Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

Author: Paulo Coelho

If there was a heaven and hell – as a writer what would you imagine each to be like?

I don’t think I have to imagine Heaven and Hell, there are many examples in our world that represent both.

Recently I read a very interesting book called ” The Lucifer Effect”by Philip Zimbardo. This book tells of an experiment conducted in the sixties in Standford University where students were chosen to carry out an experiment in the basement of the university. A prison was recreated and by the flip of a coin 7 students were held hostage while the other 7 students were the prison guards. The guards had absolute power over the victims (except for physical violence) and the experiment was meant to last 2 weeks. Yet, at the end of the 6th day the experiment had to be ceased – victims having nervous breakdowns. The guards, that unleashed their evil, had to go under therapy for years to come.

These normal individuals, given absolute power, started doing evil deeds, simply because they could – or didn’t do anything to avoid hell of breaking loose.

I was very impressed by this and I think that this experiment illustrates the fact that heaven and hell both dwell in our souls, just as light and darkness compose a day.

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