora-de-fatima

In the spring and summer of 1916, three children, Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, claimed to have experienced the visitation of an angel on three separate occasions. The angel appeared to them as they watched their sheep, taught them specific prayers to pray, to make sacrifices, and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.

On May 13, 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. Astonished they ran back to their village and told everyone. Further appearances were reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman asked the children to do penance and Acts of Reparation as well as making personal sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause themselves pain, performed self-flagellation using stinging nettles, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance.[citation needed] According to Lúcia’s account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.

Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the following months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator Artur Santos (no relation to Lúcia Santos), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary. The administrator interrogated the children and tried unsuccessfully to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. In the process, he threatened the children, saying he would boil them in a pot of oil, one by one unless they confessed. The children refused, but Lúcia told him everything short of the secrets, and offered to ask the Lady for permission to tell the Administrator the secrets.That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, at nearby Valinhos.

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1 MIN READ: the Lord was creating mothers

EM PORTUGUES AQUI> Personagem da semana: A mí£e
EN ESPANOL AQUI > Personaje de la semana: La madre

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by Erma Bombeck

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said:
“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

* She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
* Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
* Run on black coffee and leftovers;
* Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
* A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
* And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded.
“One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’
“Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know.
“And of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick
“…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger
“… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can she think?”

“Not only can she think, but she can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.
“There’s a leak,” she said. “I told You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

And the Mother was created – a work of genius.

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In Search of the Dream

Those who dare having a project in life, foregoing everything to live their Personal Legend, will end up achieving anything. The important thing is to keep the fire in your heart and be strong to overcome hard moments.

Remember, the desires that are in our souls do not come from the nothingness; someone put them there. And this someone, who is pure love and only wishes our happiness, only did it because he gave us, together with these desires, the tools to make them happen.

What’s the price?

“Is the price of living a dream much higher than the price of living without daring to dream?” asked the disciple.

The master took him to a clothes store. There, he asked him to try on a suit in exactly his size. The disciple obeyed, and was very amazed at the quality of the clothes.

Then the master asked him to try on the same suit – but this time a size much bigger than his own. The disciple did as he was asked.

“This one is no use. It’s too big.”

“How much are these suits?” the master asked the shop attendant.

“They both cost the same price. It’s just the size that is different.”

When leaving the store, the master told his disciple, “Living your dream or giving it up also costs the same price, which is usually very high. But the first lets us share the miracle of life, and the second is of no use to us.”

The Search of the Path

“I am willing to leave everything. Please, take me as a disciple.”

“How does a man choose his Path?”

“Through sacrifice. A path that demands sacrifice is a true path.”

The abbot bumped into a bookcase. A very rare vase fell down and the young man threw himself to the floor to pick it up. He fell the wrong way and broke his arm. But he was able to save the vase.

“Which sacrifice is greater, to see the vase breaking down our breaking an arm to save it?”

“I don’t know.”

“So then, do not try to guide your choice through sacrifice. The path is chosen by our capacity of compromising with each step we make while we walk.”

20 SEC READING: Praying for everyone

A farm labourer with a sick wife, asked a Buddhist monk to say a series of prayers. The priest began to pray, asking God to cure all those who were ill.

‘Just a moment,’ said the farm labourer. ‘I asked you to pray for my wife and there you are praying for everyone who’s ill.’

‘I’m praying for her too.’

‘Yes, but you’re praying for everyone. You might end up helping my neighbour, who’s also ill, and I don’t even like him.’

‘You understand nothing about healing,’ said the monk, moving off. ‘By praying for everyone, I am adding my prayers to those of the millions of people who are also praying for their sick.

‘Added together, those voices reach God and benefit everyone. Separately, they lose their strength and go nowhere.’