17 August 2011

Antonio’s Destiny

"Antonio was a civil servant in a small city in the interior. One afternoon he saw two cocks fighting. Feeling sorry for the birds, he went to the centre of the square to separate them, without realising that he was interrupting a fight between two fighting cocks. The furious spectators beat him up. One of the them threatened to kill him because he was almost winning and would have won a fortune in bets. Filled with fear, Antonio decided to leave town. People found it odd when he failed to turn up for work, but since there were many applicants for the job they soon forgot the old civil servant.

After three days of travelling, Antonio met a fisherman, and feeling sorry for Antonio, the fisherman took him home. After chatting, he found that Antonio knew how to read, and proposed a deal: he would teach the newcomer to fish in exchange for teaching him to read and write. Antonio learned to fish. With the money from fishing, he bought books to be able to teach the fisherman. Through his reading, the fisherman learned things that he did not previously know.

One of the books taught carpentry, and Antonio decided to set up a small workshop. He and the fisherman bought tools and started to make tables, chairs and bookcases. Many years passed. The two continued to fish and they contemplated during the time they spent on the river. They also continued to study and the many books unveiled the human soul. Both continued to work at carpentry, and the physical work made them healthy and strong.

Antonio loved talking to the customers. Since he was now a cultured, wise and healthy man, people came to him for advice. The whole city began to progress, because everyone saw Antonio as someone capable of finding good solutions to the problems of the region. Soon people formed study groups around Antonio and many of these people developed into disciples. A famous biographer was commissioned to report the lives of the Two Wise Men, as Antonio and his friend were now called.

The biographer wrote for five months. When the book came out, it became a great success. It was a marvellous and exciting story of two men who seek knowledge, abandon all they are doing, fight against all sorts of adversity and encounter secret masters. “It was nothing like that,” said Antonio. “Wise men need to have exciting lives,” answered the biographer. “A story has to teach something, and reality never teaches anything.”

Antonio gave up arguing. He knew that it was reality that taught everything a man needs to know, but it was no use trying to explain that. “Let these fellows go on living with their fantasies,” he said to the fisherman. And they continued, reading, writing, fishing, working, teaching disciples, and doing good.

They only promised never again to read books on the lives of saints, since the people who write these books fail to understand a very simple truth; everything that a common man does in his life brings him closer to God."

[By Paulo Coelho, abridged]

1 comment:

Janet (U.K.) said...

This is so true. We are all on the path to God. I like the expression - A saint is a reformed sinner and a sinner is a saint in the making.