It was study time. Reading and reflection in the library of the monastery. Silence and quietness. The early evening light entered through the window, providing light and the beautiful landscape of the mountains. As usual, I stopped by the refectory before getting a cup of coffee. The Old Man, as we affectionately called the oldest monk of the Order was talking to a young man who had come for a visit, seated at the head of the huge table. When I got closer, I was surprised by the words of the monk that I had overheard: “Transgression is necessary.” Realizing the impact that sentence had caused on me, he signaled to me with his eyes to sit with them.
The young man claimed he was aimless. He was a peaceful, working, law-abiding person. He followed smoothly the tracks of life for which he had been brought up. Things were normal, but he felt a huge void. The world seemed a large sphere with a bunch of people, quite senseless. His gaze did not shine; he was clearly unhappy.
The Old Man spoke with his usual softness: “We are here only to evolve. Nothing else. However, one must understand the process. There is evolution only if there is transformation. To that end, we must allow ourselves to cross the edges of fear, the limits imposed by the world, to soar beyond ordinary thought. Dignity is the only limit.”
The young man asked how that was possible. “It is mandatory to have a different look, a look that believes everything can be different and better; the boldness of being wholesome, of being all that we dream to be, of being complete. Of revealing one’s own gift secretly manifested from within. This gives strength, power and magic,” summarized the monk. But there features of the young man revealed huge question marks. The poetic summary was not enough, and the Old Man went further in his explanation. “The Universe is highly interested in the evolution of each person. The reason is simple: as each one is an essential part of the whole, cosmic harmony will only be achieved with the evolution of all. However, the journey is individual. This means the value of social relations for honing each person with endless lessons of love and wisdom through which we enhance our feelings, shed light on the shadows and shape noble virtues is unquestionable; the advances, however, are individual, as each one becomes capable taking the next steps. This entire process is a huge cycle made of many smaller ones, each one of them with their own lessons. When a student refuses to learn, for whatever reason, the lessons become harsher. Then there is pain. Not to punish, but with the purpose of teaching. As the apprentice moves forward, he is able to turn suffering into stardust by shedding light on the dark alleys of the Path. This is life’s alchemy.”
“The changes are instrumental for the evolution of mankind. When we move forward, we leverage all around us. Therefore, we are capable of, in part, changing reality. The existential void, a lighter shade of the many nuances of suffering, emerges every time we realize, unconsciously or not, that we are not able to move on spiritually. Evolution is the flame that illuminates human nature; pain is a master for undisciplined disciples. The Law of Evolution is one of the unrelenting laws of the Unwritten Code.”
The Old Man paused briefly and continued: “However, we only move forward when we are brave enough to live our dreams, to awake the talents still dormant in our core and accept that a different reality is possible. Then, it is time to break rules. I am not talking about those major collective actions that changed the movements of the world and gave new letters to history books. I am talking about the small gestures, the most intimate choices, those that are within everyone’s reach. Their importance for the development of the planet is immeasurable; have no doubt, they are the most important. Either we arouse the best that dwells within ourselves or we will no longer be the salt of the earth and will lose the joy of living.”
“One must be willing to go beyond the common sense barriers; to believe that there is life beyond the high walls that more than protecting, confine. One must refuse to repeat worn out formulas made to convince us that fear is necessary for peace. This is what holds us prisoners. To free oneself is to infringe!”
“Courage and boldness are not weeds that grow in the garden of the heart, like grass. They are seeds selected by the gardener that understand the force and power of these flowers.”
The young man seemed not to have understood. He said he was a peaceful person, who did not like brutality nor wanted to become a criminal. The Old Man furrowed his brow and said: “For God’s sake, son! Even though there is a need to realize that law and justice do not always walk hand in hand, I am not talking about those who take the road of crime and darkness. Nor I am talking about physical force. True revolutionaries, those who have leveraged changes in the planet were, all of them, peaceful and peacemakers, whether from ancient or recent history. Jesus, Buddha, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Luther King, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Chico Xavier, just to name the best known of them, were all transgressors in their time. They believed they could make things different for having realized how absurd commonness is; they loathed any form of violence, even verbal or in thought. They had the wisdom to combine love with the necessary resolve to move on. They have shaken social foundations without having to resort to brutality. Their seeds have germinated forever and ever, providing the best fruits we are yet to taste, as in their juice is the sweet honey of love. Their crusade was promoting peace and unity among people; the beauty of being unique and, at the same time, part of the whole. They knew that transformation of humanity only happens if it is grounded in the metamorphosis of each being. The world shifts according to the precise measure of individual changes”. He looked the young man in the eye and spoke, in a heartfelt manner: “All those who tried to impose their own will or interests through violence or lies did not elicit change, they only put makeup on the world with the brushes of intolerance and dyes of blood.” He paused again, and completed: “There is absolutely nothing as strongly transgressive as love. Peace is its only language.”
“Transform yourself and you will see your example propelling a huge revolution around you.”
The young man confessed that even though at times he felt like doing something odd, he never envisioned himself wearing extravagant clothes or hairdos. The Old Man laughed heartily and said: “I think each one should wear the clothes they see fit for themselves, and I respect that a lot. Each one has their own taste and needs to express themselves. However, to infringe the canons of society is not to change the aspect, but the essence. The habits may be simple, as sophistication is in the way of thinking and feeling. In this lies transformation; the change is in content, not in the form. The difference is not in aesthetics, but in attitude. The authority does not come from the job, the rhetoric or decorations. It is in each of the many choices we make every single day.”
The young man argued it was difficult for him to change, because he could not foresee alternatives. The Old Man took a deep breath and said: “Why do we deny the immeasurable power we have? Each one can do whatever they want with their own lives. Can you imagine the infinite possibilities? Of course the freedom you have brings, in its wake, the same amount of responsibility, the unrelenting effect of the Law of Action and Reaction. You are free to make decisions, and the consequences will perfectly match them. This is wonderful, as it makes you responsible for your own destiny. To understand the choices is to set the roots of maturity in the soil of existence. Then you open the cell of invisible bars to go after your dreams. Accept, once and for all, your wings. Use them! Everyone is entitled to theirs.”
“Whenever we fall back out of fear, our life goes the wrong way.”
“To infringe is also to see the importance of dissent. It is to enable the different capabilities of being and becoming. You and other people. It is the wisdom of being respectful so that all differences coexist in perfect harmony. One person’s choice does not annul or overlap the other’s. This is respect. There is tremendous beauty in it.”
“Finally, to break rules is to have favorable eyes for the new. I am not talking about novelties typical of fashion or behavior trends that do not go beyond valid, but shallow, commercial interests. I am talking about the depth of renovation, of taking off clothes that are already small for the soul and put on apparel that is more suitable for allowing freedom of motion of the being that emerges from the night and goes towards the morning. The actual transgression goes beyond the borders of appearance, as it is the journey towards the transmutation of the core.”
Overwhelmed, the young man asked if the monk was proposing that he be born once again. The Old Man smiled and said: “Yes, every single day, if possible. To break rules is to always reinvent yourself, is to make peace with your wildest dreams, is to reveal the sacred that dwells in your soul, is to accept that we should move according to the transforming power of love or we will only echo the cries of those who are lost in the narrative of their own story.”
The young man said he understood the words of the monk, and even though he felt the need for change, he confessed he did not know how to do it. The Old Man arched his lips in a sweet smile and said: “We begin by not allowing ourselves to be involved in situations that we know will make us sick. Stop and leave the world for a few moments. In quietness and solitude, have an encounter with yourself to understand what is no longer of use, ideas and attitudes that need to be changed in order to be in line with the your new moment. This is the process of liberation from suffering: transgression of the look to transform the being. Open the dark dungeons and let the sun in. People will say that the shine of your eyes is more intense, and a pleasant scent, with sensations of love and peace will radiate from your soul. People and situations around you will also change, accordingly.” The Old Man took a sip of his coffee and continued: “Have you ever realized that when we close the door to our heart and prevent someone from entering, this makes us feel bad? Notice that whenever our choice is not guided by love, even if the ego feels an idle, mundane satisfaction, we feel a great void within, in the end. Love has the infinite power to transform any situation into a sacred moment. As simple as that, as grand as that.”
“Hence, little by little, we refine our awareness and change our destiny. Understand, enhance and value the fantastic power of choices. It is a treasured tool.” The young man interrupted the monk to say that he had always heard that money, power and sex moved the world. The Old Man looked deep into his eyes and asked: “Move to where, son?” That was a rhetorical question, the monk answered it himself: “To the wrong side.” He made a brief pause and continued: “I normally do not find serenity, happiness and joy in those who seek these as their priority. I see more suffering, tears and much agony. These are the dominators; differently from the transgressors, they do not seek changes to favor evolution, but got lost in the wrongs of domination and illusions of power. They do not realize how transient this power is. Every dominator is a slave of their attitude, whatever the level, from governmental policies to emotional relationships. There are all types of dominators, and believe me, they all suffer.”
The monastery’s bell tolled. It was time for the meditation that precedes dinner. The young man thanked the monk for his words. The Old Man excused himself, stood up and said, before leaving: “The transgressor is a free being, because love is the force that drives his steps, and love, with all the beauty it entails, does not allow for dominators or dominated. Only free beings. Believe me, love is the only energy capable of making transformations for good and leveraging evolution. All the rest is only illusion and shadows.”
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oigheinsten.