Saint Joseph’s Day

St joseph
As I do every year, today we are going to celebrate (this time in Prague, Czech Republic) the day of my patron, Saint Joseph. Together with 120 friends, we will say the prayer below at 8:30 PM. Be welcome to join us!

Glorious St. Joseph
model of all who are devoted to labor,
obtain for me the grace
to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations;
to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor
the gifts I have received from God,
to work methodically, peacefully,
in moderation and patience,
without ever shrinking from it through difficulty to work;
above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness,
having unceasingly before my eyes
the account I have to render of time lost,
talents unused, good not done,
and vain complacency in success.
St. Joseph, inspire and guide me for the time to come.

 
 

I don’t want to offend you (Islamic tradition)

During his pilgrimage to Mecca, a holy man began to feel the presence of God.

In the midst of a trance he knelt down, hid his face and prayed:
“Lord, I ask for only one thing in life: that I be given the grace of never offending you.”

“I cannot grant you that grace,” answered the Almighty. ‘If you don’t offend me I shall have no reason to pardon you.

” If I have no need to pardon you, soon you will also forget the importance of mercy towards others.

“So go on your way with Love and let me grant pardon now and again so that you don’t forget that virtue as well.”

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Durante su peregrinación a La Meca, un hombre santo comenzó a sentir la presencia de Dios.

En medio de un trance, se arrodilló, escondió su rostro y oró:
“Señor, te pido una sola cosa en la vida:. Que se me dé la gracia de nunca ofender Usted”

“No puedo conceder esa gracia”-respondió el Todopoderoso. “Si no me ofendes no tendré motivos para perdonarte.

“Si no tengo necesidad de perdonarte a ti, pronto también te olvidas la importancia de la misericordia hacia los demás.

“Así­ que sigas tu camino con amor, te perdonaré de vez en cuando, y tu perdonarás a los otros.”

30 sec reading: why tell stories

The great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, when he saw that the Jews were being mistreated, went into the forest, lit a holy fire, and said a special prayer, asking God to protect his people.
And God sent him a miracle.

Later, his disciple Maggid de Mezritch, would go to the same part of the forest and say:
“Master of the Universe, I do not know how to light the holy fire, but I do know the special prayer; hear me, please!”
The miracle always came about.

A generation passed, and Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, during some dire times, went to the forest, saying:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor do I know the special prayer, but I still remember the place. Help us, Lord!”
And the Lord helped.

Fifty years later, Rabbi Israel de Rizhin, in his wheelchair, spoke to God:
“I don’t know how to light the holy fire, nor the prayer, and I can’t even find the place in the forest. All I can do is tell this story, and hope God hears me.”
And the Lord helped. ‘”

That’s why I adore storytelling; stories are how we learn. The progenitors of the world’s religions understood this, handing down our great myths and legends from generation to generation

As someone said: “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple


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ESPANOL AQUI > Cuando sea una mujer mayor, vestiré de morado
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by Jenny Joseph

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Pilar


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EN ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI > Pilar
EM PORTUGUES, CLICAR AQUI> Pilar
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If one person really wants us, everyone does. But, if we’re alone, we become even more alone. Life is strange.
“Have you ever heard of the book called the I Ching?” I asked her.
“No, I haven’t.”
“It says that a city can be moved but not a well. It’s around the well that lovers find each other, satisfy their thirst, build homes, and raise their children. But if one of them decides to leave, the well cannot go with them. Love remains there, abandoned – even though it is filled with the same pure water as before.”

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 courage to stretch 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 disappointments and sadness.

“You shouldn’t have asked,” I said. “Love doesn’t ask many questions, because if we stop to think we become fearful. It’s an inexplicable fear; it’s difficult even to describe it. Maybe it’s the fear of being scorned, of not being accepted, or of breaking the spell. It’s ridiculous, but that’s the way it is. That’s why you don’t ask-you act. As you’ve said many times, you have to take risks.”

Wait. This was the first lesson I learned about love. The day drags along, you make thousands of plans, you imagine every possible conversation, you promise to change your behaviour in certain ways – and you feel more and more anxious until your loved one arrives.
But by then, you don’t know what to say. The hours of waiting have been transformed into tension, the tension has become fear, and the fear makes you embrassed about showing affection.

Love is like a trap. When it appears, we see only light, not its shadows.


Pilar
is the main character of “By the river Piedra I sat down and wept”

Help me to find this man

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20160309_174655

click in the image to enlarge

Dear friends
In 1982, my wife and I decided to start travelling without any specific place to go, wandering around and visiting many countries for several months. In January 1982 we ended up in Praha (it was during the communist regime).

Sunday morning, January 24 in the The Golden street of Alchemists, we saw a lone person drawing. It was winter, freezing cold, but this young man was there, following his call (today there are many dozens doing the same). My wife and i were the only ones walking in this street. I decided to buy one of his drawings. He was so happy that he decided to draw my wife for free.
I was a little bit embarrassed, but while watching him doing this, I thought: “this is an example for me. A lesson of a lifetime, I must never forget this moment. Nobody is here, nobody is buying anything , but this does not stop him to do what he wants to do.”

At the end, I gave him TWO GIFTS, the only things that I had in my pocket.

I wish I can meet him again in March 19, when I will hold my annual party, this time on Praha. He is probably doing something completely different now. When we met him, he was around 25 years old. He will be my guest of honour. I will know if it is him because he MUST identify the two gifts I gave him.

UPDATE 19 MARCH 2016- Thank you my My Czech friends!

ivan1

Happy International Women’s Day!

Montsegur, 1989

Monica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August evening. We stood in the place where 220 Cathars were buried alive in 1224.
We had planned to climb it the following day.

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 Monica, 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 us 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 sunrise 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.

I went to the hotel in the village where we were staying and borrowed a lamp, the only one they had.
“¨It is a sign – we need to climb this rock now.”

Monica seemed scared, but I said that we have to go ahead. ‘Signs are signs’, I said.
The newcomer asked where the path was. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up.

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 were above 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, but then I thought that it’s better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle.

For the next few years, I sent several letters to the mysterious Irishman, but he never replied back.
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.

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(one week after this experience, I met Brida O’Fern in the Pyrenees Mountains, and it happens that she was a Cathar in her previous life. Her story is in my book BRIDA )

I have no idea where I am going

EM PORTUGUES AQUI: Senhor, eu ní£o sei onde estou indo
EN ESPANOL AQUI: No tengo idea de adónde voy

 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

in Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

Character of the week: Lao Tzu

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.
Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Rejoice in the way things are.When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.

The words of truth are always paradoxical.
Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful.
Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.


Lao Tzu ( also Lao Tse) was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, and best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching.

The blackbird comes to a decision


 
An old blackbird found a piece of bread and flew off with it. When they saw this, the younger birds pursued him in order to attack.
 
Confronted by imminent battle, the blackbird dropped the piece of bread into the mouth of a snake, thinking to himself:
 
‘When you’re old, you see things differently. I lost a meal, it’s true, but I can always find another piece of bread tomorrow.
“However, if I had hung on to it, I would have started a war in the skies; the winner would become the object of envy, the others would gang up on him, hatred would fill the hearts of birds and it could all go on for years.

“That is the wisdom of old age: knowing how to exchange immediate victories for lasting conquests.’

10 SEC READ: Dialogue (ENG, PORT, ESP)

Keeping the dialogue alive

Rabbi Iaakov’s wife was always looking for an excuse to argue with her husband. Iaakov never reacted to her provocations.
Until one night when, during a dinner with some friends, the rabbi had a ferocious argument with his wife to the surprise of all at the table.
“What happened?” they asked. “Why did you break your habit of never answering?”

“Because I realized that what bothered my wife the most was the fact that I remained silent. Acting in this way, I remained far from her emotions. My reaction was an act of love: now she understands that I hear her words.”

Mantendo o diálogo

A esposa do rabino Iaakov vivia procurando um motivo para discutir com o marido. Iaakov nunca respondia as provocaí§íµes.
Até que, durante um jantar com alguns amigos, o rabino terminou discutindo ferozmente com sua mulher, surpreendendo a todos na mesa.
– O que aconteceu? – perguntaram – Por que abandonou seu costume de jamais responder?

– Porque percebi que o que mais perturbava minha mulher era o fato de ficar em silíªncio. Agindo assim, eu permanecia distante de suas emoí§íµes. Minha reaí§í£o foi um ato de amor: consegui fazíª-la entender que escuto suas palavras”.

El dialogo

La esposa del rabino Iaakov viví­a rebuscando motivos para discutir con su marido. Iaakov nunca respondí­a a las provocaciones.
Hasta que, durante una cena con unos amigos, el rabino terminó discutiendo ferozmente con su mujer, sorprendiendo a todos los comensales.
-Pero, ¿que ha ocurrido? -le preguntaron – ¿Por qué no has seguido tu costumbre de no responder?

-Porque por fin me he dado cuenta de que lo que más irritaba a mi mujer era que me quedara en silencio. Actuando de esta manera, me estaba manteniendo distante de sus emociones.Mi reacción ha sido un acto de amor: he conseguido que entendiera que escucho sus palabras.

Nasrudin always makes the wrong choice

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.’

The natural order

A very wealthy man asked a Zen master for a text which would always remind him how happy he was with his family.

The Zen master took some parchment and, in beautiful calligraphy, wrote:

– The father dies. The son dies. The grandson dies.

– What? – said the furious rich man. – I asked you for something to inspire me, some teaching which might be respectfully contemplated by future generations, and you give me something as depressing and gloomy as these words?

– You asked me for something which would remind you of the happiness of living together with your family. If your son dies first, everyone will be devastated by the pain. If your grandson dies, it would be an unbearable experience.

“However, if your family disappears in the order which I placed on the paper, this is the natural course of life. Thus, although we all endure moments of pain, the generations will continue, and your legacy will be long-lasting.”

I am not fan of beer, but….


This is quite an interesting ad!
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10 SEC READING: Keeping friends

EN ESPANOL AQUI > Amistad
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When she was eleven years old, Anita went to her mother to complain.
“I can’t manage to have friends. They all stay away from me because I’m so jealous.”

Her mother was taking care of newly-born chickens, and Anita held up one of them, which immediately tried to escape.
The more the girl squeezed it in her hands, the more the chicken struggled.

Her mother said: “try holding it gently.”
Anita obeyed her. She opened her hands and the chicken stopped struggling.
She began to stroke it and the chicken cuddled up between her fingers.

“Human beings are like that too,” said her mother. “If you want to hold onto them by any means, they escape. But if you are kind to them, they will remain for ever by your side.”

 
 
 

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Q&A: Transformation

Many times we need to compare things, situations and people in order to decide what is best for us. Do you consider that in most cases this is a positive attitude? (Mara Adriana)

It all depends on the context: if we make a decision that is based solely on what other people tell us, we may be straying from what we truly desire and want. But if we are able to listen to our souls – keeping of course a channel open to others – then we are able to grow and walk in the direction of our dreams.

I have just finished reading the Witch of Portobello. What is the one thing that I must remember during this time which is full of doubts and fears but at the same time curiosity and excitement? (by Sarah)

You should always bear in mind the goal of this transformation, without shutting away the process. It’s actually in this very moment that you can grasp the wider meaning of your life.

I had this realization while doing the pilgrimage to Saint James. I was, in the beginning obsessed with my sword and so wanted to get straight to the end of the journey. It was actually by living the journey in all its aspects that I was finally able to find my sword. Both elements then must be present in your spirit in this time of change.

What is fear? (by Benedict)

Contrary to what we believe, fear does not arise because we feel utterly alone. If we were totally alone there wouldn’t be anything to fear.

Actually fear comes from the fact that we imagine there are forces ready to attack us, things that escape from our power to understand.

Our fear arises from what we can’t grasp. What we don’t understand is actually what fills us with dread.
The moment we realize that things that go beyond our knowledge are not harmful, then the object of fear disappears.

Looking for a reason


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EN ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI: ¿Qué es un guerrero de la luz?
EM PORTUGUES CLICAR AQUI : As contradií§íµes do guerreiro
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What is a warrior of light?

Warriors of light keep the spark in their eyes.

They are in the world, are part of other people’s lives, and began their journey without a rucksack and sandals. They are often cowards. They don’t always act right.

Warriors of light suffer over useless things, have some petty attitudes, and at times feel they are incapable of growing. They frequently believe they are unworthy of any blessing or miracle.

Warriors of light are not always sure what they are doing here. Often they stay up all night thinking that their lives have no meaning.

Every warrior of light has felt the fear of joining in battle. Every warrior of light has once lost faith in the future.

Every warrior of light has once trodden a path that was not his/her. Every warrior of light has once felt that he/she was not a warrior of light. Every warrior of light has once failed in his/her spiritual obligations.

That is what makes them warriors of light; because they have has been through all this and have not lost the hope of becoming better.

That is why they are warriors of light.
Because they make mistakes.
Because they wonder.
Because they look for a reason – and they will certainly find one.

in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

Character of the week: Muhammad Ali


to Paulo, from Muhammad Ali

” I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.
At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.

I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.

If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is a former American boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion,

Parents and children

When I was young, my parents sent me to a mental institution three times ( 1966, 1967, 1968). The reasons in my medical files are banal. It was said that I was isolated, hostile and miserable at school. I was not crazy but I was rather just a 17-year-old who really wanted to become a writer. Because no one understood this, I was locked up for months and fed with tranquilizers. The therapy merely consisted of giving me electroshocks. I promised to myself that one day I would write about this experience, so young people will understand that we have to fight for our own dreams from a very early stage of our lives.

When I realeased “Veronika decides to die”, a book that was a metaphor of my experience in a lunatic asylum, the press started asking me if I forgave my parents. In fact, I did not need to forgive them, because I never blamed them for what happened. From their own point-of-view, they were trying to help me to get the discipline necessary to accomplish my deeds as an adult, and to forget the “dreams of a teenager” .

Khalil Gibran has an excellent text about parents and children:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.