Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Guilt and forgiveness – Part II

Author: Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Here is a beautiful story that illustrates precisely what I mean:

When he was small, Cosroes had a teacher who helped him to become an outstanding student in all his subjects. One afternoon, the teacher punished him severely, apparently for no reason.

Years later, Cosroes acceded to the throne. One of his first actions was to summon his former schoolmaster and demand an explanation for the injustice he had committed.

‘Why did you punish me when I had done nothing wrong?’ he asked.

‘When I saw how intelligent you were, I knew at once that you would inherit the throne from your father,’ replied his teacher. ‘And so I decided to show you how injustice can mark a man for life. Now that you know that,’ the teacher went on, ‘I hope you will never punish another person without good reason.’

This reminds me too of a conversation I had over supper once in Kyoto. The Korean teacher Tae-Chang Kim was talking about the differences between Western thought and Eastern thought.

‘Both our civilisations have a golden rule. In the West, you say: ‘Do as you would be done by.’ This means that a loving person establishes a model of happiness which he tries to impose on all those he meets.

The golden rule in the East appears to be almost the same: ‘Never do to others what you would not want done to you.’ This is based on an understanding of all the things that make us unhappy, including having to obey a model of happiness imposed on us by others – and that makes all the difference.

In order to improve the world, we do not impose our own way of showing our love, we try instead to avoid making others suffer.’

So show respect and care when dealing with your fellow man. Jesus said: ‘You shall know them by their fruits.’ And old Arab proverb says: ‘God judges the tree by its fruits, not by its roots.’ And according to a popular proverb: ‘The beater forgets the beating, the beaten never do.’

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