On the strange road to Santiago de Compostela, Paulo Coelho reflects about the experience of pilgrimage and journeys of all kinds. In this episode, Clay and Sarah talk about what they’ve taken away from reading Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage.
In this episode, Clay and Sarah discuss:
- Clay’s own experience on the pilgrimage trail to Santiago
- The experience of beginning a journey
- Getting momentum on the way – how to keep it and how easy it is to lose
- Obstacles such as paralysis, lack of enthusiasm, over-confidence
- The danger of getting close to success
- The secret of Coelho’s journey (and perhaps all journeys)
As Paulo Coelho starts his journey down the pilgrimage trail, he reflects, “When you travel, you experience in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language that people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them… At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive. That’s why a religious pilgrimage has always been one of the most objective ways of achieving insight.”
After a few difficulties and with the help of his guide, Coelho gains momentum on his journey and he notices that, “Everything in our surroundings reflected an uneasy peace, the peace of a world that was still in the process of growing and being created — a world that seemed to know that, in order to grow it had to continue moving along, always moving along. Great earthquakes and killer storms might make nature seem cruel, but I could see that these were just the vicissitudes of being on the road. Nature itself journeyed, seeking illumination.”
A series of tests and challenges await Coelho on what he refers to as ‘the strange road’ including fighting a demon dog, climbing a waterfall, and raising a fallen wooden cross from the ground. However, as he gets close to the end of his journey, and close to success, Coelho notices something else about the experience of the journey — that there is a great danger that arises as we get close to success. “I began to feel great pain, because now I knew that I was only one step from success; this is the moment when one’s strength begins to flag, and one loses confidence in oneself.”
Later he explains, “Few can accept the burden of their own victory. Most give up on their dreams when they see they can be realised. They refuse to fight the good fight because they do not know what to do with their own happiness. They are imprisoned by the things of the world.”
Finally, towards the end of the book Paolo Coelho understands the secret of his journey… and I’ll leave it to you to listen in and find out!
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