Never ever

We were on the train. The Old Man, as we affectionately called the oldest monk of the monastery, and I were on a long ride to a city where he would deliver a lecture in a well-known university. I took the chance to ask him about the hardships of personal improvement. I suggested there should be an easy-to-read textbook to guide us in the Path, as the sacred texts are too complex, often with hard-to-understand, coded interpretations. The Old Man shrugged his shoulders and said: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.” He paused briefly for me to think about what he had just said, and added: “The improvement of the being is the practice of this paramount teaching. Do you want anything more simple than that?”

I told him I found that too complicated, because there are a number of possibilities in dealing with light and shadows. The Old Man rebuked: “This is why all the choices are sacred. They define who we are. Hence, pay heed: each gesture or word is the seed of dissent or peace.” I told him I understood that, but I admitted I had difficulties and needed help. The monk remained silent for a little while, and then said: “There is the Textbook of the Wanderer.” He paused for a brief moment, and added, in a roguish way, showing his good mood and the fact that he was joking: “It is for children.” We laughed. Of course there is no such book. However, teasingly I asked him to make things easy for me. The Old Man, always generous, obliged: “Pay attention to the Never Ever Rules. It’s like a road sign to protect the driver on the way.”

“Never ever get desperate or regretful. Problems, conflicts or tragedies should Always be seen as valuable lessons, necessary to leverage the advancement of all those involved. A more careful, sincere look will bring to mind that, in the past, there was a calling for smooth learning, and you refused it. The universe does not wish suffering, because you are a part of it. It needs your evolution. We know that more careless students need stricter teachers to pass. Suffice that you move towards life to change the landscape. Life moves towards light and love. Without the darkness of the cocoon, the caterpillar would not understand its own wings.”

“Never ever complain of other people. How can you demand perfection if you have nothing to offer? We are apprentices with the virtues we have acquired and hardships to overcome. All of us, no exceptions. Each one of us with our beautiful history, filled with achievements and frustrations. Pains and pleasures. The planet, as a perfect living room, places us together so that we can teach some and learn from others, in precise synchrony and interdependence among beings. Tolerance with the other shows humility regarding one’s own difficulties. The Law of Infinite Possibilities will always allow a new chance for everyone, in the precise measure one needs to grow. No more, no less. Instead of complaining, help. This is a change in attitude that carries along love and light in the form of patience, compassion and forgiveness. It brings peace to the heart.” He made a brief pause to conclude: “He who complains about other people does not know who they really are.”

“Do not allow bad mood and sadness to take you over. Every spirit that is illuminated is happy. There is no place for cranky people in the High Lands. To accept the problems as challenges to evolution is to act like a student who is grateful to the university for allowing their skills to develop and the best in themselves to flourish. The cranky, moody person is out of synch with the best vibes that move the universe and ends up losing the sweetness of life, which will never change in order to serve the desires of the ego. Life is connected with the needs of the soul. To be in evolution makes the person happy and good-tempered. Stagnation causes just the opposite.”

“Never ever accept a privilege. Every privilege stems from the ancestral idea of domination and superiority. The idea that there are better or more important people than others is outdated. The exercise of equality brings along the true sense of justice, the one whose main goal is social pacification through individual appeasement. Whenever there are privileges there will be differences. Whenever there is difference, there will be dissent and conflict. All grievances, regardless of size or origin, have in their root the germ of privilege contaminating the tree and its fruits.”

He was silent for a while, looking at the landscape from the window of the train. Then he said: “Every wanderer is a nahual.” I thought that word odd, I had never heard it before. The monk explained: “In the Toltec mythology, nahual is the ‘impeccable warrior’. He is the person that spares no effort and gives no excuse to postpone the shaping of being. He is always ready to offer his best. The nahual knows that the wisest discourse is his own attitude as example. The attitude speaks louder than the word. In this lies his unbreakable strength.”

I realized he had come to an end. I could not do differently: I turned up my nose and complained. I claimed that the “Never Ever Rules were very limiting, as they regulated a number of prohibitions. The Old Man, before saying a word, looked at me with a mix of curiosity and kindness, as someone who is watching a child that insists in putting his finger in an electrical outlet despite the shock warnings: “You are free to do whatever you want. Light and shadows will always be available to you. This is the infinite generosity of the Universe. However, be mature enough to accept the fair consequences of your choices. This is the paramount wisdom of the Path. The Law of Action and Reaction is relentless, and it could not be otherwise. Not to punish, but to teach. Life has an unrelenting commitment with evolution.”

For quite a while we said no words. The Old Man broke the silence: “The ‘rules’ are to help those who want to continue the journey but, somehow, lost the course. They keep the wanderer on the road until they find their destination.” He made and brief pause and added: “To stop nourishing the shadows is good, but it isn’t enough. It is, however, essential to start becoming aligned with the light.”

Kindly translation by Carlos André Oighenstein.

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