A couple of months ago I found myself wondering through the ruins of some destroyed buildings. They were knocking down an antique church belonged to the 16th Century to build a brand new shopping mall. There, right next to a huge piece of waste ground, lying in the dirt and broken bricks, I discovered a book. It was facedown, missing the back cover. It was dated 1927. Most of the pages were torn and curled.
I decided to rescue it. “The masters and the path” by C.W. Leadbeater read the old cover. I looked it up online and learned that the author was one of the greatest theologians of the 18th century and to buy a new copy of the book was 92 pounds. 92 POUNDS!
Suddenly I got to think again about the funny character of human nature: in an era where libraries are going digital and internet opens up every kind of learning sources at the click of a mouse, why paying such a price for a paper book?
It’s probably because we know that the knowledge of our ancestors is worthy and all that is old, antique and historical has got its value. It’s a value that we pay by cash or by credit card every time we visit a museum, enter into a cathedral or buy an antiquarian piece. Other than its economical price, it’s like we are unable to appreciate what we have till the time’s gone and we look back with nostalgia.
Why are we unable to see it straightaway? Is it because, like that old book, a cover is missing and those faded pages make it difficult for us to read through? And do we stick up to the past to remember who we are or are we simply afraid of change?
Paulo Coelho in his book Manuscript found in Accra says we are afraid to change because we think after so much effort and sacrifice, we know our present world. But the correct path is the path of nature, which is constantly changing like the dunes in the desert, like the mountains eroded by wind and rain.
A Buddhist monk once told me that ruin is a gift. Life is only a process of transformation and an endless vibration incorporated in this enormous extension of space and time. We are all part of this rhythmical cycle of nature: human beings, trees and stones included. We are like pieces of stars contemplating stars, so when night falls inside us we can see their shining light more clearly.
– “So tell me,” the monk said in a calm tone of voice. “Would you go back to that same situation you were in 5 years ago when you probably wished things would’ve stayed the same?”
– “No,” I replied.
– “Because things are different now, I’ve changed. I moved out of my house, I got to travel, I changed job, I met new people (…)”
He smiled at me then he looked at the sky.
– “Do you know where those clouds are going?”
I shook my head.
– “They don’t know it either. They just go with the wind which takes them to different places without ever having to explain why. You’ll understand that later in time.”