In search of truth

The devil was talking to his friends when they noticed a man walking along a road. They watched him pass and saw that he bent down to pick something up.

– What did he find? – asked one of the friends.

– A piece of Truth – answered the devil.

The friends were very concerned. After all, a piece of Truth might save that man’s soul – one less in Hell. But the devil remained unmoved, gazing at the view.

– Aren’t you worried? – said one of his companions.

– He found a piece of Truth!

– I’m not worried – answered the devil.

– Do you know what he’ll do with the piece?
As usual, he’ll create a new religion. And he’ll succeed in distancing even more people from the whole Truth.

10 SEC READING: Where the truth is


Illustration by Ken Crane

“Some disciples are always asking where the truth is,” said Maal-El.
 
“So one day I decided to point in one direction, trying to show them how important it is to follow a path, and not just to think about it.

“Instead of looking in the direction I had pointed, the man who had asked the question started examining my finger, trying to find out where the truth was hidden.

“When people seek out a master, they should be looking for experiences which can help them avoid certain obstacles.
“But unfortunately, reality is different: they adopt the law of minimum effort, trying to find answers to everything.”
 

“The person who accepts, without question, the truths of his master, will never find his/her own path.”

 
 

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

It’s not easy being a human being, and we’re not capable to rule everything in life. A fatalistic belief can be helpful. But you say everybody can influence their own destiny. What was it in your own life that convinced you?

The absolute conviction that my life would be meaningless if I didn’t go after my dream: being a writer.

This happened to me when I was locked away in an asylum when I was a teenager. I had two choices back then: to convince myself that I was crazy and therefore step out of the world, or to fight for my place in the world. I choose the toughest : life.

Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.
A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.

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Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

It seems that in the first half of the story, Athena was searching for herself and seeking for self-realization, but after the incident at Portobello, her goal has changed to carry out her own mission. What is the change of the thoughts underlining such transition.

Athena is trying to reach a deeper understanding of herself, but in this process she also learns to live with the mystery, with the unanswered questions. This is how the transition begins. She is learning to live with her “empty spaces”, traits of her personality that defy a certain logic, that can’t be expressed in words. You see, the whole problem is not about having empty spaces, but about admitting that they exist.

Today’s society is so preoccupied about coherence that many get trapped in the misconception that all is explainable. Society tries to convince us that we have to be completely transparent, not only to world but to ourselves. There is where the danger lies. It’s necessary to admit that some things can’t be grasped, that our empty spaces exist and that we have to respect and honor the mystery.

Once you start honoring that – that’s when your quest becomes your mission.

A week in my life

An ordinary week

Of course this is only in the realm of the so-called “reality”. There is a lot more in my imagination!

SUNDAY

A] Driving to Geneve alone. Six hours and no important conclusion, decision. A couple of phone calls using the Bluetooth device in the car; people cannot hear me, although I can hear them. I asked a friend where the car micro is. He gave me the wrong instructions, as his model is different from mine. I stopped making phone calls. Controlling myself to not think about work, as I am a workaholic, and I made a promise of never thinking about work on Sundays.

B] Gas Station. A fantastic collection of handmade metal models – cars, boats, etc. I always stop in this gas station, and I always check who made these models. Finally, during the week, I managed to send them an email. Hope they will send the catalog. If they do, I will buy 100 pieces and put in my empty shelves.

C] Shower. Nap. Dinner with a friend. She tells me that a man she was dating only wants to make love to her, nothing else. I don’t know what to say.

MONDAY

A] The alarm clock rings at 10:15 – and as a Plan B (Virgos always have a Plan B) the wake up service calls my room. New cowboy boots, bought in Paris – and I am going to a meeting as a Board Member of the Schwab Foundation. Shall I go with these boots, red, white and black? Yes.

B ] Meeting a friend who works in finance for a late breakfast. What is going to happen to the financial markets? He has many answers. I pretend that I believe in what he is telling me, but it seems that everybody is lost in this field. He asks me to sign two books – one being my biography (which I did not write). Nice person. But the financial market is a casino. I don’t have a single cent in any of these funds, bonds, etc. Advantages of being a Virgo: you don’t take financial risks.

C ] Lunch before the Board Meeting. I ask: what is the situation in Georgia? Nobody wants to talk about Georgia. They love my cowboy boots.

D] Board meeting. Very professional, and no stress at all. I love participating, and I learn a lot. This is one of the two Boards that I attend on a regular basis.

E] I forget the documents at the roof of the car, so when I leave the place and turn left, all papers fell in the road. I stop and start collecting the papers. Another board member is leaving, and asks me if I need help. No, it is too dangerous to collect all these sheets in a road full of cars up and down. I will take this risk alone.

F ] Driving back – it took me 30 minutes to fulfill the task on “E”, therefore I will arrive in Paris after 10:00 PM. Calling Monica (please cancel Berlin and Praha, because of the Frankfurt Book Fair – I just learned that I will open the Fair). Calling Alexander (What do you think about the event in St. Moritz?). Calling Paula, welcoming her back to work, and asking her to check why don’t I have comments on myspace (later she tells me that there is another button to approve comments, and there were over 100 to be approved – it is not in the “In” box anymore). Calling Monica: shall we meet in Paris or Barcelona? Paris, she says.

G] Lots of things to think: how to promote The Experimental Witch. How to publish unpublished texts for internet users only (it will take another week to see the first copies online). The postcards in my blog. The meaning of life. The rest is silence, as Hamlet says.

H] Arriving in Paris around 11:00 PM. Expecting to have tons of things waiting for me, because I travelled! To another country! But there is only a few letters and two boxes. I realized that I travelled for a little more than 24 hs.

I] Dinner, computer, downloading “American History X”. Answering emails. In bed around 2:00 AM, reading “McMafia”, on parallel governments.

TUESDAY

A] Breakfast at 10:00. Coffee, milk, orange juice, bread, olive oil. It is always like this, even when I am in hotels.

B] Internet: checking some clippings on my work. Emails to be answered: after many filters, some land in my private mailbox – normally from friends. There are a couple of permission to quote me in books, etc (all of them granted). Interview (by email) to Finland, where a newspaper is going to publish my columns. Reading the news – they are the same, but I still read them.

C] Walking for one hour with Paula – she just returned from vacations. She is going to get married in October.

D] Back to edit books that I plan to put in my blog for free download or to be published on demand. I have so far three titles. We are still testing. Recording a video for a portal. Deciding which day I will record another video on Peace ( next week). Reading an interview of an stupid actor, David Thewlis, in a free metro newspaper, saying that his work in “Veronika decides to die”(to be released next year), where he plays a secondary role, was just “a two week work”. I take it personal. Then I read the rest of the interview, and he is complaining about nearly everything he did in life. I am not taking it personally anymore.

E] Archery. Shower. Internet.

E] I forgot where I had dinner. Watch “Welcome to Sarajevo”. Reading “Herald Tribune” while eating toasts.

WEDNESDAY

A] Same as A, B, C above – except that this time I walked with Maarit, a friend from Myspace that happens to be in Paris. First time that we meet, great person.

B] Monica, my agent, arrives. We talk from 3:00 PM to 2:00 AM in the morning: publication schedule of “Winner stands alone”, Frankfurt, her 40th birthday (I hope I convinced her that it would be more fun to have a party at her apt, instead of hiring a place). The talk takes place at my apt, a café, a bench in the street, back to the apt (Monica hates walking), dinner. I tell her that I am tired – she looks fresh at 2:15 AM, and it was her who had to face this new torture chamber called “airport”.

THURSDAY

A] Same as A, B, above – except that I have breakfast with Monica. Nothing better than a good night sleep to realize some things that were not clear.

B] Monica leaves, back to Barcelona. And I am back to emails, clippings, decisions, permissions, etc.

C] Juliette comes to get the sound system that Monty Shadow gave me as a gift while I was in St. Moritz. It is called Meridian, looks like a toaster, but it is very powerful – they made a demonstration during a dinner for 250 people, and everybody could hear loud and clear. Juliette needs to borrow it for her husband 40th birthday (it seems that everybody around me is turning 40 this year).

D] Walk for one hour. Sandwich. Nap. Archery. Internet again.

E] Writing my weekly column. Reading that The Experimental Witch got an important prize, even before the film is edited. (the prize is about the concept of working with the readers). I want to put in my social communities. But they say I cannot talk about the prize till the final week of September – it is secret.

F] Dinner with Chris. Watching “The Hunting Party”. Reading “McMafia” and “Herald Tribune”. Eating toasts while reading.

FRIDAY

A] Same as A, B, D above. Deciding that I am going to cancel nearly all professional trips and spend more time in Rio, Geneve and Paris. I told Monica I want to give less interviews. She said Madonna gave an interview to Charles de Gaulle airport magazine, so why should I be different? Still, I will be much more selective in accepting interviews (I am already, Monica says, there is no way to convince her).

B] Going to Champ de Mars and reading Herald Tribune there. Spending the rest of the afternoon watching people. It seems that everybody is talking in his/her mobile, or taking pictures.

C] Dinner in Akasaka, a Japanese restaurant, with Paula and Chris. Eating the same – every time I go to a restaurant, I eat the same thing I eat before. Not very creative.

D] Watching “American History X”. Normally, when Paula likes a movie, Chris and I hate. In this case, for he first time, our opinions coincide.

E] McMafia. When will I go to finish this book?

SATURDAY

A] Same as A, B, D above. Paula said during the dinner in the previous night: “you should be more personal in your posts”. I decided to write the what happens in the “real” world, although my world goes beyond this reality.

B] Going to a museum for the first time in four months. Museum Branly: features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Oceania, and Americas. Thinking that there is something wrong with contemporary art, these people can do much better than the icons of today. But then Monica and Chris said that I am too critical, and I should stop this.

C] Following Paula’s advice: nearly one hour to write this post. If I had to talk about what is going on in my mind during this week, it would take the whole day.

D] Posting and going to watch “Blow”(2007), with Johnny Deep. Good night.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

The best-selling book, The Alchemist was published in 1988. It was supported by nearly hundred million readers. What do you think is the reason for the success? What do you think the current readers are seeking?

Regarding my success, I really don’t know why my characters are so popular in different parts of the world and in different cultures.

I don’t have a ready-made formula to apply when I embark on a new book, but I’m always controlled by many elements: discipline, compassion and a sincere eagerness to understand myself.

When I start a new book, I try to approach myself from a different angle. In The Alchemist, for example, I was trying to explain to myself what writing meant to me. The way I found to do this was through a metaphor.

In Eleven Minutes, I started with the question of why sexuality is considered one of the major issues in life. But I had my doubts. And that’s why the hero asks if it’s true that the world could revolve around 11 minutes. I talked a lot about sexual relations in the novel, but in the end I doubt if the world really revolves around sex.

In The Zahir, on the other hand, there is a kind of a snapshot of my present moment as a famous writer. The novel is full of comments on what it means to be rich and famous, on the nature of marriage and the responsibilities of the writer.

In my latest book, The Witch of Portobello I wanted to explore the feminine side of divinity, I wanted to plunge into the heart of the Great Mother.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

Please share us your daily life such as your writing style, your current thing of interest, and how do you spend your day.

I travel constantly so days are never the same. Nevertheless I do have some “rituals”: when I wake up I like having my breakfast and then going out for a walk. Walking for me is vital and the one things that I can’t live without.

I agree with the teachings of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who said that: “when you walk, you are massaging and honouring the earth. In the same way, the earth is trying to help you to balance your organism and mind. Understand this relationship and try to respect it – may your steps have the firmness of a lion, the elegance of a tiger and the dignity of an emperor.”

Normally in the afternoons I spend hours navigating the web: I consult my blog (www.paulocoelhoblog.com), my myspace (www.myspace.com/paulocoelho ) I read newspapers from the world, I write my stories. I also quite often give interviews. At 6 pm on the dot, I pray since for me this is the magical hour of the day. After that, I like having diner with my wife & friends. Before going to bed, I read.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

How was your childhood? We know that you have entered Jesuits school at the age of 7 but had a question toward religion at one time in your life. Would you please tell us about the question and the pain you had?

My family was very strict and my father sent me to the Jesuit school so that I could have real discipline.

The chains of rigor were so heavy throughout my youth that very quickly I started to doubt this religion that showed no mercy, only constraint and suffering.

I remember being obliged to attend mess and the constant threats of hell in the mouth of the priests. Everything was sin, everything was forbidden, joy was ruled out.

I think that my rebellion was what saved me: I doubted about Catholicism, and felt that I must try something new. Later on, in my teenager years, I became a hippie. During this time, I traveled a lot, met people of different backgrounds, and had learnt different paths to come closer to spirituality. I started to see other paths and started to see that my own religion wasn’t restricted to the Jesuit perception.

After I did a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, I returned to the Catholic faith – just because it is in my blood, not because it is the best religion.

I don’t think you can put God in a church. God is everywhere. All religions have advantages and disadvantages.

Furthermore I don’t think love is at odds with Christianity. Jesus message was above all a message of love to humanity.

God is–as William Blake said–in a grain of sand and in a flower. This energy is everywhere.

Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

Life moves very fast.
It rushes us from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds.
(Eleven Minutes)

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Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

There are numbers of people who believe that “by telling other people to have faith in their dreams will get people tied up to romantic imagination and overlook the true factors of life.” How do you feel about this idea?

What do they mean by true factors of life? I would like to quote John Lennon: “life is what happens when you are busy making plans”

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light – Finding allies

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior knows that no man is an island, isolated in the middle of the ocean.

He knows that he cannot fight alone; whatever his plan, he will always depend on other people. He must discuss his strategy, ask for help and – during times of rest – have someone to tell stories of combat around the fire.

But he does not allow people to mistake his camaraderie with insecurity. He is transparent in his actions, and secret in his plans.

A warrior of the light dances with his companions, but does not transfer the responsibility of his steps to anyone.

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Reflections of the Warrior of the Light – The small things

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light pays attention to small things, because they can get in the way.

A thorn, however small, causes the traveler to interrupt his journey. A small and invisible cell can destroy a healthy organism. The memory of an instant of fear in the past, can often cause cowardice to return each morning. A fraction of a second is enough to lower the guard for the enemy’s fatal blow.

The warrior is attentive to small things. Sometimes he is hard on himself, but he prefers to act in this way.

“The devil resides in small things,” says an old proverb of the Tradition.

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Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

We need to forget what we think we are, so that we can really become what we are.

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The stories of the desert priests

By Paulo Coelho

During the early part of the Christian era, the monastery at Scete became a center where many people gathered. After renouncing everything they had, they went to live in the desert surrounding the monastery. Many of the teachings of these men have been collected and published in numerous books.

The town on the far side

A hermit from the monastery of Scete went to Abbot Theodore:

– I know precisely the objective of life. I know what God asks of man, and I know the best way of serving Him. Even so, I am incapable of doing everything I should in order to serve the Lord.

Abbot Theodore remained silent for a time. Finally, he said:

– You know that there is a city on the far side of the ocean. But you haven’t yet found the ship, nor have you loaded your bags, nor crossed the sea. Why spend time commenting on what it is like, or how one should walk through its streets?

“Knowing the objective of life, or recognizing the best way of serving the Lord is not enough. Put into practice that which you think, and the way will be revealed all by itself.”

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The woman who can remember everything

Today in Digg I came upon this article for The Daily Telegraph.
This story specially caught my eye given that it reminds me of a tale “Funes or Memory” by one of my favorite authors Jorge Luis Borges. In the story you have the exact same plot : of a man that can remember absolutely everything. Once more the lines between fiction and reality are blurred.

“Jill Price, 42, can remember every part of her life since she was 14 but considers her ability a curse as she cannot switch off.

She described her life as like a split-screen television, with one side showing what she is doing in the present, and the other showing the memories which she cannot hold back.

Every detail about every day since 1980 – what time she got up, who she met, what she did, even what she ate – is locked in her brain and can be released to come flooding back by common triggers like songs, smells or place names.”

To read the full article, please go here.

He Took a Polaroid Every Day, Until the Day He Died

Today going through Digg I came upon a true story that surpasses all fiction – the story of an american filmmaker and musician Jamie Livingston that took a polaroid every day for 18 years, until the very day of his death.

I read the article by Chris Higgins for Mental Floss, here are some passages:

Yesterday I came across a slightly mysterious website “” a collection of Polaroids, one per day, from March 31, 1979 through October 25, 1997. There’s no author listed, no contact info, and no other indication as to where these came from. So, naturally, I started looking through the photos. I was stunned by what I found.

In 1979 the photos start casually, with pictures of friends, picnics, dinners, and so on. (…)

What started for me as an amusing collection of photos “” who takes photos every day for eighteen years? “” ended with a shock. Who was this man? How did his photos end up on the web? I went on a two-day hunt, examined the source code of the website, and tried various Google tricks.

(…)

To read the full article and see the polaroids, please go here.