Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Zahir by Paulo Coelho: Impressions

So, I read a Paulo Coelho book. Are you scoffing already? Good. It won't be wasted, because I won't be reading him again. I told myself the same thing the last time I read one, but when your next chair colleague raves incessantly about a book for 6 odd months, you want to read it, even if to shut him up. So I did. And I reached the same conclusion again. I don't like Coelho. Too preachy.

But The Zahir had its moments. The book deals with the concept of an all-pervading idea, that fills up your entire existence, and won't let you rest till you come to terms with it. And how the author goes on a literal and metaphorical journey to come to terms with his Zahir.

Since I've never had a Zahir, I did not agree with the central idea of the book. But then, I've never had any of those mystical experiences these mystical books talk about. However, I like Coelho's simple idea of unburdening oneself of one's past (self-forgiveness?) before one can begin to 'live' again. It is by no means an original idea, for how many times have you been asked to 'move on'? Coelho talks about moving on too, but not necessarily away from a person or a problem. He talks about embracing the 'problem' or the Zahir, to walk toward it, to accept it wholly, to be truly rid of it. I also like how he fights the notion of sacrificing for others and seeking one's happiness, as much as it is a taboo (I've always believed you cannot make anyone happy, if you aren't happy). There are also little revelations about the lesser known cultures and traditions of Kazakhstan, the lives of celebrity writers and the usual gyaan about human nature.

The book may be a good read for Coelho fans, but don't read it just because someone did, like I did. I'm going to keep only one piece of advice from The Zahir. Answers about oneself are not to be found from mystical sources. One needs only to keep his being open. 


Akanksha said...

"Being open" is the best thing one can do. I agree, although I liked Alchemist :)

Viren said...

succinctly summed up.
Neat and clean summary dismissal.
Pa Co like Bach is good for a particular awakening. Beyond that, or to continue reading them is asking for a sermon.