20 SEC READING: The window and the mirror

A very rich young man went to see a Rabbi in order to ask his advice about what he should do with his life. The Rabbi led him over to the window and asked him:

‘What can you see through the glass?’

‘I can see men coming and going and a blind man begging for alms in the street.’

Then the Rabbi showed him a large mirror and said to him:

‘Look in this mirror and tell me what you see.’

‘I can see myself.’

‘And you can’t see the others. Notice that the window and the mirror are both made of the same basic material, glass.

‘You should compare yourself to these two kinds of glass. Poor, you saw other people and felt compassion for them.
‘Rich – covered in silver – you see yourself.

‘You will only be worth anything when you have the courage to tear away the coating of silver covering your eyes in order to be able to see again and love your fellow man.’

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  1. Debra says:

    I’d like to know the original source of this story…Thanks.

  2. Marie-Christine says:

    Dear Paulo,
    I always take note of the beginning and ending in a text. To me it reveals a lot about the message that is contained.

    ‘You will only be worth anything when you have the courage to tear away the coating of silver covering your eyes in order to be able to see again and love your fellow man.’ P. Coelho

    In the words window and mirror I found an explanation of your text and that’s how I understand my world.

    Je vois le miroir et la fenetre
    Le miroir est un reflet de soi-meme
    La fenetre de tous les etres
    Fe n etre = foi dans l’etre.

    I see the mirror and the window
    The mirror is a reflection of oneself
    The window of all human beings
    Fe n etre = faith in the human

    Et dans le miroir, il y a
    Mir (regarder ), to look at, mirar
    Oir, (entendre) to listen, entender
    Entender, comprendre, to understand
    You watch, you listen and you understand.

    The window
    Wind , air, aire
    Mir r or
    You watch the Light
    Vous regardez la Lumiere.

    Thank you for being
    With love

  3. Natan says:

    It reminds me of another Jewish story of a poor man who dreamed of a treasure underneath a bridge in Prague so he walked for days from his village to the capital amd when he finally got to the bridge there was a guard who would not leave his post. After hours and hours of waiting finally the guard asked him why he was standing there for so long. The poor man told the guard about his dream for which the guard responded – funny i had a dream that there was a treasure inside the oven of a house in a remote village. The poor man smiled and walked back home, opened his oven and sure enough found the treasure.

    1. shivangi says:

      its almost the same story as THE ALCHEMIST

  4. yogesh singh says:

    lovely post ,
    but the process to remove the silver coat is very difficult for me..
    or may i’m in between this two stage a mirror with some scratches to see through

  5. Kevin says:

    La Ventana y El Espejo

    Un joven muy rico fue a ver a un rabino para pedirle consejo sobre que debia hacer con su vida. El rabino lo condujo a la ventana y le preguntó:

    “¿Qué puedes ver a través del cristal de la ventana?”

    Puedo ver a los hombres que van y vienen y a un ciego pidiendo limosna en la calle.

    Entonces el rabino le mostró un gran espejo y le dijo:

    “Mira en este espejo y dime lo que ves.”

    Me veo yo.

    “Ž”No puedes ver a los demas verdad, aun dandote cuenta que basicamente el cristal de la ventana y el espejo son del mismo material”

    “Debes compararte a ti mismo con estos dos tipos de vidrio. Pobres, miras a otras personas y sientes lastima por ellos. Ricos, -cubiertos de plata- te ves a ti mismo”

    “Solo seras capaz de darle valor a tu vida, cuando puedas arrancar el revestimiento de plata que cubre tus ojos, con el fin de poder volver a ver y amar a tu projimo.”

  6. Felizes daqueles que tem olhos, mas sobretudo, este “olhar”…
    Bom Regresso Paulo!

  7. Olga says:

    Sos bueno pero por supuesto, eso ya lo sabí­as.

  8. dr. shivanjali sandhir says:

    extremely copmlex…could not understand

  9. Alexandra says:

    Good lesson, interesting story, have not read it before.

  10. I know…Im sure because in somehow, someday we find our self searching for nothing at all. But my gift, is natural and believed or not, it was not given for no reason. And I’m glad I meet you and read your books it gives me more clear vision and understanding what happened to me. I believed my mirror or your mirror the same images what we are looking for…I hope we share our crossroad and insanity in life…it takes a long road to find my path, and the same for others too….Greetings

  11. Anya Isabel says:

    Querido Paulo, realmente necesito tu ayuda, si, con el favor de Dios, lees esto y de alguna manera puedes responderme te agradeceria enormemente desde mi corazón.

  12. ROSA ISELA says:


  13. freda tsiloglou. says:

    such wisdom…too rich for some…

  14. mawaheb says:

    it is very true, being transparent with your self and others could lead to self successful life .

  15. Keith says:

    In Love Wins, Rob Bell discusses Jesus being asked by a rich man how to get into heaven. He tells him to dispose of his wealth.

    Strictly speaking the rich man asked Jesus what good he had to do to obtain eternal life.

    Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
    “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
    “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”
    “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
    When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
    When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
    Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    It is not possesions per se that are wrong, it is what we do with them. Are they nouns to impress or verbs to do good? Wealth is not for vulgar display to show we are better than others, we must use it to benefit others.

    I can use my spade to till the earth, to grow food to feed myself and others. I can use my camera and laptop to expose injustice.

    Jesus also spoke of a rich man who ignored Lazarus outside his gate. They both died. Lazarus went to heaven, the rich man to hades. The rich man still did not get it. He asked that Lazarus bring him water to quench his thirst.


    1. Adriana says:


  16. Saurabh K Goel says:

    I read his book ” Alchemist” in my toughes time and it really helped me to change my thinking.
    ” When you really want some-thing, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve this”. I firmly believe in this statement.

    1. willow says:

      you are so right! it was and is my experience too! long long time and so many years i thought, i’m forced to have doughts and i could not trust myself! now i know: you only have to be like a child – seeing with your heart and than everything is possible!

    2. MCh says:

      You are a real WOL willow.”Where there is a will there is a WOL.”

  17. Black Moon says:

    But is even if we open our eyes . but people around wont open . how can they understand our feelings …

  18. barbara says:

    Polish translation, I tried…


    Bardzo bogaty młody człowiek przyszedł do Rabina aby zapytać się go co ma zrobić ze swoim życiem. Rabin poprowadził go do lustra i zapytal go:

    “Co widzisz przez szybÄ™?”

    “WidzÄ™ ludzi przychodzÄ…cych i odchodzÄ…cych i Å›lepego czÅ‚owieka żebrajÄ…cego na ulicy”.

    Potem Rabin pokazał mu duże lustro i powiedział do niego:

    “Spójrz w lustro i powiedz co widzisz”.

    “WidzÄ™ siebie”.

    “I nie widzisz innych. Zauważ że okno i lustro zrobione sÄ… z tego samego podstawowego materiaÅ‚u, ze szkÅ‚a”.

    “PowinieneÅ› porównywać siebie do tych dwóch typów szkÅ‚a. Biedny, widziaÅ‚es ludzi i czuÅ‚eÅ› wspóÅ‚czucie dla nich.
    Bogaty-ozdobiony srebrem-widziałeś siebie.

    “BÄ™dziesz tylko coÅ› wart gdy znajdziesz odwagÄ™ by zedrzeć srebro które pokrywa twoje oczy aby znowu widzieć i kochać innych ludzi.”

  19. Heimo Kruschinski says:

    German Translation. No responsibility for errors. I hope it makes some joy. For those who can not speak English so well.

    Ein sehr reicher junger Mann ging zu einem Rabbi um ihn um Rat zu fragen, was er mit seinem Leben anfangen sollte Der Rabbi führte ihn zum Fenster und fragte ihn:

    “Was kann man durch das Glas sehen?”

    “Ich kann sehen, wie Menschen kommen und gehen und ein Blinder bettelt um Almosen auf der Straße.”

    Dann zeigte ihm der Rabbi einen großen Spiegel und sagte zu ihm:

    “Schau in diesen Spiegel und sag mir was du siehst.”

    “Ich sehe mich.”

    “Und du kannst die andern nicht sehen. Beachte, dass das Fenster und Spiegel beide aus demselben Grundmaterial sind, aus Glas.
    “Du solltest dich mit diesen beiden Arten von Glas vergleichen. Arm, du hast andere Menschen gesehen und fühltest Mitleid mit ihnen.
    Reich – mit Silber bedeckt – Du siehst dich..

    “Du bist nur etwas wert, wenn Sie den Mut hast die silberne Beschichtung abzureißen die deine Augen bedecken, damit du in der Lage bist, wieder zu sehen und deine Mitmenschen zu lieben.

    1. CG says:

      Ich freue mich, dass du eine íœbersetzung gewagt hast, lieber Heimo.
      Ich hatte zwar auch schon mal die Idee, aber nicht den Mut. Die alte Angst ausgelacht zu werden …
      Ich denke schon, dass so etwas denen hilft, die nicht so gut Englisch können, hier im blog Fuss zu fassen.

      liebe Grüsse,

    2. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      Danke schön. Ich hatte auch schon öfter darüber nachgedacht. Ich hasse allerdings so eine Arbeit ehrlich gesagt. Ken hat mir den letzten Kick gegeben. Ich habe nicht vor das regelmäßig zu machen. Ich finde es ist eine gute Idee. Wir können uns gerne abwechseln, nach Lust und Laune und Zeit natürlich. Wenn du magst. Vielleicht finden sich noch ein paar andere. Wenn du magst findest du mich auf FB. Das Profil mit dem Raben, nicht das andere.

      Ich wünsche dir einen wundervollen Sonntag

    3. CG says:

      Da muß ich mich wohl schließlich doch bei FB anmelden?! Bisher habe ich das immer vermieden.
      Ich werde mich da mal von meinen Kindern beraten lassen. :)
      Mit dem íœbersetzen unterstütze ich dich gerne ab und zu, so wie es passt.

      Gute Nacht,

    4. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      Das würde mich freuen Claudia!

      Dir einen wundervollen Abend

  20. SHALOM says:

    LO ESENCIAL NO ES VISIBLE A LA VISTA, no es malo citar a Saint Exupery, BANDY, mas bien enhora buena.

  21. Elias says:

    El egoista seria capaz de prender la casa del vecino para hacerse unos huevos estrellados, y los otros ignorar lo que pasa pero eso no es maldad segurente el vecino se lo merecia.

  22. Sndp says:

    The story is good but i took more than 20 sec :P

  23. Sunilkumar says:

    Open your eyes…watch the world with a birds eye view….love others ,care others,and add meaning to life…
    love u paulo.

  24. Tarek says:

    “You’ve no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring you.
    Nothing seemed right.

    What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean?
    Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.

    It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.

    So I brought you a mirror, look to yourself.”

    1. THELMA says:

      So beautiful, Tarek!!! Thank you for this beautiful in its simplicity Rumi’s poem.
      Thelma xxx

    2. karen says:

      Thank you sharing this, Tarek!! So beautiful!

    3. barbara says:

      It is beautiful. Thank you.

    4. K G BHUPATHI says:

      Mr.Tarek…This is so good as if something trembling deep within me…wonderful thought for me on the morning of Sunday 31/07/2011

      With warm regards,


    5. LoveM says:

      Thanks Tarek Rumi…
      Great reminder whether it be a mirror or a window…
      we are always just looking at ourselves…
      And how terribly beautiful that is…

      Thank you(all) for being
      Your beauty brought the Lover
      To the light in me…

      Lover of all things
      You who paints the mountain pink
      Darkens the night sky..

  25. Carola says:

    Your 20 second readings are always so inspiring. Thanks!

  26. Athena says:

    I think that we love to glorify the poor and poverty…Talking of compassion,I have come across many poor people who when given the opportunity to help or show kindness to their fellow brethren are as bad as their rich counterparts..Moreover compassion is a human quality that has got nothing to do with rich or poor and more over anything in extreme is not good whether be it excess wealth or poverty.

    1. karen says:

      poverty is hard and not to be glorified, i agree.
      but it is easier for me to understand a lack of compassion in one that is hungry, homeless and dealing with physical realities of lack than in one who has opportunities abounding.
      i think there are different ways to define wealth as well. i have little in money and possessions, but know that i have wealth in many ways.
      love & blessings, karen

  27. Naina says:

    But reality hits when the cover over your eyes reveal that the only difference between you and the poor man outside is a few dollars. If given the same money, he (poor man) could be better than you. Life just deals you a hand – you either fold or stay in it to win it!

  28. Just someone says:

    Marvellous,as usual.

  29. EnlightenM says:

    Mirrors relect you
    The beauty of windows is
    They let in… the light


    1. Annie says:

      and they let out.. your light..
      your own sun from inside..

      thank you for making with your comments the posts more ‘sunny’ :o)

      Love and Gratitude

    2. LoveM says:

      Yes Annie thanks… thats a lovely insight… enlightens all of us

      “and they let out.. your light..
      your own sun from inside.. ”

      Bless You
      Sunny One shine on

    3. LoveM says:

      Big Guy in the sky
      You warm my heart… light my eye
      Keep my panties… dry

    4. Annie says:

      huge smile!!!

      Love and Graditude

    5. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      This is also my opinion EnlightenM. The human heart has windows. Is it bright inside the light penetrates to the outside. If many hearts are light, they can dispel the darkness. And the heart can also see this light. A mirror can not. It just shows what you are. Or who you are.

    6. EnlightenM says:

      Thanks Heimo for that inspiration…
      “If many hearts are light, they can dispel the darkness”
      it is both heart-warming and I want to say light-hearted…

      Shining a little
      Light on each situation
      That’s enlightenment

    7. Daniel says:

      How could this be?
      I turned my attention inward,
      and examined my heart so damaged (as I imagined).
      But I found no cracks!
      merely a heart beating fast,
      and where I imagined holes,
      were shining windows,
      offering peace and welcome.

      In each was a reflection,
      A perfect face,
      with a perfect smile,
      and bright shining eyes,
      holding aloft,
      in tender hands,
      with painted nails,
      the darkest of my fears,
      and the loudest of my doubts.
      The face of my beloved,
      the gardener of my heart.


    8. LoveM says:

      Lovely Daniel
      Thanks for letting us in
      to visit the garden of your heart
      What beautiful place to be
      Bless you

      One can be holy
      Through this hole the heart can see
      Everything is whole

  30. viviana says:

    Muy hermoso! Como todo lo que escribí­s Paulo…mi reflexión seria: existen muchas cosas en tu vida que sorprenderán a tus ojos (espejo) pero solo unas pocas sorprenderán y hará vibrar a tu alma, (ventana), el conocimiento viene de lo exterior y la sabidurí­a nace desde el interior. Solo tenemos que saber prestarle atención.

    1. maria jose says:

      me gusto mucho tu reflexion viviana

    2. viviana says:

      hola! gracias!! Majo!!

  31. K G BHUPATHI says:

    The toughest task for a rich man is not earning his riches but to spend the same judiciously.If anything given free of cost has no value for the mankind and everything earned thro’ conviction and justifiable work is more valuable.The rich always feel lonely.Please consider even the scholars also as rich in knowledge.And if they dont’ spend the riches all those possessions will be of no value.A writer needs to spread wisdom ,a business man needs to help others come up in life,a trader needs to deliver the quality goods to the needy.For all these things we need to see the things truthfully.All eyes are same but what they see differ as there are different levels of coating of silver which blurr / blind us seeing the truth.Thank you very much Paulo for spending all those valuables which you have earned thro’ your conviction and hard work…Let us take it further….love all KGB

  32. Annie says:

    “The Rabbi led him over to the window and asked him:

    ‘What can you see through the glass?'”

    I guess life is Through the looking glass … and what we -as other Alices – find there…

    Love and Gratitude

  33. Daniel says:

    A rich man begging for guidance who fails to see the blind man staring him in the mirror.

    1. LoveM says:

      Great insight Daniel
      What worth… this analogy
      If one can not see
      Bless you

    2. karen says:

      well said :-).

  34. Girija Rao says:

    Can you imagine the value of the silver polished glass. It is one thing that has the power of showing us both sides of the coin , without the involvement of others. It is one object that instills confidence and maturity to our personality. This is a matter that brings in tremendous explorative thinking and wonderment into the innocence.

  35. Irina Black says:

    Когда я в зеркало смотрю-
    С другими я встречаюсь,говорю..
    Когда ж себя я повстречать хочу-
    К стеклу оконному спешу..

  36. Reem Alsuwaidi says:

    I’m fond of your books since reading the Alchemist in 2004. This fondness grew to being a big fan and reading anything published by your. I love the spiritual writing and wisdom in your books.

  37. katie says:

    LoveM wrote:
    “Maybe see Paulo in yourself and in Paulo see everybody else…”

    this is so true & so well said.

    in the same way as we take it as a warning when we really dislike someone & know that they reflect something from our dark, shadow side. in the same way we also should see it as a “warning” when we really like something in someone else … because we recognize some of our good qualities we do not want to accept or have not discovered yet. using these two warnings have been good tools to come to know myself in “hidden” areas.

  38. When I look in the mirror I hope I see more than just a shape – that something oozes out that is ‘rich’ in soul.

    And hopefully the inner me is visible not only to myself but to others. As I move among my fellow human beings I will strive to spread love and compassion as on my own journey I ‘soul build’ – I will try……

  39. Noonarabia says:

    “Love your fellow man” is what everyone needs to do indeed. I loved it. Thank you for sharing it :)

  40. Bandi Koeck says:

    or in other words: Don’t judge a book by its cover! (don’t wanted to quote Saint Exupery again as everyone does it always)