Search Results for: way of the bow

How one of the most important books in the world came to be written

Lao-Tzu-knowing-others-is

In the twenty-third year of the reign of Zhao, Lao Tzu realized that the war would ultimately destroy the place where he lived. Since he had spent years meditating on the essence of life, he knew that there are times when one has to be practical. He made the simplest possible decision: to move.

He took his few belongings and set off for Han Keou. As he was leaving the city, he met a gatekeeper.

‘Where is an eminent sage like you going?’ asked the gatekeeper.

‘Somewhere far from the war.’

‘You can’t just leave like that. I would like to know what you have learned after all these years of meditation. I will only let you leave, if you share what you know with me.’

Simply in order to get rid of the man, Lao Tzu wrote a slender volume right there and then, and gave that one copy to the gatekeeper. Then he went on his way, and was never heard of again.

Further copies of Lao Tzu’s book were made, it crossed centuries, it crossed millennia, and reached our time. It is called Tao Te Ching and is, quite simply, essential reading. Here are a few examples from its pages:

He who keeps to his path has will.

Be humble and you will remain whole.

Bow down and you will remain erect.

Empty yourself and you will remain full.

Wear yourself out and you will remain new.

The wise man does not show himself, and that is why he shines.

He does not attract attention to himself, and that is why he is noticed.

He does not praise himself, and that is why he has merit.

And because he is not competing, no one in the world can compete with him.

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Poles and rules

14882190_10154532088431211_5230830756353128955_oIn the fall of 2003 I was walking late one night through the center of Stockholm when I saw a woman walking along using ski poles. My first reaction was to think of some injury she must have suffered, but then I noticed she was moving quite fast and with rhythmic movements as if she were on a patch of snow – except that all that was around us was the asphalt of paved streets. The obvious conclusion was: “that woman is crazy, how could she pretend to be skiing in the middle of the city?”

Back in the hotel, I mentioned the incident to my editor. He said that I was the crazy one: what I had seen was a sort of exercise called “Nordic walking”. He explained that besides the movement of the legs, the arms, shoulders and back muscles are also used to make it a much more complete exercise.
When I go for a walk ( which is my favorite pastime, together with archery), it is to be able to reflect, think, look at all the marvels around me, and chat with my wife while we are walking along. I found my editor’s comment interesting, but thought no further of it.
One day I was in a sports store buying material for my arrows when I noticed new poles used by mountaineers – made of aluminum, they are light and can be opened or closed using the same telescopic system as a tripod for a camera. I remembered the Nordic walking and thought to myself: why not try it? I bought two pairs, for myself and my wife. We adjusted the poles to a comfortable height and the next day decided to try them out.

What a fantastic discovery! We climbed a mountain, then came back down, really feeling that the whole body was in movement, the balance was better, we were less tired. We walked double the distance we usually cover in an hour. I remembered that I had once tried to explore a dried-up stream but it was so difficult with all the stones that I gave up. I thought that with the poles it would be easier, and I was right.

My wife got into the Internet and discovered that you burn 46% more calories than on a normal walk. She grew very enthusiastic and “Nordic walking” has become part of our daily routine.
One afternoon, just for distraction, I also decided to get into the Internet to see what I could find on the subject. I was surprised to see page after page, with federations, groups, discussions, models and … rules!
I don’t know what made me open the page about rules. As I read I became horrified – I was doing it all wrong! My poles should be adjusted higher, a certain rhythm had to be followed, a certain angle of support had to be kept, the shoulder movement was complicated, the way of using the elbow was all different, everything followed rigid, technical, precise rules.

I printed all the pages. The following day – and the others that followed – I tried to do exactly as the specialists ordered. The walk began to lose interest, I no longer saw all the wonders around me, I spoke very little to my wife, I could think of nothing except the rules. At the end of a week I asked myself: why am I learning all this?

My objective is not to do gymnastics. I don’t think that the first people who did their “Nordic walking” had anything in mind apart from the pleasure of walking, improving their balance and moving the whole body. We knew intuitively what was the ideal height for the poles, just as we could intuitively deduce that the closer they were to the body, the better and easier the movement. But now, because of the rules, I had stopped concentrating on the things I liked and was more concerned about losing calories, moving my muscles and using a certain section of the spine.
I decided to forget all that I had learned. Now we go out walking with our two poles, enjoying the world around us and feeling happy at seeing the body being made to work, being moved and balanced. And if I want to do gymnastics instead of “meditation in movement”, I’ll look for a gymnasium. At the moment I am quite content with my relaxed and instinctive “Nordic walking”, even though I may not be losing 46% more calories.

I’ve no idea why human beings have this mania of setting rules to everything.

(taken from >”Like a flowing river”trong>)

Beauty

People always say: ‘It’s inner beauty that matters, not outer beauty.’
Well, that’s not true.

If it were, why would flowers put so much energy into attracting bees? And why would raindrops transform themselves into a rainbow when they encounter the sun? Because nature longs for beauty, and is only satisfied when beauty can be exalted. outer beauty is inner beauty made visible, and it manifests itself in the light that flows from our eyes. It doesn’t matter if a person is badly dressed or doesn’t conform to our idea of elegance, or isn’t even concerned about impressing other people.

Beauty is present in all creation, but the danger lies in the fact that, because we human beings are often cut off from the Divine Energy, we allow ourselves to be influenced by what other people think. We deny our own beauty because others can’t or won’t recognise it. Instead of accepting ourselves as we are, we try to imitate what we see around us. We try to be what other people think of as ‘pretty’ and, little by little, our soul fades, our will weakens, and all the potential we had to make the world a more beautiful place withers away.
We forget that the world is what we imagine it to be.
We stop being the moonlight and become, instead, the pool of water reflecting it. Tomorrow, the water will evaporate in the sun. And all because, one day, someone said: ‘You are ugly.’ Or: ‘She is pretty.’ With those three simple words, they stole away all our self-confidence.
And we become ugly and embittered.

At that moment, we can draw comfort from so-called ‘wisdom’, an accumulation of ideas put together by people wishing to define the world, instead of respecting the mystery of life. This ‘wisdom’ consists of all the unnecessary rules, regulations and measurements intended to establish a standard of behaviour.
According to that false wisdom, we should not be concerned about beauty because it is superficial and ephemeral.

That isn’t true. All the beings created under the sun, from birds to mountains, from flowers to rivers, reflect the miracle of creation.
If we resist the temptation to allow other people to define who we are, then we will gradually be able to let the sun inside our own soul shine forth.
Love passes by and says: ‘I never noticed you before.’

And our soul responds: ‘Well, pay more attention, because here I am. It took a breeze to blow the dust from your eyes, but now that you have recognised me, don’t leave me again, because all of us desire beauty.’
Beauty exists not in sameness but in difference. Who could imagine a giraffe without its long neck or a cactus without its spines? The irregularity of the mountain peaks that surround us is what makes them so imposing. If we tried to make them all the same, they would no longer command our respect.
It is the imperfect that astonishes and attracts us.

When we look at a cedar tree, we don’t think: ‘The branches should be all the same length.’ We think: ‘How strong it is.’
When we see a snake, we never say: ‘He is crawling along the ground, while I am walking with head erect.’ We think: ‘He might be small, but his skin is colourful, his movements elegant, and he is more powerful than me.’

When the camel crosses the desert and takes us to the place we want to reach, we never say: ‘He’s humpbacked and has ugly teeth.’ We think: ‘He deserves my love for his loyalty and help. Without him, I would never be able to explore the world.’
A sunset is always more beautiful when it is covered with irregularly shaped clouds, because only then can it reflect the many colours out of which dreams and poetry are made.

Pity those who think: ‘I am not beautiful. That’s why Love has not knocked at my door.’ In fact, Love did knock, but when they opened the door, they weren’t prepared to welcome Love in.’
They were too busy trying to make themselves beautiful first, when, in fact, they were fine as they were.
They were trying to imitate others, when Love was looking for something original.
They were trying to reflect what came from outside, forgetting that the brightest light comes from within.

taken from “Manuscript found in Accra”

10 SEC READING: Here where I am

After having won many archery contests, the town champion went to the Zen master.

– I am the best of all – he said. – I didn’t study religion, never sought help from the monks, and succeeded in becoming the finest archer in the whole region. I heard that, for a time, you were the best archer in the region, and ask you: was it necessary to become a monk in order to learn to shoot?

– No – replied the Zen master.

But the champion was not satisfied: he took an arrow, placed it in the bow, fired it and hit a cherry which was very far away. Smiling, as if to say: "you might have saved your time, devoting yourself only to technique." And he said:

– I doubt whether you could do that.

Without looking in the least bit worried, the master went inside, fetched his bow, and began to walk towards a nearby mountain.
On the way, there was an abyss which could only be crossed by an old bridge made of rotting rope, and which was almost collapsing.
The Zen master went to the middle of the bridge, took his bow and placed an arrow in it, then aimed at a tree on the far side of the precipice, and hit his target.

– Now it is your turn – he kindly told the young man, as he returned to firm ground.

Terrified as he gazed down at the abyss below his feet, the young man went to the spot and fired, but his arrow veered wide of the mark.

– That is why the discipline of meditation was worthwhile – concluded the master, when the young man returned to him.

“You may have great skill with the instrument you choose for your livelihood, but it us useless, if you cannot command the mind which uses that instrument.”

A day at the mill

By Paulo Coelho

At the moment my life is a symphony made up of three different movements: “many people,” “some people,” and “hardly anybody.” Each of these movements lasts about four months a year; they often come together during the same month, but they never get mixed up.

“Many people” are those moments when I am in touch with the public, editors and journalists. “Some people” happens when I go to Brazil, meet my old friends, walk along Copacabana beach, attend the occasional social event, but as a rule I stay at home.

But today I just want to dwell a little on the “hardly anybody” movement. Night has already descended on this small town of 200 people in the Pyrenees whose name I would rather keep a secret and where I recently bought an old mill transformed into a house. I wake up every morning to the roosters crowing, have my breakfast and go out for a walk among the cows and lambs and through the fields of wheat and hay. I contemplate the mountains and – unlike the “many people” movement – never try to think who I am. I have no answers, no questions, I live entirely for the present moment, in the understanding that the year has four seasons (yes, it may seem so obvious, but sometimes we forget that), and I transform myself like the landscape all around me.

At this moment I have no great interest in what is going on in Iraq, or Syria, or Afghanistan: like any other person who lives in the countryside, the most important news is the weather. Everyone who lives in this small village knows if it is going to rain, turn cold, or be very windy, because all that has a direct effect on their lives, their plans, their crops. I pass a farmer tending his field, we exchange a “good morning,” discuss the weather forecast and then go about what we were doing – he at his plough, I on my long walk.

I head back home, check the mail-box, the local newspaper informs me that there is a dance in the next village, a lecture in a bar in Tarbes – the big city with all of its 40,000 inhabitants (the firemen had been called out because a garbage bin had caught on fire during the night). The topic that is mobilizing the region involves a group accused of cutting down the plane trees that had caused the death of a young man riding his motorbike on a country road; this piece of news fills a whole page and several days of reporting about the “secret command” that is bent on revenging the death of the young biker by destroying the trees.

I lie down beside the brook that runs through my mill.

I rise and go to practice kyudo, the form of meditation with the bow and arrow that occupies me for an hour. It’s already lunchtime: I have a light meal and then notice a strange object in one of the rooms of the old building, with a screen and a keyboard, all connected – wonder of wonders – with a super-speed DSL line. I know that as soon as I press a button on that machine, the world will come to me.

I resist as long as I am able but then the moment is reached when my finger touches the “on” button and here I go again connected to the world, newspaper columns, books, interviews requests (I decided no to give more than 3 interviews a year),the news from Iraq and Afghanistan, requests, the message that the airline ticket will be arriving tomorrow, decisions to put off, and decisions to take.

For a few hours I work, because that is what I chose to do, because that is my personal legend, because a warrior of the light is aware of his duties and responsibilities. But in the “hardly anybody” movement, everything that appears on the computer screen is very distant, just as the mill seems to be a dream when I am in the “many people” or “some people” movements.

The sun starts to hide itself away, the button is turned to “off”, the world goes back to being just fields, the scent of the herbs, the mooing of the cows and the shepherd’s voice bringing his flock home to the shed at the side of the mill.

I wonder how I can move about in two such different worlds in the space of a single day: the answer escapes me, yet I know this brings me great pleasure and it makes me happy while I write down these lines.

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True skill

By Paulo Coelho

The yogi Raman was a true master of the art of archery. One morning, he invited his favourite disciple to watch a display of his skill. The disciple had seen this more than a hundred times before, but he nevertheless obeyed his teacher. They went into the wood beside the monastery and when they reached a magnificent oak tree, Raman took a flower which he had tucked in his collar and placed it on one of the branches.

He then opened his bag and took out three objects: his splendid bow made of precious wood, an arrow and a white handkerchief embroidered with lilacs.

The yogi positioned himself one hundred paces from the spot where he had placed the flower. Facing his target, he asked his disciple to blindfold him with the embroidered handkerchief.

The disciple did as his teacher requested.

‘How often have you seen me practise the noble and ancient sport of archery?’ Raman asked him.

‘Every day,’ replied his disciple. ‘And you have always managed to hit the rose from three hundred paces away.’

With his eyes covered by the handkerchief, the yogi Raman placed his feet firmly on the ground, drew back the bowstring with all his might – aiming at the rose placed on one of the branches of the oak tree – and then released the arrow.

The arrow whistled through the air, but it did not even hit the tree, missing the target by an embarrassingly wide margin.

‘Did I hit it?’ said Raman, removing the handkerchief from his eyes.

‘No, you missed completely,’ replied the disciple. ‘I thought you were going to demonstrate to me the power of thought and your ability to perform magic.’

‘I have just taught you the most important lesson about the power of thought,’ replied Raman. ‘When you want something, concentrate only on that: no one will ever hit a target they cannot see.’

The importance of repeating the same thing

An action is a thought that manifests itself.
A small gesture denounces us, so we have to make everything perfect, think about the details, learn the technique so that it becomes intuitive.
Intuition has nothing to do with routine but rather with a state of spirit that lies beyond technique.
So, after practicing a lot, we no longer think about all the necessary movements: they become part of our very existence. But for this to happen, you have to train and repeat.

And as if that were not enough, you have to repeat and train.
Watch a good blacksmith working the steel. To the untrained eye he is repeating the same hammer blows over and over again.
But those who know the importance of training know that each time the hammer is raised and then lowered, the intensity of the blow is different. The hand repeats the same gesture but as it approaches the iron it knows whether to touch it harder or softer.
Look at the windmill. Whoever sees its vanes just once imagines that it always turns with the same speed, always repeating the same movement. But those who know windmills know that they are conditioned to the wind and change their direction whenever necessary.
The hand of the ironsmith was trained after the gesture of hammering was repeated thousands of times.
Windmill vanes can move fast after the wind has blown a lot and polished their gears.
The archer lets many an arrow pass far from the target because he knows that he will only learn the importance of the bow, posture, the string and the target after he repeats his gestures thousands of times without being afraid of making a mistake.

Training is NOT routine. It is essential

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Castaneda and the warrior’s spirit

Carlos Castaneda was an author who left his mark on my generation – although in academic circles he was never considered someone worthy of attention. As a tribute to him, I present a summary of his most important writings:

********
The most difficult thing in this world is to adopt the spirit and attitude of a warrior. It is no use being sad, complaining, feeling unjustly treated, and believing someone is doing something negative. No one is doing anything, and certainly not to a warrior.
********
It matters not how we were brought up. What determines our way of acting is the manner in which we administrate our will.
The will is a sentiment, a talent, something which lends us enthusiasm. The will is something which is acquired – but it is necessary to fight for it one’s whole life.
********
The humility of a warrior is not the same humility as that of a servile man. The warrior does not lower his head to anyone, and nor does he allow anyone to bow before him. The servile man, on the other hand, kneels before anyone he believes to be more powerful, and demands that the people under his command behave in a similar fashion before him.
********
The bad thing about words is that they make us feel as if we were illuminated and understanding everything. But, when we turn and face the world, we see that reality is completely different from that which we discussed or heard. A warrior seeks to act, and not waste time in useless conversation.
********
The ordinary man thinks that yielding to doubts and worries is a sign of sensibility, of spirituality. Acting thus, he remains distant from the true meaning of life. This type of person loves being told what he should do.
Only a warrior can endure the path of knowledge. A warrior does not complain or lament anything, and sees challenges as neither good nor bad. Challenges are simply challenges.
*******
The world is unfathomable and mysterious, just as we all are. The art of the warrior consists of reconciling the terror of being a man with the wonder of being a man.

.

Two Celtic blessings


____________________
EN ESPANOL: Dos bendiciones celtas
EN PORTUGUES: Duas bení§í£os celtas
____________________
 
(to read the story of the ring you see above, please CLICK HERE )

 
A Celtic Prayer

May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

An Old Celtic Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Destiny and fate

What does fate have to do with our Personal Legend? (by Mike)

There’s an important difference between blind fate and the path of the personal legend. When we speak of fate, man’s free will is absent: we are merely puppets in the hands of a cold and distant puppeteer.
In the case of personal legend, there’s the dimension of mission. This means that the person has to actively wish to thread down the path that will enable her to flourish. It is a difficult path, there are many obstacles, but it’s the person’s choice. There is always the possibility for us to turn our backs to our personal legend.

Can the heart be wrong? (by Antonya)

How will you judge that? With your mind? If you do this, you will always find ways to discredit your heart. But these are illusions.
Think of your heart as an instrument that goes beyond the typical right and wrong views. Your heart will always be your north star in life – as long as you listen to it and give it a chance to talk to you.

If the Universe says No, sometimes more than once, to something you really want, what do you do? (by Angie)

If your wish is deep-rooted in your soul, persist. If not – the Universe is simply echoing your inner turmoil.
Always ask yourself how far are you able to go in the path of your dreams. Only when you are capable of answering that question will you be able to move forward.
But don’t forget: to enjoy the rainbow, you must also enjoy the rain

Character of the week: Gibran

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood. All that spirits desire, spirits attain.

An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.
If the other person injures you, you may forget the injury; but if you injure him you will always remember.

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.

I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art.

And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.
If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof. Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is its twin brother.

Khalil Gibran ( January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer.

Agenda 2011

The 2011 Coelho Daily Planners are here, IN ALL MAJOR BOOKSTORES and stationery shops. Accompanied by Catalina Estrada’s beautiful illustrations.

La Agenda 2011 está tambien en todos los paí­ses de America Latina, America Central y Mexico.

If you want to buy online, you may click the links below



(Como mudei recentemente de editora, ní£o teremos a agenda 2011 no Brasil)

Agenda 2011

The 2011 Daily Planners are IN ALL MAJOR BOOKSTORES and stationery shops.
La Agenda 2011 en todos los paí­ses de America Latina, America Central y Mexico.

Catalina Estrada habla de las illustraciones (EN ESPANOL) >>CLICAR AQUI

If you want to buy online, you may click the links below. Please keep in mind that there will be no reprints of this item



(Como mudei recentemente de editora, ní£o teremos a agenda 2011 no Brasil)

Association of the Week: The Bridge

The bridge is a symbol of passage – symbolically connecting our world with the afterworld.

In Ancient cultures, including Ancient Rome, the constructions of bridges were considered as sacred and usually would be accompanied by rituals in order to secure the passage. Priests then were responsible for the bridges and from this emerged the term “Pontiff” – that until this day is used by the Pope.

Rainbows as well as the Milky Way are also considered as bridges towards other levels of existence.

But bridges are not only connections between two worlds; they also represent a passage towards a new form of existence. In Ancient China, virtuous men would be able to walk over a bridge that was a thick as a hair, while corrupted people would fall into the abyss.

So now you take the floor: what do you associate with the bridge?

The third passion

By Paulo Coelho

During the last fifteen years I remember experiencing only three overwhelming passions – the kind you read all about, talk compulsively about, seek out people with the same affinity, go to sleep and wake up thinking about. The first was when I bought a computer, abandoning my typewriter for ever and discovering the freedom that this allowed me (I am writing this in a small French town, using something that weighs less than 1.5 kilos, stores ten years of my professional life and can find whatever I need in under five seconds). The second was when I got into the Internet for the first time – by then already a library bigger than the biggest of all the libraries.

The third passion, however, has nothing to do with technological breakthroughs. I am talking about … the bow and arrow. In my youth I read a fascinating book with the title “Zen in the art of archery,” by E. Herrigel (Ed. Pensamento), which tells us about the author’s spiritual journeys by means of this sport. The idea stuck in my subconscious until one day in the Pyrenees when I met an archer. We talked for a while and then he lent me his gear, and ever since then I have not been able to live without practicing archery almost every day.

In Brazil I built a shooting stand in my apartment – the kind you can disassemble in five minutes when the guests arrive. In the French mountains I go out every day to practice, and that has already made me bedridden twice with hypothermia, caused by staying over two hours exposed to a temperature of 6o C below zero. This year I took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, thanks to very strong painkillers, because two days before the Forum I had a painful muscular inflammation due to positioning my arm wrongly.

So where is the fascination in all this? There is nothing of a practical nature in aiming at a target with a bow and arrow, arms that go back 30,000 years before Christ. But Herrigel, who aroused this passion in me, knew what he was talking about. Here are some extracts from “Zen and the art of archery” that can be applied to many activities in daily life:

“At the moment of holding the tension, concentrate only on what you need to use. Save all the rest of your energy, learn from the bow that in order to reach something it is not necessary to make gigantic movements, just focus on your target.”

“My master gave me a very stiff bow. I asked him why he was beginning to teach me as if I were a professional. His answer was: “If you start with easy things, you won’t be prepared for the big challenges. Better to know right away what kind of difficulty you’re going to encounter further ahead.”

“For a long time I shot without managing to open the bow properly, until one day the master taught me a breathing lesson and everything became so easy. I asked him why he had taken so long to correct me. He answered: “If from the very start I had taught you the breathing exercises, you would have found them unnecessary. Now you will believe what I tell you and practice as if it were really important. Those who know how to teach act in this way.”

“The moment for releasing the arrow happens instinctively, but first you have to know well the bow, the arrow and the target. The perfect stroke in life’s challenges also uses intuition, but we must not forget the technique after we master it completely.”

“At the end of four years, when I was already capable of mastering the bow, the master offered me his congratulations. I was happy and told him that I had reached the half-way point. “No,” answered the master. “So that you don’t fall into any treacherous traps, it’s better for you to consider half-way the point you reach after you have traveled 90% of the road.”

ATTENTION! Using the bow and arrow is dangerous, in some countries like France it is considered to be an arm, and it can only be practiced after receiving your license and only in places that are specially authorized.

The third passion

By Paulo Coelho

During the last fifteen years I remember experiencing only three overwhelming passions – the kind you read all about, talk compulsively about, seek out people with the same affinity, go to sleep and wake up thinking about. The first was when I bought a computer, abandoning my typewriter for ever and discovering the freedom that this allowed me (I am writing this in a small French town, using something that weighs less than 1.5 kilos, stores ten years of my professional life and can find whatever I need in under five seconds). The second was when I got into the Internet for the first time – by then already a library bigger than the biggest of all the libraries.

The third passion, however, has nothing to do with technological breakthroughs. I am talking about … the bow and arrow. In my youth I read a fascinating book with the title “Zen in the art of archery,” by E. Herrigel (Ed. Pensamento), which tells us about the author’s spiritual journeys by means of this sport. The idea stuck in my subconscious until one day in the Pyrenees when I met an archer. We talked for a while and then he lent me his gear, and ever since then I have not been able to live without practicing archery almost every day.

In Brazil I built a shooting stand in my apartment – the kind you can disassemble in five minutes when the guests arrive. In the French mountains I go out every day to practice, and that has already made me bedridden twice with hypothermia, caused by staying over two hours exposed to a temperature of 6o C below zero. This year I took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, thanks to very strong painkillers, because two days before the Forum I had a painful muscular inflammation due to positioning my arm wrongly.

So where is the fascination in all this? There is nothing of a practical nature in aiming at a target with a bow and arrow, arms that go back 30,000 years before Christ. But Herrigel, who aroused this passion in me, knew what he was talking about. Here are some extracts from “Zen and the art of archery” that can be applied to many activities in daily life:

“At the moment of holding the tension, concentrate only on what you need to use. Save all the rest of your energy, learn from the bow that in order to reach something it is not necessary to make gigantic movements, just focus on your target.”

“My master gave me a very stiff bow. I asked him why he was beginning to teach me as if I were a professional. His answer was: “If you start with easy things, you won’t be prepared for the big challenges. Better to know right away what kind of difficulty you’re going to encounter further ahead.”

“For a long time I shot without managing to open the bow properly, until one day the master taught me a breathing lesson and everything became so easy. I asked him why he had taken so long to correct me. He answered: “If from the very start I had taught you the breathing exercises, you would have found them unnecessary. Now you will believe what I tell you and practice as if it were really important. Those who know how to teach act in this way.”

“The moment for releasing the arrow happens instinctively, but first you have to know well the bow, the arrow and the target. The perfect stroke in life’s challenges also uses intuition, but we must not forget the technique after we master it completely.”

“At the end of four years, when I was already capable of mastering the bow, the master offered me his congratulations. I was happy and told him that I had reached the half-way point. “No,” answered the master. “So that you don’t fall into any treacherous traps, it’s better for you to consider half-way the point you reach after you have traveled 90% of the road.”

ATTENTION! Using the bow and arrow is dangerous, in some countries like France it is considered to be an arm, and it can only be practiced after receiving your license and only in places that are specially authorized.

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The cloud and the dune

Paulo Coelho

“Everyone knows that the lives of clouds are very active, but very short,” writes Bruno Ferrero. And that brings us to another story:

A young cloud was born in the middle of a great storm in the Mediterranean Sea. But it hardly had time to grow there; a strong wind pushed all the clouds towards Africa.

As soon as they arrived on the continent, the climate changed: a warm sun shone in the sky, and down below the golden sand of the Sahara desert spread into the distance. The wind continued to push them towards the forests in the south, since it hardly ever rains in the desert.

However, just as it is with young people, so with young clouds: this one decided to break away from its parents and older friends, to see the world.

– What are you doing? – complained the wind. – The entire desert is exactly the same! Come back to the group, and let’s go to the center of Africa, where there are beautiful mountains and trees!

But the young cloud, a rebel by nature, did not obey; little by little, it lowered its altitude, until it was able to float on a gentle, generous breeze down near the golden sands. After wandering all over the place, it noticed that one of the dunes was smiling at it.

It was because the dune was also young, recently formed by the wind which had just passed. Straight away, the cloud fell in love with its golden hair.

– Good morning – said the cloud. – What is it like living down there?

– I have the company of the other dunes, the sun, the wind, and the caravans which pass by from time to time. Sometimes it is very hot, but it is bearable. And what is living up there like?

– There is also the wind and the sun, but the advantage is, I can wander across the sky and get to know everything.

– For me life is short – said the dune. – When the wind returns from the forests, I will disappear.

– And does that make you sad?

– It gives me the impression that I am of no use to anyone.

– I feel the same way. As soon as another wind comes, I will go south and become rain; however, that’s my destiny.

The dune hesitated for a moment, before saying:

– Did you know that, down here in the desert, we call the rain Paradise?

– I didn’t know I could become something so important – said the proud cloud.

– I’ve heard several legends told by old dunes. They say that, after the rain, we are covered in herbs and flowers. But I’d never know what that is like, for in the desert it only rains very rarely.

This time it was the cloud which hesitated. But then it started to smile joyfully:

– If you like, I can cover you with rain. Although I’ve only just arrived, I am in love with you, and would like to stay here forever.

– When I first saw you up in the sky, I too fell in love – said the dune. – but if you turn your lovely white hair into rain, you will die.

– Love never dies – said the dune. – It transforms; and I want to show you Paradise.

And so it began to caress the dune with droplets; they remained together like this for a long time, until a rainbow appeared.

The next day, the small dune was covered in flowers. Other clouds passing towards central Africa, thought that must be part of the forest they were searching for, and poured down more rain. Twenty years later, the dune had become an oasis, which refreshed travelers under the shade of its trees.

And all because, one day, a loving cloud hadn’t been afraid to give up its life in the name of love.

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