Notes Written in Airports

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

The measure of love

I have always wanted to know if I was able to love like you do,” said the disciple of a Hindu master.

“There is nothing beyond love,” answered the master. “It’s love that keeps the world going round and the stars hanging in the sky.”

“I know all that. But how can I know if my love is great enough?”

“Try to find out if you abandon yourself to love or if you flee from your emotions. But don’t ask questions like that because love is neither great nor small. You can’t measure a feeling like you measure a road: if you act like that you will see only your reflection, like the moon in a lake, but you won’t be following your path.”

Moses divides the waters

“Sometimes people get so used to what they see in films that they end up forgetting the real story,” says a friend, as we stand together looking out over Sydney harbor. “Do you remember the big scene in The Ten Commandments?”

Of course I do. At one point, Moses – played by Charlton Heston – stretches out his hand, the waters part and the children of Israel walk across.

“In the Bible it’s different,” says my friend. “There, God tells Moses: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.’ Only afterwards does he order Moses to stretch out his hand, and only then does the Red Sea part. It is only courage on the path itself that makes the path appear.”

Saint Augustine and logic

Saint Augustine was converted by a simple sign. For years he sought in many philosophical currents for an answer to the meaning of life. One afternoon, in the garden of his house in Milan, he was reflecting on the failure of all this searching. At that very moment he heard a child in the street shouting out: “Pick one up and read it! Pick one up and read it!”

Although he had always been guided by logic, he decided on the spur of the moment to pick up the first book within his reach. It was the Bible, and he read a passage from Saint Paul – with the answers he was looking for.

From that moment on, Augustine’s logic made room for faith to play its part, and he became one of the Church’s most prominent theologians.

The meaning of truth

In the name of truth, the human race has committed its worst crimes. Men and women were burned. The culture of whole civilizations destroyed. Those who sought a different path were marginalized.

One of them was crucified, in the name of truth. But – before dying – he left behind a great definition of Truth.

It is not that which gives us certainties.

It is not that which gives us profundity.

It is not that which makes us do better than others.

It is not that which keeps us in the prison of prejudices.

Truth is that which gives us freedom. “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” said Jesus.

© Translated by James Mulholland

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Paulo Coelho

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