Archives for October 2020

Character of the week: Teilhard de Chardin

Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed. The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one’s self to others.

He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.
Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.

Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfill them… for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest, a paleontologist and geologist

Paulo Coelho yang Dapat Picu Semangat

Paulo Coelho

“Aku mencintaimu karena segenap alam semesta bersatu membantuku menemukanmu” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Hanya ada satu hal yang membuat mimpi tak mungkin diraih: perasaan takut gagal” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Lupakanlah masa depan, dan jalanilah setiap hari sesuai ajaran. Percayalah bahwa Tuhan mencintai hamba-hambaNya. Tiap-tiap hari pada dirinya membawa keabadian” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Dan pada saat engkau mengiginkan sesuatu, seluruh jagat raya bersatu padu untuk membantumu meraihnya” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Kau harus belajar menanggung beberapa penderitaan dan kesedihan, sebab penderitaan dan kesedihan akan menjadikanmu orang yang lebih baik” – Novel Seperti Sungai yang mengalir

“Kalau kita berusaha menjadi lebih baik, segala sesuatu di sekitar kita akan ikut menjadi lebih baik” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Tuhan telah memberiku alasan untuk hidup, bekerja, dan berjuang di lembah air mata ini” – Novel Sang Penyihir dari Portobello

“Yang membuat hidup ini menarik adalah kemungkinan untuk mewujudkan impian menjadi kenyataan” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Katakan pada hatimu, rasa takut akan penderitaan justru lebih menyiksa daripada penderitaan itu sendiri. Dan tak ada hati yang menderita saat mengejar impian-impiannya, sebab setiap detik pencarian itu bisa diibaratkan pertemuan dengan Tuhan dan Keabadian” – Novel Sang Alkemis



“Rasa takut akan penderitaan justru lebih menyiksa daripada penderitaan itu sendiri” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Menumpuk cinta membawa keberuntungan, menumpuk kebencian membawa bencana. Setiap orang yang gagal mengenali masalah sama saja membiarkan pintu terbuka bagi masuknya tragedi.”-Kitab Suci Ksatria Cahaya.**

As much as it can be impulsive to worry about the future



Paulo Coelho. Credit: Das Blaue Sofa / Club Bertelsmann. (Flickr/creative commons)

Before I came across Paulo Coelho’s works, I assumed reading novels was a waste of time.

And as the biased human that I am, I look for evidence to support my naive assumptions. “My grades are heading rapidly down the pit.” “I don’t have enough money to buy the things I want.” “There’s a high rate of unemployment, how am I going to get a good enough job?” These are real problems, and the last thing I need to waste my time on is a figment of someone’s imagination. Or so I thought.

But as anyone who understands and loves to read great novels can tell, these are all flimsy excuses. In fact, the remarkableness of novels is in the ability of the writers to use their own experiences; moments of pain, joy, regret, ecstasy, to create a world in which we all can relate.

They bring all of us into their story, so we can see that, though we are all different physically, our wants, fears, struggles are similar. We read our stories even as we read theirs. The clarity and instructive nature of Coelho’s writings have made him win his place as one of the best novelists. I’ve learned a great deal from him, both from his personal life and his books, as both are usually intertwined. Here are five remarkable lessons I’ve learned from Paulo Coelho.

Success Is Less Attractive When You See How It’s Made

“‘So you’re going to give me electric shock treatment,’ I said to Dr. Benjamin Gasper Gomes…The next moment a curtain seemed to fall over my eyes; my vision quickly narrowed to a single point, and then everything went dark.”

This is an excerpt from Coelho’s diary which he wrote during his second stay in a mental hospital in 1966. As he revealed on the inspiration behind his book, Veronika Decides to Die, by the time he was 16, he had already been committed to a mental institution twice. Why? He just wanted to be a writer.

Apparently, in Brazil at that time, the word “Artist” was synonymous with homosexual, drug addict, communist, and layabout. It wasn’t cool. So when his parent’s attempt to suppress his devotion to literature failed, they took his rebelliousness as a sign of mental illness.

Coelho’s time in the mental institution was one of his worst points, but there were others. Before going on a pilgrimage to Santiago, he also went into the “hippie life,” doing drugs and living aimlessly. He was jailed three times for his political activism and subjected to torture in prison. The story about his early days wasn’t pretty.

Interviews are great to watch. Fame is very attractive. These things stimulate us to want to succeed. But the mere fact that only a few still succeed shows how we don’t realize success isn’t as attractive as it appears after it’s achieved. When we imagine being a bestseller, we don’t imagine being treated with an electric shock or being jailed three times. We see a fancy office and the signing of autographs.

This realization, no doubt, might strip away some of the mystique of the things you already love. But maybe if we focused more on what the “behind the scenes” looks like, we’ll have more patience, hope, tenacity, and the path to success will be more accessible.

Don’t Worry About How Your Dreams Will Come True

A major concept in Coelho’s novels is how his characters (like Santiago in The Alchemist and Maria in Eleven Minutes) have a strong sense of what they want but yet have no idea how they would get it.

The same can be said for Coelho, wanting to be a writer but having no idea what to write about. It’s a common theme in the life of everyone. We all feel we need to do something, make a contribution in some way, but often, we either don’t know which step to take or are too apprehensive about what the future holds.

What we should do (what Coelho tries to demonstrate with his characters) is to pay attention and take whatever step appears to be right today. As Arthur Schopenhauer said,

“Our life is like a journey on which, as we advance, the landscape takes a different view from that which is presented at first, and changes again, as we come nearer.”

There’s no way we can really comprehend what the future holds, or how much change we are going to undergo in the next few years or even weeks. Before Coelho went on his pilgrimage, he still was yet to decide what he wanted to write about. He just wrote lyrics for musicians. It was after his journey he wrote The Pilgrimage, building a unique style, using his own personal experiences to instruct through his characters.

As much as it can be impulsive to worry about the future, it’s only through paying attention that we can know the appropriate steps to take as our preferences and view of life changes.

The Process Itself Is the Reward

Though Santiago’s aim, in the novel The Alchemist, was to discover his treasure in the Egyptian pyramids, the real treasure was the process he had to go through first. In his quest to search for his treasure, he ended up working for a crystal merchant for years. He met an Englishman (who became his traveling companion), The Alchemist, and also fell in love with a woman to whom he proposed marriage.

Do not be in a hurry to get to the finish line. Do not let your need to quickly “make it big” make you miss the wonderful lessons and people that life will bring your way. When we become too fixated on only the end result, everything in between usually becomes drudgery; just a means to an end.

Therefore, cultivate your mind to see your daily rewards. Be grateful for that new connection. Be happy about the new lesson you learned from meeting one of your mentors. What about the person you’re becoming because of the struggles and challenges you’ve overcome so far? Let that mean something to you.

If Santiago never discovered his treasure, it probably wouldn’t have mattered that much to him. Why? The reward he got from the process, pales in comparison to whatever treasure that was in the Egyptian pyramids.

Follow Your Own Rhythm

In his collection of thoughts and experiences which he published in the book Like the Flowing River, Coelho tells of an experience he had with a pilgrim, Begoña. After giving a talk on The Road to Santiago, Begoña walked to him saying there was something he didn’t mention. Intrigued to know what this could be, Coelho invited her for a cup of coffee. She said,

At the start of my pilgrimage, I tried to keep up with my group, but I got tired. I was demanding too much of myself. I was tense all the time and ended up straining the tendons on my left foot. I couldn’t work for two days after that, and I realized that I would only reach Santiago if I obeyed my own rhythm.”

Sometimes we may want to go through life quickly, not because we are in a hurry, but because we want to impress. Even though we feel stressed and overworked and the tendons on our left foot are burning, we smile and keep up. The result? A high rate of stress and mental, emotional imbalance. As Goethe said,

“It is only men of practical ability, knowing their powers and using them with moderation and prudence, who will be successful in worldly affairs.”

Forget about keeping up and understand your own rhythm. Follow it and be content at your own pace. It took Begoña longer to reach Santiago. Sometimes she had to walk alone for long stretches. But it was only by respecting her own rhythm that she managed to complete her journey.

Accept That Those Who Can’t Hear Your Music Will See Your Dance as Insane

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be,” Coelho wrote, “the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about theirs.”

Indeed, Coelho’s life is a manifestation of this remark. Being completely misunderstood and thought to be insane by his parents who, assuming they knew what was best for him, were only bent on making him into what they wanted.

Anyone who is driven to achieve anything will face the risk of being misunderstood, or even worse, being seen as a threat. When Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, launched his first start-up Viaweb, many thought it a stupid idea because they didn’t fully understand how it worked. As he revealed in one of his 2008 essays, Six Principles for Making New Things,

When we launched Viaweb, it seemed laughable to VCs and e-commerce ‘experts’… Since Viaweb was the first web-based app they’d seen, it seemed to be nothing more than a website… It sounded serious and difficult.”

But yet, Viaweb ended up crushing all its competitors. “Any great idea,” Goethe said, “is a tyrant when it first appears.” But not just great ideas. People will always push against anything they don’t understand.

This, however, doesn’t mean you’ll have huge success whenever you go against what’s conventional. But it means you’ll learn a priceless skill of referring less to others when you want to decide what’s best for you. It means you’ll be decisive; you’ll own your decisions, making you learn from them even when things don’t work out.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche


All the lessons I’ve learned from Paulo Coelho couldn’t possibly be compressed into an article. But I hope these five will be helpful to you as you continue to live your own personal legend.

  • Success is less attractive when you see how it’s made.
  • Don’t worry about how your dreams will come true.
  • The process itself is the reward.
  • Follow your own rhythm.
  • Accept that those who can’t hear your music will see your dance as insane.

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Emotional independence

“At the beginning of our life and again when we get old, we need the help and affection of others. Unfortunately, between these two periods of our life, when we are strong and able to look after ourselves, we don’t appreciate the value of affection and compassion.  As our own life begins and ends with the need for affection, wouldn’t it be better if we gave compassion and love to others while we are strong and capable?”

The above words were said by the present Dalai Lama. Really, it is very curious to see that we are proud of our emotional independence.  Evidently, it is not quite like that: we continue needing others our entire life, but it is a “shame” to show that, so we prefer to cry in hiding. And when someone asks us for help, that person is considered weak and incapable of controlling his feelings.

 There is an unwritten rule saying that “the world is for the strong”, that “only the fittest survive.” If it were like that, human beings would never have existed, because they are part of a species that needs to be protected for a long period of time (specialists say that we are only capable of surviving on our own after nine years of age, whereas a giraffe takes only six to eight months, and a bee is already independent in less than five minutes).

We are in this world, I, for my part, continue – and will always continue – depending on others.  I depend on my wife, my friends and my publishers. I depend even on my enemies, who help me to be always trained in the use of the sword.

Clearly, there are moments when this fire blows in another direction, but I always ask myself: where are the others? Have I isolated myself too much? Like any healthy person, I also need solitude and moments of reflection.

But I cannot get addicted to that.

Emotional independence leads to absolutely nowhere – except to a would-be fortress, whose only and useless objective is to impress others.

Emotional dependence, in its turn, is like a bonfire that we light.

In the beginning, relationships are difficult. In the same way that fire is necessary to put up with the disagreeable smoke – which makes breathing hard, and causes tears to pour down one’s face. However, once the fire is alight, the smoke disappears and the flames light up everything around us – spreading warmth, calm, and possibly making an ember pop out to burn us, but that is what makes a relationship interesting, isn’t that true?

I began this column quoting a Nobel Peace Prize winner about the importance of human relationships. I am ending with Professor Albert Schweitzer, physician and missionary, who received the same Nobel prize in 1952.

“All of us know a disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness. What we need to know is that there is a similar disease that attacks the soul – and which is very dangerous, because it catches us without being noticed. When you notice the slightest sign of indifference and lack of enthusiasm for your similar, be on the alert!”

“The only way to take precautions against this disease is to understand that the soul suffers, and suffers a lot, when we make it live superficially. The soul likes things that are beautiful and profound”.

Meditation: warrior of the light

Memories and salt

I arrive in Madrid at eight o’clock in the morning. I will only be here a few hours, so it’s not worth phoning friends and arranging to see them. I decide to go for a walk alone in my favourite places, and I end up sitting smoking a cigarette on a bench in the Retiro Park.

‘You look miles away,’ says an old man, joining me on the bench.

‘Oh, I’m here,’ I say, ‘but I’m sitting on this same bench with a painter friend of mine, Anastasio Ranchal, 24 years ago in 1986. We are both watching my wife, Christina, who has had a bit too much to drink and is trying to dance the flamenco.’

‘Enjoy your memories,’ says the old man.

‘But don’t forget that memory is like salt: the right amount brings out the flavour in food, too much ruins it. If you live in the past all the time, you’ll find yourself with no present to remember.’

Paulo Coelho responde com ironia aos piromaníacos

Diario de Noticias, Portugal

“Primeiro compraram, depois queimaram”, escreveu Paulo Coelho na sua conta na plataforma Twitter, ao comentar um vídeo em que um casal de apoiantes de Jair Bolsonaro rasga e queima um livro do escritor brasileiro.

“E o bigodinho do cara [vocabulário informal usado no Brasil para descrever pessoas do sexo masculino] não deixa esconder a origem da ideia”, acrescentou, numa alusão histórica à figura de Adolf Hitler.

Vídeos de pessoas a queimar livros de sucesso do autor brasileiro, como O Alquimista, publicado em 1988 e com mais de 150 milhões de exemplares vendidos em 70 idiomas, proliferaram nos últimos dias entre os seguidores do presidente brasileiro.

Em quase todos os vídeos, Paulo Coelho é acusado de ser “comunista”, “socialista” e “antipatriota”, e é convidado a ir viver “em Cuba ou na Venezuela” devido à sua postura crítica sobre o Governo de Bolsonaro.

Paulo Coelho observou noutra mensagem no Twitter: “A queima de livros se refere à destruição ritual pelo fogo e geralmente vem da oposição cultural, religiosa ou política aos materiais em questão. A queima de livros pelo regime nazista em 10 de maio de 1933 é o mais famoso da história.”

Paulo Coelho nasceu no Rio de Janeiro em 1947 e mora há anos em Genebra (Suíça), onde já estabeleceu a sua residência.

Desde 1982, quando Arquivos do Inferno, seu primeiro livro, foi publicado, o escritor escreveu cerca de 20 títulos.

Em 2002, Paulo Coelho foi nomeado membro da Academia Brasileira de Letras e desde meados de 2018, quando já havia a sensação de que as eleições daquele ano seriam vencidas por Jair Bolsonaro, que o escritor se posiciona contra o avanço dos movimentos de extrema-direita no Brasil e no mundo.

Nota Oficial do PEN CLUBE



O PEN Clube Internacional – seção Brasil, cumpre o dever de vir a público para se solidarizar com o associado Paulo Coelho, por conta de agressão intolerável de que não apenas ele acaba de ser vítima se não a literatura brasileira e o próprio país.

O fato de ter seus livros queimados em público por um casal que se diz em defesa da Federação Brasileira e de seu Presidente pelo fato (???) de que o mais reconhecido escritor brasileiro teria criticado posições adotadas pelo Presidente Bolsonaro.

O PEN Clube do Brasil, único órgão internacional de que dispomos em defesa irrestrita tanto da liberdade de expressão de quem escreve e emite opiniões, quanto de seus escritores e jornalistas, não apenas presta solidariedade ao seu mais traduzido escritor como repudia com veemência e asco a insanidade histórica do ato de queimar livros impensável violência aplicada ao se abrirem as trevas nazistas no sangrento ano de 1933.

Tanto a solidariedade a Paulo Coelho, integrante da Academia Brasileira de Letras e de clubes literários de todo planeta, quanto o gesto de usar a bastardia de tal censura, cujas origens medievais são sobejamente reconhecidas, não podem, em nenhum momento serem ignorados por nossa sede em Londres e por seus duzentos clubes associados nos cinco continentes.

Ricardo Cravo Albin

Presidente do PEN Clube do Brasil