Monday, February 2, 2015

The Pilgrimage

I have just finished reading a book “The Pilgrimage” by Paulo Coelho.  It was a sheer co-incidence that I read this book at a time when my book on “Mount Kailash” (in Tamil) got published.

In his book “The Pilgrimage”, the Author is narrating his Pilgrimage experience to a Sacred Place called the ‘Road to Santiago’ in Spain and I was amazed to note that the experiences portrayed by the Author are universal and applicable to every one of us.

I am just capturing some of the thoughts in the book which fascinated me.  Hope you like it.

‘We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming.  If we don’t, our soul dies’.

‘The good fight is the one that’s fought in the name of our dreams. When we’re young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.’

‘The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time.  The  busiest people always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.’

‘The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.’

‘And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people of our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the good fight.’

 ‘When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.’

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.’

‘The only way we can rescue our dreams is by being generous with ourselves. Any attempt to inflict self punishment – no matter how subtle it may be – should be dealt with rigorously.’

‘Of all the ways we have found to hurt ourselves, the worst has been through love. We are always suffering because of someone who doesn’t love us, or someone who has left us, or someone who won’t leave us. If we are alone, it is because no one wants us; if we are married, we transform the marriage to slavery. What a terrible thing!’

‘In order to fight the good fight, we need help. We need friends, and when the friends aren’t nearby, we have to turn solitude into our main weapon. We need the help of everything around us in order to take the necessary steps toward our goal.

‘Trust in what your intuition is going to tell you.’

‘Conversation is useful, when people want to convince themselves that what they are saying is right.’

‘Today, you are seeing a manifestation of eros, the feeling of love that exists between two people.’ The bride and groom were smiling for the photographers and accepting congratulations. ‘It appears that these two really do love each other.’ ‘And they believe that their love will grow. But shortly, they will be alone with each other, struggling to earn a living, build a house, and share their adventure.  He will do his time in his work. She is probably a good cook and will be an excellent housewife, because she has been trained since she was a child for that role. She will be good company for him, they’ll have children, and they will feel that they are building something together. They’ll be fighting the good fight. So even if they have problems, they will never be really unhappy.

 ‘However, this story that I am telling you could go a very different way. He might begin to feel that he’s not free enough to express all of the eros, all of the love that he has for other women. She might begin to feel that she gave up a brilliant career in order to be with her husband. So instead of creating something together, each could begin to feel robbed of a means of expressing love. Eros, the spirit that unites them, would begin to reveal only its negative side. And what God had provided to humans as their noblest sentiment would become a source of hatred and destructiveness.

‘Philos is love in the form of friendship. It’s what I feel toward you and others. When the flame of eros stops burning, it is philos that keeps a couple together.’

‘Agape is total love. It is the love that consumes the person who experiences it. Whoever knows and experiences agape learns that nothing else in the world is important – just love. Be kind. ‘

(Eros, Philos and Agage – all are Greek words – meaning love in different forms).

‘A threat leads to nothing if it is not accepted. In fighting the good fight, you should never forget that. Just as you should never forget that both attacking and fleeing are part of the fight. What isn’t a part of the fight is becoming paralyzed by fear.’

‘When you sensed the presence of something positive, your imagination concluded that someone had arrived to help you. And this, your faith, saved you. Even though it was based on an assumption that was absolutely false.’

‘Human beings are the only ones in nature who are aware that they will die. For that reason and only for that reason, I have a profound respect for the human race, and I believe that its future is going to be much better than its present. Even knowing that their days are numbered and that everything will end when they least expect it, people make of their lives a battle that is worthy of a being with eternal life.’

 ‘Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.’

‘The only way to make the right decision is to know what the wrong decision is.’
‘Everything is contained in sounds – the past, the present, and the future. The person who does not know how to listen will never hear the advice that life offers us all the time. And only the person who listens to the sounds of the moment is able to make the right decisions.’

 ‘People always arrive at the right moment at the place where someone awaits them.’