20 sec reading – I was feeling very lonely

EM PORTUGUES AQUI > Diante da catedral
EN ESPANOL AQUI > Frente a la catedral

______

I was feeling very lonely when I left Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral right in the heart of New York.

Suddenly I was approached by a Brazilian:

“I very much need to talk to you,” he said.

I was so enthused by this meeting that I began to talk about everything that was important to me. I spoke of magic, God’s blessings, love.
He listened to everything in silence, thanked me and went away.

Instead of feeling happy, I felt lonelier than before. Later on I realized that in my enthusiasm I had not paid any attention to what that Brazilian wanted.

Talk to me.

I tossed my words to the wind, because that was not what the Universe was wanting at that moment: I would have been much more useful if I had listened to what he had to say.
 
 

Friendship is like a river

Avoid those who believe they are stronger than you, because they are actually concealing their own fragility.

Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that, at some point in our lives, we all stumble; they do not interpret this as a sign of weakness, but of humanity.

Avoid those who seek friends in order to maintain a certain social status or to open doors they would not otherwise be able to approach.

Stay close to those who are interested in opening only one important door: the door to your heart. They will never invade your soul without your consent or shoot a deadly arrow through that open door.

Friendship is like a river; it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is full and it can continue on its way.

Just as the river never forgets that it’s goal is the sea, so friendship never forgets that its only reason for existing is to love other people

(taken from “Manuscript found in Accra”)

12/10 Viva N. Sra. Aparecida!

Our Lady of Aparecida (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Nossa Senhora da Conceií§í£o Aparecida) is a celebrated 18th-century clay statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the traditional form of the Immaculate Conception. The image is widely venerated by Brazilian Roman Catholics, who consider her as the principal patroness of Brazil.[1] Pious accounts claim that the statue was originally found by fishermen, who miraculously caught many fishes after invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The dark statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, Aparecida, Sí£o Paulo. The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil celebrates her feast day every October 12. Since the basilica’s consecration 1980 by Pope John Paul II, it has also been a public holiday in Brazil. The Basilica is the fourth most popular Marian shrine in the world,[3] being able to hold up to 45,000 worshippers.[2]

The image has merited the Papal sanction of Pope Pius XI in 1929 by declaring her shrine as a minor Basilica, and by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1980, who reiterated the patronage of Brazil under the title of the Immaculate Conception.

The statue has also merited worldwide controversy in May 1978, when a Protestant intruder stole the clay statue from its shrine and broke it into pieces, and another in 1995, when a Protestant minister slandered and vandalized a copy of the statue in national Brazilian television.

To read the full story, please CLICK 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.”

Gratitude

A warrior of light knows that he has much to be grateful for.
He was helped in his struggle by the angels; celestial forces placed each thing in its place, thus allowing him to give of his best.
His companions say: ‘He’s so lucky!’ And the warrior does sometimes achieve things far beyond his capabilities.
That is why, at sunset, he kneels and gives thanks for the Protective Cloak surrounding him.
His gratitude, however, is not limited to the spiritual world; he never forgets his friends, for their blood mingled with his on the battlefield.
A warrior does not need to be reminded of the help given him by others; he is the first to remember and makes sure to share with them any rewards he receives.

(taken from my book “Warrior of the Light; a manual”)

Nothing wrong with looking like a fool

Every day Nasrudin went to beg for alms in the market, and people used to make fun of him by playing the following trick: they would show him two coins, one worth ten times more than the other, and Nasrudin would always choose the smaller coin.

The story went round the whole province.
Day after day, groups of men and women would show him the two coins, and Nasrudin would always choose the smaller one.

Then one day, a generous man, tired of seeing Nasrudin ridiculed in this fashion, beckoned him over to a corner of the square and said:

‘When they offer you two coins, you should choose the larger one. That way you would earn more money and people wouldn’t consider you an idiot.’

‘That sounds like good advice,’ replied Nasrudin, ‘but if I chose the larger coin, people would stop offering me money, because they like to believe that I am even more stupid than they are. You’ve no idea how much money I’ve earned using this trick.

“There’s nothing wrong with looking like a fool if, in fact, you’re being really clever.’

La Espia: hoy en todas las librerias

Loneliness can be worse than hunger

Those who are paying attention to others, always give before being asked for. Often our selfishness apologize, saying, “if he was in need, he would have asked.”

And we forget that many people can not – simply can not – ask for help.

I’m not talking just about money: loneliness, often can be worse than hunger.

On the other side there are people who spend entire weeks locked up in themselves.
They will go from work to their TV and from their TV to work.
Their heart is so fragile that they begin to live unhealthy love. They are hungry for affection and ashamed to show it.
It costs you to realize that these people are on our side and try to help them.

Those who look with indifference to poverty, has misery in his soul.

Boredom

“Doing anything when you’re bored is very very boring. Anyway, doing nothing is the point of being bored. The pleasure of being bored is mooning about and doing nothing. ”
? Aidan Chambers

“I think that the word bored does not get the attention it deserves. We speak of all sorts of terrible things that happen to people, but we rarely speak about one of the most terrible things of all : that is, being bored, being bored alone and, worse than that, being bored together.”
? Erich Fromm

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored.”
? Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

If life — the craving for which is the very essence of our being — were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all: mere existence would satisfy us in itself, and we should want for nothing.”
? Arthur Schopenhauer,

“The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.”
? Saul Steinberg

“And while you and the rest of your kind are battling together—year after year—for this special privilege of being ‘bored to death,’ the ‘real girl’ that you’re asking about, the marvelous girl, the girl with the big, beautiful, unspoken thoughts in her head, the girl with the big, brave, undone deeds in her heart, the girl that stories are made of, the girl whom you call ‘improbable’—is moping off alone in some dark, cold corner—or sitting forlornly partnerless against the bleak wall of the ballroom—or hiding shyly up in the dressing-room—waiting to be discovered!”
? Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

Question byEvi and Tuty from Jakarta

Dear Paulo,
I really admire your thoughts and your messages around the pursue of one’s dream .However, not everyone is blessed with a childhood dream or a Personal Legend. Those of us that have been brought up with such a rigid pattern (school, school, work, more school, marriage, kid, etc), do not even have the luxury of dreaming what we want to become. Unfortunately, my best friend and I are among them. So, here we are, reading your books in frustration….
We completely grab the idea of pursuing the Personal Legend, but are stuck!
After reading your book, the idea of not having known what we shall pursue in life until the day we die, is really torturing to the bits of our nail.
The worst part: there is no turning back….!
Once the idea (of pursuing personal legend) has grown in our mind (or soul, shall I say it), we just cannot pretend that we do not believe what we read and return to normal life with ignorance. We cannot just act and behave normally like other woman in our ages (mid 30’s, happy smile while doing groceries or while working in the office) while we know there’s something missing in our life but have no slightest idea what the missing part is.
We keep questioning God on what we should do….
So, our question is basically simple…. How do we know whether a Personal Legend has been ‘tagged’ on us? And what journey should we take to know what they are?

Let’s do this by parts.
Firstly – if the idea of personal legend is something that is “torturing” you – well, let me say that you are in the good track.
People that have died to themselves don’t even bother wondering about this. You are alive and you wish to accomplish something – even if for the moment you don’t really know what it is.
Secondly – I totally disagree with “there’s no turning back”. Of course there is! Look at me for instance : I had parents that didn’t support me on my dream and committed me to an asylum, I was tortured in my mid-twenties, and I only truly managed to write a book at the age of 40! The possibility of “turning back” is actually the possibility of “moving forward”.
Now – how can you find out? Honestly, you should first allow yourself to do the things you want to do. You will see – it starts with very small things, but when this becomes a habit, little by little you start seeing the road you wish to take.
Having faith that the present can be infinitely richer and that life is a mystery is the beginning of the journey.

The importance of the cat in meditation

Having written a book about madness (Veronika decides to die) , I was forced to wonder how many things we do are imposed on us by necessity, or by the absurd. Why wear a tie? Why do clocks run “clockwise”? If we live in a decimal system, why does the day have 24 hours of 60 minutes?
The fact is, many of the rules we obey nowadays have no real foundation. Nevertheless, if we wish to act differently, we are considered “crazy” or “immature”.
Meanwhile, society continues to create some systems which, in the fullness of time, lose their reason for existence, but continue to impose their rules. An interesting Japanese story illustrates what I mean by this:

A great Zen Buddhist master, who was in charge of the Mayu Kagi monastery, had a cat which was his true passion in life. So, during meditation classes, he kept the cat by his side – in order to make the most of his company.
One morning, the master – who was already quite old – passed away. His best disciple took his place.
– What shall we do with the cat? – asked the other monks.
As a tribute to the memory of their old instructor, the new master decided to allow the cat to continue attending the Zen Buddhist classes.

Some disciples from the neighboring monasteries, traveling through those parts, discovered that, in one of the region’s most renowned temples, a cat took part in the meditation sessions. The story began to spread.
Many years passed. The cat died, but as the students at the monastery were so used to its presence, they soon found another cat. Meanwhile, the other temples began introducing cats in their meditation sessions: they believed the cat was truly responsible for the fame and excellence of Mayu Kagi’s teaching.

A generation passed, and technical treatises began to appear about the importance of the cat in Zen meditation. A university professor developed a thesis – which was accepted by the academic community – that felines have the ability to increase human concentration, and eliminate negative energy.
And so, for a whole century, the cat was considered an essential part of Zen Buddhist studies in that region.

Until a master appeared who was allergic to animal hair, and decided to remove the cat from his daily exercises with the students.

There was a fierce negative reaction – but the master insisted. Since he was an excellent instructor, the students continued to make the same progress, in spite of the absence of the cat.
Little by little, the monasteries – always in search of new ideas, and already tired of having to feed so many cats – began eliminating the animals from the classes. In twenty years new revolutionary theories began to appear – with very convincing titles such as “The Importance of Meditating Without a Cat”, or “Balancing the Zen Universe by Will Power Alone, Without the Help of Animals”.

Another century passed, and the cat withdrew completely from the meditation rituals in that region. But two hundred years were necessary for everything to return to normal – because during all this time, no one asked why the cat was there.


in my book “Like a flowing river”

20 SEC READING: The older sister’s question


 
When her brother was born, Sa-chi Gabriel begged her parents to leave her alone with the baby.
They refused, fearing that, as with many four-year-olds, she was jealous and wanted to mistreat him.
 
But Sa-chi showed no signs of jealousy.
And since she was always extremely affectionate towards her little brother, her parents decided to carry out an experiment.

They left Sa-chi alone with their new-born baby, but kept the bedroom door ajar so that they could watch what she did.
 
Delighted to have her wish granted, little Sa-chi tiptoed over to the cradle, leaned over the baby and said:
 
“Little brother, tell me what God is like. I’m beginning to forget.”

Illustration by Ken Crane

 

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

Relax and pay attention

Sometimes we keep on waiting – with patience, resignation, courage – and still, things around us don’t move. But since this is the path we chose, it seems impossible that life’s blessings are not working in our favor. It provokes, therefore, a deep reflection about what we call “results:” our destiny is manifesting itself in a way we are not able to fully comprehend .
Jorge Luí­s Borges wrote a masterly short story about this issue.

He describes the birth of a tiger that spends great part of its life in the African wildness but ends up being captured and taken to a zoo in Italy. From then on, the animal thinks his life has lost sense and there is nothing left to do but wait for the day he dies.

One fine day, poet Dante Alighieri passes by this zoo, looks at the tiger, and the animal inspires a verse – in the midst of thousands of verses – of “The Divine Comedy.”

“The entire battle for survival that tiger went through was only so that it could be at the zoo on that morning and inspire an immortal verse,” says Borges.

Just like this tiger, we all have a reason – a very important reason – to be here, at this moment, this morning.

So relax. And pay attention.

The Breviary of Medieval Knights

In an interesting and diminutive book called “The Breviary of Medieval Knights,” there are some passages that have to be remembered in these moments of waiting:

“The Path’s spiritual energy uses justice and patience to prepare your spirit.”

“This is the Knight’s Path. An easy and hard path at the same time, as it urges us to let aside useless things and relative friendships.

“That is why, at the beginning, we hesitate so much to follow it.”

“This is a Knight’s first teaching: you will erase everything you wrote up to now on your life’s notebook: turmoil, insecurities, lies.

“And in place of all that, you will write the word courage.

Beginning the journey with this word and going on with faith in God, you will arrive where you need to arrive.

Choosing a path

“Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now.
“I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself.
She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none. Even in that most important area of her life, love, she had failed to commit herself. After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pan, loss, and separation. These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all. In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love.
It was like putting out your own eyes not to see the bad things in life.”

? Paulo Coelho, Brida

Lakes made of tears

We need to love. Even when it leads us to the land where the lakes are made of tears, to that secret, mysterious place, the land of tears!
Tears speak for themselves. And when we feel that we have cried all we needed to cry, they still continue to flow. And just when we believe that our life is destined to be a long walk through the Vale of Sorrows, the tears suddenly vanish.

Because we managed to keep our heart open, despite the pain.

Because we realised that the person who left us did not take the sun with them or leave darkness in their place. They simply left, and with every farewell comes a hidden hope.
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Review: Veronika decides to die

by Longblong

As morbid and depressing as the title seems, this Coelho book takes the usual turn for understanding of the universe and an inspiration for readers to strive not to settle into the kind of routine they don’t wish to be in. Coelho’s books have been NY Times Best Sellers and translated into dozens of languages, he’s one of the top selling modern authors. It just takes one book to understand why, and this book certainly fits into that category.

Veronica is a young woman with a happy life. She has loving parents and a nice job. She lives in Ljubljana, the capital city of the newly formed country of Slovenia (after the Yugoslavian civil war). With as many positives points in her life, Veronica found nearly as much sadness. She believed the routine of her life was inconsequential and secretly vowed to kill herself to leave the world behind. After feigning sleeplessness, she collected strong sleeping pills and went about the deed. She slowly fell into a drowsy state, but the peaceful death was not coming, a burning throughout her body led her into a coma and she woke in the infamous Villette hospital for the mentally insane. Upon waking, the doctor told the girl she would survive, but her heart had taken the toll from the suicide attempt. The state her heart was in, she could expect a week of life before she succumbed to the death she had wished for.

Not to give too much away, Veronica reluctantly made friends, and rediscovered her passion for the piano. In fact, her piano playing was said to lift many spirits in the gloomy hospital. With a week left to live, what would you do? Veronica searched her soul and others joined. Her weak heart pushed the limits and she found herself having heart-attacks through the week.

In a previous interview, Coelho explained his need to write this book. He had been put into a mental asylum himself as a young man. Coelho even modeled a character in the book after himself. His parents expected him to become an engineer, but his thirst for writing could not allow him to complete the studies the family expected of him. He made his way out and the rest is history.

Whether you’re feeling ‘in a rut’ or just enjoy Coelho’s books, this is a good read. Coelho never lets you down. Enjoy.

Before and after

TEN THOUSAND YEARS LATER….

Interview to “The Talks”

InMr. Coelho, are you interested in building bridges between cultures?

For a writer you have to be interested in different cultures, different backgrounds. You are not there to write only about your village. You’re there to show a bit of your village, but also to understand other villages. Like Tolstoy says: everything that happens in a village happens everywhere.

Were you raised with that kind of approach?

As a child I was influenced by many different inputs and cultures – Arabic, Jewish, American – and I became interested like this. We did not select music that we were going to hear out of political correctness. We selected something that you either like or you don’t like. When I started writing I started seeing this input manifesting itself. And then I became interested.

Do you feel like we have more bridges between cultures today than in the past?

Today I see all the bridges collapsing. It seems that nobody is capable of understanding each other anymore. I feel it’s my duty as a human being, as a person who is trying – like everybody else who thinks about the state of the world – to enhance the importance of this multicultural connection. As long as you still have one bridge left, nothing is lost. But from the moment that you cannot even understand the storytelling or the music of other cultures anymore, then we become strangers to each other and the situation will become very complicated.

Well I’d say you are bridging cultures with your online presence – you have 28,5 million Facebook Likes, 11 million Twitter followers, and you have been blogging since 2006. Why are you so active on the internet?

It’s a new platform and as a writer I have to find platforms that can use this writing process. The internet is one of them. People are reading more and writing more now because of the internet. So the virtual world is a way for me to listen to my readers and interact with my readers. It is a way that they can voice their opinion. I like to be challenged with language, so I start to do texts for my blogs that people can download, can spread. There is no commercial interest behind it. It’s only for fun, like doing something that you really enjoy to do. I have texts that I write specifically for the internet and I put them there. I am interested in how readers also respond to the texts that I write to them.

Does it trouble you that the wealth of information also brings less credibility with it?

I’m not sure about that. I think the more information you can get, the better you can find information for your own purposes.

Is it true that you always look for a white feather before you start writing?

That’s true for starting the book. Meaning there’s a tradition back to The Pilgrimage, my first book in 1987. Back then I was not sure if I should write the book or not, I was in a moment of doubt. I was in Madrid and I said, “If today I see a white feather, that’s the sign that I should write.”

But what if you have a great idea and you really want to start writing, but you can’t find a white feather?

No, you normally find a white feather. The problem is to find a white feather in January or so. But it is possible. The moment that I find this white feather I start writing. But it has nothing to do with the contents of the book, it has to do with the book itself.

Do you have a similar sign that tells you what the book should be about or have you already decided by that point?

Of course I am a person that is very curious about what is going on in the world and there are a lot of subjects to write about, you meet a lot of interesting people. But one idea will be there and it will show up without any logic. It is a book that has been written in my heart before it is written into sentences. So I don’t choose. Normally it’s the book that chooses me.

So you don’t write with a purpose in mind?

I write because I need to share my thoughts with the audience. I don’t know if the books are making the world a much better place. I don’t write with that objective. What I know is that I see my readers creating a critical mass so we can at least understand this world in a different way. You need to change yourself. The moment that you change yourself it is a gigantic step. And this is what I do. The book is much more important than the writer.

But your personality is still very present in your work.

I am very present in my work and my work is somehow an expression of my soul, but at the same time I think that a writer cannot write out of nothing. You have two types of writers: one like Proust who was locked in his room and wrote the masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu. And the other type was Hemingway who celebrated life and also wrote a masterpiece.
Short Profile

Name: Paulo Coelho
DOB: 24 August 1947
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Occupation: Writer

5 Life Lessons Driven Home by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’

By Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC

One of my favorite books is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It’s a story about a shepherd boy who journeys in search of a treasure about which he has dreamed. What I love about the story is that there are so many life lessons embedded in it. Where you are in your life determines what the salient messages are for you. I will do my best to impart some of the lessons that ring true for me without giving away too much of the story.

1. We must be able to make choices about how to move forward, and perhaps the best way to seek an answer from ourselves is to ask specific questions that require a yes-or-no answer.

There’s a point in The Alchemist when the shepherd receives two stones, one black and one white, signifying “yes” and “no.” The purpose of the stones is to help the boy “read the omens,” or understand the signs the universe is giving him as well as what his intuition is telling him. He is instructed to make his own decisions but is told to ask the stones a clear, objective question, if he struggles, and then go with the answer (black or white stone) he pulls from the bag.
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People who have trouble making decisions sometimes put them off indefinitely, leaving themselves feeling stuck. There are often “signs” that signal us which way to go, but if we are stumped and don’t really know how to proceed, it’s still best that we make a choice. Soon enough, we will know if we are on the right track, and if we aren’t, we can course-correct. The point is to move forward. If we don’t choose, we are electing to stay still and let things remain the same. Not choosing is often the equivalent of not taking action.

When you ask questions of yourself regarding what to do, ask specific ones that reflect what you really want so that the concrete answers you generate propel you forward rather than mire you in further confusion.

2. How we perceive our circumstances has everything to do with motivation, perseverance, and psychological well-being.

There are several examples of this in the story. As the shepherd encounters an unfamiliar place, he originally labels it as “strange” only to subtly change its description to “new” upon further consideration.

If we learn to strategically put our fears aside, and really consider the possibilities that are available to us, we can continue to take steps toward our goals.

The protagonist also shifts his view of himself from “victim” to “adventurer.” And when he takes stock of the fact he has chosen to remain in one spot for a long time on his journey, instead of bemoaning it, he recognizes “he was actually two hours closer to his treasure … the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didn’t matter.” He took note of the progress rather than dwelling on the length of the journey ahead or how long he remained in one particular spot.

Shifting his perception toward the positive and that which was encouraging energized him and enabled him to recommit to his goal of reaching his treasure, rather than retreating to what was safe and already known.

3. Our beliefs about ourselves are incredibly powerful and can enhance or inhibit what we ultimately accomplish.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford

The boy in The Alchemist is tested time and again on his journey. Each time, he is forced to determine just how important his goal is and whether the love he feels and how attuned he is to his inner voice outweighs fear and the discouragement or challenges he receives from others. It is because he so clearly believes in the possibility of his treasure that he is able to persevere in search of it.

4. Fear is what keeps us stuck.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” —The Alchemist

Coelho illustrates how we hold ourselves back with fear, surrendering to thoughts that tell us we can’t or we aren’t worthy or we might suffer in the process of trying to attain that which we seek. He addresses the fear of failure as well as the fear of success. Coelho points out that “the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” The fear of suffering is often what results in anxiety. It’s being paralyzed by the thought, “What if the worst happens?”

If we learn to strategically put our fears aside, and really consider the possibilities that are available to us, we can continue to take steps toward our goals.

5. Awareness is key. Be able to recognize opportunity.

The Alchemist makes many references to omens, encouraging its protagonist to pay close attention to the here and now, implying that if he is alert he will become more aware of what action to take next. The story explores the concept of the universe offering us clues to see us through to our goals. It suggests if we lose the capacity to pay attention to those clues (by becoming cynical, focused on the negative, or close-minded), they become more scarce, “abandoning” us.

If we approach life’s choices with a sense of clarity and purpose and are aware of the gentle nudges we receive along the way (our intuition and the messages the “universe” seems to send us), if we can separate that from fear and negative beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, then we can carve a path to the things that are important to us, the treasure reserved for each one of us.

What can YOU take away from reading The Alchemist? (If you haven’t read it, I urge you to.)