the moment of dawn
A Rabbi gathered together his students and asked them:
‘How do we know the exact moment when night ends and day begins?’
‘It’s when, standing some way away, you can tell a sheep from a dog,’ said one boy.
The Rabbi was not content with the answer. Another student said:
‘No, it’s when, standing some way away, you can tell an olive tree from a fig tree.’
‘No, that’s not a good definition either.’
‘Well, what’s the right answer?’ asked the boys.
And the Rabbi said:
‘When a stranger approaches, and we think he is our brother, that is the moment when night ends and day begins.’
even when a friend does something you do not like, he continues to be your friend
Genghis Khan And His Falcon
On a recent visit to Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, I had the chance to accompany some hunters who still use the falcon as a weapon. I don’t want to get into a discussion here about the word ‘hunt’, except to say that, in this case, Nature was simply following its course.
I had no interpreter with me, but what could have been a problem turned out to be a blessing. Unable to talk to them, I paid more attention to what they were doing. Our small party stopped, and the man with the falcon on his arm remained a little way apart from us and removed the small silver hood from the bird’s head. I don’t know why he decided to stop just there, and I had no way of asking.
The bird took off, circled a few times, and then dived straight down towards the ravine and stayed there. When we got close, we found a vixen caught in the bird’s talons. That scene was repeated once more during the morning.
Back at the village, I met the people who were waiting for me and asked them how they managed to train the falcon to do everything I had seen it do, even to sit meekly on its owner’s arm (and on mine too; they put some leather armbands on me and I could see the bird’s sharp talons close up.)
It was a pointless question. No one had an explanation. They said that the art is passed from generation to generation – father trains son, and so on. But what will remain engraved for ever in my mind are the snowy mountains in the background, the silhouetted figures of horse and horseman, the falcon leaving the horseman’s arm, and that deadly dive.
What also remains is a story that one of those people told me while we were having lunch.
One morning, the Mongol warrior, Genghis Khan, and his court went out hunting. His companions carried bows and arrows, but Genghis Khan carried on his arm his favourite falcon, which was better and surer than any arrow, because it could fly into the skies and see everything that a human beiong could not.
However, despite the group’s enthusiastic efforts, they found nothing. Disappointed, Genghis Khan returned to the encampment and in order not to take out his frustration on his companions, he left the rest of the party and rode on alone. They had stayed in the forest for longer than expected, and Khan was desperately tired and thirsty. In the summer heat, all the streams had dried up, and he could find nothing to drink. Then, to his amazement, he saw a thread of water flowing from a rock just in front of him.
He removed the falcon from his arm, and took out the silver cup which he always carried with him. It was very slow to fill and, just as he was about to raise it to his lips, the falcon flew up, plucked the cup from his hands, and dashed it to the ground.
Genghis Khan was furious, but then the falcon was his favourite, and perhaps it, too, was thirsty. He picked up the cup, cleaned off the dirt, and filled it again. When the cup was only half-empty this time, the falcon again attacked it, spilling the water.
Genghis Khan adored his bird, but he knew that he could not, under any circumstances, allow such disrespect; someone might be watching this scene from afar and, later on, would tell his warriors that the great conqueror was incapable of taming a mere bird.
This time, he drew his sword, picked up the cup and refilled it, keeping one eye on the stream and the other on the falcon. As soon as he had enough water in the cup and was ready to drink, the falcon again took flight and flew towards him. Khan, with one thrust, pierced the bird’s breast.
The thread of water, however, had dried up; but Khan determined how to find something to drink, climbed the rock in search of the spring. To his surprise, there really was a pool of water and, in the middle of it, dead, lay one of the most poisonous snakes in the region. If he had drunk the water, he, too, would have died.
Khan returned to camp with the dead falcon in his arms. He ordered a gold figurine of the bird to be made and on one of the wings, he had engraved:
“Even when a friend does something you do not like, he continues to be your friend.”
And on the other wing, he had these words engraved:
“Any action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.”
Taken from “Like a Flowing River” By Paulo Coelho
Wie erkläre ich mir das Leben:
Paulo Coelho's Story of the Pencil
source: “Like the Flowing River” by Paulo Coelho
A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked:
‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’
Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.
‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’
‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’
‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’
‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’
‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’
‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’