Near the Regional Garden in Gyeongju, the old capital of Korea, there is a Buddhist temple decked with statues of Buddha and symbols. My attention was drawn to two footprints with enigmatic figures.

A plump monk in his seventies stood in the yard of the temple. I motioned him to come closer. He was very kind, cheerful, and satisfied my curiosity.

He said, “While traveling to India, I stumbled upon these footprints and took the cast. Then, I reproduced them in the yard of this temple.”

“Could you tell me the meaning of the symbols carved on the feet?” I asked.

He replied: “Fish never close their eyes. It denotes how important alertness and mindfulness is; the wheel represents the cycle of life: birth, life, death, and rebirth; the lotus flower thrives in muddy and stagnant water, however it doesn’t merge with the mud. This means that although we live a worldly life, we shouldn’t merge with worldliness, but we should be free to follow our own spiritual path. As for the other symbols, open you heart, and then you’ll understand the meaning.”

I left the temple, shaking hands with the monk. Once again, by traveling, I have learned something new!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

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

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)


My grandmother, Paolina, who was Sicilian, started her day by having a quick breakfast, usually made of a cup of milky coffee, and then laid on the table about twenty or thirty holy cards. She read what was written on the back of the holy pictures and added a prayer for each saint depicted on the front. Of course, her prayers lasted for at least one hour, maybe more. At the end, she prayed for the souls in Purgatory and for her beloved husband, Ciccino, who had died at the age of 68.

It looked like she was playing solitaire with all those holy cards.

Fifty years have elapsed since then, and now I do the same thing she did, only the mode has changed. She played solitaire with holy cards, I play solitaire with books. On my desk are stacked about ten books. Every morning, after a cup of coffee, I read one or two pages of each book. They are books on various subjects.

Deep down, there is no much of a difference between what she did at that time and what I am doing now. Our goals are the same: to elevate our spiritual selves and purify our souls.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind