A question by Anne-Sophie

In your books you are proving, that you have great feeling for contemporary human and his distresses. What do you think in what direction is going the future man? Will he be capable to survive and save his integrity, creativeness and intellect, and above all mental health?

It’s always very tricky to talk about “mental health”: I’ve been committed as a teenager to a clinic institution.
I felt in my own skin the burden of being cataloged as “mentally disturbed” just because i didn’t fit into the social norms.

In my wanderings I came to believe that a person has a personal legend to fulfill. What is a personal legend? It is the reason why we are alive.
In my case this legend was to share my ideas with others through writing.

We have dreams, that are not necessarily the dreams that our parents or society had for us.
So, we must get rid of the idea of fulfilling what people expect us to do, and start to do what we expect from our lives. The message in my book “Veronika decides to die” is that: dare to be different. You are unique, and you have to accept you as you are, instead of trying to repeat other people’s destinies or patterns.

Insanity is to behave like someone that you are not. Normality is the capacity to express your feelings. From the moment that you don’t fear to share your heart, you are a free person.

Big Brother is watching you … but do you care?

Today in Digg, found this interesting article of the Times Online by Kevin Dowling

CCTV boom has not cut crime, says police chief


Photo by Ben Gurr

Billions of pounds spent on Britain’s 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras has not had a significant impact on crime, according to the senior police officer piloting a new database.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said it was a “fiasco” that only 3 per cent of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV.

Mr Neville, who heads the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) unit, told the Security Document World Conference that the use of CCTV images as evidence in court has been very poor.

(…)

Britain has more CCTV cameras than any other country in Europe. But Mr Neville is reported in The Guardian as saying that more training was needed for officers who often avoided trawling through CCTV images “because it’s hard work”.

(…)

To read the whole article – please go here.

The importance of the cat in meditation

By Paulo Coelho

Having recently written a book about madness, I was forced to wonder how many things we do are imposed on us by necessity, or by the absurd. Why wear a tie? Why do clocks run “clockwise”? If we live in a decimal system, why does the day have 24 hours of 60 minutes?

The fact is, many of the rules we obey nowadays have no real foundation. Nevertheless, if we wish to act differently, we are considered “crazy” or “immature”.

Meanwhile, society continues to create some systems which, in the fullness of time, lose their reason for existence, but continue to impose their rules. An interesting Japanese story illustrates what I mean by this:

A great Zen Buddhist master, who was in charge of the Mayu Kagi monastery, had a cat which was his true passion in life. So, during meditation classes, he kept the cat by his side – in order to make the most of his company.

One morning, the master – who was already quite old – passed away. His most adept disciple took his place.

– What shall we do with the cat? – asked the other monks.

As a tribute to the memory of their old instructor, the new master decided to allow the cat to continue attending the Zen-Buddhist classes.

Some disciples from the neighboring monasteries, traveling through those parts, discovered that, in one of the region’s most renowned temples, a cat took part in the meditation sessions. The story began to spread.

Many years passed. The cat died, but the students at the monastery were so used to its presence, they soon found another cat. Meanwhile, the other temples began introducing cats in their meditation sessions: they believed the cat was truly responsible for the fame and excellence of Mayu Kagi’s teaching, and in doing so forgot that the old master was a fine instructor.

A generation passed, and technical treatises began to appear about the importance of the cat in Zen meditation. A university professor developed a thesis – which was accepted by the academic community – that felines have the ability to increase human concentration, and eliminate negative energy.

And so, for a whole century, the cat was considered an essential part of Zen-Buddhist studies in that region.

Until a master appeared who was allergic to animal hair, and decided to remove the cat from his daily exercises with the students.

There was a fierce negative reaction – but the master insisted. Since he was an excellent instructor, the students continued to make the same scholarly progress, in spite of the absence of the cat.

Little by little, the monasteries – always in search of new ideas, and already tired of having to feed so many cats – began eliminating the animals from the classes. In twenty years time, new revolutionary theories began to appear – with very convincing titles such as “The Importance of Meditating Without a Cat”, or “Balancing the Zen Universe by Will Power Alone, Without the Help of Animals”.

Another century passed, and the cat withdrew completely from the meditation rituals in that region. But two hundred years were necessary for everything to return to normal – because during all this time, no one asked why the cat was there.

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

Irrational vs Rational

By Paulo Coelho

Recently I read in an article by David Mehegan in The Boston Globe about the release of the book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.” by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT.

This book seemed very appealing to me because the author proves, by a series of behavioural experiments, that humans tend to act much more irrationally than rationally.
Indeed, as the journalist puts it:

“Ariely’s book explores the varieties of nonsensical economic thinking, such as:

We value things more when we pay a higher price for them. The Bayer aspirin and the Rolex watch
seem valuable because of how much they cost, not because they’re better in practical terms than a generic aspirin or a Timex.

Relativity distorts reality. We might be earning 10 times more money than we earned for the same work a decade ago, but we’re convinced that we’re underpaid if the people around us are earning more.

Easy choices make decisions difficult. The more nearly equal two alternative products, jobs, or presidential candidates are, the more agonizing the choice between them.

We’re hopeless suckers for the word “free” on an item for sale, even if there’s a hidden cost and the product is something we don’t need or even like.”


Indeed, how many times the power of the word “free” plunges us into an unnecessary buying spree of things that as soon as we leave the store we already regret?

Why do we keep on postponing decisions and most importantly let ourselves be guided by this illusion of abundance?

If the reasons of this irrationality are impossible for us to see, at least, Ariely’s book seem to give some sort of comfort.

We can learn from our mistakes and refrain from making the same irrational gestures that we afterwards we feel bad about.

The solution then lies in our ability to bypass our “wired-in tendencies”.

Ariely’s book is interesting in the realm of economics. It not only reveals that much of our “rational” decisions are actually irrational, but also that our rationality can guide us to step away from a vicious circle.

I believe nevertheless that when one gets away from this economic perspective – this tendency is reversed.

Sometimes it is by letting our irrationality take over that we actually manage to see our true path.
What’s your take on that?

Love
Paulo

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