I read the Aleph by Paulo Coelho on my trip to Turkey, which is interesting as one of the main characters in this novel is a Turkish woman called Hilal (was it a sign?), who Paulo Coelho says to have met in another life and they have now found each other so she can forgive him for what he did to her in her past life.
For me reading is about finding out something meaningful and something I can learn from, so if that happens, I am happy that my time was not wasted. Insights that I read are often ones I have already known about, but it is good to remember them, because often it is easy quickly forget any words of wisdom that one has read.
Paulo Coelho is one of my favourite authors, and below are the parts I found most interesting when reading his autobiographical book, Aleph.
Routine destroys us. In one part of the book Coelho complains that he is not happy and his master advises him: “Go and experiment. It’s time you got out of here. Go and re-conquer your kingdom, which has been corrupted by routine. Stop repeating the same lesson, because you won’t learn anything new that way.”
Being in the present
Most people think about the past and the future, but hardly focus and enjoy the present, which means they can never be happy.
“I’m completely focused on the present moment, for that is where all signs, parallel worlds and miracles are to be found. Time really doesn’t exist.”
“[Problems] lie in what you call the ‘past’ and await a decision to be made in what you call the ‘future. They clog your mind and slow you down, and won’t let you understand the present.”
‘Anyone who knows God cannot describe him. Anyone who can describe God does not know him.’
Coelho suggests that we are constantly being reborn, and can meet people from our past lives to resolve conflicts or meet the ones we loved in our past life again.
At one point in the book, Coelho asks a Tunisian reader of his “What does Islam have to say about reincarnation?”
The man goes to find out from scholars and comes back with the answer. “I spoke to three scholars…two of them said that, after death, the just go to Paradise. The third one, though, told me to consult some verses from the Koran.
2:28 “Allah will cause you to die, and then he will bring you back to life again, and you will return to Him once more.”
2:154 “Do not say of those who died in the name of Allah: They are dead. For they are alive, even though you cannot see them.”
After that the man says that there are other verses, but that he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it right now, and Coelho also quotes a verse from the Bible that supports reincarnation.
Coelho says there are ways people can transport themselves to other lives, by imagining a gold ring going up and down your body, but warns that this can be dangerous, as your soul might leave your body and not know how to get back – so don’t try this one at home.
“Death is just a door into another dimension…We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us, they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms.”
“They say that in the second before our death, each of us understands the real reason for our existence and out of that moment Heaven or Hell is born.
Hell is when we look back during that fraction of a second and know that we wasted an opportunity to dignify the miracle of life. Paradise is being able to say at that moment: ‘I made some mistakes, but I wasn’t a coward. I lived my life and did what I had to do…Even those who didn’t do all they could have done have already been forgiven; they had their punishment while they were alive by being unhappy when they could have been living in peace and harmony.”
“The Aleph was about two to three centimetres in diameter, but ll of cosmic space was there, with no diminution in size. Each thing was infinite, because I could clearly see it from every point in the universe.”
Jorge Luis Borges, ‘The Aleph’
The Aleph can be found in certain spots in the world, where you can feel “Divine energy” and you get a sense of understanding the universe – that is the small Aleph.
“The great Aleph is when two or more people find themselves in the small Aleph…The second (great) Aleph also happens by chance when two people whom Destiny has chosen of a specific mission meet in the right place.” For example people can meet in the small Aleph at a party for example and experience “love at first sight…although of course, it isn’t at first sight, but linked to a whole series of things that occurred in the past.”