The Wisdom of the Desert Priests

By Paulo Coelho

Learning to choose

Saint Antão was living in the desert, when a young man came to him:

- Father, I sold all my belongings and gave to the poor. I kept only a few things in order to survive here. I want you to teach me the way to salvation.

Saint Antão asked the young man to sell the few things he had kept and, with the money, to buy meat in town. He was to return with the meat tied to his body.

The young man obeyed. On his way back, he was attacked by dogs and falcons, who wanted a piece of the meat.

- I am back – said the young man, showing his scratched, bitten body, and his clothes in rags. Why did you tell me to do that?

- To show that what you brought from your past, is of no use in your present. When you must choose a new path, do not bring old experiences with you. Those who strike out afresh, but who attempt to retain a little of the old life, end up torn apart by their own memories.

Changing attitude

A young man went to an abbot from the Sceta monastery, wanting to follow a spiritual path.

- For one whole year, give a coin to anyone who provokes you. – said the abbot.

For twelve months the young man gave a coin away whenever someone provoked him. At the end of a year, he returned to the abbot, to find out his next task.

- Go into town and fetch me food.

As soon as the young man left, the abbot disguised himself as a beggar and – taking a shortcut he knew – went to the gates of the town. When the young man approached, he began to insult him.

- How marvelous! – said the young man to the so-called beggar. – For a whole year I had to pay everyone who provoked me, and now I can be provoked for free, without having to spend a thing!

Upon hearing this, the abbot removed his disguise.

- Whoever is capable of not minding what others say, is a man on the path to wisdom. You no longer take insults seriously, therefore you are ready for the next step.

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Comments

  1. tara says:

    “Learning to choose”

    It is so liberating to realise that ones belongings and the memories of the past to do not constitute who you are. The experiences of yesterday belong to the person who was dreaming. How wonderful to leave them behind and become free to create new path of love, to abandon oneself to the great mysteries ahead!

  2. Agnieszka says:

    Wherever you go… whatever you chose, you should free your heart.. your soul.
    Only then you can be open to any unexpected blessings.

    love
    Agnieszka

  3. wanbliska says:

    Learning to choose

    That was good to my heart. Indeed, it isn’t worth.
    We have to live, love, chose, and act. Lookink each day the world, naked as a child.


    Twice, I received insults for the same things, and I took it very serously. No good for all. No step.

    Hey Ninni!
    “If you don´t have anything nice to say – don´t say it at all”. That’s true. I think I understood well, the lesson now. :) bise!

    Happy evening Paulo, and all of you.

    Past is here to show the signs we missed, the things that restate, the love we shared.

  4. Liara Covert says:

    Apeparances can be deceiving. Life is all about learning to unmask ourselves and discern what we’re truly made of. Its never what we assume on the surface.

  5. Joyjoy says:

    Yeah right.We cannot fully move on not unless we let go of our past.But let us not also forget that the past has instilled on us some lessons that we may use in the future.It will always affect us in a way.

  6. Tania says:

    I think our past shapes us and helps us become who we are today but it does not define us ..
    We should not live in the past , or future only today this moment ..and at this moment who wants to be carrying around 39 yrs of suitcases /baggage ..no not when one can carry oneself ..less is more .Your past is like a library of books ,and we should return each book/experience to its rightful place and be thankful for the use of learning from it ..those who keep books out and not return them are hanging on to lost stories ..lost loves of what could have, should have been ..
    The present should be about people that love you first now ,and put you first instead of themselves ..I think if you live in the present you deserve nothing less..Blessings Tania

  7. In the old movie “Bambi” – Bambis mother says to Bambi – “If you don´t have anything nice to say – don´t say it at all”. Of course this shouldn´t keep us so tight that we are losing ourselves….or lose our ability to fight for ourselves and whats important. But… i think we are about to lose something of value…. And i believe it´s is important to keep some of the lessons from the past. Alive. Today. To teach us also to care. About one another. And not lay all the responsibilty to our happiness. Within ourselves. Because we are not ment to be. That independed. And isolated. From each other.

    “Whoever is capable of minding what others say or do is a man/woman on the path to wisdom”….i believe. If we don´t take insults seriously. What shall we take seriously? It is important to care and say. No! It is not okey. To insult. If we just don´t care. Our hearts gets colder. For our own protection. Because if we protect ourselves. We won´t get hurt. We believe. But we are vulnerble. And we hurt. And should allow ourselves to get hurt. And admit it. To be able to maintain our compassion and to be able to select between – in the polarity. And.To keep our hearts. Warm and Red. RED and vulnerble. Yes.

  8. Marly says:

    I agree that leaving behind negative experiences is important but we should not forget that these experiences is what defines our reactions in the futur and that it might save us.
    Having been burt once will make you think twice before touching the fire again. Isnt’t that smart because otherwise we will never move forward we will be like rats in a wheal going on and on without learning from their mistakes

  9. tara says:

    “Changing attitude”

    Most of the damage in the world arises from personal attachment to perceived insults. If we remove our idea of separation and the resulting drive to protect our individual prestige, then no such harm could occur. A warrior should not take himself so seriously that he cannot laugh when provoked, or else he would be relentlessly diverted from his path.

  10. tara says:

    “Learning to choose”

    It is so liberating to realise that ones belongings and the memories of the past to do not constitute who you are. The experiences of yesterday belong to the person who was dreaming. How wonderful to leave them behind and become free to create new path of love, to abandon oneself to the great mysteries ahead!

  11. Daniel says:

    Its simple, yet so true