The Fifties (1997-2006)

In 2001, Coelho emphasised in the interview with Arias (2001, p. 123) a new (a) description of God: He believed in a demon, a fallen angel, the left hand of God, and a demon that was “the product of the collective unconscious which personifies it”.

In the text collection, “The wanderer”, Coelho (2007) dealt with various life topics, from spirituality, the relationship to God, belief and faith, to life and death. He included syncretism and mixed doctrines with different perspectives from Christianity, Judaism, Taoism and Islam to bring spirituality and transcendence into the life of the readers (Latzel, 2007). Coelho dealt with the leitmotif of spirituality and individuality, the question of the individual relationship with God and the individual responsibility of the individual to be successful in life while being supported by God throughout the individual’s efforts (Latzel, 2007). In the interview with

Arias (2001, p. 24) Coelho saw God as an experience of faith. It is an individual and personal experience. Coelho (2007. p. 117) concluded in his text “Gott gibt es zwei- mal” (English “God exists twice”) that God can be viewed as a God that exists in terms of what the teachers (here Jesuits) teach and in terms of a God that each and every person experiences, who talks to individuals ((a) description and communication with God). He referred to his childhood God and the loss of his “childhood faith” (Arias, 2001, p. 106) and also to the personal, individually created God, who appeared mystic. Coelho created his personal God by reciting mantras, practising yoga, meditating and including Indian cosmogony and Oriental spirituality into his life (Arias, 2001, p. 108). Through the various experiences he became an initiate to the spiritual quest (Arias, 2001, p. 108) and recognised the sacredness of the Pyrenees mountains as a sign of God (Coelho, 2005). In “The witch of Portobello”, (Coelho, 2007), Coelho explored the feminine side of divinity and the Great Mother (Coelho, 2007, p. 335) and integrated various religious approaches, as well as feminine approaches to witchcraft by describing and practising religious and spiritual practices (b). He described God (a), practised rituals (b) and conceptualised humankind’s place (c) in the universe.

Coelho started to pray every evening at 6 o’ clock when the sun set and again at midnight (Arias, 2001, p. xvii). He believed in spiritual rituals while not seeing himself as a spiritual person writing about spiritual topics (Husband, 2008). During his fifties, Coelho waited for the sign of a white feather to indicate the “impending birth of a new book” (Arias, 2001, p. xix). He explored the concept of the individualised God, the “colour of the consciousness of each human being”, spiritual freedom and diversity and the opposite of fundamentalism (Arias, 2001, pp. 80-81) and thereby conceptualised humankind’s place in the world and in the context of God (c).

In terms of how Coelho (b) practised religion, he stated (Coelho, 2007, p. 61): “There is faith without prayer, but there is no prayer without faith.” Coelho (2007, p. 105) viewed prayer as a way to create a tighter spiritual relationship with God, while learning discipline and building the personal will. To experience God, a person needs to slow down, to stop, to move out of oneself and to see the universe. Then, a person can experience the wordless love that surrounds each and every human, leading to deep feelings (Coelho, 2007, p. 89). Still in his fifties, Coelho believed in the concept of magic and aimed at developing his magical gifts and powers in terms of white magic (Arias, 2001, p. 104), and travelling through Russia (Coelho, 2011), as part of building his (b) religious practices.

At this time, he promoted the idea that humankind is at a particular crossroad, moving into the new millennium by turning to spirituality (Arias, 2001, p. 7) and fighting the good fight. He c.) conceptualised humankind and its relation to God in terms of God being an integrative and almighty power based in a person’s soul (Coelho, 2007, p. 17).

God is furthermore described (a) as a reflection of the actions of the individual, being masculine and feminine, combining intuition with logic and logic with mystery and the desire for the imaginary (Arias, 2001, pp. 96-97). In addition, Coelho described in “About writing” the closeness to God attained through writing a diary, a letter or notes while listening to the soul (Coelho, 2007, pp. 51-52). Coelho reckTable 7.7 Life task spirituality in Coelho’s fifties

Life span

Life task spirituality with sub-categoriess

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

7. The fifties (1997-2006)






Source: Researcher’s own construction

oned that a writer needs fantasy, transgression, the courage to break the rules of conventional wisdom and the reconciliation of rigour and compassion (Arias, 2001, p. 166). He thereby referred to (e) the contemplation of the presence through soul- based actions and meaning in life. He further inquired about the relationship of humankind and God in his book “The devil and Miss Prym” (Coelho, 2002a), in which he posed the question of whether humankind is essentially good or bad and he inquired about the c.) conceptualisiation of humankind’s place in the world.

In the autobiographical book “Veronica decides to die” (Coelho, 1998b), Coelho responded predominantly to the question of the soul and the d.) concept of (im) mortality while dealing with the question of suicide, life and death and the value of life (Coelho, 2000). Coelho discovered life as a miracle (Yunus, 2014) and described the realisation of death and its impact on life (Coelho, 1998a, p. 220) through overcoming personal limitations (Coelho, 2007, p. 93) through passion (Coelho, 2007, p. 99), another quality of God ((a) description and communication of God.)

In the same book, Coelho connected to the question of (e) meaning in life by describing the differences in values and life purposes of Veronica and her parents (Coelho, 1998b). Personal growth was an important topic for Coelho (2007, p. 102), which was reached through finding one’s standing in the world while growing from within through love ((c) conceptualisation of humankind’s place) (Coelho, 2007, p. 119). The spiritual way is an unknown way, which lets individuals experience life with enthusiasm without feeling themselves to be different or privileged (Arias, 2001, p. 21). For Coelho (2007, p. 58), life’s purpose is to live the individual and personal fate and to fulfil the mission that is determined ((e) meaning in life). To fulfil this mission, an individual needs to reach out for his/her own potential, thereby, (e) contemplating the presence and nature of meaning in life (Table 7.7).

Impacting life forces:

Family In the book “Veronica decides to die”, Coelho (1998b) described in an autobiographical attempt his (verbally) violent relationship with his father and the relationship with his parents. He thereby worked through his own life story and the experience of being admitted to an asylum. He also referred to the difficulties he and his parents had to forgive one another for what had happened. However, he reported that he did not feel bitter about his parents’ actions, as a result of which the entire family suffered (Arias, 2001, p. 43). His parents seemed to be a strong factor in Coelho’s urge to develop personally and spiritually. Coelho’s experience of madness was strongly connected to his parents, their world view and their assumptions of acceptability and norms and therefore the impact of human misunderstanding (Coelho, 1998b, p. 25). Coelho tried to deal with unfulfilled needs and social family bonds through his autobiographical story (Budiadi, 2009).

Religion During this stage of his life, Coelho referred to God, took on various spiritual practices and promoted love as God’s way. Besides undergoing spiritual and religious rituals on a daily basis, Coelho included the I-Ching in decision-making (Morais, 2009, p. 421).

Education In “The zahir” (Coelho, 2005), Coelho referred to the concept of resilience as a means to overcoming trauma and defeat and reach happiness. He educated himself through travelling and encounters with individuals belonging to high society and thereby shaped his own values, belief and faith.

Community During this period in his life, Coelho explored concepts of sanity and insanity, as well as in- and outgroup phenomena in society, which are defined by social and cultural norms (2000, pp. 30-31). He was invited to the world economic fair, as well as to a white tie party in Buckingham Palace (Morais, 2009), and became part of the global upper class.

Media From 1998 onwards several scientific studies were written on Paulo Coelho’s books in Brazil and internationally (Martin, 2012; Mertel, 2000). Arias (2001) published excerpts from a personal interview with Coelho. Coelho was in the media, receiving many awards and achievements for his creative works (Morais, 2009, p. 408). He travelled to promote his books from 1998 to 2000 (Morais, 2009). While becoming famous, Coelho kept his faith and practised his religious rituals (b).

Business/Industry Coelho proceeded to write books that became bestsellers and acted in the theatre. A DVD on his life was published (Young, 2009). He was conscious of his individual responsibility, ethical commitment, own conscience, faith and the spiritual path, because only individual responsibility led to a spiritual path that needed no masters or captains (Arias, 2001, p. 79). He made decisions by intuition (Coelho, 2007, p. 107) and finally became a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (Morais, 2009).

No information on the influence of the government in this period is given in the literature. From 2001 onwards Coelho became increasingly involved in international high society and global events, met with politicians and was invited to the economic forum in Davos (Morais, 2009). From this point onwards, Coelho reached people across social, economic and cultural social strata regardless of sex, race and age (Morais, 2009). He also saw the importance of writers’ impact and statements on international and global political events.

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