Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Reflections on Life – When to be practical

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

This story is attributed to the wise Mohammed Gwath Shattari, who was held in high esteem by Emperor Humayun. He died in 1563, and there is a temple built in his honor in Gwalior.

As three travelers crossed the mountains of the Himalaya, they discussed the importance of putting into practice everything they had learned on a spiritual plane. They we so engrossed in their conversation that it was only late at night that they realized that all they had with them was a piece of bread.

They decided not to discuss who deserved to eat it; since they were pious men, they left the decision in the hands of the gods. They prayed that, during the night, a superior spirit should indicate who should receive the food.

The following morning, the three men rose together at sunrise.

– This is my dream – said the first traveler. – I was taken to places I had never visited before, and enjoyed the sort of peace and harmony I have sought in vain during my entire life on earth. In the midst of this paradise, a wise man with a long beard said to me: “you are my chosen one, you never sought pleasure, always renounced all things. And, in order to prove my allegiance to you, I should like you to try a piece of bread.”

– That’s very strange – said the second traveler. – For in my dream, I saw my past of sanctity and my future as a master. As I gazed at that which is to come, I found a man of great wisdom, saying: “you are in greater need of food than your friends, for you shall have to lead many people, and will require strength and energy.”

Then the third traveler said:

– In my dream I saw nothing, went nowhere, and found no wise men. However, at a certain hour during the night, I suddenly woke up. And I ate the bread.

The other two were furious:

– And why didn’t you call us before making such a personal decision?

– How could I? You were both so far away, finding masters and having such holy visions! Yesterday we discussed the importance of putting into practice that which we learn on a spiritual plane. In my case, God acted quickly, and had me awake dying of hunger!

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