About Human Justice

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

Fundamental laws

A group of wise Jewish men met up in order to try and create the shortest Constitution in the world. If anyone – in the space of time a man takes to balance on one foot – were capable of defining the laws governing human behavior, he would be considered the greatest of all wise men.

“God punishes criminals,” said one.

The others argued that this was not a law, but a threat; the phrase was not accepted.

“God is love,” commented another.

Again, the wise men did not accept the phrase, saying that it did not properly explain the duties of humanity.

Just then, Rabbi Hillel came forward. And, standing on one foot, he said:

“Do not do to another that which you would abhor being done to you; that is the law. All the rest is legal commentary.”

And Rabbi Hillel was considered the greatest wise man of his time.

Sincere regret

The monk Chu Lai was offended by a teacher, who didn’t believe in anything he said. However, the teacher’s wife was a follower of Chu Lai – and demanded that her husband apologize to the wise man.

Annoyed, but lacking courage to upset his wife, the man went to the temple and murmured some words of apology.

“I do not forgive you,” said Chu Lai. “Go back to work.”

The wife was horrified:
“My husband showed humility and you – who call yourself a wise man – were not generous!”

Chu Lai answered:
“There is no rancor in my soul. Still, if he is not sorry, it is better to acknowledge that he is angry with me. If I had accepted his apology, we would be creating a false situation of harmony – and this would increase even more your husband’s anger.”

Changing attitude

A young man went to an abbot from the Sceta monastery, wanting to follow a spiritual path.

“For one whole year, give a coin to anyone who provokes you,” said the abbot.

For 12 months the young man gave a coin away whenever someone provoked him. At the end of a year, he returned to the abbot, to find out his next task.

“Go into town and fetch me food.”

As soon as the young man left, the abbot disguised himself as a beggar and – taking a shortcut he knew – went to the gates of the town. When the young man approached, he began to insult him.

“How marvelous!” said the young man to the so-called beggar. “For a whole year I had to pay everyone who provoked me, and now I can be provoked for free, without having to spend a thing!”

Upon hearing this, the abbot removed his disguise.

“Whoever is capable of not minding what others say, is a man on the path to wisdom. You no longer take insults seriously; therefore you are ready for the next step.”

© Translated by James Mulholland


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