Stories & Reflections
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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