Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Maktub, Page 2

Paulo Coelho

  "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 inFort 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 inNew 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 atToulon . 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 ofSaint 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 exac
tly 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 ofPrague , 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 aboutPrague . 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 inSpain , close to the city ofOlite , 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 thekingdomofGod . ' "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 inDresden , 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 imp
ortant 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.