A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness
from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the
desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at
the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man
was looking for.
However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a
room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and
going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra
playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with
the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.
The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to
wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.
The Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy's
visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the
time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.
He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his
palace and come back in two hours' time.
"However, I want to ask you a favor," he added, handling the
boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil.
"While you walk, carry this spoon and don't let the oil spill."
The young man began to climb up and down the palace
staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon.
At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of
the wise man.
"So," asked the sage, "did you see the Persian tapestries
hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the
Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice
the beautiful parchments in my library?"
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing.
His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the
wise man had entrusted to him.
"So, go back and see the wonders of my world," said the wise man. "You can't trust a man if you don't know his house."
Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled
again through the palace, this time paying attention to all
the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls.
He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the
delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of
art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported
in detail all that he had seen.
"But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?"
asked the sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had
spilled the oil.
"Well, that is the only advice I have to give you," said the
sage of sages.
"The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of
the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon."
from the book "The Alchemist"