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”.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Three Jewish stories

By Paulo Coelho

The shortest constitution in the world

A group of wise Jewish men met up in order to try and create the shortest Constitution in the world. If anyone – in the space of time a man takes to balance on one foot – were capable of defining the laws governing human behavior, he would be considered the greatest of all wise men.

– God punishes criminals – said one.

The others argued that this was not a law, but a threat; the phrase was not accepted.

– God is love – commented another.

Again, the wise men did not accept the phrase, saying that it did not properly explain the duties of humanity.

Just then, Rabbi Hillel came forward. And, standing on one foot, he said:

– Do not do to another that which you would abhor being done to you; that is the law. All the rest is legal commentary.

And Rabbi Hillel was considered the greatest wise man of his time.

Covering the sun with one’s hand

A disciple went to Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav:

– I shall not continue with my studies of sacred texts – he said. – I live in a small house with my brothers and parents, and never have the ideal conditions for concentrating on that which is important.

Nachman pointed to the sun and asked his disciple to place his hand over his face, in order to hide it. The disciple obeyed.

– Your hand is small, yet it can completely cover the power, light and majesty of the great sun. In the same way, the small problems manage to give you the excuse you need in order to hinder your progress along your spiritual journey.

“Just as your hand has the power to hide the sun, mediocrity has the power to hide your inner light. Do not blame others for your own incompetence.”

It seems so obvious

Rabbi Ben Zoma was asked:

– Who is wise?

– He who always finds something to learn from others – said the Rabbi.

– Who is strong?

– The man who is capable of dominating himself.

– Who is wealthy?

– He who knows the treasure he has: his days and hours of life, which can change everything which goes on around him.

– Who deserves respect?

– He who respects himself and his neighbor.

– These things are all so obvious – commented one of those present.

– That is why they are so difficult to observe – concluded the Rabbi.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Quote of the Day

By Paulo Coelho

Love is only a small thing, enough for one person, and any suggestion that the heart might be larger than this is considered perverse.
(The Zahir)

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

I want to find God

By Paulo Coelho

The man arrived at the monastery exhausted:

– I have been looking for God for so long – he said. – Perhaps you can teach me the right way of finding Him.

– Enter and see our convent – said the priest, taking him by the hand and leading him to the chapel. – Here are some fine works of art of the 16th century, which portray the life of the Lord, and His glory among men.

The man waited, while the priest explained each one of the beautiful paintings and sculptures which adorned the chapel.
Afterwards, he repeated the question:

– Everything you showed me is very beautiful. But I’d like to learn the best way to find God.

– God! – replied the priest. – You said exactly that: God!

And he took the man to the refectory, where supper was being prepared for the monks.

– Look around: soon supper will be served, and you are invited to dine with us. You will be able to listen to the Scriptures, while you satisfy your hunger.

– I am not hungry, and I have already read the entire Scriptures – insisted the man. – I wish to learn. I have come here to find God.

Again the priest took the stranger by the hand and they began walking around the cloisters which encircled a lovely garden.

– I ask my monks to always keep the grass cut, and to remove the dry leaves from the fountain you see over there in the middle. I think this must be the best kept monastery in the whole region.

The stranger walked with the priest a short way, then excused himself, saying he must be leaving.

– Won’t you stay for supper? asked the priest.

As he mounted his horse, the stranger spoke:

– Congratulations on your fine church, your welcoming refectory and the perfectly clean courtyard. But I have journeyed many leagues just in order to learn to find God, and not to marvel at efficiency, comfort and discipline.

A flash of lightening struck, the horse reared up and the earth shook. Suddenly, the strange man removed his disguise, and the priest saw that it was Jesus.

– God is wherever He is invited in – said Jesus. – But you have closed the doors of this monastery to Him, with rules, pride, wealth, ostentation. The next time a stranger comes asking to find God, do not show him what you have managed in His name: listen to the question, and try to answer with love, charity and simplicity.

And so saying, He disappeared.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light

By Paulo Coelho

Of uselessness

The warrior of the light knows that no one is a fool, and that life teaches everyone – even if that requires time.

So he treats his neighbor according to the qualities he sees, and seeks to show the whole world each one’s capabilities.

Several companions say: “some people are useless”.

The warrior is not thrown by this. And continues to stimulate others, for this is a way to stimulate himself.

In search of affection

A warrior of the light needs love. Affection and tenderness are part of his nature – as much as eating, drinking, and the taste for Good Combat.

When a warrior is unhappy as he watches the setting sun, something is wrong.

At this time, the warrior interrupts the combat and goes to seek company, in order to watch the sunset together.

If he has difficulty finding company, he asks himself: “was I afraid to approach someone? Did I receive affection, and did not notice?”

A warrior of the light uses loneliness, but is not used by it.

Facing despair

A warrior of the light often despairs.

He thinks that the feelings he had hoped to awaken are nowhere to be found. Many afternoons and nights he is forced to adopt a position of the defeated, and no new event can bring back his enthusiasm.

His friends comment: “perhaps your fight has come to an end.”

The warrior feels pain and confusion upon hearing these comments, for he knows that he has not come as far as he wished. But he is determined, and does not abandon that which he set out to do.

Then, when he least expects it, a new door opens.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet