Issue nº 223

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Responsibility and risk

Responsibility and risk

The Latin root of the word "responsibility" reveals its meaning: the capacity to respond, to react.

A responsible warrior was capable of observing and training. He was even capable of being "irresponsible": sometimes he let himself be carried away by the situation, and did not react.

But he learned his lessons; he took an attitude, listened to some advice, and was humble enough to accept help.

A responsible warrior is not the one who places the weight of the world on his shoulders, but rather he who manages to deal with the challenges of the present moment.

Of course, at times he gets scared when faced with important decisions.

"This is too big for you,” says a friend.

"Go ahead, be brave," says another.

And his doubts grow all the more intense.

After a few days of anguish, he retires to the corner of his tent, where he usually sits to meditate and pray. He sees himself in the future. He sees the people who will be benefited and hurt by his attitude. He does not want to cause pointless suffering, but neither does he want to abandon the path.

The warrior then lets the decision manifest itself. If he needs to say yes, he will say it with courage. If he has to say no, he will say it without cowardice. When the warrior assumes responsibility, he keeps his word.

Those who make promises they fail to keep lose self-respect and feel ashamed of their acts. The lives of such people consist in running away. They spend far more energy dishonoring their word than the Warrior of Light uses to keep his promises.

Sometimes too he takes on a silly responsibility that will end up in jeopardy. He does not repeat that particular attitude – but even so he honors his word and pays the price for being impulsive.

Of course, he ends up hearing unfavorable opinions. But before he takes heed of anything, he always tries to find out whether the person giving these opinions has ever done work better than his. Generally speaking, those who criticize have never fulfilled their own dream; only the winners are tolerant and generous.

Why do they criticize?

Because for every step the warrior moves forward, the critic remains one step behind. It is hard for him to accept that others are attaining something that he thought was unattainable.

This does not mean that he takes the wrong steps: he will make many mistakes, and that does not matter. Making mistakes is part of the path, correcting mistakes is part of his responsibility.

In order to make fewer mistakes, the warrior rests from time to time and feels happy with the simple things of life. He knows that strings that are always tight eventually become out of tune. Horses that keep on jumping over hurdles eventually break a leg. Bows that bend every day do not fire their arrows with the same strength.


Sincere Repentance

The monk Chu Lai was beaten by a teacher who did not believe anything he said. However, the professor's wife was a follower of Chu Lai, and demanded that her husband had to apologize to him.

Displeased, but without the courage to deny his wife, the man went to the temple with her and murmured some words of repentance.

“I do not forgive,” replied Chu Lai, “go back to work."

The woman was horrified. “My husband is humiliated, and you were not generous!”

And Chu Lai responded, “Within my soul there is no rancor. But if he is not truly sorry, it is better for him to recognize now that he is mad at me. If I had accepted his forgiveness, we would be creating a false state of harmony, and this would further increase the anger of your husband.”


Changing attitude

“Over the course of one year, give a coin to each person who offends or upsets you,” instructed the abbot of a young man who wanted people to follow a spiritual path.

For the next twelve months, a boy gave a coin to each person who offended of upset him, as he was instructed. At the end of the year, he returned to the abbot to find out what the next steps were.

“Go into town and buy food for me,” the abbot responded.

 Once the boy left, the abbot changed his clothes, and disguised himself as a beggar and went to the gate. When the boy approached, he began to insult him.

“Good!” said the boy, “for a whole year I had to pay the people who upset or offended me, and now I can be attacked for free, without spending anything!”

Hearing this, the abbot removed his disguise. “He who does not take insults seriously, is on the path to wisdom.”

Issue nº 223
Agenda: if you want to know where Paulo Coelho will be this month, please click here