Saturday, February 15, 2014

Heart & Soul

"Listen to your heart. It knows all things,
because it came from the Soul of the World,
and it will one day return there."


The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Maybe not a lot of new depth here, but many mini - parables and thoughtful thoughts worth being reminded of and remembering.

My favorite is the parable of the oil and the spoon. Without realizing that it was from Coelho's book, I first heard this story at a wedding reception several years ago, summarized by the sister of the bride: The youth in search of happiness is instructed by the sage to tour the palace while carrying a spoon containing two drops of oil. The young man comes full circle without spilling a drop, but sadly he can't recall a single detail of the palace because his eyes were ever on the spoon. So the wise man sends him off again with instructions to observe the marvels of the palace. This time, the young students takes it all in -- the fine art work, the architecture, the gardens; but alas the oil has slipped away: " 'Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,' said the wisest of wise men. 'The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon' " (32).

The bride's sister then went on to give the most memorable wedding toast that I have ever heard, saying that if there was anyone in the world who could appreciate all the joys of life without losing sight of the oil on the spoon, it was her sister! No doubt the source was supplied at the time, but I missed it amidst all the cheers and hugs. Thus I was incredibly pleased to re-encounter "the two drops of oil" within the pages of The Alchemist. Thanks to my son Sam for the recommendation!

The Spoon by Dawn Marie Nabong
[purchase as print or greeting card]

More insights from The Alchemist:

62: " . . . the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired."

68: "When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision."

As Shakespeare says:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves,
or lose our ventures.
from Julius Caesar

70: " . . . the words luck and coincidence. It's with those words that the universal language is written."

Or is it connection and coincidence?!

72: " . . . they mysterious chain that links one thing to another. . . . The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being . . . "

74, 76, 158 " . . . the universal language that deals with the past and the present of all people . . . intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it's all written there. . . . our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand."

78 - 79, 158 - 59: " 'That's the principle that governs all things,' he said. 'In alchemy, it's called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that's when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It's always a positive force.' He also said that this was not just a human gift, that everything on the face of the earth had a soul, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal -- or even just a simple thought. . . . No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally, he doesn't know it."

Glass Lucent Heart by Raingarden

116, 128, 159: The alchemist quotes the gospel verse that Gerry and I chose for our wedding: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21, KJV). But cleverly inverted: "Remember that wherever your heart it, there you will find your treasure. You've got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense. . . . Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure."

127: "The wise men understood that this natural world is only an image and a copy of paradise. The existence of this world is simply a guarantee that there exists a world that is perfect. . . . Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there.'

130 - 31: "Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams . . . Why don't people's hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams? . . . Because that's what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don't like to suffer."

So following your dream does or does not lead to a suffering heart?
Not clear. Must think about this some more.


And that brings us to:

The Man with the Glass Heart by Shelly Reuben
"I would have recognized it anywhere. Broken, cracked, hidden by mist, gleaming in the sun, or all decked out in morning dew. . . . a living, breathing heart." (215)
The heroine of this fable is Panache, a woman -- as her name implies -- of flair and verve. There's that word again! [See "Celebrate" & "Parable"]

Resilient Panache refers to herself as a Road Gypsy and falls in love with the nearly brittle Benjamin Pencil: "A lean blond blade of a man." And there's his father, who taught her "to bay at the moon . . . roar at the wind . . . howl at the stars . . . laugh at old troubles . . . And make new troubles . . And run away from those troubles, too" (121, 122). "I am the child of his madness. I am his tradition," she declares; and she makes her way in the world with his blessing -- and his warning: "You expect too much innocence of people." In Reuben's world of allegory, Benjamin and Panache sail away into the unknown on "the Good Ship Brace Yourself," where they grow through exposure, conflict, and a series surprises, some scary, some sweet: "Our itinerary was perfect. We didn't have one" (126, 128, 142, 155).

Panache is sustained by what she calls the Over - Life:

From the minute we started to climb my mountains, I felt that I was living what I have come to think of as Over - Life. This happens when life, instead of being a monotonous series of events that lead to a dazzling and memorable high point, consists exclusively of dazzling high points. Everything I did during that period -- even routing activities like sitting by the campfire with Benjamin Pencil, sipping coffee, and watching the reflections of clouds in his glass heart -- felt far too exciting to be ordinary. (155)

Both The Alchemist and Glass Heart are filled with parable and allegory, and both immerse their characters -- and consequently the reader -- into "the universal current of life." Panache claims no itinerary, Santiago the Shepherd is goal - oriented and treasure - driven; their roads are not the same, yet both travel the path of Personal Legend with spoon in hand in, learning -- the hard way -- not to spill the oil. Like Santiago, Panache and her father speak the language of enthusiasm; and they reach out in hopes of teaching Benjamin Pencil how to do the same, how to hear his own Melody, even if it means a broken heart.

"Listen to your heart. It knows all things,
because it came from the Soul of the World,
and it will one day return there