“Once I felt better, I went back to work. I bought a new gas-fired boiler and stayed in that house a few months longer. In the evening I used to stroll in the street with Giuseppe and Umberto. ‘Have you ever heard about near-death experiences when one comes back to life after a deep coma?’ I asked Umberto. ‘Yes, Carl Gustav Jung told of his own near-death experience.’ ‘Some people have reported that they were in the light and felt bliss while they were dying. It is evidence of life after death.’ ‘No, it isn’t. The experience of a near-death happens inside, not in the external world. In other words, you can’t declare the existence of life after death on the basis of your dreams, reasoning, and thoughts which are confined inside yourself. I’ll give you an example. If you imagine or dream a hippogriff, a mythological creature that is half horse and half griffin, it doesn’t mean that hippogriffs really exist. The whole process of imagining or dreaming a hippogriff happens inside yourself. But that creature doesn’t exist in reality. The same goes for near-death experiences. The whole experience happens inside the dying man, not outside him. The paradise he thinks he sees outside him may not exist in reality,’ Umberto answered coldly.
“I was not convinced about his words and retorted that Descartes, a philosopher, proved the existence of God. But Umberto knew the topic well and answered without getting flustered. ‘Yes, you are right, but another philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, confuted Descartes’s theory. In Descartes’s reasoning, as well as in the reasoning of anyone who wants to prove the existence of God and life after death, there is an inexplicable gap between the logical and the ontological field.’ ‘Could you speak more plainly so that I can understand?’ ‘Yes. You can’t extrapolate the reality from an idea or reasoning. It is not correct to reason that as there is a creature, then there must be a creator. In fact, reasoning can never give existence to a being in reality. If you dream of being a rich and powerful man, you will discover that you don’t have those attributes when you wake up. In your dreams your mind creates objects that will disappear when you awake.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



While I was staying in the ashram, I finished writing the first draft of this book and gave a copy of it to Baradeny. After she read a few pages of the draft, she wanted to talk about paranoia and anxiety in the class.
“Paranoia,” she said, “is a compound of two Greek words: para means ‘close,’ ‘near,’ ‘sideways,’ ‘similar,’ ‘resembling’; nus means ‘mind.’ So, we can define paranoia as an artificial mind close to the real one. It looks like a real mind, but it is a false mind. Whenever you let that artificial mind loose, it takes you by the hand, and you are led by it. Then, you stop thinking with your real mind and begin to think with this artificial mind or paranoia. It has the power to lead you into an illusory world. Gradually, you lose contact with the real world.
“What can you do to fight paranoia? What is the method to overcome and eliminate the artificial mind definitely? It’s not difficult. You shouldn’t try to suppress it. If you attack paranoia frontally, as in an open field battle, you will lose and end up strengthening it more and more. Instead, all you have to do is watch paranoia! Yes, just watch and watch this artificial mind. At last, it will fade away, because it can’t exist by itself. It is like a mirage bound to disappear as soon as you realize what it is.”
I tried to keep those words in mind. Whenever my artificial mind allured me into the twists and turns of illusion, I watched it calmly. As I kept watching my artificial mind, it became smaller and smaller like a little shy boy who runs to hide when he notices that a stranger is watching him. As the darkness of the night disappears when the day dawns, my paranoia faded away after my watching, at last.
During a break, Baradeny told us an old Indian story.
“Once upon a time, there was a bee that flitted over the flowers in a meadow. Now and then, it alighted on a flower to suck the nectar. Finally, the bee settled on an extraordinary flower, the most beautiful in the meadow. Its fragrance was intense and attractive enough to spellbind the bee. It didn’t want to leave the flower and lingered inside the corolla, forgetting to go back to its hive. While it was enjoying the nectar, an elephant came unexpectedly. With its trunk, it pulled the flower out and cast it away. Without its roots in the ground, the flower shut itself up immediately. The bee remained trapped inside the petals and couldn’t get out of it. Do you know what the significance of this story is? You ought to strive not to become attached to earthly pleasures too much. Otherwise, you will get trapped, as it happened to the bee.”
Then, Baradeny talked about anxiety.
“We can define anxiety as a kind of self-defense. It is not harmful if it is necessary. Anxiety makes us alert and aware of danger. But when anxiety is excessive, it becomes pathological. Once, I knew a man who couldn’t get out of his house because of his anxiety. Some people fear traveling by airplane, and some can’t drive a car because of fear. In extreme situations, some people can’t even walk in the street. They are much too anxious to do the usual things for others.
“There are many effective methods to treat anxiety, but the best of all is ‘watching yourself.’ In fact, anxiety, just like paranoia, doesn’t have a real basis. It is the fruit of your imagination. Anxiety is like being scared of your own shadow. But anxiety, like a shadow, is just a projection of your mind. If you keep watching yourself without striving to suppress anxiety, you will realize the difference between reality and illusion. Instead of running away from anxiety, watch yourself. You will understand that neither the shadow nor anxiety can hurt you because neither of them can stand alone. They are just projections!
“When I lived in Germany, I had a horse that was frightened by his shadow. The horse didn’t know that the shadow of his body couldn’t threaten him. It was not easy to convince him not to get scared. At last, he understood that his shadow was an image projected by his body. After understanding, he calmed down.
“Therefore, whenever anxiety tries to take over you, take a rest for some minutes and sit silently. Watch your breathing, watch your mind, watch your body, watch your thoughts, and watch your anxiety. Gradually, your mind will be purified, and your anxiety will vanish! You can’t find it anymore because it comes from an impure mind.”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind




Without a doubt, Shikido produces positive effects on the body and mind. In regard to me, it made me more open to others and steadier. Is it possible that these positive effects are due to autosuggestion rather than to the real effectiveness of the discipline? What is autosuggestion? What is the difference between reality and illusion, waking and dreaming, existence and vacuity?
When I was about twenty years old, one night my Belgian friend, Brigitte, gave me an effective pill to sleep peacefully. It worked perfectly, and I slept well all night. The following day, she showed me the capsules that seemed to contain the drug inside. But they were all empty. The pill I had taken was also empty! I didn’t know it. Nonetheless, it was effective to me. Did the same happen with regard to Shikido?
What is the criterion that makes us distinguish between reality and illusion? In pharmacology, the effectiveness of drugs is often tested through a placebo. Without their knowing, a group of patients is given a dose of a placebo drug while another group receives the real drug. Even though the placebo contains nothing effective, it often produces the same effect as the actual drug. Sometimes, so-called magicians, healers, and
clairvoyants provoke a placebo effect in their clients who are really convinced of benefiting from them. Do meditation and prayer produce placebo effects as well?
When I attended secondary school, before a written test, I entered the church and lit a small candle to Saint Joseph. My grandmother told me that, if the flame of the candle was
brilliant, the result of the test would be good, but if it was feeble or flickering, the result would be not good. Almost always what my grandmother said happened to me! Was it a placebo effect?
In ancient times, predictions were sometimes gotten through the observation of the flight of birds or their entrails. In Greece, the Delphian oracle was renowned. It seems that its predictions were infallible. But we can’t know whether it was true or not. For some people, even stigmata are the fruit of autosuggestion.
How to distinguish illusion from reality? Once, a friend of mine gave me his answer on this topic.
“I can state, with absolute certainty, that everything we can touch, see, and hear through our senses is true and real.”
The answer is only partially correct. At that time, I felt that his opinion was materialistic. There are many invisible truths. Senses are connected to the mind, which rules them. We sense things through the filter of the mind. So, how can we be sure that what we see, touch, and listen to corresponds to the absolute, true, and ultimate reality? We can’t know the truth! This is the human condition! From this basis, the path of knowledge has to proceed toward the search for another dimension where we can perceive the ‘source of the universe’ from which reality derives.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



In The old Club of the Noblemen, lawyer Giovanni got up from his armchair and turned to Alberto.
“You are an old dreamer, Alberto! Youngsters look for pure and everlasting love, not old men like you! The love between a man and a woman doesn’t exist at all. It is just illusion. What happens between them is just sexual attraction. Many people think they have found their ideal partner. But then, being attracted by someone else, either younger or more beautiful, they end up leaving the former lover to join the new one! Love is not stable. It exists only in our dreams. True love should last forever. But what we call love vanishes sooner or later, and we move from one partner to another. Often, when a relationship ends, what seemed to be a great love turns into hatred. How many lovers swore eternal love first, and then it becomes eternal hatred! Is this love? I don’t think so! For me, love is just hormonal compatibility.”
“Sometimes,” said Uncle Salvatore, “love is more than hormonal attraction. It is also affection. First, we are attracted by the partner’s shape, but gradually, our love grows more and more. I don’t think that only affection or only sex exists. Love is a mixture of affection and sex. In human love, we need both of them.”
“What is love for you?” Mario asked Uncle Salvatore.
“For me, love is like two wings of an eagle.”
“What kind of answer is that?” said Judge Cangemi.
“An eagle can’t fly with only one wing, so unilateral love is not possible. Love needs two living beings who exchange their love each other. If only one person loves and the other is indifferent, love is not possible. Altruistic and unselfish love is platonic. Every love is a mixture of altruism and egoism. If love is only altruism, it is not love. It is like asking an eagle to fly with only one wing. It can’t do that. But with two wings, it can soar so high that no other birds can reach it. Love is like that, it requires two beings who love each other. I don’t believe in unreciprocated love. It is useless and a waste of energy.”
“There are some kinds of unilateral love!” said old Judge Cangemi, raising his index finger to give much solemnity to his assertion. “Try and imagine the love of Jesus for humankind. It is a typical example of unilateral love. Jesus loved human beings, and his love was repaid with flagellation, mockery, and crucifixion.”
“Objection!” said lawyer Giovanni, irritated and sure of himself. “Jesus’s love was altruistic, not unilateral. It was reciprocated and deeply returned. Think of the apostles or the women who cried desperately at the foot of the cross, or the many Christians who were martyred under Jesus’s name. If Jesus’s love had not been repaid, his death would have been nonsense. However, I don’t want to talk about mystic love, but about the love which happens between a man and a woman — conventional love. I want to know why almost always a man falls in love with a beautiful and pretty woman, not with an ugly one. Why is external appearance so important? Love should concern the soul, but it involves the body, the shape of the body. Why?”
“I can give you the proper answer,” said Lorenzo, the classic literature teacher. “In ancient Greece, love was called ‘the smile of life’ and beauty ‘the smile of the earth.’ Both smiles were embodied by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty. She was born from the sea foam. Her beauty enchanted the gods of Olympus. We human beings are allured by the harmony of the forms like the ancient pagan gods. We don’t like ugliness. We are reluctant to fall in love with an ugly woman. But beauty and grace are not enough for the birth of love. It needs something more. Lovers should open their hearts to each other and enjoy staying together. If they can do so, they feel natural and comfortable. This feeling goes beyond physical appearance or sex. If you look for your partner only for sex, that is not love. It is the basis of love to feel joyful and grateful when you stay close to your beloved.
“In Greek mythology, Eros, Aphrodite’s son, symbolizes love. He embodies changeable, blind, and irrational love. Eros is blindfolded and winged. He shoots arrows into the hearts of humans to make them fall in love.
“The mystery of love is contained in the myth of Eros and Psyche. Psyche was a very beautiful girl. Eros fell in love with her. In the nighttime, he met her in a house in the middle of the forest, without ever revealing his appearance. ‘If you don’t see me,’ said Eros, ‘our love will last; otherwise, it will vanish like snow in the hot sun.’ But, Psyche couldn’t resist the temptation of seeing her lover. So, one night, while Eros was sleeping, she saw the extraordinary beauty of her man in the light of an oil lamp. Yet, a drop of hot oil from the lamp fell on Eros’s shoulder. Suddenly, he woke up and disappeared. Psyche
couldn’t see him anymore! The meaning of the myth is clear. You can’t understand love or observe it too closely. If you try to know what love is, it will vanish. You just have to live love without ever asking what it is. Love is a mystery! Just live the mystery!”
“For me,” said Mario, “there must be something rational in love. Someone says that love is an art that can be learned and understood.”
“I don’t think so,” replied Lorenzo. “If love were an art to be learned, lovers would have realized how to make their love last forever. Yet, it is not like that. Almost all loves end up extinguishing sooner or later, like fire that flames at first, but with time burns out.
“Someone thinks that it is possible to use some techniques to make a person fall in love. I don’t think so. Love is attraction and feeling. I think no technique can make a person love somebody. The biggest mistake one can make is to consider love as a safe haven to live happily and serenely for all life. Love is unstable!
“However things are, it is certain that you can’t buy love. Even the rich and the potent can’t buy it with their money and power. So, love is the peak of justice because it doesn’t make any distinction between the rich and the poor, the weak and the potent.”
“Nevertheless, I will keep traveling and looking for my ideal soul mate. I won’t give up, even if I can’t find her until the end of my life. I will always cherish in my mind the hope
that somewhere I will find a woman who suits me. Someday, my eternal love will appear to me definitely,” Alberto said sincerely.
“Don’t search for love outside yourself! You won’t find it!” said Judge Cangemi. “Love is a state of your being! If you become love, everything is love. If you are not love, you can’t find love outside. To find the real eternal love is illusion! You’d better try to become love yourself!”
“I agree with Judge Cangemi,” concluded Uncle Salvatore. “Yes, love is important in our life, but I think the most important journey is to search after the immortal soul and the source of our frail but precious life.”
For about fifteen minutes, the lounge of The old Club of the Noblemen fell silent. No one had any intention of standing up. The theme ‘love’ had stirred up their buried emotions.
They were all old men. Many years had gone by since the first date with the loved girlfriend, the first kiss to her. But, time couldn’t wither their hearts. Love has no age. It is timeless and boundless. Love is the source of life in the universe.
The keeper of the club came near the small group of members.
“Sorry to disturb you all. It’s time to close,” he said with
submissive voice.
“Yes, let’s go home!” said Uncle Salvatore.
Everybody stood up and headed for the exit of the club. The keeper lowered the shutter. The last part of the day was painted with a conversation about love. Tomorrow, another story of life would be continued.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind




At midnight, fireworks lit the sky. They lasted all night.
At breakfast, I met Maria, the owner of the house where I am staying.
“What happened last night? Why so many fireworks till dawn?”
“In the near town of San Miguel, they are celebrating the patron saint.”
“Who is he?”
“Saint Michael the Archangel!”
“I want to go! How can I get there?”
“Don’t worry! I’ll lead you. The place is not far from here.”

We arrived at San Miguel Escobar half an hour later or so. The streets were decorated with yellow ribbons and yellow balloons. The color yellow is symbol of happiness!
In some houses an altar had been set up with angels and baskets full of fresh flowers.
In the small church of the town there were big and small statues of Saint Michael the Archangel. He was dressed as a Roman soldier with sword and shield, but his face looked like that of a little boy. Apparently, he uses love as a weapon!

Keeping walking, we arrived at Ciutad Vieja (Old City), the second capital of Guatemala. It lies at the foot of Volcan de Agua.
“There is a small church inside the crater! But it is a bit hard to go up there. Do you know what happened to this old city a long time ago?”
“No, I don’t!”
“Beatrix de la Cueva, Governor of Guatemala, had twenty maids attending her. In 1541, she wanted to be proclaimed the queen of the local population. To her enthronement, she organized a sumptuous ceremony in the Cathedral.
“When she was about to be anointed, a huge mass of water came down from Volcan de Agua. Beatrix de la Cueva was submerged in the water and disappeared with all her following and the city. This is human life!”
We walked for a little while in Ciutad Vieja, and then left the town to go back to Antigua.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
-The Vibrations of Words
Travels of the Mind




Today I visited Palgong Mountain near the city of Daegu, the third biggest city in Korea.

To go up, I walked along a broad uphill walkway, and then I climbed one thousand three hundred and sixty-five stairs. I arrived at the top of the mountain with my tongue hanging out, because the stairs are steep and uneven; then the statue of Katpawi Buddha appeared to me.

It is the only Buddha with a hat on. It was carved by a monk who intended to placate his mother’s soul by this. The hat on Buddha’s head is a traditional Korean hat wore only by high class men in ancient times. It is said that if you make a wish (only one wish) to Katpawi Buddha, it will be fulfilled.

While I was facing the statue, the sound of a Buddhist song flooded my ears. The words were mountain is mountain – water is water.

Then, I sat down to contemplate Katpawi Buddha. I felt as if he was opening my eyes to see reality as it is, not as I want it to be. Yes, mountain is mountain – water is water, I thought. How many times we mistake mountain for water and vice versa! This happens because of our delusions which prevent us from seeing things as they are. We wrongly perceive things, people, and situations, so as a distort mirror reflects a distort world.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind




In my life I have visited quite a few Marian Sanctuaries: Syracuse, Lourdes, Fatima, and so on. Now I want to talk about the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland.

According to tradition, after Jesus’ death Mary went to stay with John and brought with her among her personal belongings a small wooden table that had been made by Jesus.

Later Luke, one of the evangelists, portrayed on the small table Mary and Baby Jesus.

As time went by, Mary’s and Jesus’ faces became black, probably due to the smoke from the candles and the aging of the wood.

The small table underwent many changes of ownership, until it arrived at Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa.

In 1430 the monastery was attacked by a group of heretics, the small table wrenched away from the place where it was, and the painting slashed.

Later, the painting was restored but the slashes in Mary’s face appeared again.

When I arrived at the Monastery of Jasna Gora and entered the chapel where the precious painting is kept, I saw a few crutches hung on one of the walls; obviously, they had been left there by people who had been miraculously healed.

I remained a few minutes in front of the holy image and had the sensation that Mary was suggesting to me a new lifestyle: think less, lucubrate less, spend more time with friends and acquaintances.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



The course was held in an ancient Tuscan farmstead. We were about seventy participants, and had to wake up at four o’ clock in the morning when it was pitch dark. The meditation was held in the hall within half an hour.

The meals were breakfast at 6 and lunch at eleven in the morning. After lunch there was nothing to eat- except some fruit- until the next day. The teacher said that the stomach should be empty to meditate well.

During the first three days we did a kind of meditation called ‘Anapana’, which consisted in watching the air passing through our nostrils.

In the evening it was possible to ask questions to the teacher. So I went to him and asked: “ I’d like to know what is the meaning of watching my breathing.”

He didn’t seem to be taken aback by my question and answered with a kind smile. “The observation of the air passing through your nostrils leads you to see the reality as it is; there is nothing more objective than air. Furthermore watching yourself in the limited area around your nostrils and upper lip sharpens your mind to observe the body sensations.

After three days of ‘Anapana’, we were taught another kind of meditation called ‘Vipassana’, based on the observation of our body. Also this time I had the opportunity of asking the teacher about this topic. “What is for?” I asked.

“Through ‘Vipassana’ you will come across the ‘Law of Impermanence’”. “All body sensations,” he continued, “ come and go; they are impermanent so as everything in human life.”

After nine days of absolute silence and meditation, we were allowed to talk to each other.

I had been ten days outside worldly life. A really unique experience! Everybody should interrupt the chain of the events that lead them here and there like leaves swept away by the wind even for a little while and watch inside themselves, so as every authentic human being should do. So I recommend meditation to everybody who lives very busily.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind







One day many people were bringing presents to Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who accepted all the gifts and smiled kindly at everybody, but all of a sudden an angry man started railing at him. Instead of gifts, that intolerant person hurled insults at Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

The prince continued to smile and replied politely. “I don’t like your gifts; therefore keep them just for you, because I don’t accept your presents.”

The angry man seemed bewildered and didn’t have the strength to reply.

The moral of the story? Whenever somebody insults you, instead of retaliating, just confine yourself to saying “ I don’t like your gifts, keep them for you!”

Don’t you think that if everybody acted that way, the world would be more peaceful?

Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind




Once upon a time, in Northern India there was a woman in her forties, who wished to become a mother for a long time. It seemed that she was barren, but when the last ray of hope was about to vanish, unexpectedly she gave birth to a very beautiful baby girl.

At that time, she was the happiest woman in the world, but at the age of five years her little girl died suddenly.

She was desperate, and couldn’t accept that her beloved daughter had passed away. She cried and cried. One day, one of her neighbors advised her to go to Prince Gautama Buddha, who was a man able to perform miracles.

“ If you beseech that holy man, your daughter will come back to life!” said the neighbor.

The lady set out towards the place where Buddha lived and after two days’ walk she reached him.

Prince Gautama Buddha was sitting surrounded by many monks. Seeing her so badly upset, he felt pity.

“To perform the miracle,” said Prince Gautama to the lady, “ you need to bring me seven pumpkin seeds, but they must be taken from a house where nobody has died.”

The lady was happy and confident that she would easily get the seven pumpkin seeds, and Prince Siddhartha Gautama would perform the miracle to revive her child.

She knocked on the door of a house and asked: “Do you have pumpkin seeds?”

“Yes, of course we have a lot of pumpkin seeds,” answered a young lady on the threshold.

“Did someone die in this house?”

“Unfortunately, last year my father passed away,” she answered.

She kept going from house to house asking for pumpkin seeds, but she couldn’t find a house where nobody had died. Everyone had suffered the death of someone.

Meanwhile, the desperate lady returned to reason, and finally realized that life and death are two sides of the same coin, no one can escape the latter.

What is the moral of the story?

You are not the only one who struggles in life; whenever you feel a pain which seems unbearable, look at the others and you will see your trouble fade away.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind