The future becoming present


From now on – and for some centuries to come – the Universe will help the warriors of the light, and boycott all those who are full of prejudices about people who dare to follow their dreams.

The energy of the Earth needs renovating.

New ideas need space.

The body and the soul need new challenges.

The future becomes present and all the dreams – except those that involve prejudices – will enjoy the chance to manifest themselves.

Whatever is important will remain; whatever is useless will disappear.

For that reason, when lots of people gather to give their opinion on how we should act or behave, we must ignore them, as our life on Earth leaves us no time for explaining everything we do.

And we must also avoid commenting on the behavior of others: in order to have faith in our own path, we have no need to prove that the path of the other is wrong.

Those who act like this have no trust in their own steps.



Faith, coincidence


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15 SEC READING: Insult the dead

A novice went to Abbot Macarius seeking advice about the best way to please the Lord.

- Go to the cemetery and insult the dead – said Macarius.

The brother did as he was told. The following day, he returned to Macarius.

- Did they respond? – asked the abbot.

The novice said no, they didn’t.

- Then go to them and praise them.

The novice obeyed. That same afternoon, he returned to the abbot, who again wished to know whether the dead had responded.

- No – said the novice.

- In order to please the Lord, behave as they do – said Macarius.

“Pay no heed to the insults of men, nor to their praise; in this way, you shall forge your own path.”

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Video: Sahara Wonderland (click on the photo


Football (a.k.a. soccer) 101

Duration: 90 min ( 2 x 45 min )
Players: 11 in each team
Objective: to score as many goals as possible using any part of the body but the hands. Any player can score a goal.
Referee: the one who enforces the rules

Foul & misconduct

when a player hits another, three things may happen:
1]Free kick
2] Free kick + card ( Yellow= beware! Red = you are out! )
3] Penalty kick = if a defender uses the hand or if the foul happens in the marked area around the goal (white lines above). In this case, the ball is placed in a mark in front of the goalkeeper. When the penalty kick is taken, the only two players in the box are the penalty taker and the defending team’s goalkeeper. Everyone else must be outside the white lines.

The only complicated rule

The offside – when the striker is closer to the opposing team’s goal than that team’s last defender. Meaning: you need an adversary to make it worth your effort!

20 SEC READING: The game of chess

EM PORTUGUES CLICAR AQUI >> O jogo de xadrez
EN ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI >> La partida de ajedrez


Illustration by Ken Crane

A young man said to the abbot of a monastery:
‘I would really like to become a monk, but I have learned nothing of importance in my life. My father only taught me how to play chess, and I was told that all games are sinful.’
The abbot called for a chessboard and summoned a monk to play with the young man. However, before the game began, he added:
‘We also need diversion, but we will have only the best players here. If our monk loses, he will leave the monastery, thus creating an opening for you.’
The abbot was deadly serious.
The young man played an aggressive game, but then he noticed the saintly look in the monk’s eyes, and from then on, he began to play deliberately badly.
He decided that he would rather lose because he felt that the monk could prove far more useful to the world than him.
Suddenly, the abbot overturned the chessboard onto the floor.
‘You learned far more than you were taught,’ he said. ‘You have the powers of concentration necessary to win and you are capable of fighting for what you want, but you also have compassion and the ability to sacrifice yourself for a noble cause.

‘ You have shown yourself capable of balancing discipline and mercy; welcome to our monastery!’

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Two poems by Saadi

On friends and enemies

I am displeased with the company of friends
To whom my bad qualities appear to be good;
They fancy my faults are virtues and perfection;
My thorns they believe to be rose and jessamine.
Say! where is the bold and quick enemy
To make me aware of my defects?

Sage advice

If people injure thee, grieve not;
Because neither rest nor grief come from the people.
Be aware that the contrasts of friend and foe are from God,
Because the hearts of both are in His keeping.
Although the arrow is shot from the bow,
Wise men look at the archer!

Oh thou! who showest virtues on the palms of the hand,
But concealest thy errors under the armpit,
What wilt thou purchase, oh vainglorious fool,
On the day of distress with counterfeit silver?

Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī , better known by his pen-name as Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period.

Literature and success

The Nobel prize winner, Kenzaboro Oe once said that you had discovered the secrets of literary alchemy. I’m sure there are several younger writers interested in leaning about these secrets. Would you mind sharing them with us? (Valéry Peyrot, France)
The average book print in the US or France is that of about 3000 copies – the same as in Brazil.
Therefore, the only secret I know is the word-of-mouth.
It took me close to ten years, for example, to appear in the New York Times Best Seller List. (but now the book is breaking all records – almost four years there)

As for the formula: an author that tries to express himself or herself thinking only about the market, may have a successful book once, but he/she most likely will not repeat the same success – which will not permit that the author makes a living out of literature.

In my case, I did the only thing I should have done, or use my writings to get to know myself better. As long as I kept being loyal to myself, without looking for formulas, the readers have also remained loyal.

Two of my books, for example, did not sell well: The Fifth Mountain and The winner stands alone. However, if I could go back to the past, I would still write these two books, because they express what I feel about tragedy and celebrity

Literature got further away from criticism, exactly because instead of being more traditional, criticism became reactionary. Thus, literary criticism does not have the power neither to sell, nor to avoid sales.

The reader, on the other hand, is watching reality more closely, and he/she buys whatever will reflect his/her state of mind or the status quo.

You write because you need to write. The career of a book is beyond your control.

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The moving monument

With very rare exceptions (Rio de Janeiro is one of them with its statue of Christ the Redeemer), it is not the statues that mark the city, but the least expected things.

When Eiffel built a steel tower for an exposition, he could not have dreamed that this would end up being the symbol of Paris, despite the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the impressive gardens.

An apple represents New York.

A not much visited bridge is the symbol of San Francisco. A bridge over the Tejo is also on the postcards of Lisbon.

Barcelona, a city full of unresolved things, has an unfinished cathedral (The Holy Family) as its most emblematic monument.

In Moscow, a square surrounded by buildings and a name that no longer represents the present (Red Square, in memory of communism) is the main reference.

And so on and so forth.

Perhaps thinking about this, Geneva decided to create a monument that would never remain the same, one that could disappear every night and reappear the next morning and would change at each and every moment of the day, depending on the strength of the wind and the rays of the sun.

Legend has it that a child had the idea just as he was … taking a pee. When he finished his business, he told his father that the place where they lived would be protected from invaders if it had a sculpture capable of vanishing before they drew near.

His father went to talk to the town councilors, who, even though they had adopted Protestantism as the official religion and considered everything that escaped logic as superstition, decided to follow the advice.

Another story tells us that, because a river pouring into a lake produced a very strong current, a hydroelectric dam was built there, but when the workers returned home and closed the valves, the pressure was very strong and the turbines eventually burst.

Until an engineer had the idea of putting a fountain on the spot where the excess water could escape. With the passing of time, engineering solved the problem and the fountain became unnecessary.

But perhaps reminded of the legend of the little boy, the inhabitants decided to keep it.

The city already had many fountains, and this one would be in the middle of a lake, so what could be done to make it visible? And that is how the moving monument came to be.

Powerful pumps were installed, and today a very strong jet of water spouts 500 liters per second vertically at 200 km per hour.

They say, and I have confirmed it, that it can even be seen from a plane flying at 10,000 meters.

It has no special name, just ‘Water Fountain’, the symbol of the city of Geneva (where there is no lack of statues of men on horses, heroic women and solitary children).

Once I asked Denise, a Swiss scientist, what she thought of the Water Fountain. “Our body is almost completely made of water through which electric discharges pass to convey information.

One such piece of information is called love, and this can interfere in the entire organism.

Love changes all the time.

I think that the symbol of Geneva is the most beautiful monument to love yet conceived by any artist.” I don’t know how the little boy in the legend would feel about it, but I think that Denise is absolutely right.

20 SEC READING: What is truth?

I read the following piece of news in the Spanish newspaper “La Vanguardia”.

“What is truth? The President of the Court, Josep Maria Pijuan, had to check which of the versions of rape offered by the girl victim, 11-year-old J., was closest to reality. The lawyers attending the questioning did not believe that she would manage to avoid contradicting herself in her deposition.

“At a certain moment the judge asked a rather philosophical question: What is truth? Is it what you imagine or what they asked you to tell?”

The girl stopped for a minute, then she answered:

“Truth is the bad they did to me.”

“Lawyer Jufresa, a renowned and prestigious jurist, said that was one of the most brilliant definitions she had heard in her whole career.”

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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.

in “The Devil and Miss Prym”

20 sec reading: Generous in death

A man was travelling from one city to another when he heard that a ferocious battle had taken place and that his cousin was among the wounded soldiers.

He rushed to the place and saw that his cousin was on death’s door.

He offered him a little water from his canteen, but just at that moment another wounded soldier beside him groaned, and the cousin asked him to give the water to his neighbor.

“But if I go over there, you may not survive! All your life you have been always so generous!”

Gathering his last ounce of strength, the wounded man replied: “That’s another reason to be generous, now that I’m about to die.”

Cannes: a model’s routine

In order to write the book “The Winner is alone”, the main theme of which is the cult of celebrities, I had to do some interesting research into the routine of those women who inhabit the collective imagination: photographer’s models. However different they may be, what follows is an invariable pattern of behavior among them:

A] Before going to bed they use several creams to clean the pores and keep the skin hydrated – from an early age making the organism dependent on foreign elements. They wake up, drink a cup of black coffee without any sugar, and some fruit with fibers – so that the food that they ingest during the rest of the day passes quickly through the intestines. They climb on the scales three to four times a day and become depressed by each excessive gram denounced by the needle.

B] They are all aware that they will soon be upstaged by new faces and new tendencies, and they need urgently to show that their talent goes beyond the catwalks. They are constantly pleading with their agents to arrange a test for them so that they can show that they are capable of working as actresses – which is their big dream.

C] Unlike what the legend claims, they pay for their expenses – travel, hotel, and all those salads. They are invited by fashion designers’ assistants to do what they call casting, to select those who will be picked to face the catwalk or pose for a photo session. At that moment they are in front of people who are invariably ill-humored and use the little power they have to pour out their daily frustrations and never say a nice or encouraging word: “horrible” is the comment most commonly heard.

D] Their parents are proud of the daughter that has begun so well, and regret having ever said they were against that career – after all, she is earning money and helping the family. Their boyfriends have fits of jealousy, but control themselves because it’s good for the ego to be with a fashion model. Their girlfriends envy them secretly (or openly).

E] They go to all the parties they are invited to, and behave as if they were far more important than they actually are, which is a symptom of insecurity. They always have a glass of champagne in their hand, but this is just part of the image that they want to send out. They know that alcohol contains elements that can affect their weight, so their favorite drink is mineral water (still – although the gas does not affect the weight, it does have immediate consequences for the contour of the stomach).

G] They sleep badly due to the pills. They hear stories about anorexia – the most common disease in the milieu, a kind of nervous disturbance caused by obsession with weight and appearance which eventually educates the organism and rejects any type of food. They say that this won’t happen to them. But they never notice when the first symptoms appear.

H] They go directly from childhood to the world of luxury and glamour without passing through adolescence and youth. When asked about their plans for the future, they always have the answer on the tip of their tongue: “I want to go to university and study philosophy. I’m just doing this to be able to pay for my studies”. They know that this isn’t true. They can’t afford to attend school: there’s always a test in the morning, a photo session in the afternoon, a party which they have to attend to be seen, admired and desired.

People think they lead a fairytale life. And they want to believe this. Until some more curious writer decides not to give up, and questions a bit further. After a great deal of hesitating, they eventually say: “I was born to be an actress. So I am capable of pretending that this miserable life is the most glamorous profession in the world”.

The measure of love

“I have always wanted to know if I was able to love like you do,” said the disciple of a Hindu master.

“There is nothing beyond love,” answered the master. “It’s love that keeps the world going round and the stars hanging in the sky.”

“I know all that. But how can I know if my love is great enough?”

“Try to find out if you abandon yourself to love or if you flee from your emotions. But don’t ask questions like that because love is neither great nor small. You can’t measure a feeling like you measure a road: if you act like that you will see only your reflection, like the moon in a lake, but you won’t be following your path.”


“There are two types of writers: those who make you think and those who make you dream” says Brian Aldiss, who made me dream for such a long time with his science-fiction books. In principle I believe that every human being on this planet has at least one good story to tell his neighbor. What follows are my reflections on some important items in the process of creating a text:

Above all else, the writer has to be a good reader. The kind that sticks to academic texts and does not read what others write (and here I’m not just talking about books but also blogs, newspaper columns and so on) will never know his own qualities and defects.

So, before starting anything, look for people who are interested in sharing their experience through words. I’m not saying: “look for other writers”. What I say is: find people with different skills, because writing is no different from any other activity that is done with enthusiasm.

Your allies will not necessarily be those that everyone looks on with admiration and says: “there’s nobody better”. It’s very much the opposite: it’s people who are not afraid of making mistakes, and yet they do make mistakes. That is why their work is not always recognized. But that’s the type of people who change the world, and after many mistakes they manage to get something right that will make all the difference in their community.

These are people who cannot sit around waiting for things to happen before they decide on the best way to narrate them: they decide as they act, even knowing that this can be very risky.

Living close to these people is important for writers, because they need to understand that before putting anything down on paper, they should be free enough to change direction as their imagination wanders. When a sentence comes to an end, the writer should tell himself: “while I was writing I traveled a long road. Now I can finish this paragraph in the full awareness that I have risked enough and given the best of myself.”

The best allies are those who don’t think like the others. That’s why, while you are looking for your companions, trust your intuition and don’t pay any attention to others’ remarks. People always judge others using the model of their own limitations – and at times the opinion of the community is full of prejudices and fears.

Join those who have never said: “it’s finished, I have to stop here”. Because just as winter is followed by spring, nothing comes to an end: after reaching your objective, you have to start again, always using all that you have learnt on the way.

Join those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have happiness in their eyes. Because happiness is contagious and always manages to keep people from being paralyzed by depression, loneliness and troubles.

And tell your story, even if it’s only for your family to read.

The Magic Mountain

I think that one of the most beautiful regions in the world is Languedoc, a part of the Pyrenees in southwest France. I have been there several times and its valleys, mountains, vegetation and rivers always impress me. However, as human beings are quite unpredictable, it was precisely in this magnificent place that the first great European “heresy” arose, Catharism.

Many books have been written on the subject, yet it is possible to summarize the Cathar philosophy in one simple phrase; the Universe was created by the devil, all this apparent beauty is a diabolic work.

According to the encyclopedia, they were dualists who believed in the existence of two gods, one of good (God) and one of evil (Satan), who created the material world. Because of this, they took a vow of chastity and had no intention of procreating and presenting the devil with more followers. They called themselves “perfect” and were disposed to martyrdom to prove the importance of their belief. The symbolic end of the movement, which triggered off the first crusades recorded in history, took place on March 15, 1244 in the fortress of Montségur. After a long siege when they were offered the choice of converting to Catholicism or else die, approximately 250 “perfect” men, women and children climbed down the mountain singing of their intent to throw themselves into the flames of the bonfire specially made for the occasion.

For a long time I was interested in Catharism. In 1989 I met Brida O’Fern (who later on became a character in a book of mine), who had been a Cathar in an earlier incarnation. At the beginning of that same year I had met Mônica Antunes, who at that time was just my friend, now my friend and agent.

Since for spiritual reasons I needed to go on the Cathar walk (a trail linking together the castles/fortresses of the “perfect ones”) I invited her to take part in a stretch of the walk.

Mônica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August afternoon. We had planned to climb it the following day, and after dinner we went to chat in the place where the bonfire had been lit almost 800 years before (an insignificant monument marks the spot). The weather was overcast, with clouds so low that we could not even see the ruins at the top of the gigantic rock. Just to provoke Mônica, I said that it might be interesting to make the climb that very night. She said no, and I was relieved, imagine if she had said yes!

At that moment a car drove up, the same make and color as mine. An Irishman stepped out and asked, as if we were from the region, from what point the rock could be climbed. I suggested that he make the climb the next morning with us, but he was determined to go up that very night, he wanted to see the sun rise from up there, claiming that perhaps he had been a Cathar in a past life.

“I wonder if you could lend me a lamp?” he asked.

And everything seems to fit; Brida, the obligation of going on the Cathar walk, the joke with Mônica a few minutes before, and now this fellow, with a car just like mine. It is a sign. I go to the hotel in the village where we are staying and borrow a lamp, the only one they have.

Mônica seems scared, but I say that we have to go ahead. Signs are signs, I say. The newcomer asks where the path is. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up the path.

And for some time, (I cannot remember how long) the three of us climbed a mountain that we did not know at night and with the fog that only allowed us to see a few yards ahead of us. Finally, we penetrated the clouds, the sky filled with stars, the moon was full, and standing before us was the gate of the fortress of Montségur.

We entered and contemplated the ruins. I looked at the beauty of the firmament, wondering how we got there without any accident, and then I think it is better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle. The Cathars contemplated this very same sky, and believed that all these stars were the work of the devil. I shall never understand the Cathars, although I do respect the integrity with which they dedicated themselves to their faith.

I have returned to Montségur and climbed the mountain several other times, but have never again managed to find the path that we used that August night in 1989.

Mysteries exist.

20 sec reading: The Drunkard Disciple

A Zen master had hundreds of disciples. They all prayed at the right time, except one, who was always drunk.

The master was growing old. Some of the more virtuous pupils began to wonder who would be the new leader of the group, the one who would receive the important secrets of the Tradition.

On the eve of his death, however, the master called the drunkard disciple and revealed the hidden secrets to him.

A veritable revolt broke out among the others.

“How shameful!” they cried in the streets, “We have sacrificed ourselves for the wrong master, one who can’t see our qualities.”

Hearing the commotion outside, the dying master remarked, “I had to pass on these secrets to a man that I knew well. All my pupils are very virtuous, and showed only their qualities. That is dangerous, for virtue often serves to hide vanity, pride and intolerance. That is why I chose the only disciple whom I know really well, since I can see his defect: drunkenness.”

In Search of the Dream

Those who dare having a project in life, foregoing everything to live their Personal Legend, will end up achieving anything. The important thing is to keep the fire in your heart and be strong to overcome hard moments.

Remember, the desires that are in our souls do not come from the nothingness; someone put them there. And this someone, who is pure love and only wishes our happiness, only did it because he gave us, together with these desires, the tools to make them happen.

What’s the price?

“Is the price of living a dream much higher than the price of living without daring to dream?” asked the disciple.

The master took him to a clothes store. There, he asked him to try on a suit in exactly his size. The disciple obeyed, and was very amazed at the quality of the clothes.

Then the master asked him to try on the same suit – but this time a size much bigger than his own. The disciple did as he was asked.

“This one is no use. It’s too big.”

“How much are these suits?” the master asked the shop attendant.

“They both cost the same price. It’s just the size that is different.”

When leaving the store, the master told his disciple, “Living your dream or giving it up also costs the same price, which is usually very high. But the first lets us share the miracle of life, and the second is of no use to us.”

The Search of the Path

“I am willing to leave everything. Please, take me as a disciple.”

“How does a man choose his Path?”

“Through sacrifice. A path that demands sacrifice is a true path.”

The abbot bumped into a bookcase. A very rare vase fell down and the young man threw himself to the floor to pick it up. He fell the wrong way and broke his arm. But he was able to save the vase.

“Which sacrifice is greater, to see the vase breaking down our breaking an arm to save it?”

“I don’t know.”

“So then, do not try to guide your choice through sacrifice. The path is chosen by our capacity of compromising with each step we make while we walk.”

Genève inspire Paulo Coelho



Le Temps, 13 Mai 2014, Lisbeth Koutchoumoff

Un roman ne peut pas certes changer le monde mais il peut peut-être initier la planète à un sujet réputé ardu et injustement ignoré: la politique suisse. Quel livre serait capable d’une telle prouesse? Le nouveau roman de Paulo Coelho, Adultère, qui paraît mercredi. Pourquoi mettre autant d’espoir dans les nouvelles pages de l’auteur de L’Alchimiste? Parce que Adultère se passe à Genève, que son héroïne est très riche (et journaliste aussi) et qu’elle décrit, à l’usage des millions de lecteurs de Paulo Coelho, le fonctionnement du Conseil fédéral, le système des votations et beaucoup d’autres curiosités suisses et genevoises.

Paulo Coelho vit à Genève depuis plusieurs années. Les habitués du Salon du livre le savent bien: il est venu plusieurs fois à la rencontre de ses lecteurs à Palexpo. Discret, il gère depuis ici la fondation qu’il a créée pour aider les jeunes et les personnes âgées dans le besoin au Brésil, son pays.

Depuis L’Alchimiste, conte initiatique qui l’a propulsé d’un coup comme auteur-phénomène avec 65 millions d’exemplaires vendus, Paulo Coelho a écrit une quinzaine de romans (dont Le Zahir, Aleph et Le Manuscrit retrouvé, pour ne citer que les plus récents) qui tous, à des degrés divers, croisent préceptes de développement personnel et quête spirituelle.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que Genève se trouve décrite sous sa plume. Onze minutes (2003) avait pour héroïne une jeune Brésilienne piégée comme prostituée dans le quartier des Pâquis.

Mais dans Adultère, Paulo Coelho fait de la ville un personnage à part entière. Cette fois, c’est la Genève nantie qui est peinte, celle des grandes familles protestantes. La femme adultère, c’est Linda, épouse d’un responsable de fonds d’investissement qui compte parmi les 300 plus riches familles de Suisse (selon le magazine Bilan, est-il précisé). Mais Linda est aussi journaliste dans un journal qui ressemble au quotidien où s’écrivent ces lignes même s’il n’a pas l’honneur d’une citation.

Le cœur de l’intrigue tient évidemment dans la dépression de Linda et la relation qu’elle va nouer avec un candidat au Conseil d’Etat genevois. Le roman se déroule d’ailleurs pendant les élections. Après l’euphorie de la passion, Linda va petit à petit redécouvrir les vertus de l’Amour. Par respect pour les fans, nous n’en dirons pas plus.

Ce récit est l’occasion pour Paulo Coelho de porter un regard précis, tantôt admiratif, tantôt critique sur sa ville et son pays d’adoption. Genève, «avec ses vieilles maisons seigneuriales» et ses «immeubles construits par un maire fou dans les années 1950», apparaît comme figée dans le temps et tire de là son charme. Le monde s’imagine que les Suisses sont réservés? «Quelle méprise!» corrige Linda. «Ici nous disons encore bonjour» quand nous croisons un inconnu en chemin et «au revoir» en sortant d’une boutique où nous avons acheté une bouteille d’eau minérale, même si nous n’avons nulle intention d’y retourner.»

Les journalistes en revanche sont à plaindre dans ce pays où les hommes politiques «sont les moins intéressants et les plus insipides» que n’importe où ailleurs sur la planète. Ce qui fait que lorsqu’un scandale éclate (pas pour des affaires sexuelles, les Suisses n’en ont cure, mais pour des affaires de drogue par exemple), les journaux, tout à la satisfaction de se mettre enfin quelque chose sous la dent, en font beaucoup trop.

La Suisse apparaît aussi comme un pays qui a choisi de «s’isoler du monde» et qui se félicite de tenir encore les «invasions barbares» par-delà les Alpes. Heureux entre soi, les Suisses.

Linda souffre de son éducation protestante «rigide» où le bonheur est une notion qui n’entre pas en ligne de compte. Linda règle plus loin ses comptes, sans ambages, avec Calvin: «S es tactiques pour implanter ce qu’il imaginait être la vérité suprême me le font associer à l’esprit perverti d’Oussama ben Laden. Tous les deux avaient le même objectif: installer un Etat théocratique dans lequel tous ceux qui n’accompliraient pas ce qui se comprenait comme la loi de Dieu devraient être punis.»

On revient à des eaux plus calmes avec le château de Chillon et l’évocation de Lord Byron et de Mary Shelley. La bise, rebaptisée ici mistral.

Les libraires romands se réjouissent de ce Paulo Coelho très helvétique. On les comprend. La curiosité locale promet d’être encore plus forte qu’ailleurs.

Viva N. Sra. Fátima!



In the spring and summer of 1916, three children, Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, claimed to have experienced the visitation of an angel on three separate occasions. The angel appeared to them as they watched their sheep, taught them specific prayers to pray, to make sacrifices, and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.

On May 13, 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. Astonished they ran back to their village and told everyone. Further appearances were reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman asked the children to do penance and Acts of Reparation as well as making personal sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause themselves pain, performed self-flagellation using stinging nettles, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance.[citation needed] According to Lúcia’s account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.

Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the following months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator Artur Santos (no relation to Lúcia Santos), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary. The administrator interrogated the children and tried unsuccessfully to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. In the process, he threatened the children, saying he would boil them in a pot of oil, one by one unless they confessed. The children refused, but Lúcia told him everything short of the secrets, and offered to ask the Lady for permission to tell the Administrator the secrets.That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, at nearby Valinhos.


20 SEC READING: Praying for everyone


A farm labourer with a sick wife, asked a Buddhist monk to say a series of prayers. The priest began to pray, asking God to cure all those who were ill.

‘Just a moment,’ said the farm labourer. ‘I asked you to pray for my wife and there you are praying for everyone who’s ill.’

‘I’m praying for her too.’

‘Yes, but you’re praying for everyone. You might end up helping my neighbour, who’s also ill, and I don’t even like him.’

‘You understand nothing about healing,’ said the monk, moving off. ‘By praying for everyone, I am adding my prayers to those of the millions of people who are also praying for their sick.

‘Added together, those voices reach God and benefit everyone. Separately, they lose their strength and go nowhere.’