Aleph by Paolo Coelho

Posted: May 21, 2012 in Book Notes
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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”

  • I’ve been trying all my life to find out what my limits are and have never reached them yet. But then my universe doesn’t really help, it keeps expanding and won’t allow me to know it entirely.
  • That’s because, like everyone else on the planet, you believe that time would teach you to grow closer to God. But time doesn’t teach; it merely brings us a sense of weariness and of growing older.
  • It isn’t what you did in the past that will affect the present. It’s what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future.
  • Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.
  • After weeks on the road, listening to a language you don’t understand, using a currency whose value you don’t comprehend, walking down streets you’ve never walked down before, you discover that your old “I”, along with everything you ever learned, is absolutely no use at all in the face of those new challenges, and you begin to realize that, buried deep in your unconscious mind, there is someone much more interesting and adventurous and more open to the world and to new experiences.
  • God will guide you, because everything you ever experienced or will experience is in the here and now. The world is being created and destroyed in this very moment. Whoever you met will reappear, whoever you lost will return. Don’t betrayed the grace that was bestowed on you. Understand what is going on inside you and you will understand what is going on inside everyone else.
  • … with familiarity came habit.
  • Tragedy always brings about radical change in our lives, a change that is associated with the same principle: loss. When faced by any loss, there’s no point in trying to recover what has been, it’s best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.
    • In theory, every loss is for our good; in practice, though, that is when we question the existence of God and ask ourselves, “What did I do to deserve this?”
  • Anyone truly committed to life never stops walking.
  • we always try to interpret things in accordance with what we want and not as they are.
  • Courage can attract fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment. Men and women with immense willpower are generally solitary types and give off a kind of coolness.
  • No life is complete without a touch of madness.
  • A life without cause is a life without effect.
  • Words are tears that have been written down. Tears are words that need to be shed. Without them, joy loses all its brilliance and sadness has no end. Thank you, then, for your tears.

No one is a prophet in his own land. – Brazilian saying

  • We always tend to value what comes from afar, never recognizing the beauty around us.
  • A forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same Path are alike. If we continue to travel together, trying to make things fit our world-view, neither of us will benefit.
  • If we seek something, that same thing is seeking us.

What can’t be cured must be endured. – Portuguese Proverb

  • To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life.
  • Don’t think about what you’ll tell people afterwards. The time is here and now. Make the most of it.

Place all your feelings outside of yourself and you will be renewed. – Laozi

  • … but I knew then that we were like the clouds that fill the sky so that you can no longer tell where one ends and another begins… We had children, we honored God and family, then, one day, a wind came and parted the clouds.
  • 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.
  • Anyone who knows God cannot describe him. Anyone who can describe God does not know him.
  • Why have I been complaining all these months about not being in touch with the Divine Energy? What nonsense! We are always in touch with it, it’s only routine that prevents us from feeling it.
  • Times neither moves nor is it stationary. Time changes.
    • We occupy one point in that constantly mutating time – our Aleph.
  • Never. We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us, they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms. For example, I can’t see who is in the next carriage, but it contains people traveling in the same time as me, as you, as everyone. The fact that we can’t speak to them or know what’s going on in that other carriage is completely irrelevant. They are there. So what we call “life” is a train with many carriages. Sometimes we are in one, sometimes we are in another, and sometimes we cross between them, when we dream or allow ourselves to be swept away by the extraordinary.
  • “Why are there so many conflicts then?” “So that the world can evolve, so that the body can change. It’s nothing personal.”
  • If you don’t get up early, you’ll never see the sun rise. If you don’t pray, God may be near, but you won’t feel His presence.

The Path to Peace flows like a river and because it resists nothing, it has won even before it has begun. The art of peace is unbeatable because no one is fighting against anyone, only themselves. If you conquer yourself, then you will conquer the world. – Morihei Ueshiba

First develop a strategy that utilizes everything around you. The best way to prepare for a challenge is to cultivate the ability to call upon an infinite variety of responses.

  • “Where have you been?” is not an empty question. Anyone asking it is also saying “I missed you”, “I want to be with you”, “I need to know what you’ve been up to”.
  • There is always an element of ‘beginner’s luck’, conceived by God simply to show that it’s possible, but after that, the situation goes into reverse and returns to what it was before.
  • Non-resistance: Good fighters use their opponent’s energy and turn it back on them. So the more I waste my energy on words, the less convinced I will be of what I’m saying, and the easier it will be to get the better of me.
  • All I need at the moment is for you to embrace me, a gesture as old as humanity itself, and which means far more than the meeting of two bodies. An embrace means I don’t feel threatened by you, I’m not afraid to be this close, I can relax, feel at home, feel protected and in the presence of someone who understands me. It is said that each time we embrace someone warmly, we gain an extra day of life. So please, embrace me now.
  • The motto of the alchemists was Solve et coagula, which means “separate and bring together”.
  • The trouble with words is that they give us the illusory sense that we are making ourselves understood as well as understanding what others are saying. However, when we turn around and come face to face with our destiny, we discover that words are not enough.
    • A warrior in search of his dream must take his inspiration from what he actually does and not from what he imagines himself doing.
  • Knowing how to appreciate and honor our opponents is a far cry from what flatters, wimps or traitors do.
  • I love you because all the loves in the world are like different rivers flowing into the same lake, where they meet and are transformed into a single love that becomes rain and blesses the earth.
  • I love you like a river which understands that it must learn to flow differently over waterfalls and to rest in the shallows. I love you because we are all born in the same place, at the same source, which keeps us provided with a constant supply of water. And so, when we feel weak, all we have to do is wait a little. The spring returns, the winter snows melt and fill us with new energy.
    • I love you like a river that begins as a solitary trickle in the mountains and gradually grows and joins other rivers until, after a certain point, it can flow around any obstacles in order to get where it wants.
    • I receive your love and I give you mine. Not the love of a man for a woman, not the love of a father for a child, not the love of God for his creatures, but a love with no name and no explanation, like a river that cannot explain why it follows a particular course, but simply onwards. A love that asks for nothing and gives nothing in return; it is simply there.
  • … for both sexes possess the gift that will allow them to enter into contact with the unknown, as long as they are open to their ‘feminine side.’
  • Is it possible to deviate from the path God has made? Yes, but it’s always a mistake. It is possible to avoid pain? Yes, but you’ll never learn anything. Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you.
  • Sometimes you have to travel a long way in order to find what is near. When the rain returns to earth, it brings with it the things of the air.
    • The magical and the extraordinary are with me and with everyone in the Universe all the time, but sometimes we forget that and need to be reminded…
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