© Paulo Coelho. Maktub.
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     Paulo Coelho. Maktub

     Dedicated to Nha Chica

     "Maktub" means "It  is written." The Arabs feel that "It is written" is
not  really  a  good  translation,  because, although everything is  already
written, God is compassionate, and wrote it all down just to help us.
     The wanderer is in New York. He  has overslept an appointment, and when
he leaves his hotel, he  finds that his car has been towed by the police. He
arrives late for his appointment, the luncheon lasts  longer than necessary,
and  he is thinking  about  the  fine he will have to  pay.  It will  cost a
fortune. Suddenly, he remembers the dollar bill  he  found in the street the
day before. He sees  some kind of weird relationship between the dollar bill
and  what happened to him  that morning. "Who  knows, perhaps  I found  that
money before the  person who was supposed to find it had the chance? Maybe I
removed that  dollar bill from the path of someone who really needed it. Who
knows but what I interfered with what was written?" He feels the need to rid
himself of the dollar bill, and at that moment sees a beggar  sitting on the
sidewalk. He quickly  hands him  the bill, and feels  that he has restored a
kind of equilibrium to things. "Just a  minute," says  the  beggar. "I'm not
looking for a handout. I'm a poet, and I want to read you a poem in return."
"Well, make it a short one,  because I'm in a hurry," says the wanderer. The
beggar says, "If you are still living, it's because you have not yet arrived
at the place you should be."
     Think of the lizard.  It spends most of its life on the ground, envying
the birds and indignant at  its fate and its shape. "I  am the most disliked
of all  the creatures," it thinks. "Ugly, repulsive, and condemned to  crawl
along the ground." One day, though, Mother  Nature asks the lizard to make a
cocoon.  The lizard is  startled  -- it has never  made a  cocoon before. He
thinks that he is building  his tomb, and prepares to  die. Although unhappy
with the life he has  led up until then, he complains  to  God: "Just when I
finally became  accustomed to things,  Lord,  you  take away what  little  I
have." In desperation, he locks himself  into the cocoon and awaits the end.
Some days later,  he finds  that  he has been  transformed into a  beautiful
butterfly. He is able  to  fly to the sky, and he  is greatly admired. He is
surprised at the meaning of life and at God's designs.
     A stranger sought out the Father Superior at the monastery of Sceta. "I
want to make my life better," he said. "But I cannot keep myself from having
sinful thoughts."  The father noticed  that  the  wind  was  blowing briskly
outside, and said to the stranger: "It's quite  hot in here. I wonder if you
could seize a bit of that  wind outside and bring it here to cool the room."
"That's impossible,"  the stranger said.  "It  is also  impossible  to  keep
yourself from thinking of things that offend God," answered the  monk. "But,
if you know how to say no to temptation, they will cause you no harm."
     The master says: "If a  decision needs to be made, it is better to make
it  and deal with the consequences. You  cannot  know beforehand what  those
consequences will be.  The  arts of divination were  developed in  order  to
counsel people, never to  predict the future. They provide  good advice, but
poor prophecy. "In one  of the prayers that Jesus taught us, it says, 'God's
will be done.'  When His will causes a problem, it also presents a solution.
If the arts of  divination were able to predict the future, every soothsayer
would be wealthy, married and content."
     The  disciple  approached his master:  "For years  I have been  seeking
illumination," he said. "I feel  that  I am close to achieving it. I need to
know  what the  next  step is." "How  do you support yourself?"  the  master
asked. "I haven't yet learned how to support myself; my parents help me out.
But that is only a detail."  "Your next step is to  look directly at the sun
for  half a  minute,"  said the master. And the  disciple obeyed.  When  the
half-minute  was  over, the  master  asked  him to  describe  the field that
surrounded  them.  "I  can't  see it. The  sun has affected my  vision," the
disciple  said.  "A  man  who seeks  only  the  light,  while  shirking  his
responsibilities, will never find  illumination. And one  who  keep his eyes
fixed upon the sun ends up blind," was the master's comment.
     A man  was hiking through a valley in the Pyrenees, when he  met an old
shepherd. He  shared  his  food with him, and  they sat  together for a long
time,  talking about life. The man said  that, if one  believed  in God,  he
would also have to admit that he was not free, since  God would govern every
step. In  response, the shepherd led him to a ravine where one could hear --
with absolute clarity -- the  echo to any sound. "Life is these  walls,  and
fate  is the shout  that each  of us  makes," said the shepherd. "What we do
will be raised  to  His  heart, and will be returned to us in the same form.
"God acts as the echo of our own deeds."
     The master said: "When we sense that the time has come for a change, we
begin  -- unconsciously  --  to run  the tape again, to view every defeat we
have experienced until then. "And, of course, as  we  grow older, our number
of  difficult  moments  grows  larger.  But, at the  same  time,  experience
provides us with  better means of overcoming  those  defeats, and of finding
the path that  allows us to go forward. We have to play that  second tape on
our mental  VCR, too. "If we only watch the tape  of  our defeats, we become
paralyzed. If we only watch the tape  of our successes, we  wind up thinking
we are wiser than we really are. "We need both of those tapes."
     The disciple said to his master: "I have spent most of the day thinking
about things I should  not be thinking  about,  desiring things I should not
desire and making plans  I  should not be making."  The  master invited  the
disciple to take a  walk with him through the forest behind his house. Along
the way, he pointed to a plant, and asked the disciple if  he knew its name.
"Belladonna,"  said the  disciple. "It can kill anyone who eats its leaves."
"But  it  cannot  kill anyone  who simply  observes  it," said  the  master.
"Likewise, negative desires can  cause no  evil if you do not allow yourself
to be seduced by them."
     Between  France  and  Spain is  a  range of mountains. In one  of those
mountains, there  is a village  named Argeles,  and in the village is a hill
leading to the valley. Every afternoon,  an old  man climbs and descends the
hill. When the wanderer went to Argeles for the first time, he was not aware
of this. On his second visit, he noticed that he crossed paths with the same
man. And  every time he went to the village, he perceived the man in greater
detail -- his clothing, his beret, his cane, his glasses. Nowadays, whenever
he  thinks  about that village,  he  thinks of  the old man, as well -- even
though he is not aware that  this is true.  Only once did the wanderer  ever
speak to the man. In a joking fashion, he  asked the man, "Do you think that
God lives in these  beautiful mountains surrounding us?" "God  lives,"  said
the old man, "in those places where they allow Him to enter."
     The  master met one night with his disciples, and asked them to build a
campfire so they could sit and talk. "The spiritual path is like a fire that
burns before us," he  said.  "A man who  wants to light the fire has to bear
with the disagreeable smoke that makes it difficult  for him to breathe, and
brings  tears to his eyes. That  is how his faith is  rediscovered. However,
once the fire is rekindled, the smoke disappears,  and the flames illuminate
everything  around him  --  providing heat  and tranquility." "But  what  if
someone else lights the fire for him?" asked one  of the disciples.  "And if
someone helps us  to avoid the smoke?" "If someone does  that, he is a false
master.  A  master capable of taking the fire to wherever he desires, or  of
extinguishing it whenever he wants to do so. And, since he has taught no one
how to light the fire, he is likely to leave everyone in the darkness."
     "When  you strike out along your  path, you will  find a  door  with  a
phrase written upon it," says the master. "Come back to me, and tell me what
the  phrase says." The  disciple gives himself to the search, body and soul,
and one day comes upon the door, and  then returns to his master. "What  was
written there  was  'THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE,' he  says." "Was that written on  a
wall  or  on a  door?"  the master asks. "On  a door," the disciple answers.
"Well,  then,  put your  hand  on  the doorknob and  open it."  The disciple
obeyed. Since the phrase was painted with  the door, it gave way just as the
door itself did.  With the door completely open, he could no longer  see the
phrase -- and he went on.
     The master says: "Close your eyes. Or even with your eyes open, imagine
the following  scene: a flock of  birds  on the wing. Now, tell me  how many
birds you saw:  Five?  Eleven? Sixteen? Whatever the response -- and  it  is
difficult  for someone to say how many birds  were seen -- one thing becomes
quite clear in this  small experiment. You can imagine a flock of birds, but
the number of birds in the flock is beyond your control.  Yet the  scene was
clear, well-defined, exact. There must be an answer to the question. Who was
it  that determined how many birds should appear in  the imagined scene? Not
you!"
     A man  decided to  visit a hermit who, he had been  told, lived not far
from the monastery at Sceta. After wandering  aimlessly about the desert, he
finally found the monk. "I need to  know what is the  first step that should
be  taken  along the spiritual path," he said. The hermit took the  man to a
small well,  and told him  to  look at his reflection in  the water. The man
tried  to do so,  but as he made his attempt,  the hermit threw pebbles into
the  water, causing the surface to be disturbed. "I won't  be able to see my
face in the water if you keep  throwing those  pebbles," said the man. "Just
as    it    is    impossible    for    a   man   to   see   his    face   in
tro6tTI
have been thinking about how to make this news less difficult to hear -- how
to paint  it in brighter  colors, add to it promises of Paradise, visions of
the Absolute, provide esoteric explanations -- but they do not apply. Take a
deep breath,  and prepare yourself.  I have to be blunt, and I assure you, I
am  absolutely  certain  of  what  I'm  telling  you.  It  is an  infallible
prediction, without any doubt whatsoever. It's the  following: you are going
to die. It may  be tomorrow or fifty years from now, but -- sooner or  later
--you are going to die. Even if you would rather not. Even if you have other
plans. Think carefully about what you are going to  do today. And  tomorrow.
And with the rest of your life."
     An explorer, a white man, anxious to reach his destination in the heart
of  Africa, promised an  extra payment  to  his bearers  if they would  make
greater speed. For several days, the  bearers moved  along at a faster pace.
One  afternoon,  though,  they all suddenly put down their burden and sat on
the ground. No matter how much money they were offered, they refused to move
on. When the explorer finally asked why they were behaving  as they were, he
was given the following answer:  "We have been moving along at  such a  fast
pace that we no longer know what we are doing. Now we have to wait until our
soul catches up with us."
     Our Lady,  with  the infant Jesus  in  her  arms, came down to earth to
visit  a  monastery. In  their joy, the  padres  stood in line  to pay their
respects: one of them recited poetry, another showed  Her illuminated images
for the Bible, another recited the names of all of the saints. At the end of
the line  was  a humble padre who had never had the chance to learn from the
wise  men  of his time. His parents  were simple  people  who  worked  in  a
traveling circus. When his turn came, the monks wanted to end the payment of
respects, fearful that he would  damage their  image. But he, too, wanted to
show his love for the Virgin. Embarrassed, and sensing  the  disapproval  of
the brothers, he took some oranges from his pocket and began to toss them in
the air  -- juggling as  his parents with the  circus had taught him. It was
only then that the infant Jesus smiled and  clapped his hands with joy.  And
it  was  only to the humble monk that the Virgin held out her arms, allowing
him to hold her Son for a while.
     Do not always try to  be consistent. Saint Paul,  after all, said, "The
wisdom  of the world  is  madness in the eyes of God."  To  be consistent is
always to  wear  a tie  that  matches one's  socks. It is  to have the  same
opinions tomorrow as one has today. And the movement of the planet? Where is
it? So long  as you do no  harm to  another, change your opinion once  in  a
while. Contradict yourself without being embarrassed. This is your right. It
doesn't matter  what others think -- because that's what they will think, in
any  case.  So,  relax. Let the universe  move  about.  Discover the joy  of
surprising  yourself. "God selected  the crazy things on the earth so as  to
embarrass the wise men," said Saint Paul.
     The master says: "Today would be  a good day for doing something out of
the ordinary. We could, for example, dance through the streets on our way to
work. Look  directly into the eyes of a stranger, and speak of love at first
sight. Give the  boss an idea that may seem ridiculous, an idea  we've never
mentioned  before.  The Warriors of  the Light allow themselves  such  days.
Today, we could cry  over some  ancient injustices  that still stick in  our
craw. We could phone someone we vowed never to speak to again (but from whom
we would love to receive a message on the answering machine). Today could be
considered a day  outside the script that we write every morning. Today, any
fault will be permitted and forgiven. Today is a day to enjoy life."
     The scientist, Roger Penrose, was walking with some friends and talking
animatedly. He fell silent only in order to  cross  the  street. "I remember
that  -- as I was  crossing the  street  -- an  incredible idea came to me,"
Penrose said. "But, as soon as we reached the other side, we picked up where
we  left off, and I couldn't remember what  I  thought of just a few seconds
earlier."  Late in the afternoon, Penrose  began to feel euphoric -- without
knowing why. "I had the feeling that something had been  revealed to me," he
said.  He decided to  go back over  every minute  of the day, and -- when he
remembered the moment when he  was crossing the street -- the idea came back
to him.  This time,  he wrote it down. It was  the theory of black  holes, a
revolutionary  theory  in modern physics. And  it  came back to him  because
Penrose was able to recall the silence that we always fall into  as we cross
a street. Saint Anton was living in the desert  when a young  man approached
him. "Father, I  sold everything I owned, and gave the proceeds to the poor.
I  kept only a few things  that could help me to  survive out here.  I would
like you to show me the path to salvation."
     Saint Anton  asked that the lad sell the few  things  that he had kept,
and -- with the money -- buy some meat in the city. When he returned, he was
to strap the meat to his body. The young man did as he was instructed. As he
was returning, he was attacked by dogs and falcons who wanted the meat. "I'm
back," said the  young  man,  showing  the  father  his wounded body and his
tattered clothing.  "Those who embark in a new direction  and want to keep a
bit of the old life, wind up lacerated by their own past," said the saint.
     The master says: "Make use of every blessing that God gave you today. A
blessing  cannot  be  saved. There is no bank where we can deposit blessings
received, to use them when we see  fit. If you do not use them, they will be
irretrievably lost. God knows that we are creative artists when  it comes to
our  lives. On one day, he gives  us clay for sculpting, on another, brushes
and canvas,  or a pen. But we can never use clay  on our canvas, nor pens in
sculpture.  Each day  has its own miracle. Accept  the blessings, work,  and
create your minor works of art today. Tomorrow you will receive others."
     The monastery  on the bank of the Rio Piedra is surrounded by beautiful
vegetation -- it is a  true oasis within the sterile  fields of that part of
Spain. There, the  small river  becomes a  mighty current, and is split into
dozens of waterfalls. The wanderer  is walking through the area, hearing the
music of the  waters.  Suddenly, a  grotto -- behind one of the cataracts --
captures his attention. He studies the  rocks, worn by time, and regards the
lovely forms created patiently by nature. And he  finds a verse by R. Tagore
inscribed  on a  plaque:  "It was not  a hammer  that  made  these  rocks so
perfect,  but water  -- with  its sweetness, its dance  and its song." Where
force can only destroy, gentleness can sculpt.
     The  master says:  "Many people  are  fearful of  happiness.  For  such
persons, to be  content  in  life  means they must change  a number of their
habits -- and lose their sense of identity. Often we become indignant at the
good  things that befall us. We do not accept them,  because to do so causes
us  to feel that we are in  God's debt. We think: 'Better  not to drink from
the  chalice  of  happiness,  because,  when  it  is  empty, we will  suffer
greatly.' Out  of a fear of  shrinking, we fail to grow.  Out  of  a fear of
weeping, we fail to laugh."
     One  afternoon at  the monastery  at Sceta, one  of the  monks offended
another.  The  superior  of  the monastery,  Brother  Sisois, asked that the
offended monk forgive his aggressor. "I cannot do that," responded the monk.
"It was he  that  did  this, and it he who must  pay." At that  very moment,
Brother Sisois raised his arms to heaven and began to pray: "My Jesus, we no
longer have need of thee. We are now capable of making the aggressor pay for
his offenses.  We are now able to  take vengeance into our own hands, and to
deal with Good  and Evil. Therefore, You can leave  us on our own, and their
will be no problem." Ashamed, the monk immediately pardoned his brother.
     A disciple said, "All masters say that spiritual treasure is discovered
through solitary  search. So, then, why are  we all together here?" "You are
together because a  forest is  always  stronger than  a solitary tree,"  the
master answered. "The forest conserves humidity, resists  the  hurricane and
helps the soil to be fertile. But what makes a tree strong is its roots. And
the roots  of a plant cannot  help  another  plant to  grow.  To  be  joined
together  in  the same  purpose is to allow  each person  to grow in his own
fashion, and that is the path of those who wish to commune with God."
     When the wanderer was ten years old, his mother insisted that he take a
course  in physical education. One  of  the activities required  him to jump
from  a bridge into  a river. Early in the course, he was paralyzed by fear.
Each  day, he stood last in  line, and  suffered every time one of  those in
front made  his jump  -- because it would shortly be his turn.  One day, the
instructor -- noticing his fear -- made him take the first jump. Although he
was still frightened, it was over so quickly that the fright was replaced by
courage. The master says: "Often, we can afford to take  our time. But there
are  occasions when we  must roll up our sleeves and resolve a situation. In
such cases, there is nothing worse than delay."
     Buddha was seated among his disciples one morning when a man approached
the  gathering.  "Does  God  exist,"  he  asked. "Yes, God  exists,"  Buddha
answered.  After lunch, another  man  appeared. "Does God exist?" he  asked.
"No,  God  does not exist," Buddha answered. Late in  the day,  a third  man
asked Buddha  the same question, and Buddha's response was: "You must decide
for yourself." "Master, this is absurd," said one of the disciples. "How can
you give  three different answers to the same  question?" "Because they were
different   persons,"  answered  the  Enlightened  One.  "And   each  person
approaches God in his  own  way: some with  certainty, some with  denial and
some with doubt."
     We  are all  concerned  with  taking  action, doing  things,  resolving
problems, providing for  others. We are  always  trying to  plan  something,
conclude something else, discover a third. There is nothing wrong  with that
--  after all,  that  is how we build and modify the world.  But the act  of
Adoration is also a part of life. To stop from time to time, to escape one's
self, and to stand silent before the Universe. To kneel down, body and soul.
Without  asking for something, without thinking, without  even giving thanks
for anything. Just to experience the warmth  of the love that surrounds  us.
At  such  moments, unexpected tears may appear -- tears neither of happiness
nor sadness. Do  not  be  surprised at  that. It  is a  gift.  The tears are
cleansing your soul.
     The master says:  "If you must  cry, cry like a child. You were  once a
child, and one of the  first things you learned in life was  to cry, because
crying is a part of life.  Never forget that  you are free, and that to show
your emotions is not shameful. Scream, sob loudly, make as much noise as you
like. Because that is how children cry, and they know the fastest way to put
their hearts at ease. "Have you ever noticed how children stop crying?  They
stop because  something  distracts  them.  Something calls them to  the next
adventure. Children stop crying very quickly. And that's how  it will be for
you. But only if you can cry as children do."
     The wanderer is having lunch with  a woman friend,  an attorney in Fort
Lauderdale. A highly animated  drunk at the next table insists on talking to
her throughout the meal. At one point,  the friend asks  the  drunk to quiet
down. But he says: "Why? I'm talking about love in a way that a sober person
never does.  I'm  happy,  I'm  trying  to communicate with strangers. What's
wrong with that?" "This  isn't the appropriate  time,"  she said.  "You mean
there  are  only  certain  times  that  are appropriate  for  showing  one's
happiness?" With that, the drunk is invited to share her table.
     The master says: "We must care  for our body. It is the  temple of  the
Holy Spirit, and deserves our respect and  affection. We must make the  best
use of  our time. We must fight for our dreams, and concentrate  our efforts
to that end. But we must not forget that life is made up of small pleasures.
They were placed here to encourage us, assist us  in our search, and provide
moments  of surcease  from our daily battles. It is not  a sin  to be happy.
There is nothing  wrong in --  from  time to time  -- breaking certain rules
regarding diet, sleep and happiness. Do not criticize yourself if -- once in
a while --  you waste your time  on  trifles.  These are the small pleasures
that stimulate us."
     The pianist Artur Rubinstein  was late  arriving for lunch at  a  first
class  restaurant  in New York.  His  friends  began  to be  concerned,  but
Rubinstein finally appeared,  with  a spectacular blonde, one-third his age,
at his side. Known to be something of a cheapskate, he surprised his friends
by ordering the  most expensive entree, and  the rarest, most  sophisticated
wine. When  lunch was over, he paid the bill with  a smile. "I can see  that
you are all surprised,"  Rubinstein said. "But today, I went to my  lawyer's
to  prepare  my  will. I  left  a  goodly  amount to  my daughter and  to my
relatives, and made generous donations to charities. But I suddenly realized
that I wasn't included in the will; everything went to others. So, I decided
to treat myself with greater generosity."
     While  the master was traveling to spread the word of God, the house in
which  he lived  with his disciples burned down. "He entrusted the  house to
us,  and  we  didn't  take proper  care,"  said one  of  the disciples. They
immediately began to rebuild on what remained after the fire, but the master
returned earlier than  expected, and saw what they  were doing.  "So, things
are  looking up:  a  new  house," he  said happily. One  of  the  disciples,
embarrassed, told him what  had actually happened; that where they  had  all
lived together  had  been consumed by  fire. "I don't understand," said  the
master.  "What I am  seeing is men  who have faith in  life, beginning a new
chapter. Those who have lost everything they owned are in a  better position
than many others, because, from that moment on, things can only improve."
     The master says: "If  you  are traveling the road  of  your  dreams, be
committed to it. Do not leave an open door to be used as  an excuse such as,
'Well, this isn't exactly what I wanted.' Therein are contained the seeds of
defeat.  "Walk your  path.  Even if your steps have to be uncertain, even if
you know that you could be doing it better. If you accept your possibilities
in the present, there is  no doubt that you will improve  in the future. But
if you  deny that  you have limitations,  you will  never  be  rid  of them.
"Confront your path with courage, and  don't be  afraid of the criticism  of
others.  And,  above  all,  don't  allow  yourself  to  become  paralyzed by
self-criticism. "God will be with you on your sleepless nights, and will dry
your tears with His love. God is for the valiant."
     The  master and his disciples  were traveling,  and, on  the road, were
unable to eat properly. The  master  asked some of them to go and seek food.
The disciples returned at the end of  the day. Each  brought  with  him  the
little he  had been able  to  gain through the charity of others: fruit that
was already going bad, stale bread and bitter  wine. One  of  the disciples,
however, brought with him a bag of ripe apples. "I would do anything to help
my master and  my brothers," he said, sharing  the  apples with the  others.
"Where  did you  get these?"  asked the  master. "I had to  steal them," the
disciple  answered. "People were giving  me  only spoiled food,  even though
they  knew that we  were preaching  the word  of God."  "Get away  with your
apples, and never come back," said the master. "Anyone who would rob for me,
would rob from me."
     We go out into the world in search of our dreams and  ideals.  Often we
make inaccessible that which is within our reach. When we realize the error,
we feel we have wasted our time,  seeking in the  distance what was close at
hand.  We  blame ourselves for making such a mistake, for our useless search
and for the problems we have caused. The master says: "Although the treasure
may be buried in your house, you will find it only if you leave in search of
it.  If Peter had  not experienced  the pain of rejection, he would not have
been chosen as the head of the Church. If the prodigal son had not abandoned
everything,  he would not  have been given a feast by his father.  There are
certain  things  in  our lives  that  carry  a  seal  that  says: 'You  will
appreciate my value only after you have lost me...and recovered me.' It does
no good to try to shorten the path."
     The  master  was meeting with his favorite disciple, and asked  him how
his spiritual progress was going. The disciple answered that he was now able
to dedicate every moment of his day to God. "So, then, all that's left is to
forgive your  enemies," said  the master. The disciple looked at his master,
startled: "But that's not necessary. I bear no ill will toward  my enemies."
"Do you think that God bears you any ill will?" asked the master. "Of course
not," the disciple answered. "Yet you ask for his forgiveness, don't you? Do
the same with your enemies,  even though you bear them no ill will. A person
who forgives is washing and perfuming his own heart."
     The young  Napoleon was trembling like a reed in  the  wind  during the
ferocious bombardments  at Toulon. A soldier, seeing  him  that way, said to
his fellow soldiers,  "Look  at  him,  he's scared to  death." "Yes, I  am,"
replied Napoleon. "But I go on fighting. If you felt half  the fear  I feel,
you would have fled a long time ago." The master says:  "Fear  is not a sign
of cowardice.  It is fear that allows us be brave  and dignified in the face
of life's  situations. Someone who experiences fear --  and despite the fear
goes  on, without  allowing  it to  intimidate  him  --  is giving proof  of
valiance.  But someone who tackles  difficult situations without  taking the
danger into account, is proving only his irresponsibility."
     The  wanderer  is at  the feast of Saint John,  with its tents, archery
contests and  country food.  Suddenly, a clown begins to mimic his gestures.
People laugh, and  the wanderer laughs, as  well,  and invites  the clown to
have coffee with him. "Commit to life!" says the clown. "If  you are  alive,
you have  to shake  your arms, jump  around, make noise, laugh and  talk  to
people. Because life is exactly  the opposite of death. To die is  to remain
forever in the same position. If you are too quiet, you are not living."
     A disciple and his  master were walking in the  fields one morning. The
disciple was asking  what diet was needed to  provide purification. Although
his master  had  always insisted that all foods were  holy, the disciple did
not  believe it. "There must be some meal that brings us closer to God," the
disciple said. "Well,  perhaps you  are right. Those  mushrooms  there,  for
example,"  said the  master.  The disciple  was  excited,  thinking that the
mushrooms would provide him with purification and ecstasy. But as he stooped
to pick one he screamed: "These are poisonous!  If I were to eat even one of
them, I would die instantly!" he  said,  horrified. "Well, I don't  know any
other food that would bring you so quickly to God," said the master.
     In the  winter of 1981, the wanderer  is  walking with his wife through
the  streets  of  Prague,  when  he  sees  a  boy  doing  drawings  of  some
neighborhood  buildings. He likes what he sees, and decides to buy one. When
he holds out  the money,  he  notices that  the boy has no gloves  -and  the
temperature is in the 20s. "Why don't  you wear gloves?" he asks. "So that I
can  hold my pencil." They talk  a  bit about Prague. The boy offers to do a
drawing of the wanderer's wife's face, free of charge. As he waits  for  the
drawing to be completed, the wanderer realizes  that  something strange  had
happened: he had conversed for almost five minutes with the boy, and neither
spoke  the other's language.  They had used only gestures, smiles and facial
expressions  -- but the will to share  something  had allowed them to  enter
into the world of language without words.
     A friend took Hassan  to  the  door of a mosque, where a blind man  was
begging. "This  blind man is the  wisest person in our  country,"  said  the
friend. "How long have you been blind," Hassan asked the man. "Since birth,"
the man answered. "And how did you become so wise?" "Since  I  didn't accept
my blindness,  I tried  to become  an astronomer,"  the man  answered. "But,
since I couldn't see the heavens, I was forced to imagine the stars, the sun
and the galaxies. And, the closer I came to God's work, the closer I came to
His wisdom."
     In  a bar in a remote  village in  Spain,  close to the city  of Olite,
there is a  sign placed there by the owner. "Just as I succeeded  in finding
all the answers, all the questions changed." The master says: "We are always
concerned with finding  answers.  We  feel  that  answers  are  important to
understand what life means. "It  is more important to live fully, and  allow
time to reveal  to us the secrets of our existence. If we  are too concerned
with  making sense of life, we  prevent  nature  from  acting, and we become
unable to read God's signs."
     There is an  Australian legend about a  shaman who was walking with his
three sisters when they met the most famous warrior of the time. "I  want to
marry  one  of these  beautiful girls," the warrior  said. "If one  of  them
marries, the other two  will  suffer", said  the shaman. "I am looking for a
tribe that allow its men to have three  wives." For  years, they walked  the
entire Australian continent without finding  such  a tribe. "At least one of
us could  have been happy," said one  of the sisters when they were old, and
sick of walking.  "I  was wrong," said the shaman. "But  now it's too late."
And he turned the three sisters into blocks of stone, so that all who passed
by would understand that one person's happiness does not mean others must be
sad.
     The journalist, Walter Carelli, went to interview the Argentine writer,
Jorge Luis Borges. When his interview had been completed, they began to talk
about  the language that exists beyond  words,  and  about the human being's
great capacity to understand others.  "I  will  give  you  an example," said
Borges. And he  began to speak in a strange  language.  Then he  stopped and
asked the journalist what he had been  saying. Before Carelli could respond,
the photographer who was with  him said: "It's the 'Our Father.'" "Exactly,"
said Borges. "I was reciting it in Finnish."
     An animal  trainer with the  circus is able  to  dominate elephants  by
using a very simple trick: when  the animal is still a child,  he lashes one
of his legs  to the trunk  of  a tree. No matter how  hard he struggles, the
young elephant is unable  to free himself. Little by little, he becomes used
to the idea that the  trunk of the tree is more powerful than he is. When he
becomes  an  adult possessing  tremendous strength,  one has only  to  tie a
string  about  the  elephant's  leg,  and tie  him to a sapling. He will not
attempt to  free himself. As with  elephants,  our feet are  often bound  by
fragile  ties.  But since, as children, we became accustomed to the strength
of the  tree  trunk, we do  not dare  to  struggle. Without realizing that a
simple courageous act is all that is needed to find our freedom.
     The master says: "It avails you nothing to seek explanations about God.
You can listen to beautiful words, but they are basically empty. Just as you
can read an  entire encyclopedia  about love without knowing how to love. No
one will ever prove that  God exists. Certain things in life simply have  to
be experienced -- and never  explained. Love is such  a thing. God -- who is
love  --  is also  such  a thing. Faith  is a  childhood experience, in that
magical sense that Jesus taught us: 'Children are the kingdom of  God.' "God
will never enter your head. The door that He uses is your heart."
     The abbot  always said that  Abbot Joseph had prayed so much that he no
longer had anything to worry about -- his passions had been conquered. Those
words reached the ears of one of the wise men at the monastery of Sceta, who
called his novitiates  together after their evening meal. "You have heard it
said that Abbot Joseph  has no  further  temptations to overcome," he  said.
"The lack of a struggle weakens the soul. Let us ask that the Lord send down
a powerful  temptation to Abbot Joseph. And, if he is able  to  resist  that
temptation, let us  ask for another and  another. And  when he is once again
struggling to resist temptation, let us pray that he never says: 'Lord, take
this  devil away.'  Let  us pray that  instead  he asks: 'Lord,  give me the
strength to win out over evil'"
     There  is a moment in every day  when it  is difficult to  see clearly:
evening time. Light and darkness  blend, and nothing is completely clear nor
completely  dark.  In most spiritual  traditions, this moment is  considered
holy.  The Catholic tradition  teaches us that we should say  a Hail Mary at
six o'clock in the evening. In the  Quechuan  tradition,  if we  run  into a
friend in the afternoon  and we are still with him  at evening time, we must
start  all  over,  greeting him again with  a "Good  evening." At  dusk, the
balance between man and the planet is tested. God mixes shadow and  light to
see  if  the Earth has the courage  to go on turning. If the  Earth  is  not
frightened by the darkness, night passes -- a new sun shines the next day.
     The German  philosopher,  Schopenhauer, was strolling along a street in
Dresden,  seeking the answers to questions  that bothered  him. Passing by a
garden, he  decided to sit and  look at the flowers. One of the residents of
the  neighborhood observed  the philosopher's strange behavior and  summoned
the police.  Minutes  later, an  officer  approached  Schopenhauer. "Who are
you," the officer asked brusquely.  Schopenhauer looked the policeman up and
down. "If  you can help  me find the answer  to that question," he  said, "I
will be eternally grateful to you."
     A  man searching for wisdom decided to go up into the mountains,  since
he had been told that every two years  God appeared there. During his  first
year there,  he  ate everything that the land had to  offer. Eventually, the
supply was exhausted, and he had to return to the city. "God is unfair!"  he
exclaimed. "Didn't he know that I waited for a year to hear his voice. I was
hungry  and  had to come back  to town." At  that moment, an angel appeared.
"God would  like very much to talk with you," the angel said. "For an entire
year  he fed you.  He was hoping that you would produce your own  food after
that.  But what did  you  plant? If a man is unable  to grow  fruit where he
lives, he is not ready to talk with God."
     People say,  "Well, it seems that freedom for  man consists of choosing
his  own brand  of  slavery. I work  eight  hours a  day, and  if  I  get  a
promotion, I'll have to work  twelve. I got married, and now I  have no time
to myself. I looked for God, and now I have to attend cult  meetings, masses
and other religious ceremonies. Everything that's important in life -- love,
work, faith --  winds up becoming  a burden that's too  heavy  to bear." The
master  says: "Only love allows us to escape. Only love  turns slavery  into
freedom. If we cannot love, it is better to stop now. Jesus said: 'Better to
be  blind in one eye than for  the entire body to perish in darkness.' "Hard
words. But true."
     A hermit fasted for an entire year, eating only once a week. After this
sacrifice,  he asked that God reveal to him the  true meaning  of a  certain
passage  in  the Bible. No response  was heard. "What  a waste of time," the
hermit said  to himself.  "I  gave up so much, and  God didn't even  answer!
Better to leave  these parts and  find  a monk  who knows the meaning of the
verse." At that moment, an  angel appeared. "The  twelve months  of  fasting
served only  to  make you believe that you were better than  others, and God
does not answer a vain person,"  the angel said. "But when you were  humble,
and sought help from others, God  sent me." And the angel  explained what he
wanted to know.
     The master says: "Notice how certain words were formed  so  as  to show
their  meaning clearly. "Let us  take  the word  "preoccupation." It  can be
divided in  two: "pre" and  "occupation."  It  means to occupy  oneself with
something  before it happens. "Who,  in the entire universe, could have  the
gift of occupying himself with a thing that has not yet happened?  Never  be
preoccupied. Be attentive to your destiny and to your path. Learn everything
you need  to know in order to handle the bright  sword entrusted to you. Pay
attention to how  your friends, your masters and  your  enemies fight. Train
yourself sufficiently, but do not commit the worst of errors: believing that
you know what kind of blow your adversary is going to deliver."
     Friday comes, you go home,  and  you pick up the  newspapers  that  you
weren't  able to  read during the  week. You turn on the television with the
sound off. You  put on a cassette  tape. You use the remote  control to jump
from one channel to the other, as you try to turn the pages of the paper and
listen to the music.  The papers  contain nothing  new, the  TV programs are
repetitious,  and you've  already heard the  cassette dozens of times.  Your
wife is  attending  to the children, sacrificing  her youthful years without
really  understanding why  she  is doing so. An excuse occurs to you: "Well,
that's the way life is." No, that's not the way life is. Life is enthusiasm.
Try to remember  where it  was that you hid away your  enthusiasm. Take your
wife and children with you and try  to find it again, before it's  too late.
Love never kept anyone from following his dream.
     On  Christmas Eve, the wanderer and his  wife did an evaluation of  the
year  that  was  about  to end. During dinner at the  only  restaurant  in a
village in the Pyrenees, the wanderer began to complain about something that
hadn't  gone the way  he thought  it should  have.  His wife  stared at  the
Christmas tree decorating  the restaurant. The wanderer thought that she was
no longer interested in the conversation, and  changed the subject:  "Aren't
the lights on the tree pretty!" he said. "They are," his wife answered. "But
if you look  closely, among the dozens of bulbs there is one that has burned
out. It seems to me that, instead of seeing  the past year in  terms  of the
dozens of blessings that illuminated it, you are fixating on  the only  bulb
that illuminated nothing."
     "Look  at  that humble  holy man, walking  the road", said one devil to
another. "I think I'll go over there and conquer his soul." "He won't listen
to you, because he is concerned only with holy  things," said his companion.
But the devil, in his usual ardent fashion, dressed himself as the Archangel
Gabriel, and appeared before  the holy man.  "I have come  to help you,"  he
said. "You must have me confused with someone else,"  answered the holy man.
"I have done nothing in my life  to deserve the  attention of an angel." And
he continued on his way, never knowing what he had avoided.
     A friend of the wanderer went to a play on Broadway, and went out for a
drink  during  the intermission.  The  lobby  was crowded, and  people  were
smoking,  talking and  drinking. A pianist was playing, but  no one paid any
attention to his  music. The wanderer's friend sipped  her drink and studied
the  musician. He seemed  bored -- just doing  his job and  waiting  for the
intermission  to  end.  After  another drink, and  feeling  a bit  high, she
approached the  piano. "You're a pain in the  neck! Why don't you play  just
for yourself?" she exclaimed. The pianist  was  surprised. And then he began
to play the kind of music he liked.  In just a few minutes, the entire lobby
fell silent. When the song was over, there was enthusiastic applause.
     Saint Francis of Assisi was a very popular young man when he decided to
leave  it  all  behind and do his life's  work. Saint Clare  was a beautiful
young woman when she took her vow of chastity. Saint  Raimundo Lull knew the
great intellectuals  of  his  time when he  went off  into  the desert.  The
spiritual quest is, above all, a challenge. Whoever uses it to flee from his
problems will not go very far.  It does  no good for someone who cannot make
friends to retire from the  world.  It accomplishes nothing to take a vow of
poverty if you are already unable to earn a living. And it makes no sense to
become humble  if one is already a coward. It is one thing to have something
and give it up. It is another not to have something and to condemn those who
have. It is easy for a weak man to go around preaching absolute charity, but
what good is it? The  master says: "Praise the Lord's work. Conquer yourself
as you confront the world."
     It is easy to be difficult. All we have to do is stay away from people,
and  in that way, avoid  suffering.  That way, we don't have  to  risk love,
disappointment, frustrated dreams. It is easy to be difficult. We don't have
to be concerned about phone calls we should have made, people who ask us for
help, charity that should be extended. It is easy to  be difficult. We  just
have to pretend that we  live in an ivory  tower, and never shed  a tear. We
just have to spend  the rest of our lives  playing  a role. It is easy to be
difficult. All we have to do is reject everything good that life offers.
     The  patient said to his physician,  "Doctor,  I am ruled by fear,  and
fear  has  taken  away  all joy." "Here  in my office, there is a mouse that
nibbles  at  my  books,"  the doctor said.  "If I become desperate  over the
mouse, he  will hide from me, and I'll do nothing else with my life but hunt
for  him. Instead, I have put  all of my best books in a safe  place,  and I
allow him to eat at some of the others.  That way, he continues to be only a
mouse,  and not a monster.  Fear a few things,  and  concentrate all of your
fear on them -- so you can be courageous in facing the important things."
     The master says: "Often it is easier to love than to be  loved. We find
it  hard  to accept  the help and support of others. Our  attempts to appear
independent  deprive  others  of the opportunity to  demonstrate their love.
Many  parents,  in their old age,  rob their children of the  chance to show
them the same affection and support they received as children. Many husbands
(and  wives),  when  they  are  overtaken  by affliction,  feel  ashamed  at
depending upon others.  As a result, the waters of  love do  not spread. You
should accept  a  gesture of love from someone. You have to allow  others to
help  you,  to give you the strength to go on. If  you accept such love with
purity  and  humility,  you will understand that Love  is neither giving nor
receiving -- it is participating."
     Eve was walking through the Garden of Eden, when the serpent approached
her. "Eat this apple," he said. Eve, well taught by God, refused.  "Eat this
apple," the serpent insisted. "Because you have to become more beautiful for
your husband." "I don't need it," Eve answered. "He has no one else but me."
The serpent laughed: "Of course he  does." Since Eve did not believe him, he
took her to the top  of a hill where there was a  well.  "She's  down there.
That's where Adam  hid  her."  Eve  looked  in  and saw  a  beautiful  woman
reflected in the water. And then she ate the apple the snake offered.
     Excerpts  from a "Letter to my Heart:"  "My heart, I will never condemn
you or criticize you. Nor will I ever be  ashamed  of  what  you say. I know
that you  are  a beloved child  of God, and that He protects  you  within  a
glorious and loving radiance. I believe in you, my heart. I am on your side,
and I will always ask for blessing in my prayers. I will always ask that you
find the help and support you  need.  I believe in you, my heart. I  believe
that you will share your love with anyone who  needs or deserves it. That my
path is your path, and that we will walk together  to the Holy Spirit. I ask
of  you: trust in me. Know that I love you and that I am trying to give  you
all the freedom you need  to continue beating joyfully in  my breast. I will
do everything  I  can so that you never  feel uncomfortable with my presence
surrounding you."
     The master says: "When we decide to act,  it is natural that unexpected
conflict should arise.  It is natural that we will be wounded as a result of
such conflict.  Wounds heal:  they stay  on as scars, and that is  blessing.
Such scars stay with  us for the rest of our lives, and are of great help to
us.  If at some  point -- for whatever reason -- our desire to return to the
past  is strong, we have  only to  look at our scars. Scars are the marks of
handcuffs, and remind us of the  horrors of prison -- and with that reminder
we move forward again."
     In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Saint  Paul tells us that  sweetness
is one  of the main characteristics of love.  Let  us  never forget: love is
tenderness.  A  rigid soul does not  allow the  hand of God  to mold  it  in
accordance with His desires. The wanderer was traveling a narrow road in the
north of Spain, when he saw a man stretched out in a bed of flowers. "Aren't
you  crushing those flowers?" the wanderer  asked. "No,"  the man  answered.
"I'm trying to take a bit their sweetness from them."
     The master says: "Pray every day. Even if your prayers are wordless and
ask for nothing, and can hardly be understood. Make a habit of your prayers.
If that is difficult at the  beginning, decide for yourself: 'I am going  to
pray every day this week.' And renew that promise for each of the next seven
days. Remember that you are creating not only a  more intimate link with the
spiritual world;  you  are also training  your will. It  is  through certain
practices that we  develop the  discipline needed for life's combat. It does
no good to forget the resolution one  day  and pray twice the  next.  Nor to
pray seven times the same day, and go  through the rest of the week thinking
that you  have completed  your task. Certain  things have to  occur with the
right pace and rhythm."
     An evil man, about  to die, meets an  angel  at the gates to  Hell. The
angel says to him: "It is enough for you to have done one good thing in your
life,  and  that  will  help you."  "Think  hard,"  the angel said. The  man
remembers that one time, as he was walking through a forest, he saw a spider
in his path and detoured so as  not  to  step on it.  The angel smiles and a
spider web comes down from the  sky, allowing the man to ascend to Paradise.
Others among the condemned take advantage of the web,  and begin to make the
climb. But the man turns  on them and begins to push them off, fearing  that
the web will break.  At that  moment, it  breaks, and the man is once  again
returned to Hell. "What  a pity," the man hears the angel say. "Your concern
with yourself turned the only good thing you ever did into evil."
     The master says: "A crossroad is a holy  place. There, the pilgrim  has
to  make  a  decision.  That  is  why the  gods  usually  sleep and  eat  at
crossroads. Where roads cross, two great forces are concentrated -- the path
that will be chosen, and the path to be ignored. Both are transformed into a
single  path,  but  only  for  a short period of time. The pilgrim may rest,
sleep a bit, and  even consult with the gods that inhabit the crossroad. But
no one can remain there forever: once his choice is made, he has to move on,
without thinking  about the path he has  rejected.  Otherwise, the crossroad
becomes a curse."
     Humanity  has  committed some of its worst crimes  in  the  name of the
truth. Men and women  have been burned at  the stake. The entire culture  of
some civilizations has been destroyed. Those who committed the sin of eating
meat  were  kept at  a  distance.  Those who sought  a  different  path were
ostracized. One person, in the name of truth,  was crucified. But --  before
He  died -- He  left us a great  definition  of the  Truth. It  is  not what
provides us with certitudes. It is  not what makes us better than others. It
is not  what we  keep within the prison of our preconceived ideas. The Truth
is what makes  us free. "Know the Truth, and the truth will make thee free,"
He said.
     One of the monks at the monastery at Sceta committed a grave error, and
the wisest of hermits was summoned  by the  brothers to judge  him. The wise
hermit did not want to come, but the group was so insistent  that he agreed.
Before  he left his place, though, he took a  bucket and made  some holes in
its  bottom.  Then,  he  filled it  with sand, and began  his  walk  to  the
monastery. The father  superior, noticing the bucket, asked what it was for.
"I have come  to judge another," the hermit said. "My  sins are running  out
behind me, as does the sand in this bucket. But, since I  do not look behind
me,  and  cannot see my  own  sins, I  am able to  judge another." The monks
immediately decided not to proceed with the judgment.
     Written on the wall of a small church in  the Pyrenees: "Lord, may this
candle I  have just lit Make  light, And illuminate me when I  have problems
and make decisions. May it  make fire, So that You can burn away my egotism,
pride and  impurity. May it  make a flame, So that You can warm my heart and
teach  me to love. I  cannot remain for  long in Your church. But in leaving
this candle, a bit of  myself remains here. Help  me to extend  my prayer to
the activities of this day. Amen."
     A friend of the wanderer decided to spend a few weeks at a monastery in
Nepal.  One afternoon, he entered one of the many  temples of the monastery,
and saw a smiling monk seated on the altar. "Why are you smiling," he asked.
"Because I understand the  meaning  of bananas," said the monk,  opening his
bag and taking out a rotten banana. "This is a life that ran its course, and
was not made use of -- and now it is too late." Then he removed from his bag
a banana that was still green. He showed it  to the man, and put  it back in
his  bag. "This is a life that has not yet  run  its course, and  awaits the
right moment," he said. Finally, he took from  his bag a ripe banana, peeled
it, and  shared it with the man, saying: "This is  the present  moment. Know
how to live it without fear."
     A woman friend had gone out  with  the exact amount of money she needed
to take her son  to  the movies. The boy was excited, and every minute asked
his mother how long  it would take to  get there. When she was  stopped at a
traffic  light, she saw a beggar seated on the sidewalk. "Give all the money
you have with you to him," she  heard a voice say. The woman argued with the
voice. She had promised to take her son to  the  movies. "Give  it all," the
voice insisted.  "I can give  him half, and my  son can go in alone while  I
wait outside," she said. But the voice didn't want to  discuss  it. "Give it
all!" She had no time to explain it  all to the boy. She stopped the car and
held out all  the money she had  to the  beggar. "God  exists, and you  have
proved  it to me," the  beggar said.  "Today is  my birthday. I was sad, and
ashamed to be begging. So, I decided not to beg: if God exists, he will give
me a present."
     A man is walking  through a small village in the middle of  a downpour,
and sees a house burning. As  he approaches it, he sees a  man surrounded by
flames seated  in  the living  room.  "Hey, your  house  is  on fire!",  the
traveler shouts. "I  know that,"  the man answers. "Well then, why don't you
get out?" "Because it's raining," says the  man.  "My mother  always told me
you can catch pneumonia going out in the rain." Zao Chi's comment about  the
fable: "Wise is the man who can leave a  situation when  he sees that  he is
forced to do so."
     In certain magic traditions,  disciples devote  one  day a year -- or a
weekend  if it  is needed -- to enter into contact with the objects in their
home. They touch each  object and  ask aloud: "Do I  really need this?" They
take the  books from their shelves: "Will I ever  reread this?" They examine
each souvenir they have kept:  "Do I  still consider  the  moment  that this
object reminds me of to be important?" They open  all of their closets: "How
long  is  it  since I wore this?  Do I really  need  it?" The  master  says:
"Objects  have  their  own  energy.  When they are not used, they turn  into
standing water in the house -- a good place for rot and  for  mosquitos. You
must be attentive, and allow that energy to flow freely. If you keep what is
old, the new has no place in which to manifest itself."
     There is an old Peruvian legend that tells of a city where everyone was
happy. Its  inhabitants did  as they  pleased, and got  along well with each
other.  Except for the mayor, who was sad  because he had nothing to govern.
The jail was empty, the court was never used, and the notary office produced
nothing, because a man's word was worth  more than the paper  it was written
on. One day, the mayor called in some workmen from a distant  place to build
an enclosure at the  center of the village's  main  square. For  a week, the
sound of hammers and saws could be heard. At the end of the week, the  mayor
invited  everyone in the village to the  inauguration. With great solemnity,
the  fence  boards were  removed and  there could be seen...a  gallows.  The
people  asked  each other what the gallows  was doing  there. In fear,  they
began to  use the court to resolve anything that before  had been settled by
mutual agreement. They  went to the notary office to register documents that
recorded what before  had simply  been a man's  word. And they began to  pay
attention to what the mayor said, fearing the law. The legend says  that the
gallows never was used. But its presence changed everything.
     The master says: "From now on -- and for the next few hundred years  --
the  universe is going  to  boycott  all those have  preconceived ideas. The
energy of  the Earth  has  to be renewed. New ideas need space. The body and
the  soul need new challenges. The future is  knocking on our door,  and all
ideas  -- except those that  are based  upon preconceptions -- will  have  a
chance  to  appear.  What is  important  will remain; what  is  useless will
disappear. But  let  each person judge only his own concepts. We are not the
judges of the  dreams of others. In order  to have faith in our own path, it
is not necessary to prove  that another's  path is wrong. One who  does that
does not believe in his own steps."
     Life is like a great bike race, the goal of which is to live  one's own
Personal  Destiny. At  the  starting  line,  we  are  all  together, sharing
camaraderie and enthusiasm. But, as the race develops, the initial joy gives
way  to challenges: exhaustion, monotony,  doubts  as  to one's  ability. We
notice that some friends refuse to  accept the challenges -- they are  still
in  the race, but only  because they cannot  stop  in the middle  of a road.
There  are  many of them. They ride along with the  support car,  talk among
themselves  and complete the task. We find ourselves outdistancing them; and
then we  have to confront solitude, the surprises around unfamiliar  curves,
problems with  the  bicycle. We  wind  up asking ourselves  if the effort is
worth it. Yes, it is worth it. Don't give up.
     A master  and his disciple are riding across  the Saudi Arabian desert.
The master makes use of  every  moment of  their ride  to teach the disciple
about faith. "Trust in God," he says. "God never abandons his  children." At
night, in their camp, the master  asks the disciple to  tie the horses  to a
nearby rock. The  disciple goes to the  rock, but  remembers what the master
has taught him: "He must be  testing me,"  he  thinks. "I should  leave  the
horses to  God."  And he leaves  the horses unfettered. In  the morning, the
disciple sees that  the horses have disappeared. Revolted,  he comes back to
his master. "You know nothing about God," he exclaims. "I left the horses in
His care,  and  now  the  animals  are gone."  "God  wanted to  care for the
horses," the  master answered. "But to do that, he needed  your hands to tie
them."
     "Perhaps  Jesus sent some  of his apostles to Hell to save souls," John
says. "Even in Hell, all is not lost." The idea surprises the wanderer. John
is a fireman in  Los  Angeles, and  today is his  day  off. "Why  do you say
that?" the wanderer asks. "Because I've gone through Hell here on  earth.  I
go into buildings that are in flames and see people desperate to escape, and
many times I risk my life to save  them. I'm only a particle in this immense
universe, forced to act like a hero in the many fires I've fought. If I -- a
nothing -- can  do such things, imagine what Jesus could do! I have no doubt
that  some  of His  apostles have  infiltrated Hell,  and are  there  saving
souls."
     The master says: "A great many of the primitive civilizations practiced
the custom of  burying  their  dead in  a fetal position.  'He is being born
again, in another life, and we must place him in the same position he was in
when he came into this world,' they said. For those civilizations, death was
only another step along the way of the universe. Little by little, the world
has lost its calm acceptance of death. But it's not important what we think,
or  what we do or what we believe in: each of us will die one day. Better to
do as the old  Yaqui indians did:  regard death  as an advisor.  Always ask:
'Since I'm going to die, what should I be doing now?'"
     Life is not about giving or receiving advice. If we need assistance, it
is better to  see how others solve - - or fail  to  solve -- their problems.
Our  angel is always  present, and often uses someone else's lips to tell us
something.  But it usually reaches us in a casual way, generally at a moment
in which -- although we are attentive -- our preoccupations prevent us  from
seeing  the  miracle  of life. We must allow our angel to speak to us in the
way he knows  best -- when he thinks it is needed.  The master says: "Advice
is a  theory about  life  --  and the  practice  of life  is generally quite
different."
     A padre  in the  Charismatic  Renewal movement in Rio  de  Janeiro  was
riding  on a bus when he suddenly heard a voice saying that he  should stand
up and preach the word of  Christ right there.  The padre began to  converse
with  the  voice: "They'll  think  I'm  ridiculous!  This is no place for  a
sermon." But the voice insisted that he had to  speak out. "I'm a timid man,
please don't ask  this of me," he implored.  The internal impulse persisted.
Then he  remembered his  promise  -- to accept  all of Christ's  designs. He
stood up --  consumed  with embarrassment  --  and  began to  speak  of  the
Evangelist. The riders listened to  him in silence. He looked at each of the
passengers, and all were staring directly at him. He said everything that he
was feeling, completed his sermon and sat down. Even today, he  has no  idea
what task he was performing there  on the bus. But that he was performing  a
mission, he has no doubt whatsoever. An
     African witch doctor is leading his novice through the jungle. Although
he  is quite elderly, he makes his way with agility, while his young  novice
slips a falls many times. The novice picks himself up,  swears, spits on the
traitorous ground and continues to follow  his  master. After a  long  hike,
they  reach a sacred place. Without pausing, the witch doctor  turns  around
and begins  to  walk back  to where they  had started.  "You have  taught me
nothing today," says the novice, after  falling again. "I have been teaching
you something, but you have failed to learn it," says the witch doctor. "I'm
trying to teach you how  to deal with  life's  mistakes." "And how should  I
deal  with them?" "The same  way as you should  deal with the falls you have
taken," answers  the  witch doctor. "Instead  of cursing the place where you
fall, you should try to find out what made you slip in the first place."
     The father superior of the monastery at Sceta was visited one afternoon
by a hermit.  "My  spiritual  advisor does  not know how to direct  me," the
hermit said. "Should I leave him?" The father superior said not a  word, and
the hermit returned to the  desert. A week  later, he  returned to visit the
father  superior. "My spiritual advisor does not know how  to direct me," he
said.  "I  have  decided to leave  him."  "That  is wise,"  said  the father
superior. "When a man perceives that his soul is discontented, he cannot ask
for advice. Make the  decisions needed to preserve your passage through this
life."
     A  young  woman  comes  to  see  the  wanderer.  "I want  to  tell  you
something," she says. "I have always believed that I had the gift of curing.
But I never had the courage to try it with anyone. Until one day, my husband
was  having great pain in his  left leg, and  there was no one available  to
help him. I decided -- with some  embarrassment -- to  place my hands on his
leg and ask  that the pain disappear. "I did this without really believing I
would be  able to help  him, and as I did so, I heard him  praying. 'Please,
Lord, make  my wife  capable of being the  Messenger  of Your light and your
strength,'  he said. My hand began to become hot, and  the pain disappeared.
"Afterwards,  I ask him why he had prayed  that way. He answered that it was
in order to give  me confidence. Today, I am able  to cure, thanks  to those
words."
     The philosopher, Aristipus,  was enjoying his  power  at  the court  of
Dionysus,  the tyrant  of  Syracuse. One  afternoon,  he came upon  Diogenes
preparing  a meal  of  lentils  for  himself.  "If you  were willing  to  be
courteous to Dionysus, you would  not have  to eat lentils," Aristipus said.
"If you knew how to enjoy lentils, you  would not have  to be  courteous  to
Dionysus," Diogenes answered.  The  master says: "It is true that everything
has  its price, but the price is always relative. When we follow our dreams,
we may give  the impression to others that we are miserable and unhappy. But
what others think is not  important. What is  important is  the  joy  in our
heart."
     A man who  lived  in  Turkey  was told  of a great  master who lived in
Persia. Without hesitation, he sold all of his belongings, said good-bye  to
his  family  and went  off in  search  of wisdom.  After  several  years  of
wandering,  he found the hut where the  great master  lived.  With fear  and
respect, he knocked  on  his  door.  The great master  appeared. "I am  from
Turkey,"  the man  said. "I have  come  all  this  way  to  ask you just one
question." The  old man was  surprised, but said, "Fine. You may ask  me one
question."  "I want to be clear about what it is that I am asking. May I say
it in  Turkish?" "Yes," said the wise man. "And I have already answered your
only question. If there  is anything else you want to  know, ask your heart.
It will provide you with the answer." And he closed the door.
     The master says: "The word is power. Words transform the world, and man
as well. "We  have all heard it  said:  'We  should not  talk about the good
things that have happened  to  us, because the  envy of others will ruin our
happiness.' Nothing of the sort. Those  who are  winners speak with pride of
the miracles in their lives. If you release positive energy into the air, it
attracts more  positive energy,  and makes  those  who  really wish you well
happy. As for the envious and defeated, they  can only  do  damage to you if
you give them this power.  Have  no fear. Speak out about the good things in
your life to whoever will listen. The Soul of the World has a great need for
your happiness."
     There was a Spanish king who was very proud of his lineage. He was also
know to  be cruel to those who were weak. He was  walking one day  with  his
senior people through a field in Aragon, where, years before, his father had
fallen  in  battle.  They  came upon  a holy man there,  picking through  an
enormous pile  of  bones. "What are  you  doing there?" asked the king. "All
honor to Your Majesty," said the holy man. "When I learned that  the king of
Spain was coming here, I decided to recover the bones of your father to give
them to you. But no matter how hard I look, I cannot find them. They are the
same as the bones of the farmers, the poor, the beggars and the slaves."
     "Who is the best swordsman?" asked a warrior of  his master. "Go to the
field near  the monastery,"  his master answered.  "There is a rock there. I
want you to insult the rock." "But why would I do that?" the disciple asked.
"The  rock will not respond."  "Well, then  attack it with  your sword," the
master  said. "I  won't do that,  either,"  the disciple answered. "My sword
would break. And if I  attack the rock with my hands, I'll injure my fingers
and  have no  impact  on  it. That  wasn't  what  I asked.  Who is  the best
swordsman?" "The  best is  the one who  is like  the rock," said his master.
"Without unsheathing a sword, it demonstrates that no one can conquer it."
     The wanderer arrives at the  village of  San Martin de Unx, in Navarra,
and is able to find the woman who keeps the key to the Roman  church in  the
ruined  place. With  great kindness, she climbs the narrow stairs  and opens
the door.  The darkness  and the  silence  of  the medieval  temple have  an
emotional impact on the wanderer. He falls into conversation with the woman,
and as they talk, mentions that, although it is mid-day, little  can be seen
of the beautiful works of art there in the church. "The detail can  be  seen
only  at dawn," the woman  says. "The legend says that it  was this that the
builders  of the church wanted  to teach us: that God has a  particular time
for showing us His glory."
     The  master says:  "There  are two gods.  The god  that  our professors
taught us about, and the  God who teaches us. The god of  whom people always
speak,  and the God that speaks to us. The god we have  learned to fear, and
the God who speaks to us  of compassion. There are two  gods. The god who is
on high, and the God who takes part  in our daily  lives. The  god who makes
demands upon us, and the God who pardons our debts. The god who threatens us
with  the  fires of Hell, and the God who shows us  the best path. There are
two  gods. A god who crushes  us under our sins,  and a God who liberates us
with His love."
     The sculptor, Michelangelo, was  once asked  how it was  that  he could
create such beautiful works. "It's very simple," he answered. "When  I  look
at a block of  marble,  I see  the sculpture inside  it. All I have to do is
remove what doesn't  belong." The master says:  "There is a work of art each
of us was destined to  create. That is the central point of our life, and --
no matter how we try to deceive ourselves -- we know  how important it is to
our happiness. Usually, that work of art is covered by years of fears, guilt
and indecision. But, if we decide to remove those things that do not belong,
if we have no doubt  as to  our capability, we  are capable of going forward
with the  mission that  is  our destiny. That is the only way to  live  with
honor."
     An old man who is about to  die calls a young man to his side and tells
him a story  of  heroism:  in wartime, he had  helped  a man to  survive. He
provided the man with shelter, food and protection.  When  the  man who  had
been saved was once again in a safe place, he decided  to betray his saviour
and turn him over to  the enemy. "How did you escape?" the young man  asked.
"I didn't escape. I was the betrayer," said the old man. "But in telling the
story as if I were the hero, I can understand everything he did for me."
     The master says: "We all need love. Love is a part of human  nature, as
much  as  eating,  drinking  and  sleeping.  Sometimes  we  find  ourselves,
completely alone, looking at a beautiful sunset, and we think: 'This  beauty
isn't  important, because I have no one to share it with.' At such times, we
should  ask: how often have we been asked to give love, and turned away? How
many  times  have  we  been  fearful  of  approaching  someone  and  saying,
unmistakably, that we love  them? Beware  of solitude. It  is as much of  an
addiction  as  the  most  dangerous narcotic. If  the sunset no longer makes
sense to you, be humble, and  go in  search of love. Know that  --  as  with
other spiritual blessings -- the more you are willing  to give, the more you
will receive in return."
     A  Spanish  missionary was visiting an island when he  came  upon three
Aztec  holy  men. "How do  you  pray?" the padre  asked.  "We have  only one
prayer," one of the Aztecs answered. "We say, 'God, you are three and we are
three.  Have pity  on us.'" "I'm going to  teach you a  prayer that God will
hear," said the  missionary. And he taught them a Catholic  prayer, and went
on his way. Shortly before returning  to Spain, he stopped again at the same
island. When his ship approached the shore, the padre saw the three holy men
walking  across  the  water toward him. "Father, father," one of them  said.
"Please teach us again that prayer that God  listens to.  We  have forgotten
the words." "It's not important," the  padre answered, having witnessed  the
miracle. And  he asked God's pardon for not having understood that He speaks
all languages.
     Saint  John of the Cross teaches us that, along our spiritual path,  we
should  not look for visions, or believe the statements we  hear from others
on the same path. Our only  support should be our  faith, because that faith
is clear, transparent and  born within us. It cannot confused.  A writer was
conversing with a priest, and asked what it was  to experience God. "I don't
know,"  the priest answered.  "The only experience I have had  so far is the
experience of my faith in God." And that is the most important.
     The master says: "Forgiveness is a two-way street. Each time we forgive
someone, we are  also pardoning ourselves. If we are tolerant of  others, it
is easier to accept our own mistakes. That way, without guilt or bitterness,
we are able to improve our approach to life. When, out of weakness, we allow
hatred, envy and intolerance to vibrate around us, we wind up being consumed
by the vibrations. Peter  asked Christ: 'Master,  should I forgive the other
person  seven  times?'  And  Christ  answered: 'Not just  seven, but seventy
times.' The  act of  forgiving  cleanses the astral  plane, and shows us the
true light of the Divinity."
     The master  says:  "The  ancient  masters were accustomed  to  creating
"personages"  to help  their disciples to deal with the darker side of their
personality.  Many of the stories about the creation of such personages have
become well-known fairy tales. The process is simple: you have only to place
your anxieties, fears and  disappointments  within  an  invisible  being who
stands  at  your  left  side. He  functions as  a "villain"  in  your  life,
suggesting  attitudes that you would not like to adopt -- but wind  up doing
so. Once that personage is created, it is easier to  reject his advice. It's
extremely simple. And that's why it works so well."
     "How can I know what is the best way  to  act  in my  life?" a disciple
asked his master. The master asked that the disciple build a table. When the
table was almost finished -- needing only  the  nails driven into the top --
the master  approached the disciple. The disciple was driving the nails with
three  precise  strokes.  One nail,  though,  was  more  difficult, and  the
disciple had to hit it one more time. The fourth blow drove it too deep, and
the wood was scarred. "Your hand was used to three blows of the hammer," the
master said. "When any action becomes habitual, it loses its meaning; and it
may wind up causing damage.  Every action is  your action, and there is only
one secret: never let the habit take command of your movements."
     Near the city of  Soria, in Spain, there is an ancient hermitage carved
into the rocks. Some years  ago a man who  abandoned  everything to dedicate
himself  to contemplation lived there.  The wanderer  is  trying to find the
place one autumn  afternoon,  and, when he does, he  is received with  total
cordiality.  After sharing a  piece of bread,  the  hermit  asked  that  the
wanderer  go  with him  to a  small  stream nearby  to collect  some  edible
mushrooms. As they walk, a boy approaches them. "Holy man," he says, "I have
been  told that,  in order to achieve, we should avoid  eating meat. Is that
true?" "Accept with joy everything that life offers you,"  the man answered.
"Do  not commit sins against  the spirit, but do not blaspheme  the  earth's
generosity."
     The master says: "If your journey is difficult,  listen to your  heart.
Try to be  as  honest as possible with  yourself, and  see  whether you  are
really following your path and  paying the price for your  dreams. If you do
this, and nevertheless your life is hard,  the moment comes when it is right
to complain. But do it with respect, as a  child  complains to a parent. But
do not fail  to ask for  more attention and help.  God is Father and Mother,
and  parents always want  the  best  for  their children. It may be that the
learning process is being pushed too hard, and it costs nothing to request a
pause, some  affection. But never exaggerate.  Job  complained at the proper
time, and his belongings were returned  to him. Al Afid complained too much,
and God stopped listening".
     A pious man found himself  suddenly  deprived of  all  of  his  wealth.
Knowing that God  would help him no  matter  what, he began  to pray: "Lord,
please let me win the lottery," he asked. He prayed for years and years, but
was still  poor. One day he  died, and -- since he was a very pious man,  he
went straight to heaven. When he arrived there, he refused to enter. He said
that he had lived his entire life  according to his religious teachings, and
that God had never allowed him  to win the lottery. "Everything You promised
me was  a lie,"  the  man said,  disgusted. "I  was always ready to help you
win,"  the Lord responded. "But, no matter  how much  I wanted to do so, you
never bought a lottery ticket."
     An aged  Chinese wise man was walking through a field  of snow, when he
came  upon  a woman weeping. "Why  are  you crying?" he asked.  "Because I'm
thinking about my life, my youth, the beauty that I  saw  in the  mirror and
the men I loved. God is cruel to have given the ability to remember. He knew
that I would remember the spring  of my life, and  cry." The  wise man stood
there in the field of snow, staring at a fixed point and contemplating. At a
certain point, the woman stopped crying: "What do you see there?" she asked.
"A field of roses," answered the wise man. "God was generous with me when he
gave  me the ability  to  remember. He knew that  in winter, I could  always
remember spring -- and smile."
     The master  says:  "One's personal  destiny  is  not  as simple  as  it
appears. Not at all. It may  even  call  for some sort of dangerous  action.
When we  want  something, we  put into motion some powerful energies, and we
are no longer able to conceal from ourselves the true meaning  of  our life.
When we want something, we make a choice and we pay a price. To follow one's
dream  carries a price. It may demand  that  we  give up  old habits, it may
create problems for us, and it may  bring disappointment. But, no matter how
high the  price, it is never so high as at we pay for not  having  lived out
our personal destiny. Because one day we will look back  and see  everything
we have done,  and hear our own heart say:  'I wasted my life.'  Believe me,
that is the worst phrase you can ever hear."
     A master  had  hundreds  of  disciples.  All  of  them  prayed  at  the
appropriate time -- except one, who was a drunkard. On  the  day that he was
dying, the master called the drunken disciple to his side, and passed on  to
him  all of his occult secrets.  The other disciples were revolted:  "What a
shame! We sacrificed everything  for a master who was unable to perceive our
qualities," they said. The master said: "I had to pass on these secrets to a
man  I knew  well.  Those  who appear to be virtuous generally conceal their
vanity, their pride and their intolerance.  So, I  chose the  only  disciple
whose defects I could see: the drinker."
     The  Cistercian father Marcos Garcia said: "Sometimes  God takes back a
certain blessing in order to help the person understand it better. God knows
up to what point he can test a soul -- and he  never goes beyond that point.
At such times, we never say: 'God has abandoned me.'  If  the Lord imposes a
demanding test upon us, he  always  provides us with a sufficient  number of
graces -- probably more  than sufficient  --  to meet the test. When we feel
far  from  His presence, we should ask ourselves:  'Do we understand  how to
make use of what he has placed in our path?'"
     Sometimes days  or weeks pass without our having received a gesture  of
affection from anyone. Such periods are difficult; when human kindness seems
to have disappeared, and  life seems to be simply a matter  of survival. The
master  says:  "We  must  examine  our own  fireplace.  We  must  place more
kindling, and try to illuminate the dark room that our life has become. When
we hear our fire crackling and the burning wood snapping, and  when  we read
the stories the flames are telling, hope returns to us. If we are capable of
loving, we  will also be  capable of  being  loved.  It is only a  matter of
time."
     At a luncheon, a person broke his glass. Another person said, "That's a
sign of good luck." Everyone at  the table knew  of the belief.  But a rabbi
who was there asked: "Why is that a sign of good luck?" "I don't know," said
the wanderer's wife. "Perhaps  it's an  ancient way of preventing the  guest
from feeling  bad."  "No,  that's  not  the  explanation," the  rabbi  said.
"Certain  Jewish traditions  have it that every man  has a certain quota  of
luck, which he  uses up over the course of his life. One can make that quota
pay interest if he  uses his luck only for  things he really needs --  or he
can use his luck in a  wasteful fashion. We  Jews also say  'Good luck' when
someone breaks a glass. But it means, 'It's good that  you didn't use up any
of your luck trying to keep the glass from breaking. Now, you can use it for
more important things.'"
     Padre Abraham  knew that close to the monastery at Sceta lived a hermit
reputed to be a wise man. He sought the man out and asked him: "If you  were
to  find a beautiful woman in your bed today, would you be able to  convince
yourself that it was not a woman?" "No," answered the wise man. "But I would
be able  to control  myself." The padre went on: "And if you found some gold
coins in the desert, would you be able to regard the money as stones?" "No,"
said  the wise man. "But  I would be able to  control myself and  leave them
there." The padre insisted: "And if  you were consulted by two brothers, one
of whom hates you  and  the  other of whom loves  you, would  you be able to
regard  them as  equals?" The  hermit answered: "Even though I might  suffer
inside,  I would treat the one  who loved me in the same way as  the one who
hated me." "I will explain to you what a wise man is," the padre  later told
his disciples.  "It is he who, rather than killing  his passions, is able to
control them."
     W. Frasier, throughout his life, wrote about the American west, and was
proud of having written the screenplay for  a film that starred Gary Cooper.
He said that there were very few times  in his life when he became angry. "I
learned  many things  from the pioneers," he said. "They fought the indians,
crossed deserts, searched for  food and water in remote places. And all that
was written during that period shows that they demonstrated a curious trait:
the pioneers wrote  only about and talked about only good things. Instead of
complaining,  they composed songs and jokes about their  difficulties.  That
way, they avoided discouragement and depression. And today, at age 88, I try
to do the same thing."
     The  text is adapted from a poem by John  Muir: "I want to free my soul
so  that  it can  enjoy all of  the gifts that the spirits own. When this is
possible, I will not try to know the craters of the moon, nor track the rays
of  the sun to their source. I will  not try to understand the  beauty of  a
star, nor the artificial desolation of a  human  being. "When I learn how to
free my soul, I will follow the dawn, and to return  with  it through  time.
When I learn how to free my  soul, I will plunge into the magnetic  currents
that drain into  an ocean  where  all  waters meet to  form the Soul  of the
World. "When I learn how to free my  soul, I will  try to read the  splendid
page of Creation from the beginning."
     One of the sacred symbols of Christianity is the figure of the pelican.
The  reason  is  simple:  in  the total absence of  food to eat, the pelican
plunges its beak into its own flesh to feed its  young. The master says: "We
are  often incapable of  understanding the blessings we have received.  Many
times  we do  not perceive what He  does to keep  us  spiritually nourished.
There is a  story about a pelican who  -- during a hard winter -- sacrificed
herself by providing her own flesh to her children. When she finally died of
weakness,  one of the nestlings said to  another: 'Finally!  I  was  getting
tired of eating the same old thing every day.'"
     If you  are dissatisfied with something -- even  a good thing  that you
would like to do,  but have not been able to -- stop now.  If things are not
going  well,  there  are only two explanations:  either your perseverance is
being tested, or you need to change direction. In order to discover which of
those options is correct -- since they are  opposites -- make use of silence
and prayer. Little by little, things  will become strangely clear, until you
have sufficient strength to choose. Once you have made your decision, forget
completely the other possibility. And go forward, because  God is the God of
the  Valiant.  Domingos Sabino said: "Everything  always turns out  for  the
best. If things are not going  well, it is because you  have not yet reached
the end."
     The Brazilian composer,  Nelson Motta, was in Bahia, when he decided to
pay a visit to Mother  Menininha de  Gantois. He caught a taxi, and on their
way, the driver lost  his brakes. The car spun  around in  the middle of the
road, but other than being frightened, nothing serious occurred. When he met
with Mother Menininha, the  first thing Nelson  told her about  was the near
accident in  the  middle  of the road.  "There are certain things  that  are
already written, but God finds us a way to get past them without any serious
problem. That is, it was a part of  your  destiny  to  be  in an  automobile
accident at this point in your life," she said. "But, as you see, everything
happened -- and nothing."
     "There  was  something  missing  from  your  talk  about  the  Road  to
Santiago,"  said  a  pilgrim  to  the  wanderer  as  they were  leaving  the
conference together. "I  have  noticed  that the  majority of pilgrims," she
said, "whether  on the  Road to  Santiago or  on  their  paths through life,
always  seek to follow the same pace  as  the others. At the beginning of my
pilgrimage, I tried to  walk at the same pace as my group. I  got  tired,  I
demanded more of my body than it could deliver, I was tense, and  I wound up
with problems in the tendons of my  left foot. It was impossible for  me  to
walk  for two days, and  I learned that I would  be able  to get to Santiago
only  if I  went at  my own  pace. It took me  longer than the others, and I
walked  alone  for many stretches along the road. But  it was only because I
respected my own pace that I was able to walk the entire road. Since then, I
have applied that lesson to everything I do in my life."
     Croesus,  the king  of Lydia,  had  made  the  decision to  attack  the
Persians, but nevertheless wanted to  consult with a  Greek oracle. "You are
fated to destroy a great empire," the oracle said. Happily, Croesus declared
war.  After  two  days  of  battle,  Lydia was  invaded by the Persians, its
capital was sacked, and Croesus was taken prisoner.  Revolted, he asked  his
ambassador to Greece to go back to the oracle and tell  him how wrong he had
been. "No,  it was you  who were wrong," said the oracle  to the ambassador.
"You destroyed a great empire: Lydia."  The  master  says: "The  language of
signs is there is before us, to teach us the best way to act. But many times
we try to distort those signs so that they "agree" with what we wanted to do
in the first place.
     Buscaglia tells the story about the  fourth of  the Magi,  who also saw
the star  shining  over Bethlehem. But he was always late in arriving at the
place  where  Jesus  might be,  because  along the way,  the poor  and needy
stopped him to ask him for help. After  thirty years of following in Jesus's
footsteps, through  Egypt, Galilee and Bethany, the magus reached Jerusalem,
but was again too late.  The  child Jesus was now a  man, and the  magus had
arrived on  the day of the crucifixion. The  king had brought pearls to give
to Jesus,  but had  sold everything in order to help those  whom  he had met
along the way. Only one pearl remained, but the Saviour was already dead. "I
have failed in the mission of my life," the king thought. And then  he heard
a voice: "Contrary to what you are thinking, you have been with me all  your
life. I was nude, and you dressed me. I  was  hungry,  and you fed me. I was
imprisoned, and  you  visited me.  I was in every poor soul  along  the way.
Thank you for so many presents of love."
     A  science fiction story  tells  of a society  where almost everyone is
born  ready to perform a function: technicians, engineers or mechanics. Only
a few are born without any skills: these are sent to an insane asylum, since
only crazy people are unable to  make a contribution  to society. One of the
insane  rebels.  The  asylum  has  a  library,  where  he attempts to  learn
everything there is to know about the arts  and sciences. When he feels that
he knows enough,  he decides to escape, but he is captured  and  taken  to a
research center  outside  the  city. "Welcome," says one of  the  people  in
charge of the center. "It is  those  who have been forced to make  their own
way that we admire most. From now on, you may do as you please, since  it is
thanks to people like you that the world is able to progress."
     Before leaving on a long trip, a businessman was saying good-bye to his
wife. "You have never brought me a present that was worthy of me," she said.
"You ungrateful  woman, everything I have given you  cost me years of work,"
the  man answered.  "What  else  can  I give  you?"  "Something that  is  as
beautiful as I  am." For two  years, the woman awaited her present. Finally,
her husband returned. "I was able to find  something that is as beautiful as
you," he said. "I wept at your ingratitude, but I  resolved that I would  do
as  you asked. I thought all this time that there  couldn't be a present  as
beautiful as you, but I found one." And he handed her a mirror.
     The German philosopher, F. Nietzsche, once said:  "It's not  worthwhile
to spend time discussing everything; it is a part of  the human condition to
err from time to  time." The master says:  "There are people who insist that
they be right about even minor  details. They often do not permit themselves
to make  a mistake. What they  accomplish with that  attitude is  a  fear of
moving  ahead. Fear of making a mistake is the door that  locks us  into the
castle of mediocrity. If we are able to overcome that fear, we have taken an
important step in the direction of our freedom."
     A novice asked  the Father Superior Nisteros at the monastery at Sceta:
"What are the things I should  do in  order to  please God?" Father Nisteros
answered:  "Abraham  accepted strangers, and  God was  happy. Elijah did not
like strangers, and God was  happy. David was proud of what he did,  and God
was happy. The Roman publican, before the altar, was ashamed of what he did,
and God was happy. John the Baptist went into the desert, and God was happy.
Jonah went  to the great city of Ninevah, and God was  happy. Ask your  soul
what it wants to  do. When your soul is  in  agreement with your  dreams, it
makes God happy."
     A Buddhist master was traveling  on  foot with his  disciples,  when he
noted that they  were discussing among themselves who  was the best. "I have
practiced  meditation for fifteen years," said one. "I  have been charitable
ever since I left my  parents' home,"  said another. "I have always followed
the precepts of Buddha," said a third. At noon, they stopped  under an apple
tree to  rest. The branches of the tree were loaded down  with fruit, to the
point that its branches  reached to the ground. "When a  tree  is laden with
fruit, its  branches bend to  touch the ground. The truly wise is  he who is
humble. When  a tree bears no fruit, its branches are  arrogant and haughty.
The foolish man always believes that he is better than others."
     Antonio Machado says: "Blow by blow, step by step, Pathfinder, there is
no path, The path is made to be walked. By walking, the path is made, And if
you look back, All you will see are the marks Of footsteps that one day Your
feet will once again take. Pathfinder, there is no path, The path is made to
be walked."
     At the Last Supper, Jesus accused --  with  the same  gravity and using
the  same  phrase --  two  of  his apostles. Both  had  committed the crimes
foreseen by  Jesus.  Judas  Iscariot  recovered  his  senses  and  condemned
himself.  Peter  also  recovered  his  senses,  after  denying  three  times
everything he had believed  in. But at the decisive moment, Peter understood
the true meaning  of  Jesus'  message.  He asked  forgiveness  and went  on,
humiliated. He  could have chosen suicide,  but  instead  he faced the other
apostles and  must have said:  "Okay, speak of  my error for as long  as the
human  race exists.  But  let  me correct it."  Peter understood  that  Love
forgives. Judas understood nothing.
     A famous writer was walking with a friend when a  boy  started to cross
the street in front  of an oncoming truck. The writer,  in a  fraction of  a
second, threw himself in front of the  truck and  was able to  save the boy.
But, before anyone could praise  him for his act of heroism,  he slapped the
boy across the face. "Don't be  fooled by appearances, my  boy," he said. "I
saved  you only so that you  couldn't evade the problems you will have as an
adult." The master says: "Sometimes we are afraid  of doing good.  Our sense
of guilt always  tries  to tell us that -- when we act with generosity -- we
are merely trying to impress others. It is difficult for us  to accept  that
we are good by nature. We mask our good acts with irony and indifference, as
if live were synonymous with weakness."
     Jesus looked at the table  before him, wondering what would be the best
symbol of his passage on Earth. On the table were pomegranates from Galilee,
spices  from the deserts of the south, dried fruits from  Syria and Egyptian
dates. He must  have  extended  His  hand to consecrate  one of  them,  when
suddenly he recalled the message that he brought was for all men everywhere.
And perhaps pomegranates and dates did not exist is some parts of the world.
He  looked   about  him,  and  another  thought  occurred  to  him:  in  the
pomegranates  and  the  dates  and  the  fruits,  the  miracle  of  Creation
manifested  itself without any interference by human beings. So he picked up
the bread, gave thanks,  and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
"Take  and  eat,  all  of  you,  for  this is my Body."  Because  bread  was
everywhere. And bread, in contrast with the dates,  the pomegranates and the
fruits of  Syria, was the best symbol  of the path toward God. Bread was the
fruit of the earth and of man's labors.
     The juggler stops  in the middle of the plaza,  pulls out three oranges
and  begins to toss them.  People gather round  and marvel  at the grace and
elegance of his movements. "That's what life's  like, more or less," someone
standing there with the  wanderer says.  "We always have  an  orange in each
hand, and one in the air. But that one in the air makes all the  difference.
It  was thrown  with ability and experience,  but it follows its own course.
Like the juggler, we throw a dream out  into the world, but we  don't always
have control  over it. At times  like  that,  you have to  know how  to  put
yourself in God's hands -- and ask  that, in due time, the dream follows its
course correctly and falls, completed, back into your hand."
     One  of  the most  powerful exercises  in interior  growth  consists in
paying  attention to  things we do automatically -- like breathing, blinking
our eyes, or  attending to  things around us. When we do this, we allow  our
brain to work  with greater  freedom  -- without  the  interference  of  our
desires. Certain  problems  that  appeared  to be  insoluble  wind up  being
resolved, and certain pains that we thought could  never be overcome wind up
dissipating effortlessly.  The  master says:  "When you have  to  confront a
difficult situation,  try  to use  that  technique.  It  requires  a bit  of
discipline...but the results can be surprising".
     A man is at a fair, selling vases. A  woman approaches and examines his
merchandise.  Some  pieces  are undecorated,  while  others  have  carefully
wrought designs. The woman asks the price of the vases. To her surprise, she
learns that  they all cost the  same. "How can  the decorated vase  cost the
same as the simple ones?" she  asks. "Why charge the same for a vase that it
took more time and effort to  make?" "I  am an artist," the seller says.  "I
can charge for the vase I made, but not for its beauty. The beauty is free."
     The wanderer was seated alone at a mass. Suddenly, he was approached by
a friend. "I have to talk to you," the friend said. The wanderer saw in  the
meeting a sign, and began  to talk about what he considered to be important.
He  spoke  of  God's  blessings, of love, and  of the  fact that he  saw his
friend's arrival  as  a signal from his angel,  because  moments before  the
wanderer  had felt alone, whereas  now he  had company.  The friend listened
without  saying  a  word,  thanked  the  wanderer,  and  left.  Rather  than
happiness, the wanderer fell more alone  than ever. Later, he realized that,
in his enthusiasm, he had paid  no attention to his friends request: that he
speak.  The wanderer  looked down  and saw  his  words thrown to  the floor.
Because  the Universe wanted something different  to have  happened  at that
moment.
     Three fairies  were  invited  to  the baptism of  a  prince.  The first
granted  the  prince the gift  of finding his  love. The second granted  him
enough  money to do as he pleased. The third granted him  beauty. But, as in
all  fairy  tales,  a witch  appeared. She was furious at  not  having  been
invited, and pronounced a  curse: "Because you already  have everything, I'm
going  to give you  even more. You will be talented at  whatever  you try to
do." The prince grew up handsome, rich and in love. But he was never able to
complete  his  mission  on  Earth.  He was  an excellent  painter, sculptor,
musician, mathematician -- but he was never able to  complete a task because
he  quickly became distracted and wanted to  move  on to something else. The
master says: "All roads  lead to  the same  place.  But choose your own, and
follow it to the end. Do not try to walk every road."
     An anonymous text from the XVIII  century  speaks of a Russian monk who
was looking for a spiritual adviser. One day, he was told that in a  certain
village lived a hermit who dedicated himself night and day to the  salvation
of his soul. Hearing this, the monk  went in search of the holy man. "I want
you to guide me along the  paths of the soul," the monk said when  he  found
the  hermit. "The soul has its own path,  and your  angel will  guide  you,"
answered the hermit. "Pray without stopping." "I don't know how to pray like
that. Will  you teach me?" "If you do not know how to pray incessantly, then
pray to God to teach you how to do so." "You  are teaching me nothing," said
the  monk. "There is nothing to be taught, because you cannot transmit faith
in  the same way  that you transmit knowledge about mathematics.  Accept the
mystery of faith, and the Universe will reveal itself."
     The master  says:  "Write! Whether it's a letter,  a diary or just some
notes as you speak on the telephone -- but write! In writing, we come closer
to God and to  others. If you want  to  understand  your  role in the  world
better, write. Try  to put your soul  in  writing, even if no one reads your
words -- or worse, even if someone winds up reading what you did not want to
be  read. The simple  fact of  writing helps us to organize our thoughts and
see  more clearly  what  is  in our surroundings. A  paper and  pen  perform
miracles -- they alleviate pain, make dreams come true and summon lost hope.
The word has power."
     The monks  of  the  desert affirmed that it was necessary  to allow the
hand of the angels to act. In order to bring  this about, they sometimes did
absurd things -- such as speaking  to the flowers or laughing without cause.
The alchemists follow the "signs from  God;" clues that  sometimes make very
little sense  but wind  up leading somewhere. The master says: "Do  not fear
being regarded  as crazy -- do something today that fits not at all with the
logic  you  have learned. Behave  is a  way  that is  opposite to the  usual
serious comportment you were taught. This little thing, no matter how little
it is, can open the door to a great adventure -- human and spiritual."
     A fellow is  driving a luxurious Mercedes Benz when he blows a tire. As
he tries  to change it, he  realizes that  he has no jack. "Well, I'll go to
the nearest  house and ask if I can borrow  one,"  he thinks, as he goes  in
search of  help. "Maybe the person  I ask, seeing my car, will charge me for
finding me his jack," he says to himself. "With a car like this, and with me
asking for help, he'll probably charge me ten dollars. No, maybe even fifty,
because he knows I really need the jack. He  might  take advantage of me and
charge me  as much  as a  hundred dollars."  And the  further he walks,  the
higher goes the price.  "When he  reaches the nearest house, and  the  owner
opens  the door, the man  shouts: "You're a thief! A  jack isn't  worth that
much! Keep it!" Who of us can say that he has never acted that way?
     Milton Ericsson  is the  author  of  a  new therapy  that has won  over
thousands of  practitioners in the United States.  When he  was  twelve,  he
contracted polio. Ten months later, he  heard a physician  tell his parents:
"Your  son will not make  it through the night."  Ericsson  heard his mother
crying. "Who knows, if I make it through the night, perhaps she won't suffer
so," he thought. And he decided not to sleep  until the  next day dawned. As
the sun rose, he shouted to his mother: "Hey, I'm  still alive!"  The joy in
the house  was  so great that he decided that he would always try to make it
through one more night to put off  his  family's suffering. He died at 75 in
1990, leaving  a number of important books  about  the enormous capacity man
has to overcome his own limitations.
     "Holy man," said a novice to the Father  Superior, "my heart  is filled
with  love for the world, and my heart is cleansed of the temptations of the
devil.  What is the next step?" The padre asked the disciple to go  with him
to visit an ill person who was in need  of extreme unction. After comforting
the  family, the father noticed a  trunk in one  of the corners. "What is in
that  trunk?" he asked. "The clothing  that my  uncle never  wore," said his
niece.  "He always  thought  that  there would be some occasion for  wearing
them, but they wound up  rotting  in  the trunk." "Don't forget that trunk,"
the  father  said  to the  disciple  as they  left. "If you  have  spiritual
treasures in your heart, put them into practice now. Or they will still."
     Mystics say that when  we  begin  our  spiritual path, we want to speak
often with God -- and we wind up not listening to what He has  to say to us.
The master says: "Relax a bit. It is not easy. We have a natural need always
to do the right thing,  and we  think we can do that if we work unceasingly.
It is important to try, to fall, to get up and  try again. But  let us allow
God to help.  In the middle  of a  great effort,  let us  look at ourselves,
allow Him to reveal himself and guide us. Let us sometimes allow Him to take
us onto his lap."
     A  padre at the monastery  at Sceta  was sought out by  a young man who
wanted to follow the  spiritual path. "For a period of a year, pay money  to
whoever attacks you," said the  padre. For twelve months, the young man made
payment  whenever  he  was attacked. At the end of the year, he went back to
the padre to learn  what the next step was. "Go  into the city and buy  food
for me,"  the  padre  said. As soon  as the  man left, the  padre  disguised
himself as a beggar, and using a short cut that  he knew, went to  the gates
of  the city. When the man approached, the padre began to insult him.  "This
is great!" said the man to the false beggar. "For an  entire year,  I had to
pay anyone who  insulted me,  and now I can  be  attacked  for free, without
spending  a cent." Hearing that, the  padre took off  his disguise. "You are
ready for the next step, because you have  learned  to laugh in  the face of
your problems," he said.
     The wanderer was walking with two of his friends through the streets of
New  York. Suddenly, in the midst  of a  casual conversation, the  other two
began to argue, almost attacking each other. Later -- when things had calmed
down  -- they  were sitting in  a bar. One  of them apologized to the other.
"I've noticed that it's very easy to be hurtful to those you know," he said.
"If  you were a  stranger, I  would  have  controlled myself  much more. But
because we are friends -- and you know me better than anyone does -- I wound
up  being  much  more  aggressive.  That's human nature."  Maybe it is human
nature. But we should fight against it.
     There  are moments  when  we would very much like to help someone,  but
there is nothing  we can do.  Either the circumstances  do not  allow us  to
offer help,  or the person is not receptive to any expression of relatedness
and support. The master says:  "There is always  love. Even at  those  times
when we  feel  most useless, we  can  still  love --  without expectation of
reward, change or thanks. If  we are able to act in that way, the energy  of
love begins to transform the Universe  around  us. When this energy appears,
it is always able to do its work".
     Fifteen years ago, during a period of profound rejection of  faith, the
wanderer  was with his wife and a  friend in Rio de  Janeiro. As  they  were
having a drink together, an old buddy with whom  the wanderer had shared the
craziness of  the 60s and 70s came into  the bar. "What are you doing  now?"
the wanderer asked. "I'm a priest", his friend said. As they left the place,
the wanderer pointed at a child sleeping on the sidewalk. "See how concerned
Jesus is with  the world?" he said. "Of  course I see," said the priest. "He
placed that child right in front of  you to  make  sure that you saw him, so
that you could do something."
     A group of Jewish  wise men met in order to try to create  the shortest
Constitution in the world.  The rule  for the meeting was that if --  within
the time span that he could balance himself on one foot -- one of them could
define the laws  that should govern  man, he would be regarded as the wisest
of them. "May God punish the criminals," said one.  The  others argued  that
this wasn't a law, but a threat. The phrase wasn't accepted. At  this point,
the rabbi Hillel  joined the meeting. Placing himself on one foot,  he said:
"Do not do unto others anything you would not want him to do unto you.  This
is the Law. All the  rest is judicial commentary." So  the rabbi  Hillel was
considered the wisest of them.
     The  writer,  George Bernard  Shaw noticed  a huge block of one in  the
living room of a friend, the sculptor, J. Epstein. "What are you going to do
with that stone?"  Shaw asked. "I don't know yet.  I'm  thinking about  it,"
Epstein  answered.  Shaw  was  surprised:  "You   mean  you  plan  your  own
inspiration? Don't you  think an  artist  has  to be free to change his mind
when he wants to?" "That only  works when -- after changing your mind -- all
you have to do ball up a piece of paper that weights  five  grams. But, when
you are dealing  with  four tons, you  have  to think  differently," Epstein
said. The master says: "Each of us knows the best way  to  do his work. Only
the person confronted with the task knows what problems are involved."
     Brother John was thinking: "I  need  to be  like the  angels.  They  do
nothing  but contemplate the  glory  of  God."  And that  night, he left the
monastery at Sceta and went into the desert. A week later he returned to the
monastery. The brother at  the gate  heard  him knock, and asked who it was.
"It's Brother  John.  I'm  hungry."  "That  cannot  be,"  said the  brother.
"Brother John is in the desert, transforming  himself into  an angel. He  no
longer feels hunger, and no longer has to work to support himself." "Forgive
my pride,"  said  Brother John.  "Angels are helpful  to man. That is  their
work, and  that is why they contemplate the glory of God.  I can contemplate
the  same  glory in doing my daily work."  With those words of humility, the
brother opened the gate.
     Of  all  the powerful  arms of destruction that man has  been  able  to
invent, the most terrible  --  and  most cowardly -- is the word. Fists  and
firearms at  least  leave  some  blood remaining. Bombs  destroy  houses and
streets. Poisons can be  detected. The master  says:  "The word  can destroy
without leaving a clue. Children are conditioned for years by their parents,
men  are impiously criticized,  women are systematically  massacred  by  the
words of  their  husbands. The faithful are  kept far away from religion  by
those who regard themselves as the interpreters of  the voice of God. Verify
whether you are making use of this weapon. See whether others are using this
weapon on you. And prevent either of those from continuing."
     A legend of the desert  tells the story of a man who wanted to move  to
another oasis, and  began  to  load up his camel. He piled on his rugs,  his
cooking utensils,  his trunks of clothes -- and the animal accepted  it all.
As they were leaving, the man remembered a beautiful blue feather his father
had given him. He retrieved it and placed it on the camel's back. With that,
the animal  collapsed of  the weight  and died. "My camel couldn't even bear
the weight of a  feather," the man must have thought. Sometimes we think the
same of others -- without  understanding that our  little joke may have been
the drop that caused the goblet of suffering to overflow.
     "Sometimes people get used  to what  they see  in  films and forget the
real story," someone says to the wanderer. "Do  you remember the film,  'The
Ten  Commandments?'" "Of course.  Moses  --  Charlton  Heston -- raises  his
staff, the waters  open, and the people  of Israel are able to cross the Red
Sea." "In the Bible,  that's  not  how it was," says the person. "There, God
gives  an order to Moses:  'Tell the children of Israel to march.' And it is
only after they begin  to move  forward that  Moses raises his staff and the
waters part. Because only courage  in walking the path makes the path reveal
itself."
     This was written  by  the  cellist,  Pablo Casals: "I  am always  being
reborn. Every  morning  is a time  to  begin life again. Eighty  years ago I
began my day in the same  way  -- but this doesn't  mean it is  a mechanical
routine. It is essential  to my happiness. I awaken, and  I go  to the piano
and play two  preludes  and  a  fugue  from Bach. These pieces function as a
blessing upon  my house. But this  practice is also a  way of reestablishing
contact with  the mystery of life and  with the  miracle  of  being a  human
being. Even though I've  done this for eighty years, the music is  never the
same -- it always teaches me something new fantastic, unbelievable."
     The master says: "On the one hand, we know that it is important to seek
God. On the  other,  life creates a  distance  between  us and  Him. We feel
ignored  by the Divinity, or  we are preoccupied with our  daily tasks. This
creates a feeling of guilt: either we are renouncing life to too  much of an
extent because of God, or we feel  we are renouncing God too much because of
life. This  apparent conflict  is a fantasy:  God is in life  and life is in
God. One has only to be aware of this in order to understand fate better. If
we are able to penetrate into  the holy harmony of our daily  round, we will
always be on the right path, and we will complete our task."
     The phrase is from  Pablo Picasso: "God is an  artist. He  invented the
giraffe, the elephant and the  ant. Actually, he never sought for a style --
he was simply doing everything that he wanted to do." The master says: "When
we begin  along our  path,  a great fear  arises.  We  feel obligated to  do
everything right. In the  end, since we have only  one life to live, who was
it that invented the standard of "Everything  right?" God  made the giraffe,
the elephant and the ant --  why do we have to follow a standard? A standard
serves only to show us how others define their own reality.  Often we admire
the models of  others, and many times  we can  avoid the errors committed by
others.  But  as for  living  well  --  only  we  know  how to  do  that for
ourselves."
     Several  devout Jews  were praying at  the  synagogue when, during  the
prayer,  they  heard a child's voice  saying:  "A,  B, C, D." They tried  to
concentrate on the scripture, but  the  voice repeated,  "A, B, C,  D." They
interrupted  the  service,  and,  when they  looked  around, saw  a boy  who
continued with the  same chant.  The rabbi spoke  to  the  boy: "Why are you
doing that?" "Because I don't know the holy verses," the boy said. "So I was
hoping that if I recited the alphabet, God would use the letters to form the
right  words." "Thank you for this lesson," said the rabbi. "And may  I give
to God my days on this  Earth in  the same way that you have  given him your
letters."
     The  master  says:  "The spirit of God  that is  present  in  us can be
described as  being the screen in  a movie  theater. On the screen,  various
situations  occur --  people  love,  people separate,  treasures are  found,
distant countries  are discovered. It  is not important  which film is being
shown.  The screen is always the same.  It is not important if tears fall or
blood runs -- because nothing can stain the whiteness of the screen. Just as
with  the movie screen, God  is  there -- behind every one of life's agonies
and ecstasies. We will see them all when our film ends."
     An archer was walking in the woods near a Hindu monastery known for the
severity of its teachings, when he saw the monks in the garden, drinking and
enjoying themselves. "How cynical are those who seek  the path to God," said
the archer aloud. "They say that discipline is important, but there they are
getting drunk!" "If  you shoot one hundred arrows in a row, what will happen
to your bow?" asked the  eldest of the monks. "My bow would break," answered
the archer. "If someone exceeds his limits, their will is also broken," said
the monk.  "He  who is unable  to balance  work  with relaxation  loses  his
enthusiasm, and cannot go far."
     A king sent a  messenger to a distant country  with  a  peace agreement
that  was  to be  signed.  Wanting  to take  advantage  of the  journey, the
messenger informed some of his friends that  had important business dealings
in that country. They asked that he postpone his trip,  and -- since a peace
agreement was  to  be signed -- they  wrote new orders,  and  changed  their
business  strategies. When  the  messenger  finally made  the  trip,  it was
already  too  late  for  the  agreement  he  was to deliver;  war broke out,
destroying the king's plans and the business arrangements of the men who had
delayed the messenger.  The master says: "There is only one  important thing
in our lives: to live our personal destiny -- the mission that was fated for
us. But we always wind up  loading ourselves down with useless concerns that
then destroy our dream."
     The wanderer  is in  the port of Sydney, looking out at the bridge that
connects the  two parts of the city,  when  an Australian approaches him and
asks that he read an ad in the newspaper. "The letters  are quite small," he
says. "I left  my glasses at  home, and I can't make them out." The wanderer
is  also without his  reading glasses,  and apologizes  to the man. "Well, I
guess I'll just forget about the ad," says the man. And, wanting to continue
the conversation, he says, "It's  not  just  the two of us. God's  vision is
also clouded. Not because he is old, but because he wants it that way. Then,
when someone close  to Him commits an error, He is unable to see it clearly.
Not wanting to be unfair, he forgives the person." "And what about the 'good
things,'" I ask. "Well, God  never leaves his  glasses at home," laughs  the
Australian as he moves on.
     "Is there anything  more important than prayer?"  asked the disciple of
his master. The master asked the disciple to go to a nearby bush and cut off
a branch. The  disciple obeyed. "Is the bush still alive?" asked the master.
"Just  as  alive as  before," answered  the disciple. "Now go  and  cut  the
roots,"  said  the  master. "If  I do that, the  bush will  die,"  said  the
disciple.  "Prayers  are  the branches  of  a  tree, whose roots  are called
faith,"  said the  master. "There can be faith without prayer. But there can
be no prayer without faith."
     Saint Teresa d'Avila  says: "Remember: the Lord invited  all of us, and
--  since He is the pure truth -- we cannot doubt his invitation.  He  said:
'Come to  me all  who  are thirsty, and I will give you  to  drink.' "If the
invitation were not for  each and every one of us, the Lord would have said:
'Come to me all  who wish to, because you have  nothing to lose. But  I will
provide drink only for those who are prepared.' He imposes no conditions. It
is enough  to walk and desire, and all will receive the Water of Life of his
love.
     The Zen monks, when  they wish to meditate,  sit before a rock: "Now  I
will  wait  for this  rock  to grow  a  bit,"  they  say.  The master  says:
"Everything around us is constantly changing. Every day, the sun shines upon
a  new  world.  What   we  call  routine  is  full   of  new  proposals  and
opportunities.  But  we do not perceive that each day  is different from all
the  others. Today, in  some  place, a  treasure awaits  you. It  may  be  a
fleeting smile, it may be a great victory -- it doesn't matter. Life is made
up  of  large and  small miracles.  Nothing  is  boring,  because everything
constantly changes.  Tedium  is  not of the world. The  poet,  T.  S. Eliot,
wrote: 'Walk many highways/ return to  your home/ and view everything as  if
for the first time'".


: 24, Last-modified: Thu, 06 Feb 2003 19:06:14 GMT