Life explained

On the first day God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten.”
So God agreed.

On the second day God created the monkey. God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks and make them laugh. I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.” The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years? I don’t think so. Dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do too, okay?”
And God agreed.

On the third day God created the cow. “You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a life span of sixty years.”
The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty and I’ll give back the other forty.”
And God agreed again.

On the fourth day God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. I’ll give you twenty years.”
Man said, “What? Only twenty years? Tell you what, I’ll take my twenty, and the forty the cow gave back, and the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back, that makes eighty, okay?”

Okay,” said God, “You’ve got a deal.”

So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves; the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family; the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren; and the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

When Generosity Means Saying “No”

Saying ‘No’ does not always show a lack of generosity and that saying ‘Yes’ is not always a virtue.” – Paulo Coelho

To follow up on an earlier post, I wanted to take the time to address one of the most common myths surrounding generosity: that being generous means saying yes to people.

As I see it, the opposite is often true. This is true in several different contexts:

1. Sometimes giving people what they want is not what they need/ is not what is in their best intererests.

We’ve all likely been in situations where people ask us to help them with something or do something for them that we do not believe to be in their best interests. This can include, but is certainly no limited to, people struggling with addictive behaviors or codependency. It can be particularly challenging to say no in these situations, especially when there is an emotional investment in the other person or when the other person responds with threats, intimidation, passive aggressiveness, or any other type of manipulation. The two most important things to remember in these situations are 1) to not take the other person’s request/ behavior/ communication personally and 2) to uphold your boundaries. I will write more about how to say no specifically in my next post.

2. Saying yes to too often causes us to be spread too thin. This can lead to stressed inputs, medicore outputs, and commitments left undone. 

It is important to remember that when we say yes to everything, we are actually allowing the things that we will end up not finishing/ not doing well up to chance. The way I see it, it much more preferable to prioritize and decide for ourselves what we wish to devote our time, attention, and energy on. In the words of Suzette Hinton, ““We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say “no” to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s.” Until we learn how to say NO to the many things that are constantly vying for our attention, we will always say YES to so many things. One all too common cause of a regretful life is a life that failed to balance YES and NO. A life that did not recognize when to courageously say NO and when to confidently say YES!

3. Saying Yes when we mean No cheapens our word, diminishes our sense of self-respect, and compromises our integrity. 

Saying Yes out of a sense of duty, guilt, obligation, insecurity, inadequacy, a desire to be liked, or a desire to maintain the peace is a recipe for diminished self-esteem and self-worth. People pleasers often struggle to say no, even if saying yes makes them feel uncomfortable. What we don’t recognize in the moment is that saying Yes is only a temporary band-aid solution for our underlying insecurities, inadequacies, and other feelings that we will have to address at some point. Saying yes under the pretense of saving a relationship is only a front for a crumbling relationship foundation that must be addressed.

Remember that what you do not do determines what you do. You can be just as proud of the things you have not done as the things you have done. It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that really matter.

30 SEC READ: A story by Kahlil Gibran

I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young man who was reading a philosophy book.

His behavior and his evident good health made him stand out from the other inmates.

I sat down beside him and asked:

‘What are you doing here?’

He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors, he replied:

‘It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like him. My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his example. My mother wanted me to be the image of her beloved father. My sister always set her husband before me as an example of the successful man. My brother tried to train me up to be a fine athlete like himself.

And the same thing happened at school, with the piano teacher and the English teacher – they were all convinced and determined that they were the best possible example to follow. None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.

So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.’

From “The book of the five rings”

by Miyamoto Musashi

 

1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the Way

I can’t wait for the day when life finally makes sense

 

by Rania Naim

 

I can’t wait for the day that we understand why we met the right people at the wrong time or the wrong people at the right time and why our lives didn’t align to bring us together.

I wonder if it’s because they’re the wrong ones for us or because we still have a lot of growing up to do and we’re meant to be with someone who understand who we’re becoming not who we were.

I can’t wait for the day that we understand the lesson behind every struggle. Why we struggled to be successful, why we struggled to find love, why we struggled to reach our dreams and why we lost people who meant the world to us. I wonder if we needed these lessons to learn how to appreciate life and feel the pain of others or we just needed to learn that there is no living without suffering.

I can’t wait for the day that we understand why we had to hate ourselves to love ourselves, why we had to destroy ourselves to build ourselves up again and why we had to start over just before we got to the finish line. I wonder who saved us or who inspired us to save ourselves.

I wonder if we are meant to be reborn a few times so we can learn how to truly live. I want to know what triggered us to change and how we can no longer recognize who we used to be.

I can’t wait for the day that we understand why we keep falling for the wrong ones over and over again, why we can’t forget those who hurt us and why we sometimes can still forgive them and take them back. I want to understand how our hearts operate, how they function, how they move us to do things we would never do and lead us to places that we know we shouldn’t go to.

I’m curious to know why we listen to it, why we follow it blindly like it never got us lost before, why we trust it even though it left us broken and why do we always go back to it for questions when it keeps giving us the wrong answers. I wonder if there will come a day when we stop listening to it and if we’ll ever be truly alive without it.

They say everything happens for a reason and I truly believe that, but I also want to know what this reason is and why it chose us. Why some reasons keep recurring and why some reasons leave us even more perplexed. I want to understand why we go through certain things, what’s the message behind it and what if we never respond to this message, what if we just ignore it and keep living, what will happen then? Will our lives get lost in translation? 

I can’t wait for the day that life makes sense – some days I understand why certain things happened and others I’m not so sure, but all I know is that somehow we’ll connect the dots and someday we’ll complete the puzzle, until then, we have to learn how to live our lives without trying to understand it and we have to learn how to be comfortable with the irony and uncertainty of life; otherwise we’ll lose our common sense trying to make sense of the life we’re living.

Seven quick questions/answers on ALEPH

EN FRANçAIS ICI>>> Sept questions sur ‘Aleph’
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In his most personal novel to date, internationally best-selling author Paulo Coelho returns with a remarkable journey of self-discovery. Like the main character in his much-beloved The Alchemist, Paulo is facing a grave crisis of faith. As he seeks a path of spiritual renewal and growth, he decides to begin again: to travel, to experiment, to reconnect with people and the landscapes around him.

How did your latest ‘pilgrimage’ and writing Aleph come about?

Everybody must leave his/her comfort zone from time to time. Spirituality is not only praying and meditating. You need to act.

The idea of a second chance is a welcome thought to many. What made you take yours?

Small decisions may hold significant consequences. As a writer, I must take a second, a third, an eleventh chance till I arrive where I am planning to go.

What would you say to someone who wanted to take their second chance but lacked the confidence to do so?

Remember: you can sell your time, but you cannot buy it back.

One of the messages in Aleph is that what we do now affects our future. Was there a pivotal moment when you knew that the way you chose to act would determine the course of your future?

Every single moment in life is a pivotal moment. Every day has a moment where you can change everything–the problem is that we are scared to recognise this moment.

Can you explain the concept of the “Aleph”?

Aleph is NOW. The present moment, holding all the past and the future consequences.

In Aleph your routine was diminishing your sense of purpose. For most people routine is unavoidable. How can they prevent their routine from consuming their destiny?

Routine is not unavoidable. When we are enthusiastic about life, we strive to become better than we are. And so we become.

You are a great advocate for online and digital publishing. Do you think this will have a positive effect in bringing new readers to your message?

Not only that. It allows, for example, that a Brazilian reader in US can have Aleph or any of my books in Portuguese. However, writers must be aware that online and digital publishing is changing the way we write.


Interview for Amazon.com

20 sec read : A poem by Tagore

 

What is anxiety playmate?

What is anxiety playmate? Playmate, what is agony?
You all say day and night ‘love, love’-
Tell me, playmate, what is love! Is it only torment?
It is only shedding tears? Is that only sorrow’s breathing?
Why then in what expectation of joy
People hopefully embrace such sorrow?

In my eyes all is handsome,
All fresh, all spotless, blue sky, darkgreen wood
Liberal moonlight, soft flower-every thing like me.
They only smile, only sing, wish to die after a sportive game-
knows no pain, knows no crying, above all kinds of agony.
Flowers laugh while they get shed, moonlight smilingly disappears,
In the sea of light the star, all smiles, does his form abandon.

Who is happy like me? Come playmate, come near to me-
The joyous song of a happy heart will feed your mind with solace.
If everyday you cry, why not laugh for a single day-
Forget all sadness for at least a day, let all of us sing together.

Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Are you Stubborn Enough About Your Creativity?

by Anna Verasai

We are all told that compromise is a good virtue to keep everyone happy and maintain balanced relationships. But will you be happy compromising on your talent and creativity? Will you reach your goals if you keep on compromising? If your answer to any of these questions is a no; then stop compromising right away. It is not a merry world and you won’t excel in your work if we keep compromising our creativity

Compromise is a good virtue, agreed. But when it comes to anything related to your creativity and talent, do not compromise. Do not accept anything less than what you can offer. If you are confident about your work do not give in to the pressures from seniors. Rather, you can prove your worth by not settling in for the obvious route.

People always take the path most traveled; and creative people often tread on the less traveled. This is what makes them different from the rest of the world. They know that they can change norms of everyday life by just being themselves.

There are times at work place when you want to do a project in a certain way, but the top management asks you to follow the traditional method. At times when you have your specific tone of work; your seniors want to tamper with it. During such phases in your career you have to stand up for your own unique identity; your creativity and talent.

Creativity and Talent is Not for Compromise

Rod Judkins, in his book ‘The Art of Creative Thinking’; has given a beautiful example of Paulo Coelho and how he did not compromise given the external pressure. Coelho knew since his teenage days that he wanted to become a writer; which was brushed off as madness by his family. His parents wanted him to have a secure and more respectable profession; like a lawyer. They were so much opposed to his dreams that they went to an extent of admitting him to a mental institute for 3 times; to arguably ‘save’ him from writing.

Coelho refused to compromise. He was confident in his talent and he made a point not to compromise on it. Once sure about the path; Paulo Coelho went on to become the most famous writer of his generation. His book ‘The Alchemist’ is reportedly translated into eighty languages, and has sold 65 million copies globally. By remaining stubborn and not giving in to family pressures, Coelho achieved his dream and became an international inspiration.

Be Flexible Enough

As creative people, everyone has their own set of ideals and visions. It is necessary that you respect your own creativity and vision rather than settling in for the obvious. Of course, do not be stubborn if you have to be a little flexible for co-workers or if you have to put in extra efforts for outputs. Be available whenever people need your help. Also try to follow the work place rules of your organization when it comes to your habits and work styles.

Note that you need to be stubborn only about the quality of work you deliver, your goals, and your creativity and talent. For everything else – Compromise is genuinely a good virtue!!

Vacations

Begona Miguel of the Huelgas Monastery says: “San Juan de La Cruz teaches us that silence has its own music; it is silence that enables us to see ourselves and the things around us.

“I would like to add that there are words that can only be said in silence, odd as that may seem. To compose their symphonies, the great geniuses needed silence – and they managed to transform this into divine sounds. Philosophers and scientists need silence.”

“In the monastery, at night we practice what we call the ‘Great Silence’. In the absence of talk we can understand what lies beyond.”

Therefore, it is time for me to enjoy the silence. This blog takes a vacation, returning by the end of August, when I will continue helping the release of my new book

You are always welcome to browse the ARCHIVES below

Enjoy your summer.
Love
Paulo

Quotes from my books

selected by Keay Nigel

. When you are afraid of change:

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. 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.”

2. When you are misunderstood or maligned:

“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

3. When you feel disappointed about a failure:

“But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.”

4. When you are unsure of who your true friends are:

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.”

5. After a break-up:

“When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.”

6. When you grow envious of other people:

“Some people appear to be happy, but they simply don’t give the matter much thought. Others make plans: I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, a house in the country. As long as they’re busy doing that, they’re like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they react instinctively, they blunder on, with no idea where the target is. They get their car, sometimes they even get a Ferrari, and they think that’s the meaning of life, and they never question it. Yet their eyes betray the sadness that even they don’t know they carry in their soul. Are you happy?” 

7. When you feel overwhelmed by everything in your life:

“Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.”

8. When it’s time to let go:

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”

9. When you are afraid to love:

“Love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. If we reject it, we die of hunger, because we lack the courage to reach out a hand and pluck the fruit from the branches of the tree of life. We have to take love where we find it, even if it means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness. The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us. And to save us.”

10. When you feel like you can’t hold on anymore:

“It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”

11. When your haters hate on you:

“The world is divided into those who understand me and those who don’t. In the case of the latter, I simply leave them to torment themselves trying to gain my sympathy.”

12. When you feel suppressed by others’ expectations:

“Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”

13. When you lose something or somebody you love:

“Tragedy always brings about radical change in our lives, a change that is associated with the same principle: loss. When faced by any loss, there’s no point in trying to recover what has been; it’s best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.”

14. When you find it so hard to forgive:

“I forgive the tears I was made to shed, I forgive the pain and the disappointments, I forgive the betrayals and the lies, I forgive the slanders and intrigues, I forgive the hatred and the persecution, I forgive the blows that hurt me, I forgive the wrecked dreams, I forgive the stillborn hopes, I forgive the hostility and jealousy, I forgive the indifference and ill will, I forgive the injustice carried out in the name of justice, I forgive the anger and the cruelty, I forgive the neglect and the contempt, I forgive the world and all its evils… I also forgive myself. May the misfortunes of the past no longer weigh on my heart. Instead of pain and resentment, I choose understanding and compassion. Instead of rebellion, I choose the music from my violin. Instead of grief, I choose forgetting. Instead of vengeance, I choose victory. I will be capable of loving, regardless of whether I am loved in return, of giving, even when I have nothing, of working happily, even in the midst of difficulties, of holding out my hand, even when utterly alone and abandoned, of drying my tears, even while I weep, of believing, even when no one believes in me… So it is. So it will be.”

15. When you hit rockbottom:

“When I had nothing more to lose, I was given everything. When I ceased to be who I am, I found myself. When I experienced humiliation and yet kept on walking, I understood that I was free to choose my destiny.”

Are animals monogamic?

Recently I read an interesting polemic article in the American newspaper New York Times (25/03/2008). Written by Natalie Angier, the text is based on the research of prominent biologists and psychologists concerning monogamy. The conclusion that they reach is impressive: conjugal infidelity is present throughout the animal kingdom.

And that’s not all: studies have shown that certain species “pay” for sex, while others reward their “lovers” with presents and affection. To complete the picture, jealousy and machismo are also to be found there: females are violently attacked if they copulate with another partner.

Of course we are not animals, but the similarities mentioned above are very revealing. Some of the more interesting parts of the article are worth transcribing.

1] Many species are raised from a very tender age to marry someone chosen by the family. They fly and play together, they sing and dance together. In other words, they are raised to impress the community with proof that they were born for one another.

2] Nevertheless, social monogamy is rarely accompanied by sexual monogamy. DNA tests carried out on monkeys, birds and wild animals, when their descendency is examined in the light of modern science, show that between 10% and 70% of the offspring was fathered by someone other than the resident male.

3] Professor David Barash of the University of Washington in Seattle states that: “in the infantile world, infancy. In the adult world, adultery”. For a long time, swans were believed to be a model of fidelity. Through such DNA tests, it has been concluded that not even swans are immune to temptation.

4] The only completely monogamous species is an amoeba – Diplozoon Paradoxum – which is found in organisms of certain fish. Barash explains: “male and female meet while still young, and their bodies literally merge as one. From then on, they are faithful until death do them part”. In this case, death coincides with that of the fish that shelters them.

5] The “oldest profession in the world”, as prostitution is known, is also present in the animal kingdom. It is common to find males that shower their females with presents: rodents, caterpillars and insects. But when the same male decides to have, shall we say, an extracurricular affair, the lover receives better presents than the companion.

6] The law of competition also applies to the animal world: if supply is great, the price comes down. However, if there is a shortage of females, they become objects of desire that deserve the best and most sophisticated rewards.

I have transcribed in this column the result of research conducted by scientists and psychologists specialized in studying animals. All of us can – and should – have our own opinion with respect to monogamy. We can all say that we are a highly evolved species, which is absolutely true. The only thing that we can’t do is to blame science for showing results that often contradict our way of thinking!

Prophet Mohammed, 7th century

Based on my message earlier this week – about the different languages of God – I would like to share with you this week some of the prayers that point in the same direction:

“Oh Allah! I come to you because you know all, even what is hidden.

If what I am doing is good for me and my religion, for my life now and later, then let the task be easy and blessed.

If what I am doing now is bad for me and my religion, for my life now and later, then keep me far from this task.”

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

Question by the reader : Gerald

What has inspired you to write The Winner Stands Alone?

In this book I wanted to explore how dreams can be manipulated and how people get shattered in the process. I’m not condemning vanity – since all under the sun is vanity as Salomon said. What I am interested in is in how people allow themselves to be dispossessed of themselves.
In our current society there are collective standards that are completely anonymous and yet many try to subscribe to them. Some people believe their happiness is conditioned by money, fame, beauty… How does that happen? This book arose from this central question.

Epictetus to his disciples

Two things can happen when we meet someone: either we become friends, or we try to convince the other person to accept our convictions.
The same happens when the ember meets another piece of coal: either it shares its fire with it, or it is suffocated by its size and ends up extinguished.
As we are generally insecure at a first contact, we try indifference, arrogance or excessive humility.

The result is that we stop being who we are and things start heading towards a strange world that does not belong to us.

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

The Dark Triad

by Quentin Fottrell

People who post selfies on social networks like Instagram and Facebook are more likely to exhibit what some psychologists call the “dark triad” of personality traits, according to two previous studies of nearly 1,200 men and women who completed personality tests and answered questions on their online habits.

This dark triad consists of

narcissism (extreme self-centeredness),

Machiavellianism (manipulation of others) and

psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings),

they noted.

Constantly posting selfies not only intensifies peer pressure, it also provides an unrealistic mirror of our own lives, experts say.

“It’s not a wonderful personality constellation,” says Jesse Fox, assistant professor of communications at Ohio State University, and co-author of the aforementioned studies of 800 men — “The Dark Triad” — published in the April 2015 edition of “Personality and Individual Differences,” a peer-reviewed journal, and a similar paper studying 400 women.

Isaac dies

By Paulo Coelho

 

A certain Rabbi was adored by the community; everyone was enchanted by what he said.

Except for Isaac, who never missed an opportunity to contradict the Rabbi’s interpretations and point out faults in his teachings. The others were annoyed by Isaac, but could do nothing about it.

One day, Isaac died. During the funeral, the community noticed that the Rabbi was deeply upset.

– Why are you so sad? – someone commented. – He was always criticizing everything you said!

– I am not upset for my friend who is now in heaven – replied the Rabbi – I am upset for my own self. While everyone revered me, he challenged me, and I was obliged to improve. Now he has gone, I am afraid I shall stop growing.

 

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

Character of the week: Brida


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EM PORTUGUES AQUI> Personagem da semana: Brida
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Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now.
“I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself.
She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none. After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pain, loss, and separation.
These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all.
In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love. It was like putting out your own eyes not to see the bad things in life.

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”

——-

“Don’t bother trying to explain your emotions. Live everything as intensely as you can and keep whatever you felt as a gift from God. The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions.”

“But how will I know who my Soulmate is?” Brida felt that this was one of the most important questions she had ever asked in her life.
“By taking risks” she said to Brida. ‘ By risking failure, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in your search for Love. As long as you keep looking, you will triumph in the end.”

————–

Nothing is completely wrong. Even a broken watch is right twice a day.

BRIDA is the real story of a young girl learning to follow the Tradition of the Moon

30 sec reading: change and renewal


When winter arrives, the trees must sigh in sadness as they see their leaves falling.

They say: ‘We will never be like we were before.’
Of course.

Or still, what is the meaning of renewing oneself? The next leaves will have their own nature, they pertain to a new summer that approaches and which will never be like the one that passed.
Living means changing – and the seasons repeat these lessons to us every year.

Changing means going through a period of depression: we still don’t know the new and we have to forget everything we used to know.

But if we are a little patient, spring ends up arriving and we forget the winter of our hopelessness.

Change and renewal are the laws of life.
It is best to get used to them and not suffer about things that only exist to bring us joy.

taken from Manuscript found in Accra

The duck and the cat

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“How did you start your spiritual life?” asked one of the Sufi master Shams Tabrizi’s disciples.

“My mother used to say that I was neither crazy enough to check in into a mad house nor saintly enough to enter a monastery,” Tabrizi answered.

“So I decided to devote myself to Sufism, where we learn through free meditation.”

“And how did you explain it to your mother?”

“With the following fable: someone entrusted a little cat to take care of a duck. The duck followed his adoptive mother everywhere until the day both of them reached a lake. Immediately, the duck plunged into the water while the cat yelled at the border: ‘get out of there! You’ll drown!’”

“And the little duck answered: ‘no, mommy, I discovered what is good for me and I can tell I am in my environment. I will stay here even if you don’t know what a lake means.’”

Inner and outer values

Abu Muhammad al-Jurayry used to say: “Religion has treasures that enrich us. There are five inner and five outer treasures we should strive for. All of those who follow the spiritual path must be aware of them.”

“These are the inner treasures: own the ability to be truthful, exercise detachment from our possessions, display humbleness in appearance and strive for both, balance to avoid disagreements and strength to react to them.”

“And these are the outer treasures: discover a supreme Love, be intelligent to see our own flaws, be conscious of everything that happens in life and be grateful for the received blessings.”