Aleph is currently a bestseller all over the world. Is the global success of your books proof that everyone shares the same fears and dreams, and people are not as different as we sometimes think?
Questions. I think people all over the world have the same questions. I would not say fears and dreams – probably also – but when I write a book I concentrate on my personal questions.
What I realise from reading tweets and comments from social communities is that although we don’t share the same answers – and we don’t – we share the same questions.
This is something that helps a lot. I don’t feel alone as a writer. Because you always ask yourself, ‘I’m writing this for myself, but does anyone else know what I’m talking about?’ And they do.
Having brought inspiration to so many, it might surprise some readers of Aleph to discover that you were undergoing your own crisis of faith.
Faith is not a straight line. It’s like if you climb a mountain. You have your ups and downs.
I need faith to believe in God. Atheists also need faith to not believe in God. Like everybody else I have my moments of doubt.
Like The Alchemist, Aleph recounts a physical journey, which is ultimately a spiritual one. Why did you have to travel across a continent to discover something inside yourself?
In 2006 I was in my comfort zone; bestselling author all over the world, looking like I had no more challenges in life. And this is not good because life is a constant challenge. People tend to stay in the comfort zone because it is safe but if you don’t accept challenges you are dead!
Everyone is stuck in a routine and reluctant to leave their comfort zone. Nobody is really living…
Let’s not generalise Steven! Many people, but not everyone, otherwise I would not have any readers! It’s a tendency we have and we have to fight against it.
Some people aren’t fighting hard enough.
Yah true. We fear to change.
Do people read your books to help them fight?
My books can act as catalysts. They can provoke a reaction in a person that is already ready for change. I don’t think my readers are reading the books trying to learn how to change. You read a book at the right moment and then you see that you have already this volcano inside of you ready to explode and the book uncaps this volcano.
Después de cuarenta días de diluvio, Noé pudo salir del arca. Descendió lleno de esperanza, pero afuera no encontró sino muerte y destrucción.
Noé clamó al cielo:
“Dios Todopoderoso, si tú conocías el futuro, ¿por qué creaste al hombre? ¿Solo para tener el placer de castigarlo?”.
Un triple perfume subió a los cielos: el incienso, el aroma de las lágrimas de Noé, y el perfume de sus acciones. Entonces Dios respondió:
“Las plegarias de un hombre justo siempre son oídas.
“Te diré por qué hice esto: para que entiendas tu obra.
“Tú y tus descendientes estaréis siempre reconstruyendo un mundo que vino de la nada, y así dividiremos el trabajo y las consecuencias.
“Ahora somos todos responsables”.
At the end of the forty days of deluge, Noah came out of the ark. He was filled with hope, but all he found outside was death and destruction.
“Almighty God, if You knew the future, why did You create man? Just for the pleasure of punishing him?”
A triple perfume rose up into the sky: incense, the perfume of Noah’s tears, and the aroma of his actions. Then God replied:
“The prayers of a just man are always heard. I will tell you why I did this: so that you will understand your work.
“You and your descendents will always be rebuilding a world which came from nothing – and in this way we share the work and the consequences.
“Now we are all responsible.”
EN ESPANOL AQUI > Cain y Abel
Cain and Abel came to the banks of an enormous lake. They had never seen anything like it.
“There’s something inside it,” said Abel, looking into the water, not knowing that it was his reflection.
Cain noticed the same thing, and raised his staff. The image did the same thing. Cain stood waiting for the blow; his image did the same.
Abel studied the surface of the water. He smiled, and the image smiled. He laughed out loud, and saw the other imitating him.
As they walked away, Cain thought:
“How aggressive those creatures are who live in there.”
And Abel told himself:
“I’d like to return, for I met someone both handsome and in good humor.”
Caín y Abel se detuvieron a la orilla del inmenso lago. Jamás habían visto nada semejante.
“Allí dentro hay alguien”, dijo Abel, contemplando el agua, sin saber que veía su propio reflejo.
Caín comprobó lo mismo, y levantó su bastón. La imagen hizo lo mismo. Caín se quedó esperando el golpe, su imagen también.
Abel contemplaba la superficie del agua. Sonrió, y la imagen sonrió. Dio una buena carcajada, y vio que el otro lo imitaba.
Cuando salieron de allí, Caín pensaba:
“¡Qué agresivos son los seres que viven en aquel lugar!”
Y Abel reflexionaba:
“Quiero volver allí, porque encontré a alguien de rostro agradable y con buen humor”.
HarperCollins, my publishing house in the United Kingdom, found a very creative way to check the distribution of ALEPH.
They posted the following tweets below (I edited in one tweet):
In honour of the amazing journey @paulocoelho takes in #Aleph, we want you to take journeys of your own, replying to us with your best pictures of you and the bookstore where you bought it. We’ll judge what we think is the most adventurous and inspiring photo, and announce the very lucky winner of £350 of Eurostar vouchers on Wednesday next week.
Please tag @HarperCollinsUK in the tweet, using the #Aleph hashtag
Alternatively, if you are not on Twitter, you can email your photos to:
BY Sarah Robinson
Early evening was one of my favorite times to walk the beach with my mom and my older brothers. We were all clean and fed and slightly sun weary but still desperate to be outside. So, we would grab flashlights, dip nets and a bucket and search the ocean’s edge for crabs.
More often than not, as a crab would begin to inch its way higher to the edge of the bucket, the other crabs would latch on to him and pull him back down.
I watched this scenario play out again and again, year after year.
Fast forward to this morning. As I was drinking my coffee and perusing my twitter stream, and up pops @paul0coelho (He wrote The Alchemist, one of my all time favorite books): “Only mediocrity is safe. Get ready to be attacked, and be the best.”
I did a quick google search and discovered that “Crab Mentality” is actually an official phrase that roughly means “if I can’t have it, neither can you.”
And it is talked about. A lot.
So now I’m thinking about the Escaping Mediocrity journey with this lens.
There will always be people who will subtly or not so subtly try to keep us from escaping. Why?
Because our escape threatens their mediocre existence.
Pulling us down, sabotaging our efforts, picking apart our brilliant ideas – all of that keeps them feeling safe. And living undisturbed mediocre lives.
So what if we added a new piece to the crab mentality picture?
Imagine a crab, or a group of crabs on the other side of the bucket building a ladder to aid your escape. They managed to crawl out of the bucket in spite of all the energetic attempts to pull them backwards.
Because they’ve tasted freedom and they know your struggle, they are putting energy into aiding and abetting your escape.
I believe that for those of us determined to get out of the bucket, such a group exists. It may take some time to find them, but they are there, ready throw a safety rope over the edge and pull us out.
Start listening for them. Start looking for them. They are there. Reach just a little further and they’ll meet you at the edge of the bucket.
To read the full post, please CLICK HERE
Quel étrange livre que cet «Aleph»! Résolument autobiographique, il débute sur la violente crise de foi que Paulo Coelho a traversé en 2006, se poursuit avec le marathon insensé qu’il s’est imposé, allant de pays en pays pour vivre de nouvelles expériences. Puis vient la rencontre avec Hilal, une jeune violoniste abusée dans son enfance, qui force le rapprochement avec l’écrivain. Ce rapprochement sera le point de départ pour un nouveau retour dans le passé, au cœur de l’Inquisition, là où Paulo Coelho est certain d’avoir commis de graves erreurs…
Avec une écriture fluide et poétique, il nous entraîne dans des eaux mouvantes et profondes loin de tout rationalisme. Interview exclusive dans son antre genevois.
Quelle est cette crise de foi que vous avez traversée?
Nous avons tous des crises de foi. La foi n’est jamais une ligne droite, elle a des hauts et des bas, mais elle est toujours là, dans votre cœur. Seulement, parfois, on n’arrive plus à la reconnaître.
Y avait-il une raison particulière pour que cette crise survienne à ce moment de votre vie?
J’étais arrivé là où je souhaitais. J’avais réussi en tant qu’écrivain, j’avais à mes côtés la femme que j’aime et une très belle maison. Et pourtant, je sentais que quelque chose ne marchait pas. Je ne vivais plus. J’étais déconnecté des autres, enfermé dans une routine. La routine, c’est une protection pas très intelligente. On croit qu’on a le contrôle de tout, que rien ne va changer, mais ce n’est pas vrai: tout change, tous les jours, le physique du corps, la façon de regarder la vie, tout.
Quand vous vous lancez dans ce marathon insensé, quel est votre sentiment?
Quand on fait quelque chose comme ça, on ne pense pas. On agit, on sait que quelque chose est en train de changer en nous mais on n’analyse pas. Comme quand vous êtes dans un match, sur le terrain ou le ring: vous ne devez pas réfléchir, sinon vous vous détachez de l’expérience en vous mettant dans la position du juge et non de l’acteur.
Ce livre est très intime. Comment vivez-vous cette confession publique?
Ça n’a pas été facile, mais en même temps, il n’existe pas de demi-vérité. les choses sont soit vraies, soit fausses. J’ai décidé de dire toute la vérité. A la première correction, j’ai encore hésité. Et je me suis dit que je ne pouvais pas être la moitié de moi-même dans ce livre, donc je m’y suis mis totalement, sans censure.
On est très loin du rationnel, là…
C’est une expérience mathématique. L’Aleph est un terme créé par les mathématiciens pour parler d’un numéro qui contient tous les autres chiffres. Cela veut dire que nous avons d’autres vies qui se déroulent en parallèle mais dans d’autres époques. C’est vrai, ça n’entre pas dans la logique. Mais croyez-vous que l’amour entre dans la logique? Et pourtant, c’est la chose la plus importante au monde. Les choses les plus importantes ne rentrent pas dans la logique: l’enthousiasme, la foi, les expériences transcendantales. La logique, c’est très positif pour quelques problèmes pratiques mais on a besoin du côté intuitif aussi. x
You say in Aleph that ‘writing is, above all, about discovering myself’, so in which of your books have you discovered most about yourself?
All of them. But the turning point in my life was my first book, The Pilgrimage because I started to tell everybody I was a writer.
Do you think the way that Western society is constructed, with emphasis on material possessions, that we are programmed to never find fulfilment?
Everyone asks a lot of how, they don’t ask why. They want to know how to do this, how to do that, but we should ask more why should I do this, why should I do that. It has to with consumer society. How did you become rich? How did you become a bestseller? How did you become a journalist? Just change how to why it makes a lot of difference to life.
Is the world suffering an economic crisis because people are looking for the wrong things in life?
It’s the irresponsibility of politicians. You know, I know – we live in a big lie. Everybody knows but we close our eyes back to the comfort zone and one day it explodes and everybody is affected. Mostly poor people. I’m very pessimistic about this economic crisis. I don’t think it is over.
In Aleph, you also say that instead of fighting for God, we should fight against God.
Can you elaborate?
Fighting for God we see now: Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism… They give their lives because the message is a powerful one: you are martyr. I’m a Catholic so I know what I’m talking about, because my Church was founded on the blood of the martyrs.
People start justifying their lives because they need raison d’etre – they need a reason to live. They are trying to convince themselves about their faith.
Fighting against God: it is everywhere in the Bible. Even Jesus – fought against God. When He says, ‘God, why did you forsake me?’ on the cross, or when He asks “Take this cup away from me”.
Then you have this intense relationship with God that is not a relationship of submission.
However, if you accept everything, if you do not ask why or how, you are not living, just obeying a set of rules. Like a lamb.
You lived through dictatorship, imprisonment and torture in Brazil during the 1970s, what advice would you have for those being oppressed?
You remember at the beginning of our conversation about losing our faith? So, I totally lost my faith. When I was released I thought, this cannot happen to me. This is not fair, this is not just, God does not love me. It took me seven years to get rid of this experience.
It is very difficult to give advice because when you are in jail and when you are tortured you don’t exist anymore. After you are released, the prison remains in your soul. In my case, there was only one thing that healed the experience. It was time.
But as I know what does it mean to be arrested, today I am part of Amnesty International, I am a Messenger of Peace for the United Nations, on the board of the Doha Center of Media Freedom, and use my influence to avoid these situations.
Read the full interview in this week “The Big Issue” (UK)
run time: 54 min
I was approving the comments in this blog today, and I stumbled upon a post by Sibichen K Mathew
In the middle of the post there is a letter. I know what the lady is talking about, as I know that many women – someone mention one in every three – has been abused.
I will reproduce part of the letter here (too long for this blog), but I strongly encourage you to read the post if you ever had this barbaric experience.
Please skip Sibi’s kind comments about Aleph (the may character, Hilal, has been abused also) and go directly to the letter in the middle of it:
I had told you about my childhood abuse by a family member.
As far as I can remember, I was angelic, calm, quiet, and innocent as a little girl. Moreover, highly intelligent too. I stayed at home till I was 7 and then cried to go to a boarding school,(may be to escape from my abuser) I never used to talk and so never had friends, never needed one. Though I am not from a prayerful family, somewhere along the way, a person called God became real in my life. He became my everything in my secret world, and I used to predict many things out of instinct, which was, to a little girl, told by Him. The more such things happened, I became happy with His companionship. I stood first in class, without much efforts, I didn’t feel proud of that first rank either. Nothing mattered at all.
But later on, I knew that someone did something WRONG to me and I was so sad about that. I started feeling bad, deceived. Gradually I became alone, I left my companion, I never spoke nor prayed to Him personally for many many years.
I thought I was used as I was so innocent and ignorant. So I wanted to help and protect myself. I became my god and guardian. I thought I was doing me a big favour. But it resulted in losing my innocence, my character, behaviour, all that was originally created. My world collapsed and went out of my control and I realised about ten years back, what the problem was.
It took many years’ struggle to deal with the abuse, as an adult. First I had to confront him, which was easier than forgiving him. I had to forgive him, as I wanted to get rid of the feeling of his touch which I could feel even after years. I finally looked into his eyes with God’s power of forgiveness and shook hands with him and made peace. Then came the most difficult part, to forgive myself. Years and years of efforts didn’t make it possible, till God did it His way.
When I thought my life is going to start again, there came the worst shock of my life. I identified a small little girl, inside me.The original me. She was there, around three years old, asking me to let her free. After years I understood that I was the girl who needed to be adopted.
to read the full letter, please CLICK HERE
PARA PORTUGUES AQUI>>: Por que choras?
Photo of Majed’s grandfather
A man knocked at his Bedouin friend’s door to ask him a favor:
“I want you to lend me four thousand dinars because I have a debt to pay. Can you do that for me?”
The friend asked his wife to gather together everything they had of value, but even so it was not enough. They had to go out and borrow money from the neighbors until they managed to get the full amount.
When the man left, the woman noticed that her husband was crying.
“Why are you sad? Now that we’ve got ourselves in debt with our neighbors, are you afraid we won’t be able to repay them?”
“Nothing of the sort! I’m crying because he is someone I love so much, but even so I had no idea he was in need.
“I only remembered him when he had to knock on my door to ask me for a loan.”
“Aleph” tells the story of a man’s quest for peace with his past, which takes him on the Trans-Siberian Railway with a stranger, a young woman named Hilal. As the journey progresses, he discovers he may have more in common with Hilal than he first expects, and she may hold the key to his spiritual growth.
Coelho, who divides his time between Brazil and Switzerland, said he didn’t write the book while on the trip. In fact, he said he finds taking notes to be “totally useless” because he realizes his experiences are far richer than what he writes about them at the time.
“If I’m thinking about writing, I’ll be an observer and not the person who’s living the experience,” Coelho explained. “I was there 100%. The book was only ready in my mind in 2010.” As he wrote the book, he was reliving the experience and trying to capture the emotional state precisely in words.
“When you’re making love, you’re not there at the very beginning, you’re a little bit shy,” he said. “And then you’ll say, how am I going to perform? And then all of a sudden you are totally there. Your body and your soul. So, if it is only your body, it’s half of the pleasure, or less than that. So you’re totally there. Writing is like making love to computer.”
To read the full interview, please click here: “Paulo Coelho Compares Writing to Making Love”