Jigsaw puzzle

During a trip I received a fax from my secretary.

“One glass brick was missing for the kitchen’s reform,” she wrote. “I am sending you the original project and what the mason will be doing in order to compensate the fault.”

On one side, there was the project my wife had designed: harmonious rows with an opening for ventilation.

On the other side, the project that solved the lack of the brick: a true jigsaw puzzle, where the glass squares were placed with no aesthetics whatsoever.

“Just buy the missing brick,” wrote my wife.

That was done and the original design was maintained. On that afternoon I kept thinking for a long time about it: how many times, because of a simple missing brick, we completely distort the original project of our lives!

Arrogance is normally a banal mask of cowardice

Epictietus (AD 55 – AD 135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave in Greece, lived in Rome and was expelled and exiled to his homeland where he lived for most of his life.

During his exile, he created a way of teaching his disciples. Below, an excerpt of his book Discourses:

“Two things may happen when we meet someone: either we become friends or we try to convince this person to accept our convictions. The same happens when a live coal touches another piece of coal: it either shares its fire with it or it becomes suffocated for its size and ends up extinguished.”

“As generally we are insecure at first contact, we try showing indifference, arrogance or excessive humbleness. The result is that we stop being ourselves and things begin to stray toward a strange world that doesn’t belong to us.

“In order to avoid this to happen, allow your good feelings to be noticed right away. Arrogance is normally a banal mask of cowardice, but it ends up preventing important things from blossoming in your life.”

Fair price

Nixivan had gathered his friend for supper and was brewing a juicy piece of meat. Suddenly, he noticed they were out of salt.

Nixivan called his son: “Go to the village and buy salt. But pay the fair price for it; neither pricier nor cheaper.”

His son was surprised:

“I understand I shouldn’t pay more, father. But if we can bargain a little, why not save some money?”

“In a large city, this is advisable”he said. ” However, in a small city as ours, the entire village will notice it.”

His guest overheard their conversation and wanted to know why one shouldn’t buy salt for less.

Nixivan answered: “Those who sell underpriced salt, do it in a desperate need for money. Those who take advantage of the situation, show disrespect for the sweat and battle of a man that worked to produce something.”

“But that is too little to destroy a village.”

“In the beginning of the world, injustice was scant as well. But everyone that came afterwards added something, thinking it was not important, and see where we got today.”

Power and glory

A certain king of Spain who was very proud of his ancestors was known for his cruelty toward those who were weaker than him.

Once he was travelling with his retinue over a field in Aragon where years ago he had lost his father in a battle, when he came upon a holy man rummaging through an enormous pile of bones.

“What are you up to there?” asked the king. “All honour to Your Majesty!” said the holy man.

“When I heard that the king of Spain was coming here, I decided to gather the bones of your deceased father and deliver them to you. But no matter how hard I look, I cannot find them: they are just the same as the bones of peasants, the poor, beggars and slaves.”

The student and the horse

The master was an austere man, so the disciple decided to lead a life of sacrifice by sleeping on a bed made of straw.

After some time the master noticed a change in his disciple’s behaviour and decided to find out what was happening.

“I am climbing the steps of initiation,” was the answer.

“The white of my garments shows the simplicity of the search, the vegetarian food purifies my body, and the lack of comfort makes me think only of spiritual things.”

Smiling, the master took him to a field where a horse was grazing.

“Do you see that animal over there? His skin is white, he eats only herbs, and he sleeps in a barn with a floor covered in straw. Do you think that he looks like a saint, or that one day he will manage to become a true master?”

Good news

The Argentinean golfer Robert de Vincenzo went to the parking lot to get his car after having won an important tournament.

At that moment, a woman approached him. After congratulating him for his victory, she told him her son was at the edge of death and that she had no money to pay the hospital bills.

De Vincenzo immediately gave her part of the money he had won that afternoon.

A week later, at a lunch at the Professional Golf Association, he told this story to a couple of friends. One of them asked him if the woman was blond with a small scar under her left eye.

De Vincenzo agreed. “You were cheated,” his friend said.

“This woman is a swindler and is always telling the same story to all foreign golfers that show up here.”

“So there is no child at the edge of death?”


“Well, this was the best news I got this week!” said the golf player.

New offices in Barcelona


Para versão em portugues, clique aqui

Download high resolution photo here.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who earlier this year published his new novel, Adultery, (in Spain, Editorial Planeta), will be in Barcelona on November 12th for the inauguration of Sant Jordi Asociados’ new offices in the heart of the city.
The literary agency, that handles the writer’s work and rights worldwide from the Catalan capital, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this 2014.

According to Mônica Antunes, the author’s exclusive literary agent since the first translations of The Alchemist—currently translated into 80 languages and present over 140 countries –”the new opportunities and the transformation of the publishing market have allowed us to grow into other areas,” referring to the digital leap. In this sense, Antunes is “very confident to further expand its scope of action from the new office.”

The new headquarters of Sant Jordi Asociados is twice the size of the previous one, thanks to the growing presence of Paulo Coelho’s in the world.

For Coelho, who visits Barcelona regularly, being in the city is a great joy. “Barcelona has always been a reference in the publishing industry and very generous and affectionate towards my work,” concludes the Brazilian author.

Such good tuning is also due to the great relationship that both the writer and his agent have with their publishers. According to Carlos Revés, director of the Publishing Area of Planeta Group, Mônica Antunes’ presence in Barcelona has always proved to be “an advantage in our communication and closeness with Coelho, who is practically a local author for us”. “We are very pleased – adds Revés – that the author will be here to toast for the success of Adultery, which since its publication in Spain has not left the best-seller lists.”

For further information: +34 93 224 01 07

“Most people believe that their life happens to them”

“Most people believe that their life happens to them. That everything which occurs happens because of external circumstances that are independent of their will. Some people call this fate, others call it God’s will, and others choose to call it chance. But regardless of what they call it, they are giving away the responsibility for their lives; they relinquish control over their joys and their sorrows. They become an actor in someone else’s play.

“Every single event in your life is determined solely by you, by your unlimited creative capacity. You can manifest beauty and abundance, just as you can manifest cruelty and oppression. You can manifest joy, just as you can manifest suffering. It is up to you, and no one else. You are the director of the play of your life, and you are writing the script with every breath, every thought, every emotion. It is likely, however, that you are not fully aware of the story you are writing. And thus it is easier to believe that external forces come into play.”

“It is only when we become fully aware of the story that we can choose to write a different one.”

The Heart of the Labyrinth, by Nicole Schwab

The servant’s daugther

In ancient China a certain prince in the region of Thing-Zda was about to be crowned Emperor; before that, in accordance with the law, he had to get married.

Advised by a wise man, he decided to call all the young women in the region to choose the most suitable among them.

An old lady who had been a servant in the palace for many years heard the comments on the preparations for the audience and felt a deep sadness, for her daughter nurtured a secret love for the prince.
The daughter of a servant wins the heart of the prince with her honesty and dedication

The daughter of a servant wins the heart of the prince with her honesty and dedication

On reaching home and conveying the news, she was astonished to hear that her daughter also intended to present herself before the prince.

“My child, what are you going to do there? All the prettiest and richest young women in the court will be there. Get that silly idea out of your head! I know that you must be suffering, but don’t change your suffering into madness!”

“Dearest mother, I am not suffering and far less have I gone crazy; I know that I shall never be the chosen one, but it’s my chance to be at least for a few minutes close to the prince. That makes me happy, even knowing that my fate lies elsewhere.”

At night, when the young woman reached the palace, indeed all the prettiest young ladies were there, dressed in the prettiest clothes, displaying the most beautiful jewels, and willing to fight in every possible way for the opportunity that lay open to them.

Surrounded by his court, the prince announced the challenge: “I shall give each of you a seed. The one who brings me the prettiest flower in six months’ time will be the future Empress of China.

The young girl took her seed, planted it in a vase, and even though she did not know much about the art of gardening, took care of the earth with great patience and tenderness, for she thought that if the beauty of flowers was as deep as her love, then she did not need to worry about the result.

Three months passed by and nothing bloomed.

The young woman tried a bit of everything, spoke to farmers and peasants – who taught her all sorts of gardening techniques – but nothing worked, all her efforts came to nothing.

Finally, the six months came to an end and nothing had flourished in her vase.

Even knowing that she had nothing to show, she decided to return to the palace, realizing that this would be the last meeting with her beloved. The day arrived for the new audience.

The girl appeared with her vase without a plant, and saw that all the other pretenders had managed to produce fine results, each of them with a prettier flower than the next, all with a variety of shapes and colors.

At last came the moment everyone was waiting for: the prince entered and observed each of the pretenders with great care and attention.

After reviewing them all, he announced the result, pointing to his servant’s daughter as his chosen wife.

Everyone present began to complain, saying that he chose precisely the one candidate who had failed in the assigned task.

Then the prince very calmly clarified the reason for his choice: “She was the only one among you all to cultivate the flower that made her worthy to become an Empress: the flower of honesty.

“All the seeds that I distributed were sterile, and there was absolutely no way that they could flourish.”

ZDF-Literatursendung “Das blaue Sofa” mit Paulo Coelho

Writing tips

On Confidence
You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have.

On Trust
Trust your reader, don’t try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.

On Expertise

You cannot take something out of nothing. When you write a book, use your experience.

On Critics
Some writers want to please their peers, they want to be “recognized”. This shows insecurity and nothing else, please forget about this. You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers.

On Notetaking
If you want to capture ideas, you are lost. You are going to be detached from emotions and forget to live your life. You will be an observer and not a human being living his or her life. Forget taking notes. What is important remains, what is not important goes away.

On Research
If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your reader. Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul.

On Writing
I write the book that wants to be written. Behind the first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last.

On Style
Don’t try to innovate storytelling, tell a good story and it is magical. I see people trying to work so much in style, finding different ways to tell the same thing. It’s like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress.

Fear of failure

Master Achaan Chah was given a fine piece of land so that he might build a monastery. Chah had to go away for a time and left his disciples in charge of the building work.

When he returned – five months later – nothing had been done. The disciples had already ordered several plans from local architects.

One of them asked Chah:

– Which of the projects should we go ahead with? How should we go about taking the right decision?

Chah answered:

– When one desires that which is good, the results are always good.

Free of the fear to make mistakes, the decision was taken and the result was magnificent.

Face your path with courage, do not be afraid of other people’s criticism. And – above all – don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by self-criticism.

God is the God of the brave.

In search of the lost path

We go out into the world in search of our dreams and ideals, although we often know we put away in inaccessible places, all that which is within our reach. When we discover our mistake, we start to think we’ve lost too much time looking far and wide for something which was nearby; and this is why we allow ourselves to be overcome by a sense of guilt, for past mistakes, for the useless search, for the grief caused.

But that’s not really true: although the treasure is buried in your home, you’ll only find it when you distance yourself. If Peter hadn’t experienced the pain of negation, he would never have been chosen as head of the Church. If the prodigal son hadn’t abandoned everything, he would never have been joyously received by his father.

There are certain things in our lives that carry a seal which says: “you will only understand my value when you lose me – and recover me.” It is no use hoping to shorten this path.


Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Keeping the skill

In Japan, I was invited to Guncan-Gima, where there is a Zen-Buddhist temple.

When I arrived, I was surprised: a fine structure was situated in the middle of a great forest, but had a vast waste land beside it. I asked the reason for this, and the person in charge explained:

– It is the site of the first construction. Every twenty years, we destroy this temple you see before you, and rebuild it next door.

“In this way, the monks, be they carpenters, bricklayers or architects, have the opportunity to exercise their skills, and teach their apprentices in practice. We also show that nothing in life is eternal – and that even temples are in a constant process of refinement.”

10 SEC READING: Frogs being boiled


Several biological studies have shown that a frog placed in a container along with water from his pond, he will remain alive while you heat the water. The toad does not react to the gradual increase of temperature (change of environment) and only dies when the water boils, swollen and happy.

On the other hand, if a toad is thrown into that same container when the water is already boiling, he will immediately jump out. He will be a little singed, but alive!

Sometimes we can be like the boiled toads. We do not notice changes.
We think everything is good, or that whatever is evil will pass, it’s just a matter of time.
We are about to die, but we are floating, stable and apathetic as the water warms up every minute.
We are dying, fat and happy, without having noticed the changes around us.

There are boiled toads who still believe that the key is obedience, not competence: might is right, and obey whoever is sensible. From all this, where is the real life? It is better to emerge from a situation, maybe a little singed from time to time, but alive and ready to act.

A few words about “Adultery”


When I decided to write Adultery, some publishers were very preoccupied with the theme and title. I spent a long time trying to convince them that this was the book I want and need to write (the same situation happened before, with “11 Minutes”). I took my risks and moved ahead, knowing that they could be right as far as the market is concerned, but I was right as far as my heart is concerned.

So it is time to thank you my readers, for the strong support the book received everywhere – making all the bestseller lists in all countries (a snapshot of some lists below). There is no better promotion than word-of-mouth, and I am glad you helped me.

Some of you decided not to buy it because of the title – I understand and respect your decision (by the way, the book is NOT about encouraging adultery, but the opposite) . As I am sure that you also understand my attitude in writing things that are relevant to me as a human being committed to always be honest in my work.



“What do you think of the human race?” asks a friend who has just graduated in sociology.

“I think it’s strange – so alike and yet so different! We are capable of working together, of building the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the cathedrals of Europe and the temples of Peru. We can compose unforgettable music, work in hospitals, create new computer programs.

“But at some moment all this loses its meaning, and we feel alone, as if we were part of another world, different from the one we have helped to build.”

“At times, when others need our help, we grow desperate because this prevents us from enjoying life. At other times, when nobody needs us, we feel useless.

“But that’s the way we are. We are complex human beings. Why despair?”

“We are what we think. All that we are comes from our thoughts. Through thought we construct and destroy the world. Thought follows us like a cart follows the pair of oxen. We are what we think. Your imagination can cause you more harm than your worst enemy. But once you control your thoughts, no one can help you as much as they can – not even your father or mother.”

A funny way to review a book…

Agenda 2015


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08 Oct 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair

Chat with the director of the Fair, Juergen Boos