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Authors: Paulo Coelho,Margaret Jull Costa

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BOOK: Manuscript Found in Accra
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And he answered:

Men and women whisper to each other because they have turned a sacred gesture into a sinful act.

This is the world in which we live. And while robbing the present moment of its reality can be dangerous, disobedience can also be a virtue when we know how to use it.

If two bodies merely join together, that is not sex, it is merely pleasure. Sex goes far beyond pleasure.

In sex, relaxation and tension go hand in hand, as do pain and pleasure and shyness and the courage to go beyond one’s limits.

How can such opposing states exist in harmony together? There is only one way: by surrendering yourself.

Because the act of surrender means: “I trust you.”

It isn’t enough to imagine everything that might happen if we allowed ourselves to join not just our bodies, but our souls as well.

Let us plunge together, then, down the dangerous path of surrender. It may be dangerous, but it is the only path worth following.

And even if this causes major changes in our world, we have nothing to lose, because by opening the door that unites body and soul, what we gain is total love.

Let us forget all that we are taught about how it is noble to give and humiliating to receive. For most people, generosity consists only in giving, and yet receiving is also an act of love. Allowing someone else to make us happy will make them happy, too.

When we
are too generous in the sexual act and our main preoccupation is with our partner’s pleasure, our own pleasure can be diminished or even destroyed.

When we are capable of giving and receiving with the same intensity, our body becomes as tense as the string on a bow, but our mind relaxes like the arrow about to be fired. Our brain is no longer in charge; instinct is our only guide.

When body and soul meet, the Divine Energy fills not only those parts that most people consider to be erotic, but also every hair and every inch of skin, giving off a light of a different color. Two rivers meet to become a more beautiful, more powerful river.

Everything that is spiritual manifests itself in visible form, and everything that is visible is transformed into spiritual energy.

Everything is permitted, if everything is accepted.

Sometimes love grows tired of speaking softly. Therefore, let it reveal itself in all its splendor, burning like the sun and destroying whole forests with its winds.

If one of the lovers surrenders completely, then the other will do the same, because embarrassment will have become curiosity, and curiosity leads us to explore all the things we did not know about ourselves.

See sex as a gift, a ritual of transformation. And as in any ritual, ecstasy will be present to glorify the end, but it is not the sole objective. What matters is that we have traveled a road with our partner that led us into unknown territory, where we encountered gold and incense and myrrh.

Give the sacred its full sacred meaning. And should moments of doubt arise, always remember: we are not
alone at such moments; both parties are feeling the same thing.

Fearlessly open the secret box of your fantasies. One person’s courage will help the other person to be equally brave.

True lovers will be able to enter the garden of beauty without fear of being judged. They will no longer be two bodies and two souls meeting, but a single fountain out of which pours the true water of life.

The stars will contemplate the lovers’ naked bodies, and the lovers will feel no shame. The birds will fly close by, and the lovers will imitate the songs of the birds. Wild animals will approach cautiously, because what they are seeing is far wilder than they are. And they will bow their heads as a sign of respect and submission.

And time will cease to exist, because in the land of pleasure born of true love, everything is infinite.

And one of the combatants who was preparing to die the next day—but who, nonetheless, had chosen to come to the square to hear what the Copt had to say—commented:

“We were divided when what we wanted was unity. The cities that lay in the path of the invaders suffered the consequences of a war they did not choose. What should the survivors tell their children?”


And he answered:

We were born alone, and we will die alone. But while we are on this planet, we must accept and glorify our act of faith through other people.

Community is life; from it comes our capacity for survival. That is how it was when we lived in caves, and so it is today.

Respect those who grew up and learned alongside you. Respect those who taught you. When the day comes, tell your stories and teach; that way, the community can continue to exist and our traditions remain unchanged.

Anyone who does not share his moments of joy and discouragement with others will never fully know his own qualities and his own defects.

Meanwhile, be
alert to a danger that threatens all communities: people being drawn into a standard way of behaving, taking as their model their own limitations, fears, and prejudices.

That is a very high price to pay, because in order for you to be accepted, you will have to please everyone.

And that is not proof of love for the community, but proof of a lack of love for oneself.

You will be loved and respected only if you love and respect yourself. Never try to please everyone; if you do, you will be respected by no one.

Seek friends and allies among people who believe in what they are doing and in who they are.

I’m not saying: “Seek out people who think the same as you.” I’m saying: “Seek out those who think differently from you and whom you will never be able to convince that you are right.”

Because friendship is one of the many faces of Love, and Love is not swayed by opinions; Love accepts its companion unconditionally and allows each to grow in his or her own way.

Love is an act of faith in another person, not an act of surrender.

Do not seek to be loved at any price, because Love has no price.

Your friends are not the kind who attract everyone’s gaze, who dazzle and say: “There is no one better, more generous, or more virtuous in the whole of Jerusalem.”

Your friends are the sort who do not wait for things to happen in order to decide which attitude to take; they decide on the spur of the moment, even though they know it could be risky.

They are free spirits who can change direction whenever life requires them to. They explore new paths, recount their adventures, and thus enrich both city and village.

If they once took a wrong and dangerous path, they will never come to you and say: “Don’t ever do that.”

They will merely say: “I once took a wrong and dangerous path.”

This is because they respect your freedom, just as you respect theirs.

Avoid at all costs those who are only by your side in moments of sadness to offer consoling words. What they are actually saying to themselves is: “I am stronger. I am wiser. I would not have taken that step.”

Stay close to those who are by your side in happy times, because they do not harbor jealousy or envy in their hearts, only joy to see you happy.

Avoid those who believe they are stronger than you, because they are actually concealing their own fragility.

Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that, at some point in our lives, we all stumble; they do not interpret this as a sign of weakness, but of humanity.

Avoid those who talk a great deal before acting, those who never take a step without being quite sure that it will bring them respect.

Stay close to those who, when you made a mistake, never said: “I would have done it differently.” They did not make that particular mistake and so are in no position to judge.

Avoid those who seek friends in order to maintain a certain social status or to open doors they would not otherwise be able to approach.

Stay close to those who are interested in opening only one important door: the door to your heart. They will never invade your soul without your consent or shoot a deadly arrow through that open door.

Friendship is like a river; it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is full and it can continue on its way.

Just as the river never forgets that its goal is the sea, so friendship never forgets that its only reason for existing is to love other people.

Avoid those who say: “That’s it, I’ll go no further.” What they have failed to grasp is that neither life nor death has an end; they are merely stages of eternity.

Stay close to those who say: “Everything’s fine as it is, but we still need to move on.” They understand the need to keep going beyond the known horizon.

Avoid those who meet up to discuss, seriously and pretentiously, any decisions that the community needs to take. They understand politics, they impress others and try to show how wise they are. What they don’t understand is that it is impossible to control so much as the fall of a single hair on your head. Discipline is important, but it needs to leave doors and windows open to intuition and the unexpected.

Stay close to those who sing, tell stories, and enjoy life, and whose eyes sparkle with happiness. Because happiness is contagious and will always manage to find
a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.

Stay close to those who allow the light of Love to shine forth without restrictions, judgments, or rewards, without letting it be blocked by the fear of being misunderstood.

No matter how you are feeling, get up every morning and prepare to let your light shine forth.

Those with eyes to see will see your light and be enchanted by it.


A young woman, who rarely left her house because she thought no one was interested in her, said:

“Teach us about elegance.”

Everyone in the courtyard muttered:

“What kind of question is that to ask when we are about to be invaded, when blood will soon be running down every street in the city?”

However, the Copt smiled, and his smile was not a mocking one, but filled with respect for the young woman’s courage

BOOK: Manuscript Found in Accra
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