Reading The Pilgrimage

I have recently had the pleasure of reading what I think is Paulo Coelho’s most amazing book, The Pilgrimage.

In this autobiographical narrative, Coelho explores and shares his spiritual awakening.

The book is not easy to get into – it requires a degree of patience to begin with, as the pace is fairly slow at first – but then the gems of revelation begin to ensue and captivate the spiritually-inclined reader. The prose is tempered beautifully so that it never sounds preaching (some of the credit for this goes to the translator, Alan Clarke, whose English version I read).

Although not as widely known as Coelho’s Alchemist, this I feel is his finest work. Of course, it would not appeal to every reader, and I would only recommend this to you if you have an interest in matters of the soul.

The main message of the book is about ‘agape’, or the ‘love that consumes’. The writer’s spiritual guide, Petrus, explains that there are three forms of love. These are:

-eros: romantic love which does not last

-philos: a more enduring friendship which can be perfected by agape

-agape: the love that consumes, allowing us to lose our ego self, in divine sublimation

I have been doing a bit of research, and the Greeks did use three words to differentiate forms of love; they referred to eros, philia and agape. If you look ‘agape’ up in a standard English dictionary, you will probably find the definition ‘open-mouthed’ rather than the Greek etymological definition. There is actually very little information available about what agape really means and how it can be reached, which explains the rarity of the experience and the profundity of Coelho’s work.

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