To Flee from Pain, or Face It?

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

When life makes us face difficult situations – such as a personal loss – we have to understand that eternity is taking one more step.

Jorge Luis Borges wrote something very beautiful about this:


You are cloud, sea, forgetting,

you are also what you lost in a moment –  

we are all those who have left.

The reflection of our face in the mirror

changes each instant

and every day has its own labyrinth.

The cloud vanishing in the sunset is our image;

endlessly, a rose becomes another rose.


I personally hate the dilemma of loss, but at times there is no solution and it just has to be faced. What follows are some stories dealing with this topic.


Sacrifice and Blessing


A man made a promise to carry a cross to the top of a mountain if a certain wish of his were satisfied.

God granted him what he asked for.

He had the cross made, and set out on his climb. After a few days, he found that the cross weighed more than he had reckoned – and borrowed a saw to cut off a good section of the wood. On reaching the top of the mountain, he noticed that – separated by a gulf – there was another mountain.

Over on the other side, everything was peace and tranquility; but he needed a bridge to get over there.

He tried to use the cross – but it was a bit too short.

And then he realized that the piece he had cut off was exactly what was missing to enable him to cross the abyss.


Another Story about Crosses


In a certain village in Umbria (Italy), there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.

One night, before going to sleep, he begged God to let him change his burden.

That night he had a dream: the Lord led him to a warehouse. “Go ahead and change it,” he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, with the names of their owners. He picked an average-size cross – but when he saw the name of an old friend written on it, he left it aside.

Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find.

To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it.


The Guru from Mesure


A famous guru lived in Mesure, in India. He managed to gather a good number of followers, and spread his wisdom generously.

When he reached middle age, he contracted malaria, but religiously continued to fulfill his ritual: bathing in the morning, giving classes at midday and praying in the temple during the afternoon.

When fever and the tremors prevented him from concentrating, he took off the upper part of his garments and tossed them in a corner. His power was such that the clothes continued to tremble – while he, free from any contractions, was able to say his prayers in peace.

When he finished, he put on his clothes again, and the symptoms returned.

“Why don’t you give up those clothes once and for all, and get rid of the sickness?” asked a journalist who saw the miracle.

“It is already a blessing to be able to do calmly what I have to do,” answered the man. “The rest is part of life; it would be cowardly not to accept it.”


© Translated by James Mulholland

Filed under: Paulo Coelho

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