Paulo Coelho – Aleph
Let’s go a little crazy, shall we?
Coelho is acting like there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about going back to your past lives, experiencing parallel universes, feeling immense connection with the supernatural and you want to be him for a day. (Well, to be fair Coelho is actually saying that pretty much everything IS extraordinary and you have to love him for that!)
And boy, it would feel so nice to write about his The Alchemist and give it a 10 accompanied by “The smartest book I’ve ever read”, but, I’m sure Coelho would agree, I have stumbled upon this one for a reason.
And it is probably for a good, that he humanized himself in this autobiography, because people prone to compare themselves with others (basically all the humanity) had to have very hard times reading this wise man, who, I was absolutely positive, is lucky enough not to waste his time comparing himself with the others.
Aleph is straight up weird. Still a good read you will “swallow” so fast, that you will inevitably end up missing it, but paradoxically, I find his books, where he doesn’t have to include ego in the decision process of what picture would his protagonist make, much more honest an certainly MUCH more inspiring.
Favourite line(-s, I’m cheating a little in here):
“Since our first meeting in Amsterdam, in 1982, I have learned and unlearned how to live hundreds of times. Whenever J. teaches me something new, I think that perhaps this will be the last step required to reach the top of the mountain, the note that justifies a whole symphony, the word that sums up an entire book. I go through a period of euphoria, which gradually dissipates. Some things stay forever, but most of the exercises, practices, and teachings end up disappearing down a black hole.
Or so it seems.“
“Some Zen Buddhist monks in Japan told me about takuhatsu, the begging pilgrimage. As well as helping the monasteries, which depend for their existence on donations, it teaches the student monk humility. It has another purpose, too, that of purifying the town in which the monk lives. This is because, according to Zen philosophy, the giver, the beggar, and the alms money itself all form part of an important chain of equilibrium. The person doing the begging does so because he’s needy, but the person doing the giving also does so out of need. The alms money serves as a link between these two needs, and the atmosphere in the town improves because everyone is able to
act in a way in which he or she needed to act…
I’ve never felt awkward about asking. I’ve known lots of people who care about others and are extremely generous when it comes to giving and who feel real pleasure when someone asks them for advice or help. And that’s fine; it’s a good thing to help your neighbor. On the other hand, I know very few people capable of receiving, even when the gift is given with love and generosity. It’s as if the act of receiving made them feel inferior, as if depending on someone else was undignified. They think, If someone is giving us something, that’s because we’re incapable of getting it for ourselves. Or else, The person giving me this now will one day ask for it back with interest. Or, even worse, I don’t deserve to be treated well.”