Paulo Coelho Warrior of the Light

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Published Date:31-07-2017
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Paulo Coelho Warrior of the Light Volume 1 2008Paulo Coelho’s website address is Paulo Coelho’s blog address is Copyright © Paulo Coelho 2005 The right of Paulo Coelho to be identified as the moral rights author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 (Cth). ISBN Published by LuluOn the Road to Kumano I got out of the train one afternoon in Feb- ruary 2001, and met Katsura, a 29 year-old Japa- nese woman. - Welcome to the road to Kumano. I looked beyond the station to the setting sun shining into my face. What was the road to Kumano? During the journey, I had tried to dis- cover why it was that this remote place had been included on the program of my official visit, or - ganized by the Japan Foundation. The interpreter told me that a friend of mine, Madoka Mayuzu- mi, had insisted I visit this place, although I only had five days and had to travel by car most of the time. Madoka had walked the Road to Santiago in 1999, and 3thought this would be the best way of thanking me. Back on the train, the interpreter had commented: “the people of Kumano are very strange”. I asked her what she meant by that, and she limited her answer to one word: “reli- giousness”. I decided not to press the matter: one can often ruin a good pilgrimage by reading all the leaflets, books, guidelines on the Internet, friends’ comments, and arrive at the place know- ing everything one ought to be discovering for oneself, not allowing room for the most impor- tant element of any journey - the unexpected. - Let us go over to the stone - said Kat- sura. We walked a few meters to a small obelisk, inscribed on both sides, set on a corner - and fighting for space among pedestrians, a conve - nience store, passing cars and motorbikes. From 4 5that point, the road to Kumano was divided in two. - If you go to the left, you will take the pil- grimage along the path the emperor used to take. If you go to the right, you will take the path of the ordinary folk, said Katzura. - The emperor’s way may be more beauti- ful, but certainly the way of the ordinary folk will be livelier. She seemed content with the answer. We got into the car and drove towards the snow-cov- ered mountains. As she drove, Katsura explained some things about the place: Kumano is a type of peninsular full of hills, forests and valleys, where several religions live alongside one another in peace. The predominant ones are Buddhism and Shintoism (Japan’s national religion, older than the influence of Buddha, based on the adoration of the forces of nature), but every type of faith 4 5and spiritual manifestation can be found there. - How many kilometers is the pilgrimage? - I wanted to know. Apparently, she didn’t understand. I asked the interpreter to translate into Japanese, but even then Katsura appeared to be perplexed at my question. - That depends on where you set off - she said finally. - Of course. But in the case of the Road to Santiago, if you set off from Navarra it is about 700 kms. What about here? - Here, the pilgrimages begin when you leave your home, and end when you return to it. In this case, since you live in Brazil, you must know the distance. 6 7 I didn’t know, but the reply made sense. The pilgrimage is a stage on a journey: I remem- bered that after having gone on the road to San- tiago, in Spain, I only really understood what had happened to me when I spent four months in Madrid, before returning home. - We see things, and don’t understand im- mediately - continued Katsura. You must leave behind the man you are used to being: he will remain there and only the good part continues to be nourished by the energy of the Goddess, who is a generous mother. The part which does you harm ends up dying for lack of nourishment, since the devil is too busy with other people, and has no time to take care of someone whose soul is not there. For almost two hours we climbed a small, twisty road up the mountain, until we came to a sort of inn. Before I entered, Kansura com- mented: 6 7 - A woman lives here, we don’t know how old she is, which is why we call her the Feminine Demon. I’m going down to the village nearby to fetch a woodcutter who will explain to you how you should follow the road. Night had begun to fall, Katsura disap- peared into the mist, and I stood there waiting for the Feminine Demon to open the door. The woodcutter and the demon At an inn lost in the mountains, a woman they call the Feminine Demon, dressed in a black kimono, came to greet me. I removed my shoes, entered the traditional Japanese room, and im- mediately realized that I would never be able to sleep in such a cold place. I asked the interpret- er to request a heater; the old Japanese woman frowned and said I must get used to Shugendo. - Shugendo? 8 9 But the woman had already disappeared, having instructed us to dine soon. Less than five minutes later we were seated around a sort of bonfire dug in into the ground, with a cauldron hanging from the ceiling, and fish on skewers ly - ing around. Soon, my guide Katsura arrived with the woodcutter. - He knows all about the road - said Kat- sura. - Ask anything you like. - Before speaking, let us drink - said a woodcutter - sake (a type of Japanese wine made of rice) wards off bad spirits. - It wards off bad spirits? - The fermented drink is alive, goes from youth to old age. When it reaches maturity, it is capable of destroying the Spirit of Inhibition, the Spirit of Lack of Human Relationships, the Spirit of Fear and the Spirit of Anxiety. Howev- 8 9er, if too much is drunk, it rebels and brings the spirit of defeat and aggression. It is all a question of knowing the point beyond which one may not go beyond. We drank sake, and ate the fish roasting around the fire. The landlady joined us. I asked why people called her the Feminine Demon. - Because no one knows where I was born, where I came from, my age. I decided to be a woman without a history, since my past only brought me pain; two atomic bombs exploding in my country, the end of moral and spiritual val- ues, the suffering caused by people disappearing. One day I decided to start a new life: there are certain tragedies we can never understand. So I left it all behind, and came to this mountain. I help the Pilgrims, take care of the inn, and live each day as if it were my last. I enjoy meeting dif- ferent people every day. I always meet strangers - like you, for instance. I had never met a Brazil- 10 11ian in all my life. Nor had I ever seen a black man until 1985. We drank more sake, the Spirit of Lack of Human Relations seemed to withdraw. I spoke much about Brazil, and began to feel strangely at home. -Why did people come to Kumano? - I asked the woodcutter. -To ask for something, fulfill some vow, or they wish to change their life. The Buddhists toured the 99 sacred places which are spread about here, and Shintoists visited the three tem- ples of Mother Earth. On the way they met oth- er people, shared their problems and joys, prayed together, and in the end began to understand they were not alone in the world. And they practiced Shugendo I recalled what the Feminine Demon told 10 11me, and asked him to explain what that was. - It’s difficult to explain. But let us say it is a complete relationship with nature: one of love and pain. - Pain? - In order to dominate the soul, you must also learn to dominate the body. And in order to dominate the body, you cannot fear pain. He told me that sometimes he went with a friend to the nearby cliffs, tied a rope round his waist, and stayed hanging in empty space. The friend would swing the rope until he hit the rocks several times; when he sensed that he was about to faint, he signaled to be pulled up again. - Man must know every aspect of nature - said the woodcutter. - Her generosity and her inclemency; only in this way will she be able to 12 13teach us everything she knows, and not simply what it is we wish to know. Sitting around that fire, lost somewhere in Japan, at an inn, the sake pushing back the dis- tances, the Feminine Demon laughing with (or at) me, I understood the truth in the woodcut- ter’s words: one must learn that which is neces- sary, and not simply what one wants. At that mo- ment, I decided I would find a way to practice Shugendo on the road to Kumano. Leaning upon the tree - Have you ever heard of Shugendo? I was told it is a relationship of love and pain with nature - I said to a biologist Katsura introduced me to, and with whom I was now walking in the mountains. - Shugendo means: “the way of the art of accumulating experience” - he replied, revealing 12 13that his interests go beyond the variety of in- sects in the region - By disciplining one’s body to accept everything nature has to offer; in this way you will also educate your soul for that which God has to offer. Look around you: nature is a woman, and like all women, she teaches us in a different way. Lean your spine up against that tree. He point to a two thousand year-old ce- dar, with a thick rope lying around it. In the lo- cal religion, everything which is circled by a rope is a special manifestation of the Goddess of Creation, and is considered a sacred place. - Everything living contains energy, and this energy communicates. If you put your spine against the trunk, the spirit which inhabits the tree will talk to your spirit, and calm it of any affliction. Of course, as a biologist, I would say that the giving off of heat, etc... but I also know there is truth in the magic explanation of my 14 15forefathers. My eyes are closed, and I try to imagine the sap climbing from the roots right up into the leaves, and in making this movement, causing a wave of energy affecting all around. I hear the biologist’s voice telling me that, in the year 1185, two Samurai warriors fought a fierce battle for power in Japan. The governor of Kumano didn’t know who would win; certain that nature always has an answer, he had seven roost- ers dressed in red, fight against another seven dressed in white. Those in white won, the gover- nor supported one of the warriors, and made the right choice: before long, that Samurai governed the country. - Now tell me: do you prefer to believe that it was the governor’s support which decided the fight, or were the roosters, representing nature, a divine sign showing who would end up conquer- 14 15ing power? - I believe in signs - I answered, mentally leaving my comfortable vegetal state, and open- ing my eyes. - The sacred journeys to Kumano began long before Buddhism was introduced in Japan; to this day there are men and women who pass on, from generation to generation, the idea that a “marriage” with everything around one must be like a true matrimony: with giving, joy, suffer- ing, but always together. They used Shugendo to reach this total giving, without fear. - Could you teach me a Shugendo exercise? The only one I know is to tie oneself to a rope and throw oneself against the rocks of a cliff side; frankly, I haven’t the courage for that. - Why do you wish to learn? 16 17 - Because I always believed that the spiri- tual doesn’t necessarily involve sacrifice and pain. But, as someone I met on this journey said, one must learn what is necessary, not what one wish- es. - Each of us does the exercise which Earth asks of us; I know a man who climbed and de- scended, a thousand times, for a thousand days, a mountain near here. If the Goddess wants you to practice Shugendo, she will tell you what to do. He was right. The next day, it came about. The limit of pain We are on the top of a mountain, beside a stone column with some inscriptions. From high up, I can make out a temple in the middle of the forest. - That is one of the three sanctuaries the pilgrim must visit, and when he arrives here, he 16 17feels great joy at already being so close to one of them - says Katsura. - According to tradition, no woman may go beyond this point during her menstrual period. One time, a poet came this far, saw the temple, but because of her menstruation, could not go on. She understood that she would not have the strength to go four days without eating, and decided to return without reaching her objective. She wrote a poem of thanks for the days spent walking, got ready to return the following morning, and went to sleep. “The Goddess then appeared in her dreams. She said she may go on, because her verses were beautiful; as you can see, fine words can even make the Gods change their opinion. The stone column bears the poem she wrote.” Katsura and I set out on the five kilometers which separate us from the temple. Suddenly I recall the words of the biologist I met: “If the Goddess wants you to practice Shugendo, the 18 19way of the art of accumulating experience, she will tell you what to do.” - I shall remove my shoes - I tell Katsura. The ground is rocky, and bitterly cold, but Shugendo is the communion with nature in all its aspects, including that of physical pain. Katsura also removes her shoes; we set out. The first step I take, a pointed rock pierces my foot, and I feel the deep gash. I stifle a cry, and continue. Ten minutes later I am walking at half the speed when we set out, my feet hurting more and more, and for a moment I think about how far I still have to travel, that I may get an infection, that my publishers await me in Tokyo, all the interviews and meetings which have been arranged. But the pain quickly pushes back these thoughts; I decide to take another step, and an- other, and to continue for as long as possible. I think about the many pilgrims who have come 18 19

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