Reflections on Life – When to be practical

By Paulo Coelho

This story is attributed to the wise Mohammed Gwath Shattari, who was held in high esteem by Emperor Humayun. He died in 1563, and there is a temple built in his honor in Gwalior.

As three travelers crossed the mountains of the Himalaya, they discussed the importance of putting into practice everything they had learned on a spiritual plane. They we so engrossed in their conversation that it was only late at night that they realized that all they had with them was a piece of bread.

They decided not to discuss who deserved to eat it; since they were pious men, they left the decision in the hands of the gods. They prayed that, during the night, a superior spirit should indicate who should receive the food.

The following morning, the three men rose together at sunrise.

– This is my dream – said the first traveler. – I was taken to places I had never visited before, and enjoyed the sort of peace and harmony I have sought in vain during my entire life on earth. In the midst of this paradise, a wise man with a long beard said to me: “you are my chosen one, you never sought pleasure, always renounced all things. And, in order to prove my allegiance to you, I should like you to try a piece of bread.”

– That’s very strange – said the second traveler. – For in my dream, I saw my past of sanctity and my future as a master. As I gazed at that which is to come, I found a man of great wisdom, saying: “you are in greater need of food than your friends, for you shall have to lead many people, and will require strength and energy.”

Then the third traveler said:

– In my dream I saw nothing, went nowhere, and found no wise men. However, at a certain hour during the night, I suddenly woke up. And I ate the bread.

The other two were furious:

– And why didn’t you call us before making such a personal decision?

– How could I? You were both so far away, finding masters and having such holy visions! Yesterday we discussed the importance of putting into practice that which we learn on a spiritual plane. In my case, God acted quickly, and had me awake dying of hunger!

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Comments

  1. marie-christine says:

    Holy bread! I knew it.

  2. Pandora says:

    This story has reminded me of the time when I awoke to a 'voice' telling me my bed was about to catch fire, I promptly sat up, hit the smouldering cover and went soundly back to sleep.

    It was only in the morning that I realised how very close I had come to death and how fortunate I was to realise that I had a guardian angel. (phew)!

  3. brent ashton says:

    Well i was in one of my twelve step meetings one day and i was really trying to figure out what the slogan means? I was visiting my granny one day and we were having a chat about ‘spiritual things’ and I finally realized what it meant to me! Trying to be a practicing Buddhist, I have been struggling with the idea of getting a vehicle. Well i finally realized that it is not so much the vehicle, but what kind it is I realized i do not need to go out and buy an expensive vehicle with all the ‘trimmings’ but something that will serve the purpose while i am in the human realm. I am also trying to apply this principle in every facet of my life and that includes the food that i put into my body.
    Peace,
    Brent

  4. Marjorie says:

    Such a very funny but straight-to-the-point anecdote. We indeed need to be practical at times even if we are pious. Afterall, holiness is measured on things we do and not on how others see us…

    Cheers,
    Marj :)

  5. Joël De Kegel says:

    Very funny story,sometimes are the solutions for a
    problem very simple. Proudness behavior makes a lot of sadness among people.

  6. El Dormido says:

    It says somewhere that if it ain’t practical, it ain’t spiritual…

  7. Monika says:

    Funny and wise – I love this combination!

  8. THELMA says:

    p.s. lying…, well I mean ..tell lies!!I am confused with my english grammar!!
    Thelma

  9. THELMA says:

    For me, to be practical means to find the best practical solution to a problem using my mind, my knowledge, my imagination and my intuition…The three travelers, in the story, were ..pious men!!At the end they proved to be very cunning and ..foxy.Because I think, since nobody could know the dream of the other and ….the will of God they should be fairer and have …love between them. I would prefer not to eat and die, instead of lying pretending to be…practical…LOVE, THELMA

  10. Pandora says:

    This story has reminded me of the time when I awoke to a ‘voice’ telling me my bed was about to catch fire, I promptly sat up, hit the smouldering cover and went soundly back to sleep.

    It was only in the morning that I realised how very close I had come to death and how fortunate I was to realise that I had a guardian angel. (phew)!