‘Like the Flowing River’

by Paulo Coelho

— Quote of a poem by Robert Frost –

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.’

 — If you want something, you need to look the other person in the eye.

 — The greatness of God always reveals itself in the simple things.

 — A prayer – ‘Lord, protect our doubts, because Doubt is a way of praying. It is Doubt that makes us grow because it forces us to look fearlessly at the many answers that exist to one question. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our decisions, because making Decisions is a way of praying. Give us the courage, after our doubts, to be able to choose between one road and another. May our YES always be a YES and our NO always be a NO. Once we have chosen our road, may we never look back nor allow our soul to be eaten away by remorse. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our actions, because Action is a way of praying. May our daily bread be the result of the very best that we carry within us. May we, through work and Action, share a little of the love we receive. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our dreams, because to Dream is a way of praying. Make sure that, regardless of our age or our circumstances, we are capable of keeping alight in our heart the sacred flame of hope and perseverance. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, give us enthusiasm, because Enthusiasm is a way of praying. It is what binds us to the Heavens and to Earth, to grown-ups, and to children; it is what tells us that our desires are important and deserve our best efforts. It is Enthusiasm that reaffirms to us that everything is possible, as long as we are totally committed to what we are doing. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect us, because Life is the only way we have of making manifest Your miracle. May the earth continue to transform seeds into wheat, may we continue to transmute wheat into bread. And this is only possible if we have Love; therefore, do not leave us in solitude. Always give us Your company, and the company of men and women who have doubts, who act and dream and feel enthusiasm, and who live each day as if it were totally dedicated to Your glory. Amen.

 — It would be foolish to be frightened by death, because all of us, sooner or later, are going to die. And only those who accept this fact are prepared for life.

 — What is the force that propels us far from the comfort of all that if familiar and makes us face challenges, even though we know that the glory of the world will pass away? I believe that this impulse is the search for the meaning of life.

 — A wise man moved to the city of Akbar. No one took much notice of him, and his teachings were not taken up by the populace. After a time, he became the object of their mockery and their ironic comments. One day, while he was walking down the main street in Akbar, a group of men and women began insulting him. Instead of pretending that he had not noticed, the wise man turned to them and blessed them. One of the men said, “Are you deaf too? We call you the foulest of names and yet you respond with sweet words.” The wise man replied, “We can each of us only offer what we have.”

We are so focused on what we judge to be the best attitude that we forget something very important: in order to attain our objectives, we need other people. It is necessary, therefore, not only to observe the world, but to imagine ourselves into the skins of other people, and to learn how to follow their thoughts.

 — Listen always to the voice of the heart. Even if you do not agree with what that voice is saying, respect it and follow its advice: it knows when to act and when to avoid action.

 — Okakura Kakuzo says in his book on the Japanese tea ceremony: ‘We see the evil in others because we know the evil in ourselves. We never forgive those we wound us because we believe that we would never be forgiven. We say the painful truth to others because we want to hide it from ourselves. We show our strength so that no one can see our frailty. That is why, whenever your judge your brother, be aware that it is you who is in the dock.

 — I believe that the life of every human being is, at some point, touched by tragedy. It could be the destruction of a city, the death of a child, a baseless accusation, an illness that appears without warning and brings with it permanent disability. Life is a constant risk, and anyone who forgets this will be unprepared for the challenges that fate may have in store. Whenever we come face to face with that inevitable suffering, we are forced to try and make some sense of what is happening, to overcome our fear, and set about the process of rebuilding. The first thing we must do when confronted by suffering and insecurity is to accept them for what they are. We cannot treat these feelings as if they had nothing to do with us, or transform them into a punishment that satisfies our eternal sense of guilt.

— When faced by a great loss, be it material, spiritual or psychological, we need to remember the great lessons taught to us by the wise: patience, and the certainty that everything in this life is temporary.

 — We must have an awareness of death in order to fully understand life.

 — We live in a universe that is at once vast enough to enclose us, and small enough to fit inside our heart.

 — Time does not transform man. Will power does not transform man. Love transforms. Love transforms and love cures; but, sometimes, love builds deadly traps and can end up destroying a person who had resolved to give him or herself completely. What is this complex feeling which, deep down, is the only reason we continue to live, struggle and improve?

 — I have witnessed many storms in my life. Most storms have taken me by surprise, and so I’ve had to learn – and very quickly too – to look farther off, to understand that I cannot control the weather, to practise the art of patience, and to respect nature’s fury. Things do not always happen the way I would have wanted, and it’s best that I get used to that. I can see the storm approaching. As with any storm, it brings with it destruction, but it also waters the fields; and, with the rain, falls the wisdom of the heavens. As with any storm, it will pass. The more violent the storm, the more quickly it will pass. I have, thank God, learned to face storms.

Disclaimer: The key points of the book presented here are not a substitute for reading the book. To get the entire holistic message the author has offered requires reading the book.

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