Warrior of the LightPaulo Coelho
WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
For S.I.L., Carlos Eduardo Rangel and Anne Carriere, masters of rigor and compassion.
Hail Mary conceived without sin,
pray for those who turn to you. Amen.
The disciple is not above his master;
but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
LUKE 6: 40
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"Just off the beach to the west of the village lies an island, and on it is a vast temple with many bells," said the woman.
The boy noticed that she was dressed strangely and had a veil covering her head. He had never seen her before.
"Have you ever visited that temple?" she asked. "Go there and tell me what you think of it?"
Seduced by the woman's beauty, the boy went to the place she had indicated. He sat down on the beach and stared out at the horizon, but he saw only what he always saw: blue sky and ocean.
Disappointed, he walked to a nearby fishing village and asked if anyone there knew about an island and a temple.
"Oh, that was many years ago, when my great-grand-parents were alive," said an old fisherman. "There was an earthquake, and the island was swallowed up by the sea. But although we can no longer see the island, we can still hear the temple bells when the ocean sets them swinging down below."
The boy went back to the beach and tried to hear the bells. He spent the whole afternoon there, but all he heard was the noise of the waves and the cries of the seagulls.
When night fell, his parents came looking for him. The following morning, he went back to the beach; he could not believe that such a beautiful woman would have lied to him. If she ever returned, he could tell her that, although he had not seen the island, he had heard the temple bells set ringing by the motion of the waves.
Many months passed; the woman did not return and the boy forgot all about her; now he was convinced that he needed to discover the riches and treasures in the submerged temple. If he could hear the bells, he would be able to locate it and salvage the treasure hidden below.
He lost interest in school and even in his friends. He became the butt of all the other children's jokes. They used to say: "He's not like us. He prefers to sit looking at the sea because he's afraid of being beaten in our games."
And they all laughed to see the boy sitting on the shore.
Although he still could not hear the old temple bells ringing, the boy learned about other things. He began to realize that he had grown so used to the sound of the waves that he was no longer distracted by them. Soon after that, he became used to the cries of the seagulls, the buzzing of the bees and the wind blowing amongst the palm trees.
Six months after his first conversation with the woman, the boy could sit there oblivious to all other noises, but he still could not hear the bells from the drowned temple.
Fishermen came and talked to him, insisting that they had heard the bells.
But the boy never did.
Some time later, however, the fishermen changed their tune: "You spend far too much time thinking about the bells beneath the sea. Forget about them and go back to playing with your friends. Perhaps it's only fishermen who can hear them."
After almost a year, the boy thought: "Perhaps they're right. I would do better to grow up and become a fisherman and come down to this beach every morning, because I've come to love it here." And he thought too: "Perhaps it's just another legend and the bells were all shattered during the earthquake and have never rung out since."
That afternoon, he decided to go back home.
He walked down to the ocean to say goodbye. He looked once more at the natural world around him and because he was no longer concerned about the bells, he could again smile at the beauty of the seagulls' cries, the roar of the sea, and the wind blowing in the palm trees. Far off, he heard the sound of his friends playing and he felt glad to think that he would soon resume his childhood games.
The boy was happy and-as only a child can-he felt grateful for being alive. He was sure that he had not wasted his time, for he had learned to contemplate Nature and to respect it.
Then, because he was listening to the sea, the seagulls, the wind in the palm trees, and the voices of his friends playing, he also heard the first bell.
And then another.
And another, until, to his great joy, all the bells in the drowned temple were ringing.
Years later, when he was a grown man, he returned to the village and to the beach of his childhood. He no longer dreamed of finding treasure at the bottom of the sea; perhaps that had all been a product of his imagination, and he had never really heard the submerged bells ring out on one lost childhood afternoon. Even so, he decided to walk for a while along the beach, to listen to the noise of the wind and to the cries of the seagulls.
Imagine his surprise when, there on the beach, he saw the woman who had first spoken to him about the island and its temple.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"I was waiting for you," she replied.
He noticed that, despite the passing years, the woman looked exactly the same; the veil hiding her hair had not faded with time.
She handed him a blue notebook full of blank pages.
"Write: A Warrior of the Light values a child's eyes because they are able to look at the world without bitterness. When he wants to find out if the person beside him is worthy of his trust, he tries to see him as a child would."
"What is a Warrior of the Light?"
"You already know that," she replied with a smile. "He is someone capable of understanding the miracle of life, of fighting to the last for something he believes in--and of hearing the bells that the waves set ringing on the seabed."
He had never thought of himself as a Warrior of the Light. The woman seemed to read his thoughts. "Everyone is capable of these things. And, though no one thinks of himself as a Warrior of the Light, we all are."
He looked at the blank pages in the notebook. The woman smiled again.
"Write about the Warrior," she said.
A Warrior of the Light knows that he has much to be grateful for.
Angels help him in his struggle; celestial forces place each thing in its place, thus allowing him to give it his best.
His companions say: "He's so lucky!" And the warrior does sometimes achieve things far beyond his capabilities.
That is why, at sunset, he kneels and gives thanks for the Protective Cloak surrounding him.
His gratitude, however, is not limited to the spiritual world; he never forgets his friends, for their blood, mingled with his on the battlefield.
A Warrior does not need to be reminded of the help given him by others. He is the first to remember and he makes sure to share with them any rewards he receives.
All the world's roads lead to the heart of the Warrior; he plunges unhesitatingly into the river of passions always flowing through his life.
The warrior knows that he is free to choose his desires, and he makes these decisions with courage, detachment and--sometimes--with just a touch of madness.
He embraces his passions and enjoys them intensely. He knows that there is no need to renounce the pleasures of conquest; they are part of life and bring joy to all those who participate in them.
But he never lose
s sight of things that last or of the strong bonds forged over time.
A Warrior can distinguish between the transient and the enduring.
A Warrior of the Light does not rely on strength alone, he makes use of his opponent's energy too.
When he enters the fight, all he has is his enthusiasm, the moves, and strikes that he learned during his training. As the fight progresses, he discovers that enthusiasm and training are not enough to win: what counts is experience.
Then he opens his heart to the Universe and asks God to give him the inspiration he needs to turn every blow from his enemy into a lesson in self-defence.
His companions say: "He's so superstitious. He stopped fighting in order to pray; he even shows respect for his opponent's tricks."
A Warrior does not respond to these provocations. He knows that without inspiration and experience, no amount of training will help him.
A Warrior of the Light never resorts to trickery, but he knows how to distract his opponent.
No matter how anxious he is, he uses every strategy at his disposal to gain his objective. When he sees that his strength is almost gone, he makes his enemy think that he is simply biding his time. When he needs to attack the right flank, he moves his troops to the left. If he intends beginning the battle at once, he pretends that he is tired and prepares for sleep.
His friends say: "Look, he's lost all enthusiasm." But he pays no attention to such remarks because his friends do not understand his tactics.
A Warrior of the Light knows what he wants. And he has no need to waste time on explanations.
A wise Chinese man has this to say about the strategies of a Warrior of the Light: "Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you. This will diminish his enthusiasm."
"Do not be ashamed to make a temporary withdrawal from the field if you see that your enemy is stronger than you; it is not winning or losing a single battle that matters, but how the war ends."
"Even if you are very strong, never be ashamed to feign weakness; this will make your enemy act imprudently and attack too soon."
"In war, the key to victory is the ability to surprise one's opponent."
It's odd," the Warrior of the Light says to himself. "I have met so many people who, at the first opportunity, try to show their very worst qualities. They hide their inner strength behind aggression and hide their fear of loneliness behind an air of independence. They do not believe in their own abilities, but are constantly trumpeting their virtues."
A Warrior reads these messages in many of the men and women he meets. He is never taken in by appearances and makes a point of remaining silent when people try to impress him. He uses these occasions to correct his own faults, for other people make an excellent mirror.
A Warrior takes every opportunity to teach himself.
The Warrior of the Light sometimes fights with those he loves.
The man who defends his friends is never overwhelmed by the storms of life; he is strong enough to come through difficulties and carry on.
He does, however, often face challenges from those he is trying to teach the art of the sword. His disciples provoke him into fighting with them.
And the Warrior demonstrates his abilities: with just a few blows he disarms his students, and harmony returns to the place where they meet.
"Why bother to do that, when you are so much better than they are?" asks a traveler.
"Because in challenging me, what they really want is to talk to me and this is my way of keeping the dialogue open," replies the Warrior.
Before embarking on an important battle, a Warrior of the Light asks himself: "How far have I developed my abilities?"
He knows that he has learned something with every battle he has fought, but many of those lessons have caused him unnecessary suffering. More than once he has wasted his time fighting for a lie. And he has suffered for people who did not deserve his love.
Victors never make the same mistake twice. That is why the Warrior only risks his heart for something worthwhile.
A Warrior of the Light respects the main teaching of the I Ching: "To persevere is favorable."
He knows that perseverance is not the same thing as insistence. There are times when battles go on longer than necessary, draining him of strength and enthusiasm.
At such moments, the Warrior thinks: "A prolonged war finally destroys the victors too."
Then he withdraws his forces from the battlefield and allows himself a respite. He perseveres in his desire, but knows he must wait for the best moment to attack.
A Warrior always returns to the fray. He never does so out of stubbornness, but because he has noticed a change in the weather.
A Warrior of the Light knows that certain moments repeat themselves.
He often finds himself faced by the same problems and situations, and seeing these difficult situations return, he grows depressed, thinking that he is incapable of making any progress in life.
"I've been through all this before," he says to his heart.
"Yes, you have been through all this before," replies his heart. "But you have never been beyond it."
Then the Warrior realizes that these repeated experiences have but one aim: to teach him what he does not want to learn.
A Warrior of the Light is never predictable.
He might dance down the street on his way to work, gaze into the eyes of a complete stranger and speak of love at first sight, or defend an apparently absurd idea. Warriors of the Light allow themselves days like these.
He is not afraid to weep over ancient sorrows or feel joy at new discoveries. When he feels that the moment has arrived, he drops everything and goes off on some long-dreamed-of adventure. When he realizes that he can do no more, he abandons the fight, but never blames himself for having committed a few unexpected acts of folly.
A Warrior does not spend his days trying to play the role that others have chosen for him.
Warriors of the Light always have a certain gleam in their eyes.
They are of this world. They are part of the lives of other people and they set out on their journey with no saddlebags and no sandals. They are often cowardly. They do not always make the right decisions.
They suffer over the most trivial things; they have mean thoughts and sometimes believe they are incapable of growing. They frequently deem themselves unworthy of any blessing or miracle.
They are not always quite sure of what they are doing here. They spend many sleepless nights, believing that their lives have no meaning.
That is why they are Warriors of the Light. Because they make mistakes, because they ask themselves questions, because they are looking for a reason they are sure to find it.
The Warrior of the Light does not worry that, to others, his behavior might seem quite mad.
He talks out loud to himself when he is alone. Someone told him that this is the best way of communicating with the angels, and so he takes a chance and tries to make contact.
At first, he finds this very difficult. He thinks that he has nothing to say, that he will just repeat the same meaningless twaddle. Even so, the Warrior persists. He spends all day talking to his heart. He says things with which he does not agree, he talks utter nonsense.
One day, he notices a change in his voice. He realizes that he is acting as a channel for some higher wisdom.
The Warrior may seem mad, but this is just a disguise.
According to a poet: "The Warrior of the Light chooses his enemies."
He knows what he is capable of; he does not have to go about the world boasting of his qualities and virtues. Nevertheless, there is always someone who wants to prove himself better than he is.
For the Warrior, there is no "better" or "worse": everyone has the necessary gifts for his particular path.
But certain people insist. They provoke and offend and do everything they can to irritate him. At that point, his heart says: "Do not respond to these insults, they will not increase your abilities. Yo
u will tire yourself needlessly."
A Warrior of the Light does not waste his time listening to provocations; he has a destiny to fulfill.
The Warrior of the Light remembers a passage from John Bunyan: "Although I have been through all that I have, I do not regret the many hardships I met, because it was they who brought me to the place I wished to reach. Now all I have is this sword and I give it to whoever wishes to continue his pilgrimage. I carry with me the marks and scars of battles--they are the witnesses of what I suffered and the rewards of what I conquered.
"These are the beloved marks and scars that will open the gates of Paradise to me. There was a time when I used to listen to tales of bravery. There was a time when I lived only because I needed to live. But now I live because I am a Warrior and because I wish one day to be in the company of Him for whom I have fought so hard."
The moment that he Begins to walk along it, the Warrior of the Light recognizes the Path.
Each stone, each bend cries welcome to him. He identifies with the mountains and the streams, he sees something of his own soul in the plants and the animals and the birds of the field.
Then, accepting the help of God and of God's Signs, he allows his Personal Legend to guide him toward the tasks that life has reserved for him.
On some nights, he has nowhere to sleep, on others, he suffers from insomnia. "That's just how it is," thinks the Warrior. "I was the one who chose to walk this path."
In these words lies all his power: He chose the path along which he is walking and so has no complaints.
From now on--and for the next few hundred years--the Universe is going to help Warriors of the Light and hinder the prejudiced.
The Earth's energy needs to be renewed.
New ideas need space.