Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The drunken disciple

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

A Zen master had hundreds of disciples. They all prayed when they were supposed to pray, except for one, who spent all his time drunk.
The master grew older. Some of the more virtuous students began talking about who would be the new leader of the group, the one to whom the important secrets of the Tradition would be passed on.
On the eve of his death, however, the master summoned the drunken student and passed on the secrets to him.
The other disciples were in uproar.
‘It’s shameful!’ they proclaimed loudly in the streets. ‘We have been sacrificing ourselves for the wrong master, one who has failed to see our qualities.’
Hearing the hubbub outside, the dying master remarked:
‘I needed to pass on those secrets to a man I knew well. All my students are terribly virtuous and only show their good qualities. That is dangerous, for virtue often serves to hide vanity, pride and intolerance. That is why I chose the one student I knew really well, the one whose faults I could see most clearly.’

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