The circle of joy

EM PORTUGUES AQUI: O circulo da alegria
EN ESPANOL AQUI : El circulo de alegria

Illustration by Ken Crane
And old story tells that one day, a countryman knocked hard on a monastery door. When the monk tending the gates opened up, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes.

– Brother, these are the finest my vineyard has produced. I’ve come to bear them as a gift.

– Thank you! I will take them to the Abbot immediately, he’ll be delighted with this offering.

– No! I brought them for you. For whenever I knock on the door, it is you opens it. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed by drought, you gave me a piece of bread and a cup of wine every day.

The monk held the grapes and spent the entire morning admiring it. And decided to deliver the gift to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.

The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but he recalled that there was a sick brother in the monastery, and thought:

“I’ll give him the grapes. Who knows, they may bring some joy to his life.”

And that is what he did. But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long, for he reflected:

“The cook has looked after me for so long, feeding me only the best meals. I’m sure he will enjoy these.”

The cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes. So perfect that no one would appreciate them more than the sexton; many at the monastery considered him a holy man, he would be best qualified to value this marvel of nature.

The sexton, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the youngest novice, that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of Creation. When the novice received them, he remembered the first time he came to the monastery, and of the person who had opened the gates for him; it was that gesture which allowed him to be among this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.

And so, just before nightfall, he took the grapes to the monk at the gates.

– Eat and enjoy them – he said. – For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.

The monk understood that the gift had been truly destined for him, and relished each of the grapes, before falling into a pleasant sleep.

Thus the circle was closed; the circle of happiness and joy, which always shines brightly around generous people.


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The importance of joy

By Paulo Coelho

Al Husayn asked Ibn Muhammad:

– Do you think the great prophet of our religion, Mohammed, knew how to tell amusing tales?

Ibn Muhammad replied:

– God sent our prophet with the gift of joy. He had sent other messengers before, who suffered and spoke the language of pain; Mohammed came to relieve his people’s woes.

“And one of the ways he encountered, was just that of teaching them to play and enjoy themselves. He did this in order to keep his men united in one ideal and plan. My father, who knew the Prophet, heard him say: “God hates all those who show sad faces to their friends.”

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What pleases God

By Paulo Coelho

On the Torah’s day of joy, Ball-Shem’s pupils celebrated, drinking the master’s wine. The rabbi’s wife complained:

“If they drink all the wine, there won’t be any for the ceremony,” she said.

“Put an end to the party,” replied the rabbi.

The woman went to the room where the pupils were drinking. But as soon as she opened the door, she changed her mind and went back to her husband.

“Why didn’t you do anything?” asked Baal-Shem.

“Because they danced, sang and were so full of joy for life,”, replied his wife. “I hadn’t the courage.”

“You have understood: this is how God receives the gratitude of his people – seeing they are content. Go there and serve my disciples more wine,” concluded the rabbi.

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Reflections of an explorer of Kanchenjunga

By Paulo Coelho

By an explorer of mount Kanchenjunga:

“I climbed the highest mountain in my land, and could see the whole world around it. While I was there, I could see more that I can put into words, and understood more than I can express.

“If, however, I were to better define what those moments high up on Kanchenjunga really meant, I would say: seen from high up, all things – rivers, trees, snow, grass – seem as one, and my heart was filled with joy, because I was part of everything. When I understood this, even alone on the top of a mountain, I understood that I was close to all things on this Earth.”

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

Remember that the first direct route to God is prayer.
The second direct route is joy.
(Brida)

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Conversation with the master – The personal legend

By Paulo Coelho

(Here I continue to reproduce excerpts from talks with my master, from 1982 to 1990)

– What is the Personal Legend?

– It is your blessing, the path God has chosen for you here on Earth. Whenever a man does that which gives him enthusiasm, he is following his Legend. However, not everyone has the courage to face up to his own dreams.

– Why is that?

– There are four obstacles. The first: he has heard, right from childhood, that everything he wishes to live is impossible. He grows up with this idea, and as he acquires age, he also accumulates layers of prejudices, fears, guilt. There comes a time when his Personal Legend is so deeply buried within his soul, he can no longer see it. But it is still there.

“If he has the courage to unearth his dreams, he then faces a second obstacle: love. He now knows what he desires to do, but he thinks he will harm those around him, if he gives everything up to follow his dreams. He does not understand that love is an additional impulse, not something which hinders one from going forward. He does not understand that those who truly wish him well are longing for his happiness, and are ready to accompany him on this adventure.

“After accepting love as a stimulus, a man faces the third obstacle: the fear of the defeats he will encounter along the way. A man who fights for his dream suffers far more when something doesn’t go well, because he cannot use the famous excuse: “oh, well in fact that wasn’t exactly what I wanted anyway…” He does want it, and knows he is putting everything into it, and also that the Personal Legend is just as difficult as any other path – the difference being that your heart is present on this journey. So, a warrior of the light must be prepared to be patient at difficult times, and know that the Universe is conspiring in his favor, even if he does not understand how.

– Are the defeats necessary?

– Whether necessary or not, they occur. When he begins fighting for his dreams, man has no experience, and makes many mistakes. But the secret in life is to fall seven times, and rise up eight times.

– Why is it important to live the Personal Legend, if we are to suffer just as much as others?

– Because after having overcome the defeats – and we always overcome them – we feel much more euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know we are worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the Good Combat. We begin to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Very intense and unexpected suffering begins passing faster than apparently tolerable suffering: that drags on for years, eroding our soul without us noticing what is happening – until one day we can no longer free ourselves of the bitterness, and it accompanies us for the rest of our lives.

– And what is the fourth obstacle?

– After unearthing your dream, using the power of love for support, spending many years with the scars, a man realizes – from one day to the next – that everything he always wanted is right there, waiting for him, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream he has fought for all his life.

– That makes no sense.

– Oscar Wilde said that we always destroy the thing we love the most. And it is true. The simple possibility of achieving that which we desire causes the soul of the common man to be filled with guilt. He looks around, and sees many others who have not succeeded, and so he thinks he does not deserve it. He forgets everything he overcame, all he suffered, everything he had to renounce in order to come this far. I know many people who, when they are within reach of their Personal Legend, make a series of silly mistakes and do not attain their objective – when it was just one step away.

“This is the most dangerous of the obstacles, because it has a certain aura of sanctity about it: to renounce to joy and the conquest. But if the man is worthy of that which he has fought so hard for, he then becomes an instrument of God, aids the Soul of the World, and understands why he is there”.

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