Question byEvi and Tuty from Jakarta

Dear Paulo,
I really admire your thoughts and your messages around the pursue of one’s dream .However, not everyone is blessed with a childhood dream or a Personal Legend. Those of us that have been brought up with such a rigid pattern (school, school, work, more school, marriage, kid, etc), do not even have the luxury of dreaming what we want to become. Unfortunately, my best friend and I are among them. So, here we are, reading your books in frustration….
We completely grab the idea of pursuing the Personal Legend, but are stuck!
After reading your book, the idea of not having known what we shall pursue in life until the day we die, is really torturing to the bits of our nail.
The worst part: there is no turning back….!
Once the idea (of pursuing personal legend) has grown in our mind (or soul, shall I say it), we just cannot pretend that we do not believe what we read and return to normal life with ignorance. We cannot just act and behave normally like other woman in our ages (mid 30’s, happy smile while doing groceries or while working in the office) while we know there’s something missing in our life but have no slightest idea what the missing part is.
We keep questioning God on what we should do….
So, our question is basically simple…. How do we know whether a Personal Legend has been ‘tagged’ on us? And what journey should we take to know what they are?

Let’s do this by parts.
Firstly – if the idea of personal legend is something that is “torturing” you – well, let me say that you are in the good track.
People that have died to themselves don’t even bother wondering about this. You are alive and you wish to accomplish something – even if for the moment you don’t really know what it is.
Secondly – I totally disagree with “there’s no turning back”. Of course there is! Look at me for instance : I had parents that didn’t support me on my dream and committed me to an asylum, I was tortured in my mid-twenties, and I only truly managed to write a book at the age of 40! The possibility of “turning back” is actually the possibility of “moving forward”.
Now – how can you find out? Honestly, you should first allow yourself to do the things you want to do. You will see – it starts with very small things, but when this becomes a habit, little by little you start seeing the road you wish to take.
Having faith that the present can be infinitely richer and that life is a mystery is the beginning of the journey.

The importance of the cat in meditation

Having written a book about madness (Veronika decides to die) , I was forced to wonder how many things we do are imposed on us by necessity, or by the absurd. Why wear a tie? Why do clocks run “clockwise”? If we live in a decimal system, why does the day have 24 hours of 60 minutes?
The fact is, many of the rules we obey nowadays have no real foundation. Nevertheless, if we wish to act differently, we are considered “crazy” or “immature”.
Meanwhile, society continues to create some systems which, in the fullness of time, lose their reason for existence, but continue to impose their rules. An interesting Japanese story illustrates what I mean by this:

A great Zen Buddhist master, who was in charge of the Mayu Kagi monastery, had a cat which was his true passion in life. So, during meditation classes, he kept the cat by his side – in order to make the most of his company.
One morning, the master – who was already quite old – passed away. His best disciple took his place.
– What shall we do with the cat? – asked the other monks.
As a tribute to the memory of their old instructor, the new master decided to allow the cat to continue attending the Zen Buddhist classes.

Some disciples from the neighboring monasteries, traveling through those parts, discovered that, in one of the region’s most renowned temples, a cat took part in the meditation sessions. The story began to spread.
Many years passed. The cat died, but as the students at the monastery were so used to its presence, they soon found another cat. Meanwhile, the other temples began introducing cats in their meditation sessions: they believed the cat was truly responsible for the fame and excellence of Mayu Kagi’s teaching.

A generation passed, and technical treatises began to appear about the importance of the cat in Zen meditation. A university professor developed a thesis – which was accepted by the academic community – that felines have the ability to increase human concentration, and eliminate negative energy.
And so, for a whole century, the cat was considered an essential part of Zen Buddhist studies in that region.

Until a master appeared who was allergic to animal hair, and decided to remove the cat from his daily exercises with the students.

There was a fierce negative reaction – but the master insisted. Since he was an excellent instructor, the students continued to make the same progress, in spite of the absence of the cat.
Little by little, the monasteries – always in search of new ideas, and already tired of having to feed so many cats – began eliminating the animals from the classes. In twenty years new revolutionary theories began to appear – with very convincing titles such as “The Importance of Meditating Without a Cat”, or “Balancing the Zen Universe by Will Power Alone, Without the Help of Animals”.

Another century passed, and the cat withdrew completely from the meditation rituals in that region. But two hundred years were necessary for everything to return to normal – because during all this time, no one asked why the cat was there.


in my book “Like a flowing river”

20 SEC READING: The older sister’s question


 
When her brother was born, Sa-chi Gabriel begged her parents to leave her alone with the baby.
They refused, fearing that, as with many four-year-olds, she was jealous and wanted to mistreat him.
 
But Sa-chi showed no signs of jealousy.
And since she was always extremely affectionate towards her little brother, her parents decided to carry out an experiment.

They left Sa-chi alone with their new-born baby, but kept the bedroom door ajar so that they could watch what she did.
 
Delighted to have her wish granted, little Sa-chi tiptoed over to the cradle, leaned over the baby and said:
 
“Little brother, tell me what God is like. I’m beginning to forget.”

Illustration by Ken Crane

 

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Relax and pay attention

Sometimes we keep on waiting – with patience, resignation, courage – and still, things around us don’t move. But since this is the path we chose, it seems impossible that life’s blessings are not working in our favor. It provokes, therefore, a deep reflection about what we call “results:” our destiny is manifesting itself in a way we are not able to fully comprehend .
Jorge Luí­s Borges wrote a masterly short story about this issue.

He describes the birth of a tiger that spends great part of its life in the African wildness but ends up being captured and taken to a zoo in Italy. From then on, the animal thinks his life has lost sense and there is nothing left to do but wait for the day he dies.

One fine day, poet Dante Alighieri passes by this zoo, looks at the tiger, and the animal inspires a verse – in the midst of thousands of verses – of “The Divine Comedy.”

“The entire battle for survival that tiger went through was only so that it could be at the zoo on that morning and inspire an immortal verse,” says Borges.

Just like this tiger, we all have a reason – a very important reason – to be here, at this moment, this morning.

So relax. And pay attention.

The Breviary of Medieval Knights

In an interesting and diminutive book called “The Breviary of Medieval Knights,” there are some passages that have to be remembered in these moments of waiting:

“The Path’s spiritual energy uses justice and patience to prepare your spirit.”

“This is the Knight’s Path. An easy and hard path at the same time, as it urges us to let aside useless things and relative friendships.

“That is why, at the beginning, we hesitate so much to follow it.”

“This is a Knight’s first teaching: you will erase everything you wrote up to now on your life’s notebook: turmoil, insecurities, lies.

“And in place of all that, you will write the word courage.

Beginning the journey with this word and going on with faith in God, you will arrive where you need to arrive.

Choosing a path

“Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now.
“I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself.
She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none. Even in that most important area of her life, love, she had failed to commit herself. After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pan, loss, and separation. These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all. In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love.
It was like putting out your own eyes not to see the bad things in life.”

? Paulo Coelho, Brida

Lakes made of tears

We need to love. Even when it leads us to the land where the lakes are made of tears, to that secret, mysterious place, the land of tears!
Tears speak for themselves. And when we feel that we have cried all we needed to cry, they still continue to flow. And just when we believe that our life is destined to be a long walk through the Vale of Sorrows, the tears suddenly vanish.

Because we managed to keep our heart open, despite the pain.

Because we realised that the person who left us did not take the sun with them or leave darkness in their place. They simply left, and with every farewell comes a hidden hope.
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

Review: Veronika decides to die

by Longblong

As morbid and depressing as the title seems, this Coelho book takes the usual turn for understanding of the universe and an inspiration for readers to strive not to settle into the kind of routine they don’t wish to be in. Coelho’s books have been NY Times Best Sellers and translated into dozens of languages, he’s one of the top selling modern authors. It just takes one book to understand why, and this book certainly fits into that category.

Veronica is a young woman with a happy life. She has loving parents and a nice job. She lives in Ljubljana, the capital city of the newly formed country of Slovenia (after the Yugoslavian civil war). With as many positives points in her life, Veronica found nearly as much sadness. She believed the routine of her life was inconsequential and secretly vowed to kill herself to leave the world behind. After feigning sleeplessness, she collected strong sleeping pills and went about the deed. She slowly fell into a drowsy state, but the peaceful death was not coming, a burning throughout her body led her into a coma and she woke in the infamous Villette hospital for the mentally insane. Upon waking, the doctor told the girl she would survive, but her heart had taken the toll from the suicide attempt. The state her heart was in, she could expect a week of life before she succumbed to the death she had wished for.

Not to give too much away, Veronica reluctantly made friends, and rediscovered her passion for the piano. In fact, her piano playing was said to lift many spirits in the gloomy hospital. With a week left to live, what would you do? Veronica searched her soul and others joined. Her weak heart pushed the limits and she found herself having heart-attacks through the week.

In a previous interview, Coelho explained his need to write this book. He had been put into a mental asylum himself as a young man. Coelho even modeled a character in the book after himself. His parents expected him to become an engineer, but his thirst for writing could not allow him to complete the studies the family expected of him. He made his way out and the rest is history.

Whether you’re feeling ‘in a rut’ or just enjoy Coelho’s books, this is a good read. Coelho never lets you down. Enjoy.

Before and after

TEN THOUSAND YEARS LATER….

Interview to “The Talks”

InMr. Coelho, are you interested in building bridges between cultures?

For a writer you have to be interested in different cultures, different backgrounds. You are not there to write only about your village. You’re there to show a bit of your village, but also to understand other villages. Like Tolstoy says: everything that happens in a village happens everywhere.

Were you raised with that kind of approach?

As a child I was influenced by many different inputs and cultures – Arabic, Jewish, American – and I became interested like this. We did not select music that we were going to hear out of political correctness. We selected something that you either like or you don’t like. When I started writing I started seeing this input manifesting itself. And then I became interested.

Do you feel like we have more bridges between cultures today than in the past?

Today I see all the bridges collapsing. It seems that nobody is capable of understanding each other anymore. I feel it’s my duty as a human being, as a person who is trying – like everybody else who thinks about the state of the world – to enhance the importance of this multicultural connection. As long as you still have one bridge left, nothing is lost. But from the moment that you cannot even understand the storytelling or the music of other cultures anymore, then we become strangers to each other and the situation will become very complicated.

Well I’d say you are bridging cultures with your online presence – you have 28,5 million Facebook Likes, 11 million Twitter followers, and you have been blogging since 2006. Why are you so active on the internet?

It’s a new platform and as a writer I have to find platforms that can use this writing process. The internet is one of them. People are reading more and writing more now because of the internet. So the virtual world is a way for me to listen to my readers and interact with my readers. It is a way that they can voice their opinion. I like to be challenged with language, so I start to do texts for my blogs that people can download, can spread. There is no commercial interest behind it. It’s only for fun, like doing something that you really enjoy to do. I have texts that I write specifically for the internet and I put them there. I am interested in how readers also respond to the texts that I write to them.

Does it trouble you that the wealth of information also brings less credibility with it?

I’m not sure about that. I think the more information you can get, the better you can find information for your own purposes.

Is it true that you always look for a white feather before you start writing?

That’s true for starting the book. Meaning there’s a tradition back to The Pilgrimage, my first book in 1987. Back then I was not sure if I should write the book or not, I was in a moment of doubt. I was in Madrid and I said, “If today I see a white feather, that’s the sign that I should write.”

But what if you have a great idea and you really want to start writing, but you can’t find a white feather?

No, you normally find a white feather. The problem is to find a white feather in January or so. But it is possible. The moment that I find this white feather I start writing. But it has nothing to do with the contents of the book, it has to do with the book itself.

Do you have a similar sign that tells you what the book should be about or have you already decided by that point?

Of course I am a person that is very curious about what is going on in the world and there are a lot of subjects to write about, you meet a lot of interesting people. But one idea will be there and it will show up without any logic. It is a book that has been written in my heart before it is written into sentences. So I don’t choose. Normally it’s the book that chooses me.

So you don’t write with a purpose in mind?

I write because I need to share my thoughts with the audience. I don’t know if the books are making the world a much better place. I don’t write with that objective. What I know is that I see my readers creating a critical mass so we can at least understand this world in a different way. You need to change yourself. The moment that you change yourself it is a gigantic step. And this is what I do. The book is much more important than the writer.

But your personality is still very present in your work.

I am very present in my work and my work is somehow an expression of my soul, but at the same time I think that a writer cannot write out of nothing. You have two types of writers: one like Proust who was locked in his room and wrote the masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu. And the other type was Hemingway who celebrated life and also wrote a masterpiece.
Short Profile

Name: Paulo Coelho
DOB: 24 August 1947
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Occupation: Writer

5 Life Lessons Driven Home by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’

By Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC

One of my favorite books is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It’s a story about a shepherd boy who journeys in search of a treasure about which he has dreamed. What I love about the story is that there are so many life lessons embedded in it. Where you are in your life determines what the salient messages are for you. I will do my best to impart some of the lessons that ring true for me without giving away too much of the story.

1. We must be able to make choices about how to move forward, and perhaps the best way to seek an answer from ourselves is to ask specific questions that require a yes-or-no answer.

There’s a point in The Alchemist when the shepherd receives two stones, one black and one white, signifying “yes” and “no.” The purpose of the stones is to help the boy “read the omens,” or understand the signs the universe is giving him as well as what his intuition is telling him. He is instructed to make his own decisions but is told to ask the stones a clear, objective question, if he struggles, and then go with the answer (black or white stone) he pulls from the bag.
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People who have trouble making decisions sometimes put them off indefinitely, leaving themselves feeling stuck. There are often “signs” that signal us which way to go, but if we are stumped and don’t really know how to proceed, it’s still best that we make a choice. Soon enough, we will know if we are on the right track, and if we aren’t, we can course-correct. The point is to move forward. If we don’t choose, we are electing to stay still and let things remain the same. Not choosing is often the equivalent of not taking action.

When you ask questions of yourself regarding what to do, ask specific ones that reflect what you really want so that the concrete answers you generate propel you forward rather than mire you in further confusion.

2. How we perceive our circumstances has everything to do with motivation, perseverance, and psychological well-being.

There are several examples of this in the story. As the shepherd encounters an unfamiliar place, he originally labels it as “strange” only to subtly change its description to “new” upon further consideration.

If we learn to strategically put our fears aside, and really consider the possibilities that are available to us, we can continue to take steps toward our goals.

The protagonist also shifts his view of himself from “victim” to “adventurer.” And when he takes stock of the fact he has chosen to remain in one spot for a long time on his journey, instead of bemoaning it, he recognizes “he was actually two hours closer to his treasure … the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didn’t matter.” He took note of the progress rather than dwelling on the length of the journey ahead or how long he remained in one particular spot.

Shifting his perception toward the positive and that which was encouraging energized him and enabled him to recommit to his goal of reaching his treasure, rather than retreating to what was safe and already known.

3. Our beliefs about ourselves are incredibly powerful and can enhance or inhibit what we ultimately accomplish.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford

The boy in The Alchemist is tested time and again on his journey. Each time, he is forced to determine just how important his goal is and whether the love he feels and how attuned he is to his inner voice outweighs fear and the discouragement or challenges he receives from others. It is because he so clearly believes in the possibility of his treasure that he is able to persevere in search of it.

4. Fear is what keeps us stuck.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” —The Alchemist

Coelho illustrates how we hold ourselves back with fear, surrendering to thoughts that tell us we can’t or we aren’t worthy or we might suffer in the process of trying to attain that which we seek. He addresses the fear of failure as well as the fear of success. Coelho points out that “the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” The fear of suffering is often what results in anxiety. It’s being paralyzed by the thought, “What if the worst happens?”

If we learn to strategically put our fears aside, and really consider the possibilities that are available to us, we can continue to take steps toward our goals.

5. Awareness is key. Be able to recognize opportunity.

The Alchemist makes many references to omens, encouraging its protagonist to pay close attention to the here and now, implying that if he is alert he will become more aware of what action to take next. The story explores the concept of the universe offering us clues to see us through to our goals. It suggests if we lose the capacity to pay attention to those clues (by becoming cynical, focused on the negative, or close-minded), they become more scarce, “abandoning” us.

If we approach life’s choices with a sense of clarity and purpose and are aware of the gentle nudges we receive along the way (our intuition and the messages the “universe” seems to send us), if we can separate that from fear and negative beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, then we can carve a path to the things that are important to us, the treasure reserved for each one of us.

What can YOU take away from reading The Alchemist? (If you haven’t read it, I urge you to.)

The mechanism of terror

An old legend tells of how a certain city in the Pyrenees mountains used to be a stronghold for drug-traffickers, smugglers and exiles. The worst of them all, called Ahab, was converted by a local monk, Savin, and decided that things could not continue like that. As he was feared by all, but did not want to use his fame as a thug to make his point, at no moment did he try to convince anyone. Knowing the nature of men as well as he did, they would only take honesty for weakness and soon his power would be put in doubt.

So what he did was call some carpenters from a neighboring town, hand them a drawing and tell them to build something on the spot where now stands the cross that dominates the town. Day and night for ten days, the inhabitants of the town heard the noise of hammers and watched men sawing bits of wood, making joints and hammering in nails. At the end of ten days the gigantic puzzle was erected in the middle of the square, covered with a cloth. Ahab called all the inhabitants together to attend the inauguration of the monument.

Solemnly, and without making any speech, he removed the cloth. It was a gallows. With a rope, trapdoor and all the rest. Brand-new, covered with bee’s wax to endure all sorts of weather for a long time. Taking advantage of the multitude joined together in the square, Ahab read a series of laws to protect the farmers, stimulate cattle-raising and awarding whoever brought new business into the region, and added that from that day on they would have to find themselves an honest job or else move to another town. He never once mentioned the “monument” that he had just inaugurated; Ahab was a man who did not believe in threats.

At the end of the meeting, several groups formed, and most of them felt that Ahab had been deceived by the saint, since he lacked the courage he used to have. So he would have to be killed. For the next few days many plans were made to this end. But they were all forced to contemplate the gallows in the middle of the square, and wondered: What is that thing doing there? Was it built to kill those who did not accept the new laws? Who is on Ahab’s side, and who isn’t? Are there spies among us?

The gallows looked down on the men, and the men looked up at the gallows. Little by little the rebels’ initial courage was replaced by fear; they all knew Ahab’s reputation, they all knew he was implacable in his decisions.
Some people abandoned the city, others decided to try the new jobs offered them, simply because they had nowhere to go or else because of the shadow of that instrument of death in the middle of the square. One year later the place was at peace, it had grown into a great business center on the frontier and began to export the best wool and produce top-quality wheat.

The gallows stayed there for ten years. The wood resisted well, but now and again the rope was changed for another. It was never put to use. Ahab never said a single word about it. Its image was enough to change courage to fear, trust to suspicion, stories of bravado to whispers of acceptance.

The heart of the warrior

All the world’s roads lead to the heart of the warrior; he plunges unhesitatingly into the river of passions always flowing through his life.

The warrior knows that he is free to choose his desires, and he makes these decisions with courage, detachment and – sometimes – with just a touch of madness.

He embraces his passions and enjoys them intensely. He knows that there is no need to renounce the pleasures of conquest; they are part of life and bring joy to all those who participate in them.

But he never loses sight of those things that last or of the strong bonds that are forged over time.

A warrior can distinguish between the transient and the enduring.

in WARRIOR OF THE LIGHT: A MANUAL

Timeshifting

Paulo Coelho

I correspond a lot by e-mail with Stephan Rechtschaffen, a doctor who founded the successful Omega Institute in New York. I was invited to give a talk there but I had to cancel it at the last moment. Then Stephan and I were contacted to talk together in Vienna, Austria, and this time I decided to cancel because I found the price they were charging absurdly high. The fact is that these upsets, instead of separating me from him, have ended up drawing us closer (the world has very odd situations).

In one of these exchanges, he told me he was going to send his book. I read it in one afternoon and have re-read it several times more, since all of us, every day of our lives, always have some problem with this theme. In the text Stephan offers some comments that I have listed below (edited on account of the size of the column).

Time is not a measure: but rather a quality. When we look at the past we are not rewinding a tape but remembering a gift of our passage on Earth. Time is not measured like a road is measured, since we take gigantic leaps backwards (memories) and forwards (projects).

Managing is not living: “time is money” is nonsense. We have to be aware of each moment and know how to take advantage of each single moment in what we are doing (with love) or in just contemplating life. A day has 24 hours and an infinity of moments. If we slow down, everything will last much longer. Of course, washing the dishes can take longer too, but why not use that time to think about pleasant things, singing, relaxing, being happy at just being alive?

In tune with life: Arthur Rubinstein (one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century) was once approached by an ardent admirer, who asked him: “How can you use the notes with such mastery?” The pianist answered: “I use the notes the same way that others do, but the pauses … ah! That’s where the art lies.” My divorce process was extremely painful and I thought that by keeping busy I would manage to get over the difficult moments, but it did not work out as foreseen because I could not see the pain in my soul. As of a certain moment I began to “use the pauses” – sit down, let the pain come and reach me and then pass. Little by little I re-structured my life and understood better the reasons for the separation. Today my ex-wife works with me in the Omega Institute – because I was able to face pain, not just hide it behind my work.

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The second part of this text will be published here tomorrow.

Learn to Stop Feeling Jealous

Author: Chetan Dalv (to read the full post, click here)

A star is not jealous with other star shining nearby. A rain drop does not envy with its peer. A leaf fallen on the ground doesn’t stops wishing well for other leaves still hanging. A thorn does not backbite about the rose.

People feel jealous when they see someone else living the life or having the thing they desire for themselves. It is natural to feel jealous and it is nothing wrong about it, as long as the jealousy is leading the person to the racing track. Then the person can work onto his sweats to get what he desires in life. This kind of jealously every winner has experienced once or more in his life.

However if the feeling of jealousy is developing anger, envy & anxiety within you, then you are not just jealous, you are feeling helpless & you are understating your ability to get something which other person possess. Jealously would kill you from inside, if you water the plant of jealousy with anger instead of hard work. You could either grow the cactus within yourself or the cashew, out of jealousy.

Jealousy is some type of energy which grows or collapses as per your feelings. If you continue feeling jealous, it would continue growing. Rather when you feel jealous out of proportion, then take a moment and speak to your jealously.

“This feeling is wrong. I should not be feeling so jealous with somebody. We all have equal powers and I can achieve more than I am watching and feeling jealous right now. Almighty, help me to not to feel this way.”

The mountain will tell me when I am old

I have chosen a mountain to define my limits. In 1989 (I was just over 40yrs and I had already published The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage in Brasil), I was on my second sacred pilgrimage in the Pyrenees. I saw a mountain in the distance called Pic du Gez and I said, ‘okay, I have nothing to do today, so I’m going to climb that peak’.

First, it was very difficult to get close to the base – from a distance it looked so easy. When I finally arrived at the bottom, I had about five hours to climb about 2,000m. Not a big deal. So I started climbing, and I got lost. I had no water, no food, I had nothing. Eventually, I made it to the top and looked around. It was summer. There was no snow, it looked like the moon and I thought, ‘I don’t know my way back. I can’t take the same route that I took to get here’. I spent nearly four hours climbing and I had no energy for the descent (which is more difficult than the ascent). So I sat down, and my first decision was that I wasn’t going to smoke – I needed to preserve all my energy.
As I looked around, I saw a city in the distance and I said ‘I’m going to that city’.
And again, it seems easy to navigate when you see something like that in the distance. So I started my descent, heading towards the city, but soon after I began I could no longer see the city anymore. I said, ‘my God, I may die here’. And then I thought ‘well, that’s not so bad. I die on a mountain. Winter will come, my body will disappear and I will become a legend’.

Eventually, I made my way to the city, but I couldn’t sleep that night. My body was completely tense. I had gone beyond my limit.
I called my wife Christina the next day and said, ‘yesterday, I was lost in a mountain, I almost died’.
And she said, ‘okay Paulo, great, but don’t call me very often because our telephone bill is getting very high’. And I thought: “I almost died and here she is talking about my telephone bill because I was always calling collect’ (laughter).

After this experience, I decided that this mountain would tell me when I get old.
So once a year, I return to climb this mountain. One day, I will be unable to climb it and when that day comes, it will be a turning point, telling me that I can no longer overstretch myself that way and that I need to find something else.
I will find something else.
THANK YOUU ALL FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY WISHES!

High profiles – Paulo Coelho

You have said that it took you just 14 days to write your best-seller The Alchemist. Was that because (as you have recently remarked) it was already written in your soul?
Let me try to explain myself better. I believe that each one of us has a spark of the divine light to manifest. It is our task here on this earth, and our human condition demands – demands – that we do it, to justify ourselves. So, my dream since I was very, very young was to be a writer, though I – well, I was procrastinating, because sometimes you fear to face your reason to be here.
When I decided to burn my ships and start writing, I was 40 years old. I wrote about my first experience on the road to Santiago [de Compostela, in The Pilgrimage1]. And then, for my second book, I decided to write a metaphor of my life, never knowing, of course, that this was going to touch many souls. So, The Alchemist [1988] was just a matter of looking back and finding a good story, finding a metaphor, for me to understand myself. And then it took me, yes, two weeks to put it down on paper; but the book was there long before, because it is my life.

Is writing for you simply a matter of finding the treasure that is buried within you? Or is it more a matter of craft, a labour of love?
I would say that [love] has to do with everything we do. First, you have to hear this call. You know, when you are close to something that justifies your life – it can be gardening, it can be cooking, it can be driving a taxi, it can be whatever you do with love – the clue is exactly that: love. I don’t think that a writer is better than anybody else. Everything that you do with enthusiasm, you are really manifesting God.
The next step is to learn the craft. So, for writing, first I had to read. You don’t learn writing from courses or workshops – I don’t believe in them. You learn how to write by reading other writers, people who have tried to share their souls, their experiences, whatever they have, with their fellow human beings. Then you have to make some choices: What shall I write about? What are my main questions? And then you start to develop your own technique. You start innovating, in the sense that you try not to repeat what other people are doing.
In my case, basically my challenge was to simplify. I used to read very complicated authors and sometimes I was grabbed by the story but I thought, ‘Oh my God, they are complicating so much! Why are they using one paragraph, one page? One sentence is enough.’ So, I start learning how to cut, and now this is what I do. The first version of any book of mine has three times more pages than the final one. It is like cutting your own flesh, but you need to do it.

You have said you are not a spiritual writer. Do you find ‘spirituality’ an unhelpful term?
I believe that each one of us has a spark of the divine light to manifest. It is our task here on this earth, and our human condition demands that we do it
Just because I write sometimes about my main question and it is in the spiritual world does not make me a spiritual writer. If you write about war, it does not make you a general. If you write about spies, it does not make you a spy. But when you are labelled a spiritual writer, people think: Oh, he has some answers, or he has a better connection, or… No! If there is one thing I really hate, it’s the New Age. The New Age for me is this melting pot of all types of religions created by people who do not have the courage to assume one religion.
So, I’m not a Catholic writer, I’m a writer who happens to be Catholic, uh? Sometimes I totally disagree with the Pope. I respect the missionaries of my church, of my religion, but – how can I say this in English? I want to go beyond my religion in the sense that I think spiritual insight is not only for the privileged, or Catholics or whoever: you have to discuss with people from different faiths.
In Eleven Minutes [2003], Maria says about herself: ‘Although she was very capable of writing very wise thoughts, she was quite incapable of following her own advice’ –
It is my case – sometimes. But I try to be as close as I can to my words, because mostly I write for myself. I write to… yeah, to have a better glimpse of who I am. I’ve just finished a new book and I realise, my God! these things were there and I couldn’t see them. Like when Jesus heals the blind man, he goes to the synagogue and says, ‘Hey, he healed me!’ And they say, ‘Oh, come on! He’s a fake, he’s a charlatan.’ And the man says: ‘I don’t care. I was blind but now I see.’ So, this is a little bit my case: sometimes I’m blind to myself but the answer is in my soul and all of a sudden I start seeing.

I have heard this comment a lot of times. Let me tell you my impression. I have two ways to meet my readers: at my book signings and on the internet. Probably one person out of a thousand asks me what to do. At my signings, never. On Facebook or Twitter, eventually they’ll say, ‘Oh, today I’m like this…’ – but like I say to my wife, ‘Oh, today I don’t feel very enthusiastic about this,’ not because she has the ultimate answer for my life but because I feel like sharing my problems with her. My readers don’t ask me, ‘Paulo, what is the meaning of my life?’ They know I don’t have the answer.
Nonetheless, for many of them The Alchemist has been one of those books that transform one’s life or the way one sees the world. So, even if you never set out to do so, you have played a role in many people’s lives –

Vacations

Begona Miguel of the Huelgas Monastery says: “San Juan de La Cruz teaches us that silence has its own music; it is silence that enables us to see ourselves and the things around us.

“I would like to add that there are words that can only be said in silence, odd as that may seem. To compose their symphonies, the great geniuses needed silence – and they managed to transform this into divine sounds. Philosophers and scientists need silence.”

“In the monastery, at night we practice what we call the ‘Great Silence’. In the absence of talk we can understand what lies beyond.”

Therefore, it is time for me to enjoy the silence. This blog takes a vacation, returning by the end of August, when I will start helping the release of my new book

You are always welcome to browse the ARCHIVES below

Enjoy your summer.
Love
Paulo

The Swiss scientist

I FEEL nothing. I think nothing. I get straight into my car and drive, not knowing exactly where I should go. No one is waiting for me at the end of the journey. Melancholy has become apathy. I need to drag myself onward.

Five minutes later, I’m outside a castle. I know what happened here; someone breathed life into a monster that remains famous to this day, although few people know the name of the woman who created him.

The gate into the garden is closed, but so what? I can climb through the hedge. I sit on the cold bench and imagine what happened in 1817. I need to distract myself, to forget everything from before and concentrate on something different.

I imagine that year, when the castle’s tenant, the English poet Lord Byron, decided to live here in exile. He was hated in his own country, and also in Geneva, where he was accused of holding orgies and getting drunk in public. He must have been dying of boredom. Or melancholy. Or rage.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that one day in 1817, two guests arrived from England: another poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his nineteen-year-old wife, Mary. (A fourth guest joined them, but I can’t remember his name right now.)

They doubtless talked about literature. They doubtless complained about the weather, the rain, the cold, the inhabitants of Geneva, their English compatriots, the lack of tea and whiskey. Perhaps they read poems to one another and praised one another’s work.

They thought they were so special and so important that they decided to make a bet: they would return to that same place within a year, each with a book he had written describing the human condition.

Obviously, after the initial enthusiasm and conversation about how the human being is a complete aberration, they forgot about the bet.

Mary was present during that conversation. She wasn’t invited to participate, first, because she was a woman, and, even worse, because she was very young. And yet that conversation must have marked her deeply. Why did she not just write something to pass the time? She had a subject, she simply needed to develop it and keep the book to herself when she had finished it.

However, when they returned to England, Shelley read the manuscript and encouraged her to publish it. Further, since he was already famous, he decided to submit it to a publisher and write the preface himself. Mary resisted, but in the end agreed, with one condition: her name should not appear on the cover.

The initial print run of five hundred copies quickly sold out. Mary thought it must be because of Shelley’s preface, but, on the second edition, she agreed to allow her name to appear as author. Ever since, the book has remained a constant presence in bookshops around the world. It has inspired writers, theater directors, film directors, Halloween partiers, and those at masked balls. It was recently described by one well-known critic as “the most creative work of Romanticism and possibly of the last two hundred years.”

No one can explain why. Most people have never read it, but almost everyone has heard of it.

It tells the story of Victor, a Swiss scientist, born in Geneva and brought up by his parents to understand the world through science. While still a child, he sees a lightning bolt strike a tree and wonders if that is the source of life. Could man create another human being?

And like a modern version of Prometheus, the mythological figure who stole fire from the gods in order to help mankind (the author used The Modern Prometheus as her subtitle, but few remember this), he begins to work to try and replicate God’s greatest deed. Needless to say, despite all the care he takes, the experiment slides out of his control.

The title of the book: Frankenstein.
(taken from my book ADULTERY)

Lao Tsu, China – 6th century B.C.

Paulo Coelho

Based on my message earlier this week – about the different languages of God – I would like to share with you this week some of the prayers that point in the same direction:

“For there to be peace in the world, the nations must live in peace.
For there to be peace among nations, cities must not rise up against one another.
For there to be peace in the cities, neighbors must get on well with one another.
For there to be peace among neighbors, harmony must reign in the home.
For there to be harmony at home, it must be found in your own heart.”

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