The path of archery


The importance of repeating the same thing
An action is a thought that manifests itself.
A small gesture denounces us, so we have to make everything perfect,
think about the details, learn the technique so that it becomes
intuitive. Intuition has nothing to do with routine but rather with a
state of spirit that lies beyond technique.
So, after practicing a lot, we no longer think about all the necessary
movements: they become part of our very existence. But for this to
happen, you have to train and repeat.
And as if that were not enough, you have to repeat and train.
Watch a good blacksmith working the steel. To the untrained eye he is
repeating the same hammer blows over and over again.
But those who know the importance of training know that each time the
hammer is raised and then lowered, the intensity of the blow is
different. The hand repeats the same gesture but as it approaches the
iron it knows whether to touch it harder or softer.
Look at the windmill. Whoever sees its vanes just once imagines that it
always turns with the same speed, always repeating the same movement. But
those who know windmills know that they are conditioned to the wind and
change their direction whenever necessary.
The hand of the ironsmith was trained after the gesture of hammering was
repeated thousands of times. Windmill vanes can move fast after the wind
has blown a lot and polished their gears. The archer lets many an arrow
pass far from the target because he knows that he will only learn the
importance of the bow, posture, the string and the target after he
repeats his gestures thousands of times without being afraid of making a
Until he reaches the moment when he no longer needs to think about what
he doing. From then on the archer becomes his bow, his arrow and his

How to observe the flight of the arrow
The arrow is intention projected into space.
Once it is fired, there is nothing left for the archer to do except
accompany its path towards the target. From that moment on, the tension
necessary for the shot has no more reason to exist.
The archer therefore keeps his eyes fixed on the flight of the arrow, but
his heart is at rest and he smiles.
At that moment, if he has trained enough, if he has managed to develop
his instinct, if he has maintained his elegance and concentration
throughout the whole process of the shot, then he will feel the presence
of the universe and hw will see that his action was fair and deserved.
Technique makes both hands always ready, breathing always precise, eyes
able to fix on the target. Instinct makes the moment of the shot perfect.
Whoever passes by and sees the archer with his arms open and his eyes
following the arrow will fancy that he is stopped. But the allies know
that the mind of the one who fired the arrow has changed dimension and is
now in contact with the entire universe: the mind goes on working,
learning everything of a positive nature that the shot has brought,
correcting any mistakes, accepting his qualities, and waiting to see how
the target reacts when it is struck.
When the archer stretches the string, he can see the whole world inside
his bow. When he accompanies the flight of the arrow, this world comes
close to him, caresses him and makes him relish the perfect sensation of
having fulfilled his duty.
A Warrior of Light, after fulfilling his duty and transforming his
intention into gesture, need fear no more: he has done what he had to do.
He has not allowed himself to be petrified by fear, for even if the arrow
fails to reach its target, he will have another opportunity, because he
has not been a coward.

Sure shots

From a mother to her daughter
In the whole wide world there is no-one like me. I am the owner of my
body, my thoughts, my ideas. The images that my eyes contemplate belong
to me and I need to know how to choose them. I possess my own fantasies,
my dreams, hopes and fears. Since I am owner of myself, I have to know
myself intimately. There are aspects of myself that confound me, others
that I do not know. But whether or not you agree with all that I am, this
is authentic, this represents the moment that I am living.

From an Anglican bishop in the year 1100
When I was young and free, I dreamed of changing the world. In maturity I
discovered that the world would not change, so I decided to change my
country. After some effort I ended up understanding that this too was
impossible. At the end of my years I tried to change my family but they
went on being the same as they were before.
Now on my death bed I discover that my mission was to change myself. If I
had done that, I would have been able to change my family. Then, with a
little luck, that change would affect my country, and then – who
knows – the whole wide world.

Midrach Rabba on Ecclesiastes
When men come into the world, their hands are always closed as if they
wanted to say: the whole world is mine and I am going to hold on to it.
When men leave the world, their hands are always open as if they wanted
to say: I have nothing in my power, all that I can take are my memories,
all that I can leave are my examples.

Kahlil Gibran to Mary Haskell
We are both trying to touch the limits of our existence. The great poets
of the past always surrendered themselves to Life. They were not looking
for some determined thing, nor were they trying to unravel secrets: they
simply let their souls be overwhelmed by emotions. People are always
seeking security, and sometimes they manage to achieve it: but security
is an end in itself, and Life has no end. Poets are not those who write
poetry, but all those whose heart is filled with the sacred spirit of

Epictetus to his disciples
Two things can happen when we meet someone: either we become friends, or
we try to convince the other person to accept our convictions. The same
happens when the ember meets another piece of coal: either it shares its
fire with it, or it is suffocated by its size and ends up extinguished.
As we are generally insecure at a first contact, we try indifference,
arrogance or excessive humility. The result is that we stop being who we
are and things start heading towards a strange world that does not belong
to us.

Kandinsky on painting
Painting is an art. And art is a power that should be aimed at developing
the soul. If art does not do this job, the abyss that separates us from
God is left without a bridge.
The artist owes his talent to God and has to settle this debt. To do
this, he has to work hard, know that he is free in his art but not in his
commitment to life. Everything he feels and thinks is part of the raw
material with which to improve the spiritual atmosphere around him.
Beauty, whether in art or in a woman, cannot be empty; it has to be at
the service of men and the world.

Copyright @ 2005 by Paulo Coelho


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