Fifth deadly sin : Gluttony

According to the dictionary: feminine noun, from the Latin gula. Excessive eating and drinking, voracity, greediness.

According to the Catholic Church: Inordinate desire for pleasure related to food or drink. One should not appreciate foods that are bad for health. One should not pay more attention to food than to those that accompany us. Unjustified intoxication is a complete lack of sense and a mortal sin.

According to Peter de Vries: Gluttony is a disorder; it means that something is devouring us inside.

From the “Verba Seniorum” (The Wisdom of the Ancients): The Father Abbott was strolling with a monk from Sceta, when they were invited in to eat. The owner of the house, honored by the presence of the priests, gave orders to serve what was best.

However, the monk was fasting. When the food arrived, he picked out a pea and chewed it slowly. He ate nothing further.

Upon leaving, the Father Abbott said to him:

– Brother, when you visit someone, don’t make your holiness an insult. Next time you are fasting, don’t accept invitations to dinner.

Recipe for goose liver with truffles: Clean the goose livers impeccably, chop the liver and truffles into small cubes. Line entirely a small, high pie dish with several small strips of bacon (the strips should be very finely cut). Season with a little salt and pepper and scatter on top some small pieces of truffle. Place the remaining pieces of liver and truffle in successive layers. Seal the pie dish hermetically using a strip of pastry made of flour and water and bake the foie gras in a bain-marie in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Afterwards, place a weight on top to compress the mixture.

Hunger in the world: The number of hungry people in the developing countries should drop from the present 777 million to around 440 million in 2030. This means that the goal of the World Food Summit agreed upon in 1996, of cutting by half the number of hungry people compared with the levels found in 1990-92 (815 million), will not be achieved even in 2030. Sub-Saharan Africa is a reason for great concern because the number of chronically undernourished people will only fall probably from the present 194 million to 183 million in 2030 ( Source: FAO report – World agriculture: Toward 2015/2030)

In a Sufi fable: A baker wanted to meet Uways, so Uways went to the bakery disguised as a beggar. He began to eat a bread roll; the baker beat him and threw him out into the street.

– Madman! – said a disciple arriving – don’t you see that you threw out the master you wanted to know?

Contrite, the baker asked what he could do for him to forgive him. Uways asked him to invite him and his disciples to eat.

The baker took them to an excellent restaurant and ordered the most expensive dishes.

– That is how we distinguish the good man from the bad man – said Uways to the disciples, in the middle of lunch. This man is capable of spending ten gold coins on a banquet because I am famous, but he is incapable of giving a bread roll to feed a hungry beggar.

Comment from the Tao Te King: Thirty spokes are fitted together in the cube forming a wheel. But it is its middle empty space that allows the car to be used. Model some clay to make a vase. Cut out in the empty space of the walls doors and windows so that a room may be used.

In that way someone produces what is useful but it is the empty space that makes it effective.

How the city was pacified

How the city was pacified

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

As he was feared by all, but did not want to use his fame as a thug to make his point, at no moment did he try to convince anyone. 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.

Taking advantage of the multitude joined together in the square, Ahab read a series of laws to protect the farmers, stimulate cattle-raising and awarding whoever brought new business into the region, and added that from that day on they would have to find themselves an honest job or else move to another town. He never once mentioned the “monument” that he had just inaugurated; Ahab was a man who did not believe in threats.

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. Some time 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. After ten years, when law finally reigned in Viscos, Ahab had it destroyed and replaced by a cross.

Kazantzakis and God

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, emotions that are always beyond any explanation or logic”.

Ben Abuyah and learning

Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah used to say:

“Those who are open to life’s lessons and who nurture no prejudices are like a blank sheet of paper on which God writes his words with divine ink

“Those who are always looking on the world with cynicism and prejudice are like a sheet of paper already written upon and on which there is no room for new words.

“Don’t bother about what you already know, or what you don’t know. Don’t think about the past or the future, just let the divine hands write down each day the surprises of the present”.

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 )

20 sec reading: In search of the perfect leader


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EM PORTUGUES AQUI: Em busca do lider perfeito
EN ESPANOL AQUI: En busca del lider perfecto
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A reader sends me a questionnaire in which he presents the profile of three world leaders who lived in the same period of history, and asks if it is possible to choose the best one using the following data:

Candidate A was associated with witchdoctors and often consulted astrologists. He had two mistresses. His wife was a Lesbian. He smoked a lot. He drank eight to ten martinis a day.

Candidate B never managed to hold down a job because of his arrogance. He slept the whole morning. He used opium at school, and was always considered a bad student. He drank a glass of brandy every morning.

Candidate C was decorated a hero. A vegetarian, he did not smoke. His discipline was exemplary. He occasionally drank a beer. He stayed with the same woman during his moments of glory and defeat.

And what was the answer?

A] Franklin Delano Roosevelt. B] Winston Churchill. C] Adolf Hitler.

So what then is leadership? The encyclopedia defines it as an individual’s capacity to motivate others to seek the same objective. The bookstores are full of texts on this theme, and the leaders are normally portrayed in brilliant colors, with enviable qualities and supreme ideals. The leader is to society as the “master” is to spirituality. This, however, is not absolutely true (in either case).

Our big problem, especially in a world that is growing more and more fundamentalist, is not allowing people in prominent positions to commit human mistakes.
We are always in search of the perfect ruler. And we risk to have another madman like Hitler.
We are always looking for a pastor to guide and help us find our way.

The truth is that the great revolutions and the progress made by humanity were brought about by people just like us.
We only need to have the courage to make a key decision at a crucial moment.

30 SEC READ: Tell a story (ENG, ESPA, PORT)


Illustration by Ken Crane
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CLICK AQUI PARA LEER EN ESPANOL: Por que contar histórias
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CLICK AQUI PARA PORTUGUES: Contando histórias
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The great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, when he saw that the people in his village 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, following in his master’s footsteps, 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, when he saw the war approaching, 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 telling the story was enough for the danger to pass.

And I will add:
Tell your stories. Your neighbors may not understand you, but they will understand your soul. Stories are the last bridge left to allow different cultures to communicate among each other.

20 SEC READING: The lady in Copacabana #WorldHumanitarianDay

Today, August 18, ONU celebrates the World Humanitarian Day, and asked its Messengers of Peace to share a story.I decided to share a story of joy
EM PORTUGUES CLICAR AQUI: A velha em Copacabana
EN ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI: La señora en Copacabana

She was standing on the sidewalk of Atlíântica Avenue with a guitar and a hand-written sign that said:

“Let’s sing together.”

She began to play.

Then a drunk arrived, then another old lady and they began to sing along with her.

In a short time a small crowd was singing together and another small crowd played the audience, clapping hands at the end of each number.

“Why do you do this?” I asked between songs.

“I don’t want to be alone,” she said. “My life is very lonely, just like almost all old people.”

I wish they all could solve their problems in this way.

 #ShareHumanity   #WorldHumanitarianDay

Dieting already?

One of Brazil’s great philosophers, Tim Maia, once said: “I decided to go on a strict diet. I cut out alcohol, all fats and sugar. In two weeks I lost 14 days”.

The worst of it all is that at each and every moment there appears a new way to lose weight: eating calories, then not eating calories, compulsively consuming fats, then avoiding fats at any price. We step inside a pharmacy and are visually assaulted by all sorts of miraculous products that promise to do away with our desire to eat, with our fat tissue, with our belly, and so on.

We have survived all these millennia because we could eat. And nowadays this seems to have turned into a curse. Why is that? What makes us try at the age of 40 to keep the same body we had when we were young? Will it ever be at all possible to stop this dimension of time?

Of course not. And so why do we need to be slim?

We don’t. We buy books, go to the gym, devote a great deal of our concentration trying to stop time, when we ought to be celebrating the miracle of living in this world. Instead of wondering how to live better, we are obsessed with how much we weigh.

Let’s forget all that; you can read all the books you want, do all the exercise you want, suffer all the punishment you decide to inflict on yourself, and you will have only two choices – you either stop living, or else you will get fat.

It is obvious that you have to eat moderately, but above all you have to take pleasure in eating. Jesus Christ said that: “evil is not what goes into man’s mouth, but rather what comes out of it”.

Remember that for thousands of years we fought to avoid being hungry. Who invented this story that we have to spend our whole life being slim?

Let me give you the answer: the vampires of the soul, who think that it is possible to stop the wheel of time. It is not possible. Use the energy and the effort of a diet to feed yourself with the bread of the spirit, and go on enjoying (moderately, let me repeat) the pleasures of good eating.

While millions of people the world over are hungry, we see people provoking this other obsession because at some moment or other somebody decides that being slim is the only option for regaining youth and beauty.

Instead of artificially burning those calories, we should try to turn them into the energy we need to fight for our dreams; no-one has ever stayed slim for long just by following a diet.

The law as a metaphor

I am someone who believes in the judicial system despite all the drawbacks we see. The United States Supreme Court disqualifying torture as an interrogation method, for example, even when the president of the country and his VP have, through legal artifices, tried to justify it.

Nonetheless, my belief is not shared by many people. A lawyer friend said to me that, “the law is not made to solve problems, but to prolong them indefinitely.” Just to exercise my imagination, I decided to use his theory to analyze Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

If God were alive today, we would all still be in Paradise. He, however, would still be replying to pleas, appeals, letters, court injunctions or writs; He would be required to explain his decision to expel Adam and Eve from Paradise just for breaking the arbitrary law of refraining from the evil fruit, without any legal grounds at countless hearings.

If He hadn’t wanted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, why did he put that tree in the middle of the Garden and not outside the walls of Paradise? If an experienced lawyer were called to defend the couple, he could allege the theory of “administrative omission.” Besides putting the tree in the wrong place, he didn’t surround it with notices and fences, failing to take the minimum safety measures and therefore exposing all who passed by to danger.

Another lawyer might accuse him of “inducement to crime”; He drew the attention of Adam and Eve to the exact place where the tree was growing. If He had not said anything, generations and generations would have passed through this Earth without anyone being interested in the forbidden fruit – considering that it should have been in a forest, full of similar trees, and, therefore lacking any specific merit.

But Genesis happened before the judicial system and, therefore, allowed God to have full freedom of action. He wrote a single law, and found a way of convincing someone to break it, just to be able to invent Punishment. He knew that Adam and Eve would end up bored with so many perfect things, and, sooner or later, would try His patience. He stayed there waiting, because He – Almighty God – was also bored with things working perfectly. If Eve had not eaten the apple, what interesting things would have happened in those billions of years?

Nothing.

When the law was broken, God – the All Powerful Judge – had even simulated a pursuit, as if he did not know all the possible hiding places. With the angels watching and amusing themselves with the prank (life for them also must have been very tedious, since Lucifer had left Heaven), He finds Adam.

“Where art thou?” God asked, already knowing the answer. He did not warn him about the consequences of the reply. He did not say the well-known words that we have heard so often in movies, “anything you say may be used against you”.

“I heard your steps in the garden, I was afraid and hid, because I am naked”, answered Adam, without knowing that, from then on, he would be the admitted culprit of a crime.

Well. Through a simple trick, where he seemed not to know where Adam was, nor the reason for his escape, God had managed to get what he wanted. He expelled the couple, and their children ended up paying for the crime as well (as happens until today with the children of criminals), and the judicial system had been invented; law, breaking the law, judgment and punishment.

Cobwebs

When I was travelling the road to Rome, one of the four sacred roads in my magical tradition, I realised, after almost twenty days spent entirely alone, that I was in a much worse state than when I had started.
In my solitude, I began to have mean, nasty, ignoble feelings.

I sought out my guide to the road and told her about this. I said that when I had set out on that pilgrimage, I had thought I would grow closer to God, but that, after three weeks, I was feeling a great deal worse.

‘You are getting better, don’t worry,’ she said.
‘The fact is that when we turn on our inner light, the first thing we see are the cobwebs and the dust, our weak points.

“They were there already, it’s just that you couldn’t see them in the darkness. Now it will be much easier for you to clean out your soul.’

The future becoming present


 

From now on – and for some centuries to come – the Universe will help the warriors of the light, and boycott all those who are full of prejudices about people who dare to follow their dreams.

The energy of the Earth needs renovating.

New ideas need space.

The body and the soul need new challenges.

The future becomes present and all the dreams – except those that involve prejudices – will enjoy the chance to manifest themselves.

Whatever is important will remain; whatever is useless will disappear.

For that reason, when lots of people gather to give their opinion on how we should act or behave, we must ignore them, as our life on Earth leaves us no time for explaining everything we do.

And we must also avoid commenting on the behavior of others: in order to have faith in our own path, we have no need to prove that the path of the other is wrong.

Those who act like this have no trust in their own steps.

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in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

Cannes: a model’s routine

In order to write the book “The Winner is alone”, the main theme of which is the cult of celebrities, I had to do some interesting research into the routine of those women who inhabit the collective imagination: photographer’s models. However different they may be, what follows is an invariable pattern of behavior among them:

A] Before going to bed they use several creams to clean the pores and keep the skin hydrated – from an early age making the organism dependent on foreign elements. They wake up, drink a cup of black coffee without any sugar, and some fruit with fibers – so that the food that they ingest during the rest of the day passes quickly through the intestines. They climb on the scales three to four times a day and become depressed by each excessive gram denounced by the needle.

B] They are all aware that they will soon be upstaged by new faces and new tendencies, and they need urgently to show that their talent goes beyond the catwalks. They are constantly pleading with their agents to arrange a test for them so that they can show that they are capable of working as actresses – which is their big dream.

C] Unlike what the legend claims, they pay for their expenses – travel, hotel, and all those salads. They are invited by fashion designers’ assistants to do what they call casting, to select those who will be picked to face the catwalk or pose for a photo session. At that moment they are in front of people who are invariably ill-humored and use the little power they have to pour out their daily frustrations and never say a nice or encouraging word: “horrible” is the comment most commonly heard.

D] Their parents are proud of the daughter that has begun so well, and regret having ever said they were against that career – after all, she is earning money and helping the family. Their boyfriends have fits of jealousy, but control themselves because it’s good for the ego to be with a fashion model. Their girlfriends envy them secretly (or openly).

E] They go to all the parties they are invited to, and behave as if they were far more important than they actually are, which is a symptom of insecurity. They always have a glass of champagne in their hand, but this is just part of the image that they want to send out. They know that alcohol contains elements that can affect their weight, so their favorite drink is mineral water (still – although the gas does not affect the weight, it does have immediate consequences for the contour of the stomach).

G] They sleep badly due to the pills. They hear stories about anorexia – the most common disease in the milieu, a kind of nervous disturbance caused by obsession with weight and appearance which eventually educates the organism and rejects any type of food. They say that this won’t happen to them. But they never notice when the first symptoms appear.

H] They go directly from childhood to the world of luxury and glamour without passing through adolescence and youth. When asked about their plans for the future, they always have the answer on the tip of their tongue: “I want to go to university and study philosophy. I’m just doing this to be able to pay for my studies”. They know that this isn’t true. They can’t afford to attend school: there’s always a test in the morning, a photo session in the afternoon, a party which they have to attend to be seen, admired and desired.

People think they lead a fairytale life. And they want to believe this. Until some more curious writer decides not to give up, and questions a bit further. After a great deal of hesitating, they eventually say: “I was born to be an actress. So I am capable of pretending that this miserable life is the most glamorous profession in the world”.

The measure of love

“I have always wanted to know if I was able to love like you do,” said the disciple of a Hindu master.

“There is nothing beyond love,” answered the master. “It’s love that keeps the world going round and the stars hanging in the sky.”

“I know all that. But how can I know if my love is great enough?”

“Try to find out if you abandon yourself to love or if you flee from your emotions. But don’t ask questions like that because love is neither great nor small. You can’t measure a feeling like you measure a road: if you act like that you will see only your reflection, like the moon in a lake, but you won’t be following your path.”

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: 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.
 
 
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in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

The waterfall effect

The warrior knows about the ‘waterfall effect’.

He has often seen someone mistreating another person who lacks the courage to respond.
Then, out of cowardice and resentment, that person vents his anger on someone weaker than himself,
who takes it out on someone else,
in a veritable torrent of misery.

No one knows the consequences of his own cruelty.
That is why the warrior is careful in his use of the sword and only accepts an opponent who is worthy of him.

In moments of rage, he punches a rock and bruises his hand.
The hand will heal eventually, but the child who got beaten because his father lost a battle will bear the marks for the rest of his life

in The Warrior of the Light: a Manual

The waterfall effect

The warrior knows about the ‘waterfall effect’.
He has often seen someone mistreating another person who lacks the courage to respond.

Then, out of cowardice and resentment, that person vents his anger on someone weaker than himself, who takes it out on someone else, in a veritable torrent of misery.
No one knows the consequences of his own cruelty.

That is why the warrior is careful in his use of the sword and only accepts an opponent who can fight with him.
In moments of rage, he punches a rock and bruises his hand.

The hand will heal eventually, but the child who got beaten because his father lost a battle will bear the marks for the rest of his life

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What is happiness?

This is a question that has not bothered me for a long time, precisely because I don’t know how to answer it.

Some people seem to be happy: they just do not think about it. Others make plans: “I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, and a house in the country”. While this keeps them occupied, they are like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they don’t think, they just keep moving forward. They manage to get their car – sometimes even a Ferrari – and they think that the meaning of life lies there, so they never ask the question. Yet, despite all that, their eyes betray a sadness that they themselves are quite unaware of.

I don’t know if everyone is unhappy. I do know that people are always busy: working overtime, looking after the kids, the husband, the career, the university degree, what to do tomorrow, what they need to buy, whatever it is they need to have in order not to feel inferior, and so on.

Few people have ever told me: “I’m unhappy”. Most say: “I’m fine, I’ve managed to get all I ever wanted”.

So then I ask: “What makes you happy?”

They answer: “I have everything that a person can dream of – a family, a home, work, good health”.

I insist: “So the meaning of life is work, the family, children who grow up and leave you, a wife or husband who will become more like a friend than a true love-mate. And one day the work will come to an end. What will you do when that happens?”

They answer: there is no answer. They change the subject.

And we survived…


I have received three litres of products that substitute milk.

A Norwegian company wants to know if I’m interested in investing in the production of this new type of food, because, according to the opinion of an expert, David Rietz, ‘ALL (the capital letters are his) cow’s milk has 59 active hormones and substantial amount of fat, cholesterol, dioxins, bacteria and viruses.’
I think of calcium, which ever since I was a child, I heard my mother say was good for the bones, but the expert anticipated my thought: ‘Calcium? How are the cows able to acquire sufficient calcium for their voluminous bone structure? From the plants!’

Of course, the new product is made from plants, and milk is condemned based on innumerable studies done at the most diverse institutes spread throughout the world.

And its proteins? David Rietz is implacable: ‘I know that people call milk the liquid meat (I never heard that expression, but he must know what he is talking about) due to its high amount of protein.

But it is the protein that makes calcium not able to be absorbed by the organism. Countries with a rich diet in proteins also show a high index of osteoporosis (lack of calcium in our bones).’

On that same afternoon, I receive a text my wife found on the Internet: ‘Those who are between 40 and 60 years old today drove cars with children sat lose on the back seat, having fun and jumping around.

I, for example, am part of a generation that built the legendary soapbox cars (I don’t know how to explain this to today’s generation – let’s say the ‘roller-skate wheels’ were metal balls fixed between two iron rings) and we would descend the steep streets of Botafogo, using our shoes as brakes, falling, hurting, but proud of the high-speed adventure.

Children were never right, they were always grounded, and that didn’t mean they had psychological problems of rejection or lack of love. In school there were good and bad students: the first went on to the next stage, the latter failed.

Psychotherapists weren’t sought out to study these cases – those who failed would just repeat the year.

And even so we survived despite some scratched knees and a few traumas. We not only survived, but we remember the time when milk wasn’t poison, when children would solve their problems without help, fight when necessary, and spend great part of the day without electronic games, inventing children’s plays with their friends.

But let’s go back to the initial issue of this column: I decided to try the new product that substitutes the killer milk. I couldn’t drink the second sip. I asked my wife and our housemaid to taste it without saying what it was, and both of them said they had never tasted anything so bad in their lives.

I’m concerned about the children of tomorrow, with their electronic games, parents with cell phones, psychotherapists helping out at every defeat, and – over all – having to drink this ‘magic potion’ that will keep them without cholesterol, osteoporosis, 59 active hormones, and toxins.

They’ll live with great health, considerable balance, and when they grow up they will discover milk (at this point, possibly an illegal beverage). Who knows a scientist of 2050 will take upon himself to rescue something that had been consumed since the beginning of times?

Or will milk only be obtained through drug dealers?

Things as they are

Of course things don’t always happen they way we wish they would. There are moments in which we feel we are seeking something that is not meant for us, knocking on doors that don’t open, waiting for miracles that don’t manifest themselves.

Fortunately that is the way things are – if everything went the way we wanted, soon we would no longer have anything to write about, nothing to guide our daily thoughts. This script serves our dreams as nourishment, but to our battles as energy. And as it always happens with the warriors that spend all their energy in the Good Fight, there are moments in which it is best to relax and believe that the Universe is still working for us secretly, even if we cannot comprehend it.

And so, let us allow the Soul of the World to fulfill its mission, and if we can’t help, the best way to collaborate is to pay attention to the simple things in life; the sunset, the people in the street, the reading of a book.

However, in many cases, time continues passing and nothing exceptional happens. But the true warrior of light believes. Just like children believe.

Because they believe in miracles, the miracles begin to happen.

Because they are certain that their thoughts can change their lives, their lives begin to change.

Because they are certain they will find love, this love appears.

Sometimes they are disappointed. Sometimes they feel hurt.

Then they hear the comments, “you are so naí¯ve!”

But the warrior knows it is worth the price. To each defeat, there are two conquests in his favor.

Religions and Sin

Christianity: The Chess Game

A young man said to the abbot from the monastery, “I’d actually like to be a monk, but I haven’t learned anything in life. All my father taught me was to play chess, which does not lead to enlightenment. Apart from that, I learned that all games are a sin.

“They may be a sin but they can also be a diversion, and who knows, this monastery needs a little of both,” was the reply.

The abbot asked for a chessboard, sent for a monk, and told him to play with the young man.

But before the game began, he added, “Although we need diversion, we cannot allow everyone to play chess the whole time. So, we have the best players here; if our monk loses, he will leave the monastery and his place will be yours.”

The abbot was serious. The young man knew he was playing for his life, and broke into a cold sweat; the chessboard became the center of the world.

The monk began badly. The young man attacked, but then saw the saintly look on the other man’s face; at that moment, he began playing badly on purpose. After all, a monk is far more useful to the world.

Suddenly, the abbot threw the chessboard to the floor.

“You have learned far more than was taught you,” he said. “You concentrated yourself enough to win, were capable of fighting for your desire. Then, you had compassion, and were willing to make a sacrifice in the name of a noble cause. Welcome to the monastery, because you know how to balance discipline with compassion.”

Judaism: Forgiving in the Same Spirit

The Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl was always being insulted by a shopkeeper. One day, the latter’s business began to go badly.

“It must be the Rabbi, who is asking for God’s revenge,” he thought. He went to ask for Nahum’s forgiveness.

“I forgive you in the same spirit you ask for forgiveness.” replied the Rabbi.

But the man’s losses just kept increasing, until he was reduced to misery. Nahum’s horrified disciples went to ask him what had happened.

“I forgave him, but he continued to hate me deep down in his heart.” said the Rabbi. “Therefore, his hatred contaminated everything he did, and God’s punishment became more and more severe.”

Islamism: Where God Is

At a small Moroccan village an imam was thinking about the only well of the entire region. Another Muslim approached him and asked:

“What is in there?”

“God is hidden in there.”

“God is hidden inside this well? That is a sin! What you may be seeing is an image left by the unfaithful!”

The imam asked him to get closer and lean out on the edge. Reflected on the water, he could see his own face.

“But that is me!”

“Right. Now you know where God is hidden.”