The natural order

A very wealthy man asked a Zen master for a text which would always remind him how happy he was with his family.

The Zen master took some parchment and, in beautiful calligraphy, wrote:

– The father dies. The son dies. The grandson dies.

– What? – said the furious rich man. – I asked you for something to inspire me, some teaching which might be respectfully contemplated by future generations, and you give me something as depressing and gloomy as these words?

– You asked me for something which would remind you of the happiness of living together with your family. If your son dies first, everyone will be devastated by the pain. If your grandson dies, it would be an unbearable experience.

“However, if your family disappears in the order which I placed on the paper, this is the natural course of life. Thus, although we all endure moments of pain, the generations will continue, and your legacy will be long-lasting.”


  1. sofia says:

    si algo tenemos seguro es la muerte, y no sabemos cuando sucederá así­ que tenemos nada más el hoy, hay que vivirlos los mejor posible

  2. Anaar says:

    Answers…..hmmm….At the end of the day It all depends how you reply to your ownself . If you are true to others talking Ideologies makes sense. Hurting others and talking of ideologies …..what such ideologies are going to give…i wish peace peace peace and love love love to each and every soul…

  3. mhabash says:

    nice story paulo. thanks for sharing and i agree with yan in his comment about dying and feeling

  4. cristina cabral says:

    Lembrar da morte nos ensina a viver sabiamente.

  5. Osho Sidhant says:

    Well mr coelho
    dying n being alive are exactly same things. Dying reminds us that we cant reside in this body forever, u have to leave someday. Recently one of my aunt died, when i heard it i felt as if my calfs were bereft of blood, i was going to fall ,it was really devastating. Before long i realised, the truth is, she is gone. Similarly some day my dad will go, my mom will , my bro will , i will , may b in any order. De facto, death is the most fabricated virtue on human existence.
    osho sidhant, 18yrs,india

  6. Vits says:

    Sadia …. A very nice story though small but has very big inspiration …. Thanks for putting it on this forum…

  7. Sadia Khaf says:

    wise man! there is another story in which a king asks for lines that would make him sad when he is happy and make him happy when he is sad. Can anyone of you guess those words? well it says “this time will pass”.

  8. J.C. Phalene says:

    On my way to the library recently, my eye was drawn to something coin-sized and colourful lying in the road. From a distance it reminded me of a black opal broach my grandmother used to wear when I was a child. I waited for the traffic to pass and walked over to check it out.

    As I drew closer it looked like a small cluster of ebony rose petals. Blackened blotches streaked with swishes of vivid red and blue.

    But it wasn’t flower petals.

    It was a butterfly.

    At first I thought it was dead. But then I saw its legs move. And I picked it up and carried it to the footpath. For a moment I hoped it might have just been stunned. But on closer inspection I realised it was badly injured.

    I felt a sense of real sadness looking at this beautiful creature dying in the palm of my hand. And I was torn as to what to do with it.

    In the end I thought it best to put it out of its misery.

    But afterwards, I felt a stinging sense of grief, which seemed out of all proportion in response to a dead insect. To a butterfly dying in the street…

    And then it struck me that this butterfly, so often the symbol of life and how fleeting it is, was significant in many ways. Not the least of which to remind me that all life is like that.

    Fragile. Impermanent. Interconnected.

  9. Marie-christine Grimard says:

    Quel cadeau magnifique sur celui ci , permettre í  quelqu’un de ne pas souffrir de la perte de ses enfants ! Voilí  bien ma plus grande peur .. Et le souhait que le destin m’epargne ce déchirement ultime, hante mes nuits .
    Le fil qui nous lie si étroitement peut il se briser. Quelle force peut dénouer cet écheveau , le cordon se renouera t il dans une autre vie, pour que nos í¢mes se reconnaissent , et se retrouvent . Qui sait, au lieu d’íªtre leur mère, peut íªtre serai- je leur fille dans cette autre histoire.
    En attendant, dans cette vie, le souhait de leur íªtre utile tant qu’ils auront besoin de moi me porte, et celui de leur épargner la charge de mes jours de déchéance guidera mes dernières forces. Si le destin nous a unis si étroitement , ils saura nous aider í  garder le souvenir de tout cet amour . M ch G

  10. jackienoriega says:

    si de acuerdo esto serí¬a lo que mayor felicidad proporcionaria a la humanidad que pudieramos seguir el orden natural de la vida, es decir que gozarí¬amos teniendo el ritmo natural ,todo lo que deberí¬a ser sin embargo nunca eso serí  seguro mas nuestras oraciones van encaminadas siempre a pedir salud y vida para nuestra familia y gozosos aquellos que no pierden a sus padres y a sus hijos porque es una felicidad completa pero igual siempre debemos estar concientes que nuestro orden natural es nacer crecer reproducir y morir

  11. katie says:

    it’s not a human …. a cat. my 18 year old cat has kidney failure, a chronic disease. as a consequence, he developed potassium deficiency that we still can well manage, and he looks as if he is cured.

    still, I know that his days are counted. I do not know how long we can stabilize him. but every morning after waking up and seeing again his clear, conscious eyes; or now that is summer, standing already in front of the door and wanting to go out … the moment is so precious, so long, I am happy just to experience it, him feeling well and being frisky.

  12. Yan says:

    chinese translation:







    “但是,当你的家人们是以我所书的顺序离世的,那就是再自然不过的人生了。 如此一来,即便我们必须忍受暂时的痛苦,我们的后代仍会繁衍,你的遗赠也会代代流传。”

  13. Wanderlaini Aparecida Rodrigues says:

    Nem imagino a dor que deve ser perde alguém importante em nossa vida.
    Deve ser horrí­vel!

  14. deyanira says:

    sr. coelho por que ya no publicado mas grabacion sabe esra muy interesenta verlo cada semana con algun tema nuevo

  15. Sardegna says:

    we spend our lives in complaining i don’t have this and that but what we have, we didn’t even notice it.

  16. neelam says:

    Death is a big truth of our life but before death whatever we have is actually important. It maybe time, people or relationships around us, important is that we have time and we have to best consume it. we spend our lives in complaining i don’t have this and that but what we have, we didn’t even notice it.

  17. toñi says:

    Hola, buenas tardes, …el orden natural de las cosas…
    si, bueno, yo he intentado encontrar la lógica dentro de mi mente y creo que casi lo he conseguido, pero …no puedo luchar contra mi propia naturaleza, no puedo dejar de ser lo que soy, …he hecho una gran limpieza mental pero hay partes de mi o de mi enfermedad que no desaparecen (los personajes que se supone que son almas gemelas mí­as). Y ayer fui a un lugar donde me encontré con alguien que al mirarlo a los ojos vi los reflejos del arco iris, bueno pues ayer volví­ a ese lugar. Antes de levantarme pensé en la idea de ponerme un sombrero de paja en la cabeza, pero no me lo puse. Pues al ir a ese sitio al que fuí­ sentí­ las esferas girando otra vez y un pensamiento me vino a la mente “estás aqui, has venido, lo noto”. Bueno pues voy directa hacia ese sitio y me encuentro con esa persona que se supone que es alma gemela mia y…llevaba un sombrero de paja en la cabeza. Quiero decir que hay cosas que pueden ser “esquizofrenia” y hay otras que no lo son. Entonces le compré unas pulseras, me miró, las cogió con sus manos y hizo una ceremonia con sus manos que a mi me resulta muy familiar (porque yo también lo hago). Varias personas se quedaron mirándonos, entonces dijo “es aceite para las pulseras, tengo aceite en las manos”, mi hermana que iba conmigo se sonrió y luego me comentó lo siguiente:”las personas lo han mirado Toñi, eso que hací­a es una imposición de energí­a de esas que haces tú cuando nos tocas con las manos. Seguramente tienes razón y ese chico es alma gemela tuya y además también es esquizofrénico como tú” Esto me lo dijo en el buen sentido, como una broma. Bueno, pues te lo querí­a comentar. Tengo suerte de poder ver a personas que forman parte de mi y saber que forman parte de mi, y en este caso, este chico sabe que yo también formo parte de él, me lo ha demostrado con lo que hizo con sus manos y como hablaba conmigo …como si nos conociéramos desde siempre. Me siento feliz por esto.
    Un saludo,

    1. Empié says:

      Siempre avanzando hacia el final o hacia el principio, después de un final siempre hay un principio. No te preocupes porque no tengas del todo controlada tu cabeza, piensa de donde vienes y adonde vas, cuando llegues, todo será perfecto.

      Un saludo.

  18. Siempre hay varias manera de ver las cosas. :)

  19. María says:

    El maestro Zen me enseña que lo más valioso que tenemos es nuestra familia y nuestra propia vida. Nuestra vida se verá alterada si la naturaleza no sigue un orden; no sobrepasar la vida de nuestros hijos o vivir menos que nuestros padres.
    Es una enseñanza muy bonita y me gusta mucho la idea de dejar un legado en el corazon de nuestros descendientes y que el legado de nuestros ascendentes nos sirva para crecer, que lo guardemos como nuestro mayor tesoro.

  20. densi says:

    but it is all about dying in this manner – of “natural orderness”. and this reminds me of being part of the whole which is sum of total of varieties.
    i can’t even spell:” i wish i have (had) some of this natural order in my life”, since everything turned differently; i can’t spell it because then there it wouldn’t be me to breathe or even type this comment. so – dying one after another in some family home with possibility to eventually encounter a zen master to sum it all up, is a dying horror to me.
    dissaters happen and pondering about some convention of natural order is irrelevant.
    what about zen masters or other wanderers or creators or visionaries – like the price being payed for it it wasn’t enough.
    yes you may say i’m fed up with this “naturalility” “law of jante” epiphanies etc etc. but i do love and cherish lillies despite the fact that they are spoiled shortsighted and boring to me – at least we have headaches with each others through interactions and smiles and stories shared together are priceless music of the spheres :)
    as for me – looking forward to the open smile horizon. (enough gloominess of “natural” this or that. i would rather die this very minute)
    much peace&love to all :)

    1. Brave_soul says:

      Death doesn’t know natural order……Life doesn’t know natural order. But there is order not from our prespective. You have to go through the full circle to understand.
      On the other hand, we live in a order. It is not just or logical order. But we are ordered. This is why we suffer. Because what comes first is based on money. Nature and our order is working against each other. As long as we go against nature we will be unhappy. No one is winning. No one is happy. Hung game!
      Who cares if you can spell or not:-)

  21. each person must be dead then why did we not prepare for it :D

  22. Peter says:

    Dear Paulo Coelho,

    Maybe its an unusual question, or maybe i missed the explanation of the symbols, (random/automactically?) attached to all names? I think they are very nice… Do they have a meaning in general or for you or maybe for us?
    Thanks and kind regards,
    yours sincerely,

    1. luciana says:

      It’s actually something that WordPress does…

    2. Ana says:

      Peter …. Whatever They are but are unique for every different person …… Wonderfully different persons… What you say …. Isnt it as if these are names written in Alchemists language…. Mysterious but bear a sacred message…. For learning sometimes one has to unlearn preoccupied notions veiling ones brain….

  23. Empié says:

    Al final la vida es un viaje, y es bonito ver que las cosas acaban bien, lo demás es parte de la vida.

    He luchado muy duro por estar en este mundo, muchas veces, el único motivo que tení­a para seguir un dí­a más era evitar que mis padres fueran a mi entierro, y aquí­ estoy, sin nada pero orgulloso y contento. La alegrí­a vuelve a mi y a mi hogar, mañana todo será un recuerdo, un recuerdo de lo heroica de la vida de personas anónimas, que nunca serán famosas, ni falta que hace, el verdadero premio es ver a mi madre reir.

    La vida es un viaje, cuando ciertas personas lo dejan porque es lo que les toca es inevitable que sintamos dolor, pero si se ha vivido con honestidad y valentí­a, siempre quedará un recuerdo bonito, y mañana, estaremos de nuevo todos juntos. Ese es el más bonito de todos los logros que he conseguido, lo demás no importa.

    Un saludo, hablamos.

    1. toñi says:

      es muy hermoso lo que has escrito, además tienes razón.
      Un saludo,Toñi.

    2. Empié says:

      Gracias Toñi.

      Aunque han pasado por mi vida malas personas, han pasado, las buenas siempre estarán conmigo donde esté, y mucho de lo que soy se lo debo a ellas, me quedo con eso.

      Hasta pronto, hablamos.

  24. Peter says:

    Can you ask the Zenmaster why he didn’t answer:

    My dear brother, go home and enjoy the people you love and your live, think of beautiful and nice things. And if you live your life in love and peace you have some time to go…

    What i want to say is. Why must it always be the unexpected, He asked for nice words, not to know when his whole family will die……

    Regards Peter

    1. Dave C says:

      Perhaps because every answer isn’t right for every wonderfully different person ?

  25. mia says:

    I can’t say I have been happy with the way my life has been going these past months, I have not done my best or given it my all, have lost my faith and can’t seem to “see hope” in my current situation…. I did however cry out this morning asking for a sign, anything to make me believe that my life is worth living, After reading the Natural Order, I am not sure if its just me wanting to believe or the fact that I just got given a sign.

    1. Mary Rivas says:

      Dear Mia
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      I was just inspired to share with you.

  26. Mita Dey says:

    Sir in your book ‘The fifth mountain’ you wrote in [note from author] that whenever you felt secure and confident an unavoidable happened at that very moment . This has also happened to me two times .whenever I felt safe and secure I have lost two of my dearest.and that is pathetic unbearable and not possible to express
    THE NATURAL ORDER is a fable’s story.Yes everything must be in natural order No parents must not lose their children before they[parents] die.or no couple must not lose their partner before time.
    take care.

  27. Brave_soul says:

    There is no nature order in life. Life is disorganized or at least from our presective. But that won’t stop us from trying to create order and control. I have news for you, Order and Control doesn’t exist at least not 100%.
    We are individual connected with stronger force than us no matter what your order is. You can’t control life , human beings or nature. But we try and this way we find a purpose and comfort that one day we will be 100% sure. Live with uncertainty just don’t make it a white rabbit you run after. It is energy wasted and lost cause. We are much weaker than the force.

    1. Vits says:

      Brave_soul…. You are quite logical about illogical life order… There is no Reasoning involved … Afterall its not Mathmetics …. Its Gods mysterious ways of doing things …. overall its all a mystry ….

  28. canico says:

    i know i might be off topic but what happened in Cannes
    and also .. I cannot see any names on the right handside
    is this the natural order now :)
    whatever, I like it

  29. Yan says:

    everyone dies, but somehow we still feel sad about it.