In the book, “Aleph” (2011), global events are hardly addressed. Intra-psychological experiences and interpersonal contacts are described on Coelho’s journey through Russia. Global events have no impact on this narration.
Conclusion on Holistic Wellness in “Aleph”
“Aleph” (Coelho, 2011) is an autobiographical account of Coelho who feels that his life and spiritual development stagnated during the years from 57 to 59 years. He therefore decides to go on a spiritual journey through Russia, one of the dreams he always wanted to realise, to develop spiritually, promote his books and resolve previous life experiences.
The book refers strongly to the life tasks of spirituality and love. With regard to the five dimensions of spirituality, Coelho explains that he is in communication with God and the universe through rituals and prayer. At the age 57 to 59 Coelho finds himself in a spiritual crisis of stagnation, depression and doubt: he has lost the connection to God. Through other protagonists, such as Yao or Hilal, different images of God are created. However, Coelho concludes that God cannot be described. He sees humankind in a close and dynamic relationship with God, which can be strengthened through travelling, new experiences, overcoming routine and connecting with the whole.
The concept of reincarnation is expressed through various characters, such as Yao, Hilal or Coelho himself, and builds the foundation of the entire spiritual journey of Coelho, reconciling with his past life experiences. At the same time, Coelho relates to the question of the meaning of life, emphasising that life is to be lived fully. Spirituality is the main life task in the book, which at first has a negative impact on Coelho because of its stagnation and subsequently develops throughout the book as a source of wellness when it becomes dynamic and developing.
Regarding self-direction, the 12 subtasks are addressed, although with different intensity. Sense of control, the construction of realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and coping, as well as problem-solving and creativity, exercise and cultural identity are referred to most often. During the journey, Coelho regains his sense of control, he reconstructs his beliefs and is in search of the realistic beliefs of the past, the present and the future. Emotional intensity and awareness are strongly described and emotional plots are created on the journey to resolve his problems from the past through new and creative approaches. While travelling through Russia, Coelho also reconstructs his cultural identity. Throughout the journey, his spiritual development, his search for new meanings in this and in former lives, to respond to the question “Who am I?” are described. He addresses these issues through self-reflection, spiritual rituals and the exercise of aikido.
The other sub-tasks of life, such as sense of worth, sense of humour, nutrition, self-care, stress management and gender identity are hardly described, but only given as contextual information.
The life task work and leisure is viewed as an integrated concept that is addressed through the journey itself, which is part of Coelho’s leisure time and part of his work.
Friendships do not play a major role at the surface of the narration. However, they are important on an unconscious and hidden level: The major decisions in the book are based on friends’ advice and support. Friendship is therefore an important underlying topic that influences the course of Coelho’s decisions.
Finally, love is, like spirituality, a major life task in the book. From Coelho’s and Hilal’s perspective, love is the moving power that opens doors. Coelho describes the different forms of love, the love for his wife, the love for Hilal, the love for Jesus. With regard to the characteristics of love, Coelho is able to maintain intimate, trusting and self-disclosing relationships with his wife and with Hilal. He shows his ability to express affection and receive it, he enjoys the presence of enduring, stable and intimate relationships and transforms his sexual desires into platonic love. However, the characteristics of love with regard to non-possessive caring and respect for the uniqueness of another person, as well as the characteristic of nurturing others, are neglected. Coelho needs to be reminded by his friends to nurture others besides himself. He relates to self-love rather than to loving, nurturing and caring for others.
The most important life forces identified on the spiritual journey are the life forces of family and religion. With regard to family, Cristina is the key person. With Cristina, Coelho is in an enduring love relationship and she supports him in his spiritual development, providing him with key information and freedom to develop himself and his faith. Religion is the life force most often referred to, through which he integrates various religious concepts that connect him to God, integrating aspects from different religions, such as Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. In referring to these inter-religious views he refers to the cruelty of Christianity in the history of religion and emphasises that spirituality is an integrative force of different religions to overcome the faults and cruelty of the past.
The other life forces, such as education, community, media, government, business and industry and global events are hardly addressed and play a minor role with regard to the holistic wellness of Coelho.
In conclusion, Coelho creates his holistic wellness mainly through the life tasks of spirituality and love, while integrating the life forces of family and religion. Besides these, most of the life tasks and life forces are implicitly addressed or only in passing. Coelho describes the transformative power of spirituality and love, which contributes to his wellness on the Trans-Siberian Railway, while reconstructing his holistic wellness not only throughout this life, but across past, present and future lives. This autobiographcial narration is a milestone in Coelho’s deepening spiritual development and provides personal insight into the reconstruction of holistic wellness through a journey through Russia and Coelho’s lives. It is an example of an outstanding self-healing process that recreates self-efficacy, spiritual and emotional development and wellness on various levels.