الاثنين، 5 أبريل 2010

The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho

This book is about Sherine Khalil, famously known as Athena, a host to the Mother Goddess Hagia Sofia. It was told in a rather interesting manner, when her boyfriend set out to interview people who knew her and had come to know her as the famous, or shall we say “notorious” witch of Portobello. He did this as an attempt to get to know more his one true love who is Athena.
In this post, I shall highlight some phrases which struck me so deeply, the same way that Paolo Coelho’s first book, The Alchemist has touched me as well.
Try to feel good about yourself even when you feel like the least worthy of creatures. Reject all those negative thoughts… surrender yourself to dance or to silence or to everyday activities… Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment.”
It was year 2007 when I first got to know the secrets behind THE SECRET, another favorite book of mine by Rhonda Byrne. It talks about the same thing — to FEEL GOOD, all the time, if possible. Of course it takes discipline and practice and a lot of hard work especially for people like me who has been quite used to the negativity that society inculcates in all of us. It all starts by TRYING to be happy even when you feel that there’s nothing to be glad about. Ignore negative thoughts, commentaries and feelings no matter how tempting it is to just simply dwell on them (like perhaps saying bad things about another person, starting or spreading a rumor, participating in written or vocal assaults & persecutions, etc.) because they simply fuel your dark side  and its attraction  towards you. Focus on what you are doing now and always be grateful with the blessings you receive. This will help you live in the moment and not worry about the past and the future.

When you don’t know something, ask or go away and find out… Believe — simply believe that you can. “
I vividly remember my favorite European History professor, Fr. Lahiff (may he rest in peace), back in freshman college, when he said during our first day of class: The only stupid question is the question never asked. So true, right? When you are brave enough to admit that you don’t know, that’s the beginning of wisdom coz that’s when you start asking, knowing and learning… Critical thinking starts. (I think Socrates may have said the same thing along those lines if I remember correctly).  Believe that eventually, you will know the truth… you can be whoever you want to be.
Reprogram yourself every minute of each day with thoughts that make you grow. When you’re feeling irritated and confused, try to laugh at yourself…”
This is another way of saying that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. We all die in the end anyway so let’s make the most out of it and have clean fun in the process. Take delight in life! It is a God’s gift, after all.
Society tries to define how ideals should be manifested in reality. Currently, for example, the ideal of beauty is to be thin, and yet thousands of years ago all the images of goddesses were fat. It’s the same with happiness: there are a series of rules, and if you fail to follow them, your conscious mind will refuse to accept the idea that you’re happy.”
For me this means that I shouldn’t take seriously what society believes to be the basis of happiness especially those that deal with vanity because they change all the time. Whether I am fat or thin, the most important thing is that I am healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. Whether I carry designer clothes & accessories or not, the most important thing is that I didn’t steal or covet my neighbor’s goods or earned my money in a sinful way. There are many rules that govern us and dictate how we should live our lives. I think that as long as we are not hurting anybody, as long as we know what makes us REALLY happy, then we should keep on doing what we are doing. Enough said.
Start doing what you want to do, and everything else will be revealed to you. Believe that God is the Mother and looks after her children and never lets anything bad happen to them.”
This is one way of saying that we learn by doing. You want to be a teacher? Teach. You want to let go of your grudges? Forgive. You want to learn about honesty? Tell the truth. You want to become an actress? Act. And so on and so forth.  When you start doing what you want to do, it means that you are putting yourself in a “receiving mode” and the whole universe will conspire to give you everything else that you need in order to pursue and excel in that dream of yours.
In order for us to liberate the energy of our strength, our weakness must first have a chance to reveal itself.”
In dire situations, when we feel that our weaknesses have brought us to rock bottom, there is no way to go anywhere else but up. And that’s when we realize that we are stronger than we think. 
In order for us  to understand the powers we carry within us  and the secrets that have already been revealed, it was first necessary to allow the surface  — expectations, fears, appearances — to be burned away.”
When we expect, fear or worry about appearances, we focus on the past and the future and that does not always turn out well. Most often than not, it leaves us emotionally paralyzed and we begin to doubt our capabilities. The moment we cast them aside, that’s when our focus turns to the present moment. And when we are at the present moment, we are in a state of worship and that’s when all good things, including the power we carry within us,  are revealed.
I felt very loved, wanted and protected. In difficult moments, remember that feeling. “
When was the last time you felt loved, wanted and protected? Carry that feeling with you especially in moments when there is confusion, sadness and doubt. When you go back to your happy place, it gives you a feeling of peace… it lets you focus on the good things. And when you start feeling good again, that’s when blessings will once more start pouring into your life.
Now that I’ve found my path, there will be no more difficult moments.”
I used to have a job that I felt was not my path. It was very difficult. There was resistance coming from deep within me that I could not control and brought great misery to my life. I think when the time comes that I can say that I’ve finally found my path, life will be so much easier because I am just simply doing what I love to do. I am no longer working but playing. And wouldn’t that be divine?
Eat in moderation, but take pleasure in eating… Remember that for millennia we have struggled  in order to keep from starving. Whose idea was it that we had to be thin all our lives?  Use the energy and effort that you put into dieting to nourish yourself with spiritual bread… Instead of artificially burning those calories, try to transform them into the energy required  to fight for your dreams. No one ever stayed slim for very long just because of a diet.”
I agree, especially when done in an extreme manner. Why do we keep punishing ourselves physically just to look good the way our society tells us how to look good.  Some of us turn anorexic or bulimic, turn to drugs or starve themselves until ulcer or some other diet complication kills them…We spend so much time, effort and money following the dictates of our society… in “artificially burning those calories”. Isn’t it better to use your time doing other productive activities like fighting for your dreams, knowing your passion or getting in touch with your spirituality? Think about it.

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