Tales of Zen wisdom – Where is the umbrella?

By Paulo Coelho

At the end of ten years of apprenticeship, Zenno thought he should be elevated to the category of Zen master. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous professor Nan-in.

Upon entering Nan-in’s house, the host asked him:

– Did you leave your shoes and umbrella outside?

– Of course – replied Zenno. – As good manners demand. I would do the same anywhere.

– Then tell me: did you place your umbrella to the right or the left of your shoes?

– I’ve no idea, master.

– Zen Buddhism is the art of total consciousness of what we do – said Nan-in. – The lack of attention to the smallest details can completely destroy a man’s life. A father who rushes out of the house, must never forget the dagger within his small son’s reach. A Samurai who doesn’t take care of his sword every day, will at some point find it is rusty, just when he most needs it. A young man who forgets to give his lover flowers, will end up losing her.

And Zenno understood that, although he knew the Zen techniques of the spiritual world, he had forgotten to apply them to the world of men.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet


  1. eleonora says:

    la coerenza tra il dire e il fare andrebbe perseguita..in questo modo, credo che il divario tra parole e comportamento diminuirebbe.

  2. Mysterypath13 says:

    Without the trees there can be no forest

  3. Agnieszka says:

    There’s this saying that “devil lies in details”, but I don’t agree… for me in every little detail lies the touch of God, and I am grateful for every little one.


  4. Louie says:



  5. Tania says:

    We must apply our spiritual work and knowledge to support us ,otherwise there is no point of learning …we must concentrate on the details being conscious of all that we do in the moment.I always take my shoes off at any one house before I enter ,to me it is a sign of respect and also I dont like to walk in energetic stuff from my shoes …Blessings Tania

  6. wanbliska says:

    It’s true for decisions that could hurt another person, one has to think. For good things it’s ok. Generally, it’s marvellous.

    Stopping our anger or our rude words show us as mean we are suddendly. This is precisely that time we cut. As if we had stopped the time: the answer could be anger or violence, we transformed it in stillness. At that second.
    Maybe that’s why all of us don’t question themselves anymore about it. It asks to use a great power, but showing oneself into a mirror. Indeed, that’s not so easy sometimes to recognize our vices. I agree. :)
    But hiding the truth to oneself conduces to get worse.

    With love.

  7. Liara Covert says:

    I sense it is the subtle nuances that ultimately reflect who and what we are, as well as where we are on our journey. Its simply a case of evolving to redefine the significance of things we didn’t used to notice. Our vision and self-view evolves when we’re ready, and not a moment sooner.

  8. THELMA says:

    I wanted to become a pianist. For many years I was practicing for many hours. Discipline is the first to learn in order for the body, the mind and the soul,to be able to achieve Harmony. To be alert in everything we do was my Lesson. Although I have not become a famous pianist – as my dreams were driving me- I believe I have learnt my lesson! I always know where I ….put my umbrella..LOVE, Thelma.

  9. Eleonora says:

    Consciousness is a powerful key.

    Have a good day Paulo