Copying the teacher

By Paulo Coelho

A disciple who loved and admired his teacher decided to observe his behaviour minutely, believing that if he did everything that his teacher did, then he would also acquire his teacher’s wisdom.
The teacher always wore white, and so his disciple did the same.
The teacher was a vegetarian, and so his disciple stopped eating meat and replaced it with a diet of vegetables and herbs.
The teacher was an austere man, and so the disciple decided to devote himself to self-sacrifice and started sleeping on a straw mattress.
After some time, the teacher noticed these changes in his disciple’s behaviour and asked him why.
‘I am climbing the steps of initiation,’ came the reply. ‘The white of my clothes shows the simplicity of my search, the vegetarian food purifies my body, and the lack of comfort makes me think only of spiritual things.’
Smiling, the teacher took him to a field where a horse was grazing.
‘You have spent all this time looking outside yourself, which is what matters least,’ he said. ‘Do you see that creature there? He has white skin, eats only grass and sleeps in a stable on a straw bed. Do you think he has the face of a saint or will one day become a real teacher?’

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  1. Butterfly says:

    The smartest story I have ever heard…
    And it's very like reality!
    Thank you Paulo!
    You are unique!

  2. Seel says:

    Nice post. There’s a similar topic thats related to this in Yahoo answers or Google groups, I think. I’ll find the link and post it back here. This should spark up a good debate.

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    a mi me gusta mucho hacer la pirueta y volar a mi proprio ritmo.

  4. carmen says:

    Es un ejemplo ficticio, claro. Los pájaros aprenden sólos a volar, pero es un ejemplo válido.

  5. carmen says:


    -Oye- Le dice un pajarito a su madre.

    -¿Cómo se vuela?-

    -Imitame- Le dice la madre- Estira así­ las alas. Antes salta. Hazlo como yo-

    Gracias a eso, el pajarito aprende a volar. Ha copiado a su madre.


    Hasta ahí­ bien. El pájaro aprende por imitación

    ¿Corrompe la imitación a la personalidad del



    ¿Por qué? Explicación debajo de la lí­nea.


    -¿Qué haces?- Le pregunta la madre.

    -Pintarme las alas de color azul-

    -¿Y a dónde vas? A mi me gusta el campo-

    -Hoy me voy al mar- Contesta el pajarito.

    -¿Y esa pirueta qué has dado en el aire, quién

    te la ha enseñado?-

    -Nadie. La he aprendido yo sólo. Dice el paja-




    El pájaro tiene sus preferencias, sus gustos.

    Su madre los suyos.

    ¿Pero cómo ha aprendido el pajarito a volar?

    Copiando. Su madre le ha dado la base.

  6. BT Cassidy says:

    It is a terrible thing when ones teachings are rendered useless by the title teacher. It is more terrible for a person to look upon another and call in supplication, “Teacher”- thereby negating the value of their own journey of self realisation.

  7. carmen says:

    Un chico quiere aprender hacer pan.
    ¿Qué hace?
    Aprender del panadero.

    Un chico quiere aprender hacer panes muy buenos. N sólo buenos. Quiere hacer panes que merezcan la pena. Buenos, muy buenos.

    ¿Qué hace?
    Ir al mejor panadero que exista, en su paí­s o en el mundo.

    ¿Y cómo aprende si al principio no sabe hacer pan? ¿Si el chico no tiene ni idea?

    -Observando al panadero.

    aprende de él como utilizar los isntrumentos
    aprende de él como amasar la harina
    aprende de él como se ponen los precios´
    etc. etc. etc:

    lo imita en sus maneras de hacer las cosas:

    “Para eso él es un gran panadero”

    Élpanadero sabe, el chico no.

    Al final, cuándo el muchacho vaya esecializándose podrá ir encotrando su estilo.
    Entonces será libre para inovar.

    A lo mejor en vez de hacer panes con forma de estrellas, hace panes con forma de corazones o lunas.


  8. tom says:

    Individualism is a large part of my life, I dress differently, have different hair, but this doesnt really matter, what matters is that I think differently. I often ask people question that I ask myself inside my head, or rather, my soul asks me. and these people are somewhat taken a-back, they have never thought about the possibility of there soul being able to point out certain questions to you.

    Therefore, different people need to get there different souls messages across, if you copy someone elses individualism, then you are not expressing your own and therefore un-fulfillment shall rule your life.

  9. Esteban says:

    i think people just misunderstand the purpose of a mentor/teacher at times. its not about being like ur mentor/teacher but learning about the subject they are advising you on. how to apply it is going to be an individual thing.

  10. karim noor says:

    after reading your fine work i sense roger hudgson (super tramp) and bob dylon influence
    am i wrong

  11. Tania says:

    I know I have left a comment on this before,but I have to have some fun on this one and say ” What about Mr Ed ” that talking horse ,he captured such a great audience years ago , Now what about Phar lap I mean what a horse! We must Go forth and find the horse in all of us …Blessings Tania

  12. Butterfly says:

    The smartest story I have ever heard…
    And it’s very like reality!
    Thank you Paulo!
    You are unique!

  13. John says:

    So True, and soi sad that many think by copying the teacher they can become like the teacher, not realizing it is inside the teacher that really makes him who he is, and so that is also what will make the student. A good teacher merely gets it to come out of the student what was already in there.

  14. Chhaya says:

    hey Paulo!… is it really you!! i cant blv it!!!! WOW!!! i love ur writing…

    greetings from India

  15. Chus says:

    Feel comfortable with yourself and that will help you to come a step towards your own perfection.