Virtue that offends

By Paulo Coelho

Abbot Pastor was out walking with a monk from Sceta when they were invited to a meal. The owner of the house, honoured by the monks’ presence, ordered that only the very best of everything should be served.

However, the monk was in the middle of a period of fasting, and when the food arrived, he took a single pea and chewed it very slowly. He ate only that one pea during the whole of supper.

As they were leaving, the Abbot said to him:

‘Brother, when you go to visit someone, do not make of your sanctity an insult. The next time you are fasting simply decline any invitations to supper.’

The monk understood what the Abbot meant. From then on, whenever he was with other people, he did as they did.

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  1. eleonora says:

    ‘Fratello, quando si va a far visita a qualcuno, non fate della vostra santit√≠¬† un insulto.

  2. Noor says:

    Being a people-pleaser as I am, I think it’s just something I can’t help doing. I understand the fact that whatever I do, I need to do it for myself and for the people around me whom I care about and not do it to please them.
    It’s hard to practise that though.

    Absolutely loved the story!! :)

  3. Serene says:

    “Excess! Vulgarity is a very important ingredient in life. I’m a great believer in vulgarity – if its got vitality. A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need splash of bad taste- it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think I could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”
    – Diana Vreeland

    What if you’re with someone vulgar?

  4. My little niece Evelyn has always been a unique one when it comes to enjoying her meals. She always enjoys her meals very slowly and only eats that which makes her content. What I enjoy most about her eating habbits is the way she eats her kernals of corn and peas. She eats each corn kernal and pea one at a time, very gracefully and very intent, enjoying each one as it comes. For her the whole meal is relished in enjoying each tiny part of that which makes it up. She enjoys each bite as if it were a feast in and of itself. If the monk was truly sanctified he would have said I did enjoy the feast completly for the whole of the feast was contained within the tiny part of my little pebble of pea and that was all that I needed to consume to be overwhelmed as well as satisfied.

    B.B. Silver Mystic Wolf

  5. Corey Topf says:

    This makes me think of a quote which says, “If a tree is too rigid in the face of wind it will break. If a tree is too flimsy it will fall over.” In so many ways life is about balance, and this is another situation. Whether at a dinner party or entering into a different culture, I believe we must respect their norms and their values while still maintaining our own.

    At the same time, the more comfortable I have become with my identity and my soul, the easier it is for me to adapt and flow with life. I am more open to music, to food, to friendship, and especially to love.

  6. As the story shows, one’s ideas and habits can pretty much offend surrounding people. I learned by experience how important it is to be careful about our actions when dealing with other people. However, it is not as easy as it seems to be.

    Many people are oblivious to the others’ feelings and behave as if whoever interacts with them should adapt himself to their comportment. On the other hand, I have also seen many people who care too much about the others around them and have lost their individuality. They basically never do what they want or what they like. They live unhappy lives trying to satisfy everyone around them, which is obviously impossible.

    We must know how to balance our behavior to make sure we do not hurt the others at the same time that we keep our free will.