The story, written by Hans Christian Andersen, is about an ugly duckling that looked different from the chicks of the same brood. He was dark and ugly. The other ducklings didn’t want to play with him. He remained isolated in the corner of the pond, until one day he decided to run away in search of a place where he would be accepted.

Wandering here and there, he joined first a family of geese and then a farmhouse. Both the geese and the farmers considered him ugly and useless.

The ugly duckling spent the winter alone and hungry. With the arrival of spring he landed up in a pond where very beautiful birds were swimming.

He didn’t dare to approach them. It was unthinkable that a so ugly duckling, as he was, would have been accepted by those graceful birds! He kept standing on the edge of the pond until one of those birds glided towards him.

How beautiful you are!” I have never seen such white feathers!” said the swan.

The ugly duckling bent his head incredulous and saw his image reflected on the water. He was a swan as well! His feathers had become white!

A similar allegory can be found in Jalaluddin Rumi’s Mathnawi. Rumi tells his hearers that they are “ducks, being brought up by hens”. They have to realize that their destiny is to swim, not to be chickens.

Both Rumi’s and Andersen’s stories are allegories of life. There is a natural evolutionist process in all living beings. It varies from individual to individual, depending on the happenings of life.

Character and personality may change, like the feathers of the swan. The essence, the innermost being is always the same.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind





At dawn, I went to the beach for my usual jogging. It was a foggy day, and the sun seemed to be unwilling to rise.

As I jogged on the beach, I felt like running amid the clouds. It was as if maya (illusion) mixed reality with dream.

Then, I recalled an experience that happened to the Chinese master, Chuang-tzu.

Last night,” he said, “I dreamed to be a butterfly. Now, I don’t know if I am a man who dreamed to be a butterfly or a butterfly that dreams to be a man.”

I sympathize with him. We cannot be sure if we are living a real life or we are dreaming.

Anyway, how about following the way our heart directs us? It cannot lead us astray.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




Walking on the beach in the evening, I saw a small temple that had a festival atmosphere.

Around the temple there were vendors of flowers, bananas, sweets, and toys. There was also music and drum rolls.

Made curious, I walked to the small temple. There was a statue of a god inside.

What is the name of this god?” I asked an old man who looked like a local.

His name is Someshwar.” He answered.

What does Someshwar mean?”

It means ‘protector of the borders.’ All fishermen, whatever religion they have, worship him, because they go far away in the ocean. They believe that Someshwar protects them from the perils of the sea.”


Behind the temple there is a tree. I saw somebody put offerings on it. Is it a sacred tree?” I asked.

Not sacred.”

So, why people put garlands of flowers, coconuts, and bananas on its trunk and light candles in front of it?”


Nobody can see the real God. Anything can become God. If somebody worships a tree and puts offerings on it, other people will follow him and the tree will become holy. All religions are made by followers.” The old man said.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

8 MARCH 2028

8 MARCH 2028

When I was an eleven-year-old student, our teacher made us write an essay with this title to stimulate our imagination: “8 March 2028 – describe yourself and the world around you on that date.”

In my essay I made a lot of predictions about my future life, but as far as I can remember, none of them turned out to be real.

I didn’t predict that I would become an author and a traveler.

We can program our life, but very often it goes its way regardless of our plans. Casual happenings drag us here and there beyond our control.

Now I am at Arambol Beach in Goa (India) for my winter holidays.

How did I spend the last day of the year? At dawn I went jogging on the beach, saluted the rising sun, and helped some fishermen that asked me to give them a hand to beach their heavy boat.

At night, I walked along the seaside where thousands of people were waiting for the stroke of midnight.

On the first day of the new year, I went to the beach at daybreak again. There were a few cleaners that were collecting the garbage littered by those who had celebrated Happy New Year all night.

I jogged and then saluted the rising sun as usual. It was the same sun as yesterday. Seeing me, the fishermen waved their hands from a distance. Nothing had changed! We humans divide time into days, months and years, and make wishes whenever a new year comes, but in nature there is only an uninterrupted flow of happenings without beginning or end.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




After Donald Trump won the American elections, many people were frightened, stock markets collapsed, while his supporters enjoyed the victory of a man who appeared to be away from party political games.

Will the world change after Trump’s victory? For ordinary people nothing will change!

The poor will remain poor, the rich rich, the weak weak, the sufferer will continue to suffer, and so on. In other words, whether Clinton had won or Trump, neither of them would have been able to give you a guarantee of happiness and success. Our good or bad luck depends on ourselves, not on external circumstances. Politicians change, but we will always remain the same, with our weaknesses and small victories.

What matters is the inner strength and energy that each one possesses. With this we can better ourselves and the world, without expecting much from those who rule countries.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind



Once upon a time, in Northern India there was a woman in her forties, who wished to become a mother for a long time. It seemed that she was barren, but when the last ray of hope was about to vanish, unexpectedly she gave birth to a very beautiful baby girl.

At that time, she was the happiest woman in the world, but at the age of five years her little girl died suddenly.

She was desperate, and couldn’t accept that her beloved daughter had passed away. She cried and cried. One day, one of her neighbors advised her to go to Prince Gautama Buddha, who was a man able to perform miracles.

“ If you beseech that holy man, your daughter will come back to life!” said the neighbor.

The lady set out towards the place where Buddha lived and after two days’ walk she reached him.

Prince Gautama Buddha was sitting surrounded by many monks. Seeing her so badly upset, he felt pity.

“To perform the miracle,” said Prince Gautama to the lady, “ you need to bring me seven pumpkin seeds, but they must be taken from a house where nobody has died.”

The lady was happy and confident that she would easily get the seven pumpkin seeds, and Prince Siddhartha Gautama would perform the miracle to revive her child.

She knocked on the door of a house and asked: “Do you have pumpkin seeds?”

“Yes, of course we have a lot of pumpkin seeds,” answered a young lady on the threshold.

“Did someone die in this house?”

“Unfortunately, last year my father passed away,” she answered.

She kept going from house to house asking for pumpkin seeds, but she couldn’t find a house where nobody had died. Everyone had suffered the death of someone.

Meanwhile, the desperate lady returned to reason, and finally realized that life and death are two sides of the same coin, no one can escape the latter.

What is the moral of the story?

You are not the only one who struggles in life; whenever you feel a pain which seems unbearable, look at the others and you will see your trouble fade away.

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History



  1. Right Understanding
  2. Right Thought
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

The eightfold path is the heart of Buddhism, but it can be followed by everybody, even if they are atheists.

Once a friend of mine who was a non-believer couldn’t join an esoteric society, because it was necessary to swear on the Bible to be admitted. Despite he liked esotericism very much, he refused to swear on the Bible. In fact, he had no intention of giving up his atheistic ideas. Later, he said to me that he wouldn’t have raised difficulties if he had been asked to swear on Gautama Buddha’s Eightfold Path which was compatible with his ideas.

Actually, the Eightfold Path is a way of living; it can help everybody to live a better life.

  • Right Understanding means to understand things as they really are, not as they appear to our deluded mind. How many times we misunderstand people and situations, and mistake candles for lanterns!
  • Right Thought. Our thoughts are subject to the “Law of Attraction”; the more pure they are, the more they attract pureness.
  • Right Speech – Right Action – Right Livelihood are related to keeping good moral conduct.
  • Right Effort indicates that we have to put an effort in our spiritual life. A little effort is needed if we want to grow as spiritual beings. Without a proper effort we live a lazy life, which clouds the mind instead of elevating the spirit.
  • Right Mindfulness. This recommendation is particularly useful when a person is too sensitive to self-pride. As for me, in the past whenever somebody offended or made fun of me, my self-proud was so wounded that I easily lost my self-control and was unable to see things, people and situations as they real are. Nowadays I strive to be more mindful, without ever being clouded, whether good or bad, by life events.
  • Right Concentration is also called right meditation. Whenever we meditate, we should focus our attention on one single object, without being distracted by trivial worries.What about trying the Eightfold Path in your ordinary daily life? Is it difficult for you?
  • Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian Historybuddha-zen-26305147[1]


  A twenty-year-old woman has been burned alive in Papua New Guinea. It seems that she was tortured with red-hot rods before being tied to a pile of tires. Then a bucket of gasoline was thrown to her.

Is this the first case of alleged witches sent to the stake? Of course not! In Europe, in the Middle Ages putting witches to death by burning them at the stake was quite normal.

Not only alleged witches were burnt to death, but also heretics underwent the same doom.

If you happen to go to Rome, visit Campo dei Fiori and you will see the statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno who was condemned to the stake by the Inquisition.

Nowadays, this kind of execution is relic of the past.

What would I do if I were a ruler of Papua New Guinea? First of all, I would start an educational campaign. In fact, at the base of whatever form of intolerance there is ignorance. I would make the study of morals and law compulsory.

I would teach that nobody can know what is good and what is bad, because they are two sides of the same coin. They coexist in each of us.

I would teach that everyone is convinced to be right and follows his path as a train runs on its railway. We human beings are like that; we follow our tracks and cannot understand the others who have their journey on different tracks.

I would teach that one of the most important achievements of human society is the lawsuit, which is the observance of a procedure before sentencing.

That twenty-year-old woman was condemned without a trial. Who knows if she was a real witch or not! Sometimes, what looks real reveals untrue after a long time, but it is too late to repair the mistake.

Ettore Grillo, author of The Vibrations of Words




  The latest news tells what happened in a restaurant of Houston. A family of four asked to have dinner at a distance from the table where another family with a disabled child was dining, and addressed the waiter with a few pungent words.

“Disabled persons should eat in special places when they enter a restaurant!”

On hearing those words, the waiter refused to serve those customers who finally were compelled to leave.

The news spread quite soon and the restaurant was praised by host of people due to waiter’s behavior.

My voice is dissenting.

What happened in that restaurant is quite common. People, even though they don’t express their feeling openly, tend to remove every hindrance to their comfort. In the case I am dealing with, the family who asked to dine at a distance from the disabled kid wanted to enjoy dinner without being bothered.

This is called “intolerance” and it happens in every field of life. Above all, intolerance is present in religions and it is called “fundamentalism”. Each religion claims to be the only way that leads to heaven, and considers those who have a different creed as infidels.

I don’t want to either praise or backbite that waiter; I just want to tell what I would have done if I were in his shoes. Well, I would have served the family who said unkind things to the kid with Down syndrome. In fact, a waiter’s duty who deals with the public is to show impartiality and tolerance towards all customers, putting aside his personal opinion.

Every opinion deserves to be expressed, even though it offends one’s personal feelings. At the top of human values there is freedom of speech and thought.  If I were that waiter, I would not have taken stance for or against this or that family; otherwise, I would have been as intolerant as those people whose intolerance I wanted to punish.

Intolerance cannot be fought by intolerance.

The true tolerant person shows love, respect and impartiality to everybody, even to intolerant persons.

Ettore Grillo author of The Vibrations of Words


   The news says that a deaf person was signing with another man but a passerby mistook it for gang sign. Therefore, to prevent a probable crime, he attacked the deaf person and stabbed him many times.

How many times we misinterpret reality!

According to Hindu religion, we human beings do not experience reality as it is; rather we consider as reality what is mere projection of our mind. Hindus use the term Maya to indicate “illusion”.

What happened to the stabber, who mistook the deaf person for a gangster, can happen to any of us. How many times we are self-confident about reality! But later we recognize that our self-confidence was wrong and reality was different from our judgment. With hindsight we would have acted in a different way.

Besides of “illusion”, we are victims of our “delusions”. In Italian, a corresponding term to indicate such a word does not exist. Therefore, we have to use a phrase to express the same meaning. We paraphrase “delusion” as wrong mental perspective. It is like a distorted mirror that reflects distorted reality.

Sometimes innocents are sent into jail and even to the electric chair due to misunderstanding of reality.

Personally I am suspicious of persons who are too much self-confident. Maybe they don’t know that reality is covered with Maya’s veil!

Ettore Grillo author of Travels of the Mind and The Vibrations of Words