Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Like the Flowing River

Author: Paulo Coelho
Published: 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Among all the other books of Paulo Coelho which I have read - The Alchemist, Veronika Decides to Die and The Witch of Portobello - I liked this one the best. This book is packed with over hundred odd short chapters describing the thoughts and reflections of the author. Each and every chapter in this book is like a pearl in a necklace, strung together by a golden thread. That golden thread is the underlying philosophy of Paulo Coelho. It is all about attaining and living your dreams by being in peace with the world. This is one book which left me craving for more when I finished reading it.
Margaret Jull Costa has done an excellent job in translating this book originally written in Portuguese. I never felt that I was reading a translated work.

Essence of some of my favorite chapters :
  • The Story of the Pencil : Five qualities of an ordinary pencil which a person seeking peace with the world needs to develop
  • Genghis Khan and his Falcon : Lessons Genghis Khan learnt from his pet falcon
  • The Manuel trilogy - Manuel is an Important and Necessary Man, Manuel is a Free Man, Manuel Goes to Paradise : Manuel keeps himself so busy with his work that he does not stop to think about the meaning of life. When he retires he realizes that he has passed through life but not lived it.
  • The Moment of Dawn : How do we know the exact moment when night (ignorance) ends and day (knowledge) begins ?
  • The Man who followed his Dreams : Going against what common sense tells and following one's dreams.
  • Travelling Differently: Treat any travel as a pilgrimage and get the most out of it
  • A Fairy Tale : Grow flowers of honesty
  • Brazil's Greatest Writer: Jorge Amado a writer with a great heart and sense of humility He was a source of great encouragement and help to Paulo Coelho in his early days as a author
  • Rome: Isabella Returns from Nepal: Bananas can teach you meaning of life
  • Norma and the Good Things: Life is always a reason to be happy
  • Jordan the Dead Sea : Peace is both necessary and possible. It is not the opposite of war
  • Meeting in the Dentsu Gallery : The most important things, those that shape our existence, are precisely the ones that never show their faces
  • Reflections on 11 September 2001: If the world is not going to be a safe place again, at least not for many years, then why not take advantage of that sudden change, and spend our days doing the things we have always wanted to do, but for which we always lacked courage ?
  • Alone on the Road: Life is like a great bicycle race, whose aim is to fulfill our personal legend. We all set off together , but as race progresses we face challenges like tiredness, boredom and doubts about our own abilities. Some of us get left behind and the rest come face to face with loneliness, unfamiliar bends in the road and mechanical problems with our bicycle. At a certain stage with no one to help we begin asking ourselves if it's really worth all effort. Yes it is. It's just a question of not giving up. In order to overcome these obstacles, we need four invisible forces: love, death, power and time.
  • The Funny Thing about Human Beings: Our contradictoriness. We think so much about the future that we neglect the present, and thus experience neither the present nor the future.
  • Who would like this Twenty-Dollar Bill ?: So often in our lives, we are crumpled, trampled, ill-treated, insulted, and yet, despite all that, we are still worth the same.
  • Self-Deception: It is part of human nature always to judge others very severely and, when the wind turns against us, always to find an excuse for our own misdeeds, or to blame someone else for our mistakes.
  • The Art of Trying: Given that we all live different lives, who decided what 'getting everything right' means ? Why do we have to follow any other model ? A model more often than not becomes a prison that makes us repeat what everyone else has always done. As long as it doesn't harm anyone, change your opinions now and then and be unashamedly contradictory. You have that right; it doesn't matter what other people think,because they are going to think something anyway.
  • The Catholic and the Muslim: It's a shame that people see only the differences that seperate them. If you were to look with more love, you would mainly see what we have in common, then half the world's problems would be solved.

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