The Zahir

I am reading “The Zahir” from Paolo Coelho. Sometimes I think his books are full of clichés, a bombastic moralistic lecture on “universal love”, in which the story of the book is subordinate to the ideas he wants to express, which sometimes makes the story a bit artificial. Also it seems he “steals” his stories from other sources, e.g. “The Alchemist” is very similar to a story from Martin Buber, and from some other stories in The Zahir he doesn't seem to have invented that himself.

On the other hand this book touches me very much. The story seems to be grabbed from my life, it's very recognizable. And it's recognizable to many people I think (in different ways). Paolo Coelho is a good writer. His underlying philosophy is very interesting, and it can be helpful to live a meaningful and inspired life.

The story reminded me of my relationship with my ex-boyfriend. In the book a man and a woman, who love each other very much, loose each other. It can easily happen without anyone noticing it.
My boyfriend sort of lost himself, he was depressed and didn't feel much anymore, not in general and not for me either. Then we started to talk less to each other. The desire to be with the other was gone, it was only an obligation, a (not kept) promise. At one moment you realize that the other has become a stranger, that you cannot understand each other or share anymore, it's like talking to a wall (or to stop talking at all). I didn't feel free anymore, and that I had so much to do, it was never good enough, I was so busy and I felt so tired. Like in the book, I thought for some time that I would just accept the situation. We had a nice house, I had a nice job, and a nice partner who has never beaten me up or has done me any harm. There were not many worries, it could be much worse. If it's just boring that doesn't have to be a reason to break up, I thought. I had my friends and my projects in Senegal, which were not boring at all. But like with the Esther in the book (it's interesting her name is also Esther), there came a moment when I couldn't bear it anymore. I had the feeling I could not be myself in the relationship, and there came a moment that I lost the hope that the situation would some day improve, I lost the hope that the good relationship that we used to have would come back. At that moment I broke up with my boyfriend.

I would like to try to write, in my own words, about “The obligation we all have to realize our destiny” (and my story is only partly based on the philosophy of Paolo Coelho, but not in contradiction with it, I think).

I don't know if God exists. I will never know it for sure. I can only choose if I want to believe in God or not. I believe in God. I believe that God created us humans, that he is the source of our existence. We are his creatures (which doesn't mean that the evolution theory is wrong). Regarding the rest of the story I will tell here; I also don't know if it's true. But it's a beautiful idea that gives me strength, and as a philosopher I don't believe that we have access to an absolute truth. It might be true, that's all.

Everything that happens is meant to be. God is all-knowing and all-mighty. He knows what will happen and he often decides not to do something to stop it from happening. He gave us humans a free will. He gave us the ability to choose between good and bad (=ethics). He could have created us as completely good humans, living in an everlasting Utopian society of love and peace. He didn't do so. We are responsible for our own actions, for the choices we make, for how we treat other people. The injustice in the world, the enormous poverty, the environmental problems, the never ending wars, the unnecessary suffering, it's a consequence of what human beings did to other humans, and to animals / nature.

When a baby is born, it's as if a seed was planted. The seed has a potential, the seed has everything inside itself to become one day a certain type of tree or flower, with a certain color and certain properties. The seed is meant to become like that, to become a red rose or to become an orange tree. This was already “decided” before the seed was planted. When a seed falls on a concrete road or in a desert with no water, the seed cannot grow. This means that the seed doesn't reach its destiny to become a flower.

We all have the obligation to try to realize our own destiny. We all have a potential of what we could become, if we use and develop our talents and skills at maximum, if we understand which way we want to go, if we get the chance to move in that direction and if we do all we can to reach our destiny. We all have a mission to move towards our destiny. It is as if we are prophets. A prophet has a vocation, a calling to listen to the word of God and to spread that word among people. God is Goodness and to spread the word of God means to spread Goodness. For most people it's more difficult to listen to the word of God than for prophets and for most people it's difficult to know what is their mission and their destiny. But we can listen to our hearts and reflect on it.

There are different roads I can choose between. One road is getting the closest to my own destiny, to where I belong, to what fits best for me, to being completely myself. I should try to find that road and move in that direction. The energy that makes me want to move in a certain direction is my desire. My heart stretches out its arms in a certain direction, it longs to go there, and then I start walking. When I don't feel any desire to go somewhere, then something is very wrong. For me, the meaning of life is not simply happiness or self-development, these are just side-effects while I am on my way (but positive side-effects which make my life more pleasant). To be on my way towards my destiny is maybe the meaning of life, for me.

Paolo Coelho often talks about divine signs who point someone towards his or her destiny. I don't know if such signs really exist. But I know that to listen to my heart, to my core, to what is fundamental to me, to what defines me as a seed, my potential, if I follow that kind of desires, it makes my walking on the road a more positive experience. I start to attract positive things. When I move towards whom I really am, I can develop my talents and I feel happy because I come closer to myself.

It gives me peace of mind to move towards my destiny. There is no need for stress, no need to be too much concerned about little things that are bothering me in my daily life. The problem of a relationship falling apart, as Paolo Coelho describes it in the Zahir, I think that it doesn't happen if you can both continue to move towards your destiny, and if these destinies are not too far away from each other.

I have a strong desire for justice. With regard to the situations that I find unjust, unfair; I like to do something to change such situations, and to help people with difficult lives, people who are poor and oppressed. When I am in Senegal I feel very close to myself. I think Senegal is my destiny.

Loved your writing. Will try to be regular here.
Thanks :)

Do I know you? (with this interesting Orkut Heroes website)
Life is like a bux of chocolate, you never know what you going to get.
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