The life forces playing a role in the book “Aleph” are explored in the following section.
In “Aleph”, the life force of family does not play a major role. The family member that is described as a key person in Coelho’s life is his wife, Cristina, who encourages him to travel without her (Coelho, 2011, p. 43) and to trust Hilal (Coelho, 2011, p. 108). During the journey, Coelho refers to his wife’s presence throughout different lifetimes (Coelho, 2011, p. 106). Coelho admits his deep love for Cristina to Yao (Coelho, 2011, p. 87) who also describes his relationship to his wife in a metaphor: “.. .we were two clouds and now we are one. We were two ice cubes that the sun melted and now we are the same free-flowing water” (Coelho, 2011, p. 90). However, for the purpose of his self-development and spiritual growth, Cristina gives Coelho the freedom to undergo an individual transformation. The family life force is a huge resource in the background of Coelho’s journey, but does not play a primary role during the journey. However, it is assumed that the strong support of Cristina provides Coelho with strength, interconnectedness and wellness.
Religion is addressed in various ways throughout the book, such as during the promotion tour in Tunis, when Coelho describes his interest in the Koran and in Islam. He asks his guide, Samil (Coelho, 2011, 38): “What does Islam have to say about reincarnation?” Samil’s responses are extensive and refer to three different phrases in the Koran citing reincarnation (Coelho, 2011, p. 41). After having reflected on reincarnation in the Koran, Coelho quotes the Bible (Coelho, 2011, p. 42). By referring to the Koran and to the Bible, but also by referring to the Buddhist monks (Coelho, 2011, p. 3), Coelho provides an inter-religious frame for his narration and particularly for his belief in reincarnation. This is important, because the concept of reincarnation is one of the foundational assumptions in the book that provides basic understanding of the entire narration. The belief in reincarnation is supported by other protagonists, such as Yao, whose religious affiliation is not explicitly mentioned, but he believes in the reincarnation of souls (Coelho, 2011, p. 86), as well as by Hilal who also believes in reincarnation (Coelho, 2011, 87) and who hates churches (Coelho, 2011, 163). Coelho speaks explicitly about the cruelty of the church, the killing in God’s name, the torturing in Jesus’ name, and the suppression of female ingenuity (Coelho, 2011, p. 221), referring to his own torturing of Hilal in a previous life. Hilal only highlights, “I hate churches” (Coelho, 2011, p. 221). Coelho self-reflects on his relationship to his religion and his church (Coelho, 2011):
I belong to a religion that perpetuated horrors. That’s what I am getting at, because, despite everything, I still have the love of Jesus which is far stronger than the hatred of those who declared themselves his successors (p. 222)
Coelho emphasises his conscious awareness of the cruelty of the church in the past, but highlights that he particularly loves Jesus. Coelho keeps his faith, while Hilal emphasises that she prefers music, contemplation in silence and nature, to be close to God (Coelho, 2011, p. 222).
The ritual of forgiveness (Coelho, 2011, pp.164-171) of Hilal is a central part of the relationship between Coelho and Hilal. Coelho insists that the act of forgiveness needs to be practised in a church. He, therefore choses an orthodox church with whose rituals neither of the protagonists is familiar. In this orthodox church, Hilal “channels” a prayer of forgiveness (Coelho, 2011, pp. 169-170). The frame of the orthodox church is very important to Coelho and he insists, despite Hilal’s wish, to practise the ritual in the church. Coelho explains in his author’s note that this prayer has been “channelled” before (Coelho, 2011, p. 300) and that Hilal accesses universal knowledge and cosmic energy.
Coelho places himself in the Christian belief, is aware about the cruel past and copes with it through his love of Jesus and God. At the same time, he emphasises the importance of different religious traditions. Religion is an important source of holistic wellness for Coelho, empowering him, providing him with strength.
Education is hardly mentioned in “Aleph” in terms of formal education. However, Coelho sees his journal as an educational journal towards self-development, healing and wellness. Coelho does not believe in the meaningfulness of studying academic themes, such as creative writing (Coelho, 2011, p. 89), but rather in activities conducted with joy and enthusiasm (Coelho, 2011, p. 89). Wellness therefore increases with living according to a person’s interests, talents, dreams and vocation in life, rather than studying academically without joy.
Coelho belongs to different communities in “Aleph”, such as RAM, the community of the travellers on the train, which builds up during the journey, and the community of believers who believe in reincarnation. Coelho further emphasises that he belongs to the community of his readers (Coelho, 2011):
I look out to each of my readers. I hold out my hand and I thank them for being there. My body may be travelling, but when my soul flies from city to city, I am never alone. I am all the many people I meet and who have understood my soul through my books (p. 50).
Coelho creates a new community he has not spoken of before, the community of his readers who support and understand him.
In summary, Coelho feels alone and stagnated, in the beginning of the book, with a small community of friends. Different communities build up during the book, such as the reconnection with RAM, the travellers, the believers, the readers. Belonging to these communities contributes to Coelho’s holistic wellness and his feelings of being supported, understood and connected to these communities. These communities provide Coelho with strength and contentment, the idea of development and friends.
The media play a contextual role in “Aleph”: Coelho describes his book-signing sessions and how they fill him with joy, pleasure, contentment and positive energy (e.g. Coelho, 2011, p. 20). He describes the parties after the signing sessions at, for example, the ambassador’s house in Moscow (Coelho, 2011, pp. 53-57). He uses the media and attends promotions and goes on media tours, such as the train tour through Russia (e.g. Coelho, 2011, pp. 24-27). Through the media, such as interviews, Coelho has an impact on the world outside (Coelho, 2011, pp. 118-121), which provides him with self-efficacy and influence. The media life force gives Coelho entrance into high society, it contributes to his fame, his publicity, his success. The book as a medium is Coelho’s way of personal expression and provides him with self-worth and the ability to influence other individuals’ lives. Because of all these aspects, the media contribute positively to Coelho’s holistic wellness.
The life force of the government is hardly referred to in “Aleph”. The one and only indication that Coelho is in contact with governmental forces is when his publisher receives a phone call from President Putin, who invites Coelho to a meeting in Moscow (Coelho, 2011, p. 278). Up to this point, Coelho is unaware of Putin’s interest in meeting him. The invitation is an honour for him; it reflects his importance in Russia, his political influence and his impact in the world of government representatives and politics.
Business or Industry
Business and industry play a contextualised role in “Aleph” (2011). Coelho describes his life, his contact with the agent, Monica, and publishers (Coelho, 2011, pp. 24-27). The business is connected to scheduled appointments with publishers, journalists, book signing, promotion tours and interviews (Coelho, 2011, pp. 24-27). Being part of the industry provides Coelho with opportunities to travel, increasing his fame and number of readers around the world (Coelho, 2011, p. 300). He changes publishers as he likes and thereby has an impact on the competitive factor in the industry. Coelho is content with being part of the industry and its contribution to his holistic wellness is that he has influence in his work context, that he can choose his publishers and use the industry to be successful and famous. Since he knows how to play the game successfully, he feels well and happy about being part of it.