A saint in the wrong place

By Paulo Coelho

‘Why is it that some people can resolve the most complicated problems really easily, whilst others agonise over every tiny crisis and end up drowning in a glass of water?’ I asked.
Ramesh replied by telling the following story:
‘Once upon a time, there was a man who had been the soul of kindness all his life. When he died, everyone assumed that he would go straight to Heaven, for the only possible place for a good man like him was Paradise. The man wasn’t particularly bothered about going to Heaven, but that was where he went.
Now in those days, service in heaven was not all that it might be. The reception desk was extremely inefficient, and the girl who received him gave only a cursory glance through the index cards before her and when she couldn’t find the man’s name, she sent him straight to Hell.
And in Hell no one asks to check your badge or your invitation, for anyone who turns up is invited in. The man entered and stayed…
Some days later, Lucifer stormed up to the gates of Heaven to demand an explanation from St Peter.
"What you’re doing is pure terrorism!" he said.
St Peter asked why Lucifer was so angry, and an enraged Lucifer replied:
"You sent that man down into Hell, and he’s completely undermining me! Right from the start, there he was listening to people, looking them in the eye, talking to them. And now everyone’s sharing their feelings and hugging and kissing. That’s not the sort of thing I want in Hell! Please, let him into Heaven!’
When Ramesh had finished telling the story, he looked at me fondly and said:
‘Live your life with so much love in your heart that if, by mistake, you were sent to Hell, the Devil himself would deliver you up to Paradise.’

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  1. fides del castillo says:

    lol.. this is a funny story! But it shows us the reality that good cant be considred evil and vice versa. a person who wether good or bad can only stay in a place fitted to who and what he or she is…

  2. […] I did some research, and the quote comes from  Paulo Coelho’s blog.  You can read the story here. […]

  3. Myzpax says:

    I only got a chance to read your story today, and I think it’s one of your best.

    I don’t like the idea of God testing us, I think he gives us opportunities either to learn something or be instruments of love by using our capacities whatever they maybe.

    and Ali

    not everybody thinks that the people from the “craddle of humanity” are terrorists

    Love, love, love

  4. Juhi says:

    There is no substitute for love. And it is only love that can transform hell into heaven.
    We complain about living in an ice-cold age, where there is very little love. But we have to start with ourselves, by opening ourselves to love.
    Only when love and compassion flows from our hearts can we enrich our lives and those we come in contact with.
    As mentioned in the story it doesn’t take much just listen with compassion rather than judgement, just looking with understanding, just a warm touch which touches the heart. Just some good friendship is all it takes to make the world a paradise.

    Just the story i needed to brush away the coldness in my heart.
    Thank you Paulo Coelho

  5. Yajna says:

    Dearest Paulo,

    This is such a beautiful story. I really loved it. When you love something, you believe in it with all your heart and soul, no matter what or where life takes you, even to hell, you stay true to who you are, and in the end you will reach heaven :) I really loved this story.

    Thank you for being,


    Men and women have been searching for the answer to that question for centuries. Why do problems occur? Why does God test us? Is he really testing us? The most i can say is that, in this world there is a reason for everything. As much as times may be testing for you, just hang in there and hopefully all will be revealed in the future.


    i’m sorry to here about your grandmother and she will be in my prayers. :)

    lots of love

  6. Josephine (Swe) says:

    *laughing* Oh, I love this one! :-) *hugs*

  7. Marmara says:

    If you enjoy Life, Life will enjoy having you in her.

  8. fLUXman says:

    bo0om paulo,
    ramesh ki jai ho,
    dudes and duddesses this proves that heaven or hell is what we percieve. kisses and hugs all around. today we see the colours more as infinite, we dont compare, we just let it flow and , are we catching glimpses of the hum that is aum beyond.
    all that the old stone wanted to do was roll and look at the moss he gathered, thats because the moss wanted to grow on a rolling stone, thats you paulo.

  9. Michelle says:

    its funny how u can confuse the 2…our situations do get the best of us if we always confuse the true meaning of life…love…the universal language of life…I loved the alchemist and ever since have been a fan of all your works…thanks for spreading the positive energy…as if it really is magic…a very powerful tool the world lacks of…because most are tuned in to all the negative, all the despair and the hell we presume to live in… whatever we give…we receive in turn…so spread the love, the faith, the hope and all the positive joy there is in all the simplicity God offers us each day and u will def receive it back!!!

  10. Leaf says:

    Hello Ali, welcome
    If you were here before, you will see that some of us will sometimes answer to you instead of Paulo…and sometimes, less times, Paulo will answer for himself, but be assured he reads you messages. (hello, my lovely :)
    I just wanted to encourage you, Ali, that not all the world believes Iranians are terrorist.
    Here with the warriors of light, you will see we see people as individuals, for their own merits, we seek to show Love and respect to everyone, including those we do not know….at times we may fail,in many things, but we show forgiveness also.
    Paulo’s quote may mean something here;

    We are all free to choose any religion, but we cannot blame our actions onto that religion.

    (not the exact phrase, as usual, sorry, sir, but still original intent. x)
    …and I, by the way, coming from a background of possibly the ‘home’ of ‘terrorism’, meaning IRA,
    showing how insane the whole world really is – my ancestors un-official army, for years, bombing the country I live in with friends and other distant members of their families…..nuts?! but that’s their personal choice….the fact that my brown eyes were passed onto me by a slave brought in from a more distant land also, makes it even more bizarre, but so easy for me to see….
    we are all brothers
    and we all want to live in peace.
    and we together, can do that.
    Love to all x

  11. A.V.C. says:

    What if I claimed that there can be no absolute happiness, that the term must be relative by definition?

    What if there is no birth right of even the slightest amount of happiness? What if the human sense of justice is completely alien to nature?

    What if everything happens, simply because it has to happen?

    Could we accept that, on a universal level, the “bad” of one man may very well be compensated by someone else’s “good”?

    Will everything cancel out in the end; must everything come to nothing?

    Would all of this be ok, if not for our ego?

  12. Marvin says:

    I had asked your answer several times to myself, Paolo, never finding a plausible answer.
    Perhaps it is true,by living life with love,we can overcome every problem…but unfortunately sometimes our problem seems so big and difficult, that we dont see any hope, our optimism goes to zero, and only a few can still fill their heart with love…
    How can a person “learn” to love always, without conditions, continue the battle, even not seeing any light at the end of tunel?! perhaps if we learn to do so we can see life with other eyes…

  13. Esteban says:

    this story made me smile. i found it pretty funny. i took it as a reminder that its important to listen to people without judging them for what they are telling you. it helps them to get whatever they have to say off their chest and helps you understand people better and thus understand yourself better.

  14. Mara says:

    Oh I do like this story. Thank you. Love changes the place we know as hell.

  15. The observer says:

    My grandmother is dying of cancer. You can look at her face and find a smile. She is like this Saint in hell living her own heaven. I know that she will move to paradise soon.

    This story can also shows us that with love we can also live heaven on earth :)

  16. aditya says:

    nice story paulo ! as u have said let’s be in a state of love.

    why does God have to test people and their faith, why test at all ? suppose I fail the test, should that silly god not be held responsible who decides to ‘test’, why cann’t HE just let people be, test, trails, trbulations, why why oh !! why !!! surely god cannot be so dumb !!

    ha ha ha


  17. Butterfly says:

    What wonderful story! And so close to the reality…
    I love you Paulo.

  18. Ali says:

    dj aligator has a song names dreams:
    in ur dreams u can fly,just dream away and kiss the sky…
    it’s pretty,is’nt it?
    im an iranian(23,m) an have a question…
    why the world beleives that iranians r terrorist?why?
    i know arash hejazi and i love his translates…
    i can’t speak english rapidly as u but i have another question…molavi is iranian not turkish do u know?
    my discussions r danger,i know…but i beleive that u r a good man like issa…please try to keep pease in the world…
    see u later sir and i love u, i know u dont know :)
    see u later

  19. Wendy Espinoza says:

    it is true sometimes bad things happen to good people. and they ask themselves why is this happening to me if im a good person? but then they realize that it was a test from God to prove their strenght and faith.and at the end if they pass the test the will be rewarded for any unjust suffering