The Moment of Dawn


During the World Economic Forum at Davos, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, Shimon Peres, told the following story.

A Rabbi gathered together his students and asked them:

‘How do we know the exact moment when night ends and day begins?’

‘When it’s light enough to tell a sheep from a dog,’ said one boy.

Another student said: ‘No, when it’s light enough to tell an olive tree from a fig tree.’

‘No, that’s not a good definition either.’

‘Well, what’s the right answer?’ asked the boys.

And the rabbi said:

‘When a stranger approaches, and we think he is our brother, and all conflicts disappear, that is the moment when night ends and day begins.’

(From, ‘ Like the flowing river’ by  Paulo Coelho)

Looking At Other People’s Garden



‘You can give a fool a thousand intellects, but the only one he will want is yours,’ says an Arabic proverb. When we start planting the garden of our life, we glance to one side and notice our neighbour is there, spying. He himself is incapable of growing anything, but he likes to give advice on when to sow actions, when to fertilize thoughts, and when to water achievements.

If we listen to what this neighbour is saying, we will end up working for him, and the garden of our life will be our neighbour’s  idea. We will forget about the earth that we cultivated with so much sweat and fertilized with so many blessings. We will forget that each centimetre of the earth has its mysteries that only the patient hand of the gardener can decipher. We will no longer pay attention to the sun, the rain, and the seasons; we will only concentrate instead on that head peering at us over the hedge.

The fool who loves giving advice on our garden never tends his own plants at all.

(From, ‘ Like the Flowing River’, by Paulo Coelho)

Jonathan Seagull

jonathan seagull story

Jonathan Seagull spent his days alone, but he flew way out beyond the far Cliffs. His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that the other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they refused to open their eyes and see.

He learned more each day. He learned that streamlined high – speed dive could bring him to find the rare and tasty fish that schooled ten feet below the surface of the ocean: he no longer needed fishing boats and stale bread for survival. He learned to sleep in the air, setting a course at night across the offshore wind, covering a hundred miles from sunset to sunrise. With the same inner control, he flew through heavy sea fogs and climbed above them into the dazzling clear skies….. in the very times when every other gull stood on the ground, knowing nothing but mist and rain. He learned to ride high winds far inland, to dine there on delicate insects.

What he had once hoped for the Flock, he now gained for himself alone; he learned to fly, and was not sorry for the price that he had paid. Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.

(From, Jonathan Livingston Seagull a story, by Richard Bach….. the most celebrated fable of our time)

How One Thing Can Contain Everything

A meeting in the house of Sao Paulo – born painter based in New York. We are talking about angels, and about alchemy. At one point, I try to explain to the other guests the alchemical idea that each of us contains the whole universe and that we are, therefore, responsible for its well – being. I struggle to find the right words, but cannot come up with a good image that will explain my point of view.

The painter, who has been listening in silence, asks everyone to look out of the window of his studio.

‘What can you see?’ he asks.

‘A Street in Greenwich Village,’ someone replies.

The painter sticks a piece of paper over the window so that the street can no longer be seen; then, with a penknife, he cuts a small square in the paper.

‘And if someone were to look through there, what would he see?’

‘The same street,’ comes the reply.

The painter cuts several squares in the paper.

‘just as each of these holes contains within it the whole view of the same street, so each of us contains in our soul the same universe,’ he says.

And all of us applaud the lovely image he has found.

(From, Like the flowing River by Paulo Coelho)

Between Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk

My book “Aleph” describes my spiritual journey during my crossing of Asia in 2006. To write it, I had to consult the notes I had taken throughout my journey. Below there are two of them:

I arrived at the wagon that will carry me to the Siberian with my arms full of books, thinking I would have plenty of time over the 9228 km of rail travel to read them all. I soon discovered, however, that reading on a wagon is virtually impossible due to the swaying and lack of shock absorbers. The only thing I could do was think, and quickly write down my thoughts once we stopped at the stations.

One of the people on the train shows me a prayer that she said was found among the personal belongings of a Jew who died in a concentration camp. It read:

“Lord, when you come in Your glory, do not remember only the men of goodwill; also remember the men of ill will. And, on Judgment Day, do not remember only the cruelty, abuse and violence that they carried out, but the fruit produced because of what they did to us. Remember the patience, courage, brotherhood, humility, generosity of spirit and faithfulness that our executioners awoke in our souls. And then, Lord, pray that the fruits that we have produced may serve to save the souls of men of evil.”

(From Paulo Coelho)


Learning from the Sparrow

When I was a child, growing up, I was fascinated by the story of the sparrow. It was narrated in school to teach children the power of determination.

Let me share the ancient story of the sparrow and her eggs with you.

“One day a sparrow laid her eggs on the shore of the ocean,

But the big ocean carried away the eggs on its waves.

The sparrow became very upset and asked the ocean to return the eggs. The ocean did not even consider her appeal. So the sparrow decided to dry up the ocean.

She began to scoop out the water with her small beak. Everyone laughed at her for her impossible determination. The news of her activity spread, and at last Garuda, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord, heard it. He became compassionate towards his small sister bird, and came to see the sparrow.

Garuda was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised her to help. Garuda gave the ocean an ultimatum: to return the sparrow’s eggs or he himself would take up the work of the sparrow and scoop out its water.

The ocean was frightened by this and returned the eggs. Thus, the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuda”.

No matter how insignificant we are like the sparrow, and no matter how insurmountable the challenges we face, we must never give up. Fear should not stop us from achieving the goals we have set.

Difficult tasks become easy to execute if one has determination and remembers God. But if one does not remember Him, even an easy task becomes difficult to achieve.

 “Fear should not stop us from achieving the goals we have set”

(From, The Gem Collection, A Compilation Of Wisdom, By Joseph T. Bismark)


Isabelita told me the following story. An old illiterate Arab used to pray with such fervour each night that the wealthy owner of the great caravan decided to summon him so as to talk to him.

‘Why do you pray with such devotion? How do you know God exists when you don’t even know how to read?’

I do know, sir. I can read everything that the Great Celestial Father writes?’

‘But how?’

The humble servant explained.

‘when you receive a letter from someone far away, how do you recognize the writer?’

‘By the handwriting.’

‘When you receive a jewel, how do you know who made it?’

‘By the goldsmith’s mark’.

‘when you hear animals moving about near the tent, how do you know if it was a sheep, a horse, or an ox?’

By it’s footprints,’ replied the owner, surprised at all these questions.

The old man invited him to come outside with him and showed him the sky.

‘Neither the things written up there, nor the dessert down below, could have been made or written by the hand of man.’

(From, ‘Like the Flowing River’,  by Paulo Coelho)