The missing stone

By Paulo Coelho

One of the great monuments in the city of Kyoto is a Zen garden consisting of an area of sand and fifteen rocks.
The original garden had sixteen rocks. The story goes that as soon as the gardener had finished his work, he called the emperor to see it.
‘Magnificent,’ said the emperor. ‘It is the loveliest garden in Japan. And this is the most beautiful rock in the garden.’
The gardener immediately removed the rock that the emperor had so admired and threw it away.
‘Now the garden is perfect,’ he said to the emperor. ‘There is nothing in particular that stands out, and it can be seen now in all its harmony. A garden, like life, needs to be seen in its totality. If we linger over the beauty of one detail, the rest will seem ugly.’

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  1. wanbliska says:

    Why do we talk about “the missing stone”, if it’s not there anymore?
    I think about detachment; wide-angle vision.

  2. Sabine says:

    Maybe the rock is even better off somewhere else. ;)
    By having been “thrown away” (I don’t think the story literally meant throwing away like garbage), it might get to some other nice park where it can be part of a wonderful whole. What would all the admiring in the world have brought to the rock, if it’d have had no other rock to share it with.
    The other ones would have simply been jealous on its beauty (metaphorically spoken).
    Furthermore, who, besides the emperor who classically searches for the things that shine most, said that this garden has really been the nicest ever.
    Maybe there were many others and the visitors just didn’t recognize, because all the rocks over there have been like the one in this story.
    We tend to only search for beauty that is outstanding at first sight, without taking the power to have a closer look, ignoring that there is so much more we don’t manage to see. Like the lovely green earth around the rock, which in long terms could probably give us much more joy, who knows.
    I think we should understand the story metaphorically, telling us that it is better not to run for appearances but for the deeper sense and unit. It might be wiser to take a second look, change our perspective.
    How can a single stone impress us more, at second sight, than the whole amazing ecosystem of a park with all its details. Taking a closer look might have a much deeper effect on us. This behavior I do think we could use more in daily life as well. I tried and I was surprised how much more joy this can bring me.
    And of course nothing is “wasted” on this planet, I agree. Sometimes things (or persons) might just not be at their place in the universe.

  3. evespring says:

    hi Paulo, thought you might be happy to know, that since I read this story a few days ago, i have been telling it to many people! really like this story a lot, and especially when i have hives it makes me happy.

    don’t laugh.
    ok laugh then.


  4. MISUN says:

    the garden is not perfect.
    The other will select the most beautiful rock in the garden.

    In the end…
    there is only one, most beautiful rock in the garden.

  5. Robina says:

    I agree with this story. We should see things in totality. If we don’t we may miss other beautiful things that might not be so apparent.
    I love the word “perspective.” This story could mean one thing to me and one thing to you and another thing to all the other readers. So, here is another story with a different perspective:

    All of Nature in a Single Blossom

    One of the best-loved stories about Sen no Rikyu, the revered 16th-century tea master, involves his relationship with Hideyoshi Toyotomi, a great warlord, whom he served as an adviser on matters of art and taste. Upon hearing of an exquisite display of morning glories in Rikyu’s garden, the warlord asked to see it. To honor the request, one morning Rikyu invited him to tea.
    As the warlord walked down the garden path, there were no flowers anywhere to be seen. When he entered the tea hut, however, his eyes were drawn to a single morning glory displayed in the alcove. Rikyu had ordered all morning glories in the garden to be cut down that morning to focus his lordship’s attention on the single exquisite blossom.

  6. biedronka says:

    I agree with you Julia.
    Thank you for making me
    see things in a new



  7. Toleese says:

    I wonder what happen If “the most beautiful stone” had been thrown away by the emperor himself? Wouldn’t it be a disgrace for gardener?

    Instead, the emperor praised for the gardener’s work, but gardener understood what the emperor really had in his mind. I think, the emperor and the gardener read each other’s mind with good intent.

    This might be heard weird, but I think it could be alternative way of reading the story.

    Thanks for beautiful story.

  8. Julia says:

    I like the sentiment here a lot. I think others may be misunderstanding the message, which for me is that if you focus too much on the details, you’ll never see the picture as a whole. By focusing on the fact that a single rock was thrown away you miss the rest of the story. I don’t see this as eliminating what is unique or special, but rather creating the perfect garden through the use of equally harmonious, less than perfect pieces- again, viewing it as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts. I would like to think of we human beings the same way; each of us is the perfect sum of all our imperfect bits and pieces. I also think this is a great analogy for first love. Often we focus on that one thing we love about a person so much that we are blind to who that person is as a whole until the passion cools. If you take that quality that kindles your fire out of the equation, you can allow yourself to really know them and love them for all that they are, instead of just the pieces that appeal most to you.

  9. wanbliska says:

    Thank you, Dear Leaf. I was thinking about the Garden, coming here two days ago.

    Well it seems we can live in a world, we imagined by reading Paulo’s book. That’s a great experience that missed to my Heart. It was not the Time instead. But indeed, the garden we can admire here, is inspired.

    “How can the heart stop
    beating inside me?”
    Maybe cause, if it cannot, you can’t go through with your memory.
    Imagine those who suffer, they’ll be definitively block into their nigthmares.

    The whole is perfect as to me, we just have to find the Key.

    Yesterday, I made a mistake. I meant: It’s useful looking after the whole. Not useless. :)
    Of course my garden must be shown entirely, and not only based of one beauty.

    With Love.

  10. Tania says:

    I Do not think that God would cast any stone or person away for there beauty,if it stands out then thats how God made it. If all beautiful things where treated like this there would be no inspiration in the world .When God makes a person its done with love ,when u make a doll or an object that u love ,it comes from the heart made with love as well ,it is a reflection of us .The gardener must have little respect for stones and life. Blessings Tania .

  11. rainer says:

    I like all stones, all the same if they are small or great.

  12. Leaf says:

    I don’t know how
    But I do know it’s not for ever
    you are strong
    you will heal
    you know that
    because you are a Warrior
    and I don’t know how (again)
    but we always get up again, don’t we
    Be kind to yourself when no-one else will
    believe in yourself when others won’t
    come back soon

  13. biedronka says:

    Dear Agnieszka,
    nice poem:-)

    I know what it`s like
    to be hurt, i think
    everyone do. It`s a
    part of life. But
    we have to learn to
    forgive, and then we
    can moove on. But
    for that you have to
    be strong.

    I liked the story
    about the garden,
    because it had a
    suprisingly ending.
    But I don`t know
    if I agree with it
    or not. I hve to
    tonk about it,
    and reflect on


    niebo niebieski:-)

  14. agnieszka says:

    How can we ever let somebody
    hurt our feelings?
    How can we let the sun
    stop shining?
    How can we tell the words
    that don’t mean anything?
    How can the heart stop
    beating inside me?


  15. Leaf says:

    Everything, every person has its’ own most beautiful quality.
    You Annie; you Wanbliska, you Agnieszka, Oleg and everyone one all.
    Each one is best
    at being yourself
    and that is beautiful

    When I look at one rock I like to see it as its best
    when I see a yellow rose, it does not compare to the rock, for it is not a rock, though it too is best.

    when I look at the garden as a whole, my eyes may linger or be drawn to certain areas,
    different ways on different days
    but together, there are the best qualities of all that’s in the garden, together
    and being together
    i think
    is when we all most enjoy our lives
    living to the full
    being the most beautiful
    all of us together
    I love you all

    Thank you Paulo x

  16. wanbliska says:

    There will always be “the most beautiful rock in the garden”…
    But anyway, it’s useless to look after the whole. Not to have only one way to see.

    Thank you Paulo.

  17. agnieszka says:

    I agree with Annie also,

    Why throw away the rock?,
    why throw away something…special?
    something you love?

    I couldn’t.


  18. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,

    That is true.
    We tend to linger towards moments, people, that make us feel better, make us happy.
    Don’t we?
    But it doesn’t necessary mean that we don’t see the beauty around us.

    I love life, love everything about it.
    Love to dance, love to ski, love to party, love to smile…..
    I am like a puppy who’s excited, who loves everything that comes around.
    I love people, but there are situations when they simply shut me down.
    Somebody kind, once told me, that it’s like that because that I am too excited, and happy,
    for some people to comprehend it. That I have too much and I cannot have everything, etc.
    Well, I am like that, but when I come back home it hurts.
    That’s why I tend to surround myself with positive things, moments, and people I feel comfortable with.
    Life teaches me one thing though, I still cannot understand, that you can give the world all the love you have and the world will not love you back. Sometimes it feels like “the world” is saying – don’t fall in love with everything around you, don’t trust everybody.
    Well, I do, I fall in love with life over and over again, and the next minute I’m hurt.
    That’s me, and it looks like I probably will never learn. :-)
    I just have to get used to this, and don’t feel hurt anymore.
    Maybe….. some day.

    Somebody close to me told me once – you must be very strong to go on like this, hmm…..
    am I?

    P.S. Thank You for the story, Paulo.

  19. Oleg says:

    I cant reach a harmony in my life. Every new period I find myself concentrated on one goal and usually think that I can’t let myself to do something unrelated. I agree I cant see all the beauty of life but fortunatelly I can reach my goals. And also I live in Siberia where, as it been in ancient times, people have to survive anyway and harmony is the last thing you will think about when it’s -25C and you’ve lost your gloves ;))
    Its beautiful story, Paulo, I agree, maybe the time when I’ll find harmony, will come soon…