Acting on impulse

Father Zeca, from the Church of the Resurrection in Copacabana, tells of how, when he was travelling on a bus, he suddenly heard a voice telling him to get up and preach the importance of love right there and then.
Zeca started talking to the voice: ‘They’ll think I’m ridiculous, this isn’t the place for a sermon,’ he said.
But something inside him insisted that he speak.
‘I’m too shy, please don’t ask me to do this,’ he begged.
The inner impulse insisted.
Then he remembered his promise – to surrender himself to all his internal calls. He got up – dying of embarrassment – and began to talk about the Gospel.
Everyone listened in silence. He looked at each passenger in turn and very few looked away.
He said everything that was in his heart, ended his sermon and sat down again.
He still does not know what task he fulfilled that day, but he is absolutely certain that he did fulfil a task.


  1. Spinoza. says:

    …It can be felt,
    but it can’t be named;

    it can be seen without eyes,
    it can be heard without ears.

    It can’t be spoken or told,
    it can’t be explained with a tongue.

    If this is hard to hit,
    tell your ego to quit,
    and you will realize:

    that it can be felt,
    but it can’t be named…



  2. Spinoza. says:

    Sometimes we must do what we feel, even if we don’t understand what it is, always believing that one day, we will understand. I believe that is faith.

    Thank you Paulo Coelho.

  3. Arto Hutto says:

    Even though you do not understand or get it now but if it goes directly to your heart and soul it makes totally sense and is worth as much as everything you understand.

  4. drdwarak says:

    Acting on Impulse…..
    it is good reading & a reminder for all humanity, not to succumb to programed living…. life needs some juice once in a while…. if not always….. I was in a conference of doctors around 14 years back, the speaker of the day was absent & my friend asked me to deliver a lecture extempore…. on stress levels of Drs & possible solution…. I accepted it with reluctance I just started it saying, “How to be Successful YET be happy”…… to this day, that was my best seminar & many of those drs present there are still my clients! some times we just have to listen to inner voice…. not some times… many a times…. life is beautiful…. happiness is (Y)our choice… drdwarak

  5. kealan says:

    He probably saved somebodies life that day. Even the smallest of words can change everything.

  6. geetha says:

    While I enjoyed Father Zeca and his acting out the impulse in the bus and more than that the responses to the story were lovely. We are all basically impulsive creatures. As pointed out by the responders above, there are various kind of impulsiveness viz constructive or destructive. The story brings out the constructive kind of being impulsive as me thinks the folks in the bus got a surprising entertainment from Father Zeca..gr8

  7. Stefanie says:

    Dear Paulo, thank you very much for the reminder. It took me to a dream and the dream took me to a friend and the friend told me about his inner voice and so I finally told him the truth in my heart.That made it easy for both of us. So thank you. Now I wonder about the sword. Love Stefanie

  8. Angeljane says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I feel that some of us sometime, for whatever reason have felt an overwhelming impulse which just had to be acted on. As if by instinct, I know there must have been a sound reason for his message and the chances are that day, the person or persons touched by his words were in crisis, hence that persistent nagging voice within his head.

    I’m aware for the most part that we are teachers and that there will always be someone, somewhere, in need of education, especially education that is unconditional and given freely with pure love… Sometimes I think it’s a shame that we don’t get to see the story unfold, see who was affected because, then we would clearly comprehend the reasons and the wherefores, the whole think would make more sense, but as we all know life and people don’t quite work that way… The one thing we can all be sure of is that our messages have impact, hence one of the reasons we have to be careful about what we say…

    I enjoy your thought provoking messages Deanne thanks for sharing!

  9. Alpesh says:

    After reading this, the mind was pondering over, acting on impulse.

    Indeed acting on impulse is great when it comes to love, gratitude, compassion and such.

    But, what do one do with the feelings like anger, hate, revenge? Here total opposite works. DON’T ACT, would be the best. I remembered couple of such incidents where people acted on impulse in anger and revenge, only to harm themselves and others.

    I have herd that George Gurdjieff has said that the best gift he received from his Dad was his one advice.To wait for 24 hours before reacting out of anger.

    Some quotes on the same

    Chinese_Proverb: “If you are patient in one moment of Anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

    Seneca : “The greatest remedy for Anger is delay.”

    Marcus Aurelius: “How much more grievous are the consequences of Anger than the causes of it.”

  10. Lanie says:

    (I replied on the wrong post! Sorry about that, it should have been here!)

    What a great story! I just found this site today and just like your friend in the story, I almost passed on reading the blog just like he almost passed on giving the speech. The blog made me smile as I’m sure your friend’s sermon made someone there smile. Everything really does happen for a reason. :)

  11. Annie says:

    who knows what man or a girl or a mother needed to hear these words..
    sometimes, something we find trivial or at other times embarassing ( because it’s out of ‘normality’) can turn things upside down.. and when you were down you will find yourself up again, like being held from an angel’s hand..
    thank you for this so beautiful story

    Love and gratitude

  12. cyclopseven says:

    In the silence of the mind, there lies the undisturbed voice of the the universal energy. It speaks only when mental silence reigns supreme. He preached LOVE…that’s perfectly fine. Be it on a bus or on a ship, LOVE remains LOVE, and if to be loved is our innate expectation, lets heed him and love one another more and more.

  13. Yuliya says:

    To follow your inner voice is always important. We have to develop our “6th feeling”, more trust our inner voice-it never says wrong….I like how Province girl said here “regrets because we failed to act on impulse”…true…
    But dont you remember this sweet feeling aching in the chest in front of the fear and indecision, but when something pushing you to do this or that…
    Dont be afraid to act on impulse, it will bring you only right experience, though sometimes unpredictable.

  14. Liina.L says:

    But where is the door to enter the bus? … must be on the other side… of which we do not know of, but can guess of. The tree which had no witness, that had made a sound when falling down…


    Com amore,

  15. james says:

    There is a difference, however, between “acting on impulse” and what Father Zeca describes here. This isn’t so much an impulse as a command. And it’s a consequence of the spiritual life – of making an act of surrender, as he describes.

    If we say “Thy Will be done”, we have to be prepared to accept the consequences. This often sounds wonderful in principle; that we’ll be called upon to great and magnificent tasks. But, in practice, it can mean being ordered to do things that may go against all of our instincts – especially, as this story so beautifully illustrates – our desire for an easy life.

    The other aspect of it – which again this story so nicely demonstrates – is that offering oneself to a higher Will doesn’t mean that one gets to see the fruits of one’s actions. In fact, we need to learn to act without the expectation of knowing what may have been achieved (which may, in any case, be years down the line).

  16. MOHIT ADHIKARY says:

    dunno what exactly is the inner call do i really have it within me?
    i have no answers to it but i love doing what my will says sometimes for myself and sometimes for the people around me… but yet when i see those water drops escape my eyes i just try pacifying myself with hopes true and false… many ill thoughts and habbits i have freed myself of but that was when i was speaking to myself….

  17. margherita says:

    Caro Paulo,
    tu pensi che agire d’impulso seguendo la chiamata interiore sia una buona cosa?
    Io ho provato a farlo; mi sono detta: al mondo ci sono tante bambine povere che non possono andare a scuola, devo fare qualcosa per aiutarne almeno una piccolissima parte.
    Poi mi sono chiesta: come? Non ho denaro a disposizione che possa spendere per acquistare libri, matite, costruire anche solo una piccolissima, umile scuola. Cosa posso fare? Quali sono le mie risorse?
    La voce interiore mi ha suggerito di incominciare a scrivere la mia storia personale, essendo nata povera anch’io, e poi di provare a pubblicarla per vedere se è possibile guadagnare anche solo un poco di denaro per mettere in atto il mio progetto.
    Infatti ho fatto questo: ho pronto il libro, ho trovato un editore disposto a pubblicarlo, ma ho bisogno del tuo aiuto e del tuo consenso, della liberatoria da te, perchè nella storia ci sei anche tu, Paulo, che mi ha ispirato questo sogno. Ma tu, caro Paulo taci. Io ti domando di rispondermi, ma tu taci. Perchè Paulo Coelho che ha un animo cosí¬ generoso non mi risponde?
    Tu leggi questo blog? E se sí¬, scrivimi una volta per tutte il motivo del tuo silenzio. Non posso pensare che Paulo Coelho mi detesti perchè su questo blog io scrivo sempre quello che penso. E se anche fosse, per favore, segui il tuo impulso interiore e dimmelo chiaramente.
    Senza la tua risposta io non potrí² pubblicare il mio libro e davvero non posso pensare che tu non sia un animo generoso. Per favore dimostrami che mi hai letta e che sai ascoltare anche il pií¹ umile dei tuoi lettori.

  18. I guess we all had our share of regrets because we failed to act on impulse… Our society has trained us to divide things between the acceptable and the unacceptable, and it’s hard to conquer the fears and doubts that we have developed over the years… and finally do what our hearts say, regardless of the consequences. If we can all learn to act on impulse, follow the dictates of our hearts once in a while, no matter how irrational or absurd the idea seems at the moment, we can all be a little more free, a little happier, a little more fulfilled.

    1. Lara says:

      That’s very beautiful and well expressed, thank you for emphasising Paulo’s story with your insight :-)

    2. A Darbha says:

      That was a great comment………I feel so much lighter n nice after reading the comment.

    3. Akua says:

      Beautifully said!

  19. I.D. says:

    caro Paulo
    Je crois que quand nous faisons quelque chose, nous pouvons changer pas seulement notre destin mais aussi celui des gens qui habitent dans l’autre partie du monde (et c’est ce que tu as ecrit dans tes livres). Ca pour le combat qui existe dans le meme temp dans le ciel entre anges et demons.
    C’est une chose incroyable et mysterieuse, mais c’est ce qu’il y a dès la naissance de l’homme….

  20. megha sharma says:

    there was a time when i used to act on my impulses. i was living life on my nerves and i actually ended up destroying it, i was on the verge of loosing everything.
    but now i realize even i was fulfilling a task. i was learning. i faced challenges as God wanted me to learn from these experiences.
    But sadly, scared of my past i have stopped acting on my impulse. i am insecure now acting in a conventional way.
    i guess i should start again, listen to my heart and i am sure it will not end like it did before.
    God bless ALL!

  21. Alpesh says:

    Thanks Mr Coelho. Nice and inspiring writing as always.

  22. aksh says:

    “He still does not know what task he fulfilled that day, but he is absolutely certain that he did fulfil a task. ”

    But of course, just tell him that he fulfilled the task of deleivering a sermon to a group of beleivers, a task of breaking his mindset that sermons are reserved for teh church, while in reality real life is where sermons should be delivered, by teh faithful.

    The moment he got up and delivered the sermon his job was done, task finished, from his side, whatever effect it was to generate in others would be generated in time, it is none of his concern !

    about acting on impluse – father Zeca did not act entirely on impluse, he cross checked and saw that at most he would be laughed at, no further harm, and he took teh ‘risk’. Suppose he would have got an impulse to jump into a well or of teh bus into a vally, like suicidal people do, would acting on impluse be any good then ?

    Those of us who visit ‘gurus’ like andrew cohen, shiv khera, srisri, ….. ,,,,,,, those who visit any ‘guru’ please remember that impluses can be planted by mild hypnosis, and many like osho were good at it. it sort of triggers a thought / a reaction in you basis certain event. e.g. it can be delicately planted in you in less than say 10-12 seconds of intense eye contact that as soon as see teh mirror in morning, u will get a tremendous urge to surrender to say X, while X has been preaching that u surrender to me only when this call comes from within you.

    So I will say Impulse + awareness ! and of course

    1. aksh says:

      To substantiate what i said in last para,
      swami vivekananda was a big seeker, sharp and intelligent, finally he was ‘converted’ by ramkrishna paramhansha. as vivekananda practiced various meditation in ramkrsihna’s guidance, his mental power began increasing. Just to test it, once sitting in meditation he focused his thought on another disciple of RK who happened to be very childlike, collecting 100s of paintings of gods, saints etc and daily spending hours in worship. vivekananda sent a command to him saying that he throw away all his small statues, paintings etc. That chap started feeling uneasy and he gathered all his ‘gods’ in a heap, tied them in a bundle made of his bedsheet and started towards the holy ganges. RK saw him going and immediately he understood what was going on, he stopped that chap, sent him back to his quarters and seeked out vivekananda, admonished him and told him ‘this power is taken away from you, it will return back only three days before you leave this body”.

      why i said what i did is because i have seen many people, honest, sincere seekers like us being ‘used’ by vested interests !


  23. Marie-Christine says:

    I like to go to that special school.And do the “Twinkle Twinkle little Star”:)
    Thank you.

  24. Adriana says:

    It is good to know if on acting on an impulse we did fulfill a task, but it is better to be humble enough to trust we did it even if we can not be sure what we did this for. The mystery belongs to God and it feels good to know that it belongs to him.

  25. laurus says:

    and they printed it out…

  26. My. He did fulfill a task–of letting Higher Power to flow through him.

    It’s a nice story to share.


  27. HECTOR says: