The right stone

By Paulo Coelho

A man once heard tell that, in a nearby desert, a certain alchemist had lost the result of years of work: the famous philosopher’s stone, which could transform into gold any metal that it touched.
Driven by the desire to find it and to become rich, the man went to that desert. Since he did not know quite what the philosopher’s stone looked like, he began picking up every stone he came across; he would then hold it to his belt buckle to see what happened.
A year passed, and then another, and still nothing. The man, however, clung obstinately to his desire to find the magical stone. Mechanically, he walked every valley and mountain in the desert, rubbing one pebble after another against his belt buckle.
One night, just before going to sleep, he noticed that his buckle had been changed into gold!
But which stone had it been? Had the miracle occurred during the morning or the evening? How long had it been, in fact, since he had bothered to check the results of all his efforts? What had started out as a search with a clear objective had become a mechanical, joyless exercise with no real goal. What had started out as an adventure had become dull duty.
Now he had no way of finding the right stone, because his belt buckle was already gold and no other transformation could possibly take place. He had followed the right road, but had failed to notice the miracle awaiting him.

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  1. Anlao says:

    The art of taking one second, a single second, and stop material and spiritual universes that entwine and analyze all correlations between them. The second when the monk re-became a monk inside of himself. That’s when paying attention to a second in your life re-purifies you. The second when the alchemist understood he missed his purpose. That’s when failing to pay attention to a second in your life dismantles you. And you may still go trough your life just fine, even witnessing miracles, like belts turning into gold. But it’s a second that decides that you end up with a golden belt or with the secret to endless gold, and…who knows what other miracles.
    The beauty of it all is not that in one second universes clash together and by a simple personal choice you can choose to follow a path that will lead you to an amazing version of yourself, but that these kind of seconds happen… almost every other second. How does one cope with the immensity of it all? With the responsibility of being the driver of one’s destiny or of one’s failures, every single second? How does one stay clear-minded and clear-hearted to extract the most from each single second?
    Right now I’m finding an overwhelmingly amount of seconds. Too many, in just a few days. The second in which he found an improved version of me for himself The second in which my pettiness judged him for it. The second in which my ego flattered itself in it. The second in which I had no right to refuse him greater happiness. The second in which I hated myself for renouncing him once again by not even trying to fight for him. The second I wrote poems and songs just for my tears that chained me down even more. The second I wished I would feel less, and than the second I wished I would feel more. The second I realized that he probably doesn’t even know that today it would have been our first anniversary. The second I took all the stones and the pebble and the sand out of my jar and tried to put it back and could not tell a stone apart from a dust of sand. The second I looked back at all the seconds in the past year and realized that I might have not learned a single thing, the real only second of despair.
    Is there such a thing of “second management”, a higher state of mind or will that enables one to not miss that second that will make them better, wiser, and maybe, one day…happy? Am I missing all my seconds or is this part of my journey? Which one is a greater sin, trying too hard or not trying hard enough?
    I do not know anymore… don’t know if I’ll ever know. The pain went away in my last “second”, when a stranger made me cry for no reason, like I haven’t cried since I was little, for hours. The second of complete numbness, and the only second that doesn’t seem to end.

    Although I know that theoretically it lasted only a second and there were thousands of other seconds since than.

  2. Nancy says:

    A lovely story to remind people to pay attention to their steps and actions as they pursue their goals. Don’t turn a path into a thoughtless task. Thank you for reminding me!!

  3. Yajna says:

    Dearest Paulo,

    This is somewhat of a depressing story.. But alas, it is so true that the moment we turn or dreams or adventures into a duty, we forget and loss the essence of its purpose! When something becomes a duty, or routine, we tend to lose our passion in it, and we only use the machinics of it- he used his body as a mechanism to pick up stones and to touch his belt- he failed to wait and see if the belt changed for a while, showing a lack of awareness and patience. All he wanted was to find it and get it over and done with so he could say he did it- he stopped wanting to find it for the joy of finding it. (if that makes sense.)
    i agree with aditya with that its important in any situation to be aware of your surroundings. In South Africa, there is alot of crime, and you can become an easy target if you are not aware of whats happening around you. And yes, its easy to become distracted but its also important to train one’s mind to be alert. Lastly, in anything we do, if we do it out of obligation, we never feel happy doing it, and if we are not happy doing something we often do not give off our best. Whereas if there is love, there is passion, and if we possess passion, we are compelled to give of more than we think we have inside.

    Thank you for being.

  4. Marinzu says:

    Hola Paulo:
    Decidí¬ pasar a visitar tu blog y creo que ha sido una muy buena idea. Aí¹n cuando mi ingles no es de lo mejor, he logrado entenderte. Recibe mi respeto y por sobretodo mi amistad, …Podrí¬amos ser amigos??,,,Porquè no?….HAy tanto de que conversar!…Un abrazo…MArinzu

  5. Kathleen says:

    So enjoy and be aware every moment in your life so as not to miss any “golden moments”.
    Kathleen xx

  6. aditya says:

    Nice story paulo !

    lack of awareness, lack presence in the moment can be fatal, no !

    most of us are in same boat, when things become routine for us, we carry out those activities mechanically, only a small portion of our mind, part of subconscious gets involeved, while we, our awareness soars into past or future, two non existant entities in the present. A good example can be driving, while driving a thousand and one things happen but we hardly ever notice the journey, specially if it’s on the same road,

    lack of awareness can be fatal, for all wols. but our mind is so difficult to train. hardly any help available, awareness has to be maintained by one all by oneself alone.


  7. Serene says:

    so sad

  8. Williana says:

    Continuo sempre sem palavras…
    e continuo agradecendo a Alma do Mundo por ter permitido q um dia eu podesse ler um teu livro…!
    continue assim…!

    (portugues horrivel nè?! perdao, mas estou na italia í  10 anos)

    um graaaaaaaaaaaande abraí§o!

  9. Leaf says:

    Aah, what a sorry story…and so ironically life-like.
    The cynic in me though, has an answer for everything, as usual…he probably set out with the wrong motives, or else
    should have been glad even that his impossible goal passed by so easily as to be unnoticed, and rejoiced that all impossibilities are so easy, and move on to bigger better things, equally easy, but keep the lesson in heart, open eyes….?

  10. Leaf says:

    Okay. So I have definitely been ‘Energised’ again…and I can’t be bothered Blogging on my own blog about it…welcome back to Monday, people!
    Loving you, Paulo, Deja Vu, or did we not get the point the first time??

    The other give-away signs of having been ‘beamed up’ were/are Going to do something and finding you already did it….Taking a phone call…to later find Missed Call message not true….and repeatedly intending to email or phone persons who promptly email/phone self.
    Yey, you know when you’ve been Energised.
    Starfleet Sarcasm over n out…