gregory david roberts — shantaram

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”

“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors—the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.”

“The ancient Sanskrit legends speak of a destined love, a karmic connection between souls that are fated to meet and collide and enrapture one another. The legends say that the loved one is instantly recognised because she’s loved in every gesture, every expression of thought, every movement, every sound, and every mood that prays in her eyes. The legends say that we know her by her wings—the wings that only we can see—and because wanting her kills every other desire of love.

The same legends also carry warnings that such fated love may, sometimes, be the possession and obsession of one, and only one, of the two souls twinned by destiny. But wisdom, in one sense, is the opposite of love. Love survives in us precisely because it isn’t wise.”

” … the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.”

“It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.”

“They claim a hidden corner of our hearts, all those moments that stay with us unscreamed. That’s where loves, like elephants, drag themselves to die. It’s the place where pride allows itself to cry.”

“You can’t kill love. You can’t even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can’t kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it’s a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.”

“The cloak of the past is cut from patches of feelings, and sewn with rebus threads. Most of the time, the best we can do is wrap it around ourselves for comfort or drag it behind us as we struggle to go on. But everything has its cause and its meaning. Every life, every love, every action and feeling and thought has its reason and significance: its beginning, and the part it plays in the end. Sometimes, we do see. Sometimes, we see the past so clearly, and read the legend of its parts with such acuity, that every stitch of time reveals its purpose, and a kind of message is enfolded in it. Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow. And in the tiny, precious wisdom that they give to us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and their right to be.”

breathe sparingly

“Silently, Siddhartha exposed himself to burning rays of the sun directly
above, glowing with pain, glowing with thirst, and stood there, until he
neither felt any pain nor thirst any more.  Silently, he stood there in
the rainy season, from his hair the water was dripping over freezing
shoulders, over freezing hips and legs, and the penitent stood there,
until he could not feel the cold in his shoulders and legs any more,
until they were silent, until they were quiet.  Silently, he cowered in
the thorny bushes, blood dripped from the burning skin, from festering
wounds dripped pus, and Siddhartha stayed rigidly, stayed motionless,
until no blood flowed any more, until nothing stung any more, until
nothing burned any more.

Siddhartha sat upright and learned to breathe sparingly, learned to
get along with only few breaths, learned to stop breathing.  He
learned, beginning with the breath, to calm the beat of his heart,
leaned to reduce the beats of his heart, until they were only a few and
almost none.”

 – from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse