The unusual, irregular hours of operation of the shop of Loureiro, the elegant shoemaker who loved books and wines, had become legendary in the charming village located at the foot of the mountain that houses the monastery. The only way to know if the shop was open was to go over there. This is why when I turned the corner of the narrow and winding cobblestone street where it was located, I was happy to see his vintage bicycle leaning against the light pole in front. I was received with a sincere smile and a warm hug. I said I was there to have a chat with him about something that had been bothering me for quite some time, jealousy. Patching up leather was a trade Loureiro was skilled in; sewing ideas was an art he handled with uncommon mastery. My good friend decided to call it a day, even though it was still early in the afternoon, and invited me to lunch at a quiet restaurant nearby. Comfortably seated, the waiter poured us a delicious local red wine; I immediately started to tell him about the frequent quarrels I was having with my girlfriend on account of the jealousy that had been tormenting our relationship. Our misunderstandings were escalating, and our arguments were more and more tiring. I told him I was weary from the situation.
The shoemaker tasted the wine and smiled approvingly. Then, he furrowed his brow and said, seriously: “Jealousy is such a common shadow I often hear people say it is innate to love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; just the opposite, because it is a source of much suffering, in fact it denies the essence of love.” He took another sip and continued: “Like any shadow, one must understand jealousy in order to illuminate and, then, transmute it once and for all. Understanding and transformation are two steps of the evolutionary stage. Therefore, jealousy should not be denied, repressed or ignored, but it also shouldn’t be encouraged. Jealousy is a feeling that, like a bratty, ill-tempered, spoiled teenager, needs a hug, some honest conversation, proper guidance and firmness so that they can become different in their adulthood, healthy and happy.”
I interrupted him to say that differently from many people I knew who had pathological jealousy, mine was a healthy one. Loureiro arched his lips in a discreet smile and corrected me: “There is no healthy jealousy. All feelings that cause discomfort, whether mild or severe, need to be treated and healed. Just as we look after the body, caring for the soul is essential. Emotions, when they are misaligned, are the roots of many diseases the body presents. The balancing of emotions is capable of making the self happy, light, and beautiful; the lack of harmony of feelings enhances the burden and discomfort of living, which may range from a severe foul mood to dangerous tumors.”
“The shadows dwell within and dominate us when they are nourished, misunderstood, denied or repressed. They use many mechanisms of protection and survival, for instance when we blame others for the pain we feel, rather than striving for inner transformation and balance. This is either because we prefer the convenience of believing we are victims of the world and exhaust ourselves in regrets, complaints and stagnation; or because we yearn for approval, applause and glitter, so we create social masks and persona that hide our essence, that sacred feature that inhabits in us, and hence we waste the opportunity of being unique and whole. Out of fear and selfishness we develop behaviors layered with pride, vanity, envy, selfishness, greed, segregation and jealousy. Ignorance of who we are will always be the mother of all shadows. To educate one’s shadows through the blossoming of personal virtues and transform them into light is the most important work assigned to each one of us to improve the world. While we do not know who we are, we will remain prisoners of dense emotions.”
“Hence, going deeper into our thoughts, we can reach a simple conclusion: only those who are afraid are jealous.” I said that fear is not all that bad, because it shows us dangers that surround us. The cobbler disagreed: “This is a mistake, albeit an honest one. Fear must be faced with will and wisdom, for it not to deprive or prevent people from living their dreams, from being different and better than the standard social and cultural conditionings have set up and that work like an electric fence, forcing us to hide our own face and preventing us from going beyond.” He sipped some more wine and continued: “Fear paralyses us and leads us to stagnation. All that stagnates, rots. Fight fear with courage, a virtue that stems from the will, and with sensitivity and prudence, virtues that originate in wisdom. Courage is the virtue that propels us forward, assured that every challenge is a lesson given and, once it is over, it will make us stronger and more illuminated. Prudence warns me of the dangers, situations innate to life, but it also reminds me that I must be attentive to the opportunities that are hidden. Finally, there is sensibility, guiding me in choosing which direction to take from many available at that time. But the most important is that regardless of the direction I take, I just cannot stop walking”.
Loureiro looked through the window of the restaurant for a few seconds, as if his thoughts were far away, and added: “But if things get tough to resolve with the virtues I just mentioned, then you should resort to the powerful virtue of faith. It teaches us that whenever we move towards light, the universe will operate in our favor. Always.”
I interrupted him to say he was wrong. I stated that I was a brave man and was not afraid of my girlfriend. Loureiro arched his lips in a discreet smile, realizing I had not yet understood what he was talking about and was patient to explain: “Jealousy stems from fear that has accompanied us since ancient times. When moved by primary instincts, the subconscious still conditions us to dominate all that we see as a threat. However, we mistakenly understand as a threat the fact that one no longer wishes to live by our side. Instead of prioritizing the freedom of others as an effective method to respect our own freedom, we end up deciding to control the choices of the other, their wishes and wills. Hence, jealousy is essentially a war against love and freedom. Paradoxically, the fear of suffering sets all other types of suffering in motion.”
“Another common mistake is to believe the other person will be able to make us complete; this is a belief that feeds jealousy. This is not love, it is dependency. To live next to whom we love, people with whom we share visions and dreams, is just wonderful. However, we should not be delusional that one will be able to fill the void that might eventually exist within ourselves. Of course, we learn and teach one another; however, even if someone can give you a flashlight, only you can illuminate the dark dungeons of the self, nobody else.”
“We start a journey to the inside of ourselves in search of the seeds of love, freedom, peace, happiness, dignity. These are the flowers of life. These seeds are all hidden in the core of the self; after being planted, germinated and bloomed, they should have their fruits shared with everyone. This is how we will be whole; this is how we spread beauty around the world. Even though to receive love is delicious and important, to love is our divine face. Contrary to what one may say, love is not trade. Love is giving; the love that I have is only the love I can give. This is the secret of plenitude.”
“We can only experience love, in fact, when we stop asking for love in return; we only feel the spirit of freedom running in our veins when we give up the idea of tying someone’s wishes to our own. And the opposite is also true. This attitude carries in itself the vessel of dignity sailing the quiet seas of peace, propelled by the mild breeze of endless happiness.”
I said I understood and appreciated each word the shoemaker had said. However, I had difficulties in putting that theory into practice. I said I was jealous because I suspected she was not sincere about our relationship. I added that no one likes to be cheated on. Insecurity nourished my imbalance. The cobbler looked at me with kindness and said: “The perfect translation of jealousy is the fear someone no longer wishes to live next to us because they want another person. We believe that if we set up rules, inspections, controls, we will be safe. We will be safe from being free, because, in fact, we have built our own prisons, in which we are prisoners and keepers, one of the other, at the same time. This is a ludicrous situation in which the prisoner cannot leave, prevented by the keeper who is also imprisoned, because he or she must watch the other forever, in the jail of misery.”
“Of course, no one likes to be cheated on. However, one must bear in mind it is a Thousand times better to have their dreams stolen than to steal someone’s dreams. I am capable of recreating myself numberless times, of inventing a new dream to follow, free, light, happy and in peace. The thief is left with the heavy burden of untangling the web of fraud he or she got caught in. All the joy that stems from any of the tools of the shadows is as brief as a strong tropical storm which, after some relief from the heat, leaves a huge wake of destruction in he who provoked the storm. If you pay careful attention, you will realize that, in the end, evil is short-lived in those who are the object of it, but weighs heavily on those who caused it. It is impossible to be happy exercising the shadows.”
“A lie is such a powerful shadow that, in addition to infecting all relationships, it easily becomes an addition difficult to drop. The liar does not realize that a lie is a lack of respect to him. A lie reflects the difficulties in dealing with the truth and seeing one’s real face through the perfect mirror a relationship is, and also wastes the opportunity of being authentic and evolving. While the person hides in the fantasies of lies, they will not understand who they are. This will prevent them from doing differently and better. Therefore, they will not be able to bear the lightness necessary to any relationship. Hence, the other will soon feel uncomfortable, even if the lie is not discovered, and will wish to leave. Even ignoring that what they were told was a lie, they will lose interest in the romance, because the fraud has polluted the environment of love. Bear in mind that the universe is made of energies of multiple frequencies that intertwine to lead us to perfection. One cannot ignore that. A lie is a spell that will always poison the portion the sorcerer must drink. One must be compassionate.”
“Every romance is born to become a beautiful love story. It is like a balloon that, in order to remain on the air, must be supported by a substance lighter than air. Only love is so subtle. So, the more love there is, the higher the balloon will reach. A lie, however, whatever its type, is like a dense, heavy gas that contaminates the always subtle love. Love and lies cannot be mixed; a lie makes love vanish. Little by little, the balloon loses height and ends up destroyed on the rocks of ignorance, fear and selfishness.” He drank a little more wine and added: “In order to experience a great love one must trust, one must be pure. There is no reason for fear, because if there is a lie, love will not be sustainable.” I interrupted him once again, to say that frustration causes a lot of pain. The shoemaker disagreed: “Frustrations do not have to mean suffering. Frustration can prompt you to outdo yourself and to grow. It all depends on how you will react to the situation. Bear in mind that no one needs anyone to be happy, because happiness is a treasure hidden inside each one of us. However, we need others to share the beauty that dwells within ourselves, to learn from and teach to; relationships are essential for us to become a better person, when we make the effort to smooth the rough edges and have a peaceful relationship with everyone. Furthermore, the Law of Infinite Opportunities will always allow a new love story to be written in your life. You just have to learn the lesson. After all, the end of a cycle will always signal the beginning of a new one.”
I said that his was almost a poetic discourse, but things in life were quite different. Loureiro shook his head and said: “Jealousy is totally uncalled for. And no one needs to act like a detective, investigating the existence of alleged lies.” I asked what his suggestion was. The shoemaker was didactic: “Understand the Universal Laws and how they operate. You will see they are relentless. From simple thoughts to more sophisticated choices, nothing goes unnoticed. The consequences that fall on us are a wise, loving method of justice and education. This makes each one constructor and heir of their own destiny. Therefore, there is no room for regrets, only strive for transformation, so that things are different the next day. Respect the choice of others, work hard to do your share of the work and move on in peace. You will always receive precisely according to what you deserve and, therefore, the lessons that will come with your evolution. The harshness or smoothness of the Path is defined by the way the walker sets their feet on the ground.”
He emptied his glass and continued: “During a storm, don’t be shaken. Embrace it as an opportunity for getting stronger and learning; above all, stick to the foundations of light and be dazzled with the response of time. This is how we improve as travelers of the Path. The light is an effective shield, a wise sword and the most powerful wings that one day a poet was capable of imagining.”
He looked at me in the eyes and added: “Light is the Philosopher’s Stone coded by alchemists, the secret of transforming lead into gold, the endlessness of the hereafter. It is the Grail hidden by the Templars; the nirvana of Eastern traditions; the narrow gate of Western wisdom. Or simply the effort to unify and exercise all virtues, as esotericists teach.” He shrugged his shoulders and finalized: “Light is available to anyone, but few dare to learn how to use it. So they suffer, unnecessarily.”
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.