The carp learns to grow

By Paulo Coelho

The Japanese carp or koi has the natural ability to grow according to the size of its environment. Thus, in a small tank, it usually grows to no more than five to seven centimetres, but if placed in a lake, it can grow to three times that size.

In the same way, people tend to grow according to their environment, although we are not talking here about physical characteristics, but about emotional, spiritual and intellectual development.

While the carp is obliged, for its own well-being, to accept the limits of its world, we are free to set the boundaries of our own dreams. If we are a bigger fish than the tank in which we were bred, instead of adapting to it, we should go in search of the ocean, even if the initial adaptation period proves uncomfortable and painful.

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  1. adriana says:

    How many people can really tell how tall, how wide, how big you are in reality? Dimensions are inner depths of our animus/anima… They thrive upon our “greed” to consume “spiritual food” which can be so easily found or not at all! It certainly tells of a propensity of the soul to hunt, to chase the nourishment that can sustain life, … that kind of life which is rich in meaning, which nurtures you and the others.

  2. Leaf says:

    Er…obviously, you are right….as are the rest of the comments….there is no conscious decision to remain a small fish – you never grow till you realise how small you are, the decision is – to grow.
    and that will lead one to move to a more suitable environment, emotionally, physically, or the usual trick of altering one’s Perception, can do wonders too.
    love LJ

  3. Meggy, Poland says:

    Thanks for Your thougts and writing. They always help me to seek for “the light”. Every time I read Your books I find things different and fresh and my feelings and emotions are directed into new lands of my own cognition. During my life I’ve often felt that my environment where I’ve lived has become too tight…Then usually something unexpected happens and forces me to a new journey.

  4. skeptic says:

    While a nice sentimental piece i thought that i would wade in to clarify some points (on behalf of Koi everywhere). This is a myth that the Japanese Koi will limit its own size to its placed environment. A reduced size is more likely a physiological and/or metabolic response to stresses from the physical environment. There is no choice by the individual either consciously, emotionally or metaphysically to limit ones size.

    The fish simply runs out of adequate food, space or oxygen to continue to grow to an appropriate size.

  5. “If your are the Koi and your ocean is the heavenlies, then your growth is infinite; and your daily miracles numerous”


    B.B. Silver Mystic Light

  6. “If you are the Koi and your lake is the heavenlies, then your growth is infinite; and your daily miracles numerous”


    B.B. Silver Mystic Light

  7. Anitra says:

    As a child I was guided by adults and learned basic things about this world. As an adult I realised that it was time for me to start learning about myself. The environment where I was born had slowly adapted my real self to a standard personality. A destiny brought me to Switzerland. This new spectacular environment was unacceptable to me and my pagan’s hart was longing for never the ending rain and philosophical chats in small cafes – until the day when I set me free. From a Latvian girl in Switzerland I become a citizen of the world and it was not my national identity what mattered.

    I realized that here is a lot of space in so many harts around me. I just had to be free and see instead of looking. If we are, a coincidence will take us by hand and bring to the exactly that person or that experience which we subconsciously seek.
    I believe in miracles. Miracles are coincidences. I believe in signs and people who have a light to share. I am in front of the door to a new level and believe that soon I will acquire the necessary courage to face some discomfort and pain. I believe that the right books come in my hands at the right moments and help me (and you) to do something good for a fish, for a coral and for the ocean.

  8. ane says:

    Hello Paulo,

    Is the first time that i write here, because i wanted to write in the warrior but i canĀ“t.
    i read the message of today and all days you find something for teach us to grow…thank you Paulo.

  9. francoise says:

    dear mr coelho
    thank you for the great things you said and you write too . even if i’m sad or joy , read you give me the strentght to continue my life ,cause each word you said got some truth . and for all of that , thank you to share this with all of us all over the world . /francoise , from france

  10. Hera says:

    Dear Mr. Paulo,

    I love reading your daily messages. Today’s message reminded me that I have to follow my dreams, my problem is that I don’t want my dreams to become a reality, I want them to stay where they are as my fantasies . In my case, the boundaries you are talking about are there because of me not because of my surroundings or the society.
    Thank you for all your work.

  11. LIANA says:

    It’s a fantastic message…I live in a small country(by saying “small” I understand not only the size,but first of all the MENTALITY of our nation),& it is extremly difficult for me not to lose myself here,I am trying to maintain my thoughts and ideals PURE,I am trying to grow…to grow bigger ang bigger in spite of the fact the space surrounding me is very SMALL. Thanks a lot,Mr. Coelho !!!
    Best regards: Liana

  12. Celia says:


    This is so beautiful.
    It is so true, if the spirit of any living creature, whether it be a carp or human, unless it has place large enough to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually, something is bound to be stunted.

    Sadly, because of the space we are put into in the enviroment, at times, I am sure alot of humans and other creatures suffer from their full potential of growth. When you think of it, spirit, mind and body are all connected, therefore, all would be affected in these constricted areas of growth.

    Thank you,

    Love, love, love



  13. Miriam, Barcelona 20 euros says:

    Completely in agreement. Kisses, Miriam

  14. Leaf says: