A short story about Buddha – Part 2

Paulo Coelho


For many years he wandered all over the north of India, meeting monks and holy men who traveled around there, learning the oral traditions that spoke of reincarnation, illusion and paying for the sins of past lives (karma). When he felt that he had learned enough, he built himself a shelter on the banks of the River Nairanjana, where he lived doing penance and meditating.

His life style and will power ended up drawing the attention of other men who in their search for the truth came to him for spiritual advice. But after six long years, all that Siddhartha could notice was that his body was weaker and weaker and the constant infections did not let him meditate as he should.

The legend says that one morning, when he went into the river to make his toilet, he no longer had the strength to rise. When he was about to drown, a tree bent down its branches and let him clutch to them not to be swept away by the current. Exhausted, he managed to reach the river bank before fainting.

Hours later, a peasant passed by, a milk-vendor who offered him a little food. Siddhartha accepted, to the disgust of the other men who lived there with him. Believing that saint no longer to possess the strength to resist temptation, they decided to leave him immediately. But he gladly drank the milk offered him, feeling that it was a sign from God and a heaven-sent blessing.

Encouraged by the meal he had just eaten, he lent no importance to being abandoned by his old disciples; he sat himself down next to a fig-tree and decided to go on meditating about life and suffering. To test him, the god Mara sent three of his daughters to try to distract him with thoughts of sex, thirst, and the pleasures of life. But Siddhartha was so absorbed in his meditation that he did not notice any of this; at that very moment he was experiencing a sort of revelation, remembering all his past lives. As he did so, he also recalled the lessons he had forgotten (all men learn the necessary, but rarely are we are able to put to use what we have learned).

In his state of ecstasy, he experienced Paradise (Nirvana), where “there is no earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, it is neither this world nor another world, and there is no sun, no moon, no birth and no death. There lies the end of all of man’s suffering.”

When that morning came to an end, he had reached the true meaning of life and become Buddha (the Enlightened One). But instead of remaining in this state for the rest of his days, he decided to go back to living among others and to teach everyone all that he had learned and experienced.


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The third part of this story will be posted here tomorrow.


  1. rugs says:

    Nightmare to obtain relevantblogson my favouritetopic. We really enjoyed reading your views. I know this is not on topic but,does anyone know how to clean a hall runner rug with a hair dye stain? I have asked this question before but need an answer before I am disowned by my brother.

  2. Dear Sutra,

    I do not know which ‘previous post’ you are talking about! perhaps your message was stated in the positive.

    Although I do not know him very well, I certainly am not confusing true spirituality with his ambitions of becoming a famous writer, which by the way he has already accomplished!

    And I am very much looking forward to reading the Magus.
    I am not going to philosophize, as we’d go on conversing for ever.
    But what I am saying is that especially since you seem to be such a spiritual person, where is your compassion… you believe in karma? what if he wrote all that in all good intentions, your actions will come to bite you in the ass sometime.

    It seems that like most people, you are expecting answers.

    Let’s say you had a son, and he read the book Siddhartha, and after reading it, he wrote a review about it and the above is what he wrote. What would you do? attack him like you did Coelho or would you nicely point out what you thought were his mistakes.

    As a writer myself, sometimes I’ll write something and when I read it, say a sentence, I will see that that sentence does not sound entirely true, but that is not what I meant when I wrote it.

    Most everything is relative. And depended on other things. We may be speaking of the same word but each of us has a different understand of the word… in this instance we will never understand each other until we communicate and define the word.

    What upsets me is that you are presuming his intentions are bad or he is deceiving his fellow man.
    And especially more upsetting because you say you have an understanding of spirituality.

    Hey, there is only ONE Truth. and all religions, philosophies, psychologies, prayers, devotions, worships, spiritual disciplines…

  3. Sutra says:


    First and foremost, I do not attack him, I attack his illiteracy and I don’t think you found me “defensive” in my previous post. You are confusing true spirituality with his ambitions to become a famous writer. Second, this is not the first time or the only place where he disseminates misrepresentations of spiritual symbols. I found dozens of them all over his work and I do not have the time to list here the instances when he falsifies what is supposed to be a journey in the spiritual.

    Same as others before him he is selling to the young and to the one confused already by church and evolutionists false hopes. You cannot put lies and crumbles of truth on the same plate and offer it as food for thought in good conscience. You cannot mix water with poison and claim that it is good for you to drink it. Leaving aside the fact that at one time in his life he was a Satanist and had his encounters with violence, sex and drugs only to end up preaching things he is unable to understand, he was also received in the Brazilian Academy of Letters on very controversial grounds. Reed, The Magus, his most recent biography.

    It is not for you to say if my efforts are or not futile here but I guess is the best you can do to defend him. Why am I not surprised, though, that you have not addressed any of the major blunders he makes in a 500-words piece of nonsensical text. If this kind of text gives you hope and joy, you are in for a rude awakening. The only thing we have to worship is the truth, and Coelho makes no contribution to our quest to finding it. By contrary, he points his reader into a false direction.

    And, by the way, I “dare” to speak of things I know and I will always speak against the one who willfully or unknowingly deceives the trust of his fellow man.

  4. Sutra,

    why in the world are you getting so defensive. We? who’s we? what are you stopping? exposing what? what if it was an honest mistake, his thought, his point of view. He didn’t claim he’s a professor of spirituality, if you know anything about him, which you should before attacking him, you will know that the first person he writes for is himself….

    If you are so concerned with spirituality and the world, your hostile attitude should be directed elsewhere… places where it’s needed most, towards people who actually cause badness, and wars.
    There, your efforts will be much appreciated and perhaps will make a difference as you say ‘on matters of spirituality that are so important to the world’

    Your efforts are futile here.

    By the way, how dare you speak that way to a man who has brought hope, joy and light to so many people all over the world.

    Seriously, you can make a difference, you just need to re-evaluate your purpose!

  5. Sutra says:

    Dear Paul Coelho,

    You are making a great disservice to the humankind by disseminating false information on matters of spirituality that are so important to the world. A couple years ago you were publishing the same kind of distortions like the one above in a Romanian paper. After a few weeks most of the public was so enraged with your nonsense that they took you out of the print.

    To begin with, the definition for the concept of karma is not “paying for the sins of the past live” as you falsely claim. Karma is the law of moral causation. In other words, what we experience today is a consequence of things we have, or have not experienced in past lives. It is not a punishment, as you suggest, but an act of continuity in our learning process, in our soul’s spiritual evolution.

    Second, you should have known at least that Buddhism is a philosophical school of thought and it is not one and the same with the popular legends about “gods”. One of the main characteristics of Buddhism is that it does not embrace the idea of god or of creator. For you to write that the future Buddha “gladly drank the milk offered him, feeling that it was a sign from God and a heaven-sent blessing.” is a clear sign of ignorance in matters you pretend to be so consumed with.

    If we cannot stop you, we will at least expose you.

  6. Precioso Paulo es una historia que ayuda a soñar, es una experiencia que te enseña la humildad de Sidharta como fue capaz de abandonarlo todo porque todo tení­a y aprender de la vida y llegar al mas alto nivel de inspiración.
    Su historia nos ha enseñado mucho a la humanidad. Son Avatares como estos que nos enseñan pero también otros nos enseñan sin tener que avandonarlo todo, precisamente estando en el 4º camino en el de la persona común, enfrentando todos los problemas de la vida, estando sujetos a las leyes de la Naturaleza.
    Un beso Paulo y gracias por contárnoslo.

  7. Gina Re says:

    Ho letto Sidharta di Herman Hesse forse pií¹ di dieci volte. Inutile dire che Herman Hesse è uno dei miei scrittori preferiti. Anche altri suoi romanzi gli trovo altre tanto belli e “illuminanti”.

    La storia di Siddharta, il Buddha, è una storia antichissima, datata 500 anni prima di Gesí¹, il Cristo. Non dobbiamo dimenticare che la storia del umanití  è in una CONTINUA EVOLUZIONE, e che la storia di Buddha venne SUPERATA dalla storia di CRISTO SPOSO PROMESSO, che, dopo la sua illuminazione, non solo accetta di diventare il Maestro, ma accetta anche la MORTE inflitta ed atroce per aprire al destino dell’umanití  una NUOVA PORTA. Questa PORTA non è concentrata esclusivamente alla scoperta di se stesso (Siddharta Gautama), ma alla PROMESSA di un mondo pií¹ giusto e MENO EGOISTA di allora.

    Paragonando la storia raccontata nel “ALCHIMISTA”, si descrive simbolicamente questo passaggio che va OLTRE la scoperta di se stessi(lo scavare di Santiago nella chiesa abbandonata), ma poi TORNA per riprendere la sua amata che lo attende nel DESERTO, rispettando LA PROMESSA. Nessuno si è mai chiesto se c’è un FORTE COLLEGAMENTO SIMBOLICO tra “la chiesa abbandonata piena di tesoro nascosto” e il “deserto” di Fatima? La “chiesa” è un SIMBOLO FEMMINILE, proprio come L’ANIMA o/e LA SPOSA PROMESSA.

    Nel 1989, scrissi una canzone intitolata Siddharta, ispirata ad un mio incontro con un ragazzo brasiliano che passava per Belgrado intento di raggiungere India, dove voleva diventare uno dei seguaci del culto “Hare Krishna”. Lo conobbe mio fratello nel treno Zagreb-Beograd, e lo portí² a casa dove abitavo io, dove lo ospitai per un paio di ore prima di prendere il prossimo treno. Una volta partito, presi la chitarra e scrissi:

    “Siddharta ti chiamavo per la tua voglia di CERCARE LA RISPOSTA, anche se era gií  qui. Tu vai in India per cantare Hare Krishna, ma ero io il tuo Karma….Cercavi Dio, ma Dio era qui; nella mia stanza e nella mia cittí …” ;-)

  8. toni j says:

    I know of a place between earth and sky. I see all that is beautiful. What is brought back, compassion, unbroken spirit, knowing that everyone is doing the best they can. But seperating who’s seeking solutions and who’s not, that’s where sensitivities are drained…*

    Dearest Paulo Coelho,

    Thank you for this story. As you are showing me, there are many I have not read…*

  9. Pavlik says:

    I read Siddharta and Demian from Hesse, too. Couple years ago, I was studing in southern Spain, feeling lonely, and I bought this books (cheap paperback edition from the stand on the street) and tried to read it with my poor spanish….I was thinking about this existentional stuff, while “all the rest of the world” was havi such a good time…

    I undestood the meaning of the books very well though.

    Thanks for the story Mr. Coelho.


  10. THELMA says:

    A beautiful story, thank you for presenting it to us, dear Paulo Coelho. I am looking forward to the next…

    I remembered ‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse, a book that I love together with ‘Demian’ by the same author. I was given as a present Siddhartha, which in this edition includes a very well written and enlightened Preface by Donald McCrory.. So I took the opportunity to re-read it.

  11. Alexandra says:

    I am not sure about Karma,nor about more lives,as I am Christian.I respect the holly men of any religion,because from each of them you can learn something.To Budhism I have more respect due to the martiall arts I practiced.I loved meditation,nowadays I forget to do that .I think budhist monks are really balanced person.