Questioning the Quest

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

And what about the bad disciples?

A disciple asked Firoz:
– The mere presence of a master causes all sorts of curious people to gather round, to discover something beneficial. Can’t this be a hindrance and negative? Can’t this divert the master from his path, or cause him to suffer because he could not teach that which he wished?
Firoz, the Sufi master, replied:
– The sight of an avocado tree laden with fruit whets the appetite of all those who pass by. If someone wishes to satisfy his hunger beyond his needs, he will eat more avocados than necessary, and will be sick. However, this causes no indigestion to the man who owns the avocado tree.
“It is the same with our Search. The path must be open to all; but it is for God to set the limits of each individual.”

Respecting limits

An archer was walking in the vicinity of a Hindu monastery famous for the rigor of its teaching when he saw the monks in the garden – all drinking and having a good time to themselves.
“How cynical are those who seek God’s path,” said the archer out loud. “They say that discipline is important, and they get drunk on the sly!”
“If you shoot a hundred arrows in a row, what will happen to your bow?” asked the oldest of the monks.
“My bow will break.”
“If someone pushes himself beyond his own limits, he also breaks his will. If you don’t balance work with rest, you lose enthusiasm, exhaust your energies and don’t get very far.”

The hidden city

A hermit of the monastery of Sceta addressed Abbot Theodore:
“I know exactly what the objective of life is. I know what God asks of men, and I know the best way to serve Him. And even so, I am incapable of doing all that I should be doing to serve the Lord.”
Abbot Theodore remained silent for a long time. Finally he said:
“You know that there exists a city on the other side of the ocean. But you still haven’t found the boat, carried your luggage on board and crossed the sea. Why keep talking about what the city looks like, or how we should walk down its streets?
“Knowing the objective of life, or knowing the best way to serve the Lord, is not enough. You must put into practice what you are thinking, and then the road will reveal itself.”

© Translated by James Mulholland

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