Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

They always know what's best for us

Author: Paulo Coelho

Preventing rheumatism

The centipede decided to ask the wise man of the forest, a monkey, what was the best remedy for the pain in his legs.
“That’s rheumatism”, said the monkey. “You’ve got too many legs. You ought to be like me; with just two, rheumatism hardly ever appears”.
“And what do I do to have just two legs?”
“Don’t bother me with details”, answered the monkey. “A wise man just gives the best advice; it’s up to you to solve the problem”.

Can I help?

As soon as he opened the church, the priest saw a woman come in, sit down on the front pew, and put her head between her hands. Two hours later, he noticed that the woman was still there in the same position.
Worried, he decided to approach her:
“Can I do anything to help?” he asked.,
“No, thanks”, she answered. “I was just getting all the help I need when you interrupted me”.
Jesuit Anthony Mello comments: “in a monastery no-one wrote Don’t talk on the notice-board. What was written was: Talk only if you can make the silence better.”

I know what’s right

A peasant was returning home when he saw a donkey in the field.
“I’m not a donkey”, said the animal. “I saw the Messiah being born. I have lived for two thousand years, and am still alive to give this testimony.”
Frightened, the peasant ran to the church to tell the parish priest. “Impossible!”, he said. The peasant took him by the hands and led him to where the donkey was. The animal repeated everything he had said before.
I repeat: animals cannot talk” said the priest.
But you just heard it talk!” insisted the peasant.
How stupid can you be! You’d rather believe a donkey than a priest! ”

This will work for us too

A fable of the Lebanese writer Mikail Naaimé is a good illustration of the danger of following the methods of others, no matter how noble they may seem to be:
“We need to free ourselves from being slaves to men”, said an ox to his companions. “For years we have listened to human beings saying that the door to freedom is stained with the blood of martyrs. Let’s discover that door and knock it down with the strength of our horns”.
For days and nights they walked down the road until they saw a door all stained with blood.
“Here is the door to freedom”, they said. “We know that our brothers were sacrificed on this spot”.
One by one the oxen went through the door. And it was only inside, when it was too late, that they realized that it was the door to the slaughterhouse.

Deciding the fate of others

Malba Tahan tells the story of a man who came across an angel in the desert and gave him water. “I am the angel of death and have come to find you”, said the angel. “But since you have been good, I will lend you the Book of Destiny for five minutes; you can change whatever you want”.
The angel handed him the book. Leafing through the pages, the man read the lives of his neighbors. He was discontented: “Those people don’t deserve such good things”, he thought. Pen in hand, he began to make each of their lives worse.
Finally he reached the page of his own destiny. He saw his tragic ending, but just as he was about to change it, the book vanished. Five minutes had passed.
And right there and then the angel took the man’s soul.

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