A novice went to Abbot Macarius seeking advice about the best way to please the Lord.
“Go to the cemetery and insult the dead,” said Macarius.
The brother did as he was told. The following day, he returned to Macarius.
“Did they respond?” asked the abbot.
The novice said, “No, they didn’t.”
“Then go to them and praise them.”
The novice obeyed. That same afternoon, he returned to the abbot, who again wished to know whether the dead had responded.
“No,” said the novice.
“In order to please the Lord, behave as they do,” said Macarius. “Pay no heed to the insults of men, nor to their praise; in this way, you shall forge your own path.”
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel “The Alchemist.” He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.
Coelho’s online activities also include promoting pirated copies of his own books. Since 2005 he’s been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. “I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it.”