The man and his shadow (ENGLISH, ESPANOL)

ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI: El hombre y su sombra

Illustration by Ken Crane

Many years ago, there lived a man who was capable of loving and forgiving everyone he came across. Because of this, God sent an angel to talk to him.

‘God asked me to come and visit you and tell you that he wishes to reward you for your goodness,’ said the angel. ‘You may have any gift you wish for. Would you like the gift of healing?’

‘Certainly not,’ said the man. ‘I would prefer God to choose those who should be healed.’

‘And what about leading sinners back to the path of Truth?’

‘That’s a job for angels like you. I don’t want to be venerated by anyone or to serve as a permanent example.’

‘Look, I can’t go back to Heaven without having given you a miracle. If you don’t choose, I’ll have to choose one for you.’

The man thought for a moment and then said:

‘All right, I would like good to be done through me, but without anyone noticing, not even me, in case I should commit the sin of vanity.’

So the angel arranged for the man’s shadow to have the power of healing, but only when the sun was shining on the man’s face. In this way, wherever he went, the sick were healed, the earth grew fertile again, and sad people rediscovered happiness.

The man traveled the Earth for many years, oblivious of the miracles he was working because when he was facing the sun, his shadow was always behind him. In this way, he was able to live and die unaware of his own holiness.

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  1. toñi says:

    Una historia de una mujer y su sombra, la leí­ en un libro de un tibetano (bueno no puedo jurarlo, igual era budista). Esta historia trata de la sinceridad en el amor:
    Una mujer esperaba a su esposo que se habí­a ido a la guerra. Mientras lo esperaba cuidaba del hijo de ambos. Un dí­a el marido volvió y la mujer se sintió muy feliz. Entonces el hombre abrazó a su hijo y le dijo “yo soy tu padre” y el niño de 8 años le contestó “tú no eres mi padre, mi padre viene todas las noches a casa y habla con mi madre durante horas”. El hombre se enfadó y decidió no hablar con su mujer. La mujer estaba triste porque su marido no le hablaba. Por las noches el hombre se iba de casa y no volví­a hasta el dí­a siguiente. Al final la mujer se suicidó. Al enterrarla, el hombre decidió que debí­a de cuidar al niño que se habí­a quedado solo y entonces fue a pasar la noche junto al niño. Se sentó junto a la mesa a cenar y la lámpara hací­a un reflejo de su propia sombra en la pared. Entonces le dijo el niño “ves, ahí­ está mi padre, el vení­a todas las noches durante estos años y mi madre le hablaba durante horas, está ahí­ en la pared ¿lo ves?”. El hombre se dió cuenta de su error y se sintió muy mal en pensar que su mujer se habí­a sentido tan sola que por la noche hablaba en voz alta como si hablara con él y el supuesto “amante” era la sombra de su cuerpo.
    Esta historia también me resultó curiosa porque a veces por no hablar de los problemas, los problemas se pueden transformar en tragedias.
    Un saludo a todos,

  2. Diana Rivera says:


  3. Cons says:

    It’s a cute.

  4. Diana Rivera says:

    Me gusto mucho cuando habla del angel ya q es fuente de paz,sutilez e inspiracion.

  5. Antara says:

    I used to be an avid reader of your blog…that was almost 3 years back. I was going through a testing time and your spiritual books gave me a lot of encouragement. But as the wheels of time always keep moving I landed upon worse situations. My personal life, professional life went for a toss.
    Just then God illuminated my path by sending an angel. A friend who came like a God’s messenger and took me out of the dark.
    Before I met him I was half drowning and half swimming in the quest of my journey. I was inclined to spirituality but the world was still away from my radius. But he introduced my into spirituality and with time I embraced that path. I became a Pranic Healer. This however didn’t make my path very easy. There were more struggles, more challenges which I could overcome gradually and now I’m perhaps understanding the meaning of life in a better way.
    When I try to add up the pieces of my life together, I think that what I used to think as my destiny once was perhaps not so. Perhaps it was a God planned event to make me land up on my path, my mission.
    I had one made a promise in this blog to share my story if ever my the then mission came true. It never did… but inclined me more on my spiritual path and revealed a whole new world to me. But whatever happened was for the best and has once again propelled me to come back here again :)
    To everyone struggling in their path….all I would say is do not hold on to things….hold on to God, your destiny will reveal itself one day.

    1. JoAnn says:

      Beautifully said, Antara – If we do not allow what is and what was to be let go, we continue to be what was – continuing to create it as what is.

    2. Antara says:

      @JoAnn : So nicely you’ve summarized it all :) As Mr. Coelho rightly says that we get to know the miracles of life when we fully allow the unexpected to happen!

    3. Saikat Das says:

      Lovely said!!!! N its really work!!!!

    4. Angela says:

      I once read that man can take care of the rest of the questions about finding your path but leave the How to God. Sadly, I am still unable to know/find my mission in life. I’m fearing that time is slipping away and I am not getting there. “your destiny will reveal itself one day.” – hopefully, in time, I will realize that this journey is part of my path. Thank you for sharing

    5. Antara says:

      @Angela: There is surely a mission for you. I believe there is a mission for each one of us. And most importantly there are lessons – something we all came here on this earth to learn.
      If you would like to believe, we are all souls incarnated in human bodies. The body perishes one day but the lessons we learn remains and is taken up the soul. The soul is the “I am”.
      To learn is the mission at the most initial stage of human development (There are higher missions for higher beings) – what you refer to as the mission is perhaps the “path”. There is definitely a path too. When there is a mission, there must be a path.

  6. Que bela lií§í£o para nós Paulo Coelho. A gente muitas vezes sempre busca a vaidade, a glória e fama, quando sabemos que a isto ní£o leva o homem a nada.
    Lembrei da História de Maria.
    Maria era uma simples plebeia, que vivia durante o reinado de um poderoso rei na idade média. Todos os dias era fazia sua oraí§í£o, ní£o pedindo a Deus para dar-lhe poder, mas para fazer com aquele reino do qual ela pertencia se tornasse cada vez mais poderoso.
    Deus sempre atendia as oraí§íµes daquela simples jovem e o reino foi se fortalecendo cada vez mais; mas um dia ela morreu, sem nenhuma glória, é claro, pois era muito humilde e quase ninguém a conhecia.
    Mas alguns dias após a morte dela, o rei achou em todas as oraí§íµes que ela orava e depois escrevia em uma espécie de caderno. Ele resolveu entí£o junto com todos os habitantes daquele reino transformá-la em santa.

  7. cats says:

    pure joy :o)

  8. That was an exquisite story with a beautiful balance and the happiest of endings.

  9. Inner values & inner strength... says:

    Whats wrong in the E mail reply i gave to my fellow eleven… Fighting for well being … Struggling for happiness… Searching for solutions in life … Trying to come out of the well in which Life had (mind it had) brought me in… Why cant we take it as simple as it is ? Why we make out so many meanings out of every thing ? Why is it that one sees so many shortcomings in others where as the fellow in question doesnt find any such inside him . Is’nt it such that we are already preoccupied with an image about someone which we have prepared about him of our own as per our thouht process … and finally we fix him with in a particular frame we have made for him

    Being connected to innerself … Outer world is an illussion or fantasy … I dont agree with it … Both the worlds are real and exist too … Having high inner values and remaining connected with it is what the inner world is … But striving for happiness , love , friendship, healing , peace is not illussion or fantasy ..
    Its human nature.. when it comes to judge others we very easily are able to find out minutest of the deviations in him from a perfect and ideal person… But the hard fact is we do not find or rather we are negligent or even we can say deleberately we omit our own mistakes whatever the volume and sizes be … Being good in talking or writing sense/ logic /ideology/inner values doesnt give any proof of ones being perfect … I am very delighted & feel very light as I know what my disclosures were ? And how far they are true .. I was waiting for all of you to come forward on this issue and (E mail one) express their personal opinions … My question to every one is what i have hidden in the mail … Yes its true it was to a entirely new person.. But if you go through the contents of my mails you will find it was only and only to know how elevenish people handle their ‘ swing of moods ‘ the ‘ edgy ness ‘ ‘nervousness’ i was prone to . Why cant any one of you think being in my shoes ? Why think negative only ? Why i directed others to Luana for knowing or sharing about elevens…Its as simple as its mentioned in the mail … Rather i say making out so many meanings of every of the word and making hundreds of complex studies … It is something like … A simple painting was lying upside down in an art gallery and people were asked to make a study of it… All the spectators made their so many complicated interpretations as per the complex thought process they had… Finally came the painter who corrected it and just placed it upright … All of them felt very humiliated on what they had been doing … Why cant we see things as they are …. ?

    1. Sigo leyendo... says:

      Mucha verdad en sus palabras…

  10. Tina says:

    Thanks 2 Ha ha ha

  11. Arto Hutto says:

    In Swedish:

    Mannen och hans skugga

    För många år sedan, bodde det en man som kunde älska och förlåta alla han kom i kontakt med.

    På grund av detta, sände Gud en ängel för att prata med honom.

    Gud bad mig komma och besöka dig och berätta att han vill belöna dig för din godhet, sa ängeln. “Du kan få vilken gåva du önskar. Vill du ha gåvan att kunna hela?

    “Absolut inte”, sa mannen. “Jag skulle föredra att Gud istället valde dem som borde bli helade.”

    “Eller att leda syndare tillbaka till den Sanna vägen? ”

    “Det är ett jobb för änglar som du. Jag vill inte bli vördad av någon eller fungera som ett bestående exempel. ”

    “Förstå, jag kan inte återvända till himlen utan att ha gett dig ett mirakel. Om du inte väljer, måste jag välja ett åt dig. ”

    Mannen tänkte efter en stund och sa sedan:”Okej, jag skulle vilja att bra saker sker genom mig, men utan att någon märker det, inte ens jag, så att jag inte begår synden fåfänga.”

    Så ängeln ordnade så att mannens skugga skulle ha läkandets kraft, men bara när solen sken på mannens ansikte. På så sätt vart han än gick, blev de sjuka botade, jorden växte bördigt igen och sorgsna människor återupptäckt lyckan.

    Mannen rest runt på Jorden i många år, omedveten om de mirakel han utförde när han var vänd mot solen, då var hans skugga alltid bakom honom. På så sätt kunde han leva och dö omedveten om sin egen helighet.

    I original postad här:
    Paulo Coelho på svenska:
    í–versättning: í–versättning/ translation: oLaVie, kommentera gärna. ( )

  12. Inner values & inner strength... says:

    But its for sure that a buliding with strong PILAR can with stand any thunderstorm in life …. Lets strengthen the PILAR of the coming generations so as to build a longlasting all weather proof Structure in their Lives … Thanks Pilar …oh sorry …. Thanks Paulo for your inspirations….

  13. alfecefir says:

    For ever sailing into the sunrise…

    When the doubt come to me, like spirals of dispite, I swear is an angel, forever and so long into eternity waiting, my shadow, he wants to do not go, I want to turn over, and over again, the night and his butterflies will blow the air, my breath will lost all the words… to spit it out just a single sword… a bright, that will colide once more time, to crash what hast to be done, to bring, to watch, the ring, and goning on from there; wage of a lord, with fingers, or snakes, where are the dragons out there? Fighting computer cells… I’ve said; please let me be a helm, a will wich rise that light… like my heart beats knoking next to the doors, i’ve heard burnig flames, and I want to flow them away, to touch your soul, and then you’ll refill my place, an emty glass, read it once, and once agin… to rewrite and cut the colors a forever changing ice…

  14. joelle fourcroy says:

    L’homme suivait la mission qui lui était confiée par l’ange . Est ce un péché de vouloir aider les gens sans savoir que leur rendre service apporte quelque chose í  soi et aux personnes rencontrées . Dieu est lí  pour les autres quand on y croit mais il y a des personnes qui sont toujours noyées dans l’ombre . C’est pourquoi il faut toujours du soleil un sourire ,une main ,une épaule ,des bras et des genoux pour soutenir les autres . C’est une petite fable très jolie, il n’y a pas de philosophie í  trouver c’est une petite quíªte du bonheur í  donner aux autres . Merci Paulo d’avoir mis cette petite histoire afin de nous rappeler qu’il faut aider les autres et soi míªme en se soutenant les uns les autres .

  15. become conscious says:

    reward and punishment – these are the tools for fools. i am sure that life is better than such thinking.

    1. Heimo Alexander Kruschinski says:

      I would say it depends on the interpretation. I believe in the principle of reward.
      “The reward of our work is not what we get, but what we become.”
      How do you become something if you do not notice what you are doing? Life is a struggle. Mostly against himself. The man in the story is a coward. He refused to fight his own demons. “When you really want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” This is a reward. If you do not follow your dream, then that’s a punishment. A curse. You will not become who you could be. I think by the way, it is also not bad to get something, because it shows beautiful what you have become.

      I wish you all a wonderful day

  16. Natalia says:

    Very nice.
    a bit ” too religious”. Angels with wings are award-givers..
    but where are wings?:)

  17. Aditya says:

    Nice!!! really good!

  18. Tanvi says:

    beautiful :)

  19. Dan says:

    Just amazing, Mr. Coelho.

  20. Devika says:

    It is a beautiful story. It has inspired so much! The quality of forgiveness and humility lies right within us and we just have to connect with it, it does teach a lot. Simply peaceful and inspiring!!

  21. Steven McGill says:

    Thanks for the light you share with your stories …. onwards good knight ;-)

  22. Heimo Alexander Kruschinski says:

    If it is once allowed to be vicious. Then I suggest the following . The man is vain, he rejects his gift. He disguised his vanity as modesty. As humility. In my eyes he is an idiot. If he fails, to deal properly with his gift, to accept his “rewards”, to handle his vanity, then he should retire into the wilderness and avoid the people. The Angel is also stupid, because he do not show the right way.

    I wish you all a wonderful sunday

    1. Asli says:

      That is also a way to look at it.. haha.

      Have a nice sunday too.

  23. Leila says:

    Same in Tajik/Persian tradition..from childhood adult teach us to do good and through it in the water..

  24. Moon-shadow says:

    This song is for Sofia she is a bodyguard for me and that´s why I love her, she is always by my side, I wouldn´t make it without her. You´re always in my heart, even if we are just friends. I love Whitneys voice so here is music from the Bodyguard;))

  25. Theresa Goubran-Keshta says:

    This is such an inspiring story, and echoes my feelings about life. Of course it is always a temptation to look for notice, recognition or reward in our attempts to help others. I am an active member of Facebook and I am always amazed to see how many people deliberately put themselves out to ‘sell’ inspiring thoughts, or offer a “Spiritual Path” to follow ! However, often these same people can also be seen on discussion boards certainly not following their own advice, using domineering, downright cruel tactics to prove their point ! This week I received an invitation from one of my ‘friends’ which was also addressed to many others. He was offering his services as a “personal (online) mentor”.

    [ Do you feel that there must be more to your life and you want a better relationship with yourself, to know yourself better?
    Do you want to develop an inner peace and balance and to feel safe?
    I am a Mentor. I can help. ]

    Personally, I think this is very condescending of him in setting himself up as a model and example to others. It could also be potentially dangerous for vulnerable people who may lie, or withhold information as is happening all over facebook! As for me, he doesn’t know me, he hasn’t met me, and never will ! How does he think he is going to help me? In any case, if he listened to my ‘problems’, he might get a headache, and find he has bitten off more than he can chew!!!

    For me, the most inspiring people are those as mentioned in the story, who follow the truth and the light, who heal others as they go, and show by their loving example, the way to lead one’s life. And I have been truly blessed with so many people like this in my life, who are probably not even aware of it!

    Thank you for the story, Paulo and to Ken Crane for the beautiful illustration. Best wishes to everyone!

    1. Heimo Alexander Kruschinski says:

      The question of the reward, and vanity are two different things, in my opinion. If you do something good, then you will be rewarded. That is inevitable. This must not necessarily be felt in the outside world. Often things happen inside. What makes it noticeable in the outer world. Where is the difference between the inner world and the outer world? I do not know why people have such “fear” of rewards. For the rest of your post, I better say nothing. That would not be nice. You’re absolutely right dear Theresa!

      I wish you all a wonderful Sunday

    2. Marie-Christine says:

      You know what I like about contes
      con te s (With you) it includes you in it.
      I like your honesty Therese.
      Thank you for sharing.
      With love

    3. Asli says:

      @ Heimo, the difference between the inner world and outside world is… that the outside is a fantasie… seek the truth inside…

    4. Awesome Theresa…

      Don’t trust everyone easily, trust only one difficultly.

      There is a miracle in Paulo’s blog…whenever I start writing here, I get this wise feeling and random thoughts spill all over.

      Very inspiring story, Paulo and best wishes to you as well…dearest Theresa.

    5. Heimo Alexander Kruschinski says:

      That is also a way to look at it dear Asli. :-) Thank you.

      I wish you a wonderful sunday

    6. Theresa Goubran-Keshta says:

      Thank you to my dear friends Heimo, Marie-Christine and Santosh for your follow-up comments on my post. You know how much I love to share your ideas and opinions , as also of all the other members of the blog. This morning, one of my Facebook friends posted the following quote : “The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do.” Andrew Carnegie. It must mean that I am getting old, for I wholeheartedly agree with this ! Life has taught me that words are never enough, and action is needed to prove our sincerity and touch the hearts of others, thereby ‘healing those who are in need of healing.’ And we can only do this if we have our face to the ‘sun’ !
      Once again, thank you Paulo for the inspiring post. Many blessings to all and have a wonderful week !

    7. Inner values & inner strength... says:

      The tug of war between outer and inner worlds is the struggle we are always with… Thats what Paulo says Be Happy with your contradictions …

    8. Heimo Alexander Kruschinski says:

      I am happy. Thank you for your opinion, dear Whatever …. This is not my opinion. The outer and inner world are one. They are not in conflict or you can separate them from each other. The tug of which you speak is only an illusion. The fight inside is reflected in the external and vice versa.

    9. @ Inner values & inner strength……Yes, harmony is the key ! Thank you.

    10. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

      Yes dear Theresa I totally agree with you.
      Helping others and giving advice, can not be otherwise than free.
      In “Giving advice” there “to give”
      This is a free and sincere exchange, which is done. Apart from that, everything else is a scam.
      With Love . M christine G

  26. Mary says:

    A 4 x 4 Poem Inspired by this blog post:

    Face the sun to
    Sow your darkness
    Seed. Ready soil–

    4 x 4 = four beats per line, four lines. Four is a good number!

    By facing the sun and not your darkness, you leave it behind to fall as a seed on fertile soil where it may take root and then use more sun to cast a new shadow, a new seed. By ignoring the darkness–not dwelling on it–we create an intent to leave it behind to the Powers That Be who must be trusted to use it with their Powers Greater Than Ours for goodness, truth and beauty.

  27. This story has special meaning for me. My husband carried a picture of himself, looking at the sunrise; when I asked him why, his response was, “no matter what kind of day I am having, I look at this picture and I am in my happy place, everything is good in my world.” When he died suddenly at the age of 46, I had to decide what to have inscribed on his tombstone, I chose… “Forever sailing into the sunrise.” he was a special man who had no idea the difference he made in many lives. And although he died far too young, his presence continues to make a difference, and always will.

  28. lebo says:

    This story is truly humbling……not knowing the good that you have done for others may be at times better than knowing. vanity has the power of ruining the kindness of a great person….

  29. Marie-Christine says:

    L’homme et son ombre

    Il y a de nombreuses annees vivait un homme qui etait capable d’aimer et d’oublier tous ceux qui passaient sur son chemin. A cause de cela Dieu lui envoya un ange pour lui parler’

    ‘Dieu m’a demande de venir vous voir pour vous dire qu’il veut vous recompenser pour votre bonte’ dit l’ange.
    ‘Vous pouvez recevoir n’importe quel cadeau que vous desirez.’ Souhaitez-vous celui de guerir?

    ‘Certainement pas’ repondit l’homme. Je prefererais que Dieu choisissent ceux qui devraient guerir.
    ‘Et qu’en est-il de celui de reconduire les pecheurs sur le chemin de la verite?’

    ‘C’est un travail pour des anges, comme vous. Je ne veux pas etre venere par quelqu’un ou servir d’exemple en permanence.’

    ‘Attendez! Je ne peux retourner au ciel sans vous offrir un miracle. Si vous ne choisissez pas – je devrais en choisir un pour vous .’

    L’homme reflechit un moment, puis il dit : ‘D’accord Je voudrais que du bien soit fait grace a moi, mais sans que personne ne s’en rende compte. moi inclus, au cas ou je commettrais le peche de la vanite.’

    Alors l’ange arrangea pour que l’ombre de l’homme recoive le cadeau de la guerison, mais seulement lorsque le soleil brillerait sur le visage de l’homme. De cette facon, n’importe ou il allait, les malades guerissaient., la terre devint fertile, et les gens tristes redecouvraient le bonheur.
    L’homme fit le tour de la Terre pendant des annees inconscient des miracles qu’il faisait parce que lorsqu’il se trouvait face a face avec le soleil, son ombre etait toujours derriere lui, De cette maniere, il fut capable de vivre et mourir sans se rendre compte de sa propre divinite.