True skill

By Paulo Coelho

The yogi Raman was a true master of the art of archery. One morning, he invited his favourite disciple to watch a display of his skill. The disciple had seen this more than a hundred times before, but he nevertheless obeyed his teacher. They went into the wood beside the monastery and when they reached a magnificent oak tree, Raman took a flower which he had tucked in his collar and placed it on one of the branches.

He then opened his bag and took out three objects: his splendid bow made of precious wood, an arrow and a white handkerchief embroidered with lilacs.

The yogi positioned himself one hundred paces from the spot where he had placed the flower. Facing his target, he asked his disciple to blindfold him with the embroidered handkerchief.

The disciple did as his teacher requested.

‘How often have you seen me practise the noble and ancient sport of archery?’ Raman asked him.

‘Every day,’ replied his disciple. ‘And you have always managed to hit the rose from three hundred paces away.’

With his eyes covered by the handkerchief, the yogi Raman placed his feet firmly on the ground, drew back the bowstring with all his might – aiming at the rose placed on one of the branches of the oak tree – and then released the arrow.

The arrow whistled through the air, but it did not even hit the tree, missing the target by an embarrassingly wide margin.

‘Did I hit it?’ said Raman, removing the handkerchief from his eyes.

‘No, you missed completely,’ replied the disciple. ‘I thought you were going to demonstrate to me the power of thought and your ability to perform magic.’

‘I have just taught you the most important lesson about the power of thought,’ replied Raman. ‘When you want something, concentrate only on that: no one will ever hit a target they cannot see.’

Bene Gesserit Litany against fear

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

_____________________________

from 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert
Illustration by 5scanner

We and the critics

I am convinced that most of you also feel hurt when someone criticizes your work. Don’t take critics too seriously. They don’t have the power to make (or to avoid) someone buying a book, a CD, or to go to an exhibition. Don’t give them the importance they don’t have. They are trying to make a living, and that’s all.

If I did not manage to convince you, please read the comments below:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. ~ Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her. ~ David Brinkley

A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world. ~ Edmond and Jules De Goncourt

To escape criticism — do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper. ~ Errol Flynn

If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now. ~ Fred Allen

Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with, the wind. ~ Hamilton Mabie

Before you criticize people, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away. And you have their shoes. ~ JK Lambert

A negative judgment gives you more satisfaction than praise, provided it smacks of jealousy. ~ Jean Baudrillard

I have always been very fond of them (drama critics) . . . I think it is so frightfully clever of them to go night after night to the theatre and know so little about it. ~ Noel Coward

Sticks and stones are hard on bones, aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything but silence breaks the heart.
~ Phyllis McGinley

A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. ~ Samuel Johnson

If any human being earnestly desire to push on to new discoveries instead of just retaining and using the old; to win victories over Nature as a worker rather than over hostile critics as a disputant; to attain , in fact, clear and demonstrative knowlegde instead of attractive and probable theory; we invite him as a true son of Science to join our ranks. ~Sir Francis Bacon

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves. ~ Brendan Francis Behan

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The swords of Damascus

The remarkable characteristics of Damascus steel became known to Europe when the Crusaders reached the Middle East, beginning in the 11th century.
They discovered that swords of this metal could split a feather in midair, yet retain their edge through many a battle with the Saracens.
The swords were easily recognized by a characteristic watery or ”damask” pattern on their blades.

Such blades were reputed to be not only tough and resistant to shattering, but capable of being honed to a sharp and resilient edge.

The original method of producing Damascus steel is not known. Due to differences in raw materials and manufacturing techniques, modern attempts to duplicate the metal have failed.

For eight centuries the Arab sword makers succeeded in concealing their techniques from competitors -and from posterity. Those in Europe only revealed that they quenched in ”red medicine” or ”green medicine.” A less abrupt form of cooling, according to one account, was achieved when the blade, still red hot, was ”carried ina furious gallop by a horseman on a fast horse.”

Writings found in Asia Minor said that to temper a Damascus sword the blade must be heated until it glows ”like the sun rising in the desert.”

According to Dr. Nickel, once blades of Damascus steel had been rough-shaped by hammering, they were ground to a fine edge. When they were hammered chiefly on one side, a curved shape resulted – the origin of the sabre, he said.

The finest blades ever made, he added, were the Samurai swords of Japan, whose blades may contain a million layers of steel. The layers resulted from hammering out a bar to double its original length, then folding it over as many as 32 times.

The multiple layers used by the Japanese and by makers of the Malay dagger or kris are sometimes referred to as ‘ ‘welded Damascus steel.” Although the production method differs from that of true Damascus steel, the blades may show a very similar pattern.

from a 1981 article by Walter Sullivan and Wikipedia

Witches and rebellion

In today’s society (as it was the case in the past) there is a tremendous amount of energy spent on trying to make people conform to established behavior, to established religions, namely, to a certain type of thought.

This uniformity is very tricky because it comes through a certain «political correctness» that stifles people’s spontaneity.

Women who rebels against this sort of general “inertia” were called in the past witches and the stigma still strive nowadays.

Actually these rebellious women pay a price, doing things in a way that probably will not make a lot of sense to others but that are vital to them. Athena is very bold and she takes a risk – as anyone who stays true to oneself does.

I wanted to particularly explore the prejudices that we have when we embrace our compassionate side.

People that accept that God is more than rules and commandments and try to dwell into the adoration of beauty and passion, this feminine energy, are called “witches”.
But in fact, Athena is someone who intuitively understands the soul of the world and tries to abide to its freedom.

I felt the need to question why society had tried to lock away the feminine side. The character of Athena, with her freedom and courage, was my way to tackle this subject and to unveil the shackles of dogma.
 
 
 
In The Witch of Portobello

10 SEC READING the writer and God

EM PORTUGUES CLIQUE AQUI > Kazantzakis e Deus
______________________________
 

During his whole life, the Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba, The Last Temptation of Christ) was an absolutely coherent man.
Although he touched on religious themes in many of his books – such as an excellent biography of Saint Francis of Assisi – he always considered himself a confirmed atheist.
Well, this confirmed atheist wrote one of the most beautiful definitions of God that I have ever come across:

“We gaze with perplexity at the highest part of the spiral of force that governs the Universe.
“And we call it God.
“We could give it any other name: Abyss, Mystery, Absolute Darkness, Total Light, Matter, Spirit, Supreme Hope, Supreme Despair, Silence.
“But we call it God, because only this name – for some mysterious reason – is capable of making our heart tremble with vigor.

“And let there be no doubt that this trembling is absolutely indispensable for us to be in contact with the basic emotions of the human being”.
 
 
 

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Your thoughts in my blog : Dreams by Thao Bui

As a child, we all have dreams, aspirations, unimaginable feats we’re unrealistically trying to achieve.
Why is it that when we’re young, we’re so imaginative and willing to believe?
Is it because we are still so innocent?
What happens between childhood and adulthood that makes us all forget who we really are?

Maybe it’s this ideology that we’ve all taken up as a coping mechanism.
Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed. Maybe it’s the realities of life that makes us push aside what we really want just to get by.

That’s the process that I find most unfortunate of all processes in life. There’s this ever encompassing idea that dreams can be too big for one individual to handle.
We’d rather give up and settle than run that extra mile.
We’re distracted by things we think we need and when we are unable to grasp it, our world goes awry.

Everything is wrong, but nothing is really wrong.

The difference between childhood and adulthood is the ability to put your dreams into actions.
The child inside you believes..while the adult inside you acts.

If it’s just one life that we have now..it’s everything in between that makes it a great ending.

20 SEC READING: How poor we are

EN ESPANOL AQUI: Que pobres somos
_________________________________________


Illustration by Ken Crane

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad”.

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yes”, said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered:
“I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
“We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden and they have a creek that has no end.
“We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

“Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

“We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
“We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added:
“Thanks, Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

story sent by Sangeeta

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Dreams and obsessions


Your theory about every person could reach everything in life is really optimistic. But if the person tried once and was despaired and disappointed what is he going to do?
(Antoine Rigal, Lyon, France)

There is sometimes a bit of confusion in regards to a passage in my book The Alchemist: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Some people sometimes want things that in the end won’t truly help them. Life is strange: the happier people can be, the unhappier they are. I have some friends that think they exist because they have “problems” to solve. Without “problems” they are nobody.

The Universe is merely an echo of our desires, regardless of whether they are constructive or destructive ones.

One has to also keep in mind the difference between a dream and an obsession. I mention personal legend in The Alchemist, and I wrote a book about obsession, The Zahir.

When you follow your personal legend, you walk your path and learn from it. The objective doesn’t blind you to the road that takes you there.

On the other hand obsession is what prevents you from admiring the teachings of life.

It’s like trying to get to your objective without passing through the challenges.

I realized that despite the fear and the bruises of life, one has to keep on fighting for one’s dream.
As Borges said in his writings “there is no other virtue than being brave”.

And one has to understand that being brave is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.

Paulo Coelho moves to Penguin Random House in the UK, Australia and India

Susan Sandon, Managing Director of Cornerstone, has acquired rights to Paulo Coelho’s new novel, ADULTERY, acting on behalf of Hutchinson at Cornerstone, Hamish Hamilton in Australia and New Zealand, and Penguin Random House India.
The six figure acquisition, with separate deals for each territory, was struck with Mônica R. Antunes at Sant Jordi Asociados.

ADULTERY will be published this August simultaneously with Knopf in the US.

ADULTERY is a thought-provoking novel about the blurred lines between love and infatuation, adventure and self-sabotage. Linda is happily married to a wealthy man, has two children and works as a journalist – she knows she is lucky which only makes her unhappiness more confusing. While being afraid of change, she is also terrified of life continuing as it is. A meeting with a politician, and ex-boyfriend, ignites a side of her she thought had been shut-down with far-reaching consequences for everyone. The inspirational message for the reader is that you need to discover the passion in the life you have, not the life you imagine.

Jocasta Hamilton, Publishing Director, Hutchinson says: ‘Paulo Coelho is one of a handful of authors who can claim to have touched the lives of millions and this book will speak to everyone and anyone who has ever wondered ‘is this it?’ The opportunity to work closely with our international colleagues to deliver a stand-out global publication with a truly international bestselling author is thrilling and we’re all incredibly excited to be part of the Paulo Coelho phenomenon.’

Paulo Coelho has sold more than 150 million books worldwide. His work is published in 80 languages and he is the most translated living author in the world. Paulo has an enormous digital media presence. He is the writer with the highest number of social media followers reaching over 17 million fans through his Facebook page and 9 million followers on Twitter.

For further information, please contact Emma Mitchell, Hutchinson Publicity Director

“To God: How did you get invented?”

I found in Keithpp’s Blog this very interesting entry:

A non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school.
Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?”
The Rentons were taken aback: “We had no idea that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God,” says her father.
He chose emailing her letter to the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer).
For good measure, he also sent it to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace” (Archbishop Rowan ) “and this was the response:

“Dear Lulu:

Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised.

They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from.

They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible.

From time to time I sent them some hints “specially in the life of Jesus” to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me.

Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world

and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!”

 
 
 

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20 SEC READ: Writing (ENG, ESPA, PORT)

ESPANOL AQUI–> El acto de escribir

PORTUGUES AQUI –> O ato de escrever


“There are two types of writers: those who make you think and those who make you dream” says Brian Aldiss, who made me dream for such a long time with his science-fiction books. In principle I believe that every human being on this planet has at least one good story to tell his neighbor. What follows are my reflections on some important items in the process of creating a text:

Above all else, the writer has to be a good reader. The kind that sticks to academic texts and does not read what others write (and here I’m not just talking about books but also blogs, newspaper columns and so on) will never know his own qualities and defects.

So, before starting anything, look for people who are interested in sharing their experience through words. I’m not saying: “look for other writers”. What I say is: find people with different skills, because writing is no different from any other activity that is done with enthusiasm.

Your allies will not necessarily be those that everyone looks on with admiration and says: “there’s nobody better”. It’s very much the opposite: it’s people who are not afraid of making mistakes, and yet they do make mistakes. That is why their work is not always recognized. But that’s the type of people who change the world, and after many mistakes they manage to get something right that will make all the difference in their community.

These are people who cannot sit around waiting for things to happen before they decide on the best way to narrate them: they decide as they act, even knowing that this can be very risky.

Living close to these people is important for writers, because they need to understand that before putting anything down on paper, they should be free enough to change direction as their imagination wanders. When a sentence comes to an end, the writer should tell himself: “while I was writing I traveled a long road. Now I can finish this paragraph in the full awareness that I have risked enough and given the best of myself.”

The best allies are those who don’t think like the others. That’s why, while you are looking for your companions, trust your intuition and don’t pay any attention to others’ remarks. People always judge others using the model of their own limitations – and at times the opinion of the community is full of prejudices and fears.

Join those who have never said: “it’s finished, I have to stop here”. Because just as winter is followed by spring, nothing comes to an end: after reaching your objective, you have to start again, always using all that you have learnt on the way.

Join those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have happiness in their eyes. Because happiness is contagious and always manages to keep people from being paralyzed by depression, loneliness and troubles.

And tell your story, even if it’s only for your family to read.

The Way of the Bow (ebook)

TheWayoftheBow_EN

“The story might be brief, it will only take you about an hour and a half to go through it cover to cover, but the teachings it instills can be kept for a lifetime.”( F. Click)

“Well written piece that i have used to apply to my martial arts game. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that needs to apply a form of philosophy to their martial arts game” ( joesorandom review in amazon)

“The Way of the Bow” is one I will continue to re-read annually (at the very least!)”( Don Snyder)

Price: USD 2,99 or EURO 2,68


The Way of The Bow
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O Caminho do Arco
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El Camino del Arco
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Der Weg des Bogens
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Il Cammino dell Arco
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1 MIN READING: The Favor Bank

‘What is this Favor Bank?’
‘It was an American writer who first mentioned it. It’s the most powerful bank in the world, and you’ll find it in every sphere of life.’

‘What favors could I do for anyone?’

‘That doesn’t matter in the least. Let me give you an example: I know that one day, you’ll be very influential. I know this because, like you, I too was once ambitious, independent, honest. I no longer have the energy I once had, but I want to help you because I can’t or don’t want to grind to a halt just yet.
I start making deposits in your account – not cash deposits, you understand, but contacts. I introduce you to such and such a person, I arrange certain deals, as long as they’re legal. You know that you owe me something, but I never ask you for anything.’

‘And then one day…’
‘ One day, I’ll ask you for a favor. You do what I ask, I continue to help you, and other people see that you’re a decent, loyal sort of person and so they too make deposits in your account – always in the form of contacts, because this world is made up of contacts and nothing else. They too will one day ask you for a favor, and you will respect and help the people who have helped you. You’ll know everyone you need to know and your influence will keep on growing.’

‘I could refuse to do what you ask me to do.’

‘You could. The Favor Bank is a risky investment, just like any other bank. You refuse to grant the favor I asked you, in the belief that I helped you because you deserved to be helped, because everyone should recognize your talent. Fine, I say thank you very much and ask someone else into whose account I’ve also made various deposits, but from then on, everyone knows, without me having to say a word, that you are not to be trusted.

‘And…’
‘You’ll grow only half as much as you could have grown, and certainly not as much as you would have liked to. At a certain point, your life will begin to decline, you got halfway, but not all the way. Neither frustrated nor fulfilled. You’re neither cold nor hot, you’re lukewarm, and as an evangelist in some holy book says: “Lukewarm things are not pleasing to the palate.”‘

___________________

as told to the main character, the writer, in THE ZAHIR

20 SEC READING: the best temptation


Illustration by Ken Crane

A group of devils were trying to enter the soul of a holy man who lived near Cairo; they had already tempted him with Nubian women, Egyptian food, Libyan treasure, but nothing had worked.

One day, Satan passed and saw his servants’ efforts.

- You’re hopeless – said Satan. – You haven’t used the only technique no one can resist; I’ll teach you.

He went over to the holy man and whispered in his ear:

- Remember the priest who studied under you? He’s just been made Bishop of Alexandria.

Immediately, the holy man was filled with rage, and blasphemed against God’s injustice.

- The next time, use this temptation – said Satan to his subjects.

“Men can resist almost everything, but they are always jealous of the victory of a fellow man.”
 
 
 

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I can’t change the world

As a Messenger of Peace for the UN, and UNESCO special counselor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”, how do envision your role in today’s world? (Katya Yulianka, Russia)

I’ve always been very skeptical about people that say: “I want to save the world, help others…”

This is because to save the “world” is too abstract. What is possible – and the most difficult task – is to first look at oneself and try to identify what’s wrong.

Before searching for the other, one has to find oneself.

I can’t change the world, I can’t change my country, I can’t change my city, I can’t even change my neighborhood… what I can change is my street.
In 1996, when I started receiving significant royalties from my books, I went to a favela close to my home – in Rio favelas are in the center of the city – and met a group of people that were taking care of children.

I created The Paulo Coelho Institute. Since then we have been cooperating, and now we take care of 430 children (besides other projects, like supporting patients in mental hospitals, families that live below the poverty line, etc.)

I still believe that most of the real changes are made in a small scale.

Being one of the twelve Messengers of Peace is a reminder that peace, as well as justice, has a natural authority that imposes itself. The tribune of the UN gives me the opportunity to speak out about injustices and use my influence in the political arena.

The challenge lies in the fact that UN can’t do this work alone.
We are all Messengers of Peace. Let’s start working.
 
 
 

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10 sec reading Never be ashamed to feign weakness


A wise Chinese master has this to say about the strategies of the warriors of light:

‘Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm.’

‘Do not be ashamed to make a temporary withdrawal from the field if you see that your enemy is stronger than you; it is not winning or losing a single battle that matters.’

‘Even if you are very strong, never be ashamed to feign weakness; this will make your enemy act imprudently and attack too soon.’

‘Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.

‘To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

_____________________
in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

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Character of the week: Yoda

“Do or do not… there is no try.”

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“War does not make one great.”

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

“That is why you fail. (in response to Luke saying, “I don’t believe it.”).”

“Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”

“If so powerful you are, why leave?”

“Clear, your mind must be if you are to discover the real villains behind the plot.”

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

“You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock… everywhere! Even between the land and the ship.”
“To the Force, look for guidance. Accept what fate has placed before us.”

“May the Force be with you.”

___________________________
Yoda is a master in the Star Wars universe

 
 
 

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20 sec reading: tirelessly seeking love


 
To the warriors of light, there is no such thing as impossible love.

They don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by silence, or by rejection.

They know that – behind the icy mask people wear – there is a heart of fire.

That is why the warriors risk more than others.

They tirelessly seek love – even if this means hearing, many times over, the word ‘no’, returning home defeated, feeling rejected in body and soul.

Warriors don’t allow themselves to be discouraged. Without love, living has no meaning.
 
 
___________________________
in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL