Contemplating the desert

Paulo Coelho

Three people passing in a small caravan saw a man contemplating the late afternoon in the Sahara desert, from the top of a mountain.

– It must be a shepherd who has lost a sheep – said the first.

– No, I don’t think he’s looking for anything, much less at sunset, when the view is hazy. I think he’s waiting for a friend.

– I guarantee that’s a holy man, and is looking for enlightenment, – commented the third.

They began to talk about what the man was doing, and became so engrossed in the discussion that they almost fought over it. Finally, in order to resolve the matter, they decided to climb the mountain and go to the man.

– Are you looking for your sheep? – asked the first.

– No, I have no flock.

– Then you are surely waiting for someone – said the second.

– I’m a lonely man who lives in the desert – was the answer.

– Since you live in the desert in solitude, you must be a saint searching for God’s signs, and are meditating! – said the third man, delighted.

– Does everything on Earth have to have an explanation? Then I shall explain: I am merely looking at the sunset. Is that not enough to give sense to our lives?

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  1. Rijoola says:

    Excellent Thelma.. actually i ws luking up for those words of Kazantzakis of the almond tree n felt so very happy to find it here…
    Blessed be all of us..

  2. […] i read an interesting post in paulo coelho’s blog. he wrote a short story and in the end there was a question that says “Does everything on Earth have to have an explanation?” (come to think about it, we search for answers in everything and yet we do not find ourselves contented with these answers!) Then I shall explain: I am merely looking at the sunset. Is that not enough to give sense to our lives?” i know what i posted is kind of vague so i’ll just post a link to what i’m talking about it was the story called “Contemplating the Desert” […]

  3. Tania says:

    We need to remember just to stop and stare at Gods creations without explaining reasons for this ..Blessings Tania

  4. THELMA says:

    A few months ago we had the same .. story and, as Paul from Austria has noted in a similar instant, everytime we … appear with new answers new Aspects of ..Life [‘The aspects of Love’ a wonderful musical by Adrew Loyd Weber, song: Love changes everything]

    Today I will say a quote by Nikos Kazantzakis in his Autobiographical book “Report to Greco”:
    I said to the Almond Tree[amugdale] my sister, speak to me about God. And the Almond tree bloomed!
    Είπα στη μυγδαλιά, αδελφή, μίλησε μου για τον Θεό. Και η μυγδαλιά άνθησε. [ Αναφορά στον Γκρέκο. Νίκος Καζαντζάκης].

  5. […] Contemplating the desert Published by Paulo Coelho […]

  6. katherine says:

    …whatever we are and whichever the reason of our inhabiting the Earth,…the majority of us don’t ruminate about it,being too busy living,and those,who do….can’t agree on one-variant answer :)
    …the version supposed in this story is the one I’m eager to believe in….as it demands from human beings nothing more but just conscious observation…(though,in fact, it turns out to be very difficult)

  7. luce says:

    Why is it sometimes hard to accept things at face value ?
    What kind of person seeks hidden reasons behind everything ?

  8. Savita Vega says:

    Explanations! In my experience, I’ve found that there is no surer way for me to become confused or to lose my way in life than to give heed to the multitude of questions cast at me by others. When I lived in Italy, all was well – my trip went unquestioned – until my visa ran out. Then my friends, and others as well, some whom I hardly knew, began to ask: “What are you doing over there? Are you ever coming back? What have you found that is holding you there?” I had no answers. Or should I say that I had a multitude of answers, each equally convenient, each chosen to fit the asking audience or in accordance to my mood that day.

    London was no different, nor Mexico. I remember being pulled out of line in the airport in Houston and detained my American officials, who informed me that I was no longer an “official resident” of the U.S. “What have you been doing in Mexico all this time?” they asked. Where exactly had I been and why, with whom, and for what?

    Then, even when I moved to Miami, all was well, so long as I was in university there – six years. But then when I finished my degree, and I didn’t leave, old friends, family members, acquaintances, they began to ask those same old questions: “What did you come here seeking in the first place? Haven’t you found it by now? Why are you still here?” In that period, I was highly involved in an ashram, and that became my ready-made excuse: “I’m here because SwamiJi is here.” But that wasn’t the real truth, at least it wasn’t the lasting truth, because, after a time, even those words rang empty and hollow in my mouth. Eventually, it was time to move on, but not because some predetermined “mission” had been accomplished, nor some sought after and simple “goal” had been accomplished. It was time to move on, simply because I awoke one day in mid-February and felt it in my bones.

    Finally, after these and numberous similar experiences, I’ve learned to “toss the dogs their bones” – give them whatever answers they seem to be fishing for, but never to take my own answers seriously myself, and never ever allow their interrogations to enter into my inner dialogue or intrude upon my deeper understanding of myself. There, deep within me, I know the real answer: I am here, where I am now, because I am here. Though I may stay for a year, or a decade, or awaken tomorrow and suddenly feel impelled to leave before sunset the next day – I am certain that I am always precisely where I am meant to be, where I am supposed to be, and that knowing is enough for me.

    When it comes to compasses and timeclocks – the tools I need to tell me which direction to take, where to go next, and how long to stay -my devices of my intellect have never served me so well as the simple marrow within my bones. This holds true for both the minor excursions, as well as this Greater Journey I find myself on.

    Love to you all!

  9. Heart says:

    The desert helps us recollect our self. We can stop chasing our reason and listen to the inside emotions, and just be. I found this verse this morning;

    If you think you are beaten, you are
    If you think you dare not, you don’t
    If you like to win, but think you can’t,
    it is almost certain you won’t.

    If you think you lose, you’re lost
    For out of the world we find,
    Success begins with a fellow’s will-
    It’s all in the state of mind.

    If you think you are outclassed, you are,
    You’ve got to think high to rise,
    You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
    You can ever win a prize.

    Life’s battles don’t always go
    To the stronger or faster man,
    But soon or late the man who wins
    Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!