After death

By Paulo Coelho

The emperor summoned the Zen master Gudo to his presence.
‘Gudo, I have heard it said that you are a man who understands everything,’ said the emperor. ‘I would like to know what happens to both the enlightened man and the sinner when they die?’
‘How should I know?’ asked Gudo.
‘Well, you’re an enlightened teacher, aren’t you?’
‘Yes, but I’m not a dead teacher!’

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  1. Santiago says:

    Facing death, I reach in the depth of my subconcious to reach for a plea, a prayer; when in reality I’m reaching for hope. Hope that there is something after the decay of the body. We read of ghosts, listen about crossing over, believe in something more than what we can see. Call it religion, faith, God, energy, call it anything you want and of all these I am not certain. What I am sure of is that life is magical and death is one of its best illusions.

  2. venkat says:

    one of indian philosophical work the story starts in same way and with the same objective to find out what happens after death. The story is written in interactive way to answer king quiries and goon. As you know, indian civilization revolve around ‘KARMA’ theory, so the answers are given with a justification of it.

  3. farah says:

    its so true ..i think we have hints about life after image of hell an heaven..
    i wounder how we imagined that angels have wings and they are all the time enfants while no one has seen any??
    our image about life after death is beyond our imagination as should have been the image of angles ..

  4. Leaf says:

    ah, I love you all x

  5. Anna says:

    Caro Paulo Coelho,
    Li alguns livros de sua autoria e eles foram valiosos instrumentos para o meu crescimento em diferentes fases da vida.
    Sou-lhe grata.
    Admiro seu trabalho e admiro sua humanidade. Um escritor famoso como voce, inspira, ao mesmo tempo em que sua simplicidade me motiva a continuar buscando o polimento que me aproxime cada vez mais do Criador.

  6. John says:

    I think the point is to concern yourself with the things you can change – or at least to ask the right questions of the right people.

    If you live the full challenge of your life perhaps you will still fear your death but that fear will be your learning. Like the first time your mother leaves you alone as a child – you are scared and uncertain without her but slowly and sometimes painfully learn that the fear is part of life and that life is your constant companion – maybe even in death.

    Perhaps God is even more fantasic in death?

    Hildegard – are you Hildegard from Munich?

  7. Fish2000(Annie) says:

    Hi Guys,
    I read all your replys.For me the story wasn’t that important,cause what I really enjoyed was reading your comments,most of them so wise!
    To be honest I find Zen teachers(from stories and coans that I have read so far) too haughty,overproud,with an attitude of superiority towards the others,which I absolutely dislike.So to me their phylosophy and their behavior are so contradictory.But may be that’s the point.Who knows,I’m not an expert.
    But it was such a pleasure to have the possibility to communicate with all of you.
    And MARMARA,don’t worry about your english.Whatever your level is, I’m sure here you’ll be understood and wellcomed.

  8. kate says:

    Your words are very important in my life…thanks paulo!

  9. Marmara says:

    To Leaf:
    You are the one who can save your life!
    Sorry I know that my english is bad…. but i try to comunicate :)

  10. so realistic so wise

  11. raj says:

    Reading the story I just learn a lesson from the zen master that as long as you are thinking of where you could be, you are marking yourself absent from where you are now. Be at the place where you are now and be free from the unknown..

    love 2 all

  12. Myzpax says:

    If I was God this week… But before I tell you what I would do, I need to tell you that it does say in the Bible that we are like God. I don’t mean to say that the teachings in the Bible are the only that are right, and I do apologize if I sounded like that, but it once helped me get out of the hole, so I cannot and will not deny it.

    But as I was saying in Genisis, first through the words of the serpent and then through the words of God Himself, it is said that we are like God, and I quote:

    Chapter 3, 5 – “For God knows that in the day you eat of it (Tree of Good and Evil) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    Chapter 3,22 – Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” (in “New King James version”)

    If I were God, I would do all I could to help you realize, you can do anything and everything you want to, as long as you kept these things in mind:

    1 – Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind and soul.

    2 – Love your neighbor as thyself.

    3 – Be thankful, all the time, for everything. “Suffering hides a spiritual message. It exists until the message is heard.” (D. Chopra)

    If I were God, and if you followed these rules, the Universe not only would let you have what you want, but would help you get it, by putting in your way all the means necessary.


    If I were God love divided would multiply. By the Divine Proportion, 1.618.

    If I were God, I would do to you, as He has done to me so far.

    Thank you God/Godess Almighty for blessing the whole Universe and for helping us out, when we feel the whole Universe is against us

  13. daniel says:

    so even if you are enlightened you must be dead in spirit to answer big questions in life

  14. daniel says:

    the message is that if you are a dead teacher in spirit you find a way to answer to all the big questions in life and if you are the one who lives in a present time with a human body,even the emperor, the most important person in the materialistic life, should not know that you are the one, isn it?
    it s all about modesty in the presence of The Holy Spirit..

  15. aditya says:

    what is enlightenment ? who is an enligtened teacher ?

    yagna has given some thoughts in this direction ! well ??


  16. Clary Lopez says:

    I guess this illustrates perfectly the saying that one can only explain or speak about what one had experienced. That’s what enlightment is all about, the ability to shed light on something based on human reflection along with preception and personal experience.

  17. Yajna says:

    Dearest Paulo,

    Hmmm.. is this teacher truly enlightened? This topic fascinates me, and i realise i have alot to learn about it. If one is enlightened, you are said to understand your past, present and future. How to truely see the sequence of the universe and understand why things happen they way that they do. Question is, do they see beyond death? it is said that once you are enlightened, and have passed on, you have a choice to be in a state of nirvana (close to God), or be reborn. The Dalai Lama is an example of this-he is said to be born enlightened and will continue to be reborn as an enlightened being in order to lead his followers. This is a very interesting topic.. I must admit. i wonder what the dalai lama will say about death, because it is said, he can tell before he will die, as well as around where he will be reborn. Interesting.. very interesting.

    Thank you for being

  18. Leaf says:

    Oh, you kill me…and I die …and I awake….and who is the the teacher??
    and who is the Angel of death, who saves us in Life??
    my love

  19. Nancy says:

    This one made me laugh. The last line gave me the perfect picture to the whole story. A serious emperor and a sarcastic zen master. It would be nice to meet a zen master that can make people laugh.

  20. WENDY ESPINOZA says: