20 SEC READING: The place we desire

A friend came to wait on our table – at a café in San Diego, California.

I had met Cláudia in Brazil four years previously, and tell my friends about her life in the USA: she only sleeps for three hours, since she works in this café till late, and is a babysitter throughout the day.

"I don’t know how she can stand it," one of them says.

"There’s a Buddhist story about a turtle," replies an Argentinian woman at our table.

"The turtle was crossing a swamp, covered in mud, when it passed a temple. There it saw the shell of another turtle – all adorned with gold and precious stones.

"I don’t envy you, ancient friend," thought the turtle. "You’re covered in jewels, but I’m doing what I want."


  1. Linda Valles says:

    I am finally doing what I want, when I want and where I want…it is so liberating to my soul!

  2. […] Anyways, lately I’ve been having the strangest and slightly comforting experience of thinking about a problem or situation, and then coming across some random thing in the world which speaks to me of it.  I’ll think about something, then come across a book passage, or a song on the radio, or whatever.  Signs from the universe, maybe?? Maybe all you have to do is ask for a second opinion and you’ll get it if you listen carefully enough…for instance, as I sit here drinking coffee, I decided to go onto the blog of an author I admire, Paulo Coelho.  He’s a well known author from Brazil, and his book Eleven Minutes is one of my favorites.  Anyways, here is what I see after exploring for a few moments: […]

  3. nella says:

    there is always joy and happiness in what ever you are doing because you choose to do it and you like it even if it is tiring

  4. miriam says:


  5. Seema says:

    Hi LoveM and Annie,

    I read the most beautiful conversation. In the form of poems. Delighting. In finding the meaning, trying to express itself, in your poems.

    Thank you for being so beautiful and going with the flow just to stimulate the creative in us.

  6. Shelley says:

    No turtle ever said that.

  7. Philipp says:

    Clever mud turtle :) Reminds me when a turtle and a rabbit did a bet. The one who is faster at home after counting to three, will win.
    One, two and three and the turtle just disappeared under its shell. Looks like the fox got some competition ;)

  8. Ines says:

    A liberdade requer um certo desapego, seja de lugares bens materiais e até os sentimentais. A liberdade de escolher e seguir o sonho, lembrando apenas que, tudo que ficou para trás será passado e tudo que conquistar no presente será futuro. Um grande abraí§o Paulo Coelho estou ansiosa pelos seu novo livro!

  9. katie says:

    this “mud” reminds me so much of going into the bush.
    I was already preparing my move to a fairly underdeveloped part of the country when my hair cutter told me about a “muddy” story with aversion. she had met somebody who had just left the wilderness after doing research for 1 month. I knew how this person had smelled and looked. I knew the simplicity of life that one has in the bush. but at that moment, the experience to live on this level but be at a place where probably no other human had been seemed to me to justify these “results”.

    and so it is. whenever I met people from other parts of this country, I see their attraction to this place but I can also see the difficulties some of them have to leave a comfort that seems to be so normal for them. it looks as if the process of civilization forces us to lose a real connection to our life and how to live it. civilization seems to program us and make us robots.

  10. Yilmaz says:

    Thanks for the beautiful story.

    While I definitely support that freedom lived consciously is more worthwhile than living locked-in in a golden cage, I also believe that we need to take care of our bodies and therefore need rest. The body is the medium with which the soul interacts in the visible world putting invisible love into action, therefore carrying out god’s assignment.

    The greater natural balance and rhtyhm of the world has always to be maintained in the long-run. All types of ascethiscm serve a special reason and are meant to be temporary. No matter if it is about sleep-deprivation, fasting, speaking, sexual abstinence and so forth…so I pray for Claudia’s current divine trial that it soon be over and succesful.

    Time to go to bed now. =) With love.

    1. ALEJANDRA says:


    2. Nishita says:

      A very thought provoking story indeed.

      Yilmaz,I agree. And God made the seventh day. And He did not create anything on that day. He rested.

      We all need some rest. Our bodies, our minds, our hearts. Because rest gives us new hope and the ability to look at Life and our circumstances in a new light. Its Natures way to make us ready for a new ordeal, for a new battle, for a new contest.

      However, i also am not mindless of the fact that somethings like ” great love” give us great courage and strength that we derive from the most unknown of sources. Rest, then, is a matter of insignificance and worthless endeavour.

  11. Eso es lo importante de vivir.
    La envidia debe ser contigo mismo. Hay que reir y disfrutar lo que tenemos. La verdad es que nadie tiene lo que tu tienes y eso es la felicidad.
    La felicidad que se expresa y se siente diferente en cada uno de nosotros. Y eso mi querido amigo es algo único que cada uno de nosotros tenemos.
    Así­ que yo disfruto y celebro las cosas buenas. Las malas solo trato de entenderlas y si hay tiempo aprender de ellas.

  12. just testing says:

    thank you for being
    you are all beautiful
    with love

  13. Uzma says:

    Lovely. Important reminder to do our work. What greater joy and meaning then to get up, salute the sun, say thanks to god, and do the work our work on earth, for this day. Beautiful .

  14. Ivan says:

    Follow God’s will.

    1. O he says:

      Amen :)

  15. diana bo says:

    yes….like for me I’d rather go scuba diving on a small boat or zodiac than spending my day sunbathing and drin king champain on a yaght….the most important is what makes you happy , what makes you feel good …

    1. feeling groovy says:

      …heading for the Bahamas;)

  16. Satora says:

    Chuang Tzu “Turtle” story … to be a (sacrificed) cult object displayed in a precious shrine for thousands of years, covered with gold, jewels, and wrapped in silk, or just a plain turtle dragging his/her tail through the mud… but alive… well Chuang Tzu preferred to rather be a mud turtle than to become “prime minister”…. No distinctions… just fishing in the river PU…
    Being or wanting””you choose “the place/space you desire”…

  17. Psalmbody says:

    Jewel’s in the mud-born lotus — p(e)aceful!

  18. knekar says:

    hola… tengo poca edad pero si alguien me puede contactar con un alquimista verdadero ayudeme, si alguien lo es ayudeme, tengo muchas ganas de obtener conocimiento y quiero compartir el mio

    1. toñi says:

      Lo que tú deseas ser, ya existe dentro de tu corazón. Si no existiese dentro de tu corazón, no formarí­a parte de ti y no sentirí­as el deseo de conseguirlo. Toda inclinación de un ser humano en su vida, ya es algo natural en él, ya nació con ese don. Para desarrollar más ese don, pregúntale a tu mente y tu corazón la forma y tu mente y tu corazón te darán las respuestas: sea por intuición o por casualidad. Deja que fluya la búsqueda. Yo no conozco a ningún alquimista que yo pueda considerar un buen alquimista pero si los hay te deseo mucha suerte y te deseo que cumplas tu sueño. Conocí­ a un curandero buení­simo pero era muy anciano cuando yo lo conocí­ y se murió. Lamento no poder ayudarte, pero espero que mi consejo te sirva aunque sea para darte ánimo. Un saludo,

  19. Beatriz says:


  20. Barri says:

    This is the voice that bursts a bubble,
    this is the voice that makes people
    I would not put my baby in the care
    of someone who sleeps only
    three hours.

  21. A mud-bath gives your skin a healthy glow, whereas, jewels try to outshine you. My castle-in-the-air is all the riches I need… or want.

  22. Alastair says:

    It matters not how you look to others.

    Be yourself and reach for your dreams….. what other people think of you is none of your business!! (said a wise man).


  23. LoveM says:

    I want you to know
    That you are as well off as
    What you do not want

    What you are wanting
    Does not make for happiness
    But what you have does

    Love and Happiness
    Are only present when you
    Are not wanting them

    1. Annie says:

      I want you to know
      there is nothing wrong in wanting,
      It clears what you don’t want
      and I don’t want what I don’t want
      at least that I know :)

      A book says when you want something,
      the Universe conspires..
      so that this something wants you back,
      like the matchstick wants the fire,
      but beware of time, cause soon enough,
      it will expire..

      Love and Gratitude

    2. LoveM says:

      I got a tickle..right here inside my mickle..makes me wanna smile;)

      Wanting what I have
      The content of contentment
      So I do be-have

      At last I got it
      Life.. we have it already
      Nothing else to get

      When I am wanting
      What is missing from wholeness
      That is me.. problem

      Look at what is here
      Life’s beautiful abundance
      You want for nothing

      I am wanting you
      To get it.. instead of just
      Getting it myself

    3. LoveM says:

      HeHeHe Annie.. don’t think of the colour black.. :((((

      That is like saying
      When I know what I don’t want
      Don’t think about it..

      I am your match
      Please strike and set me on fire
      Want to be a..light

      Want to illuminate.. distinguish.. extinguish.. expire..
      Be charcoal.. decompose.. become poe..tree.. divinity

    4. Annie says:

      I get what you mean
      but I also really got you here..
      You really want something in the end
      to be a..light, illuminate ;)

      I want the same
      but also know
      decomposing is nonsense
      without composing again

      The moon wants to be full
      when she’s not, up there in the sky
      Not for pride or arrogance,
      but because she loves to give light

      I want the same
      and I look what is here
      and I hear
      you, already alight

      is it wrong to tell you that?
      don’t want you to extinguish
      soon your light…
      when my match becomes black
      look for the moon, still up there in the sky

      Love and Gratitude

    5. LoveM says:

      Ha Ha Yes Lovely Annie..
      it is a wonderful cosmic joke.. a beautiful joke not a cynical joke.. we are all that..
      not the words.. the thoughts.. the appearances.. we are the one who sees all these.. who watches the presence in which they all appear..
      there is no power in the words or the appearances.. the only power is in our intention.. attention and belief.. we are pure consciousness..
      we are nothing and everything.. to want something is to belittle ourselves.. is to imagine or believe we are this mind & body (which we are not)
      You’ve changed your mind
      Even changed your body
      So what are you then

    6. LoveM says:

      Nothing is watching
      Beautiful appearances
      Nothing’s happening

    7. Annie says:

      Everything is everything
      You are everything
      in everything
      no more no less
      a divine breath
      the beginning and the end
      God bless…

      Love and Gratitude

    8. ankush garg says:

      awesome lines yaar…

      in absence of mind
      me and my heart
      want something

      talking to heart
      telling to me
      don’t be confused
      i know what u like

      don’t be afraid
      just say it
      it’ll be yours

  24. haiku says:

    Awesome! Love this one! Nothing wrong with being covered in mud or jewels! Perception is everything. There is joy and fun to be had no matter where you are or what you do.

    1. echo says:


  25. Dont get carried away with the glow of jewels .... says:

    Let n number of forces work against you ….. Go for the way you like ….way you feel apropriate for you…. Dont get carried away by the glow of jewels …. Will take your leave Paulo with heartfelt gratitudes and lots n lots of love …. Look forward to meet you some day …. Only in person …. Not intrested to meet you in your group of publishers …. Its on to you if a poor friend of yours can get this chance as

    ‘the most Beautiful day of my Life ….’

  26. Kealan says:

    The collaboration with Rihanna entitled “Princess of China” serves as the official third single from Coldplay’s 2011 album “Mylo Xyloto”

    Princess Of China lyrics by Coldplay.


    [Chris Martin]
    Once upon a time somebody ran
    Somebody ran away saying fast as I can
    I’ve got to go…got to go

    Once upon a time we fell apart
    You’re holding in your hands the two Halves of my heart
    Ohhhhh, ohhhhh!


    Once upon a time, we burn bright
    That all we ever seem to do is fight
    On and on…
    And on and on and on…

    Once upon a time on the same side.
    Once upon a time on the same side, at the same Day
    And why’d you have to go have to go and throw it all on my fame

    I could’ve been a Princess, You’d be a King
    Could’ve had a castle, and wore a ring
    But noooooo, you let me gooooooo!

    I could’ve been a Princess, You’d be a king
    Could’ve had a castle, and wore a ring
    But noooooo, you let me gooooooo!

    And stole my star

    [Beat Break]

    La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
    You stole my star la, la la la la laaaaaa

    Oooooooh-oh oh oooooooh oh oh oh ohhhhhhhhh
    Oooooooh-oh oh oooooooh oh oh oh ohhhhhhhhh

    Cause you really hurt me
    No you really hurt me
    Cause you really hurt me
    No you really hurt me
    Cause you really hurt me
    Ooooooooh no you really hurt me
    Cause you really hurt me
    Ooooooooh no you really hurt me….

  27. Be happy with what you have... says:

    Very insightful moral in both the stories … Be happy with what you have … Thanks Paulo for showing us the right path …. My sincere gratitude to you Sir for saving my Passion from dying and giving it a new Breath of Fresh Oxygen ….

  28. I love my own way of doing things... says:

    I love my freedom…. Of doing things in my own ways ….. I have my own way of writing things / presenting the things . May be it may not be ‘covered in jewels’ but i like my own way ie ‘covered with mud’ . I feel proud and get pleasure in doing things in my own ways . I also interpret the story in this way too that Old souls may be covered with jewels (knowledge) but may lack basic mud (wisdom) . Love your own ways of doing things and believe in your ownself …. This is the key to satisfaction and enjoying life ….

  29. Shine says:

    Can be only understood by those who understand the need of meaning in life? I didn’t till the time i wasn’t confronted by one! Life’s meaning is not all earning money or riches, even rich are not that happy. Its doing trhings you love, do it just for the sake of it…………..love Avantika

  30. Gonzalo says:

    De que sirve un caparazón con joyas pero sin vida o un caparazón con vida lleno de barro?
    El equilibrio seria la respuesta, pero creo que a donde nuestro amigo Paulo apunta es al caparazón que se llena de barro por pagar el precio que corresponde para hacer lo que realmente nos gustarí­a (verdadera vocación de cada uno) y no hacer cualquier cosa para obtener lo que los demás valoran.
    Cuando lo que hacemos es acorde a nuestra vocación, ese barro se convierte en joyas sin que nos demos cuenta.
    Ir hacia nuestra propia vocación sea cual fuere aun que nos llenemos de barro, en cambio de ir hacia las joyas dejando nuestra vida.

    Paz y Amor

  31. Annie says:

    I was talking with a friend… “I work for the money then I am just as well as a prostitute.. ”

    the jewel is in our hearts..
    our hearts are the place to be
    she said “come here, sit with me”
    and we started to sing

    Love and Gratitude

    1. Timur says: