1 min reading: the law and the fruits

Illustration by Ken Crane
In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets and said:

– Each person may only eat one fruit a day.

The custom was obeyed for many generations, and the ecology of the place was preserved. Since the remaining fruit supplied seeds, other trees appeared. Soon, the entire region was turned into fertile soil, which was the envy of other towns.

But the people continued to eat one fruit a day – they remained faithful to what the ancient prophet of their forefathers had told them. However they never allowed the inhabitants of other villages to take advantage of the abundant harvest with which they were rewarded each year.

The result was that fruit rotted on the ground.

God called a new prophet and said:

– Let them eat as much fruit as they like. And ask them to share the abundance with their neighbors.

The prophet came to the town with the new message. But he was stoned – for by now the custom was ingrained in the hearts and minds of each of the inhabitants.

With time, the younger villagers began to question the barbaric old custom. But, since the tradition of the elders was unbending, they decided to abandon the religion. Thus, they could eat as much fruit as they wished, and give the rest to those in need of food.

The only people who remained faithful to the local church, were those who considered themselves saints. But in truth they were unable to see how the world changes, and recognize how one must change with it.

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  1. Marie-Christine says:

    This is such a clever blog. Thank you.
    Our world contained in a nice Apple.. slightly eroded.
    Perhaps a warning sign of our greed.
    With love

  2. margherita says:

    IL BUON SENSO e LA VOCE DELLA COSCIENZA sono le uniche cose che ci possono salvare ma l’essere umano ha dimenticato ormai la loro importanza.
    Ha cercato la scorciatoia creandosi idoli, dei e miti ed affidando a loro la salvezza dell’umanití .
    Idoli, dei e miti nei cieli e sulla terra: non potranno mai sostituire il BUON SENSO che alberga, ormai sepolto sotto secoli di oblio, nella nostra coscienza.
    Se un precetto invita ad un’azione contro il Buon Senso, secondo me, è un precetto da rifiutare perchè va contro la persona e quindi contro l’umanití  intera.
    DOV’E’ il BUON SENSO? Qualcuno lo cerchi e lo distribuisca e cambierí  il colore del mondo. Fino ad ora NESSUNO vi è mai riuscito se non per brevi istanti, ininfluenti ai fini di una sterzata della storia dell’umanití .
    Bella sfida, in questi tempi di caos al buio, ma non impossibile.

  3. Gislene says:

    que lindo conto.
    Está aí­ mais um convite para a mudaní§a interior.

    Se me permitir, poderia colocar em meu blog?
    Gosto muito dos seus textos, dos seus pensamentos. Eles vem de encontro ao que procuro. Gosto de dividir com as pessoas aquilo que acredito ser um ponto de luz na escuridí£o.
    É claro que seus créditos serí£o sempre respeitados por mim. E os do ilustrador também. Achei belo o trabalho dele.

    Obrigada Paulo!
    Um abraí§o.

  4. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

    Cette parabole est l’illustration parfaite de l’aliénation des peuples par la religion en général, et surtout pour ceux qui l’appliquent sans réfléchir. L’intégrisme est présent dans chacune des religions du monde, et c’est en grande partie ce qui détourne les gens de la pensée religieuse. Dieu existe probablement dans sa perfection, mais la religion est ce que les hommes en ont fait, dans leur imperfection, et je la trouve bien décévante. Il reste la philosophie, qui garde les yeux ouverts, et élève l’esprit, notamment vers la compassion et l’Amour dont nous sommes imprégnés. Laissons notre í¢me s’envoler vers l’AMOUR, c’est lui la véritable religion.
    This dish is a perfect illustration of the alienation of people by religion in general and especially for those who apply it without thinking. Fundamentalism is present in each of the religions of the world, and this is largely what distracts people from religious thought. God probably exists in its perfection, but religion is what men have done in their imperfection, and I find it very disappointing. It is the philosophy that keeps the eyes open, and elevates the spirit, especially to the compassion and love which we are imbued. Let our souls fly to love, he is the true religion. M Christine G

  5. Yacoob says:

    A lovely story that encapsulates how progression, when backed up by Divine source, is something that is not only good – but also necessary. It actually fits perfectly with the Islamic understanding of the progression of Prophets – which is that they are all sent by the same source (and teaching the same message), yet they come with a different law for their people each time (i.e. God decrees a new law for the community that receives the new prophet).

    It also highlights the stubbornness of people who are so dogmatic and end up following custom and habit rather than truth. This, again, is highlighted in Islam – as the Koran tells us time and time again that when prophets came to their people, many of the people rejected the prophets and messages, saying that they would not abandon their current ways (i.e. idolatry), because ‘we found our forefathers doing what we do’.

    Again, i reiterate that progress is absolutely necessary – but must always be backed up by Divine guidance.

  6. K S S Pillai says:

    Unfortunately, the tendency of the ‘haves’ is to see that the ‘have-nots’ remain as they are, even if they are asked to amend their ways by God himself. Even when millions of people around the world go hungry, some countries prefer to dump their excess grains in the sea in order to maintain the price! Let us listen to the voice of our heart, which is actually the voice of God.

  7. Vinay says:

    An excellent piece of wisdom , told with a simple yet powerful story.That people with such thoughts exist reinforces my faith that all is not still lost on earth.
    The story reminds me of the parallels that one can see in conflicts between nations, religions, and within communities. I wonder why should we classify the world into developed and developing, into the rich and the poor ? to me, it is just that a part of us has flourished faster and the one that lags needs more attention and more support to come at par. Dont we treat our family members that way? Should we leave the crippled and the sick to fend for themselves? How wonderful the place called earth would be if we could treat others with respect and love! A song by Lennon and a poem by Rabindranath Tagore echoed similar sentiments decades ago but continue to guide me like a lighthouse.
    I wish Paulo’s message could reach everyone in every place to be imbibed and practiced.
    I appreciate and bow to your humanism.
    You are already blessed and your blessings are needed by so many.

  8. Keith says:

    Sadly there are too many churches like this.

    Today we have the problem of too many fruits of the earth being eaten, sufficient for everyone’s needs, insufficient for everyone’s greed.

  9. katie says:

    A quote on someone’s FB:
    “God knows everything, but man knows more.”

    Darwin once said: “”It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
    He thought about evolation of species.
    But I think, this quote may fit also to cultural & spiritual evolution as well.

    what you describe in this story, Paulo, feels to me typical for mankind. this kind of rigidity can be observed in all our levels of life. it just depends on our sensibility where we can recognize it.

  10. Life has new beginnings, new births to give, new life, Joy. May we all be able to accept this blessing in our hearts!

  11. Hector says:

    Gracias a Dios no estamos hechos en serie, y cada uno debe buscar la felicidad de su vida mas conveniente, sin menospreciar los ideales de los demas y respetando las tradiciones.

  12. Jane Stewart (Dances With Crayons) says:

    Listening to this story, like music of the soul.
    Reminds me of ‘Like the Flowing River’, archery, willow trees. Butterflies emerging from cocoons.

    Grateful for the sharing.

    Yesterday read a beautiful poem. Magic moments. Adds to the joy more than my words can say! Glad to be here.

    Thankyou, Love,

  13. Olta Canka says:

    Why do we find it easier to go for the hard way instead of easily accepting the Joy when is offered to us?
    Why when we are offered Paradise we run with zeal to the doors of Hell?

    Life has new beginnings, new births to give, new life, Joy. May we all be able to accept this blessing in our hearts!

    I am liking so much the illustration of today. :)


  14. Viola Onisro says:

    Thank YOU! Music in my ears….
    “Oh think twice ´cause it´s another day
    for YOU and ME in paradise”
    (Ph. Collins/Genesis)
    Love – Viola

  15. Julie Takase says:

    we must change with the world….

  16. Vincent Sylvan says:

    Yes, abundance should be shared but with people of same kind, with people who also share with us and have a similar philosophy in life. The gift doesn’t have to be equal or of same value but has to be well intended and decorated.
    Again, “trade” is the name of the game.

  17. Heimo Kruschinski says:

    There’s a saying that drives me regularly in the madness. “We’ve always done it this way.” Yes, that is the reason why we still live in caves. This story is wonderful, it perfectly describes the arise of stupidity. Each of the religious or political organizations of our planet should read it. Or rather our children, they probably understand, with the others I’m not sure.

    Ken’s illustration is fantastic. A poster would be great, I’d buy it immediately!

    I wish you all a wonderful day

  18. Irina Black says:

    Ева пала на колени,моля о повторении искуса.
    Адам же непреклонен был.
    Восторг в душе-испуг давно сменил.(Поклонение)

  19. Deepa Susan Koshy says:

    I have no words for this post. It felt as if somebody read my thoughts, crystallised it and wrote it down with authority. That said, i can see my gaps! Not expressing what i know with authority! I need to overcome this fear. Such a beautiful example. How did you wield your message into this example? Inspiration?

  20. Yan says:

    may i think in this way:Do we believe in high spiritual existence, who is/are wise and can also think and act freely? If we do, why don’t we believe that they also change their ideas, and develop like the universe itself?

    Why do some people grab on some old doctrines as if they are the god himself? God might have said these words at that time, but he can and be able to say something new at any time.

    I think if we can listen to our hearts well, we will find those old words of His which still fit today(there are still a lot) and which don’t.

  21. Alexandra says:

    The image is very good one…thanks Ken. I think the story should be read by many…I know a lot of people like that( some are relative…). They go often to church, pray in public, etc. But treat people with scorn, like if we are pagans, if we do not exactly as their priest told them ( a very poor prepared ) …Just today I was thinking on the issue, about how bad can be old custom, and there are people who keep such, just because they say they are inherited in a sort of direct communication from God. An humble example: dance is sin…OMG: I cant understand, I think is Art, and would be a poor world without it. Maybe they never heard about the end of Savonarola…

  22. Tarek says:

    Very good! An amazingly simple text that reveals the complicated and sad fact of a noble idea, all noble ideas are sort of religion for there followers, turining into a dogma and loosing its spirit.

  23. AMK says:

    I like your words Paulo, they are realistic and indicative of an endemic problem which plagues not only the church, but all industries on Earth.

    The failure to adapt to change, as people, as an individual, as a business and as a culture, often results in conflict which can lead to war, racism, division and a lack of love. The inability to adjust with the world as it adapts to change can leave one behind in a lonely, isolated place.

    I have recently written a post about your fantastic novel ‘The Valkyries,’ on the website of my recent bestselling novel ‘Vagabond’ which was inspired by ‘The Alchemist.’ I hope that you find time to read it, as it is an ode to your life’s work and the fruition of years of inspiration by the pen of your hand. I have an interview in London coming up with The Independent, and I plan on mentioning you as the very reason it was created in the first place.

    The link to ‘The Valkyries’ post and my novel can be found here: http://anthonykarakai.com/2012/01/17/paulo-coelhos-the-valkyries/#respond

    Blessings to you, my brother Paulo!

  24. There’s also the fact, that the other villagers are likely to eventually attack – verbally, politically or even directly physically – your village, if these other villages were starving and your village was ruining all the fruits regardless the plentifulness. Instead if you shared the fruits – and more importantly their seeds – you are likely to better off right away with return tokens. Obviously there shall be orchards everywhere pretty soon, but then you might have factories that were created by the other villagers.

  25. Empié says:

    La verdad es que muchas de las prohibiciones y leyes de las distintas religiones tienen como fin preservar la sociedad y garantizar la vida en un contexto determinado, cuando el contexto cambia no hace falta seguir ese tipo de leyes aunque para algunos cobran una fuerza hipnótica, otros ven la realidad y la sinceridad con sus ideas y con su corazón les hace adaptarse a la nueva situación porque Dios les habla directamente de esta forma.

    Ejemplos tí­picos:
    – Comer cerdo se considera pecado en algunas religiones porque los climas donde se generaron estas religiones eran incompatibles con la crianza de animales que competí­an con el hombre ya que consumen los mismos alimentos. Los cerdos son homní­boros, esto implican que comen alimentos que el hombre puede consumir, no recuerdo bien la relación pero creo que para que el cerdo genere un kilogramo de carne se necesitan sobre 20 de otros alimentos, esto supone que un cerdo de 150 kilogramos ha consumido 3000 kilogramos de otros alimentos, con lo que la disponibilidad de alimentos para el consumo humano serí­a menor. Afortunadamente las circunstancias han cambiado y alimentar cerdos no significa matar de hambre a mucha gente en ecosistemas poco productivos.
    – Las vacas son sagradas en la India porque antiguamente se utilizaban como tractores además de proporcionar otros productos de gran valor como la leche y el estiércol que se utilizaba como combustible. Sacralizarlas era una forma de preservar la economí­a y evitar hambrunas.
    – Existen otro tipo de medidas referentes al control demográfico. Cuando se necesitaba que la población creciera para ocupar tierras conquistadas, mano de obra para el estado, etc… la religión dictaba normas que fuesen dirigidas al aumento de la población, se sancionaban las practicas sexuales que no condujesen a la procreación y se alentaba tener un numero elevado de descendientes. En el caso contrario, en zonas que solo podí­an mantener a un determinado número de habitantes, el objetivo era el contrario, en algunos sitios decí­an el que semen era sagrado e incluso en grupos de guerreros era normal que los más jóvenes sirvieran como alivio al resto del grupo, por otra parte la guerra era frecuente y se sacralizaba (también en otro tipo de religiones, de esta manera los combatientes son más eficientes) se utilizaba como medio de reducir la población (a gran escala pasó en Ruanda hace unos años, la presión demográfica y la incapacidad para que el medio sustentara a un número tan elevado de población provoco una guerra civil terrible). Como contrapunto cabe señalar que las sociedades más guerreras son en las que más está admitida e incentivada la homosexualidad,
    en ellas suele fomentarse el número de hombres dentro del grupo porque son más eficientes en las guerras, al menos antes de la aparición de armas de fuego, esto implica que no hay mujeres para todos, por otra parte la disminución del número de mujeres hace que la población se mantenga o , cuando el terreno no puede generar alimento para mucha gente esto es beneficioso.

    Siento haberme extendido tanto, pero es que me parece interesante.

    Un saludo.

    1. Marie-Christine says:

      Gracias por sus comentarios Enpie. Me gusta mucho lo que escribe. Es muy informativo y siempre con mucha modestia.

  26. Saba Slatiel says:

    The article is a good read and the lesson is great we should always accept change and mold ourselves with time and requirments , but linking eaxmples and lessons with religion is something i disagree religion can always contradict with the pace and style of life we are living in 21th century which does not mean we should abandon the religion . Thanks Paul

  27. Anagha says:

    This is happening everywhere, i think in every religion…people are blindly following the religion, No one is thinking, about the purpose of any custom or any ‘Dharma’.

  28. Jojo says:

    Great. Have other beliefs to consider in my mental in my own personal life, and so on and on … that is the challenge and the beauty and excitement, adventure of life.

  29. Leandro Domingues says:

    Very good, there are traditions that must be maintained or should be abandoned because they no longer make sense.
    Jesus healed the sick on Saturday that was banned.
    When there is a greater good, the tradition must be broken.
    So how to split the bounty with neighbors.

  30. Iris Dahle says:

    This is a really important subject today. Especially here in Norway we are living in a society of wealth. It is all about physical needs. And my heart is bleeding by watching what this does to people and especially our children who is growing up in this society. And there are children who is really suffering on the other side. I wrote an article about the subject a week ago in the local newspaper. There was one person who thanked me for doing this and totally agreed. I had hoped for more response, but for me it was enough with the one person. Because he gave me the spirit to continue writing. We need to speak up, from all over the world. Each one of us has to make a difference to make the world more balanced. Love

  31. Heart says:

    I live in the desert & just ate 3 sweet clementines.. No rotten fruit around!

    Incidentally, I was thinking about this about tradition today. So often in the Holy Scripture, its blaming and instructing the reader to be obedient, and then there was a story of celebrating the groom when he was there in spite of it being Sabbath.. I am much more into following the law of the heart than the law of some Patriarchs on a power kick! So, there you go.. the One Right Denomination isn’t for me anymore, the One Burning Love for anyone crossing my path is..

  32. pam says:

    Dear Paulo, I look forward to being able to read your stories. I also love the replies from your other readers. I have wondered how you stay grounded with all the compliments coming your way. I think this would be a real challenge for me. Thanks for being you and sharing.

    1. pam says:

      And I love the picture by Ken Crane

  33. nina ramirez says:

    Es bueno segur las tradiciones,sólo debemos recordar que tenemos que crecer y evolucionar junto con ellas!!

  34. I can’t help but share something that I just learned that is going on back home…I have been travelling around South America for several months, on my last conversation with my brother back home in Montreal, Quebec, he told me about a very disturbing situation going on there, one that I am not very proud of. It is the big hockey season in North America right now. The Montreal hockey team ( The Canadians) recently got a new coach. He was selected because of his amazing skills to take a team to a higher level. Now, this man does not speak a word of French. Because of this, people have started manifesting!!!!! They are upset, insulted over the fact that a coach who does not speak french was chosen….Do they not realize that they are limting themselves? We should be proud that we are exposed to 2 languages, it is a bi-lingual province…IT IS A GOOD THING….Put that aside, this man has the skills to coach, maybe take this team to a higher performance, how does language have anything to do with it….like this post, these people are missing the point, the opportunity of having their home team go to the top…it is like they are stoning this man who can bring them new knowledge because they are so obsessed with the belief that something is being taken away from them (their language)….

  35. Salem_yah says:

    I ask myself a million times why should be like that? Why we can’t be happy for the others, why i put in my mouth the words that hurts in the fake name of faith, in the religion, that judge to the others for the simple kind to be different and think different,in the wrong understand of “whishes of god” what really god wants of us? I doubt that he wants to follow the rules that make you unhappy, like another loving father i guess he wants our happiness, even if i was wrong before, even if i can’t understand the alwaYs perefect simetry of my mother’s church, with your books you make me see that even if i feel i’m the worst person i need to find my happiness, Good bless you for the freedom that you gave me. Than you so much.

  36. Jeremy says:

    Interesting food for thought…

    Like Jesus bring a message of freedom, but his message falling on ears that would not hear…

  37. Foster says:

    An interesting illustration of fundamentalist religious beliefs that shows how fundamentally unsound they are – thanks to Paulo’s fruitful mind.

    El mundo habia sufrido bastante bajo de los pensamientos religiosas malos. Me gusta mucho que con las palabras de Paulo el viento de religion ha cambiado direcion y la fortuna de humanidad esta ganando. Perdoname por mi Espanol, pero a veces debo que practicar.

  38. Pilar says:

    Dios siempre está ayudando cuando enví­a un profeta.

  39. This is very touching dear Paulo, so beautiful lesson you gave us just in a few words! I love your wisdom! I just love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. juhi kamra says:

    yes we follow things blindly never questioning, for people think that this person lacks faith.
    we limit our growth by blindly belonging/believing to a particular sect, religion, country, path. we don’t want to see the truth as it is, forget speak about it. we do not speak about our nation cos it gave us a home, a living, we dont speak about our religion cos we are fearful of the gods. we practice fanatism and call it faith. We sell our souls just for a few pieces of bread.

  41. This reminds me of today’s story by Savita, about her yoga studio in Texas…

    Are you kidding me, satanic and what not! COME ON people!

    Seems like every generation is reluctant to change.

    It’s lack of know-ledge. To know, the truth.

    Humans, we like to belong, to belong to something meaningful…

    but to do so without questioning, not so good!

  42. […] The law and the fruit By Paulo Coelho In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets… […]

  43. Gracielle says:

    Many traditions and beliefs are passed on to us as we grow..Some are true depending of where you are standing…I think the the right action is the one that feels true to your heart..

  44. Alexandra says:

    Now ,should I remember that sometimes we must listen to our hearts,and to common sense?How many mistakes from the people of church,I dont want to blame them,maybe they are in good faith.But church rules are obsolete,and almost impossible to be applied in real life.In ,my country ,church doesnt help people much,is too far from poors and I dislike the idea of menacing always people that they end in hell,while they are rich and many of them sinners.I apologize if seemed that I include every priest,no,sure there are also brave and wise man ,but not enough.

  45. jhayl says:

    Each individual has his own wisdom and free will. It’s doesn’t mean to forget what the old customs. It will remain until the succeeding generations. We are on to decide what our hearts telling us to believe…

  46. ed says:

    Isn’t Paulo the prophet? Or do we really need one? :-)

  47. olli says:

    All we need now is a prophet to tell us to limit our fruit usage here. Well, and us to listen.