I want to use this post to highlight some of Paulo Coelho’s work.
The story of the pencil
source: “Like the Flowing River”
This is a wonderful story that highlights some important principles in life.
A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked:
‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’
Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.
‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’
‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’
‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’
‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’
‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’
‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’
The two drops of oil
This is a lovely story from the Alchemist. What are your two drops of oil? For me it is Truth and courage.
A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.
However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.
The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.
With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.
He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.
“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”
The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.
“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”
Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.
“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.
“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”
The wise are wise only because they love. And the foolish are foolish because they think they can understand love. -Aleph
Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that at some point in our lives we will stumble; they do not interpret this as a sign of weakness, but of humanity. Avoid those who talk a great deal before acting, those who never take a step without being quite sure that it will bring them respect.
Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots keeping itself alive. -By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
But love is much like a dam; if you allow a tiny crack to form through which only a trickle of water can pass, that trickle will quickly bring down the whole structure and soon no one will be able to control the force of the current. -By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
Re-conquer your kingdom which has grown corrupted by routine. -Aleph
Is it possible to avoid pain? Yes, but you will never learn anything. Is possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be a part of you. -Aleph
Controlling and enslaving what should really be free: her emotions. Trying to judge her future loves by the rules of her past suffering. -Aleph
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