Childhood and Schooldays (1953-1961)

In terms of spirituality and the b.) practice of religion, Coelho’s parents enrolled him at a religiously oriented primary school where he experienced hard work and respect for one’s fellows (Morais, 2009, p. 41). This school prepared him for one of the most established secondary schools in Rio, a Jesuit school in which he was enrolled from 1958, after having failed the entry examinations twice (Morais, 2009). The school was strict about religion, spirituality and religious practices and was for Coelho a place of religion from 1953 to 1961.

In the literature, no information about his childhood years and schooldays could be found in terms of a) description and communication with God c) the conceptualisation of humankind’s place in the universe; d.) a consideration of the nature of immortality; e) or the contemplation of the presence and nature for the meaning of life. However, it can be assumed that Coelho was strongly influenced by his parents and particularly his mother’s belief and practice, as well as through the primary and secondary schools’ ethic and religious values, which indirectly and directly, though not described, induced Coelho to accept a religious understanding of meaning in life ((e) the contemplation of the presence and nature of the meaning of life) (Table 7.2).

During these years, Coelho was influenced by various life forces:

Family To punish him for his low school marks, his parents sent Coelho to a school retreat for educational (and religious) purposes, which he hated. His parents were strict, but also worried about Coelho’s state of health due to his asthma attacks. Coelho enjoyed staying with his aunt and uncle in Araruama during holidays at the beach, where he seemed to experience more freedom than at home.

Religion Hardly any information is given in the data on religion during this life period; however, it can be assumed that the parental and educational religious influence continued having an effect. In the Jesuit secondary school, religious practice and communication with God were the foundation of the education and predominant.

Table 7.2 Life task spirituality in Coelho’s childhood and school days

Life span

Life task spirituality with sub-categories

Periods in Paulo Coelho’s development

(a) Description and

communication with God

(b) Practice of religion


Conceptualisation of humankind’s place

(d) Nature of


(e) Contemplation of nature of meaning of life

2. Childhood and





Source: Researcher’s own construction

Education Coelho failed the entry examinations at the Jesuit school twice, but developed a passion for reading, particularly novels and adventure stories, and he started writing a diary. He started to record his thoughts and emotions on tape and discovered ways to explore himself in other than the religious world.

Community Coelho was well integrated in the community of the estate where he lived with his parents and his sister. He became the best storyteller in the estate (Morais, 2009), built up a secret organisation with his friends and extended family members and was known for playing tricks in the community (Morais, 2009). Although he was physically weak and suffered from respiratory problems during these years, Coelho had many friends who admired his broad knowledge and his ability to tell stories. It appeared that the community did not play a direct role in his religious development, but rather a balancing role to provide Coelho with some freedom of religion.

Media Coelho loved to read books, which were his main subjects of media interaction (Morais, 2009).

No information has been found on the impact of the government and the business or industry on Coelho’s life in terms of spirituality during this life period.

No direct information is available about the influence of global impacts on Coelho’ spirituality from the age of 6 to 12 years. However, it can be assumed that he was more influenced by the world outside the estate than before, although this might rather be described as a local influence than a global influence in his life.

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