10 SEC READ: Insults (EN, PT, ES, FR)

Illustration by Ken Crane

Changing attitude

“Over the course of one year, give a coin to each person who offends or upsets you,” instructed the abbot of a young man who wanted people to follow a spiritual path.
For the next twelve months, the boy gave a coin to each person who offended or upset him, as he was instructed. At the end of the year, he returned to the abbot to find out what the next steps were.
“Go into town and buy food for me,” the abbot responded.
Once the boy left, the abbot changed his clothes, disguised himself as a beggar and went to the gate. When the boy approached, he began to insult him.
“Good!” said the boy, “for a whole year I had to pay the people who upset or offended me, and now I can be offended for free, without spending anything!”
Hearing this, the abbot removed his disguise.
“He who does not take insults seriously, is on the path to wisdom.”
Mudando a atitude
– Pelo perí­odo de um ano, pague uma moeda quem lhe agredir – disse o abade a um jovem que queria seguir o caminho espiritual.
Nos doze meses seguintes, o rapaz pagava uma moeda sempre que era agredido. No final do ano, voltou ao abade, para saber o próximo passo.
– Vá até a cidade comprar comida para mim.
Assim que o rapaz saiu, o abade disfarí§ou-se de mendigo e foi até a porta da cidade. Quando o rapaz se aproximou, comeí§ou a insultá-lo.
– Que bom! – comentou o rapaz. – Durante um ano inteiro tive que pagar, e agora posso ser agredido de graí§a, sem gastar nada!
Ouvindo isto, o abade retirou seu disfarce.
– Quem ní£o leva os insultos a sério, está no caminho da sabedoria.
Cambiando de actitud
-Durante el periodo de un año, paga una moneda al que te ofenda – le dijo el abad a un joven que querí­a seguir el camino espiritual.
A lo largo de los doce meses siguientes, el muchacho pagaba una moneda siempre que alguien lo ofendí­a. Cuando el año terminó, regresó junto al abad para preguntarle cuál deberí­a ser el próximo paso.
-Ve a la ciudad a comprarme comida.
Nada más salir el muchacho, el abad se disfrazó de mendigo y se situó en la puerta de la ciudad. Cuando el muchacho se aproximó, empezó a insultarlo.
-¡Qué bien! – comentó el joven -. Durante todo un año tuve que pagar, ¡y ahora me pueden ofender gratis, sin gastar nada!
Al oí­r esto, el abad se quitó el disfraz.
-El que no se toma los insultos en serio, está en el camino de la sabidurí­a.
Changer d’attitude
« Pendant une période d’un an, paie une pièce í  celui qui t’agressera », dit l’abbé í  un jeune qui voulait suivre le chemin de la spiritualité.
Les douze mois suivants, le garí§on payait une pièce chaque fois qu’il était agressé. í€ la fin de l’année, il retourna vers l’abbé pour connaí®tre l’étape suivante.
« Va jusqu’í  la ville acheter de la nourriture pour moi. »
Aussití´t le garí§on parti, l’abbé se déguisa en mendiant et se rendit í  la porte de la ville. Quand le garí§on s’approcha, il commení§a í  l’insulter.
« C’est bien ! déclara le garí§on. Pendant toute une année, j’ai dí» payer, et maintenant je peux íªtre agressé gratuitement, sans dépenser un sou ! »
Entendant cela, l’abbé retira son déguisement.
« Celui qui ne prend pas les insultes au sérieux est sur la voie de la sagesse.


  1. Annie says:

    Dearest Paulo,
    here you post about insults and cannot but think of and post about Greece and my generation and the next one(s) to come.. Greece is being insulted over and over again, and being mocked over and over again,because of the incompetent and ‘not enough’ politicians.. i read and listen to people saying ‘you guys should drink lot less ouzo and play a lot less bouzouki..’ what?? really? it’s a kind of dictatorship but not with guns.. it’s an economic war against us..
    Please don’t shoot against the greek people, we are of the most hard working people, and we don’t deserve it..
    With all the respect

    Love and Gratitude

    1. Hi Annie

      I have visited Greece a few times…you know why I returned? First it is one of the most beautiful countries I have been to, the islands are just breath taking! Second, I met so many warm and wonderful people, very welcoming!

      There is something very important I have learned in traveling, insults more often than not, come from jealousy! People will not put their energy in talking about something that means nothing to them. Although, some people choose to communicate it via insults, it is a way of making themselves feel better for not having what they are insulting! It is like saying, “I am better off this way.”

      There is no country that is perfect or bad…In the end we are all One! Instead of appreciating and learning from our different cultures, there are people out there who will criticize the differences!

      You know what? The more insults you receive, tell yourself, WOW, people are putting energy in talking about us, we must be doing something right:)

      Enjoy doing what Greece does best, I will never forget the great time I had there!!!

    2. Fabrizio says:

      Hello Annie,
      I don’t know where you read or where you heard about those type of insults against greek people, but i can assure you that i know and spoke with a lot of my people around the world and all of us we are on your side, the side of people that paid for the mistakes of other or even more for the issue of an economic empire that it is not working properly anymore.
      We love greek people, I was in Greeke twice and I love the country.
      With all the respect
      Fabrizio from Italy

    3. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

      Dear Annie,
      I’m sorry that you think other Europeans may think that the Greek people. For us the contrary, Greece is the mother of our civilization, and in my business, I quote the example of the “mediterranean diet” Greek and crétaois that “factory” of centenarians of wisdom, a sudden olive oil, treasure of gold and sunshine. Let’s say jealous of any edge that you envy your legendary sun, the blue Mediterranean on your and your white house flooded with light. They would probably live at home, despite economic problems. Anyway who do not in cemonde where only money counts … Keep your heart and confidence in the future in a country where nature is so beautiful. Kisses. Marie Christine G

  2. Beatrice says:

    Paulo, what a meanfull advice… I once used to be apreciated, loved and I was giving back more… Life was so beautiful and I took nothing for granted… but I wanted more, I wanted to be loved by only one human being, the man I am married now… and what do I have now? Insults and verbal abuse… You made my day again. Thank you.

  3. The first story that I read about insults was right here, at this Blog!
    Thankyou Paulo and Ken.
    The picture is quite amazing because there was an expression my grandma used to say ‘full of beans’.

    Is like when the boy paid a coin, he was ‘buying’ the insult.

    So first need to go to a quiet place, calm down, and remember these stories.
    (There is another story too, about the Gift of Insults.)

    Warm greetings for the day to all. Love and Gratitude,
    Jane xo

  4. AMK says:

    I agree with this. I’ve come to a point only recently where I don’t get offended by those who insult me.

    The analogy here for coins is the gold within us. If each time somebody insults you, you give them a coin (a piece of yourself; your esteem, confidence, or energy which harms you) then eventually they will win. If you let the insults go over your head and pay them no mind, only ignore them in the realisation that insults arise from opinions, and opinions can only ever be subjective and not objective, then you begin to see that no word matters. Only what you think of yourself, can you be judged by. The words of another are rendered meaningless as it’s an opinion.

    I heard The Alchemist is being made into a movie. For a list of famous movie stars and who I can see them playing in the film, check out my site at http://www.anthonykarakai.com . I wrote a bestselling novel too!

  5. jitendra says:

    what a beutiful story with a nice message;;
    I really liked it;;

  6. nirali says:

    I wanted to share this beautiful story with all the readers and you http://jeffonelonelyguy.tumblr.com/

  7. SAI says:

    Thank you coelho!!!
    You have made my life much beautiful!!!

  8. Xperienced says:

    Insult is a harsh word and is not good for anyone. I when sometimes provoked respond with insinuations but not insult. But unlike others, my insinuations affect people in a way that the impact carries on for years…… but even in insults i maintain decency and do not take things on a personal level also very unlike others.

  9. Anagha says:

    Thanks for sharing this. But if insults hurt self esteems, then it’s not easy to ignore them….It hurts.

  10. Psalmbody says:


  11. Annie says:

    I love the illustration, it’s wonderful Ken!
    As for the story.. every time I insulted someone it really got to me later and felt badly.. every time I did that I thought that I should have done otherwise.. there are other ways to react, and definitely not with an insult.
    now when someone insults me-and it happened lately- i try not to return the insult, instead that time I got amused and took it very lightly , but I also got sorry for the language and the words been ‘violated’ and used for the purpose of an insult..’…

    Love and Gratitude

  12. Empié says:

    Yo de momento cambio, todaví­a no soy el que seré, pero sin duda estoy más lejos que ayer de la influencia de la gente maliciosa. Sigo caminando, veo luz, por lo que se que adelante me espera algo bueno.

    Un saludo.

  13. Gaby says:

    Usted me inspira, tiene un don maravilloso para expresar la profundidad de la vida y por eso me pregunto ¿Un hombre como usted que da tanto a la humanidad, tendrá una relación con Dios? Yo amo a Jesucristo y lo reconozco como mi SEí‘OR y Salvador. Esto me ha llevado a tener una vida interior llena, plena… Vivo el amor de Dios en mi y cuando puedo, quiero decirlo, quiero que la gente conozca a un Dios verdadero el cual nos ama con amor eterno ¿Lo conoces Paulo? Te invito a abrirle tu corazón, invitalo a ser parte de ti. Te estás perdiendo algo maravilloso ¿Por qué lo sé? Porque simplemente he vivido sin Él y con Él y sé reconocer la diferencia.

  14. Suneetra says:

    Great story to communicate a lesson across, Paulo! As a rape and sexual abuse survivor, I have spent a lifetime enduring insults and painful words. They just don’t bother me anymore. Very liberating feeling!

  15. Genevieve Ross says:

    When I feel offended by someone my biggest challenge is to not take it personally””to not let it affect my self-view; to resist the urge to retaliate with bitter words of my own. I know that insults from others are merely a reflection of their own unhappiness and a kind word, or even just, a smile from me may change what they see in their mirror. Not always successful””but it sure feels better to try!

  16. R says:

    A resposta para o Bambum Chiníªs está no quadro.
    Ní£o preciso dizer mais nada.
    Ganhei o jantar?
    Um abraí§o.

  17. CG says:

    german translation

    Die í„nderung der Einstellung

    “Für die Dauer eines Jahres gib jeder Person eine Münze, die dich beleidigt oder verärgert”, beauftragte der Abt einen jungen Mann der dem spirituellen Weg folgen wollte.
    In den nächsten zwölf Monaten gab der Junge jeder Person eine Münze, die ihn verärgerte oder beleidigte, wie er angewiesen wurde. Am Ende des Jahres kehrte er zu dem Abt zurück, um herauszufinden, was die nächsten Schritte waren.
    “Geh in die Stadt und kaufe Lebensmittel für mich”, antwortete der Abt.
    Sobald der Junge ihn verließ, wechselte der Abt seine Kleidung, verkleidete sich als Bettler und ging zum Tor. Als der Junge sich näherte, begann er, ihn zu beschimpfen.
    “Gut!”, sagte der Junge, “ein ganzes Jahr lang musste ich die Leute, die mich verärgerten oder beleidigten, bezahlen und jetzt kann ich kostenlos beleidigt werden, ohne dafür etwas zu bezahlen!”
    Als er dies hörte, entfernt der Abt seine Verkleidung. “Derjenige, der Beleidigungen nicht ernst nimmt, ist auf dem Weg zur Weisheit.”

  18. Gonzalo says:

    Soportar las ofensas sin sentirse ofendido se logra teniendo el amor mas puro y yo por ahora no lo tengo, por eso me cuesta mucho soportar cuando me ofenden aun que pasado los primeros minutos de reaccion, se me hace mas facil y hasta me rio.

  19. Haiku says:

    I agree with the post. Whenever I am the target of an insult or witness to an insult, I always keep in mind that the other person’s attempt to cause harm, ill-will or discomfort has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
    It took some time for me to realize but the following quote by Wayne Dyer keeps me mindful during these kind of experiences:

    How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.

    1. Joao says:


      I am also a Wayne Dyer fan, that quote is amazing and really it´s up to us to decide the beginning of each day and tthe I quote another one from Wayne Dyer:

      ‘Good morning, God’ or ‘Good God, morning’


  20. Jessica says:

    I just wanted to tell Ken Crane … that his illustrations are wonderful <3

  21. Jessica says:

    What a stupid thing to do in the first place …. or maybe its really smart …. then they wonder why they recieved a coin when behaving bad !!! Seriousally …. I nor often take offending personally …. only when it comes to a close friend. But not even then should I listen I suppose …. if it isnt true I mean. Wish you all a wonderful day ahead <3

  22. Cristina B says:

    Great! I love this little novel! I teaches a lot.

  23. Aloisio Gruber says:

    Uma reaí§í£o dessas perante uma agreí§í£o verbal, além de ser altamente saudável para o agredido, é uma atitude que deixa o agressor muito mais desconcertato que uma enchurrada de palavríµes como resposta.
    Um abraí§o a todos

  24. heart says:

    The heart is honest and knows exactly how to feel and react. We should not manipulate the heart. Instead, it is all about timing. The heart take advantage of thick skin and a stone face, and make sure those tears are shed in private, behind the curtains. The enemy will get less to feed on, and will get tired of insulting the heart. Yes. Eventually the insulter will end up as Josephs brokers bowing in the dust to beg for corn during the famine..#1 Try to avoid insulting anyone..

  25. Yen Baet says:

    How one handles insults, I think, is also largely dependent on one’s self esteem. Truly one who has self-worth will not be offended.

  26. Marie-Christine says:

    What is really important is :
    – to never let ‘Veronika dies’
    With love

  27. Well says:

    “He who does not take insults seriously, is on the path to wisdom.”
    In my experience this may be true in some cases, but more often he is on the path of lying, on the path of suppressing.

    Nowadays I think more important is that he who does take feelings seriously and learns to communicate them non-violently, is on the path to wisdom, on the path to peace. Therefore I want to introduce a constructive way to deal with anger, frustration and discrimination…


  28. Brave_soul says:

    I will disagree with you. We should not be insulting one another. What the story about is surviving strategy for a world getting really bad. I have been to countries that they think who insults people the most is the toughest and it is used for competition and reward purposes. Other countries that believe insulting someone will lower from their own self respect which I admire in return.
    People who try to insult people is because of their own short coming and pain so they desperately want others to feel the same pain as if it will make the pain go away. Which of course only fuel the pain even more for both sides.

    Psycologically speaking it is very harmful for the human psyc to endure that kind of behavior and the majority will likely won’t be able to handle it well. Suicide/murder cases are all drived from this point. Since mental health practices are based on the majority and not the minorty why don’t we just learn to treat each other with respect and compassion. I have been in both sides of the extreme and I master both LOL, however, I choose to be nice, it makes me feel happy. I run away from bad energy environment even if it meant I will lose so much material stuff. I have done this all my life. Bad energy will just bring bad energy for both sides. Someone need to break the cycle or we will vanish from emotional pain. The more people break the cycle the energy cycle will become better. It is not okay to take insults, however, you just need to learn the art of breaking the cycle. It is not that hard. You only need to learn to stop the insult without hurting back. Practice makes it easier. I take the liberaty to defend myself by avoiding the knif. Or just block any bad energy not allowing it to come close enough. It is not okay to convince our brains that insults are not serious. We will reach to a point where humanity can’t differenciate between black and white. We will become colour blind. And the phenomenon will be called preception;-). This is different than the spiritual preception.

  29. Cynthia Pugh says:

    Yes insults can be very hurtful. It always puzzles me why I take insults so personally despite the fact that I know all the wise truths. This is a huge area of development for myself and welcome the timely reminder. I used to say I will let god deal with it, These days I have lost my certainty.
    nevertheless maintaining an innocence does help insults just fly past you. If you can develop the sense of your own worth despite what the world and people throw at you.

  30. Heimo Kruschinski says:

    A strange story. Personally, I like it. Insults are a thing that is two sided. Gandhi has said something nice about getting hurt. The boy will hopefully have noticed the people who have insulted him. Although he may not care. What is really with the other people? There is nothing about them told in this story. They must have noticed. They get paid to insult someone. What do they think about the boy? What do they thing about themselves? They insult him for money? If you have realized it, then maybe you do it on purpose. Often people are insulted unintentionally, that happens. But often not. Then it is on purpose. The abbot must also be aware of. It is not my story. But I think, this untold side of the story , is very exciting too. I’m thinking about.

    I wish you all a wonderful day

  31. Susan says:

    That struck a chord straight to my heart. Having had some very difficult and upsetting conversations with my sister regarding what she sees as my lack of appreciation for the time she spends looking after my father…I’m learning to hold my tongue and not react in the way I have, at other times.
    We live 3,000 miles apart…and it is a difficult time for all of us (have 2 brothers too, one who is also overseas), also sad to think that she doesn’t understand that I am doing what I can do to help with the care of my father, and that I love my father too. Her personal circumstances are also affecting the way she has been speaking to me. Thank God, I’m being stronger and learning to separate the two issues here, so as not to internalise everything and feel like I’m losing my way. By focusing on my Dad and not the hurtful language I’m hopeful we can do a lot.
    Thanks for the story…

  32. Arto Hutto says:

    In Swedish:

    10 SEKUNDERS Lí„SNING: Förolämpningar

    Att ändra inställning

    “Under loppet av ett år, ge en slant till varje person som kränker eller upprör dig” instruerade abboten en ung man som ville följa en andlig väg.

    Under de kommande tolv månaderna, gav pojken ett mynt till varje person som förolämpade eller upprörde honom, precis som han fått i uppdrag.

    Vid slutet av året återvände han till abboten för att få reda på vad nästa steg var.

    “Gå in till stan och köpa mat till mig,” svarade abboten.

    Så snart pojken lämnat honom, bytte abboten om, förklädde sig som en tiggare och begav till stadsporten.
    När pojken närmade sig, började han att förolämpa honom.

    “Bra!” sa pojken, “under ett helt år var jag tvungen att betala de personer som upprörde eller förolämpade mig och nu kan jag bli förolämpad helt gratis, utan att spendera någonting!”

    När han hörde detta, tog abboten av sig sin förklädnad och sa: “Den som inte tar förolämpningar på allvar är på väg mot visdom.”


    I original postad här: http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/02/09/10-sec-read-insults-en-pt-es-fr/
    Paulo Coelho på svenska: http://www.facebook.com/PauloCoelhoSverige
    í–versättning: oLaVie (kommentera gärna)

  33. Empié says:

    Que te ataquen y no estar es una bendición, ya no ardo.

    El otro dí­a un amigo y yo recibimos algo así­ como una ofensa, nos miramos y nos reí­mos, los dos coincidimos en que… “si es que es tonto, jajaja”

    Un saludo. No hago nada en contra de lo que siento o pienso, no fuerzo las actitudes que tomo, simplemente llegado el dí­a, cambio, la paz y la manera correcta de actuar aparecen de forma espontanea y todo empieza a cambiar.

    Un saludo

  34. katie says:

    yes, but I put the phone down today when a person insulted me :o)
    but insulting is really that person’s problem…
    still, I will take the freedom to walk away from people insulting me. my peace is important to me & I want to be not emotionally involved in that crap.

  35. Dominiq Li says:

    take nothing offensively = enhanced sense of humor

  36. Lucy Raja says:

    Highly inspiring. I will try to follow it. Thanks.

  37. Ken Crane says:

    translation in Japanese:






  38. Celeste says:

    What if the person that gives you the most cruel and hurtful insults is the person that you love the most ? Then how can you not take it to heart that a person whom you devote all your love, your life turn out to be the most cruel person of them all. And this person clearly knows the extend of his malicious words and what it does.

    1. Xperienced says:

      I agree, and to top it all, a mirage is shown to you only to make a fool out of you to hurt your feelings.

  39. anna gayleen says:

    i love this.. it made me laugh at the ending..i wish to have the boy’s attitude towards the beggar…

  40. Sinagbituin says:

    Hmm case to case basis I suppose.

    There are people who accepts criticisms positively through simple steps 1) check within (is it true?) ; observe 2) If true, make amendments in order for yourself to become better. If not or it will lead into negative results, that’s the time to ignore.

    Since change is constant, why not try to make it into better?

    Most of the times though, we need other people.

    sinagbituin :)

  41. R Venkatesh says:

    True.Do not take insults seriously.It hampers your growth like an adverse comment.There is a story which goes like this.There were a few Crabs trying to climb out of a depth.They were being discouraged by other crabs.Finally one made it.Everybody rushed to congratulate and said in spite of adverse comments he was able to make it.The successful one replied “what comment?I am deaf and did not hear anything”.
    Ignore insults, discouraging remarks you will come up.

  42. Neezar says:

    I agree that insults are just words, and eventhough words convey meaning and are as a matter of fact the tools to power, insults are apart. in fact insults do not hut us unless we allow them to.it’s only when we take them seriously and we allow feelings of hurt and anger fill our souls, that insults gain their value.

    Thank U Coelho

  43. SUMIT says:

    i usually dont get offended early maybe because i have got in a habit of ignoring what comments people give when you stand for something different.whenever a person try to differ from the group he gets insulted or things like that.one should have a strong belief in his actions and should know the difference between correct and folly….

  44. lupita says:

    Si lograra no hacer juicios respecto a las actitudes de los demas, sé que lograria la paz.

  45. Camila Lopes Pigato says:

    Olá, Paulo Coelho! Acho que o segredo de todo ensinamento é sempre levarmos em conta o fundo moral de uma história, e ní£o levá-la ao pé da letra. Li algo assim hoje em outra literatura… Precisamos aprender a ter sabedoria no modo como guiamos nossas vidas. Parar de reagir e agir. Se o jovem fizesse como todos estamos acostumados, ele simplesmente responderia o insulto. Teria até uma desculpa “palpável” pois seria uma ví­tima. Mas faria o que estamos acostumados a fazer, estimulando mais insulto, deixando o mundo do jeito que está. Agir, neste caso, é exatamente o que ele fez: em vez de revidar, pagar uma moeda, dar algo diferente e bom em troca. Provavelmente cada um que o insultou ficou um pouco desconcertado, talvez tenha até relfetido e mudado. E ele ganhou o que dinheiro nenhum no mundo paga: paz interior e conhecimento.
    Fique em paz! :-)
    Camila Pigato

  46. Caroline de Lourdes says:

    Many years ago I suddenly realized how hemmed in I was by ignorance and how limited I was in my scope of communication. Everyone in the world was trying to express the true language of feeling through words. People very often simply babble away endlessly or wallow in negative reports of all aspects of life. And this babble in fact can become very painful.

  47. Nancy says:

    I believe in the message that this short story is trying to tell us, but it has taken me awhile to figure out the difference between an insult, act of violence, or being a coward. I thought this blog was mainly about being brave!

    Now I think it is about letting peoples petty unkind words go. They are not the people who will commit genocide, throw punches or pull a gun out. They are the people who follow a religion, have kids, buy grocery. The unkind words of those people is what the message is about.

  48. Maria says:

    what a great story, it makes me want to try it as I take insults to heart and let them affect me greatly. I truly enjoyed reading everyones take on it and agree with the desperation and insecurity that one must feels when insulting others. I try to think of this when I feel I am being insulted, normally I do not act upon it and just laugh it off thinking of how they must be feeling to say something offensive. I feel sad for them but it still offends me. Should I act upon it and say something or are you all right in saying to just shrug it off?? shouldnt they know that their words have affected me?

  49. gaurry says:

    yes ,although it’s hard !as to me ,the first response must be flying into a rage !maybe it’s a good idea that to give a coin to each person who offended me .but I afraid they didn’t like to receive it .maybe it’s better to remind myself each time when I ‘m offended !because only as I want to be offended then others can offend me !