CREDOS : Coelho’s faith — I

Laura Sheahen

With several best-selling novels translated into dozens of languages, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is one of the world’s most popular spiritual writers. His books — including The Alchemist, The Manual of the Warrior of Light, and Veronika Decides to Die — tackle everything from love to magic to suicide to the meaning of life. In a phone interview from France, Coelho spoke with Beliefnet recently about the spiritual search—his own and his readers’. In The Alchemist, you refer to Soul of the World. What exactly is this? How is it tied to religion or spirituality? Well, let’s distinguish religion from spirituality. I am a Catholic, so religion for me is a way of having discipline and collectively worship with persons who share the same mystery. But in the end all religions tend to point to the same light. In between the light and us, sometimes there are too many rules. The light is here and there are no rules to follow this light.

The Alchemist character says that ‘everything has a soul’ — including inanimate objects like rocks and water. Do you believe that? I do believe that everything we see, everything that is in front of us is just the visible part of reality. We have the invisible part of reality, like emotions for example, like feelings. This is our perception of the world, but God is — as William Blake said — in a grain of sand and in a flower. This energy is everywhere.

Are all souls the same? Or are human souls in any way different? I believe everything is one thing only. That said, there are some questions in my life that I don’t know...I’ve stopped asking. —