The story of the pencil

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked:

‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.
‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’

‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’
‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’
‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’
‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’

source: Like the Flowing Riverby Paulo Coelho, NOW AVAILABLE AS EBOOK IN USA


  1. Rogelio Saldivar says:

    it was about a pencil being sharpened

  2. Lezlie Graebel says:

    This story is an analogy of each of us.
    The pencil is the focus, not the words are not important. God, or any other word, is used to describe that which cannot be described through language.
    I believe that the pencil is analogous to our karmic condition; an ever changing circumstance that is determined by the power of thinking.
    In Buddhism karma is considered to be the power of thinking. It is generated by thinking. It affects our happiness and influences the happiness of those around us. Our Buddha nature, is what we all are without the effect of the karma we generate. If we renounce (erase) the negative thinking of anger, jealously, greed, pride, ignorance and so forth; we generate the antidote – compassion, faith, loving kindness and wisdom. Suffering is the result of negative thinking and negative karma. Happiness is the result of positive thinking and positive karma.
    First Analogy –
    “Will” is to reach a higher level of evolution. The words are cultural, karma that will someday be erased.
    Second Analogy –
    This is the burning of negative karma
    Third Analogy –
    This is the benefit of burning negative karma and its nature
    Fourth Analogy –
    We have a precious human body that creates the “perfect storm”, a platform from which perfect enlightenment can be attained. First, one must realize your true nature.
    Fifth Analogy –
    Karma generated leaves a mark, a signature that transcends time and space. If you are aware of this, it is more efficient to spend your time (the eraser) removing what has been done rather than creating more to be erased, to be cleaned up.

  3. Cha Seung Byul says:

    This is a great and inspiring parable.

  4. […] Thank you Paulo for sharing this story! This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged inspirational story, parable of the pencil by teacherangelchang. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  5. Praveen.A.Kodekal says:

    It is a lifetime message to al…….

  6. pandabears says:

    aww. omg. this is so inspiring. i absolutley love it. it is such an amazing life lesson.

  7. Thea says:

    I’m 13, and I find this really beautiful. I love it.

  8. sandhya says:

    awesome writing…

  9. dr. shivanjali sandhir says:

    no doubt the pencil teaches us a lot..but it is a tool.the real beuty lies in the hands that hold the pencil..the same pencil can write different words with different meanings..May THE HANDS that hold the pencil writing our destinies be just and kind…

  10. Linguisticpao says:

    muito obrigado! this is really inspiring! =)

  11. Filipe Gonçalves says:

    Sem palavras…

  12. priya says:

    So happy I found this story – I had saved it in my ‘favorites’ on twitter (otherwise I am useless at finding anything on this blog! Please create a search option).

    I love this story it conveys the message of life so beautifully & simply that it is impossible not to fall in love with it.

  13. viviene says:

    Dear Paulo,

    That story has been forwarded to me via SMS, however, it was quite a different version. I like your version. I believe in that.
    We all have to incarnate our lives in a pencil. And I think one more commonality is just like the pencil, we have the purpose of leaving great imprints in every sheet of paper we touch, in every life we touch. The kind of imprint which is worth reading over and over again. :-)

    Mr. Paulo, I’ve been proudly sharing bout you and your works to my students. I’m glad that they met you through me.hehe And I’m really wishin that u could visit Manila, Philippines soon!!

    I really admire u for having a full grasp of life in everything…really, in every single detail of life. U are blessed with the gift of discernment. Thank u for being a teacher in countless of souls!

    Just like the boy in The Alchemist who believed in the conspiracy of universe to achieve his dream, I too believe in that, and above all in God’s permission to allow us meet one day!

    Looking forward to that,
    Viviene Mae (Manila, Philippines)

    1. Sidharth says:

      Hello sir!
      Ur reply is indeed very beautiful and it helped me a lot in my english assign ment!

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