Words of Wisdom

By Paulo Coelho

For The Bali Times

Saint Teresa and the Jesuit

Just when she is rejected by everyone as crazy or possessed by the devil, Saint Teresa of Avila meets the Jesuit Francisco de Borja:

“I can’t pray alone,” she says. “I need to seek the memory of the Creator in the fields, in water, or in the flowers. Prayer is a hard task for me, like drawing water from a well. At first I manage to draw just a few drops, and these soothe the dryness of my soul. But little by little the bucket fills up, and I have increasingly less work to water these spiritual fields. Finally the moment arrives when this water turns into rain, and the Creator waters my soul, without me doing any work at all.”

“Well, don’t forget to read this book of the Creation,” answers Francisco de Borja. “There, in nature, is where the Father has written his best lines.”

Herrigel and the Zen master

“When my bow is stretched, a moment arrives when, if I don’t fire the arrow immediately, I feel that I am going to lose my breath,” the German Eugen Herrigel says to his master.

“As long as you try to provoke the moment of firing the arrow, you won’t learn the great art,” answers the master. “The hand that stretches the bow must open like a child’s hand opens. What sometimes hinders the precision of the shot is the archer’s overactive will. He thinks: “what I fail to do will not be done,” and that’s not quite how things work. Man should always act, but he must also let other forces of the Universe act in their own due time.”

Ken Kesey and our condition

“What do you think of the human race?” asks a friend who has just graduated in sociology.

“I think it’s strange – so alike and yet so different! We are capable of working together, of building the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the cathedrals of Europe and the temples of Peru. We can compose unforgettable music, work in hospitals, create new computer programs. But at some moment all this loses its meaning, and we feel alone, as if we were part of another world, different from the one we have helped to build.

“At times, when others need our help, we grow desperate because this prevents us from enjoying life. At other times, when nobody needs us, we feel useless.

“But that’s the way we are. We are complex human beings. Why despair?”

Buddha and the power of thought

“We are what we think.

All that we are comes from our thoughts.

Through thought we construct and destroy the world.

Thought follows us like a cart follows the pair of oxen.

We are what we think.

Your imagination can cause you more harm than your worst enemy.

But once you control your thoughts, no one can help you as much as they can – not even your father or mother.”

© Translated by James Mulholland


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