After a heavy snowfall, the snow-covered roads look beautiful, soft, and smooth, but when snow melts, potholes appear.

Obviously, the snow-covered road is a metaphor. What the proverb means is that when the veil of illusion covering your real being is removed, you will show your real nature and shortcomings.

A friend of mine once told me that he was going to get married to a girl he had come across through a dating site.

“Do you know her?” I asked him.

“I have never met her,” he replied, “but I’ve seen her picture on the computer and I’ve been chatting with her for a year. She is very beautiful and smart!”

A few months later, I met him again. He was a bit depressed, for the engagement had fallen apart. In fact, when he met the girl face to face, she was not beautiful at all. Her photo on the dating site was just a bait.

The moral of the story? We had better be straightforward and show ourselves as we are, otherwise ‘A squagliata da nivi si vidunu I purtusa! (When snow melts, potholes will appear!)

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English edition)

– A Hidden Sicilian History (English edition)

– The Vibrations of Words (English edition)

– Travels of the Mind (English edition)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)




‘According to an unofficial version of the myth told by Euripides, after Paris and Helen ran away from Menelaus’s house, they both wandered the seas, drifted and tossed here and there by the currents. Finally they landed in Egypt, where Hermes replaced the true Helen with a simulacrum, unbeknown to Paris. Paris took to Troy just a simulacrum, not the real Helen, who remained in Egypt. In other words, the Achaeans and the Trojans fought for an effigy for ten years. Through this myth, I want to say that reality is not what it appears. We are often misled. We think we are leading our lives for something valuable, but from a different perspective, we realize that we fight battles for nothing. Not only wars break out in vain, but also our daily lives are dotted with nothingness. Many times we think we have found our true love, our soul mate. We would fight for the sake of our lover against anything. But often love is an illusion. Like Helen of Troy, Hermes turns our lover into a simulacrum! Hence, the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness. This is my opinion about life!’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



Without a doubt, Shikido produces positive effects on the body and mind. In regard to me, it made me more open to others and steadier. Is it possible that these positive effects are due to autosuggestion rather than to the real effectiveness of the discipline? What is autosuggestion? What is the difference between reality and illusion, waking and dreaming, existence and vacuity?
When I was about twenty years old, one night my Belgian friend, Brigitte, gave me an effective pill to sleep peacefully. It worked perfectly, and I slept well all night. The following day, she showed me the capsules that seemed to contain the drug inside. But they were all empty. The pill I had taken was also empty! I didn’t know it. Nonetheless, it was effective to me. Did the same happen with regard to Shikido?
What is the criterion that makes us distinguish between reality and illusion? In pharmacology, the effectiveness of drugs is often tested through a placebo. Without their knowing, a group of patients is given a dose of a placebo drug while another group receives the real drug. Even though the placebo contains nothing effective, it often produces the same effect as the actual drug. Sometimes, so-called magicians, healers, and
clairvoyants provoke a placebo effect in their clients who are really convinced of benefiting from them. Do meditation and prayer produce placebo effects as well?
When I attended secondary school, before a written test, I entered the church and lit a small candle to Saint Joseph. My grandmother told me that, if the flame of the candle was
brilliant, the result of the test would be good, but if it was feeble or flickering, the result would be not good. Almost always what my grandmother said happened to me! Was it a placebo effect?
In ancient times, predictions were sometimes gotten through the observation of the flight of birds or their entrails. In Greece, the Delphian oracle was renowned. It seems that its predictions were infallible. But we can’t know whether it was true or not. For some people, even stigmata are the fruit of autosuggestion.
How to distinguish illusion from reality? Once, a friend of mine gave me his answer on this topic.
“I can state, with absolute certainty, that everything we can touch, see, and hear through our senses is true and real.”
The answer is only partially correct. At that time, I felt that his opinion was materialistic. There are many invisible truths. Senses are connected to the mind, which rules them. We sense things through the filter of the mind. So, how can we be sure that what we see, touch, and listen to corresponds to the absolute, true, and ultimate reality? We can’t know the truth! This is the human condition! From this basis, the path of knowledge has to proceed toward the search for another dimension where we can perceive the ‘source of the universe’ from which reality derives.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind


My latest post, The Broken Dandelion, dates back to two years ago. I have not written anything since then because I have been engaged in writing my third book, A Hidden Sicilian History. Now I am here again to write down something interesting in my blog.

I am in Chiang Rai (Northern Thailand), in the countryside near a hot spring, called Pong Phrabat. The spring water is hot and smells of sulfur. It is said that it has healing properties, including the treatment of skin diseases.

A small spa with about ten bathtubs has been built on the site. In the early morning my wife and I use to lower ourselves into one of the womb-shaped bathtubs and relax in the water.

Lazing in the healing water, I recalled a friend of mine who suffers from a skin disease called vitiligo. It is non-contagious and not dangerous for body health, but it causes quite a few problems of aesthetic nature. It is characterized by loss of skin pigment and unsightly white blotches in the hands, face and other body parts. The renowned star Michael Jackson suffered from vitiligo. For this reason his skin lost its natural black color and turned white.

One day, surfing the internet I came across a book written by a guy who claimed to have gotten over his vitiligo. In the book you could find the rules and instructions to follow until complete healing. It was written in English. I was happy to have found a remedy for my friend, so I translated it into Italian – the language spoken by my friend – and presented him with the translated book.

I have found this book for you!” I said.

Thank you!” he answered, “I’ll read it, but I am convinced that vililigo is incurable. In fact, I have been hospitalized in a specialist clinic of Rome, which is advanced for the treatment of skin diseases. The doctors’ opinion was unanimous: there is no cure for vitiligo.”

Six months elapsed. Hence, I asked my friend if everything was OK. “Did you follow the instructions in the book I gave you?”

Not much! As I told you vitiligo has no cure.”

Okay, do as you like!” I said, “but allow me to tell you an old story I heard some time ago.”

Once upon a time, in a faraway land there was a rich merchant. He was very fond of his wife and child. Nevertheless, he often moved from one country to another to sell his goods, and had to stay away from his beloved family for long periods.”

While he was trading abroad, pillagers burst into his house. They killed his wife and abducted his child.”

A month passed, and the merchant went back home. In the courtyard he found a little human body, which was charred and unidentifiable, but he was sure that it was his son’s dead body. He picked up the little corpse, put it into a box and prayed in front of it every day.”

Fifteen years went by. In the meanwhile, his son succeeded in escaping from his abductors and returned home one night. He knocked on the main door and besought his parent to open it, but his father was unshakable; he was convinced that his son was the charred little body that he had found in the courtyard long time ago, and now his real son seemed to him to be a robber. He didn’t open the door. His son knocked and knocked until he gave up and went away.”

The moral of the tale is intuitive: we humans cling to fixed ideas, which we erroneously believe to be absolute truth. Sometimes, we had better open our mind, trying alternative ways, leaving aside prejudice and preconceived ideas.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind