Paulo Coelho Dances with Angels

The author of 'The Alchemist' talks about embracing the feminine face of God, the pope, and where his soul goes when he dances.

BY: Interview by Valerie Reiss

 

Continued from page 1

In your work you often point to contradictions between the church’s rules and the Bible’s teachings. Do you have anything to say about a hypocrisy there?

I only can say about my religion and being a Catholic. I am a Catholic because I choose to be a Catholic. And then I go to the Mass because I choose. It is out of my free will. But then, when sometimes I see the human touch [in] the sacred rituals, you say, oh, my God, that’s not exactly what Jesus said. Jesus was much more open and--he was full of joy of living. Because he was the one who was always traveling, surrounded by women, drinking wine. You know, having fantastic conversations with his disciples.



In my church, now more than before, they are going against the natural flow of humankind. This new pope is a disaster, to put it plainly…. I’m not going to defend a pope that is against, for example, condoms. I’m not going to defend a pope that thinks that we still are in the medieval times and that the Catholic faith is the only one to be right. And then you ask, why do you consider to be Catholic if you don’t agree with this pope and many priests and bishops? I say because, well, my religion is more important than the men that are trying to guide it.



But the ritual of the Mass and the words of Christ--well, we’ll survive this pope. The Mass is a mystery. And for me, it is the most perfect ritual.



Across the world there’s increasing religious strife. How does that lead to a hunger for your books, which appeal to people across religious lines?

I don’t know why my books appeal because I write to understand myself. When I wrote "The Witch," wow, I have all these thoughts, like a puzzle. So I have to put them together to understand the full picture. So when I write then I can see clearly myself.



I am very spontaneous in what I write. And I choose my subjects out of things that are provoking me. And then the books make the best-seller list. And why? Well, I don’t know. Probably the day that I learn this secret, I’m going to lose this spontaneity. I’m going to repeat it over and over again. And then I’m lost because the book will not be an instrument for self-discovery anymore. It will be just a product. And then it’ll be totally meaningless to me.



What are some of the ways that you get yourself kind of psychically and spiritually prepared to write? What are some of your rituals?

The best way to get inspired to write--in my case--is by meeting people. When you meet people you learn, you hear. And sometimes you’re hearing yourself. You’re in front of a mirror. You’re seeing yourself better. I only write a book every two years. And I write a book in one month because the book is being written in my soul. And then, of course, I have to share my life as part of the human condition. Because you have to share. If you don’t share, you are lost.



And what about the white feather? It’s said that you wait to see a white feather before you write…

Waiting for a Special White Feather

Oh, the white feather. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is a tradition that I created myself. When I was 40, I still had not written any book. But my dream was to be a writer. So I did this pilgrimage. I walked for 56 days to Saint James Path [in Santiago, Spain]. And I said, "Oh, my God, my dream is to be a writer, but I’m always postponing." And then I said to myself, "If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving to me that I have to write a new book." And then I saw this white feather in a window of a shop. And since then, every second year, in January, I need to see a white feather. And the day that I see I start writing. Of course, I see white feathers every day, but in January it is that white feather. And I get a lot of white feathers from my readers in envelopes. But I need to find the white feather.



What are you working on next?

Nothing.



That sounds nice!

I’m in this period of doing nothing but living my life, or allowing it to go with the wind. My next white feather must be during January of 2008. And up until January, 2008, I’m doing--well, I’m living. I’m meeting people. I’m dancing. I’m doing whatever I feel like doing.



My last question: What is God to you?

'God Is Action'

God’s a verb. God is action. God is--is a verb, yes. You cannot define. When Moses asks who are you and He says, “I Am.” He does not say I am this or that or that. He just say, “I Am.” So, I think this is the best definition, you know? He is.



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