–taken from The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho

“…In your infinite pity, O Lord, help us never to turn our knowledge against ourselves.

Have pity on those who pity themselves and who see themselves as good people treated unfairly by life – who feel that they do not deserve what has befallen them. Such people will never be able to fight the good fight. And pity those who are cruel to themselves and who see only the evil in their own actions, feeling that they are to blame for the injustice in the world.

Have pity on those who command and those who serve during long hours of work, and who sacrifice themselves in exchange merely for a Sunday off, only to find that there is nowhere to go, and everything is closed. But also have pity on those who sanctify their efforts, and who are able to go beyond the bounds of their own madness, winding up indebted, or nailed to the cross by their very brothers.

Have pity on those who may conquer the world but never join the good fight within themselves. But pity also those who have won the good fight within themselves, and now find themselves in the streets and the bars of life because they were unable to conquer the world.

Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could, and who feel themselves to be unworthy to enter the marvelous mansion of art. But have even more pity on those who, having taken up the pen, or the paintbrush, or the instrument, or the tool, have turned inspiration into a paltry thing, and yet feel themselves to be better than the others.

Pity those who eat and drink and sate themselves, but are unhappy and alone in their saiety. But pity even more those who fast, and who censure and prohibit, and who thereby see themselves as saints, preaching your name in the streets.

Pity those who fear death, and are unaware of the many kingdoms through which they have already passed, and the many deaths they have already suffered and who are unhappy because they think that one day their world will end. But have even more pity for those who already know their many deaths, and today think of themselves as immortal.

Have pity on those who bind themselves with the silken ties of love, and think of themselves as master of others, and who feel envy, and poison themselves, and who torture themselves because they cannot see that love and all things change like the wind. But pity even more those who die of their fear of loving and who reject love in the name of a greater love that they know not.

Pity those who reduce the cosmos to an explanation, God to a magic potion, and humanity to beings with basic needs that must be satisfied, because they never hear the music of the spheres. But have even more pity on those who have blind faith, and who in their laboratories transform mercury into gold, and who are surrounded by their books about the secrets of the Tarot and the power of the pyramids.

Pity those who see no one but themselves, and for whom others are a blurred and distant scenario as they pass through the streets in their limousines and lock themselvs in their air-conditioned penthouse offices, as they suffer in silence the solitude of power. But pity even more those who will do anything for anybody, and are charitable and seek to win out over evil only through love.

Have pity, Lord, on we who seek out and dare to take up the sword that you have promised, and who are a saintly and sinful lot scattered throughout the world. Because we do not recognize even ourselves, and often think that we are dressed, but we are nude; we believe that we have committed a crime, when in reality we have saved someone’s life. And do not forget in your pity for all of us that we hold the sword with the hand of an angel and hand of a devil, and that they are both the same hand. Because we are of the world, and we continue to be of the world, and we have need of thee. We will always be in need of thy law that says, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, you lacked nothing.'”

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