This story was written By Paul Coelho. It teaches just one lesson on the secret of happiness.
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 40 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 everyone, 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
man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil
"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."