Category Archives: Books

The juggling

“Our lady with Baby Jesus in her arms, decided to come down to Earth and visit a monastery. The monks proudly joined in a long queue, and each of them came before the Virgin to render their homage. One declaimed beautiful poetry, another showed his illuminated paintings of biblical subjects, a third repeated the names of all the Saints. And so on, one monk after the other, praising Our Lady and the Baby Jesus.”

“The last monk of all there was the humblest in the whole monastery, who had never studied the learned books of the time. His parents were simple people, who worked in an old travelling circus, and all they had taught him was to throw balls into the air and juggle with them.”

“When it was his turn, the other members of the order wanted to bring the homage to a conclusion, since the old juggler would have nothing important to say, and might lower the image of the monastery. But in the bottom of his heart, he also felt a burning need to give something of himself to Jesus and the Virgin.”

“Ashamed, conscious of the disapproving looks of his brothers, he took a few oranges from his bag, and started to juggle them in the air, saying that juggling was all he knew how to do.”

“It was at that moment that the Baby Jesus, sitting on Our Lady’s lap, smiled and started to clap his hands. And the Virgin reached out her arms, inviting him to hold the baby.”

From the preface of the book “The Alchemist” written by Paulo Coelho.

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April 20, 2012 · 11:21 am

Two drops of Oil

oil drops

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

This story was written in the book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Image Courtesy: mamchenkov.

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March 29, 2012 · 10:38 am

The story of Narcissus

The Alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. The Alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who daily knelt beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story. He said that when Narcissus died, the Goddesses of the Forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

“Why do you weep?” the Goddesses asked.

“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.

“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But….. was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the Goddesses said in wonder, “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”

The lake was silent for some time. Finally it said:

“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

“What a lovely story,” the Alchemist thought.

This is an ancient Greek story, which is adapted in the book The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho.

Image Courtesy: Thanasis

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March 23, 2012 · 9:41 pm

Living Truly

living truly

‘Esther asks why people are sad.

‘ “That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs of 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.”

‘Esther remarks that many people say to her: “You’re lucky, you know what you want from life, whereas I don’t even know what I want to do.”

“Of course they know”, replies the nomad. “How many people do you know who say: I’ve never done what I wanted, but then, thats life. If they say they haven’t done what they wanted, then, at some point, they must have known what it was that they did want. As for life, it’s just a story that other people tell us about the world and about how we should behave in the world.”

“Even worse are those people who say: I’m happy because I’m sacrificing my life for those I love.”

‘ “And do you think that the people who love us want to see us suffering for their sakes? Do you think that love is a source of suffering?”

‘ “To be honest, yes.”

‘ “Well, it shouldn’t be.”

‘ “If I forgot the story other people have told me, I’ll also forget a lot of very important things life has taught me. What was the point of struggling to learn so much? What was the point of struggling to gain experience, so as to be able to deal with my career, my husband, my various crises?” ‘

‘ “Accumulated knowledge is useful when it comes to cooking or living within your means or wrapping up warm in winter or respecting certain limits or knowing where particular bus and train lines go. Do you believe that your past loves have taught you to love better?”

‘ “They’ve taught me to know what I want.”

‘ “I didn’t ask that. Have your past loves taught you to love your husband better?”

‘ “No, on the contrary. In order to surrender myself to him, I had to forget all the scars left by other men. Is that what you mean?”

‘ “In order for the true energy of love to penetrate your soul, your soul must be as if you had just been born. Why are people unhappy? Because they want to imprison that energy, which is impossible. Forgetting your personal history means leaving that channel clear, allowing that energy to manifest itself each day in whatever way it chooses, allowing yourself to be guided by it.”

‘ “That’s all very romantic by all kinds of things: commitments, children, your social situation….”

‘ “…and, after a while, by despair, fear, loneliness and your attempts to control the uncontrollable. According to the tradition of the steppes – which is known as the Tengri – in order to live fully, it is necessary to be in constant movements; only then can each day be different from the last. When they passed through cities, the nomads would think: The poor people in the cities probably looked at the nomads and thought: Poor things, they have nowhere to live. The nomads had no past, only the present, and that is why they were always happy, until the Communist governors made them stop travelling and forced them to live on collective farms. From then on, little by little, they came to believe that the story society told them was true. Consequently, they have lost all their strength.”

‘ “No one nowadays can spend their whole life travelling.”

‘ “Not physically, no, but they can on a spiritual plane. Going farther and farther, distancing yourself from your personal history, from what you were forced to become.”

‘ “How does one go about abandoning the story one was told?”

‘ “By repeating it loud in meticulous detail. And as we tell our story, we say goodbye to what we were and, as you’ll see if you try, we create space for a new, unknown world. We repeat the old story over and over until it is no longer important to us.”

‘ “Is that all?”

‘ “There is just one other thing: as those spaces grow, it is important to fill them up quickly, even if only provisionally, so as not to be left with a feeling of emptiness.”

‘ “How?”

‘ “With different stories, with experiences we never dared to have or didn’t want to have. That is how we change. That is how love grows. And when love grows, we grow with it.”

‘ “Does that mean we might lose things that are important?”

‘ “Never. The important things always stay; what we lose are the things we thought were important but which are, in fact, useless, like the false power we use to control the energy of love.”

This above passage is taken from the book The Zahir written by Paulo Coelho.

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March 12, 2012 · 10:32 pm

Moments

moments

Every day, God gives us the sun – and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy.Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist – that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But, if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our frontdoor key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists – a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.

Joy is something a blessing but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments – but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.

Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won’t suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back – and at some point everyone looks back – she will hear her heart saying, ‘what have you done with the talents god bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life.’

Pitiful are people who must realize this. Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life’s magic moments will have already passed them by.

From the book By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho.

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