God and real life

selected by Paulo Coelho (feel free to share, by the way…)

Christian tradition
A protestant priest, having started a family, no longer had any peace for his prayers. One night, when he knelt down, he was disturbed by the children in the living room.
“Have the children keep quiet!” he shouted.
His startled wife obeyed. Thereafter, whenever the priest came home, they all maintained silence during prayers. But he realized that God was no longer listening.
One night, during his prayers, he asked the Lord: “what is going on? I have the necessary peace, and I cannot pray!”
An angel replied: “He hears words, but no longer hears the laughter. He notices the devotion, but can no longer see the joy.”
The priest stood and shouted once again to his wife: “Let the children play! They are part of praying!”
And his words were heard by God once again.

Muslim tradition
A blind man was begging on the road to Mecca, when a pious Moslem came over and asked whether the people were giving generously – as the Koran commands. The man showed him his little tin, which was almost empty. The traveler said:
– Let me write something on the card around your neck.
Hours later, the traveler returned. The beggar was surprised, for he had received a large amount of money.
– What did you write on the card? – he asked.
– All I wrote was: Today is a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, and I am blind.

Jewish tradition
Dov Beer de Mezeritch was asked:
“Which example should one follow? That of pious men, who devote their lives to God? That of scholars, who seek to understand the will of the Almighty?
“The best example is that of the child,” he answered.
“A child knows nothing. It hasn’t yet learned what reality is,” people commented.
“You are all quite wrong, for a child possesses three qualities we should never forget,” said Dov Beer. “They are always joyful without reason. They are always busy. And when they want something, they know how to demand it firmly and with determination.”

2 MIN READ: Manual for Climbing Mountains

Espanol> Manual para subir montañas
Portugues> Manual para subir montanhas

By Paulo Coelho

A] Choose the mountain you want to climb: don’t pay attention to what other people say, such as “that one’s more beautiful” or “this one’s easier”. You’ll be spending lots of energy and enthusiasm to reach your objective, so you’re the only one responsible and you should be sure of what you’re doing.

B] Know how to get close to it: mountains are often seen from far off – beautiful, interesting, full of challenges. But what happens when we try to draw closer? Roads run all around them, flowers grow between you and your objective, what seemed so clear on the map is tough in real life. So try all the paths and all the tracks until eventually one day you’re standing in front of the top that you yearn to reach.

C] Learn from someone who has already been up there: no matter how unique you feel, there is always someone who has had the same dream before you and ended up leaving marks that can make your journey easier; places to hang the rope, trails, broken branches to make the walking easier. The climb is yours, so is the responsibility, but don’t forget that the experience of others can help a lot.

D] When seen up close, dangers are controllable: when you begin to climb the mountain of your dreams, pay attention to the surroundings. There are cliffs, of course. There are almost imperceptible cracks in the mountain rock. There are stones so polished by storms that they have become as slippery as ice. But if you know where you are placing each footstep, you will notice the traps and how to get around them.

E] The landscape changes, so enjoy it: of course, you have to have an objective in mind – to reach the top. But as you are going up, more things can be seen, and it’s no bother to stop now and again and enjoy the panorama around you. At every meter conquered, you can see a little further, so use this to discover things that you still had not noticed.

F] Respect your body: you can only climb a mountain if you give your body the attention it deserves. You have all the time that life grants you, as long as you walk without demanding what can’t be granted. If you go too fast you will grow tired and give up half way there. If you go too slow, night will fall and you will be lost. Enjoy the scenery, take delight in the cool spring water and the fruit that nature generously offers you, but keep on walking.

G] Respect your soul: don’t keep repeating “I’m going to make it”. Your soul already knows that, what it needs is to use the long journey to be able to grow, stretch along the horizon, touch the sky. An obsession does not help you at all to reach your objective, and even ends up taking the pleasure out of the climb. But pay attention: also, don’t keep saying “it’s harder than I thought”, because that will make you lose your inner strength.

H] Be prepared to climb one kilometer more: the way up to the top of the mountain is always longer than you think. Don’t fool yourself, the moment will arrive when what seemed so near is still very far. But since you were prepared to go beyond, this is not really a problem.

I] Be happy when you reach the top: cry, clap your hands, shout to the four winds that you did it, let the wind – the wind is always blowing up there – purify your mind, refresh your tired and sweaty feet, open your eyes, clean the dust from your heart. It feels so good, what was just a dream before, a distant vision, is now part of your life, you did it!

J] Make a promise: now that you have discovered a force that you were not even aware of, tell yourself that from now on you will use this force for the rest of your days. Preferably, also promise to discover another mountain, and set off on another adventure.

K ] Tell your story: yes, tell your story! Give your example. Tell everyone that it’s possible, and other people will then have the courage to face their own mountains.


The divine melody

Zaki heard Xa asking his friends what was the most beautiful sound on Earth.

‘The sound of the flute,’ said one.

‘Birdsong,’ said another.

‘A woman’s voice,’ said a third.

They continued the discussion late into the night, without reaching any conclusion.

Days later, Zaki invited Xa and his friends to supper. In the room next door, the best orchestra in the world was playing lovely music, but there was no food on the table. Around midnight, by which time his guests were all starving hungry, Zaki finally served up an exquisite banquet.

‘After hours without eating, isn’t the clatter of cutlery on plates a divine sound?’ remarked Xa.

‘I am simply answering your question about what is the most beautiful sound on Earth,’ replied Zaki. ‘It could be the voice of the woman we love, the singing of birds, the clatter of plates, the breathing beside us in bed of someone dear to us, but it will always be the sound that our heart needs to hear at that precise moment.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Which is the best example to follow?

By Paulo Coelho

Dov Beer of Mezeritch was asked:

‘Which is the best example to follow? That of the pious man who dedicates his life to God without ever asking why, or that of the erudite man, who tries to understand the will of the Almighty?’

‘The best example to follow is that of the child,’ replied Dov Beer.

‘But a child knows nothing. It doesn’t even understand what reality is!’ was the general response.

‘There you are much mistaken, because the child has four qualities that we should never forget. A child is always happy for no reason. A child is always busy. When a child wants something, he or she shows great persistence and determination in demanding that thing. Lastly, a child is always very quick to stop crying.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Question by the reader : Anne

I would like to know how you delt/deal with the restlessness that some people -including me- struggles with?

I am also struggling with myself all the time, but I am very optimistic in this sense. People are realizing more and more that happiness is freedom, and freedom is to be able to “travel light”, not possessing a lot of things, because at the end of the day, the things start to possess you. I remember that I considered to buy a castle in France. I went to see some. One day I realized that if I buy a castle, I cannot think about anything but taking care of it. Therefore, I bought a small watermill, so to keep it is very easy, and I have time to go to the mountains, to walk, do spend my life in the way that I would like. In short: the less you have to keep, the more you have in freedom. And one of the lessons nature teaches you is exactly that: keep your contradictions, as summer is the opposite of winter.

“I reached my limit”

“I’ve met a man and fallen in love with him. I allowed myself to fall in love for one simple reason: I’m not expecting anything to come of it. I know that, in three months’ time, I’ll be far away and he’ll be just a memory, but I couldn’t stand living without love any longer; I had reached my limit…
Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally.

These meeting are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes directions.”

from the book Eleven Minutes

20 SEC READ: What must I do to be closer to God?

According to a well-known Zen story, Lao Shi asked his master, Wang Tei:

– What must I do to be closer to God?

Wang Tei told him to follow him high up onto a mountain, There, he took a candle from his bag and gave it to his disciple to light. Lao Shi tried several times, in vain.

– It is too windy, I can’t light it.

– But it’s not windy three kilometers away from here.

– What use is that? I’d need to walk all that way, to light the candle where there is no wind.

– Similarly, in order to ligth the flame of God within you, stop the windmills of your mind – replied Wang Thei.

Frases Cortas para Whatsapp , Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


1-Se valiente. Toma riesgos. Nada puede sustituir a la experiencia.

2-Esperar es doloroso. Olvidar es doloroso. Pero no saber qué hacer es el peor tipo de sufrimiento.

3-Cuando una persona desea realmente algo, todo el universo conspira para ayudar a esa persona a realizar su sueño.

4-He visto muchas tormentas en mi vida. La mayoría me han cogido por sorpresa, por lo que tuve que aprender muy rápido a mirar adelante y entender que no soy capaz de controlar el tiempo, ejercitar el arte de la paciencia y respetar la furia de la naturaleza.

5-Nadie puede mentir, nadie puede esconder nada, cuando se le mira directamente a los ojos.

6-Tienes que tomar riesgos. Solo entendemos el miraglo de la vida cuando permitimos que pase lo inesperado.

7-La vida siempre fue un problema de esperar el momento correcto para actuar.

8-Uno es amado porque uno es amado. No hay razón necesaria para amar.

9-Cuando eres entusiasta sobre lo que haces, sientes energía positiva. Es muy simple.

10-Puedes volverte ciego al ver cada día como similar. Cada día es diferente, cada día trae un milagro. Simplemente es cuestión de prestar atención a ese milagro.

11-Recuerda tus sueños y lucha por ellos. Debes saber qué quieres de la vida. Solo hay una cosa que hace tu sueño imposible: el miedo al fracaso.

12-La cultura hace que la gente se entienda mejor. Y si se entienden mejor en sus almas, es más fácil superar las barreras políticas y económicas. Pero primero tienen que entender que sus vecinos es, al final, como ellos, con los mismos problemas.

13-No, nunca he visto un ángel, pero es irrelevante el haberlo visto o no. Siento su presencia alrededor mía.

14-Las personas son muy reacias a hablar sobre sus vidas privadas pero vas a internet y son mucho más abiertas.

15-No te ahogas al caer a un río, sino al mantenerte sumergido en el.

16-Dile a tu corazón que el miedo de sufrir es peor que el miedo en si mismo. Y ningún corazón ha sufrido al ir en búsqueda de su sueño.

17-Todo lo que ocurre una vez puede no ocurrir de nuevo. Pero todo lo que ocurre dos veces ocurrirá una tercera vez seguramente.

18-El amor es una trampa. Cuando aparece solo vemos sus luces, no sus sombras.

19-Cuanto más violenta es una tormenta, más rápido pasa.

21-Lo que puedo decir de todos mis personajes es que están en búsqueda de sus almas, porque son mi espejo. Soy alguien que esta constantemente en búsqueda de mi lugar en el mundo, y la literatura es la mejor forma que encuentro para verme a mi mismo.

22-Cuando escribo un libro, lo hago para mi mismo; la reacción depende del lector. No es mi asunto si a la gente le gusta o disgusta.

23-Aunque la gente feliz digan que lo son, nadie esta satisfecho: siempre tenemos que estar con la mujer más hermosa, con la casa más grande, cambiando coches, deseando lo que no tenemos.

24-Todo el mundo tiene un potencial creativo y desde el momento en que puedes expresar ese potencial creativo, puedes comenzar a cambiar el mundo.

25-No digo que el amor siempre te lleve al cielo. Tu vida se puede convertir en una pesadilla. Pero dicho esto, merece la pena tomar el riesgo.

26-Tenemos que parar y ser lo suficientemente humildes para parar y entender que hay algo llamado misterio.

28-Vamos a ser absolutamente claros sobre una cosa: no debemos confundir la humildad con falsa modestia o servilismo.

29-No fui animado a seguir la carrera de escritor porque mis padres pensaban que iba a morir de hambre. Pensaron que nadie puede ganarse la vida como escritor en Brasil.

30-Siempre estas aprendiendo. El problema es que, a veces, te paras y piensas que puedes entender el mundo. Esto no es correcto. El mundo siempre se esta moviendo. Nunca se alcanza un punto en el que puedes parar de hacer un esfuerzo.

31-Las cosas no siempre ocurren del modo en que me gustaría y es mejor que me acostumbre a eso.

32-Cuanto más en armonía estas contigo mismo, mas disfrutas y más fe tienes. La fe no te desconecta de la realidad, te conecta con ella.

34-Siempre fui una persona rica porque el dinero no esta relacionado con la felicidad.

37-Lo que me interesa en la vida es la curiosidad, los desafíos, las buenas luchas con sus victorias y derrotas.

38-Creo que la iluminación o revelación vienen en la vida diaria. Busco el disfrute, la paz de la acción. Necesitas actuar. Hubiera parado de escribir hace años si fuese por el dinero.

39-Escribir significa compartir. Es parte de la condición humana querer compartir cosas, pensamientos, ideas, opiniones.

40-Todo me dice que estoy a punto de cometer la decisión incorrecta, pero cometer errores es parte de la vida.

41-La cosa más importante en todas las relaciones humanas es la conversación, pero la gente ya no habla, no se sientan y escuchan. Van al cine, al teatro, ven la televisión, escuchan la radio, leen libros, pero casi no hablan. Si queremos cambiar el mundo, tenemos que volver al tiempo en que los guerreros se sentaban alrededor de un fuego a contar historias.

42-No importa como te sientas hoy, levántate, vístete, muéstrate.

43-No te expliques. Tus amigos no lo necesitan y tus enemigos no lo creerán.

44-Elegir un camino significa tener que olvidar otros.

45-No son las expectativas lo que nos guía hacia delante, es nuestro deseo de ir hacia delante.

46-La vida se mueve rápidamente. Nos precipita desde el cielo al infierno en cuestión de segundos.

47-A veces no tienes una segunda oportunidad y es mejor aceptar los regalos que el mundo te ofrece.

48-El barco esta más seguro anclado en el puerto, pero ese no es el cometido de los barcos.

49-Es mejor vivir como si fuera el primero y último día de mi vida.

50-Durante el sexo es muy difícil engañar a otra persona porque es cuando las personas muestran quien son realmente.

51-Es la posibilidad de tener un sueño que se convierta en realidad lo que hace a la vida interesante.

52-Cuando amamos, siempre luchamos por ser mejor de lo que somos. Cuando luchamos por ser mejor de lo que somos, todo alrededor nuestra se convierte en algo mejor.

53-El secreto de la vida es por tanto caer siete veces y levantarse ocho.

54-Las cosas simples son también las cosas más extraordinarias y solo los sabios pueden verlas.

55-Cuando alguien se va es porque alguien más esta a punto de llegar.

56-Un niño puede enseñar a un adulto tres cosas: ser feliz sin razón, siempre estar ocupado con algo y saber como demandar con toda su voluntad lo que desea.

57-Nada en el mundo esta completamente equivocado. Incluso un reloj parado esta en lo cierto dos veces al día.

58-Un día te levantarás y no habrá más tiempo para hacer las cosas que siempre quisiste. Hazlas ahora.

59-Si quieres ser exitoso tienes que respetar una regla-nunca te mientas a ti mismo.

60-Cuando repites un error, ya no es un error, es una decisión.

61-El amor se descubre a través de la práctica de amar y no de las palabras.

62-¿Cómo entra la luz en una persona? Si la puerta del amor está abierta.

63-El amor no está en otros, está dentro de nosotros mismos.

64-El amor más fuerte es aquel que puede mostrar su fragilidad.

65-Todo está permitido, menos interrumpir una manifestación de amor.

66-El amor jamás separará al hombre de su Leyenda Personal.

67-El sabio es sabio porque ama, el loco es loco porque cree entender el amor.

68-Acumular amor significa acumular suerte, acumular odio significa acumular calamidad.

69-Quien ama esperando una recompensa está perdiendo el tiempo.

70-Esto es la libertad: sentir lo que el corazón desea, independientemente de la opinión de otros.

71-Vive el presente, es lo único que tienes.

72- Todos los días Dios nos da un momento en que es posible cambiar todo lo que nos hace infelices. Ese instante mágico es el momento en que un sí o un no pueden cambiar toda nuestra existencia.

73- Nunca desistas de un sueño. Sólo trata de ver las señales que te lleven a él.

74- Sólo una cosa vuelve un sueño imposible: el miedo a fracasar.

75- Cuando todos los días parecen iguales es porque hemos dejado de percibir las cosas buenas que aparecen en nuestras vidas.

76- Haz algo en lugar de matar el tiempo. Porque el tiempo es lo que te está matando.

77- No importa lo que haga, cada persona en la tierra juega un papel central en la historia del mundo. Y normalmente no lo sabe.

78- Lo único que se interpone entre tú y tus sueños es el miedo.

79- ¿Qué quiere el mundo de mí? ¿Quiere que yo no tome ningún riesgo, para volver a donde vine porque no tuve el coraje de decir “sí” a la vida?

80- Las reuniones realmente importantes son planeadas por las almas mucho antes de que los cuerpos se encuentran.

81- Cuando crezcas, descubrirás que ya defendiste mentiras, te engañaste a ti mismo o sufriste por tonterías. Si eres un buen guerrero, no te culparás por ello, pero tampoco dejarás que tus errores se repitan.

83- Algunas veces hay que decidirse entre una cosa a la que se está acostumbrado y otra que nos gustaría conocer.

84- Sabiduría es conocer y transformar.

85- Hay un momento para dejarlo todo.

86- Los errores son una manera de reaccionar.

87- Ninguna persona es capaz de escoger sin miedo.

88- No existe pecado alguno en ser feliz.

89- Todos sabemos amar, pues hemos nacido con ese don. Algunas personas lo practican naturalmente bien, pero la mayoría tiene que reaprender, recordar cómo se ama, y todos, sin excepción, tenemos que quemarnos en la hoguera de nuestras emociones pasadas, revivir algunas alegrías y dolores, malos momentos y recuperación, hasta conseguir ver el hilo conductor que hay detrás de cada nuevo encuentro; sí, hay un hilo…

90- Cuando estamos listos para una decisión importante, todas las fuerzas se concentran para evitar que sigamos adelante. Ya estamos acostumbrados a eso.

91- Como no podemos cambiar la física, concentremos la energía extra y a si conseguiremos dar el primer paso. Después el camino mismo ayuda.

92- En todas las lenguas del mundo hay un mismo dicho: ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.

93- Cuánto más lejos, más cerca del corazón están los sentimientos que intentamos sofocar y olvidar.

94- Todas las mañanas, Dios nos muestra su sonrisa.

95- Cada día el sol ilumina un mundo nuevo.

96- Ciertas cosas son tan importantes que necesitan ser descubiertas solas.

97- El miedo a sufrir es peor que el propio sufrimiento.

98- Donde la dureza sólo consigue destruir, la suavidad consigue esculpir.

99- Cada persona, en su existencia, puede tener dos actitudes: construir o plantar

100- Las decisiones de Dios son misteriosas, pero siempre a nuestro favor.

The dark side


by Anna Krith’s Lifestyle

You may see someone who smiles all the time and does silly things but you have no idea what he is going through or what burden he carries within. People are so judgmental and you have to deal with them every single day; you must pretend that everything is fine, otherwise they are going to “delve into” info in order to learn what is going on by simply asking questions (not that they are interested in how you feel but because they want to gossip about it).

Indeed, it is really annoying, due to the fact that people do not give a f*** about you. This is just how human nature works. Personally, I do not want to give explanations to nosy people or to those with whom I work – It does not mean that we are friends because we happen to work at the same place– I know how to deal with my own problems and “demons”. As a person, I have a different perspective and angle for life; I am different from the others and so I see things with my own “theories”. I like to stay at home, watching the stars above and talking to myself without hearing any annoying voices or sounds. This is really nice, because you can handle “situations” that you are going through and work them over in your mind. Let’s say it is just like doing “self-therapy”, which I find really effective. You should give it a shot! You learn to ignore the negative vibes and focus on your problems. You may not find the solution right away, but you will feel much better.

Talking to yourself, it is not madness because it is the way we talk to God. He knows why you have to deal with this problem but you have to be patient. Everything has something to teach us and with His help you will find the way out. Think positive and be yourself no matter what. Do not forget that you are unique and you have to stay strong, move on and focus on your target.

TIP: When nosy people try to learn something about you by persistently asking questions, do not pretend that everything is fine just breathe and let it go. Do not give them the pleasure to find out the truth, just smile at them and let them imagine whatever they want. (At the end of the day, they are going to gossip about you, anyway!)

Proud of my wife!

2017-01-26 Christina Oiticica Quatro Elementos exhibition – Brasilea Foundation, Basel/Switzerland from Christina Oiticica on Vimeo.

30 SEC READ: He needs your hand (ENG, ESPA)

Illustration by Ken Crane

EN ESPANOL AQUI >>> El necesita tus manos

A Master and his disciple were walking through the deserts of Arabia. The Master used each moment of the journey to teach his disciple about faith.
“Entrust your things to God,” he said. “Because He never abandons His children.”

When they camped down at night, the Master asked the disciple to tie the horses to a nearby rock.
The disciple went over to the rock, but then remembered what he had learnt that afternoon. “The Master must be testing me. The truth is that I should entrust the horses to God.”
And he left the horses loose.

In the morning he discovered that the animals had run off. Indignant, he sought out the Master.
“You know nothing about God! Yesterday I learnt that I should trust blindly in Providence, so I gave the horses to Him to guard, and the animals have disappeared!”

“God wanted to look after the horses,” answered the Master. “But at that moment he needed your hands to tie them up and you did not lend them to Him.”

Poles and rules

14882190_10154532088431211_5230830756353128955_oIn the fall of 2003 I was walking late one night through the center of Stockholm when I saw a woman walking along using ski poles. My first reaction was to think of some injury she must have suffered, but then I noticed she was moving quite fast and with rhythmic movements as if she were on a patch of snow – except that all that was around us was the asphalt of paved streets. The obvious conclusion was: “that woman is crazy, how could she pretend to be skiing in the middle of the city?”

Back in the hotel, I mentioned the incident to my editor. He said that I was the crazy one: what I had seen was a sort of exercise called “Nordic walking”. He explained that besides the movement of the legs, the arms, shoulders and back muscles are also used to make it a much more complete exercise.
When I go for a walk ( which is my favorite pastime, together with archery), it is to be able to reflect, think, look at all the marvels around me, and chat with my wife while we are walking along. I found my editor’s comment interesting, but thought no further of it.
One day I was in a sports store buying material for my arrows when I noticed new poles used by mountaineers – made of aluminum, they are light and can be opened or closed using the same telescopic system as a tripod for a camera. I remembered the Nordic walking and thought to myself: why not try it? I bought two pairs, for myself and my wife. We adjusted the poles to a comfortable height and the next day decided to try them out.

What a fantastic discovery! We climbed a mountain, then came back down, really feeling that the whole body was in movement, the balance was better, we were less tired. We walked double the distance we usually cover in an hour. I remembered that I had once tried to explore a dried-up stream but it was so difficult with all the stones that I gave up. I thought that with the poles it would be easier, and I was right.

My wife got into the Internet and discovered that you burn 46% more calories than on a normal walk. She grew very enthusiastic and “Nordic walking” has become part of our daily routine.
One afternoon, just for distraction, I also decided to get into the Internet to see what I could find on the subject. I was surprised to see page after page, with federations, groups, discussions, models and … rules!
I don’t know what made me open the page about rules. As I read I became horrified – I was doing it all wrong! My poles should be adjusted higher, a certain rhythm had to be followed, a certain angle of support had to be kept, the shoulder movement was complicated, the way of using the elbow was all different, everything followed rigid, technical, precise rules.

I printed all the pages. The following day – and the others that followed – I tried to do exactly as the specialists ordered. The walk began to lose interest, I no longer saw all the wonders around me, I spoke very little to my wife, I could think of nothing except the rules. At the end of a week I asked myself: why am I learning all this?

My objective is not to do gymnastics. I don’t think that the first people who did their “Nordic walking” had anything in mind apart from the pleasure of walking, improving their balance and moving the whole body. We knew intuitively what was the ideal height for the poles, just as we could intuitively deduce that the closer they were to the body, the better and easier the movement. But now, because of the rules, I had stopped concentrating on the things I liked and was more concerned about losing calories, moving my muscles and using a certain section of the spine.
I decided to forget all that I had learned. Now we go out walking with our two poles, enjoying the world around us and feeling happy at seeing the body being made to work, being moved and balanced. And if I want to do gymnastics instead of “meditation in movement”, I’ll look for a gymnasium. At the moment I am quite content with my relaxed and instinctive “Nordic walking”, even though I may not be losing 46% more calories.

I’ve no idea why human beings have this mania of setting rules to everything.

(taken from >”Like a flowing river”trong>)

Review on THE SPY

(Review by LOTUS )

Memories are full of caprice, where images of things we’ve experienced are still capable of suffocating us through one small detail or insignificant sound.”

The worldwide bestselling author, Paulo Coelho, returns with a new novel titled The Spy. In this novel, Coelho takes its readers on a journey through early 20th century Europe, with a new character in the spotlight.

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Soon she was feted as the most elegant woman in the city. A dancer who shocked and delighted audiences; a confidant and courtesan who bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men. But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. Until, in 1917 she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees and accused of espionage. Written as a series of letters, The Spy tells the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to break the conventions of her time, and paid the price.


One of the things I like about The Spy is that it’s written from the perspective of a woman, similar to Coelho’s previous novel Adultery. Coelho manages to take you on a journey, through the eyes of Mata Hari highlighting how men are viewed by women in light of the male mannerisms. Some of the male mannerisms that unknowingly irritate the hell out of women include men and their need to explain everything; and their need to always express their opinions on the state of the economy (I’m guilty of both :P). By writing from the perspective of a woman, Coelho also highlights how patriarchal societies were (and still are) when it came to what professions women were entitled to take up and how they were viewed in society.

Coelho also manages to bring the same sense of wonder with his writing in The Spy. He’s ability to write about a specific story but make it relatable even in the very minute details surely makes him one of the best authors I’ve come across. Like most of his other novels, The Spy is FILLED with quotable quotes (a big win).

Another highlight of The Spy is that it is based on real events. While Coelho’s life remains the primary source of inspiration of his writing, he’s able to portray Mata Hari’s story with such detail that you would swear it was fictional. It’s THAT amazing.

Paulo Coelho has come a long way after having written The Alchemist. With The Spy¸ the reader can expect the same sense of relatability to the main character as Coelho does with so many of his other novels. You’ll walk away from this novel having learned more about European society in the WWI-era, particularly the atmosphere around civil society before the war.

The Spy will definitely add value to any home library offering a light read but a story that will remain with the reader long after finishing the last page.

My Secret Life: Paulo Coelho, author

Excerpts from the interview published on Independent UK. To read the full Q&A, CLICK HERE

The household I grew up in… doesn’t exist anymore, but my childhood will never disappear.

You wouldn’t know it but I am very good at… archery. The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later is my way of connecting to the universe.

You may not know it but I’m no good at… singing. However, every time there is a guitar around I will sing, and my real friends will tolerate it.

I wish I had never worn… an old hippie jacket, covered in patches and metal stars.

My favourite item of clothing… Japanese yukatas [kimonos].

It’s not fashionable but I like
… to sleep naked.

My favourite work of art... The Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck, the most important painting in the world. With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.

My favourite building... Chartres Cathedral, in France. Original stained-glass windows and a labyrinth that reminds me of the journey we take from life to death.

A book that changed me… Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. It was while reading this that I discovered you need to use blood to write every single page.

Movie heaven
… Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone), followed by Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)

My greatest regret… I don’t have one. I’ve done everything I wanted to do, even if I have had to pay a very high price – which has been the case most of the time.

My secret crush... Audrey Hepburn.

My real-life villain... Fundamentalists – and you can find them in every single religion on this planet.

The last time I cried… I cry very easily. It can be a movie, a phone conversation, a sunset – tears are words waiting to be written.

My five-year plan… To continue to breathe.

The dawn of time

Looking back toward the dawn of civilization: we could not survive alone. So we were obliged to come together. We lived in a symbolic world in the classic (holistic) sense. Not because it was politically correct or because it was imposed by society or because it was good for our health – rather, it was because we had no wall separating the magic from what we call ‘reality’.

So in the very beginning, when you heard thunder – it was God speaking. You looked to the mountain – it was God who lived there. You looked to the fire – a God was also there.
So compared to the beginning, we were what we still are now – but which we no longer recognize — we were ONE. Full of imagination and creativity.
Human beings were like cells from the same body, and these cells interacted with one another, for better or for worse.
But then we lost this “oneness” as society became more schizophrenic.

We were individuals, but at the same time we were the tribe – society. There are some studies showing that at the very beginning we were monotheists as we could not put god everywhere.
But then polytheism gradually emerged. We started naming places and giving gods and goddesses specific tasks.

Embedded in our genes is this sense of oneness which does not imply sacrificing our individuality. We had this connection with nature because we could not remain in the same place for long. We had to stretch and go beyond our limits because the basics – food, water, shelter – were elsewhere, so we had to move. This meant that we did not get attached to any one place, which also affected our values because we were constantly going beyond our comfort zone – we were forced to go to the second, third, fourth, etc. mountain – but then eventually, everything changed.
Moving from hunters to dwellers – we settled down, we stopped moving.

Time to be ready to new adventures!

1 MIN READ: the law and the fruits

Illustration by Ken Crane
In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets and said:

– Each person may only eat one fruit a day.

The custom was obeyed for many generations, and the ecology of the place was preserved. Since the remaining fruit supplied seeds, other trees appeared. Soon, the entire region was turned into fertile soil, which was the envy of other towns.

But the people continued to eat one fruit a day – they remained faithful to what the ancient prophet of their forefathers had told them. However they never allowed the inhabitants of other villages to take advantage of the abundant harvest with which they were rewarded each year.

The result was that fruit rotted on the ground.

God called a new prophet and said:

– Let them eat as much fruit as they like. And ask them to share the abundance with their neighbors.

The prophet came to the town with the new message. But he was stoned – for by now the custom was ingrained in the hearts and minds of each of the inhabitants.

With time, the younger villagers began to question the barbaric old custom. But, since the tradition of the elders was unbending, they decided to abandon the religion. Thus, they could eat as much fruit as they wished, and give the rest to those in need of food.

The only people who remained faithful to the local church, were those who considered themselves saints. But in truth they were unable to see how the world changes, and recognize how one must change with it.

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10 SEC READ: Another wrong step

As if nothing had changed overnight, the warrior takes another wrong step and dives once again into the abyss. Ghosts provoke, loneliness torments him.
Now that he is more aware of his acts, he did not think this would happen.

But it did. Shrouded by darkness, he talks to his master.

“Master, I fell again into the abyss “, he says.” The waters are deep and dark”.

“Remember something “, responds the master. “It is not the diving that causes the drowning, but the staying underwater”

The warrior uses his remaining strength to get out of the situation he is in.


10 sec reading: My wife and the burnt light

My wife and I were reflecting on the past year, whilst dining at a restaurant.

I started to complain about something that hadn’t happened the way I wanted it to.

My wife focused her attention on a Christmas tree that someone put there. I thought that she wasn’t interested in the conversation, so I changed the subject:
“This tree has a beautiful illumination”?, I said.

“Yes, but if you look carefully you can see one burnt light among dozens.
“ It seems to me that instead of thinking of this year as dozens of enlightened blessings, you chose to look at the one light that did not glow”



I am going to think of this day as the first day of my life.

If it’s cloudy, I want to watch to see in which direction the clouds are going. I always think that I don’t have time or don’t pay enough attention.

Above my head exists a sky about which all humanity, over thousands of years, has woven a series of reasonable explanations.
Well, I will forget everything I learned about the stars and they will be transformed once more into angels or children or whatever I feel like believing at that moment.

Time and life have given me plenty of logical explanations for everything, but my soul feeds on mysteries. I need mystery, I need to see the voice of an angry god in a rumble of thunder, even though many of you here might consider that heresy.
I want to fill my life with fantasy again, because an angry god is far stranger, far more frightening and far more interesting than a phenomenon explained by the sages.

For the first time, I will smile without feeling guilty, because joy is not a sin.
For the first time, I will avoid anything that makes me suffer, because suffering is not a virtue.

I will not complain about life, saying: everything’s always the same and I can do nothing to change it. Because I am living this day as if it were my first and, while it lasts, I will discover things that I did not even know were there.

Even though I have walked past the same places countless times before and said ‘Good morning’ to the same people, today’s ‘Good morning’ will be different. It will not be a mere polite formula, but a form of blessing, in the hope that everyone I speak to will understand the importance of being alive, even when tragedy is threatening to engulf us.

I will pay attention to the words of the song the minstrel is singing in the street, even though others are not listening because their souls are heavy with fear. The music says: ‘Love rules, but no one knows where it has its throne; in order to know that secret place, you must first submit to Love.’

And I will have the courage to open the door to the sanctuary that leads to my soul.
May I look at myself as if this were the first time I had ever been in contact with my own body and my own soul.
May I be capable of accepting myself as I am: a person who walks and feels and talks like anyone else, but who, despite his faults, is also brave.

May I be amazed by my simplest gestures, as if I were talking to a stranger; by my most ordinary emotions, as if I were feeling the sand touching my face when the wind blows in from Baghdad; by the most tender of moments, as when I watch my wife sleeping by my side and try to imagine what she is dreaming.

And if I’m alone in bed, I will go over to window, look up at the sky and feel certain that loneliness is a lie, because the Universe is there to keep me company.

And then I will have lived each hour of my day as if it were a constant surprise to me, to this ‘I’, who was not created by my father or my mother or by school, but by everything I have experienced up until now, and which I suddenly forgot in order to discover it all anew.

And even if this is to be my last day on Earth, I will enjoy it to the full, because I will live it with the innocence of a child, as if I were doing everything for the first time.


30 SEC READ: Success

Success comes to those who do not waste time comparing what they are doing with what others are doing; it enters the house of the person who says every day: ‘I will do my best.’

People who seek only success rarely find it, because success is not an end in itself, but a consequence.

Obsession doesn’t help at all, it becomes confused as to which path to follow and ends up taking away the pleasure of living.

The truly rich person is the one who is in contact with the energy of Love every second of his existence.

You must have a goal in mind, but, as you go along, it costs nothing to stop now and then and enjoy the view around you.

At such moments, it is important to ask yourself: ‘Are my values still intact? Am I trying to please others and do what they expect of me, or am I really convinced that my work is a manifestation of my soul and my enthusiasm? Do I want success at any price or do I want to be a successful person because I manage to fill my days with Love?’

Do that in 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!