Today’s Question by the reader : Claudius

There is so much suffering, pain, ugliness in this world. Many of us watch it helplessly and many of us are also in its clutches and are its victims, what do we do? What would you offer a person in pain?

Injustice exists and I can’t pretend to have an answer for that. I’m not a guru and I can’t explain why bad things happen to honest people. It’s also true that evil is much more visible than good. See how easy it is to destroy and how laborious it is to build.

Nevertheless I think that we are all responsible if the world is the way it is. That’s why instead of looking for the guilty or weak, we should look at our attitudes and ourselves.

We cannot set out to change the world but we can try to change ourselves. If we are capable of that: of mending our ways, of being generous to life, then we will be able to see that good is everywhere. There’s a wide range of heroes that work in silence and that try to enhance the state of the world.

Today’s Question by the reader : Livia

How difficult was it to write Eleven Minutes, for it was your first book that dealt with a subject as harsh as prostitution? How difficult was it to bring out the soul in a character immersed in such a life? How did your true life inspiration react to her story? Have you ever experienced such sexual awakening yourself?

I was in Switzerland during a book signing and met a reader that started to talk to me about the relation between body and soul. We talk a lot and the next day I invited her for a coffee. When we met at this café I had the feeling that I was in front of a story. Her story, and the story of other prostitutes that I interviewed during the writing process, gave me the background against which I created Maria. It’s curious how I start the book saying, “Once upon a time there was a prostitute called Maria”. It’s a contradiction because I’m juxtaposing a child’s tale with the harshness of an adult theme – prostitution. But I believe this is a true reflection of our lives. We always have a foot in the abyss and another in paradise. To know how to walk along the razor’s edge is a challenge. Sex is all about this fragile equilibrium.

Today’s Question by the reader : Juan

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I don’t have.

Today’s Question by the reader : Lena

Which celebrity did you most enjoy meeting?

The question should rather be: which misencounter with a celebrity marked me the most. It was in my twenties, I did a bus journey from Rio to Buenos Aires only to meet my idol – the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges – and failed to approach him. We were face to face, and I did not dare to say a single word.

Today’s Question by David C

After having read The Alchemist I concluded that one of the messages in the book was that what we are looking for is right in front of us. We just need to open our eyes and realize it. My question is:
Are you planning on another book where you suggest a way how people can come this realization a little closer? Or do you have a suggestion right now you would like to share?

Humans have always looked for a sense of purpose for their life. And there there are essentially three ways to achieve this: Art, science and religion. But if science and religion meet we will have problems. Spirituality has nothing to do with whether you believe in God or not: it is an approach to life. During the twentieth century we experienced the dictatorship of science, which tells us that the world consists only of scientifically provable things. Thus the amazement and suprise of experiencing our souls were lost to us. But there are also emotions, and emotions play a very large role in our world. Therefore, being part of the human condition, my inspiration come from my contact with other people.

Today’s Question by Angélique

Once you said : “To change onself is to change the world”- when lately have you changed something in your life? How has that changed the world?

We never realize these changes. Try to improve yourself, and then the world around you will improve. This is what I try to do; most of the time the changes are very subtle, but if you spread love, you receive love. If you spread hate, you will receive hate.

Today’s Question by Jeremy

Is the glass half full or half empty?

Reading the Tao Te King, we realize that the glass is never half full or half empty.

Today’s Question by Gustav

Which moment changed your life?

The moment I decided to do my pilgrimage to Santiago.

Today’s Question by Raymond

Who makes you happy?

My wife Christina.

Today’s Question by Eric

What makes you happy?

See others around me happy. Walk. Wine. Archery.

Today’s Question by Peter

What is the single most important thing you learnt from your childhood?

That in order to avoid suffering one has to be brave, and not to feel as a victim.

Today’s Question by Maria

What one message of peace would you like children to receive this christmas?

Someone is watching over you.

Today’s Question by Nelson

How can everyone bring a little peace into the world this christmas?

I think that everyone can bring peace to this world the moment they decide not be ashamed of who they are and act according to their heart’s desires. And when they tell their stories.

Today’s Question by Katheryne

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

It happens everyday. So probably the most embarrassing one is the most recent one

Today’s Question by Romero

What is your best childhood memory?

When I realized that I was alive. For a child, life is something abstract, because she/he thinks that the whole universe turns around his/her wishes. One day, during a sunset (I was probably 8 yrs old) I understood that there were other people in the world. And they had fathers, mothers, etc. I was not alone.

Today’s Question by Michaela

What do you think are some of the most critical issues standing in the way of achieving peace in today’s world?

I would say that greed is what stands between humanity and peace. To see that wars are still fought for the sake of a privileged few is what perpetrates this endless circle of violence and hatred.

Today’s Question by Mario

What experiences will you draw upon to help you reach out to people around the world as a United Nations Messenger of Peace?

In my life I faced many terrible moments, especially when I was tortured by the para-militaries in 1974 in Brazil. It was an experience that didn’t bring me anything. Yet I look back at this encounter with violence and it only sparks in me the will to fight for a peaceful world where all can express their minds and views, without fearing for their lives.

Today’s Question by Stéphane

How do you see your role as a United Nations Messenger of Peace?

I would say that the type of work that I want to develop with the UN would be the one where I would use culture, the last bridge that in my view remains intact in this divided world, to reassemble people. The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled. Because if we still can understand the stories and legend of our neighbor, even if we don’t understand anything else, we will realize that we are not strangers, and we share a lot of values in common.

Today’s Question by Antonio

Is the story in the book The Valkyries a true one?

The book’s central idea is true (meeting the angel), the journey to Mojave too, but much of what is written is fictionalized. Nevertheless, the most important episode – the meeting of the angel – really did happen, and I left a statue of the Lady of Aparecida in Glorieta Canyon, near Borrego Springs, CA.

Today’s Question by Jorge

Is it true that you wrote The Alchemist in two weeks?

Yes. And, in general, all my books are written over a period of two to four weeks. But the conception of a book takes at least two years, and the revision approximately another four months.