10 second reading: the wrong gift

A friend of mine, Miie T. decided to abandon everything she knew “” she was an economist “” in order to dedicate herself to painting.

For years she sought an adequate master until she met a woman who lived in Tibet and specialized in miniatures.
Miie left Japan and went to the Tibetan mountains and moved in with the teacher, who was extremely poor, to learn what she needed to learn.

At the end of the first year, Miie returned to Japan for a couple of days and returned to Tibet with suitcases filled with gifts.
When her teacher saw what she had brought, she began to cry and asked Miie not to come back to her home, saying,

“Before your trip, our relation was of equality and love. You had a roof, food and paints.
“Now, as you brought me these gifts, you have established a social difference between us.
“If this difference exists, there can’t be comprehension and surrendering.”


  1. Luks Vieira says:

    Vale a pena saber viver com as diferení§as…

  2. Nes says:

    Thank you for your time an wisdom, shared. I enjoy reading all your stories and, contributors’ comments alike.
    In my humble opinion, I believe that to give, is for the giver and, to receive, is for the receiver. However, it is important that we find the balance in giving and receiving. We cannot and must not always just give or just receive. Regardless of our human status, culture etc., we are individuals and must be treated likewise coupled with respect and acceptance. We cannot expect from others the same that, which we expect from ourselves. In the same way, we have no control over the actions of others.
    Oftentimes, it’s not the ‘what’ but the ‘how.’ I have no problem with the refusal of the gifts but in the way it was done. The teacher could have in a gentle, loving, humble and gratifying way through the art of communicating…talking, explain to Miie why she couldn’t or wouldn’t accept her gifts; allowing her the chance to understand and choose, apologise and ‘make nice’ in the moment rather than a harsh, cold, misunderstood departure.
    Sadly, poor and humble; quick to judge she forgot her human gentleness.

  3. lisa moral says:

    Las almas generosas son las que regalan con alguna intencion buena, mala o por educacion…la recepcion depende de la percepcion y la sabiduria.
    Esto me hace recordar un episodio en mi universidad donde yo podia hablar con todo el mundo, excepto con uno con quien habia malos entendidos
    . Justamente en el sorteo del amigo invisible, lo saque a el…y no sabia que regalarle porque el tenia absolutamente todo. Si le regalo algo muy caro, pensara que lo sobrevaloro, si le regalo algo comun se va burlar o enojar.
    Solo le voy a regalar palabras…. le compre un tabla con un escrito cristiano y un hueso llavero que tenia escrito Vosotros sois la luz del mundo.
    Lamentablemente el creyo que eso era brujeria y apesar de ser el mejor de mi curso, y de una posicion alta no comprendio mi regalo y hasta el ultimo dia de mi curso el creyo que soy una hechicera…

  4. dalia says:

    i think the teacher should have accepted the gifts … because these gifts was given out of love and respection but whats a pity some people always think that if they accepted these gifts they will return them in different ways , but i think if the teacher was believing in her self and in her work she should have known that all the gifts in the world will never pay her back what she does …. she is a teacher !!! and she should have played her role as a teacher to the end to tell her that she cant accept these for some reasons but not to tell her donot come to my home again ….

  5. It is true that learning could not be paid by any material means, but it’s just a little annoying when pride already sets in in case of the Teacher who is the Tibetan miniature artist. A gift is always given out of love and should not be taken negatively.

    Miie’s subconscious act of imposing superiority over her teacher in terms of material aspect, on the other had, does not really show differences. In the first place there is already a facet of differences between the two even before they met since the student acknowledges her teacher’s superiority in knowledge.

    Is social difference any worse than intellectual difference?

  6. bettyQ says:

    I personally believe the teacher should have accepted the gifts because it was given out of love and admiration. i had this personal experiences of rejecting gifts and offers, which is kinda sad now that i was able to read this. atleast consider it, receive it and think of what you would want to do after. the person who gievs or offers it to you would really appreciate it more than anything else.

  7. Ashini says:

    I disagree with this story. The teacher is only looking at the objects as inequality between them. The student is returning gifts that the teacher had given her in a material form. A gift is always given out of love – it’s a physical reminder that one was thinking of another. It could be a tangible object or intangible action or gesture.

    When a child gives a parent a gift, it’s not as if it’s going to replace or represent everything provided by the parent. It’s a gesture.

    The teacher unfortunately sees the “social” difference. The teacher should have kindly accepted the gifts, her student and continued their relationship. She could give the gifts to another if she chooses, but it’s wrong to make a gift giver feel bad.

  8. Anupam Karn says:

    yeah, I personally feel that gifting is a wrong way of showing love and affection, in fact love and affection is a matter to be realized by the next person by itself.
    Gifting also enables to compare nonmaterial things by material and this way, we forget the actual love we got but do remember the gift what we gave….

    Every gift we use to give to others is a kind of oblication for them. They must give some gift back or will be misunderstood as ungrateful. That is why we never must give gifts for any reason.

    1. Dave C says:

      Perhaps a gift, a recognition of need and an expression of Love given in anonymity would suffice ? May bless both the giver and the recipient and hold none beholden.

  10. Racquel says:

    Oh So True,
    Sometimes we feel that only gifts will express how we feel. Yet, in most instances though the giver may feel great, the beneficiary may feel this need to give, so as to be equal, and therein lies the problem.
    After readingthe above excerpt, I have realised that sometimes we give things to fill in the gap for the time and self, that we are not wiling to share. This is so true especially of parents who may feel the need to shower their children with gifts to compensate for their absence. Maybe if we were present in the lives of the people we Love, there would be No need to give things to cover-up. We would only give in addition to the, Love and Not inspite of…


  11. mita says:

    Nice story. THANK YOU MR COELHO for sharing this story.

  12. ALEJANDRA says:


  13. niccolo says:

    molte volte anzi per tutta la mia vita, ho donato per comprare l’amore, il rispetto, per accrescere la mia immagine e anche per essere ricambiato, penso che il maestro abbia ragione, il fatto di essere tornato in tibet quello era gií  un regalo.

  14. Angelamoreyes says:

    Sometimes is not necessary to give gifts to show your love to someone, more important is to be near when they need you; on the other hand, if you receive a gift don’t judging by what is, appreciates the intention of the person who gives you …
    Thanks Mr Coelho

  15. Maria Jose says:

    Sometimes we think that our needs and our likes are the same to everybody, that giving material things as a way to show how much we care, but it is not that simple, when we want to give a present we have to think deep in the nature of the other person, in order not to make a difference but to show that we really care and we understand or at least know a little bit of the person we are giving the present to, it has to be personal and meaningfull.

  16. Hector says:

    Que la diferencia social no sea obstaculo para continuar una relacion emprendida.

  17. katie says:

    it is a clash between 2 cultures.
    a culture makes its rules; they can take over how we see and evaluate things.
    in order to being able to really connect to each other, from human to human, we all need to understand what kind of boundaries culture can put on us … and on others.

    culture can put on us a cocoon, so tight that the real part of us can hardly perceive and truly act. if the cocoon get recognized and destroyed, all what remains is us, as humans, and then … we are all so similar.

    1. Walter Paul Bebirian says:

      I like this thought katie – thanks!


  18. lili says:

    we must learn to accept gifts. not so easy to do..

  19. Andrea Lino says:

    Learning to be humble is difficult.

  20. Marie-Christine says:

    sometimes just a little touch on the hand or a squeeze on the shoulder can be the most beautiful gift you can ever have as a token of love
    when it is given with the heart and it makes a big difference.
    with love

    1. Beautiful Marie-Christine

    2. Marie-Christine says:

      Thank you Rosa,
      When I looked at the Doctor, first I did not recognised her because she was wearing a mask, But I saw her humanity through her eyes – they were smiling at me .
      Have you noticed often people’s smiling there is so much content in that that it makes you content,
      Be S.O.S. Save our souls
      Besos para todos (22)
      With love

    3. tabi-labkhand says:

      Yes i am agree with Rosa
      It is beautiful Dear Marie-christine

    4. Marie-Christine says:

      Thank you Dear tabi-labkhand
      it comes from the soul

  21. JOELLE says:

    On a tous quelque chose í  apprendre des autres mais il faut savoir íªtre sage pour ne pas accepter les cadeaux que l’on ne se sent pas capable d’accepter. C’st difficile de refuser un présent ou une petite chose mais la nécessité ne sent fait pas ressentir í  chaque moment . Un simple mot parfois fait plaisir “merci” ou un simple geste tendre , une poignée de mains, un coup d’épaules , un petit sourire au coin des lèvres , un regard généreux, quelques mots , une petite fleur sont suffisants parfois comme remerciements . Le sage donne des leí§ons et l’élève apprend pour les redonner aux autres . C’est la compassion , la reconnaissance.

  22. Alexa says:

    I do no know…the difference was before too, because a master knows more, and that remained I guess. But if the master did not need the gifts, is that way. But we are thought that a gift is to be accepted, else you offend the person who brought it. Maybe the relation was not a good one, otherwise they should understand each other. I would enjoy the gifts…Why, I gave in turn my knowledge, more valuable.
    All the best to everybody

  23. betsisanders says:

    Gifts are given because of love. How can anyone refuse love? ^_^

    1. Raheel Lakhani says:

      I believe every gift has a reason – there should be some love or thoughtfulness behind it which needs to be communicated while giving the gift. Society works on give and take – any type of interaction is important :)

  24. Carla says:

    I love your stories , they make think and sometimes they change the thinking itself, I’ve read the story and the comments and it seems to me the teacher is also human, the student should ask before offering the gifts, maybe she just wanted to offer because she likes to give, however the teacher thought instantly the gift’s nature was charity and felt inferior. A strong one understands that being inferior or superior in relation to another person has nothing to do with what one possess but what one is. The tibetan teacher had one skill (painting) more than the student but is really an inferior being. The student may have a good nature but has a long way to go also, we never should offer a material gift, always an emotional gift or a gift with special meaning.

  25. Saira Rashid says:

    One can only be on equal footing and learn something from somone if they drop who they are,where they come from and focus completely on what they have come to learn,if you carry a chip on your shoulder you wil never truly be a student ready to forget everything and master what you are being taught,two imp things a student must have dedication and the passion to learn

  26. Em says:

    I see what you trying to say.

    But as a reader, I felt that the teacher was a little harsh. Miie didn’t mean any harm by the suitcase full of gifts. To not accept them, or take just one as a token was one thing, but to say, ‘go away’ seemed a little of an over-reaction, I thought. We do it every Christmas. Have to smile and accept the silly presents that we really do not want. But we smile and say: ‘How thoughtful,’ or ‘Really, you shouldn’t have spent so much. Keep your money for a rainy day.’ It is polite and a kindness – why take the joy of giving away from the giver?

    And surely, the teacher, even if she lives in a remote part of Tibet, must have already been aware that her pupil came from a more affluent society? For what did they talk about in the passing of a whole year?

    Saying that, Miie should have also have understood, after that year, that her teacher’s wants were simple and therefore should have found a gift more appropriate. Something she had made herself, or a miniture painted by a Japanese artist perhaps?

    Many thx for the story. It’s the first 10 second one that I’ve read. Thought provoking!

  27. Pamela says:

    I read all your comments and what I feel is that we are probably too tied to material things that we miss the the point: none of them is important, as we are just passing by.. life is short and we have much more to give than “things”, we have so much love to share and memories, and our experience.. or simply a smile. If I were a tibetan poor teacher (and an artist!), I wouldn’t like to receive material gifts that could improve my life or make it easier, because thanks to that kind of life I would have had the chance to see things that others may not see from their windows.. and I would feel sorry for that student of mine who thought that making my life more similar to hers would have made me happy. But stuffs only would remind me the consumerism (that trend to artificially multiply the needs) and the social differences that richness has created (the common thought that if you have more things you will be probably happier). I would probably be already happy with my life in the Tibetans mountains: poor, simple but always in contact with the universe… But of course I’m not a tibetan teacher and I live in a rich country (like all of you), where it is a bit more difficult to have a simple life, but I was lucky and all the obstacles I had in my life woke me up and life is actually really easy if you disconnect the link to material things and to negative thoughts. Just believe in the power of love and smile to life, look all around you.. Beauty is everywhere.. sorry this is outside the mean matter.. Thanks to everyone of you for your patience ;) and for sharing your impressions

    1. Cristina Maldonado says:

      Thanks for your posting Pamela. I share your view of the world and human relations but I must admit I sometimes find myself walking in the opposite direction. Today , it was one of those times until I read your words.
      Stay blessed,

  28. Luz says:

    Sadly, the heart of the teacher was full of pride, even though she lived humbly. The differences were always there as the teacher riches were in her talent and abilities. She gave these every day to the student, but when it was time to receive, she couldn’t. It takes a lot of courage to accept the help of others. Many people go through awful problems rather than extend their hand and let a friend help them.

    1. santosh says:

      the giver should give gifts wh ich do not embarass the recipient and the receiver should accept whatever gift is given graciously giving and receiving gifts gives joy