Home > Books > The Pilgrimage, a book by Paulo Coehlo

The Pilgrimage, a book by Paulo Coehlo

I was very excited when I heard that this book existed. After all, who didn’t enjoy reading The Alchemist? Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this book. It’s written as though Paulo Coehlo is the pilgrim, he is even called ‘Paulo’ but the story doesn’t even resemble anything close to reality. It’s starts off almost as though it’s going to be mystical:

“And now, before the sacred countenance of RAM, you must touch with your hands the Word of Life and acquire such power as you need to become a witness to that Word throughout the world.”

Then, a few paragraphs down, it’s explained that the main character, Paulo, is part of a fraternity called the “Tradition.” If I didn’t know better, I’d say this is where the seeds for Dan Brown‘s books were planted. Unlike Dan’s books, however, this book lacks the sophistication of plot and gets muddied in exercises that verge on the bizarre. Frankly, I couldn’t finish the book. I made it through 194 of the 263 pages before I gave up.

I think that the pilgrimage in this book, is supposed to be metaphor for the journey we make through life, and I am guessing that Paulo Coehlo wants the reader to practice the aforementioned exercises, that are interspersed throughout the book, to gain some kind of inner wisdom. I just couldn’t see it happening though.

I did find a few passages that I thought were worth mentioning here (modified slightly), if only because they remind me that it is important to dream and to continue to reach for the dreams we carry with us:

The Road you are traveling is the Road of power…The journey, which prior to this was torture because all you wanted to do was get there, is now beginning to become a pleasure. It is the pleasure of searching and the pleasure of an adventure. You are nourishing something that’s very important—your dreams.

We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don’t. our soul dies…

The good fight is the one we fight because our hearts asks it of us…

The good fight is the one that’s fought in the name of our dreams. When we’re young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.

The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time…

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our uncertainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life…

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing or our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams—we have refused to fight the good fight.

…..Once, a poet said that no man is an island. In order to fight the good fight, we need help. We need friends, and when the friends aren’t nearby, we have to turn solitude into our main weapon. We need the help of everything around us in order to take the necessary steps toward our goal….if we don’t understand that, then we don’t recognize that we need everything and everybody, and we become arrogant…and our arrogance will defeat us in the end, because we will be so sure of ourselves that we won’t see the pitfalls there on the field of battle.”

I think this book could be something that challenges us to look within ourselves to find our personal strength, or power. But it just doesn’t quite get there. It’s light-weight. If Paulo Coehlo had made this more autobiographical, it would have been more interesting. As it is, you really need to read about his history to understand the context of this book and what it represents in his life.

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Categories: Books
  1. Jyoti
    May 2, 2012 at 14:14

    Hi Fiona,
    I remember having a similar reaction to you when I read Paul Coehlo’s book some years ago. But I like the bits you have taken from the book, never to let your personal dream die, and this is something has resonated with you, so that is good. Buen Camino to us both! It’s the journey that has value, not the destination so much….
    Love, love

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