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Aleph by Paulo Coelho

Aleph (2010)

by Paulo Coelho

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My Review: This book is only the second of Paulo Coehlo’s books I’ve ever read. The first was The Alchemist that I read just about one year ago at the behest of a friend of mine. It’s where I learned about destiny and journeys and how, no matter how far you may go or travel, and how many experiences you might gain and grow from, what you are looking for most may be what’s been in front of you all along. So much irony in that thought. But it’s not the destination that should be our driving force when we live our lives, but the journey. That is the important life lesson learned in this book. I believe this is the first, most personal account, he has given of his life. By that I mean it is written from his point of view.

Read the rest of my review here. ( )
  ericadrayton | Jan 8, 2015 |
Indescribably amazing book. But probably not everyone's cup of tea. Paul Coelho has really changed the publishing industry. He puts his books online for free in many places and then asks only that if people like the book, they then buy a copy. He also interacts with his readers on social media and that is very exciting. He actually discusses his books with his readers as he writes them.

This is a book for people who spend their time questioning the meaning of their lives, who undertake the work of a spiritual warrior in their quest to find out and who are interested in esoterica and spirituality. If you are a skeptic of magic/alchemy/spiritual tradition then this book is probably not for you. It has been a very long time (a significant number of years) since I have spent time underlining passages in a book. Within the first few pages I was looking for a pen and getting busy.


The story starts with the author in a spiritual malaise. He goes to visit his "guru" for want of a better word and in the typical mystic tradition, provides few answers and more questions to encourage the spiritual quest. "When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed their by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward." To this end the author undertakes a grueling book tour but the focus is primarily on a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostock.

The author, his translator, his publisher and a small entourage are ready to set off when a young violin prodigy, Hilal, approaches the author revealing that she has been called to follow him and that she is in love with him, despite the fact that he is happily married. Because of a complex issue that he is trying to resolve, he asks her to travel with the group.

As it turns out, the author, Hilal and the translator Yao are all on personal spiritual journeys. At some point, I boarded the Trans-Siberian railway and joined them. A conversation about becoming a writer between the author and Yao resonated with me: "Don't be intimidated by other people's opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do. Seek out people who aren't afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes. They are precisely the kind of people who change the world, and after many mistakes, do something that will transform their own community completely."

Which brings me to the Aleph. This is the first letter in the Jewish alphabet but for those familiar with the bible, it is the beginning and the end - a timelessness in which all things are always occurring at every given moment. A small aleph occurs when you find yourself at a place and time stands still so to speak. You enter the perfect moment. A large aleph occurs when two people with a strong affinity for one another meet in a small aleph and their energies merge into one. Most people think of this as "meeting one's soul mate" but that is only one example. Two people can be together for a long time or meet only once and part, but the message is one from the divine bringing two people together to manifest love - many times people miss the opportunity for a whole variety of reasons - timing, place whatever - and so must continue meeting over "time" until they achieve their mission. In his description, the author says "Love is the only thing that can save us" and that "Dreamers will never be tamed.

The mission of the author and Hilal is to resolve a past life conflict. To this end there is some meditative and esoteric practices that unfold the back story of their past lives. There is also the unfolding story of Hilal's unrequited love for the author. It is a complicated and delicate matter well handled in the end by both.

But there is a parallel mission between the author and his interpreter Yao. Yao is attempting to recover from the loss of his wife and to this end, has made repeated trips to a place in Siberia known for its shamans. He is seeking meaning in his wife's death and meaning for himself to keep going. In a serendiptious turn of events, all three go to see the shamans. Hilal experiencing an event with the female shamans and Yao and the author with a male shaman. It is a very well described and explained experience and for anyone who has spent time with a mystic, it will immediately resonate.

Again there was a passage for my spiritual journey that helped me progress. It explains leaders and shamans and how originally shaman's were women. Leadership changed and became corrupted and when men had secured and corrupted the leadership role, they then usurped the role of the shaman. "Force won out over harmony. The natural qualities of women were ignored; what mattered was their power....whenever they (women) put themselves forward however they were treated as heretics and prostitutes. If the system felt threatened by them it did not hesitate to punish them with burnings, stonings and in milder cases, exile."

Bottom line - much is learned, some things are resolved, some are not. Time is reinterpreted. A trip is taken and completed. The mystical tradition is experienced and explained. A book is written and read.

( )
  ozzieslim | Dec 28, 2014 |
Hard for me to get engaged on this one.... I found it dry and was put off by the what I considered the smugness and condescension as well as sexual bravado. A little bit let down. ( )
  KimberlyDuBoise | Jul 23, 2014 |
A review of this work cannot be properly elucidated on account of its metaphysical nature, which, when read, will be tailored to each reader's inner state. On that note, this book will speak to the masses, and read as though it was written for the audience of one. A masterpiece, which for me, upstages 'The Alchemist' by the same author. ( )
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
Terminé de leer el Aleph, y a decir verdad tal como empieza el libro me decía !hoo no otra vez una historia de ritual! Pero en los últimos capítulos el libro me recobro la alegría puesto que son los capítulos mas emocionantes que ocurren en esta parte, precisamente el capitulo donde empieza El anillo de Fuego es que mi alma empieza a moverse con el relato hasta llegar al capítulo Ad Extirpanda, pero es en el relato la Quinta Mujer que logro conmover mis sentimientos mezclados con las escenas marcadas de un ligero erotismo. Simplemente empieza a ser todo cautivante.

... Leí algo al respecto, pero no me acuerdo quien lo escribió. Lo hacemos de manera inconsciente todas las noches cuando soñamos: vamos a nuestro pasado reciente o remoto. Despertamos pensando que vivimos verdaderos absurdos durante el sueño, pero no es así. Pag. 175, Aleph.

El libro menciona unas cuantas frases que me encantan y como siempre en los libros de Coelho busco las frases que se hacen parte de mi alma y de mi comunicarme a los demás.
!Cuantas personas conozco que son maestras para hablar, pero incapaces de vivir aquello que predican!Paf. 195, Aleph.

...Tú decías que el Aleph era un punto fuera de nosotros, pero cuando dos personas están enamoradas logran traer ese punto a cualquier lugar.Pag. 166, Aleph.

...Matamos en nombre de Dios, torturamos en nombre de Jesús, decidimos que la mujer era una amenaza para la sociedad, y suprimimos todas las manifestaciones de los dones femeninos, practicamos las usura, asesinamos inocentes e hicimos alianzas con el diablo. Incluso así seguimos estando aquí después de dos mil años. Pag 205, Aleph.

El final del libro es satisfactorio, puesto que te conlleva a una acelerada escena donde no suponemos que sera lo que los personajes terminaran haciendo.

En el capítulo Ad Extirpanda hace al lector ver otro lado de la historia muchos quienes no saben de las trasfondos de la historia en cuanto al tratado de la mujer puede aprender tan solo un hilito de lo que significo la mujer en la historia de como su papel cambia y es desnaturalizada hasta el punto en que Coelho vuelve y menciona aun después de dos mil años seguimos viviendo así, porque no es de negar a nadie aun la mujer sigue apocada en su rol como creadora, como transformadora.

En mi persona desde que desarrolle mi adolescencia e inicie a leer, a conocer mas de las culturas y despertar mis sentido critico de opinión y pareceres, siempre que leía o veía documentales sobre este tema de la mujer y su lucha a través de la historia digo, gracia que no nací en esa época porque sino hubiese muerto temprano, porque siempre mi opinión se muestra radical, y así no hubiese llegado a mucho en aquel tiempo. Siempre he creído que de haber nacido en esa época de la historia hubiese sido una mujer luchadora, una Juana de Arco por así decirlo.
Recomiendo este libro. ( )
  Pamelangeles | Jul 3, 2014 |
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O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for those who turn to you.  Amen.

A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
- Luke 19:12
The Aleph was about two to three centimeters in diameter, but all of cosmic space was there, with no diminution in size.  Each thing was infinite, because I could clearly see it from every point on the universe.
-Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph

Thou knowest all--I cannot see.
I trust I shall not live in vain,
I know that we shall meet again,
in some divine eternity.

- Oscar Wilde, "The True Knowledge"
For J, who keeps me walking,
S.J., who continues to protect me,
Hilal, for her words of forgiveness in the church in Novosibirsk.
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Oh, No, Not another ritual!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Presents the story of a man who initiates a world-spanning effort to achieve spiritual renewal and human connection, a journey during which he reconnects with a woman from an earlier life while transcending time and space.

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