Archive for March, 2010

Joy is like sex

March 30, 2010
etching by Rembrandt

etching by Rembrandt

I’m going in search of the adventure of being alive.

And it’s complicated: why am I not looking for happiness when everyone has taught me that happiness is the only goal worth pursuing?

Why am I going to risk taking a path that no one else is taking? After all, what is happiness?

Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness.

On the contrary, its a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; its sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstacy and agony. All right then, peace.

Peace? If we look at the Mother, she’s never at peace. The winter does battle with the summer, the sun and moon never meet, the tiger chases the man, who’s afraid of the dog, who chases the cat, who chases the mouse, who frightens the man.

Money brings happiness. Fine. In that case, everyone who earns enough to have a high standard of living would be able to stop work. But then they’re more troubled than ever, as if they were afraid of losing everything. Money attracts money, that’s true. Poverty might bring unhappiness, but money wont necessarily bring happiness. I spent a lot of my life looking for happiness, now what i want is joy.

Joy is like sex – it begins and ends. I want pleasure. I want to be contended, but happiness? I no longer fall into that trap.

Extracted from the novel The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho and also reproduced on his blog. A novel that explores the feminine side of God.

Also see

What is wrong with the church?

Eleven Minutes The Opera

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Burnished day, conch of the voice …

March 30, 2010
Burnished day, conch of the voice ...

Burnished day, conch of the voice ...

Burnished day, conch of the voice that fashioned me
Naked, to step through my perpetual Sundays
Between the shores’ cries of welcome,
Let your wind, known for the first time, blow freely
Unfold a lawn of tenderness
Where the sun can roll his head
Can enflame the poppies with his kiss
Poppies nourished by men so fine
That the sole mark on their bare chests
Is the blood of defiance that annuls sorrow
And attains the remembrance of liberty.

I spoke of love, of the rose’s health, of the ray
That by itself goes straight to the heart,
Of Greece that steps so surely on the sea
Greece that carries me always
Among naked snow-crowned mountains.

I give my hand to justice
Diaphanous fountain, sublimest spring,
My sky is deep and changeless
All I love is incessantly reborn
All I love is always at its beginning.

Greek poet Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996), winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature. Translation by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

Thanks to Thelma for introducing me to a hitherto unknown poet.

Global book read on twitter

March 30, 2010

What if everyone on twitter was reading the same book?

Not as daft as it seems. We have had city wide book reads, for example Seattle and Chicago have instigated city wide book reads. Guildford a couple of years ago was giving away copies of one of the Jeeves and Bertie Wooster books. Brighton had a read of Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. Personally I did not like Brighton Rock, not one of his best I thought, but I loved the film. Last year libraries in Hampshire were giving away a biography of Darwin and The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It is not as daft as it sounds.

What would I choose? Looking at my extensive bookshelves, not an easy choice.

One of the classics maybe? Dostoevsky, Zola?

Or maybe a modern classic? Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley?

Or maybe some contemporary fiction? Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, The Visible World by Mark Slouka, My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson?

Eventually I settled on The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Why?

It is simple and elegantly written. It is available in many languages. It is not too long. And above all it is a simple tale of following your dreams that appeals to all ages and across all cultures.

Get tweeting your book on twitter with the hash tag #1b1t.

Also nominate your book for others to read.

I would also suggest register your book on BookCrossing so others can read your thoughts on the book.

Also see

What If Everyone on Twitter Read One Book?

Crowdsourcing: One Book, One Twitter … aka #1b1t

When tweets become spam

Can we rank twitter streams?

Eleven Minutes The Opera

March 27, 2010

Eleven Minutes, a novel by Paulo Coelho, has been turned into an opera!

I am no fan of opera, but I guess there is always a first!

Also see

Sex and Opera

No mosteiro de Melk

March 26, 2010
Paulo Coelho with Abbot Burkhard

Paulo Coelho with Abbot Burkhard

Paulo Coelho

This year my Feast of St. Joseph was held at the Abbey of Melk, Austria (see community prayer at the end of page). There I again had the opportunity to meet one of my great spiritual mentors, Abbot Burkhard. We speak no common language, but his presence gives me not only peace, but a kind of special understanding of the meaning of life. In 2006, I gave an interview for the magazine News, which said that Burkhard was my silent mentor at the same time warned that he would not like to be called so. Of course I was right: in an article affectionate, he rejected the title, but once again shows his wisdom. The following are excerpts of his thoughts in that article

In search of meaning

In one of our meetings in the basement of the abbey, (Rabbit) asked what would be the correct steps to be given by a man. Of course there are many things wrong in the world, capable of bringing destruction and regret. There are other things that would be able to compensate for all that, but not always possible, and do not understand why.

Even people who have faith know the situation of the world. This recognition allows us to be able to move rocks, if we will, and turn back all the lights were extinguished.

When I entered the Benedictine Order, I had some small reasons for this decision. Gradually, I began to go my way, I identify with him, while he could not understand all of what was happening around me. Every time I made a suggestion about something that needed to be changed, he heard the answer:

“What do you want exactly? This monastery was raised to think in terms of centuries, not of immediate changes.”

This comment did not help me, and I felt distant from all the ideals that brought inside.

Finally, a conversation with an old monk has completely transformed my view of the subject. When I remarked my problem, I replied:

“You get upset that we here think in terms of centuries? Perfect, then forget it, and do what works best, as fast as it deems appropriate.”

At the same time I realized that all my major transformation was slow interiors, and His presence in my soul emerged gradually. Not in terms of my conscience, but in a place deeper, denser, where things do not leave so easily shaken.

Therefore, it is necessary that the person can experience the wrong paths, shortcuts that should not be crossed, little by little, through just these ups and downs of our lives is that we begin to realize what is right. And we feel tremendous freedom to move forward.

You must learn to live with the energy that comes from within us, and that keeps us passionate and enthusiastic about what we do. Instead of seeking the big things we need answers, just pay attention to small details that go unnoticed. Like any child, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to children. [Matthew 11:25]

This is how we realize our transformation. When the individual understands that small things can change, it takes the meaning of his life, no hurry because it is focused on the next step.

And the more the small change, the more great is process.

Google translation from post on blog of Paulo Coelho. With a little tidying up by me.

Also see

St Joseph’s Day at Melk Abbey
A Christmas Tale

Tobacco kiosk

March 23, 2010
Fernando Pessoa in front of A Brasileira in Lisbon

Fernando Pessoa in front of A Brasileira in Lisbon

I am nothing
I shall always be nothing
I cannot wish to be anything.
Aside from that, I have within me all the dreams of the world.

Windows of my room,
The room of one of the world’s millions nobody knows about
(And if they knew about me, what would they know?)
Open onto the mystery of a street continually crossed by people,
To a street inaccessible to any thought,
Real, impossibly real, certain, unknowingly certain,
With the mystery of things beneath the stones and beings,
With death making the walls damp and men’s hair white,
With the Destiny driving the wagon of everything down the road of nothing.

Today I am defeated, as if I knew the truth.
Today I am clear-minded, as if I were about to die
And had no more kinship with things
Than a goodbye, this building and this side of the street becoming
A long row of train carriages, and a whistle departing
From inside my head,
And a jolt of my nerves and a creak of bones as we go.

Today I am bewildered, as one who wondered and discovered and forgot.
Today I am divided between the loyalty I owe
To the outward reality of the Tobacco Kiosk of the other side of the street
And to the inward real feeling that everything is but a dream.
I have missed everything.
And since I had no aims, maybe everything was indeed nothing.

What I was taught,
I go down from the window at the back of the house.
I went to the countryside with grand plans,
But all I found in it was grass and trees,
And when there were people, they were just like other people
I step back from the window and sit in a chair. What should I think about now?

I have dreamed more than Napoleon did.
I have held against the hypothetical heart more humanities than Christ.
I have secretly created philosophies no Kant has ever written.
But I am, and perhaps always should be, the one from the attic
Although I don’t live in it;
I shall always be someone not born for this;
I shall always be the one who just had qualities;
I shall always be the one who has waited for a gate to open next a wall without a door
And sang the song of the infinite in a poultry-yard,
And heard God’s voice in a blocked-up well.
Believe in myself? No, not in me and not in nothing.
May Nature be dissolved on my feverish head
Her sun, her rain, the wind that ruffles my hair,
And the rest, let it come if it must, it doesn’t matter.
Hearts in thrall to the stars,
We have conquered the whole world before leaving our beds.
But we were awakened and it was opaque,
We rose and he was strange to us
We left the house and it was the whole world,
And also the Solar System, the Milky Way and the Indefinite…

Eat chocolates!
Know there are no metaphysics in the world but chocolates.
Know that all the faiths don’t teach more than confectionery.
Eat, dirty one, eat!
If only I could eat chocolates with the same veracity you do!
But I think, and when I lift the silver paper of a leaf of tin-foil
I let everything fall to the ground, as I have done to my life.)

Musical essence of my useless verses,
If only I could face you as something I had created
Instead of always facing the Tobacco Kiosk across the street,
Forcing underfoot the consciousness of existing,
Like a carpet a drunkard stumbles on
Or a straw mat stolen by gypsies and worth nothing.

But the Tobacco Kiosk owner has come to the door and is standing there.
I look at him with the discomfort of an half-turned head
And the discomfort of an half-grasping soul.
He shall die and I shall die.
He shall leave his signboard and I shall leave my poems.
His sign will die, and so will my poems.
And soon the street where the sign is, will die too,
And so will the language in which my poems are written.
And so will the whirling planet where all of this happened.
On other satellites of other systems something like people
Will go on making something like poems and living under things like signboards,
Always one thing facing the other,
Always one thing as useless as the other,
Always the impossible as stupid as reality,
Always the mystery of the bottom as powerful as the mysterious dream of the top.
Always this or always some other thing, or neither one nor the other.

But a man has entered the Tobacco Shop (to buy tobacco?),
And plausible reality suddenly hits me.
I half rouse myself, energetic, convinced, human,
And I will try to write these verses in which I say the opposite.

I light a cigarette as I think about writing them,
And in that cigarette I savour liberation from all thoughts.
I follow the smoke as if it were my personal itinerary
And enjoy, in a sensitive and capable moment
The liberation of all the speculations
With the conscience that metaphysics is a consequence of not feeling well.

Afterwards I throw myself on the chair
And continue smoking.
As long as Destiny allows, I will keep smoking.

(If I married my washwoman’s daughter
Maybe I should be happy.)
Upon that, I rise. And I go to the window.

The man has come out of the Tobacco Kiosk (putting change in his trousers?).
Ah, I know him: he is Esteves without metaphysics.
(The Tobacco Kiosk owner has come to the door.)
As if by a divine instinct, Esteves turned around and saw me.
He waved hello, I greet him “Hello there, Esteves!”, and the universe
Reconstructed itself for me, without ideal or hope, and the owner of the Tobacco Kiosk smiled.

Tobacco kiosk by Portuguese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). Reproduce by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Also read

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

St Joseph’s Day at Melk Abbey

March 23, 2010
St Joseph's Day at Melk Abbey

St Joseph's Day at Melk Abbey

It is a tradition of Paulo Coelho to celebrate his birthday on St Joseph’s Day and to invite friends to a party. This year the party was held at Melk Abbey in Austria, an important Benedictine Abbey in Austria.

I was one of those who had the honour of being invited to Paulo’s party at Melk Abbey on St Joseph’s Day. I would have loved to have gone with my lovely friend Sian, looked around the Abbey and the old town of Melk. Unfortunately I was taken very ill with a bad fever and chicken pox and sadly unable to attend.

Like Carolena Sabah, I was there in spirit.

Prayers to St Joseph were said at the party.

http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/03/19/saint-josephs-day/
http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/03/21/prayers-to-st-joseph-melk-2010/

Also see

A Christmas Tale

A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais