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May 23, 2006

Two tales of Zen Wisdom, and, Reflections of the Warrior of the Light IX

The Alchemists's Universe, by Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) --- Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist 1. The gift of insults

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai warrior, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. In spite of his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.
One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. He was famous for using techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary made the first move and, being gifted with an enviable intelligence in order to repair any mistakes made, he counterattacked with fulminating speed.

The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.

All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:

- How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?
- If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.

- He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.
- The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master. – When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.

2. Where is the umbrella?

At the end of ten years of apprenticeship, Zenno thought he should be elevated to the category of Zen master. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous professor Nan-in.
Upon entering Nan-in’s house, the host asked him:

- Did you leave your shoes and umbrella outside?
- Of course – replied Zenno. – As good manners demand. I would do the same anywhere.
- Then tell me: did you place your umbrella to the right or the left of your shoes?
- I’ve no idea, master.
- Zen Buddhism is the art of total consciousness of what we do – said Nan-in. – The lack of attention to the smallest details can completely destroy a man’s life. A father who rushes out of the house, must never forget the dagger within his small son’s reach. A Samurai who doesn’t take care of his sword every day, will at some point find it is rusty, just when he most needs it. A young man who forgets to give his lover flowers, will end up losing her.

And Zenno understood that, although he knew the Zen techniques of the spiritual world, he had forgotten to apply them to the world of men.

Reflections of the warrior of the light

The warrior of the light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the many obstacles he encounters.

At certain times, resistance means to be destroyed. At such times, he adapts to circumstances. He accepts, without complaint, that the rocks along the way forge his path down the mountains.

Such is the force of water: it can never be broken by a hammer, or wounded by a knife. The most powerful sword in the world is incapable of leaving a scar on its surface.

The water of a river adapts to the path which is possible, without forgetting its objective: the sea. Fragile at its spring, it gradually acquires the strength of the other rivers it encounters.

And, after a while, its power is absolute.

Posted by Administrator at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2006

Conversation with the Master: The Personal Legend

Notes on Conversations with J., 1982 to 1990. by Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) --- Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Here I continue to reproduce excerpts from talks with my master, from 1982 to 1990)

- What is the Personal Legend?

- It is your blessing, the path God has chosen for you here on Earth. Whenever a man does that which gives him enthusiasm, he is following his Legend. However, not everyone has the courage to face up to his own dreams.

- Why is that?

- There are four obstacles. The first: he has heard, right from childhood, that everything he wishes to live is impossible. He grows up with this idea, and as he acquires age, he also accumulates layers of prejudices, fears, guilt. There comes a time when his Personal Legend is so deeply buried within his soul, he can no longer see it. But it is still there.

“If he has the courage to unearth his dreams, he then faces a second obstacle: love. He now knows what he desires to do, but he thinks he will harm those around him, if he gives everything up to follow his dreams. He does not understand that love is an additional impulse, not something which hinders one from going forward. He does not understand that those who truly wish him well are longing for his happiness, and are ready to accompany him on this adventure.

“After accepting love as a stimulus, a man faces the third obstacle: the fear of the defeats he will encounter along the way. A man who fights for his dream suffers far more when something doesn’t go well, because he cannot use the famous excuse: “oh, well in fact that wasn’t exactly what I wanted anyway...” He does want it, and knows he is putting everything into it, and also that the Personal Legend is just as difficult as any other path – the difference being that your heart is present on this journey. So, a warrior of the light must be prepared to be patient at difficult times, and know that the Universe is conspiring in his favor, even if he does not understand how.

- Are the defeats necessary?

- Whether necessary or not, they occur. When he begins fighting for his dreams, man has no experience, and makes many mistakes. But the secret in life is to fall seven times, and rise up eight times.

- Why is it important to live the Personal Legend, if we are to suffer just as much as others?

- Because after having overcome the defeats – and we always overcome them – we feel much more euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know we are worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the Good Combat. We begin to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Very intense and unexpected suffering begins passing faster than apparently tolerable suffering: that drags on for years, eroding our soul without us noticing what is happening – until one day we can no longer free ourselves of the bitterness, and it accompanies us for the rest of our lives.

- And what is the fourth obstacle?

- After unearthing your dream, using the power of love for support, spending many years with the scars, a man realizes – from one day to the next – that everything he always wanted is right there, waiting for him, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream he has fought for all his life.

- That makes no sense.

- Oscar Wilde said that we always destroy the thing we love the most. And it is true. The simple possibility of achieving that which we desire causes the soul of the common man to be filled with guilt. He looks around, and sees many others who have not succeeded, and so he thinks he does not deserve it. He forgets everything he overcame, all he suffered, everything he had to renounce in order to come this far. I know many people who, when they are within reach of their Personal Legend, make a series of silly mistakes and do not attain their objective – when it was just one step away.

“This is the most dangerous of the obstacles, because it has a certain aura of sanctity about it: to renounce to joy and the conquest. But if the man is worthy of that which he has fought so hard for, he then becomes an instrument of God, aids the Soul of the World, and understands why he is there.”

Posted by Administrator at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

Three Stories of Iranian Mysticism

by Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) --- Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist

Nasrudin’s Turban

Nasrudin appeared at court wearing a magnificent turban and asking for money for charity.

- you come here asking for money, but wear such an expensive ornament upon your head. How much was that extraordinary piece? – asked the sovereign.
- Five hundred gold coins – replied the wise Sufi.

The minister whispered: “That is a lie. No turban costs such a fortune.”
Nasrudin insisted:

- I have not come here only to ask for money, I am also here to negotiate. I paid that much money for the turban, for I knew that in the whole world only one king would be capable of buying it for six hundred coins, so that I can give the profit to the poor.
This sultan was flattered and paid the sum Nasrudin ask. On his way out, the wise man said to the minister:

- You may know the value of turbans, but I know how far vanity can lead a man.

Just like marriage

Nasrudin spent the entire autumn working his garden. The flowers had blossomed in the spring – and Nasrudin noticed a few dandelions appearing, which he hadn’t planted.

Nasrudin tore them up. But the pollen had already spread and others began to grow. He tried to find a weed killer which only killed dandelions. A specialist told him any type of poison would end up killing all the other flowers. In despair, he went to ask a gardener for help.

- It is like a marriage – said the gardener. – Along with the good things, a few little inconveniences always appear.
- What can I do? – insisted Nasrudin.
- Nothing. Although they are flowers you did not count on, they are still part of the garden.

Accepting Compassion

- How do we purify the world?- asked a disciple.
Ibn al-Husayn replied:
- There was once a sheik in Damascus called Abu Musa al-Qumasi. Everyone honored him for his great wisdom, but no one knew whether he was a good man.

“One afternoon, a construction fault caused the house where the sheik lived with his wife, to collapse. The desperate neighbors began to dig the ruins; eventually, they managed to locate the sheik’s wife.

"She said: "Don’t worry about me. First save my husband, who was sitting somewhere over there."

"The neighbors removed the rubble from the area she indicated, and found the sheik. He said: "Don’t worry about me. First save my wife, who was lying somewhere over there."

"When someone acts as this couple did, he is purifying the whole world."

Posted by Administrator at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2005

I want to find God, and, Reflections of the Warrior of the Light VIII

by Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) --- I WANT TO FIND GOD Paulo Coelho, the AlchemistThe man arrived at the monastery exhausted: - I have been looking for God for so long – he said. – Perhaps you can teach me the right way of finding Him.

- Enter and see our convent – said the priest, taking him by the hand and leading him to the chapel. – Here are some fine works of art of the 16th century, which portray the life of the Lord, and His glory among men.

The man waited, while the priest explained each one of the beautiful paintings and sculptures which adorned the chapel. Afterwards, he repeated the question:

- Everything you showed me is very beautiful. But I’d like to learn the best way to find God.

- God! – replied the priest. – You said exactly that: God!
And he took the man to the refectory, where supper was being prepared for the monks.

- Look around: soon supper will be served, and your are invited to dine with us. You will be able to listen to the Scriptures, while you satisfy your hunger.

- I am not hungry, and I have already read the entire Scriptures – insisted the man. – I wish to learn. I have come here to find God.
Again the priest took the stranger by the hand and they began walking around the cloisters which encircled a lovely garden.

- I ask my monks to always keep the grass cut, and to remove the dry leaves from the fountain you see over there in the middle. I think this must be the best kept monastery in the whole region.
The stranger walked with the priest a short way, then excused himself, saying he must be leaving.

- Won’t you stay for supper? asked the priest.
As he mounted his horse, the stranger spoke:

- Congratulations on your fine church, your welcoming refectory and the perfectly clean courtyard. But I have journeyed many leagues just in order to learn to find God, and not to marvel at efficiency, comfort and discipline.
A flash of lightening struck, the horse reared up and the earth shook. Suddenly, the strange man removed his disguise, and the priest saw that it was Jesus.
- God is wherever He is invited in – said Jesus. – But you have closed the doors of this monastery to Him, with rules, pride, wealth, ostentation. The next time a stranger comes asking to find God, do not show him what you have managed in His name: listen to the question, and try to answer with love, charity and simplicity. And so saying, He disappeared.


A warrior of the light does not put off his decisions.
He reflects properly before acting, considers his training, his responsibility, and his duty to the master. He seeks to maintain serenity, and analyzes each step as if it were the most important one.
But at the moment of making a decision, the warrior moves ahead: he no longer has any doubts about his choice, nor does he alter course should the circumstances be other than those he imagined.

If his decision was the correct one, he will win the combat – even if it takes longer than planned. If his decision is wrong, he will be defeated, and will have to start over again – with more wisdom.
But when he starts out, the warrior of the light follows through to the end.

Paulo Coelho a.k.a. the "Alchemist," a widely read and influential author is a winner of the 2001 'BAMBI Award, one of Germany's most prestigious prizes

Posted by Administrator at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light VI: The Correct Vibration, Discipline, Compassion, and Accepting Destiny

by Paulo Coelho --- The Correct Vibration

The warrior of the light knows it is impossible to live in a state of total relaxation.

He has learned from the archer that in order to fire the arrow into the distance, one must keep the bow taut. He has learned from the stars that only an inner explosion allows them to shine. The warrior notes that, upon negotiating an obstacle, the horse tenses its muscles.

But he never mistakes tension for nervousness.

Discipline and Compassion

The warrior of the light always manages to balance Severity and Mercy. To reach one’s dream, one must have a firm will – and an enormous capacity for giving oneself up.

Although he has an objective, the path leading there is not always that which he imagines.

This is why the warrior uses discipline and compassion. God never abandons his children – but His designs for Providence are unfathomable, and He builds our road using our own steps.
Using discipline and deliverance, the warrior does not allow his gestures to become a routine. A habit can never command important movements.

Accepting Destiny

The moment he starts walking, a warrior of the light recognizes the Way. Each rock, each bend welcomes him. He identifies with the mountains and brooks, sees a little of his soul in the plants, animals and birds of the field.
Then, by accepting help from God and God’s Signs, he allows his Personal Legend to guide him towards the duties his life has reserved for him.

Some nights he has nowhere to sleep, on others he suffers from insomnia. He discovers the suffering of certain lost illusions, and the despair of bestowing too much expectation on important moments.
"Such is the Way," thinks the warrior. "It was I decided to take this route."

All his power lies in this phrase. He chose the path along which he walks, and must not complain.

Posted by Administrator at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

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