Archive for February, 2010


February 18, 2010
Orchid from Sian

Orchid from Sian

Thanks Sian for the beautiful orchid that you gave me two days before St Valentine’s Day!

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

February 18, 2010

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

— W B Yeats

A cross of olive wood

February 18, 2010
A cross of olive wood

A cross of olive wood

“A holding cross is designed not so much to look right as to feel right. The cross is deliberately uneven, in order to fit between your fingers more comfortably than a ‘correctly shaped’ cross would do. Because a holding cross is not decorated or ornamental, it is a harsh reminder of the wood of the cross of Jesus.” — Angela Ashwin

An unusual shaped cross, made of highly polished olive wood. It feels smooth to the touch, fits snugly in the hand.

The cross is made from wood from an olive tree, wood that has been dried for five years.

The cross is carved in the Holy Land, at a workshop in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. Packed for shipment in a house in the Old City of Jerusalem. Imported into the UK by Marie Wilkinson.

Because they are hand-carved no two crosses are alike. Each cross is unique.

Anything that helps Palestinians survive the brutality of Israeli occupation is to be welcome. Anyone who doubts that brutality should read ‘The Last Taboo’ in Freedom Next Time by John Pilger or Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky.

A few years ago I was with friends at the Beyond TV International Film Festival in Swansea. They had helped bring in the olive harvest in occupied Palestine. When not destroying the crop, Israelis make it nigh impossible to harvest. The olive oil they brought back was delicious. Whilst not carrying a Fair Trade logo it was ethically produced. Please encourage your local deli and other outlets to stock Palestinian Olive Oil as every little helps.

I came across this holding cross, as these types of cross are known, in Triangle, a Christian bookshop cum teashop.

Also see

The Cross

Holding the Cross

All doctrines are only so many paths

February 18, 2010

God has made different religions to suit different aspirations, times and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with wholehearted devotion. One may eat a cake with icing either straight or sidewise. It will taste sweet either way.

— Ramakrishna

The boy and the devil

February 18, 2010


The boy was walking to buy bread when the mayor of the city crossed the street.

‘The reason he is so powerful, is because, he’s made pact with the devil,’ a very devout woman in the street told the boy, and he was intrigued.

Some time later, when travelling to another town, the boy saw a beautiful corn field. He asked who was he owner as soon as he arrived at his destination

‘All this land belongs to the same man. I’d say the Devil had a hand in that.’ – answered one of the villagers.

Later the same day, a beautiful woman walked past the boy. A priest also saw her and said aloud:

‘That woman is in the services of Satan!’

From then on, the boy decide to seek the Devil out. One day he managed to see him face to face.

‘They say you can make people powerful, rich, and beautiful.’

‘To be totally honest, this is not true’ replied the Devil. ‘You have just been listening to the views of those who are trying to promote me.’

Originally published in Like a Flowing River, a wonderful collection of anecdotes and vignettes by Paulo Coelho. Also posted on his blog.

The Devil does not have to recruit, we do it for him. It is all too easy to criticise the success or good fortune of others. The Law of Jante springs to mind.

There is an interesting dialogue with the Devil in My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.

In your midst

February 16, 2010

I, God, am in your midst.
Whoever knows me can never fall,
Not in the heights,
Nor in the depths,
Nor in the breadths,
For I am love,
Which the vast expanses of evil
Can never still.

— Hildegard von Bingen

Also see

Love Is …

What a miracle

Every particle of the world

February 16, 2010

Every particle of the world is a mirror,
In each atom lies the blazing light
of a thousands suns.
Cleave the heart of a raindrop,
a hundred pure oceans will flow forth.
Look closely at a grain of sand,
the seed of a thousand beings can be seen.
The foot of an ant is larger than an elephant;
In essence, a drop of water
is no different than the Nile.
In the heart of a barley-corn
Lies the fruit of a hundred harvests;
Within the pulp of a millet seed
an entire universe can be found.
In the wing of a fly, an ocean of wonder;
In the pupil of the eye, an endless heaven.
Though the inner chamber of the heart is small.
The Lord of both worlds
gladly makes His home there.

— Mahmud Shahestrai

I am strongly reminded of William Blake.

Extracted from The Essential Mystics by Andrew Harvey.

Also see

The nature of reality

To see a world in a grain of sand

What a miracle

February 16, 2010

Glorious is the moment we sit in the palace, you and I
Two forms, two faces, but a single soul, you and I
The flowers will blaze and bird cries shower us with immortality
The moment we enter the garden, you and I
All the stars of heaven will run out to gaze at us
As we burn as the full moon itself, you and I
The fired-winged birds of heaven will rage with envy
In that place we laugh ecstatically, you and I
What a miracle, you and I, entwined in the same nest
What a miracle, you and I, one love, one lover, one Fire
In this world and the next, in an ecstasy without end.

— Rumi

Extracted from The Essential Mystics by Andrew Harvey.

Also see

Love Is …

In your midst

Love Is …

February 16, 2010
For Sian on St Valentine' Day

For Sian on St Valentine' Day

Loving thoughts, soulful music … heart, dances!

Oh, music is the meat of all who love.

Music uplifts the soul to realms above.

— Rumi

What struck me was that the first line is a haiku! As can be seen if I re-structure.

Loving thoughts,
soulful music …
heart, dances!

Music and divine love, I am reminded of Hildegard von Bingen. She was a medieval mystic who wrote divine music and said she was ‘a feather on the breath of God’.

Special thanks to Jane Stewart who sent me these lines on St Valentine’s Day.

Also see

The accommodating point

What a miracle

In your midst

The accommodating point

February 16, 2010

In one of my books (The Zahir), I try to understand why people are so afraid of changing. When I was right in the middle of writing the text, I came across an odd interview with a woman who had just written a book on – guess what? – love.

The journalist asks whether the only way a human being can become happy is to find their beloved. The woman says no:

“Love changes, and nobody understands that. The idea that love leads to happiness is a modern invention, dating from the late 17th century. From that time on, people have learned to believe that love should last for ever and that marriage is the best way to exercise love. In the past there was not so much optimism about the longevity of passion.

“Romeo and Juliet isn’t a happy story, it’s a tragedy. In the last few decades, expectation has grown a lot regarding marriage being the path towards personal accomplishment. Disappointment and dissatisfaction have also grown at the same time.”

According to the magical practices of the witchdoctors in the North of Mexico, there is always an event in our lives that is responsible for our having stopped making progress. A trauma, a particularly bitter defeat, disappointment in love, even a victory that we fail to quite understand, ends up making us act cowardly and incapable of moving ahead. The witchdoctor finds and gets rid of this “accommodating point”. To do so, he has to review our life and discover where this point lies.


Because, according to the story that we were told, at a certain moment in our lives “we reach our limit”. There are no more changes to be made. We won’t grow any more. Both professionally and in love, we have reached the ideal point, and it’s best to leave things as they are. But the truth is that we can always go further. Love more, live more, risk more.

Immobility is never the best solution. Because everything around us changes (including love) and we must accompany that rhythm.

I have been married to the same person for 30 years, but methaphorically speaking, the same marriage contains several “new marriages” during our relationship. Our bodies and souls changed, and we are still togeher. If we wanted to keep on as we were in 1979, I don’t think we would have come so far.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog a couple of days before St Valentine’s Day.

These thoughts by Paulo Coelho very much parallel a conversation I had with my lovely friend Sian not so long ago.

I pictured two people as trajectories in time and space. When they meet, their paths literally cross. They have something in common. If their current trajectories continue they will diverge apart and eventually have nothing in common. They will only remain together if their individual trajectories change course and their trajectories then continue on a common path.

I met Sian in a Christian book shop cum tea shop. She said she had been working there for about a year, though I had never noticed her before. We got chatting and were completely absorbed in each others company and have been ever since.

What went through our individual minds and what we saw and felt I will not say. But Sian is free to make comment if she so wishes.

I have often found that people hit a brick wall in their personal development. What then happens is not that they fail to make any further progress, they die.

Synchronicity: The evening before St Valentine’s Day, I put together a little something for Sian to give to her on St Valentine’s Day. Included was The Zahir as it seemed somehow appropriate. I then sat down and clicked on these thoughts by Paul Coelho which came to him whilst writing The Zahir!

Also see

Love Is …

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