Our destiny

: Somos diferentes

A Samurai who was known for his nobility and honesty, went to visit a Zen monk to ask him for his advice.
When the monk had finished his prayers, the Samurai asked,
– Why do I feel so inferior? – I have faced death many times, have defended those who are weak.
“Nevertheless, upon seeing you meditating, I felt that my life had absolutely no importance whatsoever.

– Wait. Once I have attended to all those who come to see me today, I shall answer you.

The samurai spent the whole day sitting in the temple gardens, watching the people go in and out in search of advice. He saw how the monk received them all with the same patience and the same illuminated smile on his face.

At nightfall, when everyone had gone, he demanded:
– Now can you teach me?

The master invited him in and lead him to his room. The full moon shone in the sky, and the atmosphere was one of profound tranquility.

– Do you see the moon, how beautiful it is? It will cross the entire firmament, and tomorrow the sun will shine once again.
“But sunlight is much brighter, and can show the details of the landscape around us: trees, mountains, clouds.
“I have contemplated the two for years, and have never heard the moon say: why do I not shine like the sun? Is it because I am inferior?

– Of course not – answered the samurai. – The moon and the sun are different things, each has its own beauty. You cannot compare the two.

– So you know the answer. We are two different people, each fighting in his own way for that which he believes, and making it possible to make the world a better place.

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The natural order

A very wealthy man asked a Zen master for a text which would always remind him how happy he was with his family.

The Zen master took some parchment and, in beautiful calligraphy, wrote:

– The father dies. The son dies. The grandson dies.

– What? – said the furious rich man. – I asked you for something to inspire me, some teaching which might be respectfully contemplated by future generations, and you give me something as depressing and gloomy as these words?

– You asked me for something which would remind you of the happiness of living together with your family. If your son dies first, everyone will be devastated by the pain. If your grandson dies, it would be an unbearable experience.

“However, if your family disappears in the order which I placed on the paper, this is the natural course of life. Thus, although we all endure moments of pain, the generations will continue, and your legacy will be long-lasting.”

Who still wants this bill?

Cassan Said Amer tells a story about a lecturer who began a seminar holding up a one dollar bill, and asking:

– Who wants this dollar bill?

Several hands went up, but the lecturer said:

– Before handing it over, there’s something I must do.

He furiously crushed it, and asked again:

– Who still wants this bill?

The hands continued raised.

– And what if I do this?

He threw it against the wall, letting it fall to the floor, kicked it, stamped in it and again held up the bill – all dirty and crumpled. He repeated the question, and the hands continued to be held high.

– You mustn’t ever forget this scene – said the lecturer. – No matter what I do with this money, it’ll still be a one dollar bill.

“Many times in our lives, we are crushed, stamped on, kicked, maltreated, offended; however, in spite of this, we are still worth the same.”

Who is the most powerful master

One of Yu’s disciples was talking to a disciple of Rinzai:

– My master is a man capable of doing miracles, that is why he is respected by all his pupils. I have seen him do things far beyond our capabilities. And your master? What great miracles can he do?

– My master’s greatest miracle is that he doesn’t need to display any great wonder, in order to show his pupils that he is a wise man – was the reply.


Another name

A man said to a friend:

‘You talk about God as if you knew him personally, down to the colour of his eyes. Why do you need to create something to believe in? Can’t you live without that?’
His friend replied:

Do you have any idea how the Universe was created? Can you explain the miracle of life?’


‘Everything around us is the result of chance. Things just happen.’
‘Exactly. Well, “Things just happen” is merely another name for God.’


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In Moses’ footsteps

By Paulo Coelho

Rabbi Zuya wanted to discover the mysteries of life. He therefore resolved to imitate the life of Moses.

For years, he tried to behave like the prophet – without ever achieving the results he hoped for. One night, tired of so much study, he fell into a deep sleep.

God appeared in his dream:

– Why are you so upset, my son? – He asked.

– My days on Earth will end, and I am still so far from being like Moses – answered Zuya.

– If I needed another Moses, I’d have already created him – said God. – When you come before me for judgment, I will not ask whether you were a good Moses, but who you were. Try and be a good Zuya.

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What is funny about man

By Paulo Coelho

A disciple asked Hejasi:

– I want to know what is the most funny thing about human beings.

Hejasi said:

– That they always think crooked: they’re in a hurry to grow, then lament their lost childhood, and soon loose the money they need to keep their health.

“They are so anxious about the future, that they neglect the present, and thus live in neither the present nor the future.

“They live as if they were never going to die, and die as if they had never lived.”

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20 sec reading: tirelessly seeking love

To the warriors of light, there is no such thing as impossible love.

They don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by silence, or by rejection.

They know that – behind the icy mask people wear – there is a heart of fire.

That is why the warriors risk more than others.

They tirelessly seek love – even if this means hearing, many times over, the word ‘no’, returning home defeated, feeling rejected in body and soul.

Warriors don’t allow themselves to be discouraged. Without love, living has no meaning.

The donkey dies of exhaustion

Nasrudin decided to go in search of some new meditation techniques. He saddled his donkey, went to India, China and Mongolia, talked to the great masters, but found nothing.

He heard tell of a wise man in Nepal: he journeyed there, but as he was climbing the mountain to meet him, his donkey died of exhaustion. Nasrudin buried him there and then, and wept sadly. Someone passed by and commented:

– You came in search of a saint, this must be his tomb and you are lamenting his death.

– No, this is the place where I buried my donkey, who died of exhaustion.

– I don’t believe it – said the new arrival. – No one weeps over a dead donkey. This must be a place where miracles occur, and you want to keep them for yourself.

Although Nasrudin explained again and again, it was no use. The man went to the next village and spread the story of a great master who cured people at his tomb, and soon the pilgrims began to arrive.

Gradually, news of the discovery of the Wise Man of Silent Mourning spread throughout Nepal – and crowds rushed to the place. A wealthy man came, thought his prayers had been answered, and built an imposing monument where Nasrudin had buried his “master”.

In view of everything, Nasrudin decided to leave things as they were. But he learned once and for all, that when someone wants to believe a lie, no one can convince him otherwise.

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Scattered ashes

I’ve always thought about what happens when we scatter a little of ourselves across the Earth. I have had my hair cut in Tokyo, have clipped my nails in Norway, watched my blood flow from a wound halfway up a mountain in France. In my first book, “The Archives of Hell” (which has never been reprinted), I speculated about this, as if we felt we had to sow a little of our own body in various parts of the world, so that in a future life, something would be familiar to us. I recently read in the French newspaper Le Figaro, an article by Guy Barret about a true story which took place in 2001, when someone took this idea to its final conclusion.

Who managed to do it? Vera Anderson, who spent her entire life in the town of Medford, Oregon. In old age, she was the victim of a cardiovascular accident made worse by emphysema of the lungs, forcing her to spend years in her room connected to a balloon of oxygen. As if all this wasn’t enough of a burden, Vera’s case was even more cruel, because she had always dreamed of going round the world, and had saved up in order to do so in retirement.

Vera managed to be transferred to Colorado, so that she might spend her remaining days in the company of her son, Ross. There, before making her final journey – the one none of us return from – she took a decision. Since she would never get to know even her own country, she would travel after she died.

Ross went to the local notary office and registered her mother’s will: when she died, she wished to be cremated. So far, nothing unusual. But the will went on: her ashes were to be placed in 241 little bags, which were to be sent to the chiefs of the mail services in 50 American states, and each of the 191 countries in the world – so that at least part of her body would end up visiting the places she always dreamed about.

As soon as Vera departed, Ross fulfilled her last wish with the dignity one would expect of a son.
Each parcel carried an accompanying letter asking for a laying to rest worthy of her mother.

All the people who received Vera Anderson’s ashes respectfully obeyed Ross’s wish.

Thus, Vera’s ashes were scattered on Lake Titicaca, in Bolivia, following the ancient traditions of the Aymara Indians; on the river outside the royal palace in Stockholm; on the banks of Choo Praya, in Thailand; at a Shinto temple in Japan; on the icecaps of Antarctica; in the Sahara desert. The brothers of a charitable orphanage in South America (the article doesn’t say which country) prayed for a week before casting the ashes in the garden – and they then decided that Vera Anderson should be considered a type of guardian angel of that place.

Ross Anderson received photos from the five continents, from all races and cultures, showing men and women honoring his mother’s last wish.
When we see such a divided world as today’s, and think no one could care less about each other, this last journey of Vera Anderson fills us with hope, knowing that respect, love and generosity still dwell in the souls of our fellow men and women, however distant they may be.

2O SEC READING: What is written?

Illustration by Ken Crane

A blind man was begging on the road to Mecca, when a pious Moslem came over and asked whether the people were giving generously – as the Koran commands. The man showed him his little tin, which was almost empty. The traveler said:

– Let me write something on the card around your neck.

Hours later, the traveler returned. The beggar was surprised, for he had received a large amount of money.

– What did you write on the card? – he asked.

– All I wrote was:
“Today is a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, and I am blind.”
based on a story by Khalil Gibran

More about Aikido

Aikido, one of the few martial arts I have ever practiced. Created by the Japanese master Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the word means "The art (or way) of peace." I remember spending endless nights with my companions, learning to fight in such a way that the adversary’s negative energy is directed against himself.

Ueshiba, who is known by those who practice Aikido as "The Grand Master", left behind a series of philosophical practices, during his conferences, in his poetry and conversations with disciples. Here are a few of his main teachings.

Where to begin the art of peace

The art of peace begins inside you; work to manage to keep it at your side. Everyone has a spirit which can be perfected, a body which can be trained, and a path to follow.

You are here to fulfill these three tasks, and to do so two things will be necessary: maintain calm, and practice the Art in everything you do. None of us needs money, power or status in order to practice the Art; at this precise moment you are one step away from Paradise, and should train now.

The universe and us

The whole universe comes from the same source. This source, which we call life, contains our past, the present, and the future. As man moves forward, he can either dissolve or harmonize his vital energy. Evil is born the moment we start to believe that that which belongs to all, belongs only to ourselves; this causes pride, useless desires, and anger. But anyone not possessed by things, eventually becomes lord of all.

The eight forces

In order to practice the Art of Peace, one must at some point delve alternately into the eight opposing forces which make up the Universe:

Movement and inertia
Solidity and adaptation,
Contraction and distention,
Unification and division.

These are present in everything, from the vast space to the smallest plants; each thing carries a gigantic reserve of universal energy, which can be used for the benefit of all.

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Accepting that we deserve our gifts

During a lecture in Australia, a young woman comes up, “I want to tell you something,” she says.

“I always believed I had a gift for curing people, but I never had the courage to use it on anyone. One day, my husband’s left leg was giving him great pain; there was no one about to help, and – mortally ashamed – I decided to place my hands on his leg and ask for the pain to go away.

“I acted not believing that I’d be able to help him. Suddenly, I heard him pray: “Lord, allow my wife to be the messenger of Your light, your Power,” he said. My hand began to heat up, and soon the pain had gone.

“Then I asked why he had prayed like that. He replied that he didn’t remember having said anything. Today I am able to cure, because he believed it was possible.”

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Overcoming obstacles

A famous Sufi master was invited to give a course in California.
The auditorium was full at 8AM – the time announced – when one of the assistants came onto the stage.

“The master is just waking up. Please be patient.”

Time passed, and people started leaving the room.
At midday, the assistant returned to the stage, saying that the master would be starting the lecture the minute he finished talking to a pretty girl he had just met.
Most of the remaining audience left.

At 4PM the master appeared – apparently drunk.
This time, all but 6 people stormed out.

“I will teach you this,” said the master, ceasing to act drunk.
“Whoever wishes to go down a long path, must learn that the first lesson is to overcome early disappointments.”

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10 SEC READING: Where the truth is

Illustration by Ken Crane

“Some disciples are always asking where the truth is,” said Maal-El.
“So one day I decided to point in one direction, trying to show them how important it is to follow a path, and not just to think about it.

“Instead of looking in the direction I had pointed, the man who had asked the question started examining my finger, trying to find out where the truth was hidden.

“When people seek out a master, they should be looking for experiences which can help them avoid certain obstacles.
“But unfortunately, reality is different: they adopt the law of minimum effort, trying to find answers to everything.”

“The person who accepts, without question, the truths of his master, will never find his/her own path.”


The moment to decide

The warrior of the light is terrified when faced with important decisions.

“That is too great for you,” says one friend. “Go on, be brave,” says another. And his doubts only increase.

After some days of anxiety, he withdraws into a corner of his tent, where he usually sits to mediate and pray. He sees himself in the future. He sees the people who will benefit and lose out because of his actions. He does not wish to cause unnecessary suffering, but nor will he abandon the path.

So the warrior allows the decision to appear.

If he must say yes, then he shall bravely say it.
If he must say no, then he shall say so without fear.

1O SEC READING: choosing the path

“I am willing to give up everything”, said the prince to the master. “Please accept me as your disciple.”

“How does a man choose his path?” asked the master.

“Through sacrifice,” answered the prince. “A path which demands sacrifice, is a true path.”

The master bumped into some shelves. A precious vase fell, and the prince threw himself down in order to grab hold of it. He fell badly and broke his arm, but managed to save the vase.

“What is the greater sacrifice: to watch the vase smash, or break one’s arm in order to save it?” asked the master.

“I do not know,” said the prince.

“Then how can you guide your choice for sacrifice? The true path is chosen by our ability to love it, not to suffer for it.”

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Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

The modern Japan is long been called as “Self-searching Era”. On the other hand, there are tendency that it is the reason for “Adults’ Regression Phenomena” such as adults’ growing tendency to put off marriage and declining birthrate. Mr. Coelho, what do you think of the influence toward society of the people’s search for one’s raison d’etre and purpose of life?

I think, that despite all the fanaticisms, we are seeing the beginning of an era where feminine values, such as generosity and tolerance, are surfacing again.

This so called “regression” is actually a more honest attitude towards ourselves and what truly motivates us – not what society expects of us.