Thursday, January 5, 2012

Go back and observe the marvels of this world

"Take these," said the old man, holding out a white stone and a black
stone that had been embedded at the center of the breastplate. "They
are called Urim and Thummim. The black signifies 'yes,' and the white
'no.' When you are unable to read the omens, they will help you to do
so. Always ask an objective question.

"But, if you can, try to make your own decisions. The treasure is at the
Pyramids; that you already knew. But I had to insist on the payment
of six sheep because I helped you to make your decision."
The boy put the stones in his pouch. From then on, he would make his
own decisions.

"Don't forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and
nothing else. And don't forget the language of omens. And, above all,
don't forget to follow your Personal Legend through to its conclusion.
"But before I go, I want to tell you a little story.

"A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of
happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered
through the desert for forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful
castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.
"Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the
main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and
went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was
playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the
most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed
with every one, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his
turn to be given the man's attention.

"The wise man listened attentively to the boy's explanation of why he
had come, but told him that he didn't have time just then to explain
the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the
palace and return in two hours.

"'Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,' said the wise man,
handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. As you wander
around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.'
"The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the
palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he
returned to the room where the wise man was.

"'Well,' asked the wise man, 'did you see the Persian tapestries that
are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the
master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful
parchments in my library?'

"The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed
nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise
man had entrusted to him.

'"Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,' said the wise
man. 'You cannot trust a man if you don't know his house.'
"Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration
of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings
and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the
beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been
selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail
everything he had seen.

"'But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?' asked the wise

"Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was

'"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,' said the wisest
of wise men. 'The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the
world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.'"
The shepherd said nothing. He had understood the story the old king
had told him. A shepherd may like to travel, but he should never
forget about his sheep."

-The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

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